The Transition Network is a growing network of over a thousand communities around the world. The network â€œsupports community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy, building resilience and happiness.â€ The summer issue of the magazine Transition Free Press, which was published on 1 May 2013, contains four articles about arts projects that relate to the topics of sustainability and ecology in various ways. In summary:
Art and Science meet at new Bee Festival
The Louth Festival of the Bees, organised by Transition Louth in the United Kingdom in May 2013, combines biological sciences with an art exhibition, exploring â€œthe relationships between the aesthetic and the rationalâ€.
â€œWe may not, single-handed, be able to stop war, cure disease, end hunger, or save the planet, but we can, each of us, plant some flowers that give insects a better chance and make our world a little more beautiful,â€ writes Biff Vernon, a teacher who grows vegetables and flowers in Lincolnshire, and is, according to the magazine editor, â€œattempting to save the planet one Facebook post at a time.â€
â€œIf we are to make the transition to a truly sustainable post-industrial society, protection of biodiversity must be an urgent priority. The festival aims to raise awareness of biodiversity, focussing particularly on wildflowers and all their pollinators,â€ Biff Vernon writes.
Louth Festival of Bees includes a Family Fun Day, Conference Day and Art Exhibition with stalls, exhibitions, childrenâ€™s activities, workshops, talks about wild bees, wild flowers, beekeeping and art.
Anne-Marie Culhane and the art of â€˜Abundanceâ€™
Anne-Marie Culhane, a performer, activist and catalyser of projects who lives in Cornwall in the United Kingdom, tells about the projects â€˜Abundanceâ€™ and â€˜The Diary Keepersâ€™, about the festival â€˜Grow Sheffieldâ€™, and about exploring the dynamic relationship between the artist and the community:
When Anne-Marie Culhane talks about Art, it is not as it is commonly understood, a commodity to be bought and owned, but a narrative co-created by people seeking to bring the earth and belonging into an urbanised culture.
â€œIâ€™ve always been uncomfortable with the perception of an artist as a solitary creator whoâ€™s outside society,â€ she tells Transition Free Press.
To be resilient in the face of ecological and economic challenges, communities need to be adaptive and collaborative. As climate scientists admit, â€œweâ€™re not managing to communicate properlyâ€. Because what inspires us to change are not dry facts, but celebration, creativity, and most of all, belonging:
â€œWe canâ€™t go into any meaningful thinking about the future unless we are examining how we live now, and the diversity of the way different people in the community live now: really looking, taking time, slowing down, observing our place within natural cycles, seeing what we share. So we can say: OK, this is where weâ€™re at. From this point we can look forward.â€
Anne-Marie Culhane developed a project, â€˜Diary Keepersâ€™, to engage people into thinking about these things by keeping a diary for a month, where they would be trying to answer questions about what it is like to live now.
For Anne-Marie Culhane everything began when she came across climate change as a student of geography: â€œI was overawed by what it meant,â€ she said. Characteristically her first piece of work did not appear in a gallery, but in a city park in Leeds â€“ twelve installations, actions and performances during one year.
â€œI began to ask: How can I support people to grow their own food, to be more knowledgeable about what theyâ€™re eating, to start seed-saving and seed-sharing and using organic and permaculture methods which nourish the land and communities? This where the main energy for â€˜Grow Sheffieldâ€™ came from.
The idea was to hold a big season of events around harvest, giving people from different backgrounds lots of points of access â€“ some creative, some more practical. We had guerrilla gardening in the city centre, a film screening and open space session in a local cinema, poetry walks and Allotment Soup, a celebration of allotment culture, with artists taking up mini-residencies on different allotments.â€
Her creative project â€˜Abundanceâ€™ started from an idea about harvesting unwanted fruit from street trees, but it also quickly took foraging and growing stuff to another level and became about doing and being with people.
Firing up the imagination
Jeppe D. Graugaard writes about â€˜The Tellingâ€™ which he describes as â€œa new kind of grassroots, power-down, artistic event which draws on various forms of storytelling, performance, music and craft to explore what living through a time of transition means.
â€œBorn in the imagination of Warren Draper, The Telling is inspired by The Dark Mountain Project and created on a DIY ethos as a reaction against the debilitating effect of the entertainment industry on folk culture.
The enchanting performance of Mr. Fox is just one of many that evening set in the post-apocalyptic Church View courtyard, which is adorned by a large mural by street artist Phlegm, depicting an archer sitting in a giant horn shooting down human bones tied to floating balloons. And the evening programme is just the culmination of a series of events and workshops that ran throughout the day: a pop-up cinema, the Sheffield City Giants (15 ft large puppets), bread-making, make-do-and-mend, a singing workshop, a talk on peace, and my absolute favourite: making iron in a clay foundry.
This diverse mix of activities and performances makes The Telling a place to be inspired and to learn practical skills at the same time.â€
More information, pictures and videos of The Telling can be seen online atforthetelling.wordpress.com.
Jeppe D. Graugaard is a writer and researcher at UEA, with an interest in grassroots movements and projects. More of his writing is available on patternwhichconnects.com
Arts book in the making: mapping arts and ecological living
Fifteen artists and writers gathered at a Writing Residency at Lumb Bank in Yorkshire to lay the first tracks down for a groundbreaking workbook â€“ mapping ways in which the arts inspire a different way of living within the ecological limits of the planet, reported Lucy Neal.
â€œAt Lumb Bank we glimpsed an everyday â€˜art of livingâ€™ which now remains to build on and articulate over the next few months, as the book and the project come together.â€
You can read these four articles in full here:
Transition Free Press â€“ Issue 2, Summer 2013 â€“ published on 1 May 2013:
More about the Transition Network
Transition and literature
â€œStories shape the way that we act,â€ says Shaun Chamberlin, author of â€˜The Transition Timelineâ€™, in this interview which is an excerpt from the film â€˜In Transition 1.0: From oil dependence to to local resilienceâ€™ from March 2012.
A transition art piece
About the art piece Oil Memorial
Another excerpt from the same film, â€˜In Transition 1.0â€™.
â€¢ Transition Towns channel on YouTube
â€¢ Documentary film from April 2012
The Transition Movement â€“ An Introduction
â€¢ TEDx presentation about the Transition Towns and Transition Network
â€œMy Town in Transition: Rob Hopkins at TEDxExeterâ€ â€“ 1 May 2012
â€¢ The Transition Networkâ€™s home page:
Culture|Futures is an international collaboration of organizations and individuals who are concerned with shaping and delivering a proactive cultural agenda to support the necessary transition towards an Ecological Age by 2050.
The Cultural sector that we refer to is an interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral, inter-genre collaboration, which encompasses policy-making, intercultural dialogue/cultural relations, creative cities/cultural planning, creative industries and research and development. It is those decision-makers and practitioners who can reach people in a direct way, through diverse messages and mediums.
Affecting the thinking and behaviour of people and communities is about the dissemination of stories which will profoundly impact cultural values, beliefs and thereby actions. The stories can open peopleâ€™s eyes to a way of thinking that has not been considered before, challenge a preconceived notion of the past, or a vision of the future that had not been envisioned as possible. As a sector which is viewed as imbued with creativity and cultural values, rather than purely financial motivations, the cultural sectorâ€™s stories maintain the trust of people and society.
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