Category Archives: Participation

Climatemas!

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We are instigating Climatemas, and call on you to hold a midwinter climate masquerade where you live on 21st December 2018.

The planet is in crisis. 21st December is winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest day. It will be a day of darkness, but the solstice also marks a turning and a rising into the new year. 2019 promises more threats from the climate emergency but also promises more creative resistance.

In the spirit of Extinction Rebellion, and to mark a Friday for Future, hold a gathering, walk or simple event in spectacular costumes and masks.

Dress as fellow Earth beings – any of the other species that are threatened with struggle and extinction.

Embody a wild ancestor, or Mother Earth, a sky god, or a weather spirit.

Be the ghost of Christmas future, or wear a mask to express your emotions about climate change.

March, dance, sing, put on a music night, or devise a climate-themed mummers play.

Mark the moment of solstice by shining a light on the truth of climate change, or burning a clock to show that we have nearly run out of time.

Paint your face or wear an amazing hat, and hand out leaflets in the high street.

Generally make a spectacle to raise awareness of climate change and ecocide. Resist the tide of Christmas consumerism.

If you use Facebook, do share posts on this event page about what you plan, and maybe create your own local Facebook event page. Comment on this blogpost to share plans.

Share photos/stories on Twitter or Instagram using #climatemas

Here are some inspirations for your costumes and masks

Fridays for Future is the ‘schools strike for climate’ movement started by Greta Thunberg. This is Extinction Rebellion

And here’s a poster! Email on ClimateMuseumUK@gmail.com if you’d like a printable PDF version.

CLIMATEMAS

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#4QsonClimate

#4QsonClimate is a contemporary collecting project of Climate Museum UK. We are collecting what people feel about climate change, using four questions to draw these out. 

  1. If climate breakdown is a thing, or an object, what do you see? (Write a description or draw or make this object…)
  2. Thinking about this object, and what it represents, how does it make you feel?
  3. What do you feel like doing about it?
  4. How much do you feel able to do this?


You might use these questions to talk about it with other people and encourage them to take part. This is also an action research project, exploring the potential of making, drawing or describing an object to help us think about the complex enormity of climate change. Tim Morton has described climate change as a ‘hyperobject’, something that has power but is somehow invisible, massively distributed or too big to conceive of. 

There are several ways to share responses: 

  • Share by commenting on this post
  • Go to this online survey
  • Tweet your answers using the hashtag #4QsonClimate 
  • Email them to ClimateMuseumUK@gmail.com 

Also, if you come across a Climate Museum pop up activity, you might be invited to make draw, or to make an object with clay and write a label using these questions. This object will enter the Climate Museum UK collection.

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Notes on the 1st prototyping workshop

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It’s been over a week since the first prototyping workshop at Toynbee Studios on 20th July. I promised to write a blogpost but the session was so rich with ideas and questions, thanks to the expertise and creativity of the participants, I’ve spent the week cogitating (and working on other projects). Here are a few of the cogitations it stirred:

  • What comes first? Forming an organisation with clear objects, policies and sources of support, and a bigger group of people around me, or a working prototype for a mobile museum that tries out methods as a way of building that support and forming those policies?
  • How to ethically develop and sustain an organisation that focuses on climate justice, in a time when it is clear that the climate is breaking down earlier than expected? In some ways, it is the most direct response one could make to this emergency but it also gives pause, in terms of not wanting to exploit anybody’s experience for potential gains that are not evenly distributed.
  • How to involve more people directly affected by climate injustices and historical inequalities in the prototyping process? Or, whether taking the working prototype on the road, if partners and communications are well chosen, would achieve this?

The workshop was in four parts:

  • Getting to know each other, exploring personal and communal interests in the Climate Museum. Presenting the background and brief
  • Exploring and generating questions that might help people engage with climate change, using clay (made from paper) to make an object to help ‘hold the question’
  • Working in groups to make structures or visual ideas for an installation
  • Reviewing and discussing issues and next steps.

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These are the questions that were shared:

  • How do we talk about the future shape of the UK after rising seas
  • Is it inevitable that many species will go extinct, and does it matter? 
  • How could we imagine a future which isn’t stranded by what we want to revive from our past?
  • What does progress look like if you factor in climate change?
  • What is normal?
  • How do we make sure questions and answers aren’t dominated by white privilege?
  • Who is ‘we’?
  • How do we ensure those imagining climate futures intersect with those more directly experiencing climate change in the present?
  • What is the food of the future?
  • What if we see the atmosphere as a peeled off orange skin, partly protecting but partly fractured?
  • How do I know what is the right thing to do? How can I live my best life? 
  • How do you find space in every day life to address climate change?
  • Do we have to go back in time? How do we talk about it without people feeling that things are taken away from them that they enjoy?
  • How do we find the solution inside the problem?
  • How do we measure our footprint fully and easily?
  • How do I live a good life in an ecocidal culture?

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The installation ideas

Group one (prompt – ‘past, present and future’)

  • A structure for allowing visitors to frame and reframe the past, present and future
  • An extendable table to allow more content to be revealed from either the past or the into the future
  • Familiar objects: tables, cushions, knitting 
  • Lucy shared a stimulus object she had made  – a 3D fox in a boat (see below)
  • Hilary shared some old board games
  • Who is left behind if we escape to other planets? (Other species and most people)
  • The future is here just not evenly distributed, both in terms of its horrors and its benefits
  • The future is open
  • Layers and different depths for different people 

Group two (prompt – ‘intersectionality’)

  • Structure that enables conversation between different voices, like a web of strings with tin cans, like ‘tin can telephones’
  • Involve more identities in the prototyping stage
  • Encourage dialogue
  • Leave space for it to evolve
  • Don’t ask questions if you aren’t going to answer. What happens to the responses?
  • Not trying to tell stories but to listen
  • Who is listening? The museum is not a person
  • Is the listener another audience member?
  • Questions could be collected from everywhere, so that visitors start to make a map

Group three (prompt – ‘the Kubler-Ross change curve’)

  • Structure: Make it easy for people to find and enter, and then through the experience to emerge with something (peace, clarity, agency)
  • Invite people inwards
  • A mirror reflecting ‘you’ to make it obvious who it is for
  • Playful e.g. tree climbing, sticks, rhythm
  • Intriguing objects, left behind items, curiosity
  • Tactile and thoughtful
  • Dissolving the normal rules of a museum
  • Include a structure with extending bits e.g. pulling signs out of a stand to learn more
  • Crazy mirrors
  • Natural world element materials like grass under your feet or a natural textured wall, materials gathered from each place e.g. Like the clay or soil 
  • Sounds and music
  • Remove your shoes
  • Give and take away. Can take something with you, exchange ideas, and leave objects
  • Connection to natural world

Group four (prompt – ‘an expanded perspective’)

  • Structure inchoate and webby because climate change is a hyper-object
  • Enabling you to make connections between you and the others
  • A safe space for tackling the messy and complex issue
  • Layers of information around a central object, so that visitors can add to it
  • Climate change as a hyper-object (e.g. like London is a hyper-object. You don’t need to know every road to know London)
  • It can be seen as an interconnected map of everyone who has interacted with it

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Summing up

  • These four ideas could form a possible brief for the first iteration of a working prototype to try out with some groups this Autumn
  • Key principle: Involve and evolve
  • Consider who is listening to the questions? Mainly conversations between participants? Is the museum listening? How are people’s stories honoured and useful?
  • Frame and re-frame: Make clear there is no single truth, no authoritative story of past, present and future
  • Connections: To you, to place and to world
  • The need to give choices to different audiences: Layers, different ways in, depth, tempo

Next steps

  • Clarity on the structures: The business? The physical manifestation? A development plan?
  • Test, research, and ask people how they feel about climate change. Start small and simple e.g. with a chair
  • Climate cafe e.g. look at Death Cafe ask what brings you here, have climate conversations
  • Produce a small thing to start with and maybe add to it 
  • Think about climate as a hyper-object

Thank you very much to Judith Knight and Mark Godber for hosting us at Toynbee Studios. Thank you to everybody who attended and shared ideas, including those that couldn’t make it but who also shared thoughts. If you think anything is missing or inaccurate from this very rough summary, please let me know.

 

Prototyping event

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Thanks to the support of Arts Admin in providing a space at Toynbee Studios, there will be a prototyping workshop on 20th July (2-6 plus drinks until 8). This event will be a part of the Season for Change which is an exciting collaboration between Arts Admin and Julie’s Bicycle sparking cultural responses to the climate emergency.

So, come along to a free workshop to dream up and prototype a mobile Climate Museum UK.

This session will involve working in teams to hack up ideas for a mobile museum using all kinds of stuff like cardboard boxes, coloured paper and pens, old magazines, some key facts and stories, and most importantly drawing on your own ideas and skills.

These prototypes may then be documented and shared online to get public feedback, and subsequently to help fundraise to create the museum.

Places are limited, but participation is not selective. Those most warmly encouraged to book are people who:

  • Would be keen to continue being involved in supporting Climate Museum UK beyond this workshop (e.g. helping to fundraise or promote it, or being part of an editorial advisory group)
  • Have experience in design, science communication, creative activism, museum interpretation, storytelling, advocacy in climate justice etc.
  • Can definitely commit to the date and stay with it for the afternoon (we’ve all done it, booked to a free thing and then not turned up BUT this project is too important for that!)
  • Are over 16 (or if under 16 accompanied by an actively participating parent or carer)

To book your free place, go to this Eventbrite link.

The first step

Yes, I’m taking the first step to making a Climate Museum for the UK!

In fact, the first steps came many years ago:

  • In 2006 when I left my great job as Head of Learning at the British Library, wanting to set up my own organisation for thrivable culture (Flow Associates).
  • In 2008 when I set up a website called Climate Action for Culture and Heritage.
  • In 2009 when I became involved in the Dark Mountain Project and contributed to the Happy Museum manifesto.
  • In 2010, after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, when I became involved in the Art Not Oil movement.
  • In 2014, becoming involved in the annual Remembrance Day for Lost Species.

And so on, year after year, taking part in one initiative or another, up to:

  • Autumn 2017, attending the Julie’s Bicycle Creative Climate Leadership course. At the end of this course I pledged to create an organisation that would be dedicated to creatively stirring a response to the climate emergency.
  • January 2018, attending the Cambridge Museums Climate Hack and producing an idea for Ngaru, the Ghost Boat.
  • April 2018, attending the international symposium on Museums and Climate Change in Manchester, I heard Miranda Massie from New York’s Climate Museum speak, and realised that I needed to be inspired by this, and to create a public-facing, open organisation, a platform for others to lead and shine.

So, this is it. Things have heated up. It’s time to do this.

A first step will be to apply to do something at the Festival of Change during the Museums Association conference in Belfast: “We need to talk about climate justice”

I’m going to be at the Under Her Eye conference next weekend, about women and climate change, organised by Invisible Dust, keeping eyes and ears open for ideas and collaborators.

I’m working on a visual handbook for self-help to planet-help, called Find Your Flow and Change the World. Some of these visuals will become a small exhibition for Climate Museum UK.

A key part of CMUK will be a core display that is replicable and hireable. I want to create a small ‘exhibition’ that I can carry in a backpack as a prototype for this. I’m thinking about setting up a co-design workshop as part of the Season for Change this summer.

In terms of working out the constitution of CMUK, I’m hosting an Action Learning Set next week, of 5 women with similar goals and interests, taking each of our visions in turn.

I’m thinking about a project with others making a range of textiles and garments inspired by these these graphs of rising temperatures. (There’s already some people making blankets using the data but there could be more possibilities.)

Please get in touch if you have ideas or want to chat.

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Annual temperatures in central England from 1772-2017 Image source Climate Lab Book