Campaigns

Agreement entitles Whanganui River to legal identity

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Companies have ‘personhood,’ ie. a legal identity equivalent to people in the sense that they can enter into contracts and agreements (see Wikipedia article). This is a subject of considerable argument, and there are several campaigns to remove this status.

On the other hand in New Zealand there is a move (reported in the New Zealand Herald here) to give a river the status of a person, for the river to have a legal identity.  If we accept that all things have agency, not just human beings, this legal recognition of the personhood of a river, developed from the indigenous knowledge tradition and by the Whanganui River Iwi, is incredibly important.

To give a river (or presumably a mountain, valley or island) this status of personhood is important because it repositions us, human beings, within the environment, rather than over it.

Where the problem with corporate personhood is that it requires the law to respect corporate interests as equivalent to the interests of people, the positive benefits of giving at least some natural features some legal agency or status as persons is potentially transformative.

The recognition of indigenous knowledge traditions is of course also enormously positive and challenging to Western epistemologies.  If the river is a person, what does the river know, and how do we value that form of knowledge.

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

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

Powered by WPeMatico

A metaphor from politics: ‘Be a part of better’

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

In response to our New metaphors for sustainability series, Chris Ballance wrote to us and agreed we could post his email. As a playwright, Chris was one of our earliest listings on the Directory. He was Green Party Member and Member of the Scottish Parliament from 2003 – 2007, and now works for Moffat CAN, (Carbon Approaching Neutral), a community-owned company and charity. 
One of the ideas that’s concerning some of us here is ‘how do we tell the cultural story of how good it could be to go green’? It’s inspired by the recent success of the SNP who – helped admittedly by dreadful campaigns by their opponents – based their huge election victory by selling independence as ‘Be a part of better’; a direct reference to a literary quotation from the author Alasdair Grey ‘Live each day as if you were in the first day of a better nation.’
A quotation doubtless unknown in London, but well enough known here in Scotland to be inscribed into the stone walls around the Scottish Parliament. The phrase has passed into commonplace so much that I’ve even seen ‘Be a part of better’ used to advertise merchandise in a shop. The SNP are using a cultural story and cultural references to achieve independence. (That’s to say nothing about planning to hold their referendum shortly after the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.)
How do we create a cultural story which can then be used to make sustainability attractive? So often it is seen as ‘sacrifice’, doing without, enforced change. (I often remember being on an election hustings with a UKIP candidate who told me “Look, we all know your green world is coming. It’s just that we don’t want it, and we’re going to do everything we can to put it off for as long as possible.”) How do we conjure up images of something that people will actually want?
Your exploration of metaphors is definitely a step towards this. It’s not just sustainability – the whole concept of environmentalism lacks it: the only metaphors to have attached themselves to environmentalism are those framed by our opponents; ‘yoghurt knitters’, etc. Thank you.
(And I love the Madagascan-based tapestry.)

 

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

The editors are Robert Butler and Wallace Heim. The associate editor is Kellie Gutman. The editorial adviser is Patricia Morison.

Robert Butler’s most recent publication is The Alchemist Exposed (Oberon 2006). From 1995-2000 he was drama critic of the Independent on Sunday. See www.robertbutler.info

Wallace Heim has written on social practice art and the work of PLATFORM, Basia Irland and Shelley Sacks. Her doctorate in philosophy investigated nature and performance. Her previous career was as a set designer for theatre and television/film.

Kellie Gutman worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for twenty years, producing video programmes and slide presentations for both the Aga Khan Foundation and the Award for Architecture.

Patricia Morison is an executive officer of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, a group of grant-making trusts of which the Ashden Trust is one.

Go to The Ashden Directory

Common Cause | WWF Articles | WWF UK

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Ben Twist highlighted this document at the Steep Trail event this weekend.  Common Cause sets out,

“to explore the central importance of cultural values in underpinning concern about the issues upon which we each work.

Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values makes the case that civil society organisations can find common cause in working to activate and strengthen a set of helpful ‘intrinsic’ values, while working to diminish the importance of unhelpful ‘extrinsic’ values. The report highlights some of the ways in which communications, campaigns, and even government policy, inevitably serve to activate and strengthen some values rather than others.”

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

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

Did #pm2un Tweet make Gordon to go to Copenhagen?

I was blogging last week in response to green.tv’s suggestion that there were too many climate campaigns. My view was that it wasn’t that there were too many, but that maybe they weren’t reaching the right people.

Last week the website BeThatChange.com were pushing hard on a campaign on Twitter,#pm2un, trying to persuade Gordon Brown to commit to go to the COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen. At the time this seemed like a great example of a well-targeted campaign.

Though it’s not that unusual for leaders not to commit to attending this sort of conference until the last moment, BeThatChange had cleverly spotted an opportunity there. It looks rubbish for Brown to be claiming to be leading the agenda at Copenhagen when he’s not even committed to going himself. A couple of days after BeThatChange cranked up the heat with their #pm2un campaign, @EdMilibandMP tweeted a survey on his Ed’s Pledge site, asking visitors what their priorities for Copenhagen were. Miliband offered the following options to chose from:

1) the Prime Minister attending Copenhagen to help deliver a deal

2) doing more to provide home insulation in the UK

3) more government support to create green jobs

Whatever you think about the yeas and nays of deliberative democracy, when I looked on Friday, “the Prime Minster attending Copenhagen to help deliver a deal” had received 93% of the vote. How much of that was due to the BeThatChange.com campaign is hard to calculate, but I suspect that the question was even on Miliband’s poll suggests that the original #pm2un campaign was bang on.

If anything, I suppose it’s possible the Labour Party saw how potentially embarrassing such a campaign could be if it gained much more momentum, and instead turned it to their advantage. Either way the news came through late last night, less than 48 hours before BeThatChange’s next #pm2un twitterstorm:

Gordon Brown urges world leaders to attend climate change talk

Whatever did happen behind closed doors, it was nice work all round, really.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Are there too many climate campaigns?

Just as we’ve been publishing our ever expanding lists of campaigns in the run up to COP15, and as we’re on the verge of launching our own one, Arts for COP15, Green.tv asks the question “Are there too many climate campaigns?” [Their blog is currently down today... so you'll have to take my word for it]. Have we become “bored” with the issue of climate change because of campaign overload?

For climate campaigners the real frustration is the slowness of change. The public still seem reluctant to clamour at politicians in the way we’d like them to. Could this be because they are just getting too many messages? That list of sixteen actions for COP15 is by no means exhaustive. Is this a case of too much information?

I don’t think so. Three reasons:

1) For a start, the nature of social media means that this fragmentation is going to happen, whether we like it or not. For better or worse, there will no longer be a single source of authority on any political discussion like this. On the plus side, climate campaigners like Franny Armstrong have shown how incredibly effective social media are for spreading a message.

2) Secondly, though the campaigns are diverse,  climate NGOs are showing a great deal of resourcefulness. Most of the campaigns listed below are actually partnerships between several campaigns – Greenpeace, WWF, Oxfam, Age of Stupid et al. Charities usually have a parochial tendency to defend their own turf with one eye on their own future fundraising – but in this case there is a lot of sharing going on.

3) So what’s the problem? With all this heat being created why aren’t more poeple taking action? Perhaps in this case we’re blaming the medium, not the message.  Most campaigns on energy and climate do not interest the mass of the people worldwide. The avaaz.org map of actions for Monday 21 September is worth looking at. Why is there a huge disparity between the numbers of actions being taken in different countries? We have to think hard about what messages appeal to the mass of people who are more aspirational than ourselves. (That’s not to say they need to be directly aspirational messages; the most effective political campaigns in recent times have usually been based on fear.)

We are in a research period, still looking for the right message. We have not found it yet. Now is not the time to start cutting down on the multiplicity of voices. Eventually one of us is going to get the right campaign, the killer one, the one that convinces more than just our friends.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Respond! in June

This Thursday we in Britain go to the polls to vote in local and European government elections. Depressingly, the environment is barely mentioned in any of the main parties’ campaigns. The papers are still full of the Telegraph’s expenses witchhunt and machinations to oust Gordon Brown.

Respond! kicks off today. For …
Go to RSA Arts & Ecology