Yearly Archives: 2020

Sustainable Arts Foundation 2020 Awards

Now Accepting Applications
We’re pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for our 2020 individual award program.

Application Open: February 1, 2020
Application Deadline: February 28, 2020 5pm EST
Awards Announced: May 15, 2020

We will make awards of $5,000 each to twenty artists and writers with children. Additionally, we will name twenty finalists. Please see our website for all the details and complete instructions:
https://apply.sustainableartsfoundation.org/

The deadline to apply is Friday, February 28th, 2020, 5pm EST.Please note some changes in our individual award program; while we are no longer accepting portfolios from playwrights, we are increasing the number of funded opportunities available  to playwrights in our residency grant program, notably Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, SPACE at Ryder Farm, and New Harmony Project, among many others.

Please also see our Residency Grantee page for programs that support parents working in film, video, dance, and music: while we do not accept portfolios in these disciplines from individual artists, many of the residencies we support do.

We will now accept portfolios from artists working in jewelry, wearable textiles, and other crafts.

MORE INFO AND TO APPLY

Job: Project Communications Officer (part-time, to 31st December 2020)

Creative Carbon Scotland is seeking a part-time (one day per week / 0.2FTE) Project Communications Officer for a contract from 2nd March to 31st December 2020.

APPLY

Background

Creative Carbon Scotland – a charity initiated by Festivals Edinburgh and founder members, the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network – is a partnership of arts organisations working to help shape a sustainable Scotland. We believe that the arts and culture have an essential role in achieving the transformational change to a sustainable future. 

Our vision is of a Scotland where this role is fully recognised, developed and utilised by both the cultural world and others interested in sustainability. 

Our mission is therefore to connect the arts and culture with others working towards that transformational change in order to bring it about. 

Our objective is larger than achieving incremental change in small pockets: we want to form a network of creative individuals and organisations who together can alter perceptions and change society using the work they make and present, the way they operate and how they speak to the public. 

We work with artists and individuals, cultural and sustainability organisations, funders and policy makers, connecting them to the change process and exploring how the cultural sector can contribute.  

This is an exciting time for Creative Carbon Scotland (CCS) and our work. Since the declaration of the climate emergency by the Scottish Government and others we have been busier than ever and our knowledge, contacts and expertise are in constant demand. With work including two major EU projects and the COP26 in Glasgow coming up soon, we are seeking additional support in our communications work. Some of this will be supporting our collaboration with Climate Ready Clyde and Climate-KIC in the development of Clyde Re:built, a transformative adaptation strategy and plan for the Glasgow City Region, home to one third of the Scottish population. Some will relate to the COP in November. 

Therefore, we are seeking a part-time (0.2FTE) Project Communications Officer to support our Communications Manager in our press and PR work, developing project branding and templates, keeping our social media accounts up to date and lively, writing copy for our own and others’ websites, and generally implementing a complex and busy communications strategy and plan. Although CCS is based in Edinburgh, this work is largely Glasgow-focused, so being Glasgow–based would be an advantage and the ability to work independently is essential. Time is tight, so we are hoping someone can take on this role as soon as possible; ideally starting on 2nd March. CCS is a flexible organisation so work patterns can be tailored to suit the successful candidate.   

Application process  

Applications will only be accepted via the form below, unless alternative arrangements are made. If you wish to make alternative arrangements or have any problems in using the site, please write to alexis.woolley@creativecarbonscotland.com to seek assistance in good time before the closing date of midnight on Sunday 16th February (NB: this deadline was updated at 18:30 on 4th February).  

Please study the job description and person specification below closely and ensure that in your application you demonstrate clearly how your skills and experience mean that you meet the person specification and fulfil the needs of the role. Complete the form below and upload your CV, a covering letter explaining how you meet the person specification and two examples of your previous work in support of your application, as indicated on the form.  

Creative Carbon Scotland applies a strong equal opportunities approach to recruitment. To help us avoid unconscious bias when shortlisting, please do not use your name or provide your contact details on your CV or other uploads; use your initials. Do provide your name and contact details on the form. Please save your CV, letter and examples in the format [your initials_CV e.g. AB_CV], [AB_letter], [AB_eg1] and [AB_eg2].Your documents will be separated from your completed form details and we will assess your application using them only. 

We recommend submitting your documents as PDFs, though our system also accepts .doc documents. It does not accept .docx documents.

Applications must be submitted by midnight on Sunday 16th February. Interviews will take place in Glasgow on Thursday 20th February (NB: these dates were updated at 18:30 on 4 February).

Equalities

Creative Carbon Scotland is committed to equalities and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates: we will make reasonable adjustments where necessary to enable people with particular needs or requirements to work with us. Our Equal Opportunities Policy is available on our website.  Please complete the Equal Opportunities Monitoring survey here and confirm that you have done so in your application – this is anonymous and the information provided will not affect your application in any way.

Project Communications Officer – job details 

Salary: Up to £27,000, depending on experience, pro rata for 0.2 full time equivalent (1 day/week), + 3% of salary in pension contributions 

Reports to: Communications Manager

Responsible for: Any freelancers, as appropriate 

Hours0.2 full–time equivalent. This means a 7.5 hour week with a degree of flexibility on both sides, as some evening and weekend work may be required and busy periods may call for extra hours, with time taken off in lieu during quieter periods.   

Flexible working: Creative Carbon Scotland welcomes proposals for flexible working subject to the needs of the role being satisfactorily fulfilled. 

Holidays: 20 days plus 10 public holidays (pro rata) to be taken at times agreed with the Communications Manager. (For the period of this contract this will mean 3.33 days annual leave plus 1.66 days for public holidays, or four days in total.) 

Place of work: Creative Carbon Scotland is based at City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh, but this job could be based in Glasgow at the City Chambers with others in the Climate Ready Clyde secretariat. Home working and hot-desking will be necessary. Travel throughout Scotland may be required.  

Contract and notice period: This contract is for the period 2nd March to 31st December 2020. Due to EU funding for the role, it is not possible to take this as a freelance contract – it must be an employment contract. A probationary period of two months will apply, following successful completion of which the full, fixed–term contract will be confirmed.   

Secondments Creative Carbon Scotland is very willing to consider a secondment for this role.  

Equipment: Creative Carbon Scotland is BYOD. However, a laptop and mobile phone will be provided if required.    

Job Description

Main purpose of job:  

  • To support the Communications Manager in delivering Creative Carbon Scotland’s communications strategy and plan, in particular working on the Clyde Re:built project and our work on COP26. 
Responsibilities: 

A. Communications  

Clyde Re:built (70% of the role) 

Working with the Clyde Re:built team in: 

  • Press and PR relating to the project to stimulate uptake of the opportunities it offers potential partners 
  • Developing and producing the communications and engagement strategy and bi-monthly project newsletters. 
  • Setting up and managing social media accounts to ensure that our relevant partners and audiences are fully aware of the project and their opportunities to participate in it 
  • Developing (with graphic designers, as appropriate) branding and templates for the project 
  • Co-ordinating and producing copy for the Clyde Re:built partners’ and others’ websites to a high standard 
  • Managing the design and production of relevant project print materials, such as reports and meeting documents 
  • Designing and delivering stakeholder engagement events 

COP26 (20% of the role) 

Supporting the Communications Manager to:  

  • Build awareness of Creative Carbon Scotland’s work amongst UK and international attendees at COP26 through events, social media and web materials 
  • Use the focus provided by COP26 to increase Creative Carbon Scotland’s presence in the mainstream media through press and PR work. 

B. CCS strategy and team support (10% of the role)  

  • Participating in appropriate staff and one-to-one meetings  
  • Assisting the wider team with project delivery as appropriate

C. Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion  

  • Along with all members of the team, ensuring that CCS’ Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan is considered and acted upon in all the above areas.  

The list of responsibilities is not exhaustive and the employee may be required to perform duties outside of this as operationally required and at the discretion of the Director.  

Person Specification 

Essential characteristics 

  • Strong experience in press, media and PR, including producing and editing copy to a high standard and success in placing stories in specialist and general outlets 
  • Excellent contacts in the Scottish and/or UK press and media, particularly in the cultural or environmental fields 
  • Strong experience in establishing, managing and contributing to social media accounts 
  • Experience of working with others to design branding 
  • Strong experience of writing, editing and posting copy for and to websites 
  • Knowledge of Glasgow City Region cultural, business and social scenes 
  • Demonstrable knowledge of and interest in either the climate change or the cultural world, particularly in Scotland 
  • Demonstrable ability to work effectively and efficiently with little direct supervision 
  • Flair and imagination  

Desirable characteristics 

  • Video and image editing skills for social media and website use 

APPLY

The post Job: Project Communications Officer (part-time, to 31st December 2020) 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

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Guest blog: Solstice cycle reflections – seeking the source of the Clyde

In the midst of winter, James Bonner recalls a summer cycle I took on 21 June 2019 to the source of the River Clyde.

For the past few years I’ve sought to cycle somewhere significant on the summer and winter solstices – dates around 21st June and 21st December. These cycles have become a bit of a ritual-like pilgrimage for me.

For summer solstice this year, in the middle of my doctorate in which I am thinking about water, I thought to pedal to the source of the River Clyde – that body of water I see every day in my home city of Glasgow. I took the train to the town of Lanark and started cycling. This is some writing I did a couple of days later and, in a period in which I was struggling to write for my doctorate, this flowed out like a torrent. It fundamentally shifted the way I was writing in my research – I started to use the first person more frequently, and included much more about how I felt. It was a bit of a watershed moment for me in many ways. Reflecting on it later I started to see how it was influenced by some of the literature and writing that had been inspiring me in my research – in its ideas and style. Specifically, and as is probably evident to anyone who has read his work, the beautifully poetic words of nature writer Robert Macfarlane. And one of his influences, Scottish poet and writer, Nan Shepherd.

In academia it seems we learn to explain our research in terms of what we ‘think’, but often forget to explore how it makes us ‘feel’.

On Friday 21st June 2019, for solstice, I cycled to water. This is a short account of that journey:

I left Lanark on my bike with a rough course in mind to follow the Clyde to its source. I stayed as close to the water as roads allowed me, criss-crossing the river several times. Leaving it, but then coming back. It would disappear, then reappear, as I moved. For a long stretch I followed it near the motorway. A stream of cars and people to one side. The river to the other. I felt more for, and of, the latter.

After about 40km I left the main road toward Daer Reservoir – understood to be the ‘source’ of the Clyde. I talked to sheep to give them forewarning so they could clear from the road ahead. Some kites came down to look at me and swooped overhead. We moved together for some time.

Crossing the river more and more, it was increasingly moving in a lazy meander. Its path less constrained and ‘rational’. It is shaped by the landscape’s topography, but also forming the land as it went. A relationship of water and rock – creating and reshaping one another.

The road got rougher – moments to be apprehensive on a road bike. You worry about your tyres. But, at the same time you think this means I am further ‘away’, and that’s what I wanted. And that contradiction and unsureness is good.

I cycled on and eventually came to the reservoir. A gleaming body of water opened up – beautiful and peaceful. But there were warning signs. Danger, deep water, private. Water gives life, but it can take it. It doesn’t make sense. On along the waterside. I only planned to come this far and the road is narrowing. But I was flowing and I kept going.

I was intrigued. I was at the ‘source‘. The start. But at the ‘end’ of the reservoir I could see several smaller streams flowing into the water. And when I got there it was clear that this wasn’t the ‘source’. Feeding the reservoir are dozens of different sized streams and little watercourses. Coming down from the hills, the valley beyond, out of the landscape itself.

While my map indicated this is the ‘start’, being there it was clear that this is not the case. There is a water ‘behind’ or ‘beyond’ the water. A whole other layer. There is no ‘source’ or ‘start’. No linear narrative. The Clyde doesn’t ‘begin’- it’s a gathering process of its everyday, every-minute, every-second, emergent being. Where waters assemble and dissemble. Merge and separate. Shift and shape. And this NEVER stops. Any ‘map’, no matter its accuracy, paused this flow. It couldn’t ever represent the lived ‘reality’.

I was too far now and hungry. A gate, gladly, stopped me going further. I got off my bike at one of the many little streams that were not on my map. Hidden waters that don’t ‘count’. Water beyond the water – sources of the source. As ever, I TOUCHED the water’s surface. And when I did, I was sensing a few droplets of water molecules – the ones surrounding the surface of my hand. I ‘know’ this, as science tells me so.

But I have come to ‘know’ for something else about water. That when my skin touches the skin of the water, I am touching the whole stream. And the stream joins the reservoir. And that makes the Clyde. And that travels all the way back to Glasgow, and eventually to the sea. And that sea is part of the ocean. And all oceans.

That’s hard to comprehend. How to make sense of that? It’s ‘non-sense’, surely! But, at that moment of touch, it makes complete sense. A common sense.

The water and I have some ‘thing’ in common. We are the same. I am touching it. It is touching
me.

I am the water, and it me.


James Bonner is doctoral researcher and research assistant at the University of Strathclyde

The post Guest blog: Solstice cycle reflections – seeking the source of the Clyde 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

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When Water Speaks for Itself

By Susan Hoffman Fishman

For over four decades, New Mexico-based environmental artist Basia Irland has created projects about water that focus on rivers, waterborne diseases and water scarcity. Her extensive body of work includes sculptures, installations, books, essays and videos that have connected with, engaged and educated local communities in Africa, Canada, Europe, South America, Southeast Asia and the United States.

In our recent phone conversation, Irland admitted that she is obsessed with water. She describes it in her artist’s statement as “marvelously mysterious” in all of its gaseous, fluid and frozen states, complex in its science and behavior and endlessly nourishing to her soul.

Irland’s interest in water began as a child growing up near Boulder Creek in Boulder, Colorado. She would often go to the creek for solace and contemplation, and developed a deep personal connection to water that continues to this day. Similarly, on visits to her grandfather’s farm in Texas, where a water pumping windmill drew the family’s only available water from the ground, Irland observed in real time what happens when drought occurs and access to water dries up. Although these experiences informed her work, she insists that the water itself was the greatest influence on her career as an artist. For a 2018 interview in Interalia Magazine she explained, “I am a humble student constantly learning from tiny rivulets, dammed streams, wild and scenic river systems, or major waterways.”

Since Irland is such a prolific artist and doing justice to all of her work would require a full-length book (Ireland has already written two comprehensive books on her career: Reading the River: The Ecological Activist Art of Basia Irland  (2017) and Water Library (2007)), I’ll focus here on three projects that represent her commitment to integrating art with science, her method of successfully engaging community participants and her ability to imagine how water would speak for itself.

ICEFIELD. 2000jpg.jpg
Ice Field, detail. Petri dishes; test tubes; vials; glass beakers; glass ice; water, etched glacial deposit stones from the Athabascan Glacier, Alberta, Canada; rocks from the Minnesota shore of Lake Superior; and river stones painted with constellations, 2000 and 2015.
Ice Field

Ice Field, one of Irland’s early projects, anticipated by many years the more recent alarm over glacial melting. Twenty years ago, when climate disruption was a non-issue for most of the world, Irland spent time hiking on a number of glaciers, including those at Lake Louise, a lake fed by meltwater from nearby glaciers in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.

Inspired by these hikes across glaciers and her observations of meltwater, Irland began thinking about a future when there would be no more glaciers on the planet and meltwater would be the only way scientists could study them. Knowing that meltwater contains microbial populations, nutrients and metals that escape from glaciers and feed downstream ecosystems, Irland developed an installation entitled Ice Field. She used some of the instruments of scientific research – petri dishes, vials, test tubes and flasks filled with water and stones – as both an artistic interpretation of a future scientific study set in a pristine lab and an ode to the melting glaciers themselves. A second version of the original Ice Field was installed in 2015 as part of a major retrospective of Irland’s work at the Museum De Domijnen in the Netherlands.

C3. Launching BOOK XXXI into Rio. Photo by Ben Daitz.JPG
Basia Irland (in the water) and volunteer launching Ice Book XXXI by the banks of the muddy Rio Grande. Photo courtesy of Ben Daitz and Basia Irland.
Ice Books

In 2007, Irland was invited to participate in a groundbreaking exhibition at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art entitled “Weather Report: Art and Climate Change.” The exhibition was curated by renown American activist, feminist, author and art critic Lucy Lippard, who asked the participating artists to create new pieces about climate change in collaboration with scientists.

Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of what is now more accurately referred to as climate disruption or climate crisis, Irland wanted to do something that would both call attention to an important environmental issue within a positive framework, and promote activism. A sculptor at heart, she chose to carve a 250-pound block of frozen river water into the shape of an open book in honor of the nearby Arapaho Glacier. The glacier is melting rapidly and, along with the snowmelt, provides drinking water for the town of Boulder. Imbedded into the ice book was its “text,” comprised of the seeds of plants native to the Boulder Creek ecosystem.

Irland worked with a local botanist to determine which seeds to use. Ultimately, the seeds of mountain maple, columbine flower and blue spruce were selected. (See image at top of this article.) As Irland describes, “the seeds form the ecological language of the book and just as we learn from books, we can learn from the river.” Once the ice book had been carved and the seeds had been added, the book was released into the water with the participation of the local community. As the ice melted, the seeds would implant themselves into the riverbank to restore the ecosystem as they traveled downstream.

That first book in 2007 became the prototype for an on-going series of ice books, entitled “Ice Receding, Books Reseeding,” which Irland continues to make in consultation with stream ecologists, river restoration biologists and botanists. In several locations, Irland imbedded other materials into the ice books instead of seeds when local river conditions would benefit from that change. For example, she used chunks of limestone at Deckers Creek in West Virginia in order to reduce the high level of acidity in the river water that had been caused by acid mine drainage. She also incorporated krill into the ice book released into False Creek in Vancouver, Canada so that smaller fish that ate the krill would attract salmon into the river again.

The creation of subsequent ice books always included participants from the local communities around the globe where she had been invited. Whenever possible, Irland also partnered with Indigenous tribes in the area. Participants assisted with implanting the seeds into the books and launching them into the water. In recognition of their gift of participation to the project, Ireland provided gifts in return, such as seeds, maps of the river’s watershed and other items of relevance. The video below provides an overview of Irland’s innovative global Ice Book projects.

River Essays

In 2014, Irland was invited by Sandra Postel, director and founder of the Global Water Policy Project and Freshwater Fellow at the National Geographic Society, to write an essay on her Ice Books for the Society’s blog “Water Currents.” That first essay led to a series of 17 additional pieces that she wrote for the blog from 2015-2017, entitled “What Rivers Know.” (Irland has written additional essays in the series not published in “Water Currents”).

Each of the essays is written in the first person from the point of view of a particular river. The essays give a voice to the rivers and the sense that they have knowledge, memory and mythic powers equal or greater than our own. An excerpt from the February 2016 River Essay on the Ping River in Chiang Mai, Thailand and the video “What Rivers Know” below provide examples of the river as subject/speaker:

On the night of the twelfth lunar month during the full moon at the end of the rainy season, communities gather along my banks to pay homage to me, and my water spirits. They thank the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha (พระแม่คงคา), which is the Thai form of Ganga, the Hindu goddess of the holy Ganges River, India. It is also a way to beg forgiveness for polluting and abusing me during the past year.

This festival of lights is called Loy Krathong (ลอยกระทง). The name is translated as “to float a basket”, and refers to the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, banana-stem sculptures that are decorated with folded banana leaves and contain flowers, incense, candles, and coins (an offering to the river spirits). These sculptures are floated on my moist skin in the evening forming a candle-lit parade dancing downstream. Lights hanging from trees and buildings, and a multitude of hot-air lanterns rising up into the night sky reflect on my body, creating a myriad of new constellations…

Basia Irland is a pioneer in addressing the complex issues affecting water. Before many artists and certainly the general public were focusing on climate disruption, she was already thinking about the eventual absence of glaciers and the interconnectedness of our global waterways. All of Irland’s work encourages each of us to become better recipients of the deep knowledge our rivers have to offer. It is her personal commitment and passion for the wonder of water, though, as well as the impact of her work on local communities all over the world that should inspire us all.

(Top image: TOME 1. Ice and seeds of the mountain maple, columbine flower and blue spruce, Boulder Creek, Colorado. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs and videos are courtesy of Basia Irland.)

This article is part of Imagining Water, a series on artists of all genres who are making the topic of water and climate disruption 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.

______________________________

Susan Hoffman Fishman is a painter, public artist and writer. Her work has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries throughout the US and she has received numerous grants and commissions. Since 2011, all of her paintings, installations and drawings have focused on water and climate change. She co-created a national, interactive public art project, The Wave, which addresses our mutual need for and interdependence on water and has inspired thousands of adults and children of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to protect this vital resource. Her most recent body of work calls attention to the growing number of rampikes along our shores – dead trees that have been exposed to salt water as a result of rising tides.

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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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Wild Authors: Rajat Chaudhuri

I was thrilled to talk with Rajat Chaudhuri, author of The Butterfly Effect (September 3, 2018, Olive Turtle, Niyogi), which Scroll.in describes as a novel that “blends mystery, eco-fiction and a Russian doll narrative.” Truly this story is a wild ride, with brilliant and Ballardian descriptions and actions of a future world that I don’t think we want to be in, but which are vibrant and alive as well as deadly. The story jumps around the map, beginning in India.

A self-obsessed Calcutta detective who goes by his last name, Kar, an enigmatic internet cafe hostess in Seoul, and a hotshot geneticist laboring away on a top-secret corporate project: these are just a few pieces in the puzzle that need to be put together to explain a world sucked into the whirlpool of the butterfly effect.

In the decaying capital city of a near-future Darkland, which covers large swathes of Asia, Captain Old – an off-duty policeman – receives news that might help to unravel the roots of a scourge that has ravaged the continent. As stories coalesce into stories – welding past, present, and future together – will a macabre death in a small English town or the disappearance of Indian tourists in Korea help to blow away the dusts of time? From utopian communities of Asia to the prison camps of Pyongyang, and from the gene labs of Europe to the violent streets of Darkland – riven by civil war, infested by genetically engineered fighters – this time-traveling novel crosses continents, weaving mystery, adventure and romance, gradually fixing its gaze on the sway of the unpredictable.

The genre-blurring tale left me hanging on edge as I discovered a new world through Rajat’s imagination, and I would recommend this book highly. I talked with Rajat about his new novel. He explained that The Butterfly Effect is a transcultural novel, which crosses borders while also switching back and forth in time. The major settings of the book are India (present and near-future Calcutta), England (London and southern England), South Korea (Seoul and other places), North Korea and China (minor setting). 

Rajat Chaudhuri

What motivated you to write this novel?

The book has an eco-dystopian theme centered around the dangers of genetically modified (GM) crops and the inherent threats of this technology.  It also has a climate change backdrop in a near-future setting. The double whammy of climate change disaster and a GM experiment gone horribly wrong is what triggers the disastrous circumstances portrayed in the book.

I have been an environmental activist for many years now. I have been a climate change advocate representing civil society groups at the United Nations in New York, and have spoken and written about climate and environment issues in international and national forums and publications. I am also a past contributor on sustainable consumption issues to the World Human Development Report published by the United Nations Development Program in New York.

This activist background motivated me to translate my learning to my creative work, especially through the vehicle of a novel. The so-called realist novel, because of its debt to the Enlightenment, has shied away from engaging with Nature and issues involving large collectives, and focused instead on what John Updike calls an “individual moral adventure”. This focus, Amitav Ghosh points out in his seminal work on climate change, The Great Derangement, has ghettoized all other kinds of writing, placing them in genre fiction.

I, like some others, feel the time has come  to change this as climate threats have been growing in exponential proportions and dangerous technologies are being pushed into our lives and food plates without proper testing and without the use of the “precautionary principle,” which is a foundational principle of the Biosafety Protocol. There are, however, writers in the West, like Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, Liz Jensen, Ian McEwan, Barbara Kingsolver, and others who have been engaging with climate environment and disaster issues. In my country, these issues are rarely handled in creative fiction.

All of the above influenced me to write The Butterfly Effect. Above all, the challenges and difficulties of creatively engaging with the unimaginable aspects of worldwide disaster caused by human actions in the Anthropocene have driven me to write this book.

This book is not far-future science fiction about intergalactic wars, nor will you find teleportation here. Rather, this is speculative fiction of a very possible future, amplified for the purposes of creativity and dramatization.

How do you feel climate change and/or environmental crises play a part in the places in your novel – and how do you feel that they might be unique compared to the rest of the world?

My setting is both the developing and developed worlds (India, Korea, UK, etc.). Each of these places will be affected by a runaway bio-technology disaster (as in my book), but impact will vary according to preparedness. Climate change, which is a backdrop for the book, will affect all these places in similar and different ways. So in my book, we find hot summers in England, fertile crop-growing regions in Tibet, the disappearance of island nations like Sri Lanka, and the flooding of Japan. These are backdrops in the story. As we all know and have begun to see with increasing regularity, climate change will have unpredictable consequences from increased storm activity, desertification, extreme temperatures, and crop failures, among several other crises.

The uniqueness of the affected region in my story is that it covers large parts of Asia and essentially constitutes the developing world. Because of a lack of preparedness, vulnerable populations, limited resources, corruption, the business-as-usual mentality, lack of awareness, and the attraction of high-consumption life styles, these regions will definitely be worse off once a worldwide disaster begins to unfold.

I also want to mention Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Black Swan incidents, which are rare (hard to predict) incidents of devastating consequence. A Black Swan incident – such as the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster – is very hard to predict but can be understood in retrospect. Just as the Fukushima disaster and meltdown was the result of a chain of incidents that were too rare for the designers of the reactors to foresee, so in this book we find a concatenation of rare and almost unpredictable events. The bottom line is: Change high-consumption lifestyles and stop employing dangerous and unpredictable technologies, even if for welfare. There are always simpler solutions.

Is there anything else you want to tell us about the story?

Environmental disasters are often borderless, and so is my story. This is why the plot travels from one place to another and the characters are drawn from many countries.

The book benefited from a number of international fellowship grants (Korea, UK, Scotland) which helped me research these places and people and set up the scaffolding of the novel. There is a long section in the book which has to do with North Korea, and important characters from that country, and I feel what the story is telling us is that risky technologies become bigger threats when they are contested by powers which lack the checks and balances of a functioning democracy – corporate power and totalitarian regimes to give you two examples.

This book is also about the tug-of-war between reason and faith, or reason and its absence. This duality is portrayed through the character of the detective Kar, who is a man of reason led into strange circumstances where faith and magic fight a losing battle with the all-consuming power of science. It is in the character of the detective that we find a reflection of this age-old contest.

Thank you, Rajat, for the in-depth background of The Butterfly Effect.

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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Ben’s Strategy Blog: The pain and pleasure of long-distance rail journeys

In November, five colleagues from Scotland, two from Dublin and three from Ghent in Belgium travelled by train to Gothenburg in Sweden for the second of four ’transnational meetings’ as part of the Creative Europe project Cultural Adaptations, of which Creative Carbon Scotland is the leader.

It was a long journey (two days +) from Scotland and Ireland, but provided an ideal opportunity to put Creative Carbon Scotland’s money where my mouth has been for some time now, as I have argued that the cultural sector, and everyone else, needs to cut back on air travel in response to the climate emergency. In a previous blog I provided some tips about how to plan and book a long distance train journey, so in this one I’ll write about the experience, challenges and pleasures of the trip. 

As I’ll explain below it wasn’t totally smooth and I recognise that train travel for work reasons is not feasible for everyone; some of our team did fly because they had work and family commitments. The trip from Scotland or Ireland to Gothenburg goes via London, Brussels (overnight), Hamburg and Copenhagen (overnight). On the way, because of time zones and schedules, it is two and a half days; on the way back, you can do it in two days, overnighting at Hamburg. See Seat61.com here for advice. 

Costs 

I have to admit it was costly, compared to flying – though the comparison is probably not quite as bad as you’d think. For the five from Creative Carbon Scotland to get from Edinburgh city centre to Gothenburg city centre it cost just over £350 each, including overnights (although not food). The cost of a return flight with baggage for one of our colleagues who flew was £366, but you need to add to that the cost of getting to and from the airports at each end, and the fact that his flights meant that he couldn’t attend the first (admittedly optional) event of the meeting. To do so he’d have had to leave at an unearthly hour to catch a more expensive flight, which would probably have meant a night in a hotel, or to have travelled the day before and overnight in Gothenburg, adding to the costs. There are very cheap flights from Edinburgh to Gothenburg, but only on certain days, so he had to go via Frankfurt, probably doubling his carbon emissions.  

Time 

Again, I have to admit it was a long trip, which not everyone could take the time to do (freelancers for whom every lost day of work costs them even more; people with small children, people whose quite unreasonable employers won’t let them have that sort of time etc.). Taking the flight via Frankfurt, it meant leaving central Edinburgh by about 11am and our colleague arrived at about 10pm local time, so ten hours in total. 

Equalities 

If you use a wheelchair or have other mobility impairments, if you’re blind or have other disabilities, such a long journey would be very difficult, if not impossible: the sheer number of changes, some quite tight, the getting to and from hotels etc and the working out of what to do if a cancellation or delay occurs would make it very tricky. 

Use of time 

This was interesting. I’m a good worker on trains – I set writing and reading work aside that I know I can do without perfect wi-fi and that needs a period of undisturbed concentration. I sit myself down in a window seat with a table and just get to it. I did some useful work of that sort on this trip, but less than I had planned, largely I think because I was travelling with more people and we kept having good conversations! It was also at the weekend, which probably meant I felt less required to work.  

There were some disruptions to our travel, which meant I had fewer tables to work at and busier trains. But this turned out to be great bonding time: arriving at Flensburg (in Schleswig-Holstein, near the German/Danish border, since you ask) just as the café was closing, we had to transfer to a dreaded Bus Replacement Service (I thought these were characteristic of the UK, but apparently not) because our train from Hamburg had broken down. We all bought wine and snacks and had a great time, devising quizzes, playing games and generally getting to know each other, finally arriving in Copenhagen very late at 1.30am. I genuinely think this had a positive impact on the transnational meeting, as we had done quite a lot of the initial getting to know each other and had had some very useful discussions on the way. 

Deutsche Bahn (the German railway company) 

When it comes to disruptions, one of the big surprises for me was that just about every Deutsche Bahn train that we got was either cancelled, delayed so that we missed a connection or broke down! So much for Vorsprung durch Technik. There’s an important economic point here, backed up by a German friend I spoke to over Christmas. The current German government has a strict ‘no budget deficit’ policy, the Black Zero, which means they haven’t been investing in infrastructure. My friend and I discussed my problems with the trains, which he says are typical. The German Green Party, which has long moved on from being the single-issue pressure group that many Green parties are seen as around the world, is arguing for greater investment in infrastructure, green energy and transport

The tips and lessons

This was a useful experiment. We learned a great deal about what it means to undertake this sort of trip by train and gained some useful tips i.e. stay in hotels close to the station! avoid Deutsche Bahn!). Generally, I had a good time and I think my fellow travellers did too. We certainly got to know each other better, in a way which I think would be unusual in the rest of our work lives. 

On the other hand, unlike getting to Belgium, the Netherlands, western Germany and most of France, which you can easily reach in a day, it’s difficult to recommend travelling to Sweden from Scotland by train rather than air because of the financial and the time issues. But I’d argue that this should make us ask whether trips are necessary and appropriate, rather than that we should just board planes willy-nilly. I’m not the only one to make this claim: we all know about Coldplay deciding not to tour until they can sort out the carbon emissions; and Massive Attack are mapping the impacts of their touring. Less publicised is change in the fairly conservative world of classical music: as the agent Jasper Parrott wrote in the Guardian in December: ‘Musicians and artists need to be disruptive in challenging assumptions about how our industry operates – and we all need to make real changes.’ When classical music agents, who make their money out of sending large numbers of players abroad, are getting with the project, something at last is happening.  

Closer to home, Amateo, the European Network for Active Participation in Cultural Activities, managed by our own Jim Tough, recently encouraged members to travel to (possibly easier to reach than Sweden) Utrecht in the Netherlands by sustainable means, and the Informal European Theatre Meeting has been talking to Creative Carbon Scotland about how it reconciles the challenge of global heating with its structure of members from over 50 countries meeting regularly in different parts of Europe. Meanwhile, academics, another band of heavy travellers, are also beginning to face the facts. However, COP26 in Glasgow in November will cause a vast amount of air travel – and I see no change taking place there. 

‘Credibility-enhancing displays promote the provision of non-normative public goods’ 

I recognise this is a challenging issue for most people working in the arts and probably quite a lot in climate change: travel is a part of work and domestic life, and convenient air travel particularly is a difficult one to give up both practically and emotionally. I’ve been banging on about it for ages, and I have worried that I’m just ‘virtue signalling’ to make myself feel better. So I was pleased to see an article in Nature (you may only be able to access the abstract), which confirms that ‘people who themselves engage in a given behaviour will be more effective advocates for that behaviour than people who merely extol its virtues—specifically because engaging in a behaviour credibly signals a belief in its value.’ (Todd et al, Nature 563, pp245-248 October 2018). To which end I’m proud to say that in recent months I’ve foregone appealing trips to Turku in Finland and Lisbon in Portugal, and I’ve turned down forthcoming opportunities to go to Portugal (again) and the lovely and prestigious Banff Centre for the Performing Arts in Canada, instead delivering talks by video and Q&As by video-conferencing. The team and I at CCS are getting better at doing this to a high standard.

Meanwhile, I’m off to Belfast this weekend by bus and ferry for an ill-advised 96th birthday party – a route that is shockingly ill-served by the UK’s transport network, which says something about how Northern Ireland is perceived in our country. Bon voyage! 

The post Ben’s Strategy Blog: The pain and pleasure of long-distance rail journeys 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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#GreenArts Day 2020: Save the Date!

Get involved in  #GreenArts Day : the annual online celebration of our movement for a sustainable Scotland ! #GreenArts Day is taking place on Wednesday 18th  March from 10am, across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.   

In the past #GreenArts day has reached over a million people on Twitter alone. With 2020 set to be a massive year for climate action in Scotland, we want to make this year’s #GreenArts Day the biggest ever and we need your help to do it!

What can you expect from #Green Arts Day?
  • Inspiration and community Member organisations of the Green Arts Initiative will be posting about their work on social media, celebrating their achievements and sharing their plans for the future.
  • The Launch of the Green Arts Initiative Annual Report This report synthesises our members annual reporting on the actions they’ve taken, and the ambitions they have for their environmental sustainability efforts. We’ll be live publishing the 2019-20 report as part of #GreenArts Day, sharing their wealth of experience and insight.
  • Examples of Green Arts projects We will release new detailed case studies about work that has been done by members of the Green Arts Initiative this year, adding up to date projects to our already extensive catalogue of case studies.
  • Announcements and News #GreenArts Day is a great moment to announce new initiatives to achieve even more ambition in creating a better, more sustainable Scotland (and world). Tune in to catch announcements from Green Arts Initiative members or others.
  • Questions to prompt your own green arts thinking Over the course of the day, we’ll also be posing key questions that the Green Arts community is working on, challenging the cultural sector and those participating in it to develop the ideas which underpin all our efforts towards a sustainable Scottish cultural sector.
How can you get involved?
  • Tweet or retweet using the hashtag #GreenArts on Twitter, or post on Instagram or Facebook. Tweet or post:
    • about the role of arts and culture in addressing environmental issues
    • about what you or your organisation has done this year
    • photos or images of performances, projects, your Green Arts Initiative sticker, your Green Team
  • Follow Creative Carbon Scotland on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook.
  • Spread the word to your friends, colleagues, and audiences about #GreenArts Day, put on an event or a #GreenArts Day party!

And if you are a Green Arts Initiative member:

  • Share with us what you’ve been doing this year. We’re particularly keen to hear about case studies or receive photos.
  • Involve the rest of your team. Use #GreenArts Day as an excuse to engage other members of staff in the important work you are doing.
  • Let your audiences know that it’s #GreenArts Day. Integrate it into your programming. Hold a talk or discussion.

If you have any thoughts, ideas, plans, or questions you want to share, please get in touch with lewis.coenen-rowe@creativecarbonscotland.

The post #GreenArts Day 2020: Save the Date! 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

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