Tuesday 31 May 2011

makes you gulp, makes you think

The Stage reviews As The World Tipped, one of the winners of this year's TippingPoint commissions. The reviewer, Mark Shenton, says the show is very timely indeed.

"Part very physical performance and part film, as aerial acrobats are suspended and crawl over a giant vertical screen that the stage becomes, and are dwarfed by the huge filmed images projected around them, this outdoor show is a lot more than mere spectacle. It does that rare thing - it makes you gulp with astonishment, but also think."

Five-minute YouTube clip here.
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Wednesday 25 May 2011

what type of French person isn't going green?

The French paper Libération runs a piece today on les écolo-résistants who worry more about their car than the planet. Libération assesses the écolo-résistant type in terms of age, sex and income. The answers are: "50-65 ans environ ... Homme ... Hauts revenus." more ...

Monday 16 May 2011

bottom gear

In a recent column Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson appears to be envying the life of the forager.

"If you do lose your job and you end up living in a barn, with just a fire to keep you warm and nothing to eat but what you can find in a hedge, be happy. Because you'll be having a much better life than me." more ...

Wednesday 11 May 2011

new metaphors for sustainability would need to range from "resilience" and "symbiosis" to "anxiety"

In the second of her two reports from the Staging Sustainability conference in Canada, Wallace Heim reports on the reactions to our latest project: "New Metaphors for Sustainability"

Staging Sustainability also marked the launch of Ashdenizen’s and the Ashden Directory’s project to find new metaphors for sustainability, with the first showing to an audience of our online DVD ‘By Another Name’. The video is of four people suggesting four very different metaphors for sustainability and is the first stage of our project. Over the next weeks, we will be asking many more people, and presenting their responses here and on the Directory.

Clockwise from upper left: Carolyn Steele, Zoë Svendsen, Ansuman Biswas,  James Marriott

At the conference, the video was looped for the duration of the first day and I showed it in a panel session on the second day. Fortuitously, there was a generous amount of time. I opted for a conversation with the people there rather than the paper I had prepared – and that was a much more interesting turn.

The prospect of finding a metaphor for sustainability was challenging. No impromptu metaphors were suggested, instead, there was discussion about what it meant to ask the question. Conceptualising it in that way goes against the habitual languages of accountancy, management and measurement. There was resistance from some to considering sustainability as anything other than a hollow idea bereft of novelty, motivation or consistency.

More people, though, enjoyed the problem and whether sustainability as a concept could be revitalised. The combination of metaphor and sustainability was intriguing, a chance to draw out buried emotional and psychological aspects. For one person, trying to live sustainably in rural Canada, the effort is one filled with anxiety, uncertainty as to his survival, and his metaphor would have to express that. For others, it made more sense to think of metaphors for ‘resilience’ or 'symbiosis'. Another contribution brought out the importance of ‘deep’ metaphors to one’s world view and sense of meaning, and the effects of not having, or losing those metaphors. Could a metaphor for sustainability be a 'deep' metaphor? There was talk of when ‘nature’ is a metaphor, and when it is not, on the stage, in the garden and in everyday life.

It was a good start. Special thanks to Barbara Sellers-Young, the conference co-organiser, who was generous in her support for the project and the video.
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Wednesday 4 May 2011

conference on 'staging sustainability' suggests another theatre database to complement this one

In the first of two reports from the 'Staging Sustainability' conference at York University in Toronto, Wallace Heim finds herself sustained by some "intriguing new developments" and the discovery that one of the talks was highlighting the Ashden Directory.

One only hears a fraction of the papers and presentations at a conference, and the rest are a blur of abstracts left in a dark room. Unexpected intersections sometimes light up, and the most surprising of these was meeting Lesley Delmenico from Grinnell College, Iowa at breakfast.

Lesley Delmenico was giving a paper on ‘theatre ecology’ at the same time as I was presenting our DVD, and a paper on our project New Metaphors for Sustainability. We didn't discuss our papers, the table was busy with people. Only later when someone directed her to me did the bells start ringing. About a third of her paper was on the Ashden Directory itself, and what an excellent database and resource it is. More than that, somehow, she had connected through or to Steve Waters with Robert’s interview, and with students had produced as theatre his single-play radio version of The Contingency Plan.

As a further project, she's going to suggest that students start compiling a database similar to our Directory for theatre productions in the United States and Canada. All this was in the context of her ideas of how the internet and media networks make possible the rapid dissemination of ideas and images that the environmental situation requires.

The presentations in the conference were a good indication of what's happening in Canada. Having been to many of these events, and organised a few, it's the repetitions that become noticeable, (...of the: 'we made costumes out of recycled materials', or ‘the local community was deeply engaged’ sort....) with a few spikes of intriguing new directions - like those on disability and what that means for perceptions of self-and-environment by artist Alicia Grace from the UK; on queering ecology, a plenary presentation by York academic Catriona Sandilands and dancer Michael J. Morris; and on a project that worked with native peoples on the west coast of Canada that saved some territory from clear-cutting when conventional forms of activism failed, by Nancy Bleck from Canada.

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