Friday 29 June 2012

Speedier spring

'Progress of Spring' final report

Kellie Gutman writes:

The  fourth and fifth grade class at the Paideia School in Atlanta, Georgia, has completed their year-long project documenting the progress of spring, as defined by the first blooming daffodil reported along the length of Route 1, from Florida to Maine.  Their results confirm the general impression that this was a very warm spring on the eastern seaboard.  At the northernmost point, Fort Kent, Maine, daffodils were spotted on April 4, 2012 - nearly a month earlier than last year, and the earliest in the twenty-two years that the class has been keeping records.  The rate that spring advanced, 1570 miles in 93 days, was approximately 17 miles a day, or .7 miles per hour, which is about average.

See also: our report on daffodil spotting
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Thursday 28 June 2012

Taking a book for a walk

Wallace Heim writes, with thanks to Dee Heddon

What book would you take for a walk...?

In 1794, John Hucks and Samuel Taylor Coleridge walked to North Wales. Hucks carried with him the poems of Thomas Churchyard.

In 1802, Coleridge walked through Cumberland, carrying with him 'a shirt, a cravat, two pairs of stockings, tea, sugar, pens and paper, his night-cap, and a book of German poetry wrapped in green oilskin.' He apparently read the Book of Revelations in Buttermere.

In 1818, John Keats travelled the Lake District and up to Scotland with his friend Charles Brown. Keats' carried Dante's Divine Comedy, Brown the works of John Milton.

In 2012, during August and September, Dee Heddon and Misha Myers are joining the Sideways Festival, walking from the west to the east of Belgium. For the length of the walk, they will carry a walking library - rucksacks filled with books that are good to take on a walk. The library will support a peripatetic reading and writing group.

Dee and Misha are in the process of building the library. So far, they will be carrying Werner Herzog's Of Walking in Ice, Nan Shepherd's The Living Mountain, Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost and more.

They welcome suggestions of books to take on a walk, including details of books taken on a walk by illustrious walkers/writers.

Email suggestions to Dee Heddon.
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Wednesday 27 June 2012

New on our news page

'Subsidy, patronage and sponsorship' at the V&A
In London, the V & A will host a 3-day discussion on 'Subsidy, patronage and sponsorship: Theatre and Performance Culture in Uncertain Times'.

A bundle of opportunities are coming up.

In Glasgow, there's the offer of a funded PhD in theatre and learning for sustainability.
In London, a DIY training project for artists on performance, oil and sponsorship is offered by the Live Art Development Agency.
On the Isle of Wight, the Bestival Festival is looking for a short film on clearing the mess.
And there's the chance to walk across Belgium carrying books.

Online, there's TJ Demos' essay 'Art After Nature, the post-natural condition'.
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Tuesday 19 June 2012

New on our news page

from 66 Minutes in Damascus / LIFT
In Leeds, the Performance Studies International conference, a combination of performance academics and artists, has at least 14 panel sessions with ecological themes -  like theorising eco-performance; performing environmental risk; sex, meat and ecology; and performing fluidity in watery places.

Alongside the PSi conference is the Ludus Festival, which includes Lo Monstre, a large animatronic insect-like animal walking through the streets of Leeds, and A Meadow Meander, immersing audiences in an ecological labyrinth.

On the streets of London, Lucian Bourjeily's work 66 Minutes in Damascus, during which the audience members are placed as a group of tourists visiting the Syrian capital and are arrested by the Syrian secret service, will be studied for its carbon efficiency.

The Edinburgh Film Festival starts on Wednesday. Dr. Seuss' Lorax, Paul the Psychic Octopus, animals in captivity, the coal roads of China and the landscape of Fukushima all feature.
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Thursday 14 June 2012

Eden and the overburden

Wallace Heim writes: 

The partnership between the Eden Project and Rio Tinto has been billed as supporting education projects about sustainability and research into post-mining regeneration. This was a working partnership, not merely a "social license to operate" - the creating of a benevolent public image for corporations such as BP, Shell, Rio Tinto, through their association with cultural institutions, and now the Olympics.

One of the education projects of this partnership is a pop-up children’s book, Earthly Treasure, full of pictures of dazzling jewels and brightly coloured pages showing how modern life can only exist through minerals that must be mined.

There’s a page showing a huge open pit mine, a sombre, near-monochrome dug-out bowl. You can slide trucks to take away the "surface layer" and "pull down the tab and blast away the top layer of earth, called the overburden".

The "overburden". The infinitely complex soil that makes life possible is merely a weight, a waste to remove to get to the riches below. The phrasing harks back to Francis Bacon who wrote in his Novum Organum in 1620 that miners were the new class of man who would interrogate and alter nature. Nature could be "forced out of her natural state and squeezed and molded".

But now, the soil holds no more secrets. It’s only the burdensome surface layer.

This normalizing of open cast mining and mountain top removal is given to children as if a game, one more gem to absorb in their education. Many reasons may lie behind using that phrasing, but the license it condones is not merely cultural benevolence.

h/t: Robert Newman in the Guardian 
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Tuesday 12 June 2012

Buildings, energy and culture

Wallace Heim writes: 

The Theatres Trust and Julie's Bicycle today publish Energising Culture, a guide to planning a sustainable energy future for cultural buildings. The guide is intended to help arts companies make informed decisions about a long-term energy strategy for their buildings. It sets out the issues around energy demand, energy supply and the implications of these for an organisation's business models.

The 48 venues in The Theatres Trust's Ecovenue project contributed to developing the ideas of how theatres and small venues can manage their energy better.

This is the first of a two-part publication. The second part, to follow, will take a more comprehensive long-term vision of environmental sustainability and how the cultural sector intersects with it, ranging across new technologies and emerging cultural values.

The guide is a free download from both Julie's Bicycle and The Theatres Trust.
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Monday 11 June 2012

Edinburgh's greener Fringe

from Fukushima - A Silent Prayer of Poetry
Wallace Heim writes:

Among the bevy of shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe about Hitler, adolescence, Macbeth and stage spiritualists, there is a remarkable number of dance and physical theatre pieces with ecological themes. Consumerism and happiness, oil and politics, the Japanese earthquake, undercover policing, urban architecture and fear of the woods are among the ideas and sensibilities these shows are expressing.

Theatre shows number highly this year, too, with around 70 that have ecological themes varying from the strongly activist to the bucolic. Shows about animals, food and an apocalypse always feature. This year, there are three shows walking to Edinburgh; shows about abattoirs, about the Deepwater oil spill and the Fukushima nuclear leak; and shows about a swamp, plastics, population and the price of milk.

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Thursday 7 June 2012

Indie-theatre take on Deepwater spill

Wallace Heim writes: 

During April and May, The Way of Water, Caridad Svich’s play about the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill toured over fifty venues in North America and Brazil, and in Berlin, Aberystwyth, Glasgow and London. The play toured not as a production but as script-in-hand readings by actors in each place.

The play, marking the two-year anniversary of the spill, traveled quickly, more like an indie-music event than a theatre tour. This new kind of theatrical experience is low-budget, international, tied in with social media and carbon-light.

The play deals with the toxic effects of the spill on four people, on their health, livelihoods and sense of community. The play’s impetus is towards taking action against corporate malfeasance, a revision of the plotline of An Enemy of the People.

Seeing the reading in Aberystwyth, Carl Lavery, Senior Lecturer in Drama, blogged 'Ten Thoughts on The Way of Water'. Here are three:

When I think of The Way of Water, I think of its linguistic rhythms and poetic beats - its politics of voice.

When I think of The Way of Water, I think of 4 young actors in Wales finding its meanings, walking its lines, tracing its shapes.

When I think of The Way of Water, I think of my Dad who died from a lifetime of exposure to the toxic fuel tanks of Phantom fighter jets.

photo: Encyclopedia Britannica online
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Wednesday 6 June 2012

HeatWave in Los Angeles

Kellie Gutman writes:

HeatWave, a project of the Los Angeles Theatre Community, is hosting a conference on 9 June, 2012, at TreePeople's Conference Center in Coldwater Canyon Park. Heatwave aims to generate new works on the Environment as well as greener practices in theatre operations.  The conference, reservations required, will have speakers - including Ian Garrett of The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts - entertainment and breakout sessions to encourage playwrights and producers in the LA-area to work together.

The project's mission says: HeatWave hopes to spark meaningful and creative cultural discourse with our audiences on the state of the planet and our place on it, empowering a ripple of activism and spurring meaningful change.
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Friday 1 June 2012

One Day on Earth

Kellie Gutman writes:

On Friday June 1, and Sunday June 3, New York's premier reuse center, Materials for the Arts, will be the recipient of proceeds from screenings of One Day on Earth.  It was made in 2010, and filmed in every country on earth on the same day.  There will be a week of showings to benefit local charities in New York City.

Materials for the Arts is a program of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.  It collects unneeded materials from businesses and individuals and donates them to arts programming across the city.
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