Conscient Podcast: e107 harm – what do you not know?

(bell and breath)

Today’s episode does not have any sound other than my voice and a series of silences.  And I think you’ll understand why in a minute.


Writer and broadcaster Jesse Wente, author of Unreconciled, became the first indigenous person to chair the Canada Council for the Arts during the summer of 2020, a few weeks before I retired from the Council. 


In an August 6, 2020 interview with the Toronto Star, I was deeply moved by what Jesse said. 

The way I view work now within colonial structures and institutions is harm reduction. Ultimately, the goal for me is to reduce the harm the Canada Council causes, not just to my community but to any community that suffers under colonialism, which is really all of us on some level, and to make it somewhat easier to exist, work, live and participate.


I invite you to think about this statement. In fact, I invite you to explore your feelings about this statement. 


Jesse goes on in that same Toronto Star interview to say :

What does the new world look like? How do we support that? How will we be nimble enough to be comfortable not knowing and yet developing policy around not knowing? With artists and the cultural sector, even though we’ll be among the last to restart, I think we have a fairly significant role to play in helping to define what recovery and restoration look like.


Now I could not find a sound in our modern world to respectfully accompany Jesse’s words and his questions. 


The only sound, or absence of sound, so to speak, that made sense to me was silence. 


Jesse asks us to think about what the role of the arts sector in helping to define what recovery and restoration look like, and if I may add, what it might sound like. 


Jesse also invites us to imagine what a new world might look, or sound like.


My question for you is ‘What do you not know?’


I would like to thank Jesse Wente for his kind permission to use his quotations from this interview in this context. Thanks also to the article authors Karen Fricker and Carly Maga and the Toronto Star and the Canada Council for the Arts.

I am grateful and accountable to the earth and the human labour that provided me with the privilege of producing this episode. (including all the toxic materials and extractive processes behind the computers, recorders, transportation and infrastructure that make this podcast possible).

My gesture of reciprocity for this episode is a donation to the Anishnawbe Health Foundation

The post e107 harm – what do you not know? appeared first on conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.


About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term “conscient” is defined as “being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations”. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my (2016-2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

season 1 (may – october 2020) : environmental awareness and action Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie”s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

season 2 (march – august 2021 ) : reality and ecological grief Season 2 (March 2021 ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that “I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, “the state of things as they actually exist”, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way”. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

season 3 (october 2021 – february 2022 ) : radical listening Season 3 was about radical listening : listening deeply without passing judgment, knowing the truth and filtering out the noise and opening attention to reality and responding to what needs to be done. The format is similar the first podcast format I did in 2016 with the simplesoundscapes project, which was to ‘speak my mind’ and ‘think out loud’. I start this season with a ‘soundscape composition’, e63 a case study (part 1) and e64 a case study (part 2), a bilingual speculative fiction radio play, set in an undergraduate university history seminar course called ‘History of 2021 in Canada’. It concluded with a soundscape composition ‘Winter Diary Revisited’.

season 4 (1 january – 31 december 2023) : sounding modernity


I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I”m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation :

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