Yearly Archives: 2010

Think It, Do It, Blog it: What is the Next Link in the Sustainability Network?

What is the next step after the Co-op? Where do resources go after the Austin Scenic Co-op [Collaboration between Salvage Vanguard and Rude Mechs] can no longer use them? I found inspiration this week from two community service volunteers that were helping me to organize the shed where we house the Austin Scenic Co-op stock. Community service volunteers are court appointed by the city of Austin to complete a certain number of hours with a local non-profit.

This week I worked with two young men to get rid of some of our stock that had not been used since it was donated. Most of these were odd shaped platforms that are very show specific and therefore not used readily by many people. We were hauling these out to the dumpster making way for a new batch of standard 4×8 platforms –by far our most popular item to loan out. To me these old platforms –some of which have not been touched by anyone for three years–were just trash, but the guys that were helping me out asked if they could use some of the lumber. They informed me that they had friends that would break down things like what I was throwing away. If they got the things for free they could turn just enough profit to make it worth their while.

This reminded me of an essay I read recently, “Ecology and Community” by physicist and systems theorist Fritjof Capra. In it he argues that communities should turn to ecosystems to learn how to be sustainable. Capra insists that lessons learned from ecosystems aren’t mere suggestions, but are laws for how communities must organize themselves. The laws of sustainability are “just as stringent as the laws of physics . . . If you go up to a high cliff and step off it, disregarding the laws of gravity, you will surely die. If we live in a community, disregarding the laws of sustainability as a community, we will just as surely die in the long run.”

Capra identifies five laws of sustainability: interdependence, recycling, partnership, flexibility, and diversity. I think the most fascinating argument he makes in the article is when he writes, “you can define an ecosystem as a community where there is no waste.”

In establishing the Austin Scenic Co-op we have been very concerned with getting donations–making sure people know about us so that they don’t throw away set pieces that others could use. We have been working to establish networks to recycle theatre companies’ sets and we still have a lot of work to do in this regard. Now that our stock is starting to grow we are encountering a new problem–one that I did not foresee. What is the next step in the network? What do we do with those things that aren’t useful anymore to theatre companies?

Now that we have to be more selective about what we can accept and are starting to have to cull some of our less useful stock we need to establish another link in the network. Another level of recycling. I am excited about establishing another partnership one that is interested in using lumber that we cannot. And getting closer to our goal of zero waste.

–Thomas Graves, Austin Scenic Co-Op & Rude Mechs

via Think It, Do It, Blog it: What is the Next Link in the Sustainability Network?.




The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts (CSPA) will host a panel on issue of sustainability and “greening” the arts on Monday, August the 16th. A leader in the sustainable arts movement in the US, the CSPA will bring together key players in the sustainable arts movement in the UK to talk about the future of theatre and performance in the face of climate change. Guests will include Sam Goldblatt, Wallace Heim, Mhora Samuel, Bryan Raven of White Light LTD, and CSPA directors Ian Garrett and Miranda Wright. The panel will be presented from  10:00am until noon on Monday, August 16th at Fringe Central. The event is free, but ticket reservations are encourage and can be made through the fringe box office.

In addition to showcasing the latest news from UK innovators in sustainable practice for the arts, the CSPA’s directors Ian Garrett and Miranda Wright will present initiatives and resources being developed around the world. These will include San Diego’s Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company’s Green Theater Choices Toolkit, Toronoto’s York University and their MFA in sustainable design for the theater, Mexico’s “El Sabino” led by Laura Kuri and her brother Claudio Kuri, director of Montezeuma at the Edinburgh International Festival, and Denmark’s Wooloo with their New Life Festival focused on Art and Hospitality.

  • Sam Goldblatt is an arts and events producer, and author of the textbook Greener Meetings and Events, to be published by John Wiley & Sons in 2011 as part of their Event Management Series. In Washington, DC, he served as Environmental Officer for the Capital Fringe Festival, creating theatre venues from reused building materials.
  • Dr. Wallace Heim researches, writes and teaches on performance and nature, on the philosophical dimensions of ‘art and ecology’, and on climate change and social practice. She does this in many places. She is co-editor; and is on the editorial board for the Journal of Performance and Ecology. She taught on the MA Arts and Ecology at Dartington College of Arts; co-curated the conference/event BETWEEN NATURE; co-edited Nature Performed. Environment, Culture and Performance. She is a director of the research communication group PublicSpace, an FRSA, and a trustee for PLATFORM. She also has worked for many years as a set designer for theatre and television/film, and was a co-founder of the Gate Theatre, London.
  • Mhora Samuel began her career as a dancer and choreographer in Scotland and as Administrator for the Gregory Nash Group in Oxford. She moved to London in 1989 as Centre Co-ordinator for Chisenhale Dance Space, and in 1991 was appointed as Director of Total Theatre, the UK lead body for physical and visual performance. She joined ABL Cultural Consulting in 1998 where she worked on a range of capital feasibility studies and arts strategies. In 2001 she was appointed Chief Executive of the Cultural Industries Development Agency, the leading business support regeneration agency for the cultural and creative industries sector in East London. Mhora joined The Theatres Trust in January 2006 as Director and has led on the development of specific environmental advice for theatres, contributing to the Mayor of London’s Green Theatre Plan in 2008 and successfully achieving European Funding for the Trust’s Three Year Ecovenue project, helping to improve the environmental performance of London’s theatres.
  • Bryan Raven is Managing Director of White Light and has been with the company for over 23 years. Since then White Light has grown from 17 staff with a turnover of just over £1M to the current size with 120 staff and turnover of nearly £20M and projects all over the world as well as continuing to be the leading supplier of lighting to the UK theatre industry. His career started with a brief spell at Theatre Projects after spending two years realising that lighting was a lot more fun than mechanical engineering at Imperial College. He has been at the forefront of White Light’s desire to improve both it’s own environmental record and also that of the industry as a whole. He was part of the team responsible for Mayor of London’s Greening London Theatre programmes and is a member of Julies Bicycle theatre steering group.


iLAND – Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature and Dance

River to Creek: A Roving Natural History is a participatory research project and art action that will draw attention to the geographic and ecological connections across the industrial landscape of North Brooklyn, from the wild empty lots at the end of Newtown Creek in Bushwick to the East River at the edge of Greenpoint. It is a collaboration between marine scientist/dancer Carolyn Hall, ecologist/visual artist Kathleen McCarthy and Clarinda Mac Low and Paul Benney, members of TRYST, a New York-based performance and art group.

In New York City we tend to look at each environment as separate in space-a park is separate from a river is separate from a built structure, a river stops at the riverbank, and each neighborhood is an isolated phenomenon, when all these environments are actually highly interdependent. The collaborative team will highlight the connections between the different environments and illuminate the geographic continuity lying under our built structures and transportation networks. We will study the natural history of the current environment over the course of 15 weeks, compare it to historical records, and present our findings. Our research will bring in the public as research partners, asking citizens to become scientists and artists and observe their environment using scientific, somatic and sensory methods-science research and movement research. We will have several public events during the research process:

  • July 17: Walk through the wilds of North Brooklyn, with an informal talk by a specialist in plants and botany.
  • Aug. 21: Paddle and boat ride up the Newtown Creek and around the East River and informal talk by a specialist in marine life.
  • Sept. 11: Bike ride through the environment with informal talk by a specialist TBA

For the presentation of our data, professional performers and scientists and general public will create events that will reflect what we’ve learned over the months of research-a dance on site, both performed and participatory; a kayak convoy that is both experiential (for the kayakers) and performative (for the invited audience on shore); a sound collage transmitted by radio along the route, a film of movement research in secret sites. Events will take place on the weekend of Oct 2 & 3.

Project Collaborators
We are a group of artist-scientists who are choosing to exercise both sides of our professional lives simultaneously. Carolyn Hall is a marine scientist who just received her MS in Marine Science from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, New York in December 2009. Her thesis dealt with marine historical ecology. Hall is also an accomplished dancer who has been recognized internationally for her work with several cutting-edge choreographers. Kathleen McCarthy is an ecologist who recently received her MS in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University, with a focus on freshwater ecosystems and the urban environment. Her thesis looked at amphibian life in storm water basins. She is also an award-winning visual artist who created work in public spaces for many years. TRYST is a collaborative group of artists who specialize in creating public interactions to create an unexpected set of circumstances. The two main TRYST collaborators on this project are Clarinda Mac Low and Paul Benney. In addition to her art practice Mac Low has been a researcher and science writer, mostly in HIV and medicine, for many years.

Sustainability in Theatre | Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2010

The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, a Los Angeles-based non-profit arts infrastructure organisation, presents an overview of current trends and practices in sustainability for theatre from around the world. We will be looking at UK initiatives from Julie’s Bicycle, the Arcola Theatre and White Light LTD, as well as those of the Broadway Green Alliance, York University in Toronto, Mo’olelo Performing Arts in San Diego and other theaters, arts organisations and artists from around the globe. Join us to learn about the growing momentum towards ecologically-minded arts making!

via Sustainability in Theatre | Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2010.

Arup’s Insect Hotel – Core77

Arup Associates have just won the Beyond the Hive Competition, sponsored by the City of London, to design a Bug Hotel for its parks. This one encourages the presence of stag beetles, solitary bees, butterflies, moths, spiders, lacewings and ladybirds by combining all these species’ required environments into one.

The ‘hotel’ consists of a vertical wall with cells divided into a voronoi pattern, where detritus and materials can be stuffed to creaqte the perfect environments for a wide variety of insects. The sides of the hotel are accessible to moths, and the top can absorb rain water through planting.

via Arup’s Insect Hotel – Core77.

Announcing the Open Call for Art & Science Collaborations, Inc. (ASCI) – Digital 2010

Announcing the Open Call for… Digital’2010: PLANET EARTH

Art & Science Collaboration’s 12th international digital print competition/exhibition to be held at the New York Hall of Science October 3, 2010 – January 31, 2011

Submission deadline:  August 16, 2010


Our blue planet, spinning like a jewel in our solar system, has been perceptually defined by the technology of each era, from believing it was flat, to the scientific understanding that Earth spins on its axis and has gravitational pull, to being part of just one of many solar systems. In terms of scale, humans are too small to viscerally comprehend our planet’s magnitude and the dynamics of its interconnected physical systems. We therefore break the concepts down into smaller parts, collect data and physical specimens of all kinds, and invent instruments to measure and track physical phenomena like earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes. However, we still cannot grasp the “big picture” of planet Earth unless we read, look at photos, and finally… use our imagination to envision/conceptualize it!

For Digital’2010, we invite artists and scientists to submit their original digital prints that reflect their perceptions of our planet. Are these perceptions changing as we learn more about Earth from explorers, scientists, and artists? What is the relationship between all living things and planet Earth? What images are evoked by calling it the blue planet or the peaceful planet or the changing planet?  What is the human impact on the whole planet? What is our concern for its future?


Maddy Rosenberg, artist, curator, owner/director Central Booking Gallery, Brooklyn, New York City

Patrick Hamilton, Director, Environmental Sciences and Earth-System Science,  Science Museum of Minnesota

Click here for Juror Bios…


  • Aug. 16, 2010: Entry deadline [midnight Pacific Time/USA]
  • Aug. 20, 2010: Notification of Juror Selections via email
  • Sept. 22-29, 2010: Artworks must arrive at the museum
  • Oct. 3, 2010: Exhibition opens at New York Hall of Science
  • Oct. 3, 2010: Online Exhibition opens at ASCI’s website
  • Oct. 3rd [3-5pm]: Reception at New York Hall of Science
  • Jan. 31, 2010: Exhibition closes at New York Hall of Science
  • Jan. 31, 2010: Arrange for pick-up or return shipping


Click here for GUIDELINES…[must read] This page also has links for sending online Entry Form and making your Online Payment.


ASCI was one of the first organizations in the world to recognize the digital print as a valid fine art product in 1998 by organizing an afternoon panel discussion, “Collectibility & the Digital Print.”The event was held in The Great Hall at Cooper Union, New York City, in conjunction with ASCI’s first international digital print competition/exhibition.

Click here to see ASCI’s 11 previous archived digital print online exhibitions


Founded in 1988, Art & Science Collaborations, Inc. (ASCI) is an international organization based in New York City. Its mission is to raise public awareness about artists and scientists using science and technology to explore new forms of creative expression, and to increase communication and collaboration between these fields.  Explore our extensive archives of past Exhibitions, Featured Members, ASCI Member News, and Homepage Listing, and discover the amazing resource information in our monthly ASCI eBulletin. [a benefit of membership]

via Art & Science Collaborations, Inc. (ASCI) – Digital 2010 – Intro.

The green roots of carbon-neutral comedy | Culture | The Guardian #edfringe

This is Comedy in the Dark, a late-night comedy revue at the Gilded Balloon performed, as the title indicates, with the lights off. It’s one of a number of Fringe venues and shows forging an unlikely link between comedy and the green agenda. At the (Almost) Carbon Neutral Comedy Club, at the Counting House, comics perform without microphones, and all flyers are printed on recycled paper and must be recycled at the end of the festival (the “almost” has crept in because some lights are kept on). And at the Pleasance Courtyard, a large, brightly painted ark – made of reclaimed materials and powered, in part, by children energetically riding a small, bicycle-driven dynamo – is providing an unusual, eco-friendly venue for children’s comedy and storytelling.

via The green roots of carbon-neutral comedy | Culture | The Guardian.

The Faculty of Fine Arts at York University (Toronto – Canada) invites proposals for papers for Staging Sustainability: Arts, Community, Culture, Environment, a conference taking place April 20-22, 2011.

The conference will provide an opportunity for artists and those who support the arts in a myriad of ways – from scholars, critics, producers and designers to policy-makers, industry and government – to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue about issues associated with the creation of environmentally sustainable arts practice and performance.

The conference committee welcomes proposals for papers that consider the relationship between the cultural and ecological aspects of sustainability in the arts, and may encompass aspects of subjectivity with respect to community and identity.

Please forward a 250-word abstract of your proposal, including your name, affiliation, mailing and email address to:
Ina Agastra, Executive Assistant to the Dean
Faculty of Fine Arts, York University

Submission deadline: September 1, 2010

Conference website:

Halesworth’s Smooth-ie Transition to Pedal-power

On Saturday 10th July, passers-by in the Thoroughfare were offered a free Smoothie in the blazing heat. The only snag was that they had to pedal for it!  but they soon saw how little energy it takes to pedal yourself a smoothie, and keep fit at the same time.

Meanwhile the Bike Aid scheme (formerly Cycle Aid) received contributions to its emergency repair kits: puncture kits, tyre levers, spoons, spanners, inner tubes all to be placed in pubs, shops and other public places in and around the town.

Each Bike Aid location will have a window-sticker to advertise the kit.  If you’d like to know more, go At the same time, you can look up the route of the Halesworth Wheel, a 20 mile circular route on quiet roads around the town.

The Wheel and the Bike Aid scheme will be launched by a family fun ride on Sunday 5th September organised by Sustrans. Find out more on the website and look out for posters around the town.

Event organisers Halesworth in Transition (HinT) are part of a widespread and growing grassroots movement of people who are taking a positive attitude to preparing for the impacts of climate change and peak oil (“peak oil” is when cheap and easy-to-get oil runs out).  Cycling is a practical, cheap, healthy and non-polluting alternative to generating power by using oil. The smoothie-maker is just one way of having fun while getting fit, saving money, and protecting the environment.

Many towns are already part of the international Transition movement. Locally, this includes Bungay, Beccles, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Norwich, and Ipswich. HinT is not affiliated to any political party and is a non-profit-making organisation run entirely by volunteers.

For more information about this event and other activities phone 01986 875323 or email

culture | futures

How a ‘spiral of engagement’ of Culture, Sustainability & Policy intends to create an Ecological Age by 2050

by Juhi Shareef, Martin Farrell, and Olaf Gerlach-Hansen

Published in the Winter edition of the CSPA Quarterly, which was focused on the 2009 United Nations Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen.  To view or order back issues, visit  To subscribe to the CSPA QUARTERLY, join us!

In 1982 UNESCO defined culture as

“… the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group. It includes not only arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions and beliefs.”


Culture|Futures is an expanding, positive ‘spiral of engagement’: a collaboration of organizations and individuals who are concerned with shaping and delivering a proactive cultural agenda to support the necessary transition towards an  ‘Ecological Age’ by 2050. Culture|Futures is the brainchild of Olaf Gerlach-Hansen from the Danish Cultural Institute and Peter Head from the engineering firm Arup and was first presented at the UN Climate Change Summit (COP 14) in Poznan, Poland. The positive reception it received has since led to ongoing activities in London, Brussels and recently, a three-day Launch Symposium and Working Seminar in Copenhagen in the run up to COP 15.

This was organised in collaboration with many important international cultural organisations and actors in the cultural field, including the European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC), the International Federation for Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies (IFACCA), the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF), Arup, Cultura21, the European Cultural Foundation, the Association for Performing Art Presenters and the RSA. UNESCO and the European Commission also attended.

These events brought together well over a hundred artists, musicians, filmmakers, architects, designers, international cultural institutions and many more cultural actors and organisations from 27 countries and 5 continents. The participants discussed the cultural sector’s visions for an ecological age and the relationship between cities, culture and an Ecological Age. These discussions were facilitated by a draft Background Paper, comprising practical actions, sustainability  recommendations and case studies, that is currently being reviewed to include feedback from participants. A strategy is now being developed based on the event outcomes.

A key outcome of the Culture|Futures events was a letter to the then President of COP 15, Connie Hedegaard. The letter stated that “a large number of private sector, public and civil society, cultural organisations in the world have agreed to collaborate on a cultural agenda to achieve a sustainable future by 2050” and called for COP 15 to formulate “a cultural agenda”.

What is an ‘Ecological Age’?

 An Ecological Age is defined as having achieved an 80% reduction of carbon emissions in developed countries compared to 1990 levels (50% reduction at world level), the lowering of the global ecological footprint to 1,44 gha/person based on a projected population, and furthermore an improved Human Development Index.

This definition is a contribution from Peter Head, a Director at Arup – the design-engineering firm better known for the engineering of the Sydney Opera House and the ‘bubble cube’ aquatics centre at the Beijing Olympics that has also  developed detailed designs for the eco-cities of the future.

As part of the Brunel Lecture Series, Peter Head in 2008-9, discussed the definition in the lecture ‘‘Entering the Ecological Age: The Engineer’s Role””

 which has been peer-reviewed by numerous international organizations and NGOs. The    lecture content has been informed by an ongoing dialogue with business leaders and policy-makers who have shared   practical realities, local solutions and best sustainability practices from each location. One of the outcomes of the dialogue has been  a powerful message that an Ecological Age will not be achieved without widespread cultural and behavioural change.

The Role of Culture

The cultural sector has a unique part to play in creating an Ecological Age by 2050. It is trusted, collaborative, interactive and transformative – and it is everywhere in all communities, in rich and diverse shapes and forms.

The cultural sector is understood to be an interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral, inter-genre collaboration, which encompasses policymaking, intercultural dialogue/cultural relations, creative cities/cultural planning, creative industries and research & development.  Cultural actors are people, institutions and enterprises in art, design & architecture, film & media, cultural heritage, sport, education, leisure, communication and many more areas. 

Many cultural actors choose to express their perspectives about sustaining life on earth through their chosen media.  In diverse and creative ways they bring their perspectives alive and as they do so, the thinking and behaviours of people and communities are affected and gradually begin to change. As living sustainably gradually becomes accepted, an Ecological Age evolves.

However, we face a cultural challenge of enormous proportions. An ecological transition can fail if it is not supported by cultural development. Political, economic and technological solutions are crucial, but they are not enough. For example, without cultural development these solutions can be expected to face a backlash from voters that would undermine political will for new ecological policies, and even support the return of previous unhelpful policies. As stated by  UNESCO:

“Achieving sustainability will depend ultimately on changes in behavior and lifestyles, changes which will need to be motivated by a shift in values and rooted in the cultural and moral precepts upon which behavior is     predicated. Without change of this kind, even the most enlightened legislation, the cleanest technology, the most sophisticated research will not succeed in steering society towards the long-term goal of sustainability.”

Diversity is essential to the ecological cultural transformation. The UNESCO 2005 convention on “The Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions” provides a normative cultural policy instrument to constructively deal with the challenge of retaining diversity in the face of globalisation.

New cultural responses and paradigms are still under development and urgently required; the positive incentive of a better future life arguably outweighs the negative. Culture has a fundamental role to inspire as well as the inevitable requirement to make its own practices sustainable. 

Culture, climate and ecology are all cross-sectoral policy issuess. Addressing the cultural dimension of how to deliver an Ecological Age by 2050 is thus relevant not only to cultural sector policies, but to all policies at local, national and  international levels.

Underpinning Principles

Participants of the Copenhagen events and the wider Culture|Futures community have been asked to consider the principles which will inform the further development of Culture|Futures.  Based on the input to the discussions at the  Copenhagen Culture|Futures working seminar, the preliminary formulation of these principles is that Culture|Futures will:

Proceed with a sense of modesty in service to the noble idea of creating an Ecological Age.  Culture|Futures will therefore seek recognition for itself only in so far as it achieves this goal – it will not seek to create a self serving brand identity.

Seek to engage cultural actors across the globe. Culture|Futures is seeking to sustain human and all life by addressing global warming, the planet’s limited biocapacity and human development, which are all interdependent and global issues. 

Create an enabling environment for cultural action by (1) advocacy and bridgebuilding vis a vis governments and other large stakeholders for establishing policies, strategies and actions, which together will enable the ecological age; (2) offer a global platform for diverse culture actors from different sectors, who freely act from their own local, regional or international base, to inspire each other; and (3) encourage research on best practices fostering sustainable living, behavior and structural change.

Hold the vision and imperative of an Ecological Age in 2050 whilst being realistic about what can be done immediately and quickly to move towards it.  This means that planning horizons, particularly now, are short (eg now to summer 2010, and the following few years), but may extend as Culture|Futures unfolds.

Three Strategic Objectives

The strategic direction for for Culture|Futures over the coming years is now being considered, having first been outlined at a meeting of key partners in Brussels in October 2009. The current three, mutually interdependent, strategic objectives for Culture|Futures are:

i)   Advocacy and bridge building with key stakeholders, with a priority on cities

I.e. to create an enabling environment for cultural actions which together will create an ecological age by 2050 by collaborating with key stakeholders. One key focus is likely to be urban development: urban cultures will   increasingly be decisive for shaping the conditions for sustainable living. With cities moving from constituting 50% in 2010 to 75% of world population in 2050 and therefore carrying much of the ecological strain related to this change, they are a natural choice for an initial strategic focus for global cultural action.

ii)  Building a worldwide platform for cultural action for sustainable living

This will mean the establishment of a global cultural platform which will enhance the ability of key actors in the cultural sector to partner with other stakeholders to take cultural actions for sustainable living.

iii) Building a basis for research, learning and inspiration

I.e. to i) establish research on cultural actions for sustainable living ii) communicate research and learn to inspire and improve practices  iii) build an evidence basis for assessing which actions are most efficient in relation to achieving the goal of sustainable living and an Ecological Age by 2050.

Whilst 2050 is four decades away, it is essential to act now to strengthen dialogues, foster synergies, learn and share best practices, and do what culture does best: inspire.

For more information, including the programme of events at Copenhagen, the Background Paper, visit:

To join the Culture|Futures community and contribute to the conversation, visit: Also on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.



Martin Farrell of get2thepoint:

Olaf Gerlach-Hansen of the Danish Cultural Institute and Culture, Development & International Cooperation (CuDIC):