Yearly Archives: 2019

‘We Have More Agency Than We Realize’: Curator Lucia Pietroiusti on How the Art World Can Tackle Climate Change

Lucia Pietroiusti, Curator of General Ecology at The Serpentine in London, says,

“The more I spend time with the practice of ecological thinking, the more I realize that one solution or a one-toned approach is just not the answer. I am driven by the fact that it is becoming quite clear now that we are a little bit past the point of any sort of realistic reversal of the effects of climate disaster. Because of that, I am attached to the idea that you need pluralistic voices.”

She goes on to say,

“My great hope would be for every art institution to have an ecology department. It does not necessarily have to be someone like me who talks about plants, but it should be someone who looks at institutional strategy and environment at the same time, at how this institution relates to others, and how it sits within its urban landscape.”

and,

“There is a necessity to open up the disciplines so that we can face giant considerations like climate change. If departments do not collaborate, then everyone is just seeing things through a small keyhole. What would it mean to operate an institution as a permaculture, and less like a monoculture? I am really obsessed with the fact that metaphors are real and that you can move between the metaphoric and the literal in your program. When you do that, that’s when you start to see things differently.”

There are organisations exploring what this means in their own contexts including several significant ones in Scotland, including The Stove in Dumfries, North Light Arts in Dunbar, Creative Carbon Scotland, and there is a bit of a cluster in Aberdeenshire with SSW, Deveron Projects, and The Barn.

The Barn, in working with the pioneering ecological artists, Helen Mayer Harrison (1927-2018) and Newton Harrison (b.1932) to develop a vision for Scotland, On the Deep Wealth of this Nation, Scotland, have raised the stakes for the cultural sector’s involvement with these issues.

Read the whole interview on ArtNet

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

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Emissions reporting and carbon management planning update

Creative Carbon Scotland is once again supporting organisations with carbon reduction responsibilities under their funding agreements.

Caro Overy will again be working with Creative Carbon Scotland as our Carbon Management Planning Officer and will be available from mid-August to support all organisations required to submit emissions reports and carbon management plans under their funding agreements. This year, she will be supporting Creative Scotland Regular Funded Organisations (RFOs) to submit their information by 27th September 2019 and, for the first time, supporting organisations receiving cultural funding from City of Edinburgh Council to submit their information by 4th October 2019.

Carbon Management gives organisations an opportunity to measure, monitor, and ultimately reduce their impact in a practical way. While Creative Scotland RFOs have been required to report emissions since 2016, 2018 was the first year there was any requirement around carbon management planning. The organisations have committed to a carbon reduction project in each of the three years of their current funding. Examples from some of last year’s plans included organisations planning strategic reductions in flights, planning to provide artists with tools and expertise for green touring, and some organisations planning the replacement of existing lighting with LED alternatives. We saw high uptake and lots of positive engagement with carbon management planning and are looking forward to finding out how organisations have progressed against their plans.

As with all plans, there will be some carbon management plans that have been more successful than predicted, and others where challenges have held back progress, and others where things have gone as expected. All of this will be part of our collective learning journey in carbon management and help to build the overall picture of how the arts in Scotland deals with its carbon footprint.

You’ll find information on our Carbon Management pages. We hope you find them useful. Even if your organisation isn’t currently obliged to report on your emissions or create a carbon management plan, our Tools and Resources can help you take practical action to reduce your climate impact.

Green Champions from Creative Scotland RFOs and City of Edinburgh Council funded organisations can find Guidance on their environmental duties on our website and will shortly receive an email with full details of requirements for this reporting and planning.

If you have any questions please contact Caro Overy to arrange support.

The post Emissions reporting and carbon management planning update appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

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Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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Creative Carbon Scotland Guest Blog: Meaning Making

The fifth in a series of blogs from playwright Lewis Hetherington about his work with Glasgow cycling charity Bike for Good and Creative Carbon Scotland.

Stick with me on this one folks. I’ve let my thoughts wonder freely.

Do you feel like you’re single when you film? That you’re not in the video or something?

This quote is from one of the young members of the Bike for Good community. She was asking Geraldine about the nature of filmmaking.

Turning the camera

As the film making process has gone on we’ve been encouraging them to take the camera from us. To point it at whatever they want to see captured.  And in this moment she quite unexpectedly turned the camera away from the group to point it at the two of us. As you can see I didn’t even have my jumper on yet. She asked me some questions about why I liked cycling, whilst I was still catching my breath from just stepping off my bike.

Shoulder of a person in a turqouise blue jumper

And then she turned to Geraldine and said:

Do you feel like you’re single when you film? That you’re not in the video or something?

Which has lodged in my brain as such an interesting question about what we’re doing as artists making this film, are we in it? Instinctively I think yes, we are in it. But in what way?

In a literal way now that we’ve encouraged the young people to point the camera at us. But also of course Geraldine and I are making choices about what to film, when to film. We capture things that interest us, in a way that we find illuminating, or pleasing, or thought provoking. Those points of interest though are always part of a feedback loop with Bike for Good as an organisation and the people who are part of it. They direct and guide the choices we make. It made me perhaps understand better my job title on this project, as ‘embedded artist’.

The importance of embedding

Beyond that though it made me think even more deeply about art and nature. It’s obviously a fairly massive topic and one I increasingly find myself preoccupied with, and this quote made me think about the importance of embedding myself and my making in the living world that I’m part of.

That sounds very grand, but I suppose it’s about trying to move away from the way that, one can argue, art distances us from nature. A beautiful landscape painting on the wall, is like a window we look out of, nature is over there, we are here. But in fact we are nature, nature is us, we are nature. And by extension art is part of of nature because it’s something we seem to have always done naturally. Mark making, meaning making.

Child fromthe Velocommunities project in purple

I’m lightly dipping my toes in deep waters here and if any of this feels interesting I’d recommend a book called Queer Ecologies in particular an article called queernaturecultures by David Bell, or reading Timothy Morton who writes (a lot) about the importance of collapsing our romantic ideas around nature and waking up to the reality of the ecology that we are part of.

Co-created communication

That opening quote also made me think about some of the fascinating theories around communication which I encountered when I used to work with deafblind people for Sense. There was a broad term which covered the gestures, sounds and body language used to interact with those who did not have formal language, and that term is co-created communication. It means you create your own micro language in the moment with your conversation partner/s. It demands real heightened presence, to be able to receive and transmit meaning when you don’t have a pre-existing set of rules to rely on. And really that could describe any meaningful interaction.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this as I wonder about making art in a climate emergency, perhaps we need an aesthetic revolution were we don’t just document and observe nature but acknowledge our non human collaborators as we attempt to co-create this world we find ourselves sharing.

Lewis and a boy on bikes

The images in this blog are screenshots from moments which may or may not make the final film. I was trying to capture cleaner images at first until I realised how much I liked the blurriness. It reflects that everything is alive. It’s all permeable. There is no neatly composed image that says everything we need to say. There is just a constant loop. Of communication. Of meaning making. Of co-created communication.


Lewis is working embedded with Bike for Good for two years in their VeloCommunities project to contribute to their activities widening access to cycling and helping Glasgow to become a more sustainable city.

This artist in residence is part of Bike for Good’s VeloCommunities Project, which is funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund. We’ll keep you posted of updates and developments on this blog, and please get in touch with any questions or ideas!

New project announcement: Velocommunities 1000th Climate Challenge Fund project                                      New project announcement: Velocommunities 1000th Climate Challenge Fund project 1

The post Guest Blog: Meaning Making appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

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Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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Wild Authors: Edan Lepucki

by Mary Woodbury

I was thrilled to chat with Edan Lepucki about her work in the field of climate change and storytelling. She is the author of the novella If You’re Not Yet Like Me and the novels California and Woman No. 17.

California debuted at #3 on the New York Times Best Sellers list and was a #1 Best Seller on the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle Best Sellers lists. California was a Fall 2014 selection of Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program. Edan and Stephen Colbert are now besties. Woman No. 17 received rave reviews from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications, and was #3 on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List. People Magazine’s books editor Kim Hubbard selected Woman No. 17 for the Book of the Month Club. It was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, PopSugar, and The Maine Edge. Edan created the popular Instagram Mothers Before, and she will edit a book inspired by the project, to be published by Abrams Press in 2020. She is the co-host, with fellow writer Amelia Morris, of the podcast Mom Rage.

Edan’s newest short story is “There’s No Place Like Home.” In a climate-ravaged future, it’s not easy to grow up. One girl is trying her best in a story about global catastrophe and personal chaos. Thirteen-year-old Vic is of the Youngest Generation, fixed in prepubescence after catastrophic environmental degradation. She’s also her father’s favorite student. But when he takes his own life, the perennially ingenuous Vic wants to understand why. As she sets out on her quest, Vic begins to learn that family isn’t something you’re born with – it’s something you build. Edan’s “There’s No Place Like Home” is part of Warmer, a collection of seven visions of a conceivable tomorrow by today’s most thought-provoking authors. Alarming, inventive, intimate, and frightening, each story can be read, or listened to, in a single breathtaking sitting. This short story, and perhaps even Edan’s novel California, appeal to audiences of all ages but might be particularly relevant to younger audiences worried about climate change.

Your novel California was recognized widely and was a best-selling, post-apocalyptic novel. I’m not sure if you consider it a young adult novel, but the main characters are in their early twenties and eking out a life and trying to get pregnant. Can you talk some about this novel? What impact did you imagine for the book?

I didn’t intend for California to be a young adult novel, though it certainly doesn’t bother me if young adults are drawn to it. I always get excited, and feel grateful, when I hear that the book is on a high school reading list, or that a college class is reading it. What an honor! I suppose it might appeal to younger readers because, yes, the married couple in the book, Frida and Cal, are in their early twenties. Also, due to the state of the world, they were never really given the opportunity to set down the roots of an “adult” life, so to speak. When they decided to leave LA and start a life with just the two of them, it was both out of desperation and hope: they were desperate to leave a ruined Los Angeles where there were zero opportunities; and they also were hopeful that they could forge a new life, remake the world as they wanted to, for themselves. That’s the folly and gift of youthfulness right there, I think.

In general, why do you think the world needs art and literature dealing with our environmental present, past, and future? And what are your thoughts about writing for or about younger audiences in this literature?

I believe it was Ursula Le Guin who said that speculative fiction writers aren’t writing about the future, but the present; that is, they’re holding a mirror up to the world and showing us how we see the world and ourselves in it. That is quite powerful, particularly in a time when we’re facing so many challenges, and we literally are creating the problem. Climate fiction can remind us of the consequences of our actions, and, at the same time, provide us a reason for fighting – moments of beauty in the natural world, for instance, or the resilience of human beings. Younger people will inherit this planet, which is why it makes sense to place them in these stories. I think, too, a young person is seen as having more potential, while also being more vulnerable, powerless – and that can be powerful, to experience as a reader.

I agree. Amazon has a short story collection titled Warmer, which is geared toward a younger audience and imagines a climate-changing world, and you are one of the authors. What sorts of things inspired your world-building and development of  the main character Victoria, who goes by “Vic”?

This story began with the sentence “Daddy died in the sauna” and went from there. Whose Daddy? Why call him that? How did he die?  I had no idea who Vic was until I started writing her, but I leaned into her bravery as well as her innocence, and I loved balancing the spark in her voice with a wariness. She’s tragic because she can’t truly understand her father, or her parents’ marriage, precisely because she is a child – and always will be, due to climate change. I didn’t figure that out until I was writing, though! Most of the time, I’m drawn into a character’s voice – the images they use, the sentence rhythm – and I realize who they are, through that.

In the short story, sentiment is artifact and death is not sacred. “To stop and mourn would have meant disaster.” This is revealed after Vic’s dad unexpectedly dies. We see the keeping of artifacts (from the old world to the new world) in this story and in California. Can you let the reader know what kinds of artifacts are in these stories, and why you chose them?

I didn’t mean to have this motif repeat in both California and “There’s No Place Like Home” – but I’d venture to say these sorts of powerful objects persist in all my work. In my second novel, Woman No. 17, for instance, a photograph becomes a kind of talisman, a signifier of identity. The artifacts in the other two works, though, definitely relate to a major loss, a sense that the world isn’t the same anymore. I love the idea of objects gaining or losing meaning as circumstances change. For Vic, an old sweater signifies a life she can never lead – for her, it’ll never ever be cold enough to wear a sweater. In California, Frida keeps an unused turkey baster; she will never lead a typical domestic life with big dinners. These characters are elegiac for opportunities and experiences they cannot have. I find it more poignant to express loss via the concrete, the literal.

 In the short story, one of Vic’s realization is that she and her friends would remain children until they die that they were in a stuck generation. This particular thought really haunted me. Can you tell us about this idea?

I didn’t realize this was the case until about halfway through the story, when she meets a boy about her age. Before then, I was struck by Vic’s childish use of “Daddy” and thought it might/should lead to something. When I began to write the boy, he too was young-seeming, and the reason dawned on me. This also haunted me!

Are you working on anything now, and will you continue to write fiction about climate change?

I’m currently editing a book based on my Instagram, Mothers Before, which showcases photos of women’s mothers before they became mothers; each photo is accompanied by the daughter’s prose about the photo, her mother, or both. That will be published in 2020 and I’m very excited! I’m also writing a new novel, that is a sort of family saga. It includes one teenager character (who grows into adulthood over the course of the book). For now, I am not writing about climate change, but I don’t think I’m done with the topic for good…

I just love Mothers Before, and I’m looking forward to your upcoming work! Thanks for joining us.

(Top image downloaded from Career Contessa.)

This article is part of our Wild Authors series. It was originally published on Dragonfly.eco.

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Mary Woodbury, a graduate of Purdue University, runs Dragonfly.eco, a site that explores ecology in literature, including works about climate change. She writes fiction under pen name Clara Hume. Her novel Back to the Garden has been discussed in Dissent Magazine, Ethnobiology for the Future: Linking Cultural and Ecological Diversity (University of Arizona Press), and Uncertainty and the Philosophy of Climate Change (Routledge). Mary lives in the lower mainland of British Columbia and enjoys hiking, writing, and reading.

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Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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Artist Opportunity – Public Art Commissions in Edinburgh

Call for artists to take part in an ambitious public art programme in partnership with Vastint.

We are working in partnership with international real estate organisation, Vastint, to deliver an ambitious public art programme as part of their building development in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh 2019/2020.

This programme will respond to the unique social and industrial heritage of the area. It will also be informed by a recent community consultation report that sets out a vision for a green public realm, promoting wellbeing, natural places to play and unwind, as well as areas for plants, trees and wildlife to flourish.

These permanent commissions will be integral to the architectural design and planning process of Vastint’s development.

Deadline for Notes of Interest
18 August 2019

For more information, please contact Sarah-Manning Shaw: programme@edinburghprintmakers.co.uk

Visit: https://www.edinburghprintmakers.co.uk/our-future-home/present/blog-article/public-art-commissions-edinburgh

The post Artist Opportunity – Public Art Commissions in Edinburgh appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

———-

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Powered by WPeMatico

Wild Authors: Marissa Slaven

by Mary Woodbury

I talked with Marissa earlier this year after publishing her young adult novel Code Blue (Moon Willow Press, 2018) and thought this novel would be an excellent addition to our focus on spotlighting authors who write global warming fiction for teen and young adult fiction audiences.

We’ve entered an age where the world is exponentially changing – politics, environment, social, and economic issues – and have now recognized climate change, extinction, and the Anthropocene as our new reality. We’ve seen youth begin to take the reins to lead us through our problems, and it is inspiring. But we’ve also seen apathy and hopelessness. Fiction, like all art, can help us dream, imagine, hope, cope, and change. As Marissa said:

I believe that eco-fiction is a vitally important genre given the environmental challenges we are facing. We need all sorts of stories right now, stories of darkness and of light, stories that tell us what to be afraid of and stories that give us hope. I know that I still have so much room to grow as a writer, and so much to learn about the craft.

Code Blue is a young adult speculative thriller mystery set in a not-so-distant future where rising temperatures and sea levels have dramatically reshaped the world in which we live. Young adults and teenagers who worry about our planet will get something from this novel and at the same time relate to it on a personal level as they worry about their immediate futures: can I get into the college I want, and their planet’s present and future: how will global warming change our home, our lives?

The novel opens with sixteen-year-old Atlantic “Tic” Brewer about to take the North Eastern Science Academy entrance exam, the gateway to attending the world-renown school known for fostering the leading scientists fighting climate change. It’s just Tic and her mom at home – before she was born, her dad was tragically killed in a boating accident while he was on a research trip in the North Atlantic. He was a hydrologist, and Tic wants nothing more than to continue her father’s research and help stave off the impending crisis of rising sea levels. That’s where the NESA comes in.

When Tic’s acceptance letter arrives, she’s thrilled and a little anxious. But before she can get settled at the prestigious boarding school, she finds a mysterious note that says “just in case” and a strange sequence of numbers on the back of a photograph her mom sent with her, the last snapshot taken of her dad and mom together before his trip. Did he know something was going to happen to him? Tic enlists the help of her new friends to track down any clues about her father’s research, and while working on her own hydrology project, Tic discovers some startling facts of her own. Life on Earth might be much more precarious than anyone has let on.

The novel combines mystery, romance, and climate change – all these things are what most teens and young adults have on their minds. Diane Donovan, senior reviewer at Midwest Book Review, said of the book:

Rising oceans, a vastly changed environment, and people who struggle to survive in this new world are not unusual; but what is notably different in Code Blue is a survival account of this changed world as seen through the eyes of a teen who lives behind a barbed-wire fence that stretches some 28,000 miles, designed to either protect or barricade those within (she’s not quite sure which applies)…Dystopian fiction comes and goes, and too many assume the trappings of formula productions; but the test of any superior story line lies in its ability to draw readers with powerful characterization and associations that lend to a reader’s emotional connections with events as they unfold. Code Blue holds a special ability to juxtapose both the bigger ecological picture with the microcosm of a young adult’s personal challenges as she moves through this world.

Having worked with Marissa for a couple years, I’ve seen her enthusiasm in action. Marissa is a mother, daughter, sister, palliative care doctor, blogger, podcaster, and author. She says that she has always loved reading and would devour any books she could get her hands on as a teenager. When it came to school though, she was a serious science nerd. As a grown-up, even when she had almost no money, she never denied herself books. She notes on her blog that she was lucky enough to go to Paris a few years ago, but had terrible jet lag and couldn’t sleep. Somehow a story came to her, and she started to write. Before she knew it, she had written a novella. So then she wrote some more, and her writing became her happy place – somewhere she could escape to after the kids were all in bed. Over the next few years she was lucky to have professional help from the wonderful people at Humber College and the undying support of her family, including her daughter Anna, who inspired her first novel Code Blue.

In my interview with Marissa, she said:

I was inspired to write Code Blue for my daughter Anna. She has always loved reading, and she and I were sharing dystopian books with strong female protagonists. I was happy that there were so many examples of girls saving the world. I kept looking for one in the mainstream market who saved the world not because she was brave, or could shoot arrows or jump off trains, but because she was smart. One day I decided that I would try to write one.

Together, Mom and daughter run the weekly Green Girl Talk podcast, which covers topics such as climate change and environmentalism to pop culture and everyday life.

I feel that this novel was refreshing and hopeful, because we have a likeable yet somewhat vulnerable young woman going through similar growing pains as modern day teens/young adults would – such as romantic uncertainty, concerns about family, and worries about the world. And, as in contemporary society, this young woman also faces big worries about global warming – only, in her time, it’s much worse than now. Despite this, she struggles to figure things out in an apocalyptic place surrounding her. The novel maneuvers our biggest environmental crisis into a palpable understanding of the human condition within planetary risk, and does well at that. I see Marissa on Twitter posting the hashtag #climatehope. When I asked Marissa: How important is it to tell these stories in fiction, and, talking more about hope, how do you think people can find hope in the constant despair around us? She said:

I believe Thomas King was right when he said “The truth about stories is, that’s all we are.” Whether the issue is climate change, as it is in Code Blue, or something else altogether, like socio-political issues (1984 or The Handmaid’s Tale), I think that stories connect us to our worries in a deep visceral way. Facts and statistics are important, but so much of what motivates people to action occurs at an emotional level, and I suppose it is this I am trying to connect with. Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, also talks about the importance of stories as they relate to climate change. She says that since the industrial revolution we have been telling a story of the planet as a machine that we can master and how this story has led to our current crisis. But she also says we are free to tell ourselves a new story about living in harmony with nature, a story where “no one and nothing gets thrown away” – a story of hope. I have so much hope. I know that terrible things will still happen as a result of climate change and that many people in positions of wealth and power are committed to making things worse. I also know that a lot is happening all over the world right now to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change. I know that science and technology, and social movements, are growing exponentially. I know we can’t fix everything, but we can fix some things, or at least I hope we can.

I was curious about how Code Blue appeals to all ages, including to adults like me. I found it to be refreshing and almost like a friend as I read through it. Maybe we all find parts of ourselves in Tic Brewer. I asked Marissa if there is a part of Tic in her and could she talk some about that. She said:

Right away I knew that I wanted Tic to be accessible. I wanted readers to think that the girl saving the world from climate change could be them. I didn’t want her to be a super-genius, and I couldn’t figure out how I could write a character who was smarter than I am. I definitely share some traits and experiences with Tic and am also very different from her in other ways. Tic has an automatic reflex to try to help others, and I think that stems from my own deeply held belief that helping others is what makes my life meaningful. I was able to draw on some of my memories of being a teenager. Like Tic I went to a small high school and often didn’t find myself challenged by the curriculum. I didn’t have lots of friends at school but wasn’t especially concerned with that. I also had three teens of my own while writing the book and found that helpful in terms of trying to keep things real. I think it wasn’t until after I finished writing Code Blue though that I realized that one of Tic’s defining issues is her absent father. My father, for whom I had great respect, was not physically absent as hers is. Nonetheless, I think there is a part of me that was always striving to find him emotionally and to impress him.

This article is part of our Wild Authors series. It was originally published on Dragonfly.eco.

______________________________

Mary Woodbury, a graduate of Purdue University, runs Dragonfly.eco, a site that explores ecology in literature, including works about climate change. She writes fiction under pen name Clara Hume. Her novel Back to the Garden has been discussed in Dissent Magazine, Ethnobiology for the Future: Linking Cultural and Ecological Diversity (University of Arizona Press), and Uncertainty and the Philosophy of Climate Change (Routledge). Mary lives in the lower mainland of British Columbia and enjoys hiking, writing, and reading.

———-

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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Q25: Time & Attention

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In an era marked by myriad crises (ecosystem collapse, political and social unrest, growing economic inequity), CSPAQ Issue 25: Time and Attention compiles various frameworks, tactics, and propositions for tuning our attention and contextualizing our place in time. An experimental philosopher, prisoners, a child, and others contribute their diverse perspectives, collectively and constructively building a discourse for how we might direct our time and attention. Guest Edited by Ryan Thompson.


SNEAK PREVIEW: Q&A WITH JOHNATHON KEATS

Ponderings on Population

by Julia Levine 

In honor of the UN’s World Population Day, I reflect on my relationship to the topic of global population.

My awareness of the concept of global population was sparked in my high school biology class, while covering carrying capacity in an ecological context. This was the same class that prompted my longstanding vegetarianism; the topics I studied in my early teen years really had an impact on me. Then in college, I read Stephen Emmott’s 10 Billion, a lecture-performance by the scientist-author himself, directed by Katie Mitchell in the UK. His strategy does not involve sugar-coating, as manifest even in the trailer:

There is substantive criticism of Emmott’s text and the research behind it, calling the piece “full of exaggeration and weak on basic science.” Emmott’s words are not easy nor fun to read/hear. However, now, media outlets are a-buzz about climate terminology, as prompted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg:

Just as there are many ways to call our climatic situation, there are many approaches on what to do about it: for example, my beloved Project Drawdown seeks to connect us back with nature by using demilitarized language. Conversely, according to a CNBC article, Emmott uses “everyday facts to exemplify the energy use we take for granted every day…in order to communicate to non-scientific audiences the ‘inter-connected’ nature of ecosystems and our consumption.” From Emmott’s perspective, “we are screwed.” 10 Billion conjures up helpless feelings about the state of our world, and pushes me out of my comfort zone. When I feel the extent of my comfort zone, I consider what it is that strikes a mental-emotional nerve. In the case of population growth, I think about the populations closest to me, my family. I think about parenthood, particularly motherhood. I think about my ability to have kids, to potentially add to the population. I think about my parent’s own decision, their choice to have kids and reproduce, thus adding to the population.

These thoughts are, in part, why I asked an all-female panel of sustainability pioneers about motherhood. I discuss this panel, hosted by Women in Global Affairs, as part of my Climate Week 2018 article. After academic presentations by the panelists, the event transitioned to a Q&A with the audience (of predominantly women). Specific questions arose regarding the power of women in sustainability. This included a question about the fashion industry, and how to wield consumer power to push companies towards less extractive and exploitative practices.

During the Q&A, I asked the panel about their relationship to motherhood, especially in the context of our planet’s carrying capacity. The question of whether or not to have children is one that I have the privilege to ask myself, and I have the tools to make whichever choice I desire. I take this for granted, but I know that not every woman has this privilege. I was curious to hear from the panel of seven women about their perspectives on this personal and politicized topic. Coincidentally, one panelist had to leave at that moment to go home to her newborn baby. Another responded that motherhood was one of the best things she’s done, to bring two people into the world who care and can enact positive change. A third panelist was also proud to be a mother, and recognized the people in her life that support her decision, and help her in balancing family and work. She emphasized her choice to have only one child, in consideration of the number of people already on our planet.

Finally, the fourth panelist Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, who lives in Kenya with her husband and two children, echoed pride in motherhood, and also broke open the conversation. She pointed out that my interpretation of carrying capacity accounts for the planet’s population living at the rate that we do in the West – that the whole world does not live this way, and that it’s not about how many new people are being brought into the world, but about how they are brought up (in the U.S., how they perpetuate a capitalist lifestyle). Wanjiru also took issue with the American mindset in general, one that in some ways sees itself as the creator of sustainability – other cultures have been living sustainable lives for generations, and the reason we are needing to scale up sustainability efforts is a result of Western consumption! As Wanjiru summarized, the individualism that leads to exacerbated climate change is the same mindset that elected Trump, all informed by our country’s genocidal beginnings.

For me, the power of the Women in Sustainability event was in the sheer number of women in one room together. We don’t often discuss topics of population, let alone carrying capacity, at the intersection of arts and climate. But the arts are aptly poised to open up spaces for difficult discussions, whatever form the creative act may take.

The UN’s approach to tackling this topic is to create a day like World Population Day, “which seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues.” This year’s theme “calls for global attention to the unfinished business of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development…where 179 governments recognized that reproductive health and gender equality are essential for achieving sustainable development.” Important reminders that the movement for a sustainable planet must come with justice and equity for all people, all over the globe.

This article is part of the Persistent Acts series which looks at the intersection of performance, climate, and politics. How does hope come to fruition, even in the most dire circumstances? What are tangible alternatives to the oppressive status quo? The series considers questions of this nature to motivate conversations and actions on climate issues that reverberate through politics and theatre.

(Top Image: Photo by James Cridland.)

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Julia Levine is a creative collaborator and vegetarian. Originally from St. Louis, Julia is now planted in the New York City downtown theatre realm. As a director, Julia has worked on various projects with companies that consider political and cultural topics, including Theater In Asylum, Honest Accomplice Theatre, and Superhero Clubhouse. She is on the Marketing team at HERE Arts Center and is Artistic Producer of The Arctic Cycle. Julia writes and devises with her performance-based initiative, The UPROOT Series, to bring questions of food, climate, and justice into everyday life.

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Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

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