"To have a place, to live and belong in place, to live from a place without destroying it, we must imagine it. By imagination we see it illuminated by its own unique character and by our love for it" - Wendell Berry
This quote can be applied particularly well to the aspiration of Ecocultures Festival, as well as the notion of sustainable communities, writes Global Generation Chef Sadhbh Moore. I was pleased to able to represent Global Generation and The Skip Garden on the panel titled "sustainable communities" at this inaugural festival in Glasgow on the 17th October.
The focus of the festival/conference was research, policy and practice. The Skip Garden and what we do here fitted in well as an example of eco-culture in practice; environmental and ecological focus are brought to the fore in a cultural context, in an area of rapid urban regeneration with a rich history, stories, creativity and innovation and an ever evolving community. I spoke about how I see that we fit into the category of sustainable communities, from an economic, social, environmental and cultural perspective. I introduced what we do, how we work, a bit about our unique location and history, and how we have changed in recent months, adapting and evolving to suit our new habitat just as the micro-ecosystems of King's Cross have to adapt as their environment changes.
Fellow panel members discussing their take on sustainable communities included Matt Brennan of Edinburgh Art College, Joanne Dempster of the Glasgow Science Centre, Dr Debbie Maxwell and Dr Toby Pillatt talking about their AHRC project "Tell it to the Bees". We were chaired by Ben Twist of Creative Carbon Scotland, who challenged the audience to find the common thread between our talks, presentations and interactions in the discussion time that followed. Matt introduced his research topic of "How green are Scotland's music festivals?". Joanne had introduced the ability for citizen science to help in ecological research, and explained how people can get involved. Debbie and Toby had devised an interactive audience participatory approach to finding out future folklore around Telling it to the Bees. They encouraged everyone to make paper aeroplanes with their message or sentiment they would tell to the bees. Straightaway their approach and topic struck a chord with me as being akin to the some of the Bees for a Better World projects we do at The Skip Garden.
There were a multitude of other interesting talks; from academics to sound artists and poets, and even an SNP. However varied the research topics and approaches were, the highlight of the day and key message I took away from this well organised event was that there are a lot of people out there who are passionate about what they do and who are really committed to social and environmental justice through their work. The necessity of incorporating environmental thinking into research, policy and practice has been realised. It fills me with hope that there are so many creative thinkers working towards a healthier, happier, fairer world rather than a richer and faster world at any cost.
Because of the kind of day that it was, bountiful with inspirational and well applied quotes, I leave you with another Wendell Berry quote that I came across in my research on sustainable communities:
“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” - Wendell Berry