Yearly Archives: 2019

An Interview with Scientist/Game Developer Dargan Frierson

This month I have for you a fascinating interview with Dargan Frierson, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, and head of the EarthGames group. Frierson and his colleagues recently published a video game for smart phones called Climate Quest. The game follows a narrative arc of collective action: people of various backgrounds come together to help mitigate the worst of the climate crisis. In our interview below, Frierson tells me what inspired the game, what he hopes players take away from the experience of playing it, and his plans for a new video game based on the Green New Deal.

You’re an Associate Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. What first drew you to this field?

From an early age I was quite interested in mathematics and computers. As I learned more about the climate crisis, I realized I wanted to apply those mathematical tools to help understand the future of our planet.  

What inspired you to make a video game based on climate change?

We need more ways of talking about the climate crisis that people can actually engage with. This is why I love Cli-Fi and think it’s so important for all kinds of artists to help get the word out. Video games are a great medium in particular for so many reasons. They’re deeply immersive for storytelling experiences. They can visualize invisible or slow processes with ease. And it’s expected in a game that the player will take on difficult challenges but eventually succeed, while learning along the way.  

Climate Quest. Credit: EarthGames/Dargan Frierson

What I love most about Climate Quest is that it focuses on collective action. Scientists, urban planners, and nature and animal lovers alike become the “heroes” of the game by working together. What do you hope players take away from this narrative?

The theme of the game jam we made Climate Quest in was “adaptation to climate change,” which is how we change infrastructure to help prevent harm to built and natural environments. It’s a topic that’s not discussed too much, but can prevent significant harm. We want players to learn about the hazards of climate change, and all the measures we need to be taking to prepare.  

Not everyone is able to adapt to a hotter climate, of course, so we need to be eliminating fossil fuels as quickly as possible, too. Some of our other games attempt to address how to transition to a 100% clean energy world.  

Tell me about the team who helped you build the game.

We made the game primarily in just 48 hours, during a Climate Game Jam sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the White House, and the Smithsonian. We had a University of Washington site for the jam and Zuoming Shi (a computer science grad student) and I worked on Climate Quest during the jam. Ben Peterson (Information School undergraduate) created the art in the weeks following the jam, and the whole EarthGames team helped to test and revise the game in the following months.  

One of the things I love about game design is that it requires so many different talents: art, writing, programming, sound design, and science. It’s fun to make things that none of us could have done individually.  

What has the response been like to the game so far?

The response from players has been terrific! We won first place in the country in the game jam, and Zuoming got to display the game at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. We wrote a teacher’s guide so the game can be easily used in classrooms. That original game jam was a great catalyst for our EarthGames group, which was just forming at that time. We’ve since evolved from a small informal meeting in my office to an official UW class, and have released over 15 games. Your readers might be most interested in A Caribou’s Tale and Life of Pika which combine simple gameplay with a narrative-based approach, or Cascadia and Drop, which involve text-based branching narratives .  

What’s next for you? Anything you’d like my readers to keep an eye out for?

We have a new game about the Green New Deal coming out very soon that we’re quite excited about! It’s an election campaign simulator. We’re also working on a strategy game about the future of the planet with Eric Holthaus, a climate journalist. Finally, we have a very talented student, Andrew McDonald, who’s working on incorporating location-based and augmented reality concepts into mobile games about climate.  

(Top image: Photo by Eric Michelman/More than Scientists)

This article is part of the Climate Art Interviews series. It was originally published in Amy Brady’s “Burning Worlds” newsletter. Subscribe to get Amy’s newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.

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Amy Brady is the Deputy Publisher of Guernica magazine and Senior Editor of the Chicago Review of Books. Her writing about art, culture, and climate has appeared in the Village Voice, the Los Angeles TimesPacific Standard, the New Republic, and other places. She is also the editor of the monthly newsletter “Burning Worlds,” which explores how artists and writers are thinking about climate change. She holds a PHD in English and is the recipient of a CLIR/Mellon Library of Congress Fellowship. Read more of her work at AmyBradyWrites.com and follow her on Twitter at @ingredient_x.

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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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Women of the World: Sing the Algonquin Water Song

by Susan Hoffman Fishman

I recently came across a 2018 YouTube video entitled, Sing the Water Song. Its inspiring message and plea for women everywhere to become Keepers of the Water so as to express gratitude for and bring attention to our endangered waters, has prompted me to share the video/song with the readers of this blog.

History of the Algonquin Water Song

In 2002 Grandfather William Commanda, an Algonquin Elder, asked Irene Wawatie Jerome, an Anshinabe/Cree, to create a song that women attending the Circle of All Nations Gathering at Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg near Maniwaki, Quebec could learn and then spread throughout the world. As the history section of the song’s website explains:

Our water is under siege from pollution, climate change, mismanagement and corporate environmental disaster. Without clean water, we cannot live. In Native American, and many other Indigenous cultures, women are the Keepers of the Water, and men are the Keepers of Fire. In recent months, many brave women who are Water Protectors have captured the attention of the world whether at Standing Rock, attempting to stop the pipelines, or Flint, Michigan, demanding clean water for their children, or ever-increasing battlegrounds of environmental disaster. The Elders have understood since the beginning of time that clean water is essential for the survival of all living beings, and they continue to fight for Mother Earth’s most precious resource. Now, they are asking women to join them for one minute a day to sing to the water. It is incumbent for all of us, especially the women, to help them raise awareness and protect the water for future generations.

At the 2004 gathering on the grounds of Grandfather William Commanda’s retreat at the Kitigan Zibi Reserve, Grandmother Louise Wawatie taught The Water Song to Grandmother Nancy Andry and other women from seventeen countries around the world. There, Grandmother Andry was tasked with spreading its message everywhere. And so, for over sixteen years, she has been teaching The Water Song wherever she has traveled.

Of Algonquin and French heritage, Grandmother Nancy is recognized as a Sundancer and Sacred Pipe Carrier, an Elder and a Grandmother. She is also a storyteller who shares Native legends in schools, health centers and at pow wows. In the past, Grandmother Nancy was a facilitator for 17 years of a Native Women’s Circle in a federal prison as well as a member of the staff of the Joined Nations of Connecticut, an organization for young people of Native heritage. Most recently she owned and operated an equestrian business in Connecticut and is now using Horse Medicine at lectures on Native culture.

The Video

Sing the Water Song video

In 2017, as she saw the increase in fracking, the draining of aquifers and more and more destruction of the waters, Grandmother Nancy approached the Elders with the idea of producing a video that could be distributed through social media and reach a much broader audience. With the Elder’s approval as well as permission to use the song from the Wawatie and Commanda families, Grandmother facilitated the creation of the 2018 Sing the Water Song video.

As Grandmother Nancy explained, the women and girls portrayed in the video come from “all four continents” and include June Sun, a Buddhist nun from Japan, a Nigerian woman, a group of Lenni Lenapi 10 year-olds and Grandmother Nancy herself, who is 83. The video also features Grandmother Clara Soaring Hawk, the Deer Clan Chief of the Ramapough-Lenape and her granddaughter as well as Grandmother Margaret Behan, an Arapahoe-Cheyenne, fourth generation of the Sand Creek Massacre.

1527783722742-1.jpeg
Grandmother Nancy Andry. Still image from Sing The Water Song video.

The Podcast

Grandmother Nancy was interviewed in 2018 by Judith Dreyer for her podcast The Holistic Nature of UsDreyer has featured a broad range of guests who are “deeply concerned about the environmental issues of our time.” During the interview, Grandmother Nancy explained the purpose of the video and pleaded for action. Here is a sample of her heartfelt and powerful words from the podcast:

So, our only intent with this video is to get that song out for the women to pray every day for the water and to see that when this happens there are actually healings. Not only for the water, but for the women themselves who sing this song every day it’s, you know it’s magical and it’s almost hard to explain it because we are living in an era where we no longer believe in magical powers and they’re out there…

You know the words to the song literally mean, water is the life’s blood of Mother Earth, water is the life’s blood of our own body. And what this song and what so many activists, I mean environmental activists, it’s a call to sacred activism really. And you know people say, oh I’m just one person I can’t do anything. That’s not true because if every one person did something, it would be so amazing. We’re seeing that particularly with the youth’s march, with this young girl from Sweden who is up for a Nobel Peace Prize.

And you know, what we need to fight is the privatization of water. I refuse to buy water in a bottle. I’m very fortunate that I have good drinking water here in my house and I understand that some people don’t and have no choice but to buy bottled water. But can you imagine, I think a bottle of water probably costs $1.25, $1.50 – I don’t know because I don’t buy it. Imagine if that bottle of water was $20 or $30 because if the supply is dwindling and it won’t be accessible, can you imagine the loss of human life?

We’ve already seen it with animal species when dolphins are washing up on the shores of France and what have you. So how can we do this? Well first of all ladies out there please sing the water song. Teach it to your daughters, to your daughter’s friends because we’re stealing from our children. Every time we destroy another piece of Mother Earth we’re stealing from our children. There are species of animals, birds, plants that our grandchildren will never see because they’ve gone. They’re simply gone. It has to stop – the madness has to stop. And we do have to turn to different alternatives, get away from fossil fuels. Wind power, solar power, there are so many options out there, but you see the 1% money-making, greedy people, they are so shortsighted. Don’t they understand that when the water is gone, their money won’t buy them the water either. I mean you wonder where their heads are sometimes and they’re stealing from their grandchildren.

Sing the Algonquin Water Song

So, women of the world, here are the instructions and phonetic lyrics for singing The Algonquin Water Song. Have a go.

Sing four times, each time facing one of the four directions in this order: East, South, West, North.

Nee bee wah bow
En die en
Aah key mis kquee
Nee bee wah bow
Hey ya hey ya hey ya hey
Hey ya hey ya hey ya ho

(Top image, left to right: Grandmothers Nancy Andry, Margaret Behan and Clara Soaring Hawk. Still image from Sing The Water Song video.)

This article is part of Imagining Water, a series on artists of all genres who are making the topic of water a focus of their work and on the growing number of exhibitions, performances, projects and publications that are appearing in museums, galleries and public spaces around the world with water as a theme.

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Susan Hoffman Fishman is a painter, public artist, writer, and educator whose work has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries throughout the U.S. Her latest bodies of work focus on the threat of rising tides, our new plastic seas and the wars that are predicted to occur in the future over access to clean water. She is also the co-creator of two interactive public art projects: The Wave, which addresses our mutual need for and interdependence on water and Home, which calls attention to homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in our cities and towns.

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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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Tickets launched for Green Arts Conference 2019

We’re delighted to announce you can now get your tickets for the Green Arts Conference 2019 which will be held on Tuesday 8th October in Edinburgh.

A fun, informal gathering of passionate sustainability experts and actioners. Expect to leave inspired, equipped and surprisingly satisfied with vegan desserts.’ –  2018 Conference Attendee

Organised by Creative Carbon Scotland, the Green Arts Conference showcases how and why Scotland’s cultural sector is responding to the climate and environmental crisis. Through exciting speakersinteractive workshops and community networking it provides a rare opportunity to share the innovative steps being taken to reduce the environmental impact of the arts and understand their crucial role in creating a more sustainable Scotland.

Book Your Ticket!

This year’s conference will focus on climate justice. We will be looking at how climate change connects to human rights and development and raising the profile of how the arts can contribute to this area as well as continuing to provide knowledge sharing, practical workshops, and opportunities to hear from sustainable suppliers.

Ticket Types for Organisations
To enable as many cultural organisations to attend as possible, we have created a range of ticket options for this year’s Green Arts Conference, with Early Bird tickets available until 30th August and a concession ticket for freelancers, students and those between jobs or working in organisations with turnover less than £50,000 per year. You can find all the tickets on the Green Arts Conference 2019 page. 

Travel and Participation Bursary
This year, we have identified a small fund to support those who may find it difficult to attend our conference as a result of distance (more than 50 miles from the event venue) or personal circumstance (such as caring responsibilities) with up to £50 available towards their participation. If you would like assistance to enable your participation in the 2019 Green Arts Conference, please request a bursary on our website.

You can find out more about previous Green Arts Conferences including conference reports here.

Book Your Ticket

The post Tickets launched for Green Arts Conference 2019 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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Democratized Ecosystems

With the advent of modernity, the balance of nature has been disrupted by the lightning speed at which human-engineered technologies have ignited.

In my telescopic paintings and mixed media artwork, I investigate societal constructs and existential narratives of equality, hierarchy in nature, and human interaction within the physical world. I examine the juncture between industry that sustains humans and the condition of the Earth that nurtures all forms. Through the looking glass of my fascination with alternative universes and mystical states of mind, I create ethereal worlds fertilized with dichotomies. Whether tension or coexistence reigns in each of my pieces, all are ripened for renewal. Cultivating conversation about biodiversity, environmental sustainability, planetary stewardship and purposeful progress are territory that I navigate. It is a precipice where I imagine sitting down with Albert Einstein, Martin Buber and Plato. Legs dangle on the edge ready to leap into a science and philosophy mind-meld.

2 He:Sustaining. (2017 National Award, Best in Show.) Oil, acrylic, charcoal on canvas. 84″H x 84″W.

From this viewpoint, I experiment with varied viscosities of acrylic and oil paint, grittiness of sand paper and luminosity of stand oil representing water, air and land. By design or accident, systems of saturated greens, reds, oranges and violets change with intensity and texture. Layers of dripping and oozing abstraction become melting moss and floating fauna.

With the collision of content and materials, I aim to stimulate the experience of movement in my hybridized ecospheres. Constellations of natural imagery and human-made technologies that I pattern, weave in and out of existence like a game of celestial hide and seek. Clouds are the dominant playgrounds in which my deer, bulls, cement plants and water towers orbit. Their anomalies in scale symbolize every Alice who shrinks and expands in an unpredictable wonderland, as she/we navigate environmental dualities of harmony and tension, and political and social control and chaos.

Bonding with nature took root in my youth. The seemingly ordinary became extraordinary and the mundane transformed into mystery. Hidden ecosystems emerged as I became increasingly aware of the beauty of flourishing plant life, rugged rocks and minerals, and cool rippling streams and lakes of upstate New York and western New Hampshire. A bevy of rabbits, turtles, fish, dogs, salamanders and lightning bugs became adopted family and a supplementary classroom teacher as they ceaselessly entertained and enlightened me.

18 Ar:Sustaining. Oil, acrylic, charcoal, graphite on paper. 18″H x 24″W.

At 11 years old, I ritually climbed a 60-70-foot scrub pine in the woods behind our upstate New York home. Covered in the tree’s sticky honey-colored sap, inhaling the tantalizing scent of evergreen, swaying in the wind in the top bough, I created an imaginary world in which I could dance with the white billowing clouds in the baby blue sky. In one meditative moment, I realized that everything in nature was interconnected and all that existed was of equal importance. There was, and is, no hierarchy in our universe.

What did a small 11-year-old do with such a big concept? I dreamed. I dreamed of what could be if other people felt this universal connection to one another and all of nature. Two years later, on April 22, 1970, the birth of the twentieth century environmental movement known as Earth Day emerged in the midst of a tumultuous political and social climate that had cracked open the dangers to democracy and individual rights of United States citizens. Voices of college students decrying an ill-conceived Vietnam War and the sickness of racial and gender discrimination rang across our nation from coast to coast. Advocating for a sustainable planet, people from all walks of life and political persuasions banded together to create a united force. The public health epidemic caused by unregulated pollutants that permeated our nation’s air and water was exposed. The first major victory was the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency at the end of 1970. Environmental protection thus became intertwined in our national consciousness.

19 K:Sustaining. Oil, acrylic, charcoal on canvas. 84″H x 84″W.

That momentous movement connected me with a like-minded community. It seeded the activism that had been cultivated in my generation and had germinated in me. As an adult, my environmental voice, along with other political and social issues, were heard and seen predominantly through my art. Nature imagery inspired by my travels to Israel, Europe and in the United States illuminated the beauty and promulgation of ecological diversity worldwide. Other avenues for expression included volunteering in democratic political campaigns and the written word. For example, when living in Scarsdale, NY in the early 1990’s, I wrote about the health dangers to pets and people from spraying harmful pesticides on lawns and trees. Pursuit of perfection and display of economic status in the form of a weed free front and back yard was not a risk that I was willing to accept.

In 2016, I was invited to a month-long artist residency at Sun Peaks Center for Art and Sustainability, Colorado Springs, CO. Focused on environmental issues, this experience was transformative. My artwork grew larger in scale and the concept expanded in scope. Sourcing my Jewish/ Christian/ French/ Armenian/ USA multi-cultural background and trans disciplinary professional and academic experiences, I connected seemingly disparate ideas. Developing iconography from science, architecture, industry, language and religious text with environmental relevance, I layered symbolic narrative threads in the body of work I entitled, Democratized Ecosystems. More recently, borrowed imagery from the urban landscape of New York City and the tropical paradise of southwest Florida, and the Everglades in which I live, has entered my work. Coming full circle, with concepts grounded in my youth, I continue to plant new seeds of thought, grow awareness and cultivate conversation about contemporary clashes concerning climate change that impact the global community today and into the future.

(Top image: 20 Ca:Sustaining. Oil, graphite on canvas. 30″H x 48″W.)

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Renée Rey lives and works in New York City and Naples, Florida. Rey studied painting, art history, performance art, and interior architectural design on the undergraduate level and film and computer art on the graduate level, holding an MBA in Management and an MA in Jewish Education. Awards include Best in Show, Art Encounters National Competition 2017 by Jurors Jade Dellinger, Director, Bob Rauschenberg Gallery and Alejo Benedetti, Curatorial Assistant, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Curators selecting her work for numerous exhibitions include Dr. Julie Sasse, Chief Curator, Tucson Museum of Art and Erin Wright, Curator at LACMA.

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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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Open call for artists living in rural and remote locations

A selective membership programme for artists living rurally + interested in art + ecology.

Creating a vast global network of connected topographies and reaching to the world’s most isolated places, the Arts Territory Exchange (aTE) facilitates collaboration between artists in remote and wilderness locations such as, islands, deserts, refugee camps, small communities or for those that feel themselves to be ‘remote’ in other ways, cut off from the networks that usually sustain a practice.

Member artists are invited to exchange materials exploring ideas of territory, locality and place; documents from their postal/digital exchanges become part of an interactive living archive and evolving resource. aTE also hosts events, bringing together exchange participants and helping them to realise their collaborations in the form of exhibitions, lectures, publications, ‘face-to-face’ and virtual residencies.

The programme is particularly interested in working with artists who are or have become disconnected from the resources (such as academic institutions, audiences, debate and critique) that often stimulate practice, and in addressing the remoteness—be it due to geography, rural isolation, disability, refugee status, economic disadvantage, parenthood, displacement or disenfranchisement of any kind—that may be a barrier to the conversation and dialogue that nourishes artistic practice.

aTE promotes artists’ work and offers a number of alternative residency opportunities including their ‘Residency by Correspondence’ where artists are paired up with counterparts across the world to make and create work.

Membership applications are open until August 31st 2019 and they are reviewing applications on a rolling basis. Apply here.

Find more information on the aTE website and instagram: @artsterritoryexchange

Membership benefits include:

  • Becoming part of a world-wide network.
  • Having your work included in a permanent collection, the aTE Archive.
  • Automatic inclusion in our ‘Residency by Correspondence’ Programme (with entitlement to re-pairing as and when necessary).
  • The opportunity to have your work selected by interesting independent curators as part of a rolling exhibitions schedule.
  • Opportunity to be included in aTE publications.
  • Opportunity to apply for ‘face to face’ subsidised residency programmes
  • Opportunity to apply for travel and work development funds as and when they are available.
  • An artist profile on our website with links to your website/social media.
  • Promotion of your work in the form of blog articles and social media posts (in consultation with you).

Contact Gudrun@artsterritoryexchange.com with any questions.

The post Open call for artists living in rural and remote locations 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

Powered by WPeMatico

Ben’s Strategy Blog: Climate thinking-caps on!

This month Ben’s been talking to RFO leaders and Creative Scotland officers about ways to reduce their climate impacts and why they’ve only got a limited amount of time to do it. 

I’ve spent the last 10 days travelling the country running discussions with (mostly) the leaders of arts, screen and creative industry organisations that receive three-year funding from Creative Scotland, and some of the Creative Scotland officers who work with the 121 Regular Funded Organisations or, as they’re known, RFOs. We planned these discussions in the light of the increasing public awareness of the climate emergency, the challenging  targets in the Climate Change Bill going through the Scottish Parliament and the fact that RFOs are beginning to think about their applications for the next round of three-year funding, which will take them up to 2024 or 2025. They need to start thinking now about actions they can take to reduce their climate impacts up to the middle of the next decade. 

The response from the cultural sector to our invitation was very encouraging: over 100 people will have participated by the last session in early August. They represent about half of the RFOs and a similar proportion of Lead Officers. Moreover, whilst Creative Carbon Scotland has generally found it easy to work with Green Champions, we’ve had less success in getting the attention of their managers. This time it was quite different, and I received many emails both before and after the sessions saying how this was just the right time for discussions about reducing their climate impacts. 

I was keen to involve both RFOs and their Creative Scotland counterparts in the discussions so that when those Regular Funding applications arrive at Creative Scotland in due course, it won’t be a great surprise when RFOs say they’re changing their organisational models or programmes for environmental reasons. And this reflects one of the main conclusions from the sessions: partnership working, often with new partners, is requireso that cultural organisations (along with everyone else) can achieve the significant reductions in carbon emissions. 

The shape of the discussions

In the course of the sessions I took the groups through the Scottish Government’s new targets for Scotland to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to ‘net-zero’ by 2045. These targets are based on the IPCCs calculation that, after taking into account the GHGs we have added to the atmosphere already, globally we can only add between 420 and 580 Gigatonnes (Gt) more climate crisis-causing carbon dioxide and other GHGs if we want to keep the global temperature rise to a maximum of 1.5°CAs many GHGs remain in the atmosphere more or less indefinitely, this carbon budget is the total amount of GHGs that humans can ever safely add to the atmosphere, not just a temporary capWith annual global emissions currently at 42 Gt this gives us only a few years to make the change.  

I also explained the slightly nebulous concept of ‘net-zero’. Whilst some GHG emissions are inevitable, Scotland has the advantage that we have lots of space to plant more trees and world-class peat bogs that we can restore to soak up lots of carbon. But these opportunities are limited, and while artists may think their work is crucial to humanity, when the time comes to decide where the last tonne of carbon could be ‘spent’, I feel it’s more likely to go to healthcare or agriculture than keeping a theatre open. To this end I referenced the point made by Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the UK Committee on Climate Change, that ‘Within the UK, a 100% all-GHG target sends a clear signal that all greenhouse gases matter and all need to be reduced. No sources of emissions can qualify for special treatment. All emissions from all sectors must be eliminated or offset with removals. (UKCCC Net Zero report May 2019 p17) 

It can be different

The current crisis is as much a result of recent history as the remoter past. As David WallaceWells points out in The Uninhabitable Earth, we have emitted more greenhouse gases globally since the 1992 Rio Summit (i.e. since we have known about the issue)But, he remains optimistic, and this stems from the fact that our current crisis is a result of just one generation’s failure; the spur to action is that we have just one more generation to ameliorate the situation. And at the age of 57, I can testify to the fact that the way we live and work now is different to the way we did so at the beginning of my career in the arts in the mid-1980s. So, it can be different again in another 25 years’ time – but we’ll have to move fastThese two points are important to remember. It’s often difficult to believe that things can be different to the way they are now, but surely cultural organisations ought to be good at imagining different futures? That’s what artists do! 

Ideas for change

used another slide from Chris Stark’s presentation to remind us all that magical technology isn’t going to solve the problem for us: the UKCCC scenarios reckon that 38% of the work to achieve the 1.5°C maximum will be achieved by technological means or new fuels, 9% by purely societal/behavioural change and the remaining 53% will be a mixture of the two. In other words, ware going to have to fundamentally change our society. 

Direct GHG emissions from cultural organisations are not large, although the organisations do trigger a similar level of emissions as audiences travel to their events. But as social, as well as cultural institutions, they have an influencing role in the way in which they operate as well as through the artistic work they create, present and distribute. 

In the last part of the sessions, the RFO leaders came up with some ideas for changes they could make that demonstrate an interest in how climate change intersects with questions of wellbeing and equalitiesNearly all of these require some involvement with partners, ranging from discussions with Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government about reviewing their targets emphasising international travel and increased outputs to working with unlikely bedfellows, such as public transport providers, and joint working to increase the efficient use of capital assets. Some ideas are more radical than others and very few are simple to implement. I should emphasise that this was a quick brainstorming approach, and the projects have not been interrogated or thought through, but here are some of them: 

Buildings 

  • Move to opening four days a week to reduce energy usage 
  • Shift to genuinely renewable electricity – despite the increased costs 
  • Undertake a longterm national capital assets review – i.e. work out what buildings we really need, use them collaboratively etc.

Festivals 

  • Change model to a ‘distributed curator’ so less international travel by a central director, more ‘on the ground’ expertise in foreign parts 
  • More joint programming with other local and distant festivals 
  • Joined-up infrastructure planning (for everything from audience travel to power supplies) with relevant parties (local authorities, transport providersutilities etc.) 
  • Make every other festival a flight-free festival for artists 

Touring 

  • Shift from reliance on international touring for income generation to working with funders on making UK work pay 
  • Collaborate to get electric hire cars/vans available in Scotland 

Agencies 

  • Use an office-less model to reduce energy use and travel  
  • Reduce the current focus on expos, trade fairs etc as core business: we need to find ways to do things differently. Use digital means to achieve the same ends 

All 

  • Add a ‘green levy’ to budgets immediately so that we start pricing in the additional costs – and give ourselves, Creative Scotland and other funders time to understand the implications 
  • Creative Scotland can help by starting the conversation about core success measures with other big players, such as the Scottish Government etc. 
  • Work with public transport providers to facilitate sustainable audience travel 
  • Consolidate back-office provision: storage, services etc. 
  • Car pooling 
  • Switch immediately to vegetarian catering: no-one would notice! 

What do you think of these ideas? Do you have others? Let me know!

The post Ben’s Strategy Blog: Climate thinking-caps on! 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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Wind Tower as Photo Gallery

by Joan Sullivan

I’ve spent the lion’s share of the past decade photographing wind turbines from every possible vantage point: from the ground looking up, from the top looking down, from inside the towers and nacelles, from helicopters and drones, and even from the front seat of an 18-wheeler truck delivering 60-meter rotor blades up narrow mountainous roads to a wind construction site.

Yet in all those years, it never occurred to me that the blank walls on the inside of a wind turbine tower – thin metal walls that I had climbed past dozens of times on my way up to the nacelle – would one day serve as a gallery for my photographs of the turbines themselves.

Until last year.

In November 2018, two rust-colored metal wind tower sections were delivered to the Reford Gardens – les Jardins de Métis en français – as a donation from a wind tower manufacturer not far from my home in eastern Québec, Canada.

Slightly damaged, these two wind tower sections might otherwise have been discarded as scrap metal. But the director of the Reford Gardens, Alexander Reford, had previously expressed an interest in giving them new life as modern sculpture for a future garden project.

“I was immediately seduced by their simple elegance,” explained Mr. Reford. “I knew we could find a use for them at the gardens.”

The two wind tower sections spent their first winter at the Reford Gardens temporarily stored next to the popular Vertical Line Garden, designed by the US-based Canadian designers Coryn Kemster and Julia Jamrozik. I loved the juxtaposition of these two wind-inspired installations, one playful and ethereal, the other solid and grounded.

It was Mr. Reford’s idea to turn the two wind tower sections into a temporary outdoor photo gallery. I was honored that he asked me to propose a layout of images that would celebrate Quebec’s energy transition. I spent most of the winter thinking about this challenge, knowing that exhibiting photos inside of a curved metal tube is decidedly different – and more difficult! – than exhibiting on a flat gallery wall.

Throughout the winter, I visited the two towers multiple times on my snowshoes, standing inside and gazing upward, trying to visualize my photos spread out over a 180 ft² (16.7 m²) curved rusty surface with several imperfections. To the best of my knowledge, this would be the first photographic installation of its kind in North America, so I wanted to get it right.

By early spring, I had selected 24 photos – 12 for each tower – that would give visitors to the Reford Gardens a sense of entering a wind energy construction site. I gave priority to images of the workers – electricians, mechanics, iron workers – who are building Quebec’s clean energy future with their own hands. Below is the layout for one of the tower sections:

By early May 2019, the two wind tower sections had been moved next to the Maison ERE 132, a certified LEED Platinum building at the Reford Gardens that serves as an interpretive center to raise public awareness about eco-construction adapted to Quebec’s northern climate. The obvious ecological link between the Maison ERE 132 and the two wind tower sections made this a perfect spot for the photo installation.

Installation of the 24 photographs, printed on aluminum panels, started in mid-May. After breaking several standard metal drill bits, we quickly learned that cobalt drill bits are much more reliable for piercing raw metal. But the more important problem we encountered was spatial: after installing the first five photos, we noticed that the tower sections were not straight “tubes” but rather “cones” – a wind tower is larger at the base than it is at the top, so each tower section is slightly (imperceptibly) more narrow at one end than the other. This affected the original layout of my images, and I had to adjust the space and angles between each photo to account for the conical shape of each tower.

François Leblanc installing my wind energy photographs on the inside of two metal wind tower sections at the Reford Gardens, May 2019.
Alexandre Lépine and François Leblanc using a level before installing one of my wind energy construction photographs at the Reford Gardens, May 2019.

The inauguration of Winds of Change, my first solo photographic installation, was June 16, 2019. It will run until October 6, 2019 at the Reford Gardens in Grand-Métis, Quebec, Canada. If I can find supplemental funding for a second year, I hope to add audio recordings of the voices of some of these energy workers to give visitors to the Reford Gardens a more immersive experience of what it is like to enter a wind energy construction site.

Below is the text to Winds of Change, which explains my vision:

How can artists contribute to cultivating a post-carbon vision? This question is at the heart of photographer Joan Sullivan’s ten-year quest to help shift the climate change conversation from apathy to action, from despair to hope.

Resident of Quebec’s Lower Saint Lawrence, Sullivan found her artistic voice on the construction sites of some of Canada’s largest renewable energy projects. Through her lens, an industrial wind turbine becomes a beacon of home, designed by sapiens, powered by nature. Her goal is to seduce, to inspire others to visualize – to imagine – what a post-carbon world will look like.

Sullivan is part of a growing number of artists worldwide committed to “changing the narrative” about climate change by creating positive stories that offer a compelling vision of a post-carbon world we want to live in. As a renewable energy photographer, Sullivan has dedicated her second 50 years to documenting forward-looking stories that focus on solutions. Stories that invite audiences to ask themselves, “How do we get there from here?”

The message from Joan Sullivan’s body of work is consistent and simple: the technical solutions to climate change already exist. What’s missing at this existential moment is the political courage to go to scale. In this vacuum, Sullivan believes it is urgent for artists and architects and all creative souls to take their rightful place at the table alongside scientists, engineers, city planners, politicians and activists. Collectively, we must imagine a future of clean abundance and endless opportunity for all.

We cannot build that which we cannot imagine.

Text to Winds of Change installation
Reford Gardens, Grant-Métis, Québec, Canada
June-October 2019

Winds of Change photo installation at the Reford Gardens: 24 wind construction photographs installed on the inside of two unpainted metal wind tower sections.

(All images by Joan Sullivan)

This article is part of the Renewable Energy series.

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Joan Sullivan is a Canadian renewable energy photographer. Since 2009, Joan has found her artistic voice on the construction sites of utility-scale wind and solar projects. Her goal is to keep our eyes on the prize – a 100% clean energy economy in our lifetimes. Joan is currently working on a documentary film and book project about Canada’s energy transition. Her renewable energy photographs have been exhibited in group and solo shows in Canada, the UK and Italy. You can find Joan on ElloTwitter and Visura.

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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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