As the climate talks began yesterday over 600 posters had been put up around Paris to challenge the corporate advertising messages and allow environmental messages around the COP21 to be heard. Everything from beautiful images of nature and cartoons to fake company adverts admitting deceit.
The posters received national press coverage in France, Germany and the UK and raised issues of corporate sponsorship of the climate talks, social justice and the global economy. 130 artists from all over the world submitted hundreds of designs in English and French to the organisation Brandalism for illegal distribution by about 50 volunteers. I’ve been really impressed with the effect of this project to create discussion and change, and the power of seeing these messages in a normally commercial space. If this tactic interests you there is a wealth of information on the Brandalism website. Here are just a few of my personal poster favourites to put a smile on your face.
A few days ago a friend reminded me of a deeply entrenched phenomenon which occurs fairly frequently in our patriarchal society. A woman makes a statement and the group ignores it, a few minutes later a man repeats the idea and the group applauds and accepts it. If you are a woman that has ever been in large business meetings I’m certain that this is not news to you. However if it is news to you, I invite you to observe. To observe your friends, colleagues and family, and to listen for the overlooked voice.
Do you have a voice inside that you overlook? Do you wait for someone in ‘authority’ to validate a truth you already know inside?
So often when a voice is overlooked there seems no way to challenge it. You could say “I just said that five minutes ago!” but it sounds petty, or you might let it go, glad at least that the idea is out there, or sit back and roll your eyes. Perhaps we could start by challenging the behaviour in ourselves too?
What would happen if we listened to ourselves? If we trusted ourselves and spoke our truth? What would happen if we listened to the overlooked voice in the room?
There are truths which need to be said, truths which our ecosystem and our future children are relying on. We’re being called to listen, and to speak up.
And by the way, the friend who reminded me? It was a man. Would I have taken the step to write this otherwise? I don’t know, but I want to from now on.
Scotswood Natural Community Garden sits within one of the most deprived areas in Newcastle. They frequently suffer vandalism and theft yet for twenty years they have relentlessly worked to alter the course of peoples lives in Scotswood for the better. The vegetables get dug up, they replant them, the solar panel gets stolen, they lock things away out of hours, but all the time the garden grows, groups come, and lives are changed.
Walking around the two and a half acre site with permaculture gardens, a pond, bee hives, shelters and woodland it’s incredible to learn that originally it was a bare grass playing field. Over the decades the series of people involved with the land have created, enhanced and maintained a beautiful heart of energy for the community, despite all the flow of sadness around. Children, unemployed and refugees have all found another choice here, a flow going in a different direction that they have a chance to join.
It takes a lot of energy and strength to maintain a course against a bigger flow. The path that all those involved with at Scotswood have carved over the years is truly beautiful. Long may it flow.
Like many people I find the description of the ‘desolate’ north deeply insulting and incorrect. Heading north from Durham to Newcastle the accents change (“Where’ you sittin’ Mam?”), there are old and new industrial areas, dramatic rivers and beautiful architecture. Heavy industry and exploiting the environment has been a part of the area’s long history, with people working hard in the jobs that fed the economy of the rest of the country. I’ve walked through some areas of Newcastle that are undeniable economically deprived but everywhere I go in the country there are people who care about the future; people who care about other human beings and about the ecosystem we share. People who devote their lives and energies to protecting the future of our communities. I could not be happier that this final week of the journey will finish in the North East and am really looking forward to walking the stunning North East coastline for the first time. Last but certainly not least.
Ugly, intrusive, negative messages in our public spaces. Commercial billboards in our towns affect us on a daily basis but we have little control over the images and messages we are exposed to. Graffiti also comes in to our public spaces, creating a variety of reactions.
Some graffiti is simple ‘tagging’ where the writer marks an area or is leaving a message for a specific audience or gang. Other graffiti may include more complex artwork or wider political messaging. Bristol is the home of Banksy, the now world known graffiti artist who’s art challenges ideas and questions the dominant culture. Around Bristol I saw different types of graffiti, some direct messages, some abstract, some subtle, some blunt.
A lot of graffiti contains sharp shapes, over sexualised or violent images. The vast majority of graffiti is done by men and perhaps for men? It can leave me feeling that the images have as little relevance to me as the billboards do, other than my empathy for their anger. Some graffiti artists like Banksy go further though, cutting through the noise of images with a counter message that makes you stop.
When a message does reach me it’s like the shock of seeing a smiling friendly face amongst a sea of angry strangers. Walking over a road footbridge someone has sprayed “Live Free” on the ground. Outside an anarchist community social center I found this:
Near the St. Werbergs City Farm were these images of bees:
There are definately a lot of things to be said and a lot of other voices to be heard, other than those who can pay for a billboard.
The latest report from the IPCC (Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change) is out.
The summary can be viewed here.
Key points raised are the threat to human life and the widespread consequences that will effect everyone on the planet. We are in this boat together, and it is sinking. The message is loud and clear that business as usual will kill us.
It is time for culture change not climate change.
If you are taking action, share your experiences with us. If you’d like to join with others to help you act we’d love to help. There are solutions everywhere we look. Our generation has a closing window of opportunity to protect life.
Our crowdfunding campaign has raised £115 so far, help us reach our goal of £500 by donating. The lovely Buzz Tour bags have arrived if you’d like to donate and claim one! Other lovely perks are available too.
The tour will officially start from Totnes on the 19th of April.
Yesterday two of us walked in support of the Oxford Reclaim the Night women’s march against violence. On three occasions men along the way harassed the 50 women and were greeted by a chorus of ‘stop the march!’ and all the women turning to point and shout at the abusers. A very empowering and effective technique!
In the picture above are Eve’s bee poi. During the walk Eve will be teaching poi spinning for free. We’ve also had offers from people to teach legal observing, mindfulness, foraging and conflict resolution. Please let us know if you have a skill to share. 🙂