News

Spotlight Peer to Peer Exchange Day

Our Spotlight programme works with 30 of 65 Band 3 organisations representing some of the biggest buildings and energy users across the NPO portfolio. The programme has received a lot of pressnationally and internationally, and is opening up important opportunities for greater sector leadership in tackling the climate crisis. 

On 12th Sept we held our second Spotlight peer learning event at the wonderful Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts in Gateshead.  With just over 40 participants, mainly representatives of Spotlight organisations, we had a very productive day, with lots of energy and a welcome chance to meet with and learn from each other. We were also delighted to be joined by Francis Runacres, Executive Director, Enterprise and Innovation at Arts Council England, who set the scene around the Spotlight programme and ACE’s 2020-30 strategy. One of the highlights of the day was the Spotlight sharing session with fantastic contributions from Batlic, Opera North and the Royal Shakespeare Company. JB’s Claire Buckley also shared the latest Spotlight progress and insights gained so far.

See a summary of the findings and presentations from the day here

We will be sharing further examples and learning as the Spotlight programme progresses.

C-Change: Arts & Culture Leading Climate Action in Cities

Climate change is a systemic issue, rooted in global economic, social, cultural and value systems locking in unsustainable consumption, inequality and a disconnection from nature. Policies, technology and investment alone will not be enough to address climate change. We need hearts, minds and a shift in our cultural values. This is particularly relevant when it comes to cities, on the front line of climate change, and where art and culture connect citizens to the cultures which define them.

C-Change is an Urbact transfer network of 6 European cities committed to working together to develop arts and culture sector collaboration on climate action and engagement. It is led by Manchester (UK) with Wroclaw (Poland), Sibenik (Croatia), Agueda (Portugal), Mantova (Italy) and Gelsenkirchen (Germany) with a combined population of over 1.6 million people. These are cities with the arts, culture and creativity at their heart, including four UNESCO World Heritage sites, one UNESCO World Book Capital, two former European Capitals of Culture and one former national Capital of Culture; and all already experiencing the impacts of climate change.

Above: C-Change Team at meeting in Augeda Portugal, July 2019

C-Change’s main objective is to transfer the learnings and best practise of Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (MAST) to support the network cities to mobilise their arts and culture sectors into climate change action. This is achieved through:

  • Developing local policies, governance and capacity to act 
  • Developing plans to reduce CO2 emissions and/or adapt to climate change, and supporting implementation
  • Developing plans to use arts and culture to engage citizens to act, and supporting implementation
  • Encouraging replication in other cities.

See the Manchester Best Practise Summary here

From 1st – 4th October 2019 there will be a major meeting of representatives from each of these cities – and JxB will be there for a series of events, from running a Policy Lab on the 2nd October with the Manchester Climate Change Agency (MCC), leading two sessions on ‘Arts and Culture Leading Climate Action in Cities – Making this Happen in your Cities’ and supporting the launch of MCC’s new Sustainable events guide.

This is part of our wider Creative Climate Cities Programme and if you are interested in being kept in the loop, do sign up for our monthly newsletter and select ‘Creative Climate Cities’ as area of interest. 

You can also join the C-Change specific mailing list here

Twitter: @CChange_urbact

instagram.com/cchange_urbact

New Report: Sustainability in the British fashion industry

Julie’s Bicycle partners with DHL and British Fashion Council to unveil first in a series of white papers as part of the British Fashion Council’s Positive Fashion initiative. 

The global fashion industry has had a far-reaching impact on the natural environment, from the extraction of raw materials to the production, distribution, wear and disposal of apparel. For example, as the world’s population increases to a projected 8 billion people by 2030, global apparel consumption could rise by 63%, from 62 million tonnes today to 102 million tonnes—equivalent to more than 500 billion additional T-shirts.

This cross-cutting partnership brings together Julie’s Bicycle with the expertise of the British Fashion Council and DHL, one of the industry’s key suppliers and a global leader in logistics. This white paper “Fashion & Environment: An overview of fashion’s Environmental impact and opportunities for action”  brings to life what the climate crisis means for the British fashion industry, showcasing current green practice, exploring the frontiers of innovation, and supporting an ambitious vision of the British fashion industry leading for a liveable environment.

The British fashion industry is well placed to respond with speed, agency and inspiration to the current climate and environmental emergency – in the context set by the Paris Agreement, the latest IPCC report, the UN Biodiversity Report and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“”The innovation and ingenuity of the British fashion industry continues to shape global trends and techniques, as it has done for centuries. Faced with an unfolding ecological crisis, we need to focus this ingenuity on fostering a positive, regenerative, sustainable industry””

– Caroline Rush, Chief Executive, British Fashion Council

Sustainability in the British fashion industry

SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) make up half of the brands in the fashion ecosystem. They play a crucial role in demonstrating what can be done differently, helping to up-skill, inspire and enthuse the industry’s key players to demonstrate that the British fashion is at the vanguard of sustainability-led creativity. There is now an opportunity for it to carve out a new pathway, harnessing the fashion industry’s creativity to develop and scale innovative design, materials, technologies, processes and business models to reduce its imprint upon the Earth.

This paper demonstrates how the industry is actively addressing environmental challenges in the following areas:

  • Design and materials Integrating sustainable design principles into the product creation stage
  • Green technology Fibre innovation, enzymology and molecular biology
  • Manufacturing and processing Supply chain transparency, blockchain technology, water use and energy efficiency
  • Packaging and delivery Innovation in shipping and logistics, reducing plastic and packaging waste
  • Education and engagement Responding to and driving the demand for sustainable action by brand 

Download full white paper here

JB Wins WOMEX Professional Excellence Award

We are delighted to have been awarded the WOMEX (World Music Expo) 2019 Professional Excellence Award for ‘exceptional achievements of an individual, group or an organisation in music’ to be presented at an Awards Ceremony later this October.

In the words of the organiser Piranha Arts the Award honours our ‘forward-thinking strategies to speed up the attainment of environmental sustainability in every facet of our industry and professional lives’, our ‘rallying of artists and arts professionals from all over the world to speak and act in one powerful group’ and our ‘status as a figurehead in the global arts movement in the face of climate change and ecological disaster’.

“”Climate change and our environment are global challenges which necessitate a global response. Many of the most extreme impacts are being felt by the most vulnerable communities, often in the global south: justice, fairness and equity are at the heart of environmental action. This award is not just for Julie’s Bicycle team, but for all those music pioneers who are raising awareness, bringing together our kindred communities, regenerating music practice and protecting all beings that share our earth. Thank you WOMEX.””  – JB Director Alison Tickell.

Find out more about our work to decarbonise the music sector and galvanise musical voices in the climate crisis: from our work on Music Declares Emergency, our work to help cement and celebrate the climate credentials of organisations such as Festival Republic and Shambala through the Creative Green Programme,  our annual residencies at The Great Escape and ADE Green, and the regular creation of free resources such as the Green Music Guide and a recent webinar on green touring  – music has always been a key focus of Julie’s Bicycle work. We are thrilled to receive this prestigious accolade as we push onwards into a future played in a more sustainable key.

Read full press release

Image copyright @ Yannis Psathas 2018

Changing the world of East Street Arts

– Words by Jon Wakeman


It can feel like I’ve done nothing after the Accelerator programme days in Stroud.

Nothing seems to have changed, and I’ve made no particular special effort to engage further with the environmental issues.

Life has continued, I go to the allotment, grow veg and compost everything possible.

And at work, well East Street Arts does what it has always done, tries to survive and do good things.

Hmmm…. That’s what it feels like.

But what really happens?

Things drip feed… over time, because change takes time, even slower than turning one of those giant oil tankers.

What has been going on if we haven’t been changing the world?

Well, changing our East Street Arts shaped world.

East Street Arts is turning, very, very slowly. We are 25 years old and we, the directors, feel we are again discovering what’s next, what’s the direction, how do we remain relevant and useful, what are the issues we are tackling now? And now have only just discovered what direction we want the organisation to go in, and in turning things are changing. But the thing is, we have never stopped changing, reviewing, growing, developing, challenging… after all, this is our practice.

Right let’s get down to brass tacks.

We are talking to Julies Bicycle about:

  • We have completed the capital build and are delivering a slow building, Convention House
  • The Art Hostel is in the process of getting a new home (an unwanted slow!)
  • Have presented on our environmental credentials to peers in the city
  • Are working (slowly, there’s a theme) with Jamie Sayer on SAIL
  • Evaluating our utility accounts with a view to moving as many as possible to Good Energy. We hold approx 70 accounts.

In a splurge of enthusiasm at the Accelerator event I professed East Street Arts would make all its programme environmentally focused, big shout!

What we have done:

  • Started some rigorous organisational and team discussions about what environmental issues mean to us, what do we want to focus on and we have made a decision from this to be a green organisation. We are just unpicking what this means.
  • Started to bring environmental issues into the public programme – contributed to Season for Change EOI and making sure it’s part of all projects discussion even if not changing much yet….
  • Put the environment alongside diversity as the two overarching themes of concern within our new business planning and business models
  • Are part of other city and region wide networks that have environment as key deliverable – Pilot Cities for example
  • Started pulling out of our discussions and business planning the items that will start to form our environmental policy and plan. Its slow but it’s very us.
  • Have developed a business canvas model incorporating environmental and social cost / benefit built sections

Well there we go, OK there’s no environmental policy on our website, if fact there’s barely a website, so what, the sky’s not going to come crashing down.

Evolution is a slow process and we are reshaping with diversity and the  environment being built in from the centre outwards or from the ground up or imprinted on our organisational DNA… whatever way, it’s interesting, a challenge and what the hell else would we do?!


Image: Sable Radio at Convention House, courtesy of East Street Arts

May Project: The Hip Hop Garden

Written by May Project Gardens Co-Founder and Director Ian Solomon-Kawall, adapted from a piece for ‘I AM Hip Hop’ magazine by @Vishal Narayan 

May Project Gardens (MPG) was founded in 2007 by Randy Mayers and myself, Ian Solomon-Kawall. I spent my youth as a carer for my mum who suffered from mental illness. When she died, I wanted to do something positive in her memory and set an example for others facing similar social and economic hardships.

I met Randy, when he’d just moved from Gambia who had an incredible permaculture expertise but was missing a connection to nature in the city. Together we transformed the garden at my mum’s council house into the community garden that is at the heart of MPG today.

Now we work with urban communities to weed out poverty and disempowerment as well as providing access to resources for the public. We seek to influence society: we provide practical and collective solutions for people to live sustainably and disengage with power structures that don’t serve them.  We strive for an alternative system and lifestyle based on nature, community, biodiversity and creativity. 

We’ve remained independent, informal and egalitarian in our values and how we work with people and interact as a team,  in spite of becoming a registered Community Interest Company. 

Our open days are on 12-4PM on Sundays. We are looking for ways to flourish and grow as the need and capacity to deliver outreach work has increased.  We are looking at alternative sources of funding, and more resources such as volunteers, people with expertise in business investment, avenues of unrestricted funding, corporate partnerships and other charitable sources of income.

Who are the members of your team?

Our roles within the organisation are not compartmentalised; May Project Gardens focuses on being people-centric. We try to look at each person’s skills and strengths. I am one of the directors, and one of my strengths is using Hip Hop and creativity, providing practical and affordable solutions to environmental and wellbeing issues, and leading on public engagement. I struggle in the administrative stuff, the bureaucratic writing, which is what Mona and Zaira do very well. We keep growing as a team and sometimes take up mixed roles.

Zaira Rasool now a non-executive director with MPG, provides expertise and support with youth engagement, administration and funding. She joined MPG when she was disillusioned with the mainstream charity sector and used her management skills to help builder a stronger root system for us all. Her input increased our recognition in innovation and alternative education, leading to winning the 2015 Mayor of London’s ‘Greening and Cleaning award’ for our work with young people. 

Mona Bani joined as our third director in 2016. She experienced frontline activism as the child of political refugees and went on to work in social policy. She has used these experiences to help grassroots projects like MPG to become more influential and well-recognised. She supports our project delivery and runs Untelevised TV (@Untelevised_TV) as our media partner, as well as running her own radio show showcasing local artists. Mona does so much for MPG that’s not really seen by the public.

 We also have Fisayo; the manager of Untelevised TV, Helen; Programme Support and Theodora on Operations Support, Laurel; Project Coordinator and Emily our accountant.. There are many other contributors who work with us too, including a fantastic range of musical and cultural geniuses. 

Tell us more about your love of Hip Hop..

I’m a fan of Hip Hop first and foremost. I have been practicing Hip Hop as a medium for social change and social cohesion for decades. More recently it’s been Hip Hop Education. I was one of the first DJ’s to play a set of only UK Hip Hop music and one of the first people to work on creating a Freestyle theatre event; ‘Who’s Rhyme Is It?’. 

Throughout the years, I have worked with artists such as Dead Prez, KRS-One, and Nas. Although Hip Hop is great for social cohesion, I find that it still bases itself on a capitalist model, on competition. Although it came from the ghetto, from the margins of society and has become mainstream, its remains an American-centred model and is oppressing the grass roots. As an example of that, although it started in the US, very few grass roots artists represent Hip Hop globally. There is a real opportunity for Hip Hop to become more bio-diversified. 

When Randy started to work in the Garden it opened my eyes up to a whole different possibility. One of the things I was not able to do with Hip Hop was look inwards; it’s been mostly externalisation. 

With the Green Movement and the presence of MPG, my interest in Hip Hop has been much more about looking inwards at wellness, wellbeing and mental health. 

What projects do you have going on at the moment?

We offer three main programmes, or elements. The first main one is Hip Hop Garden. and the 2nd Come We Grow; where we showcase environmentally aware artists and embark with holistic activities. The 3rd is the Open Days which have been running since the inception

The Hip Hop Garden program is presently funded by Choose Love Help Refugees and Culture Seeds and has five key modules:

1. Food Growing and Cooking:  This explores healthy diets, plant based food and growing, the differing qualities of soils, fasting. It connects participants with the land, using notions from studies showing the importance of green spaces. 

2. Event Management, Come We Grow: This adds life skills for the people taking part. It provides complimentary skills not expressed in the education curriculum, such as how to organise people and work as a team to deliver an activity or show.

3. Wellbeing: We investigate how to get people into a healthy state of being, including looking at isolation, general wellbeing, mental health, yoga, meditation, capoeira and breath work. This supports reducing the trauma that refugees face.

4. Enterprise and Employability: We know Hip Hop started from the grass roots. We bring that energy into Hip Hop Garden. We recognise that there is a shrinking labour force in society, where if refugees can’t be employed, we support them to become entrepreneurial. We get participants to experience plumbing, carpentry, designing water irrigation systems and how to run a pop up café; cooking food and making money, as well as selling produce grown on vegetable beds.

5. Hip Hop and Social Movement and Green Structures:  Here we partake in Hip Hop’s core elements, the history of Hip Hop, live performance skills and techniques. This produces confidence healing for distresses and more importantly for refugees to learn language through lyric writing express their emotions.

Come We Grow– the first Saturday of the month at Café Cairo in Clapham. It is a mini festival celebrating MPG’s community and creativity, with the addition of book launches, tarot, astrology, Gong Baths and film showings. We showcase live music from a wide variety of Green-styled artists. It also has a variety of other holistic activities that compliment, like capoeira martial art and vegan food to eat. 

What services can you offer for anyone interested?

We offer garden and hip hop based educational workshops and training for communities and corporates on the site; we have recently been working with Lush.  We provide: team away days to offer people a way back into the natural environment, talks on permaculture and Hip Hop, and environmental lectures. I also personally offer solution-based consultancy work centred on using human capital and culture for social change. 

All of this may be so important post Brexit, offering the possibility of re-engaging people that have never been engaged in this capacity before. Employability for them may have been overlooked.  By looking at how we can use the methodology of consultancy and businesses, we can add a biodiversity element and provide more economical, but more green based resilience in the financial sector.

Do you have any natural tips for us, organic pointers?

Lately there has stemmed a massive interest in Extinction Rebellion and other similar environmental and vegan movements. I really like this saying- “let the silent sage move about in the village as the bee goes about taking honey from the flower without harming colour or fragrance” – Dhammapada. I love that because it means that working with nature, you can really work at the roots of things. Many people out there right now haven’t done the work within themselves but they expect success. 

One of the things that is really important is utilising a different pace and working environment, like you know, we work in a capitalist society yet everyone is trying to get on and have unity. 

Well those things are at odds, so how do we create spaces where people can actually be more at peace, be more mindful; be more in-tune with nature? However what is becoming more prevalent is the effects of isolation, poor diets, poor transportation, lack of resources, you know, climate change. We see all because our lifestyles are very unsustainable they are consumer driven.  There is so much inequality. Why does that exist in society? We need to look at and connect with nature as a model for society as a whole. Nothing is wasted in nature. Nothing.

What does the future have in store for May Project Gardens and Hip Hop?

We’re going to move more in a more business-focused direction. There is a nice saying; ‘when you put strong roots down, don’t be afraid of the wind’. I really like that saying. Because we have put down some really strong roots and good foundations, now we need to harvest, and we need to build capacity to bring on people that are more experienced in the corporate and business world that can help us get sponsorship and funding that is non restrictive. 

We reached a capacity where people want more from MPG. We need staff that can do more of the administration stuff and more of the back end, the work that people don’t really see. Once we’re done with that we can provide more services of the respective programs we run. Hip Hop Gardens will definitely expand but always in an organic way. 

I want to continue my path of being a pioneer in the UK of bringing Hip Hop into the wellness environment. When I first started doing that, people were laughing at me, saying “hahaha you’re gonna make songs about food”, and now I see artists making songs about food. I pioneered that approach, so I want to grow to take that across the UK and globally, and be the number one person for it, as well as for being internationally recognised for sustainability and wellbeing. It has really changed people’s lives for the better, and I’ve helped that together with everyone at MPG.

Find out more at: https://www.mayproject.org/

Krystyna Swiderska on Indigenous biocultural heritage

Krystyna Swiderska is a Principal Researcher focusing on agriculture, biodiversity and natural resources at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). She talks to Green Heritage Futures about the concept of Indigenous biocultural heritage, a concept which was developed in collaboration with the Peruvian NGO ‘ANDES’ (Association for Nature and Sustainable Development) in 2005. IIED’s current work on Indigenous Biocultural Heritage is funded by the British Academy.

You can find the International Institute for Environment and Development on Twitter at @IIED

For further information on biocultural heritage and IIED’s related action-research, see: www.bioculturalheritage.org

Green Heritage Futures is available to listen and download on desktop and mobile on major podcast platforms.

   


The content of this podcast reflects only the views of the speakers. The Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Creative Energy Project

One of Julie’s Bicycle core objectives is supporting the Paris Agreement Goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by focusing on energy, the major source of carbon emissions for the cultural sector. We believe there’s an opportunity for the arts and culture to lead the way in switching from fossil fuels to renewables and to present energy as an inspirational means for societal transformation. 

To bolster this transition and support the creative sector in aligning with this crucial international target, Julie’s Bicycle has partnered with Good Energy, a 100% renewable electricity supplier named in the top 10 most ethical companies.

We have combined our expertise to increase transparency and eliminate barriers around clean energy supply and offer an exclusive renewable energy deal for the creative industries.

We have also joined forces with BAFTA through the Creative Energy Project which offers 100%, UK-sourced renewable power at a competitive price thanks to a tender process which ensures preferential pricing. 

Contact us if you’d like to hear more about Good Energy’s preferential pricing, designed for cultural and creative organisations, including theatres, museums and galleries, concert halls, venues, studios and offices.

Get in touch to find out more 


Other Creative Energy Resources

Blenheim Film

Julie’s Bicycle works closely with organisations supporting them on sustainability initiatives, including advising on clean energy procurement. Check out this video to see how the transition to low carbon is working out for UNESCO World Heritage Site Blenheim Palace, thanks to our partnership with Good Energy.  


How To Source Sustainable Power

Julie’s Bicycle have also partnered with Good Energy to produce this handy infographic resource detailing the questions to ask when sourcing renewable power.

Common Ground: Round Up

Nearly 100 organisations and practitioners from across the UK came together earlier this month for ‘Common Ground: Culture, Climate and Social Justice’ to launch the Colour Green podcasts and explore the connections between climate breakdown, inequality and social justice – and the role the arts and wider cultural sector can play in recognising and redressing these imbalances.  

It was a packed and provocative day, with a series of talks, in-conversations and performances prompting lively discussions about how the way we eat, inhabit our cities, relate to our local communities, practise self-care, and understand our privilege all play a vital role in the fight for climate justice. The main objective of the day: to inspire creative responses to the climate crisis that are inclusive and encompass broader perspectives and experiences of its impacts and legacy.

Huge thanks to all the speakers and a big shout out to the brilliant performers of Fog Everywhere who finished the day highlighting the impact of pollution on inner city Londoners with such a powerful sonic punch – see them in action as part of the livestream and see full photos on our Facebook gallery.

Lola Young’s Keynote

  • Explored her journey into climate justice and why diversity within the environmental movement is so crucial.
  • Words such as ‘diversity’ and ‘BAME’ have become misinterpreted as an excuse to accept inequality, and often come across as tokenistic ‘fig leaves’ hiding the uglier systemic realities of racism and inequality.
  • We need to change our perspective of what environmental activism looks like – it’s not just a white middle class movement and the sector must embrace these different narratives, especially as those voices left out are those the most impacted now and in the future.

“We have to face that it is environmental disparity for some, environmental premium for others”

Access to nature in urban spaces

  • Andrea Carter of D6 Newcastle stressed the importance of having difficult conversations at this difficult time; we have to ask whose heritage is this land? We need to open up more stories of migration, and see the land as a shared resource – “Migrants are often only talked about from the perspective of the trauma but not the richness of what they bring with themselves.”  
  • We need to allow new voices, skills and experiences to allow that transformation by bringing them into the development of cultural projects across our cities.
  • Projects like walking groups across Newcastle have been hugely empowering for immigrants arriving in the city and have enabled their creative practise and improved wellbeing.

“Being an active agent in making change happen will help you establish a connection with what’s happening around you”

  • Kareem Dayes, founder of Rural Urban Synthesis Society, urged us to embrace the ‘power we already have’. His own parents legacy of building their own eco-home in Lewisham and pioneering affordable and sustainable living for a low income family is testament to the power of taking that power and agency back: 

“Not enough people are aware of what’s possible. We need to be aware of the power we have. We give too much credit to institutions (banks, government etc). I think we have much more power than we realise and we need to become aware and start using it. Developing Social housing requires an amount understanding of how money works and borrowing a lot of it.”

  • The perils of ‘green gentrification’: there are stark differences between levels of pollution between neighbouring areas. Privileged communities have organised systems to avoid overpopulation and preserve green spaces. We need to start claiming control over public land and looking after it.

Food Systems

  • Caroline Ward of Squirrel Nation in Manchester works to combat the way so many communities are not able to access nature in their own city, and are marginalised from organic farming in particular.
  • Working on projects mapping local spaces across the city so people can grow their own food, and setting up a Farm Lab, now creating Oyster mushrooms from recycled coffee grounds; with over 30 coffee shops having donated over 30kg waste coffee.
  • Caroline stressed the importance of experiential learning – needing to physically demonstrate issues to make things tangible. Caroline emphasised the huge importance of projects in which participants are dealing with the process of making and sourcing not just the final outcome of consuming food. It is the only way to learn that: “Our current “sustainable method’ is how far can we push the limits and still stay alive.”
  • Judy Ling Wong, Honorary President of the Black Environment Network:

When we work with food we can amplify the potential for learning about our natural environment. We can teach everything about nature with a cabbage!”

  • It’s vital that we remind ourselves of the importance of taking responsibility as consumers who can influence big business.
  • Ian Solomon-Kawall who runs the May Project Gardens in South London started his journey with the simple call-and-response: ‘plant more trees so that we can breathe’. He is on a mission to reconnect urban communities with nature using Permaculture which works in relation with the land. He feels it’s very important to meet people where they are as they first become involved in nature. “It’s important to celebrate the stories of where people come from and their aliveness, creating an atmosphere of interest and relevance. The connections to food open up these stories that can come pouring out.”
  • Look outside of the mainstream ‘Use the edges and value the marginal’. Some people are absent from the platform as well as the conversation – offering more people a platform is crucial too.
  • When working with young people, discuss plant-based foods not veganism – use language and context that is familiar and understandable. We need to frame the emergency around everyday issues that people are facing – “it’s about supporting people on their terms”. Ian summarised the approach perfectly:

“Diversity in nature is what makes the whole system resilient – the same applies to our communities”

Wellbeing and Mental Health Session

  • The climate emergency is causing huge amounts of anxiety and depression across the world. How do we counter this? We have to face this trauma head on through connection, creativity, honesty and self-care.
  • Pleasure activist and writer Ama Josephine Budge talked about the power and importance of self-care and connecting with others at this time of emergency:

“Moments of joy are moments of connection…This dissident loving happening in these moments of crisis: this is joy. It’s vital to our mental health to hold onto art – and so integral to social change to think in a creative, holistic way.”

  • The power of listening to ourselves was discussed – knowing when to rest and invest in self care – it gives us more time to listen to what’s most important, enables us to regenerate ourselves and be stronger for the changes and challenges ahead. 
  • Writer and social researcher Selina Nwulu said: “There is an unhealthy silent cultural contract we subscribe to by not talking about the crisis. We must value the importance of learning to sit with these difficult emotions and facts, and then be able to act on them with authenticity.”
  • We need to move away from being overwhelmed by climate guilt – we have to reach out and be a bigger collective and not take full weight on our shoulders alone. “When we act from a place of guilt and urgency of ‘there’s no time’, particularly those with power, the action often ends up as white saviourism rather than creating possibility for people to be recognised and empowered.”
  • On children and climate anxiety: Don’t just focus on the positive, children and all of us need acknowledgement that it’s real and entirely reasonable that things feel awful sometimes. As Ama pointed out: “Give kids stories of change and transformation – they’re going to have to rebuild the world.”
  • We lack the language to make sense of it all. Naming gives clarity, power and collective understanding. More art in public space can help enable this new language and engender better connection. Selina:

“We need to find a new language for the time that we are all in… We have to accept that the certainties of old are gone, certainties are now a privilege and we have to learn to sit with the profound uncertainty of our time.”

Global Perspectives

  • Academic and researcher Alexandra Wanjiku Kelbert of Black Lives Matter UK said: “there’s a political decision made every day not to listen to the people living on the frontline of climate change.”
  • She highlighted that the ‘climate crisis is a racist crisis’ where “lots of countries most affected by climate change contributed the least to it”, quoting grassroots collective Wretched of The Earth: “The fight for climate justice is the fight for our lives and we need to do it right.” 
  • Talking about the mainstream environmental movement rallying against the use of the wretched of the earth’s banner with a strong anti-colonial message at a key climate protest, Alexandra: 

“There are fundamental structural inequalities built into the current demographics and understanding of what is our current climate movement. Climate Justice must include reparations and redistribution; a greener economy in Britain will achieve very little if the government continues to hinder vulnerable countries from doing the same through crippling debt, unfair trade deals, and the export of its own deathly extractive industries.”

  • Poet Zena Edwards talked of the emphasis on ‘resourcism’ – seeing the planet as a thing to be mined, owned and profited from. “It’s vital to learn from and return to indigenous relationships to the land, which is a mutual, two-way exchange, based on need and not greed.”
  • Our focus on extraction and resources means that the global powers – predominantly white – are taking control of the planet, evacuating indigenous peoples from their own lands and in the process ‘othering’ them as populations who are anachronistic/archaic – not ‘moving with the times’ and therefore deserved of extinction.
  • Zena focused on the power of art and creativity to pave the way, bring communities together consciously to start demanding and living the changes so urgently needed:

“Words and music can move people, they can generate energy, they can literally resonate in the body, which impacts people at a different level than marketing copy can… Talking about art in relation to social justice, let’s talk about our humanity to impact people and start to bring about profound changes”

In participant’s words:

“I really feel that this is absolutely the direction all environmental discussions need to be moving in – the philosophical and ethical dimensions of every human’s shared custodianship of the earth and the interconnectedness and shared responsibility we have, and the down-to-earth, everyday-ness of this…fighting for a fairer world and fighting against climate change.”

“We need to hear other voices, particularly those from the frontline of climate change. The event provided me with an introduction to both the barriers and opportunities for these conversations to continue. And they need to. Time is running out.” 

“Congratulations on the podcast they have entertained and informed me during last weeks commute, I can’t wait to listen to the next in the series.”

Visual Minute Summary from Woven Ink

Orchestra for the Earth

– Written by John Warner, Founder & Artistic Director at Orchestra for the Earth, August 2019

For the 2019 Creative Green Awards, Orchestra for the Earth‘s principal cellist, Saran Davies, was asked to perform during the drinks reception, welcoming excited guests from the creative sector with a tailored programme of classical music, which was congratulated as ‘incredibly moving’ and warmly received. We found the event genuinely inspiring and are in awe of what Julie’s Bicycle and the broader Creative Green community have achieved. The following day, our team set off on our Alpine Tour: to open a new nature reserve in Austria which we’ve funded from donations at our concerts in the region over the last three years. 

Every summer, Orchestra for the Earth piles into a coach in London packed full of our instruments, swimming gear, and hiking shoes. For the next 24 hours, this coach is our home. Although it’s a slow means of travel, it has about half the carbon footprint of flying and none of the complications surrounding safely transporting valuable musical instruments. For the next ten days after that, our homes are a collection of towns in the Czech Republic, Austria, and Italy, beautifully situated in and around the Alps. Over the centuries, this glorious mountain range has played muse to many of Europe’s greatest artists, writers, and composers: Gustav Klimt, J.M.W. Turner, William Wordsworth, Richard Strauss, and — the focus of our Alpine Tour — the composer Gustav Mahler

Serenading the Alps

The project has two main objectives. The first, an artistic one, is to perform Mahler’s remarkable music—which bristles with the sounds and feelings of nature—among the stunning mountains and lakes that inspired it. He built three ‘composing huts’ throughout his career, all situated in remote areas of the Alps, which afforded him the peace and quiet he needed to write. When not working, he spent many hours swimming in the lakes and hiking mountain trails. We do the same between our concerts. The sense of Mahler’s music is all around, from the tinkling of distant cowbells (which appear literally in the Sixth and Seventh symphonies) to a deeper feeling of peace with one’s surroundings: ‘I am lost to the world’, as his most famous song puts it. To this day it remains a deeply inspiring place to make music. 

We were the first, and remain the only, group of musicians to tour these three historically important locations, and each year we vary our concert schedule to include other significant places. This year, we performed a concert to a packed audience in the house where Mahler was born in the rural Czech town of Kaliště. Even in 2019, Kaliště has a population that barely exceeds 300. The house is still a functioning pub, as it was in Mahler’s day, but with part of the downstairs converted into a lovely little chamber hall. Every year, the owners plant a rose in Mahler’s name, and this year we had the honour of taking part in the ceremony, with a short open-air performance.

Music to inspire stewardship

Our second objective, closely related to the first, is to use these concerts as platforms to inspire a wide range of audiences to value and protect the natural world. Alpine landscapes and ecosystems are under threat from climate change and habitat destruction, with the numbers of endangered species on the rise and glaciers melting at an alarming rate. Our tour concerts have raised funds to open a new nature reserve in Austria, the ‘Gustav Mahler Field of Flowers’. The reserve, located near the town of Steinbach am Attersee where Mahler lived and composed, plays a part in protecting this unique area of natural beauty and biodiversity, and our future tours will continue to support it.

It’s a chance for music to give back to nature in a place where nature has given so much to music.

Our Environmental Mission

The tour is based on OFE’s foundational belief that music can provide a fresh approach to engaging people with the environmental movement, and as such it represents our mission as a whole. Throughout the rest of the year we perform a series of environmentally focused concerts that combine music with talks, films, art and photography exhibitions, and more, to inspire new audiences to act against climate change.

Music has a long track-record of making people feel and think, and this is exactly what is required to tackle the climate crisis. To protect something, you need to have an understanding of it, and, more importantly, you need to love it. Music can be a very effective educational platform, and it expresses and inspires a love of nature in a uniquely powerful way. It has the capacity to be a vital tool in moving hearts and minds to avert ecological catastrophe. 

Our events have something for everyone, and a major benefit of our environmental emphasis is that it makes classical music more accessible to a wider public — something the industry desperately needs. We also run a ‘Tickets for Trees’ scheme, whereby for every ticket we sell, we plant a tree with the Eden Reforestation Projects. I’d encourage anyone and everyone to try out one of our events: at the very least, you’ll plant a tree. Our unique mission leads us to perform in non-traditional venues (such as in the Eden Project’s Mediterranean Biome this September), in unusual and engaging contexts (such as our annual candlelit concert for Earth Hour with WWF), and alongside inspiring speakers (such as Caroline Lucas MP this November). All of this helps to break down barriers for newcomers to this glorious music, at the same time as putting the need to protect our environment at the forefront. 

Find out more at: www.orchestrafortheearth.co.uk

– Photo credit: Banner image – Max Verdoes; below image – Orchestra for the Earth

LTC roadmap to 2025

– Words by Natalie Highwood


London Theatre Consortium (LTC) has proven its commitment to environmental sustainability over a ten-year period of consortium working, in association with Julie’s Bicycle. Individual theatres have made great strides in everything from plant renewal and energy management, to public facing campaigns and commissioning of artistic work that speaks to climate change. We are currently on track to meet our original target of 60% emission reductions by 2025. Our Accelerator project is to create a roadmap from now until 2025. As part of that we will look wider than emissions to what truly sustainable theatres of the future could look like.

As part of our road-mapping I have spoken with each theatre to explore in some depth what they feel they have achieved already and what their challenges and priorities are going forward. Again, these conversations have highlighted the ongoing commitment within the consortium, as well as reminding me of the passion and expertise that exists in each theatre.

Unanswered questions

But the conversations have also raised a lot of questions in relation to what needs to happen next….How can we properly understand the impact of individual theatre productions? Which emissions targets should we align with? What does zero carbon really mean? What is in our control and what is not? Can we engage with our audiences on these issues when we know our own houses are not fully in order? How do we improve on a micro level, when often we feel we have done what is realistically possible already? On a macro level, is now the time to have the major, difficult conversations about the very nature of how we should make and judge artistic work in an era of climate emergency? What would that conversation be? As building-based theatre makers, where will our most meaningful impact lie?

In an era where, finally, public discourse seems to be catching up with the extreme seriousness of the situation, the impact of potentially not answering these questions, of not understanding, is frightening. On a personal level, the feeling that so much is out of our control, and the awareness of the sheer scale of change that is required at an international level, is terrifying. It can feel like anything we as theatres can do is a drop-in a (polluted) ocean. Every time I think about this work, I end up with so many unanswered questions that all I can do is stop, and wake up on another day with fresh energy to tackle it again.

London Theatre Consortium: sharing our progress

That said, we are moving forward with our Accelerator work and there is much to be excited about:

  • As a Consortium, one of our aims was to be more overtly connected into the city-wide picture, and Julie’s Bicycle facilitated a meeting with the Executive Directors of the LTC theatres, the Greater London Authority (GLA) Acting Head of Culture and a member of the GLA Environment team. This was both informative and motivating and we hope that closer collaboration will follow.
  • Already in this period there are very exciting artistic plans related to climate and environment coming up in a number of the theatres. From the Royal Court’s Edinburgh Festival Season to the Unicorn’s Critical Conversations and the Gate’s 40th birthday Manifesto for the Future. LTC’s consortium-wide Artists Climate Lab will have its second incarnation in the autumn. These are not products of our Accelerator work, they are part of each theatre’s ongoing work already. We are not waiting for the roadmap!
  • I really appreciated the opportunity to attend a session of HOME’s staff carbon literacy training in May. Developed by HOME as part of Manchester’s commitment to the Carbon Literacy Project the training defines Carbon Literacy as an awareness of the carbon costs and impacts of everyday activities and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions, on an individual, community and organisational basis’. As well as being useful to me as an individual, and a model to potentially look at for LTC theatres, the day was an opportunity to informally touch base on shared challenges with HOME – a key member of the MAST consortium, also part of Accelerator.
  • The mapping we have undertaken as part of Accelerator means that we now have a totally up to date picture of priorities and challenges across the Consortium upon which to build our roadmap. And the conversations as part of this have been inspiring.
  • Accelerator is a good spur to think about effective consortium working in this area in the future. LTC has learnt a lot about working together over the years. This is a prompt to think about it more… how to best capitalise on the leadership of different Executive Directors?; what peer groupings can most effectively look at different elements (energy, art, campaigns, innovation and city leadership)?; how do you ensure effective distributed leadership?; how can you most effectively multiply the project management time from someone like myself by the time spent within 14 individual theatres?

Theatres embracing uncertainty

It’s not a simple task. We need to not just write a roadmap but have a plan for how to deliver it! One of the challenges is the need for expert advice. Accelerator gives us a small amount of this. In the arts we have a fantastic culture of working things out ourselves, making do and mending, hunting out and interpreting information. But this takes time, and in a situation where time is of the essence, we feel a need for immediate specificity, and to understand clearly and simply whether answers to our questions already exist, and how to access them. We want to understand, with equal clarity, where no one has the answers and we must instead wait for regional, national, and international decisions. In a world where theatres’ finances are under increasing pressure, we will need to find ways to identify resource for this work going forward, and opportunities that make both environmental and business sense.

And so, we keep asking, and doing our best to answer, questions. The next stage is to focus our thinking into potential actions. We embrace the uncertainty and travel onwards. Because the alternative, the route the world is currently on, is not a roadmap that anyone wants to follow.


The Accelerator programme forms part of our work with Arts Council England.

Find out more

ace


Banner image by James Allan from the Accelerator residential training in 2018

The Show Must Go On funding update

The Festival Vision:2025 crowdfunding campaign, launched by not-for-profit Powerful Thinking, has raised over 28k to fund a campaign to provide leadership around climate breakdown through the Vision 2025’s strategy.

Work starts in earnest on the new The Show Must Go On Report, and the report will launch at an industry event in December, with limited edition printed report and a free downloadable version on the new online ‘Vision2025 Knowledge Hub’ providing comprehensive, practical resources and advice.

Ahead of the report’s launch Powerful Thinking will be hosting the third annual Festival Vision:2025 conference at The Showman’s Show on the 16th October; a chance to learn more about the Vision, meet the experts who’ll be writing and researching the report, and event organisers and suppliers who are leading the way in sustainable practices. This is the 3rd annual edition of the Vision event and for the first year it is open to all delegates to The Showman’s Show as well as to event organisers who have committed to cutting their impacts by 50% by 2025 with Vision 2025.

The appetite for the project reflects the industry’s commitment to taking responsibility for cutting environmental impacts. Initiatives launched over this season and last year show the dramatic shift towards more sustainable event management across the UK, with events working together and taking their audiences, suppliers and artists with them in their journey.  

Get in touch with bethan@powerful-thinking.org.uk to book your place or sign up to Powerful Thinking newsletter for programme updates for the Festival Vision: 2025 conference at The Showman’s Show: www.powerful-thinking.org.uk/sign-up

 


More about Festival Vision: 2025 

The Festival Vision: 2025 campaign is lead by industry steering group Powerful Thinking, a not-for-profit project that has been working within the festival industry for ten years to help better understand and minimize environmental impacts.

The 2020 Show Must Go On report will be written collaboratively by a working group of experts and led by creative industries environmental charity, Julie’s Bicycle. A cross-industry steering group will be consulted, including Festival Republic, the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), the Production Services Association (PSA), the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), the National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA), the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS), Kambe Events, Plaster Creative Communications and Smart Power.

How to capture your Accelerator insights?

To help Accelerators prepare for documenting and sharing details of their journey through the Accelerator Programme, we have compiled some suggestions below and in a downloadable pdf below.

HOW TO CAPTURE YOUR ACCELERATOR INSIGHTS

1. If you’ve had a team workshop or public event as part of the Accelerator, can you use this as a chance to collate and share findings / output or conduct a survey as to what participants have learned so far to pull out responses?

– See a great example from Philharmonia here, and an example of an artists’ survey by Artsadmin and Bow Arts here. You can also see an example of a public event organised by Artsadmin and Bow Arts to interrogate some of their ideas for the project.

2. Can you record the journey made to date with photos – sharing before and after examples of work in progress and annotating these for context?

3. Can you record a short 2 min video talking about your project (use your mobile to avoid hiring expensive equipment) or interview others who are / will be impacted by it? 

– See a pdf guide from our partner URBACT here on making great videos on your mobile, and a short video created with some of the dancers from New Adventures’ green team here.

– Metta Theatre also produced this great video as part of promoting their recent show ‘In the Willows’ using one of their cast members to talk about considering their impact on their environment.

4. Can you arrange a 10 min conference / phone call with another member of the cohort to interview one another on your projects and record or write down the results?

5. Do you have a designer in your team who could quickly translate some of your findings to visuals with infographics or a diagram? Alternatively you can use templates to do this in Powerpoint! 

See some lovely visual minutes prepared by MAST in the banner image here and above, with some free templates for making your own infographics here.

6. Write a short blog about your learning / challenges overcome so far – just 3 to 5 paragraphs will do.

– See Will from Metta Theatre’s blog here, Hannah from Chinese Centre for Contemporary Art’s here, Alex from Artsadmin’s here and Natalie from LTC’s hereContact us if you’d like more advice on the best way to prepare this.

– Jennifer from Philharmonia discussed the orchestra’s approach to sustainability as part of the programme centred around prioritisation, targeting and footprints which was then republished in Overseas magazine here (on p26 / 27)

7. Do you have any press moments coming up that you can include reference to your Accelerator project with a teaser of things to come? Or is there a public issue you want to respond to where you can link in details of your participation?

– For example, New Adventures announced their green touring initiative with a feature of their green champions.

– Janet from Talking Birds also created this blog in response to the Arts Council 10 year strategy that drew from her learning at the Accelerator training event.

8. Can you update your environmental sustainability page on your website to talk about what you’re working on? This can be linked to via social media and shared with your audience, funders and team to shout about what you’re up to.

– Find a blog which looks at how Royal Opera House did this here.

– Image of Visual Minutes captured by MorethanMinutes.com at a MAST Accelerator workshop.

How to buy Sustainably Sourced Power

Download this short handbook and infographic to help you understand and traverse the pitfalls of buying sustainably sourced, renewable power for your organisation.

Julie’s Bicycle have been working with Good Energy to produce a handy infographic guide to buying green power for your business.

Covering:

– What is sustainably sourced renewable electricity?

– How can you be sure you’re buying a sustainably sourced supply?

– How to check a supplier’s published power sources?

– How to check the origins of a supplier’s renewable power?

– How to check if a supply is matched with demand?

– How sustainably sourced is your renewable power?

Download the infographic report here

– Image of Little Big Sing, staged at Opera North in 2016, photographed by Tom Arber. Opera North are a cultural institution who worked with Julie’s Bicycle to change their energy supply to Good Energy in 2018.

What Next Climate Change – June summary

The theme for June’s WNCC meeting which took place on June 6th was activism and arts organisations within the context of a climate emergency:

What does climate activism look like in the cultural climate space and how do we harness our collective voice? We will be discussing activism and arts organisations, following on from the recent activity and within the context of parliament’s motion to declare a climate emergency. How can we move institutions to be more radical and take leadership in this space? Challenging the borders between politics and non-political actors.

This meeting took place a day after World Environment Day, in which Secretary-General, António Guterres said:

“It is time to act decisively. My message to governments is clear: tax pollution; end fossil fuel subsidies; and stop building new coal plants. We need a green economy not a grey economy”

Who was in the room?

Please find more information on the What Next? Climate Change subgroup here, including a link to sign up.

June’s WNCC meeting was our busiest yet, with more than 100 people signing up, and around 90 people attending on the day. About 50% of guests were joining for first time, with about 40% of those in the room having joined Culture Declares Emergency.

We are really grateful to the British Council who hosted us and Bergit Arends, Curator & Researcher at Tate, who expertly chaired the meeting.

Speakers and presentations

Other discussion points

  • We also discussed the new Arts Council England 10 year strategy and how it crucially needs input from many individuals and organisations to ensure it addresses the context of climate breakdown in a fundamental way.
  • Discussion groups considered how climate activism is interrelated with the history of empire, extraction and corruption.
  • It was highlighted as a necessity for organisations to make a statement about the ethics and values of their practice from the position of senior management. The difficulty of needing senior management endorsement and reaching trustees was raised, and XR’s last suppers were introduced as a way to get senior influencers together to discuss crucial issues of the climate crisis in a safe space and start to plan a strategy to address this.
  • Lots of people talked about how useful it is to have Green Riders – you can find a template Green Rider on our website.
  • The next iteration of Season for Change 2020 was introduced, which will take place from June – December 2020. A more detailed overview of the festival, themes and partnerships we are developing can be found here.
  • London’s National Park City Festival was mentioned which takes place from 20 – 28th July.
  • This resource was recommended from Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Towns movement titled ‘Why the next 10 years will be the making of us’.

Future What Next Climate Change meetings

  • Julie’s Bicycle facilitate the WNCC group and meetings under the role of secretariat pro-bono, and so are currently considering how best to continue supporting this group as it grows. If you are a member of the group we would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to complete this short survey and help us improve how we host this community.
  • The next WNCC meeting will take place on September 12th in London, venue and theme tbc.
  • What Next? Climate Change conversations can be followed via the hashtag #WhatNextClimate.

ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE POLICY AND SCIENCE UPDATE

– Written by Chiara Badiali, June 2019, compiled from various sources including Carbon Brief, BBC, Guardian, Times, Axios, Rolling Stone and more. 

INTRODUCTORY CONTEXT

Climate change has shot up the public agenda – as has biodiversity loss – and public discourse is shifting so quickly it can feel overwhelming to try and keep up. Extinction Rebellion and the on-going Fridays for Future school strikes are shifting the discourse – at least in some countries. There’s a crackling new urgency in the air, reflected in the explosion of interest and urgency we are seeing in meetings like What Next Climate Change. Mentions in the media of climate change in April were higher than almost any time before.

But the headline, which barely even made it into the headlines, is that earlier this month (June 2019) we breached 415 ppm (parts per million) of CO2 in the atmosphere for the first time since there have been humans on Earth.

The last time there was this much carbon in the atmosphere was during the Pliocene 3 million years ago when there were Beech trees near the South Pole.

And emissions are still growing year on year. This May’s average concentration was 3.5 ppm higher than last year… the second highest annual increase in a decade. While climate change may be in the public eye, we have a long way to go, maintaining pressure (and urgency and excitement) to ensure all this energy is translated into action that will finally reverse the trajectory of GHG emissions.

That means: 1) continuing to add our voices to those calling for a legally binding net zero target for the UK, and for systemic policies that will ensure targets mean something in practice; and 2) holding ourselves and our organisations to account in reducing our own impacts and emissions.

IF YOU READ ONE THING, MAKE IT THIS

  • The UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES, which is still a mouthful!) – basically, a new equivalent to the UN IPCC / Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports but for biodiversity and ecosystems  – released this report that says we are in a biodiversity crisis that matches the climate crisis (and is exacerbated by it). The report was written by 145 authors from 50 countries, with inputs from a further 310 authors

    “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

    – IPBES Biodiversity report

  • At least a million species are at risk of extinction because of human action. The drivers are – in descending order – 1) changes in land and sea use; 2) direct exploitation of organisms; 3) climate change; 4) pollution; 5) invasive alien species. On average, deterioration of environments has been less severe on lands held by Indigenous People or Local Communities.
  • This loss of biodiversity also risks undermining progress towards the SDGs. We need “transformative change”.

 UK ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

  • On the 1 May in a debate in the House of Commons, MPs passed a motion to declare an environment and climate emergency. Note the Scottish and Welsh parliaments have already made individual declarations of climate emergencies.
  • On May 2, the Committee on Climate Change – the independent body that gets its mandate from the Climate Change Act and is tasked with providing the government with advice on climate change – published its report on Net Zero, recommending that the UK introduce a new emissions target: net-zero GHGs by 2050 – in order to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement. This is more ambitious than the current target of an 80% reduction by 2050. The report also contains the outlines of a roadmap and cost estimates: the CCC thinks that a more ambitious net zero target won’t cost materially more than achieving current targets.
  • This report came about because after the IPCC – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – published its report for policymakers on how we keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees late last year, the UK government asked the Committee on Climate Change to re-assess the UK’s long term emissions targets under the Climate Change Act and figure out whether they were ambitious enough and in line with what the IPCC says is necessary.
  • It’s worth remembering that the Committee on Climate Change’s assessments still suggest that the UK is on track to miss its future carbon budgets – the ones that are based on a less ambitious target. Current policies aren’t strong enough.
  • 120 UK business leaders including Unilever have written to Theresa May asking her to urgently put in place a legally binding requirement for the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Separately, leading climate scientists have done the same.
  • In the meantime, the consequences of government policies that have cut subsidies and made renewable energy investment less attractive are starting to show – investment in renewables in the UK more than halved between 2015 and 2017.
  • It’s not all bad news – in May, the UK went two weeks without coal-fired energy – a new record and the longest since the 1880s. On average, power was provided by gas (40%), nuclear (20%), wind (13%) and other – solar, hydro, etc made up the rest. 
  • From October, new regulations kick in for trustees of pension schemes, requiring them to set out how they take account of financially material considerations including those arising from Environmental, Social, and Governance considerations, including climate change. Note Law Commission advice does not change – where the concerns aren’t ‘financially material’ – e.g. if they are ethical – trustees may only take these into account where there is broad consensus. Trustee responsibility remains in weighing up financial risks and opportunities.

INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE AMBITION: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

  • Updated analysis from the Climate Action Tracker, which rates countries’ climate commitments (based on so-called NDCs / nationally determined contributions to emissions reductions, 2020 pledges, long-term targets and policies) against the Paris Agreement shows that none of the top ten global emitters is meeting its climate goals. India is categorised as 2°C compatible, while the EU is categorised insufficient. China is highly insufficient – while USA and Russia are critically insufficient.
  • Finland has set a target to be carbon neutral by 2035 – without relying on buying carbon credits in other countries. This is probably the most ambitious national target yet – Norway’s is 2030 but doesn’t have the same commitment not to rely on offsetting through reductions in other countries.
  • Chile, who is hosting the next international UN climate talks this December, has announced that in the next 5 years it will close eight coal power stations which account for ca 20% of its power generating capacity, on a trajectory to become carbon neutral by 2050.
  • In Sweden, rail journeys rose 5% last year – and another 8% in the first quarter of this year – while domestic air passengers dropped by 8% January – April. This is driven by a phenomenon being called ‘Flygskam’ – or flight shame – and is a reminder of how quickly things can shift when they do shift. 

The Colour Green: Zena Edwards

The Colour Green is a new podcast from Julie’s Bicycle exploring the links between climate change, race, nature and social justice from the perspectives of people of colour in the UK.

In The Colour Green podcasts, Baroness Lola Young is in conversation with artists and activists of colour who are at the forefront of social innovation – connecting climate justice, race, power and inequality.

In this episode we meet multidisciplinary performer, poet and writer Zena Edwards, who has been involved in performance for over 20 years – as a writer/poet performer, educator and creative project developer. As a lecturer, Zena is interested in demystifying and emboldening grassroots embodied knowledge fusing song, film and poetry. She is the Creative and Education Director for Verse In Dialogue (©ViD) producing projects focusing on live literature, creative community engagement, wellbeing and transformational learning. Zena chose to walk around the Old Tidemill Gardens in South London, which has now been demolished as part of a regeneration project. She discusses how the starting point of looking at mental health and wellbeing using art brought her to the issue of climate justice, along with state violence against marginalised groups, reclaiming land as an act of resistance and community gardens.

Thank you to Zena and Lola for their time and generosity.

          


Follow Zena on Twitter: @ZenaEdwards
Learn more about Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni Nine: https://platformlondon.org/background/the-life-of-ken-saro-wiwa/
Check out Voices That Shake!: https://www.voicesthatshake.org/

We would love to hear your feedback. Please join us in continuing the conversation using: #ColourGreenPodcast on social media, and do follow the Colour Green Twitter Takeover account: @The_ColourGreen

If you would be interested in funding or participating in a future series of the podcast, or supporting our Colour Green Twitter Takeover, please get in touch: thecolourgreen@juliesbicycle.com

This podcast has been developed by Julie’s Bicycle as part of the Arts Council England Environmental Sustainability Programme.

Arts Council England Logo

No Environmentalism in a Silo: What it Means to Talk About Race in our Climate Crisis

– Written by Yingbi Lee, former Communications Coordinator at Julie’s Bicycle

In Singapore, where I grew up and where I’m writing this now, the natural environment feels like something you have to escape from. It’s not hard to imagine why, when the year-long 30°C temperature and humidity get unbearable, and bring the insects out to play. But it’s an even bigger change to get used to after living in South London for four years, where the green spaces dotting every neighbourhood provide a place to escape to, especially when summer comes around. Reconciling this change in my relationship with the environment reminds me of how easy it is to get trapped into thinking of human society and the natural environment as separate from one another, and often as entities that need to be protected from one another in order for either to be preserved. This was discussion that was brought to the forefront of how I approach environmental activism during the production of Judy Ling Wong’s episode of The Colour Green

No environmentalism in a silo

One of the founders of the Black Environment Network (BEN) in 1987, Judy tells us that early conversations and research the organisation engaged in uncovered a fundamental difference in the way people of colour frame their relationship with the environment, in contrast to the mainstream environmental movement at the time. Environmentalism then was largely concerned with protecting the environment from degrading forces of human activity. Conversely, people of colour tended to speak of how the natural environment can contribute to human wellbeing, such as providing a source of sustenance, or having physically or emotionally healing qualities. As Judy puts it in her podcast episode: “there is no such thing as a purely environmental project”. 

Over thirty years on from BEN’s founding, I struggle to see how much has changed from the limited access people of colour have to the mainstream environmental movement that Judy described. From 2017 to 2018, the percentage POC staff in environmental NGOs and foundations in the US fell. The disparity is even starker when it comes to positions of leadership, with senior staff in foundations dropping from 33% to a mere 4%. 

Wretched of the Earth

In 2015, the Wretched of the Earth bloc – comprised of indigenous activists from across the world, and black and brown people living in the UK – found their hard-won place at the front of the People’s Climate March in London replaced by people donning animal headgear. Despite growing evidence and recognition that the Global South and people of colour in the Global North are at the frontlines of the climate crisis, their voices continue to be sidelined in favour of prioritising narratives around the protection of biodiversity from environmental degradation and climate change.

But it’s not only about the numbers or a tokenistic inclusion of people of colour in environmental groups. The Green 2.0 working group highlights insular recruiting, alienation and “unconscious bias” as key factors that are limiting the retention of people of colour after the hiring process – which reflects the poor effort on behalf of organisations to reach out and engage with the concerns of the people of colour they allow into their movement. Wretched of the Earth’s open letter to the People’s Climate March shares their struggle securing their rightful place at the front of the march, which appeared contingent on the bloc sanitising their message for the benefit of the egos and emotions of the march’s intended audience. Just months ago, Extinction Rebellion has been criticised by black and brown activists like Black Lives Matter UK for adopting tactics that engage with institutions that have long histories of brutality against people of colour, and adopting rhetoric that ignores the disproportionate impact of climate change on marginalised communities across the world. 

Unique challenges in times of crisis

These lacklustre attempts to diversify reflect how people of colour’s inclusion in the mainstream environmental movement is subject to their assimilation into white institutions and the privileged concerns white people have in regards to the environment. It demonstrates an ignorance – deliberate or not – of the unique challenges people of colour and other marginalised communities face in times of climate crisis.

“The agreement it seems was contingent upon us merely acting out our ethnicities – through attire, song and dance, perhaps – to provide a good photo-op, so that you might tick your narrow diversity box. The fact that we spoke for our own cause in our own words resulted in great consternation: you did not think that our decolonial and anti-imperialist message was consistent with the spirit of the march. In order to secure our place at the front, you asked us to dilute our message and make it ‘palatable’.”

Open Letter from the Wretched of the Earth bloc to the organisers of the People’s Climate March of Justice and Jobs

When I shared my work on the podcast with a white friend, they asked me why we were highlighting the voices of artists and activists of colour in the UK. They acknowledged that communities in the Global South feel the impacts of climate change sooner and more severely, but wondered: How do the relationships people of colour in the UK have with the environment compare to those of white communities?

Linking up with social justice

While they were speaking from a lack of first-hand understanding of the invisible barriers people of colour face in accessing the natural world, especially rural environments, their question reflects a pretty widespread perception of a clear divide between environmental justice and racial justice within the Global North. In her episode of the podcast, Ama Josephine Budge also touches on feeling a sense of alienation not only as a person of colour in the environmental movement, but also as an environmental activist in the anti-racism activist circles. The lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the mainstream environmental movement has generated a vicious cycle in which the environment is a predominantly white concern that comes secondary to other issues in social justice.

But like Ama, the other guests spoke to Baroness Lola Young about their deeply personal relationships with the environment, in ways that are inextricable from their racial and ethnic identities. For me, Judy’s comment about the different ways in which people of colour framed their relationship with the environment in contrast to the mainstream environmental movement put into context all the other conversations in the podcast series, because this conception of the environment stems from the ways in which communities have been living with the land since prior to European colonisation.

Inspired by Indigenous relationships to the land

What European colonisers perceived as untouched wilderness in the Americas had already been transformed by a long history of Indigenous activity, from agriculture and hunting to building shelters. Ignoring this history of interaction Indigenous people have had with the land, Western narratives of environmental protection cast the environment as a passive object lacking agency, rather than something that we are constantly living in. Ironically, Indigenous communities have proven stewards of the environment – a vast majority of the planet’s biodiversity can be found on Indigenous lands, despite covering only 22% of the Earth’s surface. The 2018 IPCC report cites traditional ecological knowledge as critical for adapting to environmental changes. 

Developed over many generations, Indigenous communities’ methods of living with the land foregrounds the importance of developing local, grassroots solutions for mitigating or adapting to climate change. Approaching the environment as something that contributes positively to human life and wellness is useful to understand not only as something that has been limiting POC access to the mainstream environmental movement, but also as a perspective that can constructively help us live in the environment in a way that is truly sustainable. 

“We live in a culture where we’re waiting for a hero and want to blame a scapegoat…There ain’t no hero and there ain’t no scapegoat… It’s all of us and we’re all in it together… if you’re waiting for some saviour or hero, it’s too late. If you blame it all on the scapegoat you’re not taking responsibility.”

Kareem Dayes, from The Colour Green podcast

A sense of reconnecting

To disconnect the environmental movement from conversations surrounding race and ethnicity is to ignore how the impact of climate change is stratified across levels of urban development across the globe, and across racial lines within countries. It ignores the Western and colonial notions of nature and ecology that underpin the unfettered expansion of capital and consumption that drives environmental degradation. It devalues the relationship communities of colour have with the environment, and strategies for adapting to environmental changes that Indigenous communities have spent centuries developing.

Bearing Judy’s words in mind, I’ve started seeking new ways of reconnecting with the environment that I’ve spent a long time trying to avoid – even if that only means taking a fifteen minute break from my work to find some comfort in the heat and humidity of the air outside, or to appreciate that many of the insects that I might consider a nuisance are more prolific pollinators than bees and are integral elements of the urban ecosystem. 

There’s so much more to this conversation than can be contained in a single blog post, or even within a few episodes of a podcast, but I hope that they open up several new dimensions to the discussion around environmental and social justice. The lack of visibility of activists in this space does not speak to the lack of thought, effort, and action that they’ve been engaging in for decades. Below, I’ve linked articles, reports and organisations that delve deeper into the issues I’ve touched on here. As part of the launch of The Colour Green podcasts on July 1st, I’ll be taking over @The_ColourGreen on Twitter on the week beginning on July 15th, and I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation there.

Resources:

    1. “Open Letter from the Wretched of the Earth bloc to the organisers of the People’s Climate March of Justice and Jobs” | Reclaim The Power
    2. “Are Extinction Rebellion whitewashing climate justice?” by Leah Cowan | gal-dem 
    3. “’A lot at stake’: indigenous and minorities sidelined on climate change fight” by Emily Holden | The Guardian
    4. “To share or not to share?: Tribes risk exploitation when sharing climate change solutions” by Paola Rosa-Aquino | Grist
    5. “How Green Groups Became So White and What to Do About It” by Diane Toomey | Yale Environment 360
    6. “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies” Report | Green 2.0
    7. “GoGreen19: Climate change is a racist Issue” by Zamzam Ibrahim & Laura Clayson | People & Planet
    8. “Environmental Ethics in a Post-Natural World” by Steven Vogel | UTNE Reader
    9. The Black Environment Network
    10. Indigenous Environmental Network
    11. Global Grassroots Justice Alliance
    12. Climate Justice Alliance

Creative Spaces for Nature: Biodiversity, Habitats and Ecosystems

“We want to rethink the building as a shared space, a space we share with all the various plants, bugs, birds, the moss on the roof, the spiders in the rafters, the flowers in the graveyard. If we rethink the building in this way we can rethink the organisation into a place where we can ask the questions that contribute to the debate and understanding of what causes climate change.” 

Anthony Roberts, CEO Colchester Arts Centre

Produced by Julie’s Bicycle and written by lead author Chiara Badiali, this report is an indispensable guide to the ways in which the creative sector can respond to the biodiversity crisis, with a focus on green infrastructure, single-use plastics, and the move away from unsustainable sources such as palm oil. It takes in a variety of fascinating case studies of successes and ongoing challenges from across the UK and Global arts and cultural sector.

This report explores:

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY BIODIVERSITY? Millions of years of knowledge learned by species within the complex webs they create through their interactions. 

SPOTLIGHT: BIODIVERSITY IN THE UK Drivers of biodiversity loss in the UK, which as been described as “one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.”

THREATS TO BIODIVERSITY Drivers of biodiversity loss in the UK – An analysis of changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of organisms; climate change; pollution; and invasive alien species.

OPPORTUNITY: AREAS FOR ACTION An analysis of capital development and place-making; outdoor events; procurement donations and tree-planting.

SPOTLIGHT:PALM OIL The disastrous impacts of palm oil on deforestation and biodiversity loss based on research published by the IUCN


Published as part of the Arts Council England Environmental Sustainability programme 2018-22.

ace

Accelerating Change – Learning and Exchange Event

Our Accelerator Programme works with two cohorts of up to ten organisations or consortia to advance their sustainable practice and share insights with their peers and the wider sector. The programme looks at everything from touring models and audience engagement to design and supply chains, income generation and governance.

We were delighted to host our national Accelerator event at the People’s History Museum in Manchester in September, where about 15 representatives from the first cohort shared their learning and progress with about over 60 others, mainly those applying to be part of the second cohort and Arts Council England representatives.

It was a packed afternoon of quick-fire presentations, mapping sessions and collaborative group work across a range of themes from sustainable touring and circular artistic practice to zero-carbon culture roadmaps and environmental commissioning. With warm thanks to all who came for for your enthusiasm and contributions.

See Sarah Mander, Senior Research Fellow, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change’s presentation below.

Please note that applications for the Second Cohort of Accelerators closes on the 14th October! For any queries on this please email support@juliesbicycle.com 

During the afternoon we did a mapping session looking at 4 key environmental priorities and how the arts and culture sector can contribute – on a practical level, a creative and programming level and a policy level.

MUSIC DECLARES – LOUD AND CLEAR

“Let’s imagine a new music industry and make tonight the start of a new adventure” – Faye Milton, Savages. 

The first MDE:ONE event was brilliant – a sold-out crowd gathered in the beautiful Grand Junction at St Mary Magdalene to be inspired by music from Eska, Sam Lee, Johnny Flynn, Tunng, Shingai, Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Coldcut and inspirational words from Farhana Yamin (International Environmental Lawyer), Fay Milton (Savages), Peter Quicke (Ninja Tunes) Chris Johnson (Shambala/Energy Revolution), Ian Solomon-Kawall (May Project Gardens), Karen Simmons (Universal Music), Jane Beese (Roundhouse) Maddy Read Clarke (MDE) and JB’s own Chiara Badiali and Alison Tickell.

It was a powerful evening of music and talks exploring how the music industry can mobilise itself it to bring about rapid societal change through the decarbonisation of its practises and mass civic engagement through the power of music.

From looking at improving supply chains and carbon impact across the music and festival industry (with Shambala leading the way as a 5* Creative Green organisation with their drive to be 100% vegetarian and disposable free approach, alongside imaginative waste use and transport innovations) to the inspiring greening and biodiversity projects that music venues, such as  the bee colony on the roof Roundhouse, are taking on – it was an evening of inspiration that almost made it look easy.

As ever, collaboration, sharing and communication is at the heart of this revolution: with JB director Alison commenting ‘This doesn’t have to be a struggle – We need to collaborate and share our knowledge as quickly as we can’.

And of course the evening was a reminder that the beating heart of this movement is music – beautifully put by Shingai:

‘It’s the rhythm of me, the rhythm of you, the rhythm of everything.. let’s keep this planets heart beating strong…’ 

Here’s a few photos from the evening – for more head to the MDE Facebook gallery.

Banner image Copyright @ Raquel Natalicchio.

Save the date: 26th February 2020 #ClimateEmergency

Science tells us that we have a decade within which to make unprecedented and far-reaching changes to all aspects of society. Decisions made in the coming years will be critical in determining our future. 

We are thrilled to ask you to save the date for a provocative and powerful climate event which will bring creative and cultural leaders together with funders, policy-makers and the scientific community to explore what creativity, leadership and innovation means in the context of Climate Emergency.

Taking place on Wednesday 26th February 2020 at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society London, this event will bring together high-profile expert speakers and facilitators with an audience of over 300 from across the UK and beyond to ask: What will the world be like in 2030, and what can the creative and cultural community do now to push us closer to the future we want?  

This day-long event will look at the political, demographic, economic and social forces driving our changing climate, and explore how the arts and cultural sector can be galvanised to move us towards net-zero whilst laying foundations for a more connected, economically viable and just future society.

We will be announcing further details further details very soon. But for now, please save the date!

Get Involved: The Global Climate Strike

Our house is on fire – let’s act like it

Across the UK and worldwide, people are leaving their schools and workplaces to take to the streets to demand Climate Action now for the Global Climate Strike. By joining the strike on Friday 20th September Julie’s Bicycle are adding our voice to those of students of all ages across Europe who have been missing their education on Fridays throughout this year in protest at worldwide governmental inaction to combat climate change.

We are one of hundreds of organisations joining in – If you’re interested to get involved, here’s the activity we know about so far. We’ll be joining the Music Declares Emergency bloc from 11am- info below. If you’d like more info please feel free to call the JB team on 0208 746 0400 (we’ll be diverting this number to a mobile on the day to answer calls). For up to date info also check out the ClimateStrike hashtag and follow our Twitter thread on the Climate Strikes here

To capture events, we’ll also be sharing content on our new Instagram page being launched on the day- so do check it out!

Friday 20th September

Music Declares Emergency:

Staff from a number of independent labels are coming together this Friday 20th September to strike in support of the #ClimateStrike action being taken around the world, under the banner of Music Declares Emergency.

Join from 11am, meeting at the Abraham Lincoln statue, on the West side of Parliament Square where youth activists from the UK Student Climate Network have organised a demonstration, before we march to join the main rally in Trafalgar Square.

Please do feel free to bring your families and your banners – if you’re in need of inspiration there is a handy toolkit here, including customisable things to share on your social media. Labels involved so far: 4AD, Dead Oceans, Full Time Hobby, Jagjaguwar, Ninja Tune, Rough Trade, Secretly Canadian, Secretly Distribution, XL Recordings & Young Turks.

Film Strike For Climate:

On Friday 20th September the newly launched Film Strike for Climate will be showing solidarity with the youth strikers on the streets. All those working in the film and TV industries are invited to join. See here for full info 

#FilmStrikeforClimate

Create and Strike – The Advertising Industry Speaks Out:

The Advertising Industry has launched the Create And Strike campaign. 32+ leading agencies signed an open letter, calling on their creatives to take themselves, and their skills, on to the streets. More info and join up now! 

#CreateAndStrike

Friday 27th September..

On Friday 27th September all arts and culture workers are invited to convene together with Culture Declares Emergency. Meeting point: 2pm Trafalgar Square. Bring your colleagues, bring your staff, bring your creativity! #ArtsStrike4Climate