Archive for the ‘Methodologies’ Category

Reblog: Making Climate Change Sexy: A Journey

March 14, 2019

Coming to you from Artists and Climate Change, the story of a book and some advice on audiences…

It’s a book for people who love the planet… and a good steak. People who care about coral reefs so much… they want to fly there. There’s no judgement, just acknowledgement that it’s a hard position to be in. The book addresses this cognitive dissonance with cartoons to make the subject matter easy to digest and fun to look at. Also, by making fun of literally everyone – activists and deniers alike – people won’t feel excluded.

Read the full article here, https://artistsandclimatechange.com/2019/03/13/making-climate-change-sexy-a-journey/

Agriculture and aquaculture, but no culture

February 20, 2019
Newton Harrison, The Deep Wealth of this Nation, Scotland (2018). Detail: one of ten panels.

The Scottish Government recently published Climate Ready Scotland: Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme 2019-2024 A Consultation Draft – the consultation is open through 9th April 2019.

The focus of this work is on adaptation rather than mitigation.

As Ben Twist of Creative Carbon Scotland explained, mitigation is carbon reduction. Adaptation is about responding to the impacts of climate change: how do we change what we do and how we do it to deal with the changes and uncertainties of global warming? There are practical changes and behavioural changes. Some ‘adaptation’ measures ensure that infrastructure (eg energy and transport) can cope, and other actions are encouraging significant changes to farming practices. Community action is an important aspect too. Given this range it is surprising that culture only features as an aspect of heritage, and the arts don’t feature at all.

The survey is pretty specifically geared around professionals already directly involved in adaptation work engaging with technical questions of programme design. It might be more effective for people from culture and the arts to write letters outlining our role, giving specific examples of relevant work – projects and ways of working. There is an email address climatechangeadaptation@gov.scot.

ecoartscotland has regularly highlighted artists’ and organisations’ work on climate change, or as Helen Mayer Harrison (1927-2018) and Newton Harrison (b. 1932) conceptualised it, ‘The Force Majeure’.

Like an oncoming storm front, the Force Majeure is a fluid frontier; a frontier of heat moving across the planet; a frontier of water advancing on lands; a frontier of extinctions touching all lives. It is a frontier from which we retreat, yet within which we must also adapt.

Center for the Study of the Force Majeure website

The consultation document opens with the following statement from Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform,

Adapting to the changing climate will both help to create a better society for everyone who lives here and unlock Scotland’s immense potential as a nation.

Climate Ready Scotland

It goes on to say,

I want the second Adaptation Programme to deliver a step change in collaboration, and emphasise the wider co-benefits of climate action.

In an essay a few years ago the Harrisons said,

We hold that every place is telling the story of its own becoming, which is another way of saying that it is continually creating its own history and we join that conversation of place.

‘Knotted ropes, rings, lattices and lace: Retrofitting biodiversity into the cultural landscape?’ in Barthlott, Wilhelm and Matthias Winiger, eds., Biodiversity: A Challenge for Development Research and Policy. Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: Springer-Verlag, p. 14.

Working with The Barn in Aberdeenshire, Newton Harrison and his colleagues from The Center for the Study of the Force Majeure have been developing The Deep Wealth of this Nation, Scotland, a vision which specifically sets out to imagine Scotland as the first industrialised nation to put back more into the web of life than it takes out. The vision focuses on farming, agriculture and aquaculture (in particular lagoons), and frames these within a ‘Commons of Mind’ – the need for recognition of the prima facie need to adapt in the face of the Force Majeure.

The Barn invited the Harrisons and the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure to Aberdeenshire because of the floods along the river Dee in 2016 caused by Storm Frank. The resulting discussions with the James Hutton Institute and Scottish Rural University Colleges, supported by SEFARI funding, highlighted holistic approaches addressing the settlement, the watershed and the nation. Connections have been drawn to work in other small nations including Sweden and Taiwan and the work has been exhibited in Scotland and in the Taipei Biennial.

The Cabinet Secretary’s ambitions for the Adaptation Programme to produce ‘a more just society’ are critical. The problem is that the Programme does not address the fundamental reimagining required for humans to give back more to the web of life than we take out.

For instance, the Consultation document says of ‘Climate Change Adaptation Behaviours’,

This is where individuals and organisations change their behaviour to help increase their resilience to, and reduce the severity of, negative consequences of climate change.

Climate Ready Scotland

What is missing is actively strengthening the web of life by choosing to, for instance, grow biodiversity, not just in fragments, but comprehensively. So in changing farming it is not enough to simply plant a few more trees and allow for spreading of waters if that doesn’t tackle the ‘agricultural extinction’ that is monocultural farming. Intelligently greening settlements needs to achieve massively greater and connected (not fragmented) biodiversity, which in turn might provide human benefits in terms of edible landscapes (see for example the work of Dundee Urban Orchard and Loughborough University’s Eat Your Campus – both of which are artist-led) and more engaged, interconnected communities while at the same time reducing the impact of heatwaves on urban environments. The Deep Wealth calls for holistic thinking that puts the web of life first.

Co-incidentally there is a piece in Arts Professional from Judith Knight, quoting Amitav Ghosh’s book The Great Derangement,

“When future generations look back upon the Great Derangement, they will certainly blame the leaders and politicians of this time for their failure to address the climate crisis. But they may well hold artists and writers to be equally culpable – for the imagining of possibilities is not, after all, the job of politicians and bureaucrats.”

(p. )

The Harrisons provide a compelling vision for a different way of living, focused by the need to adapt to The Force Majeure.

There are a number of projects across Scotland which specifically address adaptation, in addition to The Deep Wealth. The Stove’s We Live With Water raises questions about how to live with regular flooding, questioning conventional flood defence approaches. Matt Baker described it as,

…an alternative approach and try to imagine a future where increased rainfall, sea-levels and river surges would be seen as an opportunity. We tried to imagine Dumfries as River Town…. a place that embraced its environment… a place that Lives With Water.

The Stove website

Cooking Sections’ ongoing project Climavore, which was developed in collaboration with Atlas Arts on Skye specifically addresses ‘eating as climate changes’. They say,

“It sets out to envision seasons of food production and consumption that react to man-induced climatic events and landscape alterations.”

Climavore website

Projects in other places such as Eve Mosher’s High Water Line in New York City, featured in Creative Carbon Scotland’s Library of Creative Sustainability, draw attention to the impact of storm surges which will become more frequent as global warming accelerates.

Community Energy focused initiatives including Land Art Generator Glasgow go beyond simple mitigation (carbon reduction) to envisage community owned energy production and local grids for urban contexts.

Arts projects which address climate change, whatever the focus, almost always involve collaboration with scientists and engineers and engage with communities – interdisciplinary and participatory. A recent paper, ‘Raising the Temperature’: The arts in a warming planet (Galafassi et al 2017 Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 31:71–79) highlights that art addressing climate change has grown nearly 20-fold over the ten years they reviewed.

Creative Carbon Scotland’s continuing programme of Green Tease events builds networks, and its new Creative Europe funded Cultural Adaptations project brings artists into working with Sustainability and Adaptation focused organisations.

Even the Scottish Government’s Scottish Energy Strategy: The future of energy in Scotland (2017) says,

We will explore, through the development of a Culture Strategy for Scotland, ways that Scotland’s culture sectors and creative industries can help communities imagine a green future, and to help us all adapt to the changes and opportunities.

(p. 13)

So why does the Adaptation Programme talk about agriculture and aquaculture, but not culture or culture change? Where are the arts? The word culture literally doesn’t appear… (The Heritage sector is significantly represented and is a key stakeholder in the Adaptation Programme.)

It’s a consultation – submit your work and experience – tell them what you do and who it connects with – email it to them at climatechangeadaptation@gov.scot. Tweet it tagging @ecoartscotland and @CultureAdapts and also @ScotGovClimate

Valuing Nature: what do artists contribute?

November 12, 2018

Serpentine Lattice catalogue, courtesy of the artists

Image from Serpentine Lattice catalogue, courtesy of the artists

Artists have been valuing nature probably since we first marked the wall of a cave or whistled like a bird – artists have always rendered nature visible. Artists valuing nature have explored human ‘value’ (Monet’s Haystacks and Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed both render human use of nature visible), but they have also articulated human meaning imposed on nature (Shakespeare’s King Lear thinking the storm is nature mirroring his mental state). ecoartists over the past 50+ years have focused not so much on the literally visible but on making visible the relational and systemic. Their motivation is often the destruction caused by our extraction of value from nature without regard to health or sustainability.

Most art, including the historical precedents mentioned and in particular ecoart, might be seen in juxtaposition with other forms of valuing nature such as ecosystem services. Dave Pritchard articulated the deeper history underlying the emergence of the ecosystem services in an email to the ecoartnework listserve on 9 April 2011. He wrote,

For a time, in the 1970s-80s, there was some of the kind of “reconsideration” you describe [referring to a previous post], with the “deep ecology” of Naess, Bateson, Berry et al. But if you analyse the evolution of the actual policy and advocacy discourse at 10-yearly intervals, for example from the 1972 Stockholm Conference to the 1982 World Conservation Strategy to the 1992 Rio Conference to the 2002 Johannesburg Summit (and then maybe in advance of the Rio+20 summit in 2012 look at the Aichi targets adopted last year), it has swung completely away from any ethics of “existence value” for the non-human component, to a forced justification (in adversarial arenas) in terms of “sustainable development”, “wise use”, “evidence-based conservation”, “ecosystem services” and (largely monetary) valuation of those services. The environmental movement (of which I am a part) congratulates itself on having found better ways of expressing the critical nature of ecosystems within broader mainstream audiences and processes, in this way. But this has all been done by becoming MORE anthropocentric and utilitarian; not less.

Dave Pritchard’s drawing out of one vector of the trajectory of valuing, away from the intrinsic and into the instrumentalised, provides a useful frame for understanding that what we see now as oppositional – arts and humanities approaches versus social and natural science-based methods of valuing nature. His marking of the moments in the intergovernmental conferences and his articulation of the key phrases is the beginning of a cultural history of environmental policy.

However, in the work of Helen Mayer Harrison (1927-2018) and Newton Harrison (b. 1932), known as ‘the Harrisons’, this split isn’t necessarily the case.

Professor Emeritus Anne Douglas and I have been writing about (and working with) the Harrisons, the pioneering post conceptual ecological artists, for some years now. Sadly, Helen Mayer Harrison died this year (aged 90), but we continue to work with Newton Harrison. You can find out more about that work by checking out The Barn website, and by searching this site http://ecoartscotland.net.

We are just in the process of finishing a new essay which focuses on the ways in which the work of the Harrisons might address calls for epistemologies other than the positivistic one which has increasingly dominated our understanding of the natural world. This builds on two other essays we have published recently on their practice and in particular their poetics.

The Harrisons’ work focuses on the lifeweb and in particular on points of inconsistency and contradiction saying,

We have come to believe that inconsistency and contradiction are generated by the processes of cognition, thinking and doing, and have the important role to play of stimulating and evoking creativity and improvisation, which are inherent in the processes of the mind that have led us to do this work.
Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, ‘Public Culture and Sustainable Practices: Peninsula Europe from an ecodiversity perspective, posing questions to Complexity Scientists,’ (Structure and Dynamics: eJournal of Anthropological and Related Sciences: Vol. 2: No. 3, Article 3), p23

In our essay ‘Inconsistency and contradiction: lessons in improvisation in the work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison’ published in Elemental: An Art and Ecology Reader, we look particularly at the ways that the artists use moments of inconsistency and contradiction as points of intervention. We explore the way they engage imaginatively with metaphor – for them it is dysfunctional metaphors (such as calling places to live ‘developments’ rather than ‘settlements’) which underlie the inconsistencies and contradictions. The works take the form of policy proposals, manifest in poetic texts and images, installations and films, which offer alternative ways of imagining life where we put the health of the lifeweb first.

The second essay, ‘What poetry does best: the Harrisons’ poetics of being and acting in the world’ published in the Harrisons’ The Time of the Force Majeure, a survey of their collaboration over 50 years, focuses on their language, in particular dialogue, and their understanding of improvisation. We explore the way that the works open up the possibility for the audience to imagine living differently, as part of a healthy lifeweb.

The Harrisons’ overarching project, which they have pursued for something like 50 years, is to put us humans back into the ecosystem. This is an underlying refrain in all their work, for example in Serpentine Lattice (1993) they said,

THEN
A NEW REVERSAL OF GROUND COMES INTO BEING
WHERE HUMAN ACTIVITY BECOMES A FIGURE
WITHIN AN ECOLOGICAL FIELD
AS SIMULTANEOUSLY THE ECOLOGY CEASES T0 BE
AN EVER SHRINKING FIGURE
WITHIN THE FIELD OF HUMAN ACTIVITY
Harrison, Newton and Harrison, Helen Mayer, Serpentine Lattice, the Douglas M Cooley Memorial Gallery, Reed College, Portland, Oregon 1993

Within this the Harrisons have taken on issues of water, soil, forests and brownfield. They have worked in watersheds and bioregions as well at the scale of the European Peninsula and the Tibetan high ground. The climate crisis – which they define as having three aspects – sea level rise, heatwave and biodiversity loss/extinction, is the manifestation of our dysfunctional relationship with the lifeweb. In essence their message is the message of Deep Ecology.

Yet Serpentine Lattice, created at the invitation of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in addressing the destruction of the Pacific Temperate Rainforest, includes a proposal for redirecting a proportion of Gross National Product to the restoration of the forest.

In Peninsula Europe (2001) they enumerate the amount of water that falls on the European peninsula annually (1,430 cubic kilometers per year and that’s just on the high ground). Based on this they propose a Water Tax to pay for the restoration of the soils and the reforesting of the land above 360 meters.

This might seem superficially similar to recent approaches which have moved from analysis of ecosystem services to natural capital accounting. These latter moves have resulted in statements such as the Great Barrier Reef is an asset worth $42 billion dollars to the Australian economy, or bees are worth £651 million annually to the UK economy.

Our essay addresses both how these figures and proposals operate as part the Harrisons’ poetics, contributing to the repositioning of human systems within the ecological systems. The Harrisons’ approach to valuing nature does not start with a financial given (eg the value of UK Agriculture, and then identify the importance of bees, quantify bees, and financialise bees). The Harrisons’ works start with an ecological reality, an intrinsic good, such as the Pacific Temperate Rainforest. Often this is an already damaged ecosystem. The art work makes visible the value of the whole ecosystem and offers quantification in order to propose new human systems (such as taxes) that begin to remedy the impacts of extraction.


Chris Fremantle will be presenting a case study on the Harrisons’ Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom (2007-09) in the ‘Valuing the Arts Valuing Nature’ session at the Valuing Nature Conference 2018 this week.

Kerry Morrison #art4wetlands …the way I view mosquitoes

October 27, 2018

Reflecting on being part of the WetlandLife team and how interdisciplinary working has shifted the way I view mosquitos
Kerry Morrison
11.07.18

The interdisciplinary nature of WetlandLIFE
The openness and inclusiveness
Has broadened my understanding
And my views
Of wetlands
Of mosquitos

Information exchanged
Put out there
Into the group
Relating to the collective research
Offers insights that we can delve in to
Or not
As we choose

Peter posted: in praise of the midges pestering footballers in the world cup
Gay responded:
…best of all for me is link at the end of the article to a study on the flight behaviour in swarms, which is what my colleague, Lionel, and I are working on in mosquitoes.  It is an amazing study – so thank you for many reasons!
I hit the link and read the paper: Collective Behaviour without Collective Order in Wild Swarms of Midges [1]

Some time later
Out on Alkborough Flats
In July
At dusk
Helmut and I found one of the mosquito traps
Well hidden in the dank, yet humid, undergrowth
Well surrounded by flying mosquitos

Venturing in I witnessed what I now know to be male mosquitos
Flying in a swarm
Out to attract females
With this little knowledge,
gained from conversations with the team entomologists
and from reading the paper
I felt partly safe
Male mosquitos don’t bite
(though the females will likely be somewhere nearby)

Informed by me read of ‘Collective Behaviour without Collective Order in Wild Swarms of Midges’ (2014)
I watched the swarm
Intently
Paying attention to the individual’s movements
and
The swarm as a whole
Looking intently
I observed
More than a twilight swarm in a disordered phase
I saw a male mosquito gathering

Collective behavior became visible
As if in a choreographed dance
.
.
.
The small swarm
To start
Disorderly
Then
As two came into close proximity of one another
Millimeters apart
Their movements synchronized and mirrored
Two darted sideways in unison
Three spiraled upwards at an angle in unison
then together semi circled downwards
Two more spiraled upwards and outwards
then back into the swarm
When all came together
In close proximity
The whole swarm
Spiraled down
As one collective mass
As if a murmuration

Beautiful
Awe-inspiring
Experience
Walking into mosquitos
For the first time
Seeing
Male mosquitos Dance
No longer misunderstood as biting beasts
But seen as dancing males
Moving in murmurations
Waiting for females
to charm with their songs

My vision might not yet be clear
My understanding still murky
and not yet fully informed
Yet
What I see has shifted
And in shifting
My views have expanded

[1] Attanasi A, Cavagna A, Del Castello L, Giardina I, Melillo S, et al. (2014) Collective Behaviour without Collective Order in Wild Swarms of Midges. PLoS Comput Biol 10(7): e1003697. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi. 1003697


Kerry Morrison is an artist, a Director of In-Situ, and has completed a Phd in Cultural Ecosystem Services.

On Sunday 28th October (18.15 in Room 7) the WetlandLIFE team will host a side event at the Ramsar Intergovernmental Convention on Wetlands13th COP in Dubai. The event focuses on ‘Sense of Place & Wellbeing in Wetlands: Using Film & the Arts to achieve SDG3’.

Tim Acott and Dave Edwards #art4wetlands, a disciplinary dance

October 24, 2018

Woodland Wetland

Photo Courtesy of Frances Hawkes

As part of the Ramsar Culture Network/ecoartscotland #art4wetlands story Tim Acott (Principal Investigator for WetlandLIFE) and David Edwards (Forest Research) here unpack their thinking behind involving artists in the WetlandLIFE project (part of the Natural Environment Research Council‘s Valuing Nature Programme). WetlandLIFE is focused on managing mosquitoes and the socio-economic value of wetlands for wellbeing.

On Sunday 28th October (18.15 in Room 7) the WetlandLIFE team will host a side event at the Ramsar Intergovernmental Convention on Wetlands13th COP in Dubai. The event focuses on ‘Sense of Place & Wellbeing in Wetlands: Using Film & the Arts to achieve SDG3’.

We’ll be posting pieces by the artists over the coming days.


Wetlands are ever-changing and dynamic, as water makes its presence felt through its association with a myriad of entities – plants, animals, humans, technology, legislation, economy and climate – all acting in diverse ways to co-create (mostly) watery places, both in reality and in our minds. For some, wetlands are bountiful lively precious places, to be celebrated and protected. For others, they are wastelands, disease ridden swamps that should be improved; ‘remove the water, build a dyke, drain the land’, might run the call, ‘we don’t want our landscape to be a mosquito infested swamp’ interjects another. From liminal locations in coasts and estuaries to the urban heartland of our cities and towns, places with too much water to be land, and too little water to be a lake, can be received with mixed emotions.

Photo courtesy of Tim Acott

Places are constituted through competing ideas and practices: the physical reality of the wetland is shaped by both the mechanical digger and the imagination. In the UK policy makers view the environment through the idea of ecosystem services. Here nature is reconfigured through the dominant perspectives of natural science, social science and economics to help decision makers ‘capture’ the value of the landscape. However, this approach can reinforce a utilitarian attitude towards nature that the arts can reframe or challenge, at times with unpredictable and potentially transformative effects.

With a particular focus on mosquitoes, WetlandLIFE (a three year interdisciplinary project funded by the UK Research Councils through the Valuing Nature Programme) explores how new knowledge about the values of wetlands can be used to inform their use and management. However, arriving at an understanding of wetland values is a fraught task. Competing epistemologies seek to provide authoritative accounts of value, but the competition is not on an even playing field. Scientific perspectives hold a dominant position, with even the qualitative social sciences, and especially the arts and humanities, having to argue hard for their case to be heard. Yet, in evoking science and economics as the privileged arbitrators of value – and of the frameworks through which values are understood – to what extent are other voices being closed out of the conversation? Is not one of the most insidious forms of power to control the rules by which debates, and hence decisions, are framed?

WetlandLIFE has sought to widen the lens through which we consider the value of wetlands and challenge the broader assumptions which shape and constrain land-use decisions. Listening to multiple voices is helping the project to engage with wetlands in a deep, critical and imaginative way. Two artists, Helmut Lemke, Kerry Morrison, and a fiction writer, Victoria Leslie, have been recruited to help the project team navigate the boundary of value elicitation and value creation. Working alongside local communities, economists, entomologists, human geographers, historians and environmental social scientists, they were invited to help shape the narrative around wetlands and mosquitoes. Within the project a position of epistemological equality is being adopted, whereby the contributions of all team members are being combined to co-create a place based narrative of wetland and mosquito values.

As the project progresses towards its final year it is becoming clear that artists are having a major contribution by helping to trace and create relational associations that underpin a tapestry of meanings and values. For instance, a walking poem by Helmut, capturing the feeling of being out on the marshes, creates an almost tangible sense of place, revealing something not normally expressed about relations between disparate entities such as wind, sheep, birds, mosquitoes, pylons, ships and other actors beyond the immediate wetland. Such a document can be a seed around which narratives are formed and coalesce. Another example is how Victoria is writing new stories about wetlands and helping the team to explore how narratology can develop reflections on discourses around science and arts. Is there science in art and art in science that could help shape what we are producing and how we judge outcomes? In a creative exchange of ideas, as the team members reflect on their individual roles in contributing to emergent wetland narratives, artists are spending time in science laboratories and scientists are picking up paintbrushes and pens to reflect on their practices.

Photo courtesy of Tim Acott

In conclusion, in WetlandLIFE the project team has sought to create an open and dynamic partnership between natural science, social science, economics, the arts and humanities. The result is an attempt to demonstrate how disciplinary boundaries can be overcome to develop a holistic interdisciplinary narrative of wetland values that does not give authority to one voice but critically engages with dominant narratives about the value of nature and helps celebrate the wonder that is our wetland habitat in all its diverse forms.


Tim Acott is Reader in Human Geography in the Department of History, Politics & Social Sciences at the University of Greenwich. His research is increasingly concerned with ways to understand the social and cultural value of ecosystems through concepts including sense of place, cultural ecosystem services and wellbeing, adopting arts and social science based approaches. He is the Director of the Greenwich Maritime Centre and is Principal Investigator on the WetlandLIFE project.

David Edwards is Programme Manager and Senior Social Scientist in the Social & Economic Research Group at Forest Research. David leads initiatives to understand and enhance interdisciplinary working, knowledge exchange and research impact across the environmental sector. He has a particular interest in the role of the arts and humanities in transformative learning and the co-production of knowledge.

Creative Sustainability

October 15, 2018

I don’t know how many people listened to the Moral Maze on Radio 4 on Wednesday evening (10th October)? In the week of the IPCC report saying we have 12 years before we go through the 1.5 degrees of global warming threshold, the programme brought together a debate on the moral implications.

The debate was framed in terms of the competing moral goods between future generations and developing countries, both of whom will disproportionately suffer the impacts of climate breakdown.

The first three witnesses broadly focused on economics and in particular the question ‘Is growth the problem or the solution?’ Can we grow and innovate our way out of the problem (Leo Barasi)? Or do we need to fly less, eat less meat and generally change our lifestyles to be more sustainable and less consuming (George Monbiot)? One of the issues underlying the discussion is the role of ‘progress’. Progress has generated global warming but it has also resulted in longer life spans, lower infant mortality, and more developed countries pay more attention to the environment.

The final speaker was Charlotte Du Caan from the Dark Mountain project to open up the cultural dimension. The panelists mostly agreed with the Dark Mountain manifesto, except the end of this sentence,

We do not believe that everything will be fine. We are not even sure, based on current definitions of progress and improvement, that we want it to be.

The panelist interpreted the Dark Mountain project as having a death wish, to be nihilist, rather than to be opening up a fundamental question of culture. Somehow the fundamental point got lost: ‘Do we want to continue with a culture that promotes individualism that results in endemic mental health problems?’ or ‘Do we want to live in a culture that promotes unlimited consumption of for example fashion, making fashion one of the most polluting and destructive industries?’ or ‘Do we want a culture that disconnects us from the rest of the living world?’

Actually the economic/progress argument is the wrong argument and the cultural argument was not fully grasped in the debate (although at least the cultural dimension was recognized as relevant).

So Creative Carbon Scotland has just launched its Library of Creative Sustainability. Creative Carbon Scotland is one of the organisations who are saying culture has a central role in addressing the environmental crisis in all its dimensions – climate breakdown, pollution, extinction…

The projects highlighted in the Library are all artists working with organisations long term on specific issues in specific contexts. To pick just one example, SLOW Clean UP involves artist Frances Whitehead, Chicago City Council and various University Science Departments working together on cleaning up petroleum pollution in the middle of communities in Chicago by creating gardens. Using plants which have specific capacities (hyperaccumulators) to suck up the pollution, the project cleaned up the test site, identified a significant number of new plants, as well as involving communities in their own environmental health. In the US whilst this approach is known and understood, unless the land has significant economic value, no-one bothers.

What is important is that this is not a binary debate on growth and progress, but rather cultural change towards a different set of values.

All the projects in the new Library demonstrate approaching challenges differently, creative innovations, and involving people in their own places produces new values that are more sustainable.

Have a look at the way artists are ’embedding’ themselves in organisations and contexts to work long term.

This project is supported by ecoartscotland and Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University through an Interface Innovation Voucher.


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