I found these drawings in a studio clear out last week, after having forgotten all about them. I drew them - views from my flat - in 1992 when I was 24. On the left, my ‘today’, and on the right how I hoped a sustainable future might be in ‘2020’. It’s a bit of a shame I didn’t complete the 2020 (perhaps fittingly so), although it’s all there in draft. If you click on the images, they should pop up bigger, if you’d like to see the detail.
I’d been working on climate change (sustainable development) for a few years, and had started a charity in Gloucestershire called Vision 21, to envision a new future. The whole thing snowballed, and by the time I left, in 1997, there had been 1,500 volunteers and 65 projects.
But to be honest, since then, I have struggled to maintain hope. After all, 2020 is now next year. Much of what is in that vision is in place, but nothing has changed at the heart of the system, and that that means that no way near enough is changing. And now we are hearing we have 11 years left to sort it.
It’s easy to feel hopeless. And I have had my fair share of feeling guilty, and hopeless. But something special is happening this Spring, don’t you think? I have a glimmer of hope that we’ll be able to look back on it as the time when things really started to change. And perhaps we will be able to say we have saved the world (or more accurately, stopped ourselves from totally destroying it).
I thought I’d share three reasons for my feeling hopeful!
The first is that I am surrounded by things that are flourishing: I’m astonishingly lucky to be able to live in Dyffryn Peris. And here, the butterflies and birds in particular, are astounding this year.
I saw a pair of ring ouzels up on the mountain slopes behind our house yesterday, and today, sandpipers and a pair of pied flycatchers in the garden. All of them under threat. But here they are! And as I write this, the first call of the cuckoo (see cuckoo project)
I just hope that the cold snap coming won’t be too destructive. Or maybe drought. Or storms. Or floods. Climate chaos is like that of course.
But this brings me onto the second reason to be hopeful: the upsurge of support and recognition of climate change - Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thornburg, the Youth Strike for Climate, and even the reticent David Attenborough. All building on years and years and years of other’s work, and brilliantly and timely so!
My first direct experience of it was while setting up our Merched Chwarel exhibition on 12th July. From the rarified confines of the gallery, I could hear chanting, and the Youth Strike for Climate/Extinction Rebellion marching past. Look at their banners!!
“More trees less asshols” (photo by Alan Crawshaw)
“System Change not Climate Change” (photo by Alan Crawshaw)
I was pleased to see the Mayor of Bangor turned out. Albeit for about 1 minute. He looked uncomfortable and the protestors don’t look very convinced. I couldn’t hear what he said.
[image bangor mayor]
The following Tuesday, I found myself on Waterloo Bridge (London, not Betws y Coed!), amongst the Extinction Rebellion. There was a deep understanding of the root causes of climate change, not just superficial ‘lifestyle change’ sentiments, and such diversity amongst those present, it feels like we are on the verge of shifting to the mainstream.
Rather randomly, I was interviewed, along with Omar, who I’d met amongst the crowd:
Omar is studying human rights at Plymouth Uni. He is also a poet. And he was brave enough to go up and perform infront of everyone, and then to do the same performance for interview: Such a great illustration of the spirit and understanding of the event:
Meanwhile, my favourite banner was:
“WE WILL BE LESS REBELLIOUS IF YOU WILL BE LESS SHIT” (you can see it in the middle of this pic)
So what next? Well, one of the best things is I’m helping National Theatre Wales run EGIN, a two week international artists residency in Snowdonia in July. You can read about that here Organising the speakers for the event (themes: land, money, rebellion and hope), and looking at the residency applications is inspiring - so many people are (still) on the case!
I’m also involved in the Anthropocene Alliance, a transatlantic initiative to help communities achieve the power they need to combat climate change and environmental abuse. They are doing great stuff mobilising around flooding in the US.
I’m also (perhaps too subtly) building some bits into my work for Merched Chwarel (see the pieces on the windowsill in the pic below - with Lisa’s work on the left, Marged in the middle and Jwls on the right)… and Map Du Gogledd Cymru (**** The Five Thousand) of the sheer extent of the quarrying of stuff in North Wales. I’m also developing some ideas for some new work, focused around connections to species living in the spaces we live in…