Environmental Justice

New metaphors for sustainability: my sweet pea

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

In a recent series of seminars on site-based performance and environmental change, our Ashden Directory co-editor Wallace Heim met Alison Parfitt, of the Wildland Research Institute, and writer on conservation. Here, Alison considers her sweet pea as a metaphor in our series New metaphors for sustainability.

Sustainability. After the Rio Earth Summit 1992, I was impassioned about this challenging aspiration, with head and heart. Many of us struggled over complicated diagrams, wanting to encompass everything. We talked about ecological systems and the need for the sacred and spiritual, the connectedness of all. We explored social and environmental justice and quality and equality – with diversity. Models and metaphors came and went, bees in a beehive.

Now I see this challenge of understanding the potential and power of sustainability in a more intimate way. And I suspect that the full and inspiring notion of sustainability (sometimes understood but often not) is showing a way, a direction for the human species to evolve, if we can.

As I write this there is a sweet pea, picked this morning, beside me. A soft fresh fragrance. This flower is creamy pale with a purple, or even nearing indigo, fine edging on the petals. It looks and feels precise, very clear yet fragile. It moves in the air coming through the door. The flower is here today but gone tomorrow, the plant goes on and I shall gather seed. It is everyday and uniquely precious.

I accept that my sweet pea is not really a helpful metaphor for sustainability but for today, now, it enlightens me and reminds me of my relationship within all else. And how I could be more human. And that’s where my quest to understand has got to. I suspect it will move on again, soon.


“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

Tehran Times : Capitalism is destroying the ecosystem: Ahmadinejad

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

For those of us living with western news media who’s narrative of Iran is terrorism and nuclear armament, this article provides a different perspective.  Who do you believe?

Wetlands are a key component of the matrix of biodiversity, often massively impacted on by industrial production, and also the key focus of many ecological remediation/ restoration projects, and of key ecoart projects internationally (e.g. the Harrisons’ Sava River work, Betsy Damon’s Keepers of the Waters projects, Aviva Rahmani’s Ghostnets project, Shai Zakai’s projects in Israel, PLATFORM’s Remember Saro-Wiwa campaign for social and environmental justice raising questions of responsibility for the desolation of the Niger Delta, etc.

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

Free Convergence Session TOMORROW Sunday 9/5/10 at the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf

This year, we’re taking the convergence to the road.  We’ll be converging in two cities, and in between, on an all-inclusive weekend getaway!  Exploring human impact on the Earth, and Art’s impact on human impact, we’ll discuss environmental justice, urban nature, and what it means to be an artist who brings environmental issues to the public.


Join us for our Sunday afternoon session in San Francisco, featuring Amy Balkin, Patricia Watts, Laura Parker, and Nik Bertulis.  Curated by Moe Beitiks.  You can also check out our “a la carte” events.  Book your own ticket and meet us there!

Held at the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf:

555 North Point Street

San Francisco, California 94133

Sunday, September 5th.  1pm-5pm.

Seating is limited.  Reserve your space at




  • 10am Depart Los Angeles.  Carpool/Caravan will feature the Invisible 5 Audio Tour and select stops.
  • 5pm Arrive San Francisco
  • 6pm Dinner Break
  • 7pm Shotgun Players: Solar Powered Theater Discussion
  • 8pm Performance: Living Together at Shotgun Players

Sunday September 5 SAN FRANCISCO

  • 8am Nature Tour
  • 12pm Lunch Break
  • 1pm Afternoon Sessions featuring Patricia Watts/EcoArtSpace, Amy Balkin, Laura Parker, and Nik Bertulis.  Curated by Moe Beitiks
  • 6pm Art Walk & Dinner


  • 8am Depart for guided highway tour down the 101.  We’ll be following the Urban Ranger’s Field Guide to the American Road Trip.
  • 6pm Arrive Los Angeles

APInews: Call: Arts/Justice Symposium, Toronto, May

Open Call

The Laurier Centre for Music in the Community calls for presentation proposals for “Arts for Social and Environmental Justice,” a symposium at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory, May 15, 2010. The one-day symposium features as keynote speakers arts-integration educator Rena Upitis; Stephen K. Levine, dean of the doctoral program in Expressive Arts: Therapy, Education, Consulting and Social Change at the European Graduate School; and cultural critic Max Wyman. The conference invites submissions dealing with the symposium themes in the form of research papers, interactive workshops and narrative papers describing practices in the educational or arts community. Deadline is February 15. The symposium is co-hosted by ISIS-Canada and the European Graduate School.

via APInews: Call: Arts/Justice Symposium, Toronto, May.

AFLA’s 2009 Design Green Call for Entries and Scholarship

From the Architectural Foundation of Los Angeles: As Renzo Piano suggests, sustainability is the 21st century order for architecture and the built environment-and when exceptional design is seamlessly integrated with new high performance standards for conservation and sustainable building practices are implemented, innovative and sophisticated solutions are the result. This evolution of form is coming of age and changing the landscape one space, one home, and one building at a time. The Architectural Foundation of Los Angeles (AFLA) mission recognizes this metamorphosis of design integrated with the language of sustainability and a spirit of environmental justice. AFLA recognizes both LEED and the Living Building Challenge (LBC) as measures of best practice sustainable design and sees a need to recognize design elegance in that context. The Design/Green Awards were created by the AFLA to honor exceptional design of LEED and LBC projects in Southern California. As with the judging of last year’s entries, this year’s jury will include internationally recognized architects, engineers, and designers.

To download an application form go to http://www.afla.us/cfe.html

Go to EcoArtSpace





May 28 – June 21, 2009

The Los Angeles River has a long and documented history thanks to river historians and Hollywood films. But, how do we begin to unravel LA residents’ relationship to a river most of us have only glimpsed from our car windows? Playwright Julie Hebért begins to explore the mysteries and hot spots along the river, including adjacent communities like Frogtown and people working to reclaim the waterway and its benefits. Conversations with scientists, advocates, river lovers, politicians, Native Americans, artists, and residents along the banks of this great paved natural resource will all inform this play. What spaces are vital along the river today? What does the future hold for the ecosystems that exist within it? And, what will happen when Angelinos finally get out of their cars and step into the riverbed?

Community partners for this project include:
Friends of the Los Angeles River
South Asian Network

via Cornerstone Theater Company – ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE RESIDENCY.