This is the time for a Great Reset. Let’s use it to change the way we see ourselves and our place on Earth. The conservationist Aldo Leopold once wrote that “one of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen.” But if everyone has an ecological education, we will not live alone, and it will not be a world of wounds.
Instead, before I knew it, the 2nd pilot has been booked-out from people on my waiting-list in just a couple of days. I’m delighted of course, but I do wonder if creatives, like George Monbiot (above) are sensing that eco-learning is an important and urgent topic that is not been adequately addressed in the arts.
My 6-week ‘Essential Ecoliteracy’ is still a pilot course. I’m learning a lot about how to best develop a great self-paced and collective learning experience. I started with multi-media pre-recorded videos for self-paced learning in each week’s module on what I think are essential topics to prepare creatives to work in this area (see the course details here). This meant filming myself delivering the material – my broadband is a bit limited due to the pressure on the local Internet – so my voice was a bit out of sync, but the participants were enthusiastic nevertheless.
The online course weekly group meetings were a bit nerve-wracking at first (not helped with our young dog who heard one of the others participants dog’s barking on Zoom). But over the weeks, I began to really cherish these group sharing times; and the group felt it too (you can read what they say about the course here).
My co-host for the live meetings, an experienced educator and philosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis (beaming in from California), helped enormously and we offered an extra half hour to those who wanted to go deeper with the material. Getting used to recording Zoom sessions I found myself naturally reaching out to experienced ecoart workers for interviews too. I’m pretty introverted, so I was staggered that I found I was connecting with my peers in this way. It was all, despite some technical hiccups, so rewarding.
I will be repeating this ‘Essential Ecoliteracy course’ again in September, so please contact me if you want to be put on the waiting list.
Nikos and I are also preparing a complementary new course, working title ‘Creativity as a Practice of Love’ too. Over some weeks, this course will explore why philosophy has much to guide creative practice in these urgent times and we will be hosting online audience critique exercises.
I haven’t managed all this on my own; my husband Martin has been a real trouper, managing the tech-side of the Zoom meetings and our wilful young dog Willow; Nikos is mentoring me with all manner of eco-minded philosophy and teaching ideas, and I have the best art-tech business strategist, Mary Carty guiding me as well. Art researcher Dr Laura Donkers is reviewing this pilot course at a distance in Aotearoa New Zealand – her insights I really value. Leading Irish online eco-print textile artist and teacher, Nicola Brown, has also been so enthusiastic for many years that I explore sharing my knowledge in this new way. And the generous feedback from my first participants was so valuable too. Thanks everyone!
I also want to thank my long-standing PhD supervisor, my MA tutor in virtual realities and under-grad tutor in aesthetics, Dr Paul O’Brien (formerly of the National College of Art & Design in Dublin) who really supported this online learning idea way back in 2016 when I submitted my PhD. He agreed, there did seem potential to use online learning to get ecoliteracy out quickly to the art and creative sectors. I’m so glad I’ve followed this through and I must give a special mention to the magnificent Prof Tara Brabazon in Australia, who inspires all things for advances in doctoral and digital education. “Boom! Lets do this!” is what she says! Yes, the Haumea Online Ecoversity is here at last!
Hello! Kia Ora! My name is Cathy Fitzgerald, and I’m an Irish-based New Zealander living in rural Ireland these past 20 years.
“I’m passionate about bringing ecoliteracy to the art sector. Creatives, if informed with basic ecoliteracy (ecological knowledge), can ‘translate’ the science relevant to their diverse urban and rural communities and audiences. Research confirms ecoliterate art professionals, with their skills in inclusivity and creativity, will have a critical leadership role to inspire diverse communities across the world, to envision the more beautiful, just and better world we know is possible.
And supporting ecoliteracy in the arts is an urgent task, given that the pandemic is seen as another symptom of the wider and accelerating ecological emergency.
About Haumea Ecoliteracy Essentials On-Line Course Development
During February 2019, I was awarded a Carlow Local Enterprise Feasibility Study Award to explore online course development with support from the Carlow Local Enterprise Office and business mentor Bernie Tracey. The Feasibility Study Award allowed me mentorship with the Canadian Online Course Builders Laboratory by MIRASEE and award-winning Irish art-business-tech mentor Mary Carty. I delivered a live ecoliteracy workshop in November 2019, with the support of the Carlow Arts Office and the course programme has been greatly enriched with the knowledge and experience of Dr Nikos Patedakis and Veronica Larsson. Thank you all!
NEW 6 week pilot ONLINE COURSE with ecological artist, educator andformer scientist, Cathy Fitzgerald PhD: March 13 – April 22, 2020!
BOOKINGS NOW OPEN!
FULLY BOOKED, PLEASE EMAIL ME AT CATHYART@GMAIL.COM IF YOU WANT TO BE PUT ON THE WAITING LIST FOR FUTURE COURSES (Sunday 1 March 2020), Workshops or mentoring.
The price of this pilot course and instructions on how to book a place are at the end of this post.
BOOK A PLACE by Friday 6 March 2020. Course Dates: Week 1 of this 6-week course begins on Friday 13 March 2020. The course ends on Wednesday 22 April 2020.
PLEASE NOTE this is a pilot online course for a small group of participants. THERE WILL 15 PARTICIPANTS ONLY – SO IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, BOOK A PLACE WITHOUT DELAY.
‘Essential Ecoliteracy for your Creative Practice, Teaching or Work
Feeling overwhelmed, isolated and concerned about the planetary environmental emergency? Do you sense cultural responses are needed for these urgent times? That future arts funding will be increasingly directed to this topic? Do you wish to respond through your creative practice or teach others about this topic but don’t know where to start?
Let’s Face It – Being Ecoliterate Matters for Creatives too!
For everyone, it is hard to ignore the grim reports about environmental decline and the increasing suffering it is causing across the world. Young people are protesting, the scientists warnings are more than alarming, and even cultural institutions are beginning to talk about sustainability goals.
As creatives (in all art disciplines), art and craft teachers, art managers, art researchers and cultural policy-writers, you might already be asking:
“How can I approach these urgent realities effectively and confidently in my creative work and for others that I might teach?”
“Does this mean I have to learn about science, ecology, climate change, biodiversity, sustainability? “
“Cathy – I know nothing about these areas! Isn’t it all too complicated!!?”
Introducing the pilot Essential Ecoliteracy online course
In this supportive, in-depth online course you can learn from home in your own time over a 6-week period.
You will connect with myself and others in a weekly online Live Group Meeting.
From this course, you will gain confidence and competence for this urgent new topic that is rarely available in contemporary art education, art teacher or curator training or in art administration courses.
Here’s a sneak peek at the main topics the course will cover.
In 6 weekly modules, I will help you explore the following areas to increase your ecoliteracy:
Week 1. UNDERSTANDING WHY EVERYTHING HAS TO CHANGE AND WHY CREATIVITY CAN HELP
Week 2*. PSYCHO-SOCIAL-PHYSICAL SUPPORTS & PRACTICES (UNDERSTANDING WHY MAINTAINING A SENSE OF HUMOUR IS VITAL AND LEARN WAYS TO AVOID BURNOUT)
Week 3. NAVIGATING ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE WITH EASE (AND UNDERSTAND THE UNITED NATION SUSTAINABILITY DEVELOPMENT GOALS FOR YOUR WORK)
Week 4. EXPANDED EARTH ETHICS – DEVELOP MORAL REASONING TO GUIDE YOUR WORK; UNDERSTAND THE EARTH CHARTER, & DEVELOPING ECOCIDE AND RIGHTS FOR NATURE LAWS
Week 5. HOW ARE OTHER CREATIVES TACKLING THIS TOPIC? EXPLORING OTHERS’ EXPANDED ECOLOGICAL ART PRACTISES
Week 6. BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER. APPLYING YOUR ECOLITERACY LEARNING TO WRITE YOUR CREATIVE STATEMENT OR CREATIVE WORK AIMS. (I will give written individual guidance for every participant)
*WEEK 2 of my course offers guidance on self-care in what can often be a depressing and seemingly unsolvable topic.
As in my live workshop, I will be having input from US philosopher, mentor, artist and student of horses, Dr Nikos Patedakis. Nikos’ experience as a philosophy educator will guide us in recent neurological research and advances in compassion practices that can enable us to face these urgent times without despair.
I’m also delighted to offer short optional body exercises from Veronica Larsson, MFA. Veronica is an Irish-based Swedish artist and international Subtle Body Anatomy expert. Veronica’s short videos will accompany each weekly module as a resource.
Both Nikos and Veronica’s specialist knowledge of mind and body practices can help us all reflect on the topic without being overwhelmed. I am extremely grateful to them both in offering their deep knowledge and practices to my course, as I have personal experience that this topic requires such supports.
Overall, you will become aware of the exciting, inclusive social power of bringing ecological concepts and creativity together for yourself, your audiences, students or art organisation. You will also become aware of supports that you may need to work effectively in this area.
The information in this course will be invaluable for creatives and educators to clearly write and communicate ecological ideas for:
your creative practice, art teaching or curating
for thinking about how you might design and effectively communicate future creative projects or programmes
future funding applications
Fluency of key ecological concepts will be essential for art managers, art administrators and cultural policy writers:
to develop effective cultural policy to avoid superficial engagement with these concerns (green-washing of exhibitions, festivals etc) and critically understanding the limitations of ‘sustainability’, ‘sustainable development’ concepts etc
to understand that promoting projects for just one symptom of the ecological emergency – ‘climate change’, ‘biodiversity’ fails to acknowledge the URGENT SYSTEMIC predicament society is facing (silo-ing the emergency reveals a lack of ecoliteracy and does not signal clearly to the cultural sector how they can best make a contribution to the emergency as radically changing every aspect of how we live)
to minimise the waste of limited arts funding and resources
to ideally design supports to assist more creatives to live and work long-term within and for their home places and communities (this is a major shift for the cultural sector overall as witnessed in the slow uptake of international art and sustainability research)
communicating effectively to creatives, the radical shift in priorities that ecological ideas bring to creativity.
Who is this Workshop for?
This workshop is primarily for experienced creative practitioners and art educators, curators, arts researchers, art administrators, and cultural policy writers of ALL art and craft disciplines.
As an ecological view fosters collaborative activities, the course is particularly relevant to social art (community art, socially-engaged) practitioners & educators.
Please note, this is NOT a workshop to make an environmental-themed artwork, NOR is it a course that primarily reviews other’s eco-art works in depth.
Instead, the primary focus of this Essential Ecoliteracy course is to offer you accessible ecological knowledge and resources to enable you to confidently frame and communicate your creative work in a way that is relevant to your situation and place.
Here’s what an ecoliteracy course can do for you
Gaining ecoliteracy (ecological knowledge–of how living systems actually thrive) helps us with two main things.
First, ecoliteracy helps reposition our ways of PERCEIVING OUR PLACE on Planet Earth – we learn that humanity exists in a vast web of interdependencies with other nonhuman realms and this must be factored into everything we do.
Second, ecoliteracy invites us to consider creativity anew as an expanded, social, co-authored adventure with human and nonhuman others.Quite often, with ecological learning you will find yourself collaborating and co-creating with others not in the art-world (scientists, environmental experts, teachers and local knowledge holders), and thinking about how to give voice to nonhuman others. These considerations require social skills and new ways of thinking.
Using ecoliteracy as a necessary foundation for creativity helps us question, translate and make tangible, how we can live well with all the inhabitants (human and nonhuman) in our different places.
The Wider Context about why Ecoliteracy is Important for these Urgent Times
Cultural activity in recent cultural research is now confirmed as the critical 4th Pillar of Sustainability (Fitzgerald, 2017).
Creativity has social power to invite communities to engage, reflect and envision life-sustaining living. Unlike dry scientific facts, political policy or sustainability guidelines, creativity inspires people. Creativity engages both hearts + minds for change through meaningful local activities.
The critical role for the creative sector to engage wider society to live will with our environments is still little recognised by national cultural institutions (some countries have more detailed policy on this than others). This is not surprising as most cultural policymakers have lacked access to ecoliteracy learning too.
Furthermore, wider society, let alone the creative sector, is only at the start of realising how ecological insights insist on a seismic shift in how we live, think and create and we don’t have much time left!
SO, in a nutshell, my Essential Ecoliteracy course can position your work at the forefront of exciting and important developments in the creative sector. Ecoliteracy can help align your work within expanded values for Earthly wellbeing for present and future generations.
Opportunities in this field will only continue to grow and here I’m talking from experience and observations from the front of this developing cultural field.
How will this 6-week online course work?
Week by week, I aim to share accessible yet crucial summaries of key ecoliteracy knowledge in modules on a easy-to-use online platform.
Logging into the course platform, you will find a new module with resources, reading lists and exercises released each week. Each module will build a foundational ecoliteracy for your work as the course progresses.
The course will include material from diverse disciplines and introduce you to key thinkers in the area, many who are not well known in art education – from ecophilosophy to environmental science, earth and social justice-aligned ethics, economics and law. I will share examples from leading ecological artists to help explain the course’s key ideas.
Don’t worry if this sounds a lot, I have summarised this material and as in my live pilot workshop, I will use multi-media to make the material engaging as possible.
Remote Course DeliveryFormat and Dates
Orientation Week:On Monday 9 March 2020 the course will begin with orientation material that I will email to you. In this orientation email I will advise you how to login to the course platform, and give you full instructions on how to join the LIVE GROUP MEETINGS.
THE ESSENTIAL ECOLITERACY COURSE: WEEKS 1-6
Lesson material for each weekly module WILL BE RELEASED EACH FRIDAY for 6 weeks (beginning Friday 13 March).
In each module, lesson material will include a short 2-3 min video introduction to the topic, and links to either a couple of key articles or short videos as background material. For keen learners, I will also list further in-depth resources.
Thekey learning in each module will be a LIVE Group MeetingEACH WEDNESDAY FOR 6 WEEKS (BEGINNING WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH)
After release the weekly Module Lesson Material each Friday, I will EACH FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY host a 1 hour online LIVE Group Meeting at 7pm (Irish/UK time), in which I will go through a sideshow and videos on that week’s module topic with you all.
In the Live Group Meetings there will be an opportunity to ask questions, share experiences and challenges.
The live meeting will accommodate live chat questions and an open discussion between us all after my presentation (fingers-crossed this all works, I will be using the online Zoom conference platform to do this – its like Skype but with more features and it is very easy to log into and use).
I really encourage contributing or listening into the weekly Live Group Meetings. Even if you are shy about taking part, listening to my presentation and others’ comments will make the learning real and relevant to your work. As we will be coming from many creative disciplines, and diverse urban and rural areas, expect the conversations to be rich and fun 🙂 🙂 🙂
(If you can’t make a meeting, I will send on a recording but please note that this is where the important learning, takes place).
If you don’t live in Ireland or the United Kingdom –advice for participants who live in different timezones
Check the time of the Ecoliteracy Live Group Meeting on Wednesdays (18 March to 22 April) in your region here
Note: if you live in Australia, the Live Group Meetings occur at night-time and if you live in Aotearoa New Zealand, the course time may also be difficult as its early on a Thursday morning. I will record each Live Meeting and I will send this to the whole group but if there is substantial interest from people living n Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, I will endeavour to host another meeting at a more suitable time.
Please check the Live Group Meeting time suits you, before your book!
Everything will be ONLINE. To access your lessons, you only need a computer with a decent Internet connection, and the capability (BOTH video and audio) that you would use to make an online video call to join us in the weekly Live Group Meetings.
On top of the lessons, you also get:
Exclusive access to a private forum, where you can connect with others doing the course by posting questions, sharing your challenges and successes.
An email ‘hotline’ to submit your questions and send feedback directly to me.
Overall,I provide a proven learning programme to help you learn ecoliteracy, while you provide the elbow grease to apply it to your work.
What kind of results can you get from an online Ecoliteracy course?
My course will help you identify key aspects about this critical topic for your creative work.
At the end of this course, you will understand how modern civilization, and specifically our some of our cultural activity, has alienated us the living world and accordingly, why new informed cultural work is URGENTLY needed.
You will more fully appreciate ecological insights from key thinkers and understand how these ideas insist on a necessary paradigm shift in how we think, create and work if ourselves and other species are to survive and thrive.
Importantly, even if you don’t implement all of these ideas immediately, you will understand how ecological understanding radically challenges commonly held ideas of creative practice, current cultural policy and even how we might fund and differently support creative ecological art practice in the future. For example, we will learn why ecological art practices are often collaborative, slow art practices that evolve over time in one place.
THE KEY OUTCOME OF THE COURSE WILL BE TO HELP YOU IDENTIFY VALUES, PRACTICES AND AIMS SO YOU CAN CONFIDENTLY WRITE A CREATIVE STATEMENT FOR YOUR WORK THAT EMBODIES ECOLOGICAL INSIGHT AND KNOWLEDGE
At the end of the course you will have confidence, with ecological insights, to frame, promote and communicate your creative practice, teaching, curating or cultural policy.
and delivered a successful ‘LIVE’ ‘Ecoliteracy’ workshop (listen to the review on national radio here)
… I strongly believe my essential ecoliteracy course can help you, no matter which creative discipline you are working in.
If you want to know more about why I have developed this course and more about my background, please see my website here.
What does the online 6-week course cost?
All That, And It Only Costs…
The course price is significantly reduced to reflect that this a course in development – both in terms of the material I present but because I’m also trialling different online technologies for the first time.
I will be tailoring the course and inviting participants’ feedback as I go. However, the smaller group mean you will have more individual attention from me. I’m piloting this course in this way to create the best learning experience when I launch the full course.
The reduced price of the pilot reflects that this is a developing course.
Because I want you to be completely happy with your decision, I’ll let you test-drive and evaluate the pilot course for 14 days.
Enroll today. If the course doesn’t suit, let me know before the 14 days are up (Wednesday 25 March 2020, and I’ll return 100% of your money back—no questions asked (although I’d really love feedback).
WHY REMOTE LEARNING IS GOOD VALUE
My course cost compares to online courses on a contemporary art topic of similar value, led by accredited art professionals and is so more affordable than my 1-to-1 mentoring fee.
It is also much lower than what you would have to pay a traditional educational institute – if you could find such a course.
Leaning on my expertise will save you in the time you would spend on exploring the topic on your own.
But Wait, Will This Work For Me?
My pilot course aims to help people like you – professional culture workers from any creative discipline, art educators, art administrators, craft-workers, curators, government arts office staff, cultural policymakers and interested others – to gain essential ecological knowledge – more quickly in a supportive environment.
Based on my experience and specific doctoral qualifications in ecological art practice, experience in professional development and in fostering online communities you can be sure that my course provides valuable and proven outcomes.
Also, I’m being supported by some very experienced online course building mentors and teachers.
First, I’d like to acknowledge Jim Wright, my online course mentor from the International Course Builders Laboratory at MIRASEE, based in Canada, and my fantastic Irish award-winning art-business tech mentor Mary Carty (who has been encouraging me over several years). I’m also really excited to have two great auditors for this online course; my sister Dr Alannah Fitzgerald – an expert Open Education practitioner and researcher based in Canada, who has gained expert knowledge from teaching across different educational contexts, including Higher Education institutions in the United Kingdom, Canada, Korea, and Aotearoa New Zealand (our country of origin). Increasingly, Alannah has been drawn to devising and delivering online language learning interventions that can be scaled and assessed across both formal and informal education. My other auditor is my Irish, always-ahead-of-the-crowd friend, Nicola Brown at Clasheen, Co. Carlow, an internationally recognised and popular eco-print textile artist, and online course and workshop educator.
Below are comments from creatives and art educators, art researcher who benefited from my live 2019 workshop:
“I’ve been meaning to email to thank you for the incredible work you put into the day, on every level. It was one of the best workshops I have ever attended. I loved the breadth and depth of your knowledge and the thoughtful way you shared it. Thank you so very much, I’m absolutely delighted to have been there and I feel very privileged to have this experience.”
Martina Hynan, arts researcher, Galway, Nov, 2019.
“Thank you for the wonderful day in Rathanna; it was lovely to connect with people and to get more food for thought in relation to our own teaching and my work. Now I just need to start implementing!”
Rosie O’Gorman, artist and art educator, Cowhouse Studios, Wexford, Nov, 2019.
“I completed a Masters in painting in 2017. As a long time professional artist I attended Cathy’s ecoliteracy workshop in November 2019. I was not sure what to expect but was hoping for high standards I was not disappointed. She had a well thought out plan. What I found most impressive apart from her intellectual modesty and approachability, was the generosity with which she shared her concerns and interests. The quality and delivery of the information she imparted on the general field of ecoart research was very useful and an inspiration. A great educator and super mentor. I look forward to her forthcoming online course.”
Helen Richmond, artist, Co. Kerry, Jan. 2019.
“WELL WELL DONE!! Thank You for a really brilliant day, it was an honour to be part of it and I learned a lot; I feel you introduced the vast knowledge and expertise that you have in your area in a clear and contextually relevant format. SO much in there, I’m inspired to explore the material further, and feel excited for my own creative practice and research; for writing and for factual / intellectual / philosophical / scientific parts and for being in the creative process!”
Veronica Larsson, artist / medicine woman / mind-body coherence practitioner, Dublin, Nov, 2019
So if you are interested in joining this pilot course, please email me at email@example.com to secure your place.
I will advise you how to make payment in my reply email.
Got Further Questions? Here are the Answers
Q: Is ecoliteracy really something that can be taught?
A: Yes, absolutely. Embracing ecoliteracy is basically a mind-shift, not a practical exercise. Ecological insights, however, can unsettle us at first, particularly if one has been trained to think about art or creativity in a traditional way. Therefore, it can take time to absorb some of these ideas as ecoliteracy presents a radically new way to look at the world in all that we think and do. However, as I present work from other creatives throughout the course, you will see how others apply these ideas in the real world.
Given that these ideas are on presently on the periphery of contemporary art, this course is therefore most suitable for creatives who have developed a creative practice or who have taught art for sometime. It is particularly suitable for those willing and open to try new things.
Q: When will I receive the lessons?
A: You’ll get information on how do the course on Monday 9th March 2020. I will release the modules on the weekly dates set for the course. You will have access to the course materials after the course is finished!
Q: What if I’m busy?
A: You will be notified by email each Friday when each module lesson is available. You will have pre-recorded material to watch with other resources to download and simple exercises to complete. That means there is plenty of time to do your homework and to prepare yourself for the Live Group Meetings on Wednesdays!
Q: I’m doing my creative practice and teaching on the side! What kind of time commitment will this require?
A: Probably a lot less than you think! If you can budget 3-4 hours per week, you will complete the course in six weeks. Or spread it out over a longer period of time, its your choice. I do highly recommend setting aside a specific time each week, after each Friday, to go through the weekly module lesson material and I really urge you to join us for the weekly Wednesday Live Group Meetings – that is when the learning will really come alive, and you get a chance to meet new peers.
I’ve also been helping other creatives and education professionals individually with ecoliteracy too, see below.
Me in New York on a college art trip in 1999 (I now do not fly for my creative work!). I still remember this time when I was really searching for how to effectively engage in ecological concerns in my work. In New York, I purchased the hefty Phaidon Book on Environmental Art -it was expensive as I had a limited art student budget. Looking back, it has been a journey to move from art and science work, to environmental work, to a deeper ecological art (eco-social art practice) and teaching role.
All my courses, live workshops, my new online programme, and my writing/research in this area is my contribution as a signatory to the international #CultureDeclares an emergency movement! (you can also join this movement!). Photo: Karen Land Hansen.
Grateful thanks to the Carlow Local Enterprise centre for awarding me a Feasibility Grant to develop this course and their mentor Bernie Tracey.
Sincere thanks also to Award-winning Irish Creative Business Tech Mentor, Mary Carty; Jim Wright at MIRASEE, philosophy mentor Dr. Nikos Patedakis; body-work expert Veronica Larsson, and expert online course auditors, Dr. Alannah Fitzgerald and Nicola Brown.
“Do artists have the right kinds of tools to imagine new ways of living for the earth and its inhabitants?”
Luke Clancy, RTE Lyric FM Culture File, 11 Nov, 2019
I had such a wonderful time on Saturday 2 November 2019, giving my first Essential Ecoliteracy for the Arts workshop for creative people and art teachers in Rathanna village, Co. Carlow, Ireland.
Developing this workshop has been a long-held wish of mine since I suggested the need for urgent ecoliteracy for the Irish arts sector, at the conclusion of my doctoral thesis, when I submitted it back in 2016. I have felt this keenly for many years as I have a previous career in research science and I know the cultural sector needs to be better informed and supported to effectively engage with this topic. I also know that societal shifts, like the urgent need for society to live in more life-affirming ways, are always related to new cultural activity. Sharing ecoliteracy with other creatives is part of how I am contributing as an Irish signatory to the international #CultureDeclares emergency campaign.
Essential Ecoliteracy for the Arts workshop
I designed this one-day ‘Everything Must Change: A Paradigm Shift for Society and the Arts‘ workshopspecifically for creative workers and art educators, art researchers, who have some knowledge of expanded, socially engaged, community art practices. This workshop was NOT about how to make an environmental artwork. Rather, it was a course to start thinking about how you might transform your creative practice or your art teaching for the environmental-social emergency.
I was delighted to welcome participants from as far away as Kerry, Cork, Clare and Dublin and people who were living in the Carlow – Wexford area.
Ecoliteracy is a big, heavy topic
With workshop participants, I shared how ecological insights and science data demand an unprecedented paradigm shift for modern society. I covered several topics to fully present the history, science, philosophy of how ecological insights can empower us in these urgent times. As this is a confronting topic for anyone and from my experience, I also introduced a range of pyscho-social supports for creative workers and educators engaging with this topic. I was blessed on the day of the workshop to have assistance on bodywork practices with the wonderful subtle anatomy educator Veronica Larsson. I also shared encouraging new insights for mindful practices for a more compassionate and creative era from US philosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis. I presented a way to understand the environmental science more easily and introduced concepts and new words like solastalgia, soliphilia, The Symbiocene, advanced by Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht, that help us better identify the emotions of the age we are in, and how our creative work may contribute to a more compassionate era, the Symbiocene, where the welfare of all of Earth’s inhabitants are prioritised (it was great to share the new Solastalgia film as well).
Visual art, music, film, drawing flowers, fungi and eco jazz
Amongst a range of cultural works I shared that engaged with the ecological emergency, I also shared new Irish eco #jazz music from The Carole Nelson Trio, and showed the ‘Fantastic Fungi’ (2019) film trailer (the sensational new US film by inspired filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg, forest mycologists like Paul Stamet and forest ecologist Prof Suzanne Simard who are sharing new advances in symbiotic science that underlines growing appreciation of the interconnectedness of all life to growing audiences around the world).
At the end of the day, listening to Carole Nelson’s Trio new ‘canopy’ and ‘under-the-ground’ tracks, we each of us drew our own ‘flower of sustainability’ (a personal map-making drawing exercise designed by eco-social artist Dr Insa Winkler). This allowed us to reflect and visualise our unique gifts, intersecting interests, concerns and joys, as an ecology of practice for these urgent times.
Overall, it was a day full of sharing, laughter, feet stamping, reflecting, feeling, learning, tears, leaning on each other, and great local vegetarian food by Trish Markey (who I later discovered had done cookery classes at Ballymaloe – how we did enjoy the food Trish).
My Interview with Rachel Andrews for Lyric FM
Also, it was a real surprise to be interviewed by one of the workshop participants, writer, journalist and cultural researcher Rachel Andrews for Lyric FM’s Luke Clancy Culture File Weekly show. Thank you so much, Rachel, for recording the day. What an unexpected gift to reflect on too!
Listen to my interview with Rachel, and introduced by cultural broadcaster Luke Clancy below. (Participants will smile when they hear the intro to the Katie Goodman music clip that I shared during the workshop 😉 )
These are just some of the highlights of the day – its a day I will treasure for all the insights and learning.
More Workshops and an Online Course early January 2020
PS – I’ve had invitations to give more workshops across the country and I will shortly be offering a 6-week online version early in the New Year.
Please subscribe to this blog to hear of future workshops and online courses.
Thank You Everyone!
Very special thanks to my philosopher coach and anam cara, Dr Nikos Patedakis; to Veronica Larsson, what a joy to reconnect recently and thank you for the gift you gave us – we all felt so supported and connected to new understandings in our bodies. Heartfelt thanks to my magic biz-tech-art mentor Mary Carty, my wonderful sculptor Lithicworks husband Martin Lyttle and new dog Willow. Hugs to Kate Flood and thanks for setup and ongoing support from Jules Michael, Eoin Mac Lochlainn, Mairead Holohan, Dr Eileen Hutton, Rosie O’Gorman, and Orla Callaghan. Thanks also to Drs Iain Biggs, Paul O’Brien, Karen Till, Gerry Kearns and Nessa Cronin. Thanks also to all the participants who have given such rich, detailed feedback. Also a big thanks to Arts Officer, Sinead Dowling and all at the Carlow Arts Office. And to the Rathanna Community Hall Committee – the venue was perfect. Thanks also to the Local Carlow Enterprise Board, business mentor Bernie Tracey and my online course mentor Jim Wright at Mirasee, Montreal.
It is not easy to eat local Irish food all year round and I know that. There are hungry months in late Spring when the food is just not ready after late frosts. So three years ago I decided to do a trial month: A 30 day local food challenge. September seemed a really good option as the garden is truly abundant with tomatoes, kale, spinach, herbs, peas, beans, onions, garlic, beets, carrots, parsnips and the list goes on. It is a luscious month in the gardening calendar. To eat Irish still means doing without what Barbara Kingsolver called ‘botanically outrageous’ foods, but it is somehow easier this month with all the food on offer in the garden and hedgerows.
Lisa Fingleton talking about the annual 30 Day Local Food Challenge
A creative eco-social art practice that I really admire is Irish artist Lisa Fingleton’s 30 Day Local Food Challenge. The creative idea grew several years ago when Lisa was horrified to read the 40 listed and many imported ingredients in a BLT sandwich, and then and there, decided to challenge herself to just eat local Irish food for a month. She then shared her challenge on social media and others became involved.
Growing up in a household where her father grew all their food and now living on a small farm with her partner in Co. Kerry, Ireland, Lisa’s creative practice awakens awareness of the unsustainability of the globalized food system for herself and her local community. Her work highlights the shocking statistic that only 1% of Irish farms grow vegetables, the lowest in the EU (which is doubly shocking considering Ireland’s history of famine). Most heartening is that Lisa’s practice has uncovered and promoted networks of local food producers in a fun and engaging way.
Lisa brings many strands of artist activity together and through drawings, photos, keeping a diary, and great conversation fosters much needed community awareness about an urgent topic for us all.
Over time, Lisa’s 30 Day Local Food Challenge has developed considerable national press and radio attention. Lisa has since toured the project to other counties, conducted children’s workshops and created a very delightful, informative book about the project (which can be purchased from her website (http://lisafingleton.com).
And, it is a challenge once you start, to only eat food from your country and forgo all the imported treats and exotic fruits. However, making decisions about your food does makes real how the industrial food model all too easily has alienated us from being sustainable and self reliant. When environmental writer Naomi Klein writes thats ‘everything must change’, Lisa’s work shows how creative workers can help communities foster ecoliteracy, fun and agency for a better world we know is possible.
I have been thinking for some time, in my development of an online course for essential ecoliteracy, that I should begin sharing creative works.
Many people have asked me how to develop creative work for the ecological emergency that is not too preachy. This sometimes seems a hard thing to achieve with a complex topic in which many creative workers and their audiences are little informed of the environmental collapse that modern civilization promotes. In these urgent times, we need all types of creative approaches to envision and inspire a new ecological way of living, that safeguards lives now and for the future.
I also wanted to chime with Greta Thunberg’s extraordinary efforts, and many other young people across the world who are raising awareness that we must all understand the environmental science that confirms our way of living is causing accelerating ecological collapse and mounting social injustice in many countries. With Greta and the children schoolstriking every Friday, I will likewise post an art practice every Friday that I feel touches audiences and inspires creative workers too.
For my 1st post of #FridayArt4Emergency, I’m starting with a new short film work that incorporates dance, spoken poetry, and audio-visual recordings of the other-than human world. The film work is titled Solastalgia (2019, Pascal Tremblay and Sean Stiller, British Columbia). The film embodies responses to a new term for the grief many of us now feel for our environment ‘solastalgia’, particularly highlighted these last few weeks with the devasting increasing deforestation and fires set off across the Amazon region.
Although the film doesn’t mention it, the film also ably depicts, through dance, image and words, a powerful, underlying ‘soliphilia’, our graditude and love for the Earth.
These new terms, solastalgia, soliphilia, and more, are from Australian farmer-philosopher Glenn Albrecht. In his recent book Earth Emotions: New Words For a New World (2019) (which I previously have written about here), he details how such terms, and shared in creative works have much power to inspire a new, sustainable way of being with the Earth. He believes that creative workers will be at the forefront to share ideas of a new age, the Symbiocene, where we live life so all beings thrive.
Solastalgia the film below conveys the context of the crisis many creative people are now approaching in a emotive, engaging way. Works like this can move us in ways science can’t – we need both understanding and engaging ways to change societal behaviour to the better world we know is possible.
Congratulations to the communication agency, Good Kind Films – their ethos speaks to a new ecological age, the skilled filmmaker, dancer and world renowned eco-poet and educator Craig Santos Perez from Guam.
Lets share this film, this meme for the Symbiocene, far and wide.
The background story to this film is here
PS I have found other filmworks on Solastalgia made in recent months since writing the above. It’s so fantastic to see more creative expressions, more ecoliteracy fluency and confidence developing in the arts, for these urgent times.
Do feel welcome to share works that inspire you too!
Huge congratulations to Caitriona Fallon and Theatre Forum Ireland, who under the guidance of Creative Carbon Scotland’s team and their Scottish Green Arts Initiative, have set up an Irish Green Arts Initiative to ‘provide Irish arts organisations with the resources and support to help build a green Irish arts community.’ #culturedeclaresemergency #ireland
Huge congratulations to Caitriona Fallon and Theatre Forum Ireland, who under the guidance of Creative Carbon Scotland‘s team and their Scottish Green Arts Initiative, have set up a Green Arts Initiative in Ireland to ‘provide Irish arts organisations with the resources and support to help build a green Irish arts community.’
I have written at length about the absence of supports and information for the Irish Arts Community in regards to engaging with eco-social concerns, and had indicated that replicating Creative Carbon Scotland’s strategies would suit particularly suit the Irish context. I literally knocked on Creative Carbon Scotland’s door in 2016, asking for their support to for my research on overseas art & sustainability programmes. CEO Ben Twist and his colleague Gemma Lawrence couldn’t have been more supportive.
Caitriona was in touch with me last year and again more recently and she is passionate about this area too. As the former CEO of Siamsa Tíre, the Irish Folklore Theatre and Gallery in Tralee, she was instrumental in getting the first Green Accreditation for a cultural space in Ireland ‘Greening Siamsa Tíre‘ and creating internal policies for waste and water management, energy, biodiversity, transport and travel, green teams and green procurement, through Julie’s Bicycle, the English art and sustainiblity organisation. Therefore, the launch of the Green Arts Initiative in Ireland by someone who is experienced in Greening a public cultural space and organisation is very welcome news for everyone in the Irish arts community, not matter what art discipline you pursue.
And if you are unfamiliar why its so important to bring arts and sustainability ideas together, there are strong and urgent moral reasons why all workers in cultural institutions should engage with these developments. (I share environmental philosopher and writer Kathleen Dean Moore’s clear explaination as to why moral reasoning compels us all to act now in Chapter 2.2 of my review of overseas art and sustainability programmes). Having a Irish Green Arts Initiative will undoubtedly help Ireland’s arts community appreciate that the arts have a key role, alongside science, to engage our diverse communities in rural and urban Ireland for a better and more beautiful world.
Greening Ireland’s ‘Organisations’ is one key strategy that Creative Carbon Scotland and Julie’s Bicycle recommend. Hopefully before too long, other developments to support ‘Artists’ and ongoing ‘Strategy’ (as seen below), central to both the Scottish and UK’s programmes, will also be adopted in Ireland to enable our arts community to effectively engage with this topic for all their audiences.
These are the first aims that Catriona and Theatre Forum will be looking at below.
If you are involved in managing or work at an Irish cultural space or organisation please contact Caitriona below:
Run by Theatre Forum and Catriona Fallon, under the guidance of Creative Carbon Scotland, the Green Arts Initiative in Ireland aims to:
Support members with practical advice on reducing their carbon footprint and overall environmental impacts.
Provide members with opportunities to enhance their sustainability competencies through training and networking.
Collect information about what organisations are currently doing to improve their sustainability.
It would be really helpful if you could complete our survey.
Here are some resources that we’ve created – more to come!