Activist

Lillian Ball: Waterwash ABC

This post comes to you from Cultura21

Lillian Ball works in New York as an environmental artist and activist. She has a multidisciplinary background in anthropology, ethnographic film, and sculpture, which influences her work. Furthermore she has received numerous awards and has traveled widely due to her international exhibitions.

Her latest project Waterwash ABC includes the construction of a wetland park, improvement of habitat as well as increase of public access to Bronx River. Its aim is to filter storm runoff and create consciousness among the community for watershed issues by means of an aesthetic nature experience.  The need for restoration and revitalization of areas challenged by stormwater issues is widespread in waterfront areas worldwide.

The vision of Lilian Ball was a vegetated swale with native plants, permeable pavement, and educational signage explaining the need for non-point source stormwater management in private as well as public places.  The transformation of a neglected space into a public outreach park is supposed to inspire community commitment to stormwater issues.

The runoff from the parking lot and the roof of the ABC Carpet and Home retail facility at 1055 Bronx River Ave was emptied unfiltered into the Bronx River. Ball’s project aims to alter this fact. Rocking the Boat is the fiscal agent for this Bronx River Watershed Initiative in order to construct a wetland habitat that stabilizes the shoreline to detain and filter the outfalls before they enter the river.

Rocking the Boat students will plant a variety of salt-tolerant native species and help the  ABC personnel in planting the community vegetable garden and maintain the site. Above that a hydrologic monitoring will be carried out by Rocking the Boat environmental apprentices.

In that way the project creates a permanent, publicly visible remediation, habitat restoration, and educational site. Above that it acts as a green infrastructure model.
For more information see http://lillianball.com/waterwash/index.html and  www.rockingtheboat.org

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

Eco-bling: why the arts sector needs to lead on climate action

How should the artworld be responding to the issues of sustainability and the environment? Dialogue editor Lucy Gibson looks at why the arts should be leading the way on climate action, rather than looking to corporations and science for moral leadership. But in a sector made up of many individuals and small organisations, alongside enormous institutions, why and how can change really be affected?

Eco-bling: why the arts sector needs to lead on climate action is an interesting article from Lucy Gibson. Take a look at the source when you have a moment.

It should make the art world blush to hear a leading arts and environment activist stating that Walmart, followed by Coca-Cola, Unilever and Tescos, have done more than most in dealing with the impact of climate change. But that is exactly the message from Alison Tickell, Director of Julie’s Bicycle at the Arts Council England’s ‘A Low Carbon Future for the Arts?’ consultation meeting in February. ‘Why do we expect moral leadership to come from corporations and science?’ asks Tickell, ‘Surely the meaningful nature of the arts in society puts it in a position to take a lead on climate action?

Coalition of the Willing: film-making, collaboration, activism

This is a brilliant initiative: a growing online activist movie created by an army of collaborators, who are animating a script by philosopher/activist Tim Rayner:


Still from Coalition of the Willing: Back to the 60s by World Leaders

The film is appearing online at coalitionofthewilling.org.uk. Rayner’s collaborator is the film maker Simon Robson aka Knife Party, who has pulled in a glorious range of film makers and animators to bring Rayner’s script – on how activists can come together to combat climate change.

The first clips went up at the start of this week. More will be appearing in waves in the coming weeks.

it’s a really exciting way of bringing creative people together on a project like this. The medium is wonderful. I’m not entirely sure I’m convinced of the message – though I would like to be. The Coalition of the Willing’s theme is that that the net allows “swarm politics” to flourish, giving activists a unique chance to mobilise against global warming.

While the net does have that effect, there are two other effects which seem to be just as strong:

1) It gives exactly the same power to those who think the very opposite of what you do – witness the swarm  of warming scepticism online.

2) Though it creates lots of networks there is no real incentive for those networks to link up. They are often reproducing exactly the same message, deploying the same tactics, in isolation from each other. At the same time as it pulls people together it also keeps them in separate silos.

Knife PartyTim Rayner

FILMMAKERS: Adam Gault & Stefanie AugustineBran Dougherty-JohnsonCassiano Prado, Mario Sader & Ralph PinelClapham Road StudiosDave BaumDecoyDom Del TortoDylan White & Andy HagueEcholabForeign OfficeAndreas GebhardtJames Wignall,BBWD (Loyalkaspar)Sehsucht – Directed by Mate SteinforthMighty NiceParasol IslandThiago MaiaWorld LeadersYum Yum London

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

#COP15 Political Wrap Up

It is now December 19th, the day after COP15 was intended to end. It didn’t though. It went well on into the the night. I stayed up watching the live feed until a recess was called around 4 a.m. However, I was able to get the idea.

We’re not there… yet?

That is perhaps one of the most bizarrely intended phrases I’ve ever written. Did we get a deal? Sort of. Did we get the deal we wanted (and mind you I’ll refer to everyone with this use of “we”)? No, no one got what they wanted. Is there hope that there might be a future for political action on this issue? I think so, but we must match that with our feelings of failure.

Sigh… Failure.

That’s a bit of what we’re left with. This failure has been attributed to the strong arm tactics of the United States and our president, Mr. Obama. But, I don’t think it looks like our fault. I do think it looks like our (I’m speaking as a citizen of the United States) political system: big, unwieldy, dispersed and slow.

And so it should be to some extent. If we were to railroad it through as a 350 ppm agreement, would everyone suddenly have been happy? No. Sadly, of course, very sadly, no. It is what is ecologically necessary, if not, as I would hope could be pointed out, almost generous as a target. But, I’m on the environmental side. I work in the realm of the arts and typically non-profits/NGOs (Or a hybrid like the CSPA). I could probably get pigeon holed as a leftist activist and you wouldn’t be far off. But, there are other people, who are not like me, in the world. And, despite my spite, I need to respect them and what they want/need (Or, what I, in my bias, will say is what they think they need, but only actually, acutely, want).

Do I give credence to the Rushes of the world who claim that global climate change is a hoax? No, and you may have noticed that to diffuse that, I refer to it as ‘climate change’ and not ‘global warming’. In that early morning recess I listened to some clip talking about how climate change is a great world-wide conspiracy against capitalism and the United States. Which of course is like saying that the peace movement is un-american. No, it’s not, it’s ultimately without nationality. But as McLuhan said, all violence is about threats to identity.

Rush Limbaugh’s Right-Wing America-centric identity is threatened by  taking a worldwide view. The Danish Police, ordered to keep order, have their identity threatened by dis-order, the masses of people coming towards them together. Demonstrators (predominately, but not exclusively peaceful ones) see the locked doors of the Bella Center and the police surrounding it as a threat to their identities. Developing nations see their unequal share of the climate change issue as a threat to their (developing) identity. Low-lying countries see rising tides as a threat to their identity perhaps most drastically.

If we act on the violence, if we don’t seek balance, we’re lost. And trying to get a lot of people to agree on something that is balanced, though rarely entirely fair, is not only hard and time consuming, but very American. The conflicted American attitude that oscillates between leadership and isolation consumes more than 300,000,000 people.

More than 50 times as many people, through unequal representation (favoring the big, rich nations on financial backing of political will and favoring the small, poor nations on per capita representation), are conflicted right now between self-interest and common identity, both reinforced and condemned by their peers. If anything, this isn’t an anti-american conspiracy, it’s an americanization of global politics. Our experiment in democracy, in which we’ve tied everyone’s hands to move forward quickly is binding the world together. And it follows, that people will be angry with us, as we’re a threat to their identity and individual will. Not through our strong arming, but our entropic nature. And if you think about it that way, Obama showed up to do what we hired him to do at home, set an agenda and get things moving. He is a powerfully positioned political man, with very little ability to make unilateral change anywhere. I’ve found myself explaining this to many people here, Obama doesn’t do much directly. No president of the USA does, no individual leader in a democracy does.

Anyway, it was dizzying to me to think we could negotiate anything that works for anyone in 2 weeks when we’re trying to protect billions of lives. And we didn’t. We failed. We failed in trying to get the entire planet to move together. It’s a 6 Billion + 2 legged (a second one on either end) race with ourselves. We’re all lined up at the starting line together. And the, pardon the stereotypes, Kenyan marathon runner is tied to the next contestant on “The Bigger Loser”, who is tied to somebody on crutches.

If we want to get anywhere, we need to figure out how to move together. We didn’t do that in Copenhagen. Instead we sort of figured out how to figure out working together. And there were so many people ready to go, we’ve got some forward momentum. We’re getting closer and closer to critical mass, where it’s not about what’s preventing us from getting go, but what if anything could prevent us from stopping. We’re over coming (and I do mean to say we are doing, not trying) a whole lot of inertia. COP15 failed, but Copenhagen succeeded in bring more and more of the world together, even if we are extremely disappointed (let us not at all downplay this) that this wasn’t enough to tip things in our (unfortunately that refers to everyone, even the climate deniers) direction. We’ll only feel we were successful when the COP comes with us.

Shame on anyone who says we’re going to get things to change at Cop16. Shame, because it’s not going to happen at COP16, it’s going to happen now. Every diplomat prepared to not let the Copenhagen Accord rest, every reporter, NGO and activist inside and locked out of the Bella Center, every climate action, every tweet with #COP15 trending, they are all going to continue without waiting for a year. We all got a chance to be in the same place, at the same time, break bread and see who was here.  We reified the sheer mass of the movement. I think there is something to be said for that as we pull each other along.

So, we failed. Failed to save the world, failed to stop climate change, failed to create a binding agreement for nations to move forward, failed to find faith in leadership. But we only failed in terms of Friday, December 18th, 2009. But each following day we’ve got more hands on the wheel bring us hard to port.

Some Recap from around the web:

High Tide, Art and Aviva at Poulsen #COP15

Acting as the official High Tide COP15 envoy, distinguished ecological artist Aviva Rahmani has been writing on her daily blog about her experiences in Copenhagen during COP15. Friday was her last day here, and she finally got the change to go about town and see some art. Check out the entries from December 18th to see what she was up to.

Below are some excerpts from her entires about her time about town. Not only do some fantastic artists connect, but The Yes Men were able to give back though Good COP 15, what the tensions of COP15 took away!

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Modeling the Survival Ball at the Poulsen Gallery in Copenhagen on my last day

We walked thru the beautiful, old part of the city and I got a lesson in Copenhagen’s demographics while snapping pictures of the city, which now looks like the home of Hans Christian Andersen rather than the shocking site of police violence it was Wednesday.

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Aviva’s COP15 Press Conference became a GOOD COP15 Press Conference.

Larkon took me into their performance space and started a press conference for me in “the Good COP,” set up to look like the Bella Center. They’ve done about 100 press conferences so far, including with Darryl Hannah, of what people would want to say (not just your fifteen minutes of fame but a whole press conference) at Bella. Larkon just had a little hand held, but then a REAL news crew came in: Wendy Jewell, producer and Sister Jewell-Kemker, filmmmaker, reporter and activist for, “An Inconvenient Youth; kids fighting for their future,” with serious camera. We did it all over, inc a Q&A, and all happily exchanged cards after wards.

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So finally, I had my press conference in the “Good COP) with the Yes Men. And maybe, in the end, that was where it was supposed to happen.

I had the chance to sit down and talk with Aviva at the Klima Forum on thursday night. It was a great conversation, so look for a transcript to appear here soon!


A Picture Can Show a Million? | Unique Scoop

Artist and activist, Chris Jordan creates amazing images that portray America’s consumption. Chris’ hope is that his images will have a different effect than raw numbers alone. Since simple numbers no matter how large can be rather abstract it can be difficult to connect with ones impact. Whereas a visual representation of vast quantities can help make meaning of 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds or two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

via A Picture Can Show a Million? | Unique Scoop.

APInews: Artists, Scientists Meet in Monson Project

Artists and scientists will explore “Moving Perspectives – approaches to understanding water through geology, environment, art and society” at the Urbana Free Library in Illinois, October 13, 2009. The panel discussion includes George Roadcap, Illinois Water Survey; Cecily Smith, Prairie Rivers Network; Brett Bloom, artist and activist; Brigit Kelly, poet; choreographer Jennifer Monson; and moderator Michael Scoville, an environmental philosopher. The talk is part of Monsons Mahomet Aquifer Project, a series of public dance performances, workshops and a mobile gallery, October 10-18, to inform and engage the communities in East Central Illinois dependent on the aquifer and draw the audience into their own understanding of their relationship to water. Monson intends the iLAND project to “draw connections between our scientific and political relationships to natural resources and the cultural frameworks that shape our perception and relationship to these resources.”

via APInews: Artists, Scientists Meet in Monson Project .

Dancers for Dolphins

New Zealand's Soul Speed Activist Theatre and Dance Troupe

Dancing for Dolphins

We can’t see dolphins swimming under the water, getting caught in nets, BUT we can see dancers imitating dolphins getting caught.

Maui’s Dolphins are endangered dolphins found in New Zealand’s waters: There are only about 110 Maui’s Dolphins left. The most significant dangers are entanglement in fishing nets and by-catch.

Read here to see how this group of activists found a powerful way to bring attention to an additional danger disrupting the dolphin’s life: invasive research methods.

Most of the activists are parents, and they want their children to grow up with the dolphins in their shared future of humans, nonhumans and the land.  To protest the research actions, they created a dance.

Go to Eco-Catalysts