Swell, breach, absorb: How can participatory art use Asset-Based Community Development methodologies to help catalyse more climate-resilient communities? Eleanor Rose Shipman
Swell, breach, absorb: How can participatory art use Asset-Based Community Development methodologies to catalyse more climate-resilient communities?
Eleanor Rose Shipman
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of: MSc Sustainable Development in Practice University of the West of England November 2016
Student number: 14970554
Acknowledgements Thank you to my family, Amanda, Steve and Maddy, and my partner Alex for their unwavering support and encouragement. Thank you to my proofreaders who generously gave their time and feedback: Dave Beech, Natasha Bird, Imogen Dow, Sarah Lawton, Jody Lockyer, Tamsyn Matthew and Barbara Zanditon. And finally, thank you to my interviewees whom I learnt so much from.
- Dedicated to my grandfather, Bill Shipman -
Contents Figure list .......................................................................................................6 Definitions ......................................................................................................7 Pictoral glossary for diagrams .....................................................................8 Abstract ..........................................................................................................9 1. Introduction................................................................................................ 10 1.1 Globalisation, urbanisation and climate change ...................................... 10 1.2 Paper structure ........................................................................................ 11 2. Literature review ...................................................................................... 12 2.1 Introduction.............................................................................................. 12 2.2 Earthrise, the image and our interconnected place in the world .............. 12 2.3 What is a climate-resilient community? ................................................... 13 2.4 Asset-Based Community Development and its relationship to climate change .......................................................................................................... 14 2.5 Participatory art and the creation of the citizen-producer ........................ 17 2.6 The call for creative, community engagement with climate change ......... 18 2.7 But how? The gap in guidance for artists and facilitators ........................ 19 2.8 Literature review analysis ........................................................................ 20 3. Methodology ............................................................................................ 22 3.1 Research question, methodology and aim .............................................. 22 3.2 Narrative, my story and research position ............................................... 22 3.4 Focus on Bristol....................................................................................... 23 3.5 Introduction of interviewees ..................................................................... 23 3.5.1 Table 1: Interviewee's details and selection justification ................... 24 3.6 Coding process and sub-questions ......................................................... 25 3.6.1 Table 2: Questions, related codes and interviews ............................ 26 3.7 Recognising research limitations ............................................................. 26 3.8 Future research and development ........................................................... 27 4. Can visual communication bring climate academia and science to the mainstream? ................................................................................................ 28 4.1 Introduction.............................................................................................. 28 4.2 The single image and action on climate change ...................................... 28 4.3 The distance from the polar bear: un-relatable clichĂŠs in environmental imagery ......................................................................................................... 30 4.4 Graphs versus illustrations in catalysing action on climate change ......... 33 4.5 Conclusion............................................................................................... 35 5. Can participatory art inspire action at an institutional level? ............. 36 5.1 Introduction.............................................................................................. 36 5.2 Telling it is not enough: moving beyond the environmental exhibition ..... 37 5.3 Critical pedagogy in action: creatively campaigning from within an institution ....................................................................................................... 39 5.4 Conclusion............................................................................................... 42
6. Can participatory art aid public understanding of climate resilience? ...................................................................................................................... 44 6.1 Introduction.............................................................................................. 44 6.2 A change of tone: the need for more accessible resilience communication ...................................................................................................................... 45 6.3 Experienced barriers in engaging Bristol’s communities in resilience ..... 47 6.4 One artist, 7000 engagements: the extraordinary case of One Day Day One ............................................................................................................... 48 6.5 Conclusion............................................................................................... 50 Figure 13: Climate-related participatory art support, engagement and outcome model .............................................................................................. 51 7. Can participatory art make climate change accessible and engaging? ...................................................................................................................... 52 7.1 Introduction.............................................................................................. 52 7.2 Visualising climate data onto the public realm with the public ................. 53 7.3 The need for an engagement ‘hook’ ........................................................ 54 7.4 A local application of global concern: flooding and HighWaterLine in Bristol ............................................................................................................ 55 7.5 The move away from the expert .............................................................. 56 7.6 Artwork replication and artist ownership .................................................. 56 Figure 16: Climate-related participatory art: stages of ownership and knowledge transfer ........................................................................................ 58 7.7 Conclusion............................................................................................... 59 8. The importance of legacy ....................................................................... 60 8.1 Introduction.............................................................................................. 60 8.2 Legacy of creative outcomes ................................................................... 60 8.3 Legacy of greater collaboration and policy shift ....................................... 60 8.4 Legacy of measurable action, democracy and knowledge sharing ......... 60 8.5 Legacy of infrastructure change .............................................................. 61 8.6 Legacy of a model shift and planning past the finish line ........................ 61 8.7 The challenge of monitoring and evaluation ............................................ 62 8.8 Personal wellbeing as a participatory artist ............................................. 62 8.9 Evolving, moving on and handing over .................................................... 63 8.10 Conclusion............................................................................................. 64 9. Toolkit of recommendations .................................................................. 65 9.1 Introduction.............................................................................................. 65 R1: Listen to the community and ask what they can do ................................ 65 R2: Gain permission, build trust, participate and share your story ................ 65 R3: Provoke curiosity through the artwork – what is your hook? ................... 66 R4: Share and build climate knowledge collectively ...................................... 66 R5: Partner with others and build your support network ................................ 66 R6: Know it’s ok to just be an art project! But be aware of your role… .......... 67 R7: Aim for the artwork to be sustainable ...................................................... 67 R8: Catalyse! (Even in a small way) .............................................................. 67 R9: Evidence your impact but know why and who for ................................... 67 Figure 17: Toolkit of recommendations ......................................................... 70 10. Conclusion ............................................................................................. 70 4
10.1 Answering our question ......................................................................... 70 10.2 Further research .................................................................................... 71 10.3 Hope ...................................................................................................... 71 Appendix A .................................................................................................. 72 Transcription of interview with Eve Mosher [via Skype] 15.04.16 .............. 72 Appendix B .................................................................................................. 87 Coding database screenshot ......................................................................... 87 Interview references .................................................................................... 88 Reference list ............................................................................................... 89 Bibliography ................................................................................................ 97 Figure references ...................................................................................... 100
Figure list 1. Pictoral glossary
2. Earthrise photograph
3. Wordcloud of most commonly occurring interview codes
4. Faux advert from Greenpeace’s hoax Shell campaign
5. Google image search results of ‘climate change graphs’
6. ‘Welcome to The Arctic’ diagram from Weapons of Reason magazine
7. WHOLE EARTH? UWE exhibition installation view
8. UAL Fossil Free ‘Die In’ action photograph
9. ‘Master of the Universe’ performance by David Cross
10. ARUP’s City Resilience Framework
11. One Day Day One dome
12. Film still of residents recording their messages of resilience in One Day 48 Day One 13. Climate-related participatory art support, engagement and outcome model
14. Drawing the HighWaterLine photograph
15. HighWaterLine Action Guide screenshot
16. Climate-related participatory art: stages of ownership and knowledge 58 transfer diagram 17. Toolkit of recommendations diagram
Definitions ‘Participatory art’ is defined here as a creative project facilitated by an artist but including members of the public and situated and/or conducted in the public realm. Bishop’s (2012, p.2) definition expands, comparing participatory art with more traditional art forms: ‘The artist is conceived less as an individual producer of discrete objects than as a collaborator and producer of situations; the work of art as a finite, portable, commodifiable product is reconceived as an ongoing or long term project with an unclear beginning and end; while the audience, previously conceived as a ‘viewer’ or ‘beholder’, is now repositioned as a co-producer or participant.’ ‘Asset-Based Community Development’ (ABCD)1 is a method of community development which focuses on local assets (people, skills, physical resources) to ensure sustainable community development led by the citizens themselves, rather than the traditional deficit-based approach which tries to ‘solve’ problems from the outside in (Nurture Development, 2016).
It should be noted that the word ‘asset’ is somewhat contradictory as it is more commonly used as an economic rather than social descriptor, but is widely used in the field of community development.
Pictoral glossary for diagrams
Figure 1: Pictoral Glossary
Abstract This paper asks how participatory art can use Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) methodologies to catalyse more climate-resilient communities. It investigates this question through dissecting empirical evidence from eight interviews with professionals working in and around â€˜climate resilienceâ€™ in a UK context, with a focus on Bristol. This is supported with a literature review spanning participatory art, community development, climate change and resilience. The findings inform a series of concluding recommendations as a toolkit for artists and other facilitators who are seeking to engage communities creatively to take action on and understand climate change, becoming more resilient in the process. This research hopes to pave the way for greater collective action, cross-sector collaboration and creative community development to connect and prepare people for climate change, the greatest threat to humanity. Keywords participatory
Development, community building, participation
1. Introduction 1.1 Globalisation, urbanisation and climate change Alongside rapid globalisation, unprecedented population growth and increased urbanisation2 (WHO, 2016) community life in the UK has become increasingly disconnected, leading to soaring social isolation (Campaign to End Loneliness, 2016; Davidson and Rossall, 2014). Urbanisation has, ironically, not been a conduit to knowing your neighbours but has led to a growing fear of strangers – largely driven by the privatisation of public space (Minton, 2012) and embodied in Britain’s 52% vote to leave the European Union (BBC, 2016). This has divided communities even further, with severe increases in hate crime postBrexit3 (Mortimer, 2016; Travis, 2016; Townsend, 2016). Climate change is severely impacting urban life worldwide through ‘rising sea levels, increased precipitation, inland floods, more frequent and stronger cyclones and storms, and periods of more extreme heat and cold’ (UN-Habitat, 2012, no page), but disconnected communities are failing to take action at a local level (Stanhope, 2011). Global programmes such as 100 Resilient Cities4 (100RC) (100 Resilient Cities, 2016) are attempting to address interconnected urban challenges (The Rockefeller Foundation & Arup, 2014), but are focusing on a top-down rather than community development approach. Artist Eve Mosher (in this paper’s research) describes an alternative approach to encouraging more climate resilient communities through climate-related participatory art, led by communities themselves: ‘Climate change is big, amorphous, daunting. Arts and creativity can make data more real, visceral, comprehensible. It can create a way into the conversation for a broader constituency by being non-threatening and more approachable. Plus it can be driven by the very communities feeling the impacts, can utilise their voices and stories and can happen out in the public.’
The majority of the world’s population, for the first time in history, now live in cities (WHO, 2016). Brexit – a media colloquialism for Britain’s exit from the European Union. 4 100RC is a global programme led by ARUP to increase urban resilience which this paper will explore. 3
This paper aims to respond to calls for creative ways to incite public action around climate change (Whitmarsh et al., 2011; Godemann and Michelsen, 2011; Watts et al., 2015) within the global agenda to improve urban resilience (100 Resilient Cities, 2016). It will identify commonalities between existing case studies through interviewing professionals in related fields. It will pioneer the need for shared approaches through proposing its empirically grounded model. 1.2 Paper structure This paper is structured as follows: it outlines the background and key arguments in participatory art, Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and climate resilience literature, before introducing its methodology of gathering qualitative data through eight semi-structured interviews. Five key subquestions are developed through core interview transcript codes and an overall aim is stated: to develop a useable toolkit of recommendations for participatory artists and creative community practitioners. Sub-questions inform the chapters, using one to three relevant interviews as the structure from which to deepen knowledge. This is strengthened through exploring, critiquing and analysing new examples, case studies and literature, and linking back to the literature review. The paper concludes by proposing recommendations, which synthesise its learning and aim to catalyse future development, debate and action.
2. Literature review 2.1 Introduction This literature review outlines the definitions and background of ABCD, participatory art and climate resilience literature, acknowledging the diversity and commonality between these fields, how they connect to the research question and open further debate. 2.2 Earthrise, the image and our interconnected place in the world â€˜Earthriseâ€™, the first image of Earth seen from space (Figure 2) catalysed people to take action on climate change through the environmental movement emerging in the late 1960s (McCarthy, 2012; Planetary Collective, 2014; 2015). This suggests that an image â€“ one that became the most widely distributed photograph in human history (Lazier, 2011) - can have an impact on our understanding of the interconnectedness of our planet, our place within it, and
Figure 2: Earthrise (NASA, 1968)
our reliance upon it. However our increasingly globalised world (Mooney and Evans, 2007), and the resulting visual barrage from our modern media, has led to today’s climate-related images no longer inspiring action on climate change but becoming clichés to be ignored (Brassch, 2013; Corner et al., 2015; Lazier, 2011). Lazier (2011, p.614) defines the key difference between globes and environments: ‘Environments surround us. We live within them. Globes stand before us. We observe and act upon them from with-out’. An interesting parallel can be drawn here to a core ideology practiced in community building: ‘to work with not for’ (Cahill et al., 2010, p.407). Educationalist Freire (1972, p.66) pioneered this approach in the 1970s, explaining: ‘Authentic education is not carried on by A for B or by A about B, but rather by A with B, mediated by the world – a world which impresses and challenges both parties, giving rise to views or opinions about it.’ To understand the world and the environments – natural or social - that surround us, we must learn together and recognise our place within them, and not see them as a separate globe to act upon. 2.3 What is a climate-resilient community? ‘Resilience’ is a term lacking common, clear definition and therefore vulnerable to reinterpretation and manipulation (Hussain, 2013). Its dictionary definition is ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’ and ‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity’ (Oxford English Dictionary, 2016). The use of the words ‘toughness’ and ‘elasticity’ with each of these examples is significant: both describe resilience, yet are opposing. Within this lies the question of what makes a resilient community: do they doggedly plough on with ‘business as usual’ against all odds, or are they able to bend and flex to new challenges while maintaining their overall shape? Diprose (2014) argues that asking communities to ‘be resilient’ does not address surrounding systems and those truly responsible: ‘[…] resilience is about pacifying people in their place and encouraging the ‘have-nots’ to have patience’ (2014, p.50). This is reflected in Freire’s (1972, p.66) description of oppressors: ‘The oppressors are the ones who act upon men to indoctrinate 13
them and adjust them to a reality which must remain untouched’. Similarly to Freire’s revolutionary pedagogic response, Diprose calls for a positive resistance to resilience: courage to focus more on the present and to be the change we want to see. For Diprose resilience should not just be about communities surviving, but thriving – an aim shared by community builders using ABCD. If the community builder or artist could be compared to Freire’s (1972, p.67) revolutionary, we must remember that it is also their role ‘to liberate, and be liberated, with the people – not to win them over.’ The Rockefeller Foundation, behind 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), also define resilient communities as ‘thriving’ (The Rockefeller Foundation & Arup, 2014, p.3). They focus on city resilience, which they describe as: ‘[…] the capacity of cities to function, so that the people living and working in cities […] survive and thrive no matter what stresses or shocks they encounter.’ ‘Stresses and shocks’ still implies a lack of community control and inevitability around ‘resilience’ as dissected by Diprose. However, ARUP, in their research for the 100RC programme, found that urban resilience is not just about physical infrastructure, but the ‘social’ systems too, which need to be understood at a local level (ARUP, 2014d, no page). They highlighted the importance of community leadership, explaining how Cali self-organised to improve their resilience: ‘Rather than using physical infrastructure or trying to get money from the government, their tool is to talk to each other, to brainstorm, to develop their own initiatives in order to safeguard their livelihoods.’ For the purposes of this paper we will be discussing community climate resilience – the resilience of residents in their local geographic area in the face of climate change. 2.4 Asset-Based Community Development and its relationship to climate change Community development has grown from the work of community thinkers such as Paulo Freire, Saul Alinsky and E.F. Schumacher (Drier, 2012; McCrum, 2011). Freire’s community building has a pedagogical approach and will be this
paper’s focus, as the transfer of climate knowledge alongside community building is essential in this exploration. Community development is often wrongly practised as a deficit-based model where the community are recipients of a service (McKnight in Russell, 2015), or ‘recruited’ into a programme they have neither asked for nor defined. Organisations or local government are still often the ‘go to’ (or self-appointed) problem solvers for communities – lurching unsustainably between funding availability, project timelines and political cycles. Communities often internalise this approach, also arguing that their local issues should be ‘fixed’ by organisations. As Kretzmann and McKnight (1993, p.2) explain: ‘they become consumers of services, with no incentive to be producers’. This is reflected in the apathetic public response to climate change – embodying the ingrained perception that some ‘other’ more responsible organisation will prevent anything happening - or come to the rescue. Neoliberalism surrounds this dilemma: the UK Conservative government’s austerity measures are continuing to cut or privatise state services for those most in need whilst expecting people to solve their own problems and, critically, not including them in the decision-making process. Ledwith, alongside others such as Ganote and Longo (2015), advocates for radical community development based on a Freirian philosophy of critical pedagogy, empowerment, participation, collective action and reflection ‘that encourages people to question their reality’ (Ledwith, 2005, p.1) building on grassroots activism to develop a local:global reach to address root causes of issues. She highlights the urgency of community development in relation to environmental challenges (2005, p.28): ‘Communities are contexts for liberation as well as domination, and there is a fine line between the two. For community development to have an emancipatory dimension, it must be capable of creating a body of knowledge grounded in everyday experience in the search for a more just and sustainable world. Our fundamental purpose is not simply to understand our world, but to use that understanding to bring about change.’
ABCD5 builds on this approach, offering a more sustainable community-focused model through handing local responsibility to the community and building on collective knowledge. In ABCD, the community identify and address local challenges or initiatives using their own skills, gifts and resources (Nurture Development,
(Kretzmann and McKnight, 1993, p.3) - albeit still facilitated by a paid Community development Officer or similar role6. Ledwith (2005, p.12) acknowledges the uncomfortable contradiction in this role: ‘Working in and against the state, revolution or reform, has presented an ongoing tension for community work, with the state as both employer and oppressor.’ My own role will be outlined in section 3.2. ABCD draws on the core values of community development, defined by Craig (2014, p.6) as ‘social justice and equality, respect and democratic control’. Ledwith (2005, p.2) describes its process as based on ‘confidence, critical consciousness and collectivity’. This directly applies to current attitudes and action on climate change: confidence in voicing concern or engaging in discussion or action, critical consciousness of awareness of climate impacts and collectively taking action. The mobilisation of social connections, skills and gifts could therefore serve to increase climate-resilience in communities. Ledwith (2005, p.2) says this common-ground approach could affect a community’s ontology: ‘A world held in common is one in which we are able to reach across all aspects of difference to act together on issues that are wrong. In these ways, an altered way of ‘knowing’ the world (epistemology) results in changed ways of ‘being’ in the world (ontology).’ If a community is not aware of potential climate impacts, how can it selforganise and prepare for them? An altered epistemology is necessary but where does this interconnected climate knowledge come from? And whose responsibility is it? The community identifying their own needs means that
Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) has been emerging from the US since the late 1980s, when John McKnight and John ‘Jody’ Kretzmann of Northwestern University conducted a three-year neighbourhood research project (Nurture Development, 2016b). They established The ABCD Institute in 1995, which trains and develops ABCD globally5 (Nurture Development, 2016b), including Bristol City Council’s Community Development Team. 6 I am a part time Community Development Officer at Bristol City Council (at the time of writing), where I have been working with residents of Avonmouth, a low-income village neighbourhood in an industrial dock area.
potential climate change impacts may not be addressed due to lack of knowledge and awareness, leaving communities vulnerable. Connelly and Smith (2012, cited in Barr and Pollard, 2016) describe stateencouraged citizen action on climate change as a growing replacement for activism such as protest and ‘actions’, but wariness is advised around the state defining the environmental role and responsibility of the citizen (Barr and Pollard, 2016). Despite this addressing the need for community-led action on climate change, it is still practising the ‘citizen-consumer’ model, completely opposing the Asset-Based approach. There is therefore a gap for environmental knowledge to be shared with communities in an empowering, socially just and fair way, building a shared critical pedagogy. ABCD’s approach of ‘working at the pace of trust’ (Russell, 2016) suits an ongoing process. However, whilst building trust itself is vital (Freire, 1972) working at the pace of trust can be an unhelpfully slow process in the urgent context of climate change. There is a further gap to explore how participatory art could catalyse a faster approach to turning citizens into producers rather than consumers, embedding trust in the process - but not using it to define its pace. ABCD has not been without its criticisms – some arguing the practice attempts to justify the removal of state services during times of austerity (Craig, 2014; Macleod and Emejulu, 2014; Mathie and Cunningham, 2003). Austerity affects the practice itself: in Bristol the future of the Community Development team is uncertain, surviving the most recent round of cuts which saw a severance of 1,000 employees (Yong, 2016) but with no guarantee of future roles. This presents a conundrum which this paper will explore: climate change is happening, people will be impacted but are not taking action, connected communities are more resilient, but to empower communities to take action on climate change specifically would mean an initiative which may not come from the community themselves, and a transfer of knowledge which may be from ‘expert’ to layperson. 2.5 Participatory art and the creation of the citizen-producer Participatory art emerged as a creative critical pedagogy concurrently to the start of the Earthrise era. Art historian and critic Claire Bishop (2012, p.266) 17
described it as beginning to embody a more freeing educational role of ‘teacher’ (artist) to ‘student’ (participant), and where ‘critical pedagogy retains authority, but not authoritarianism’. This parallels the community development paradox of the paid worker to build community: a position of power but one that responds to the people. The three main concerns of participatory art are described by Bishop (2006, p.12) as ‘activation’ – empowering the participant; ‘authorship’ – an anticapitalist and democratic approach to shared ownership and production of the art work; and ‘community’ – a response to the ‘perceived crisis of community and collective responsibility’. These concerns, says Bishop, leads to participatory art aiming to resolve and reconnect people through ‘a collective elaboration of meaning’ and thus transfer the role of citizen-consumer to citizenproducer. Freire (1972, p.96) argues that if a transformative action is to take place, ‘[its] theory cannot fail to assign to the people a fundamental role in the transformation process’. Therefore, if communities are to become citizenproducers rather than citizen-consumers they need to participate, therefore participatory art could aid this process. 2.6 The call for creative, community engagement with climate change Throughout participatory art, ABCD, and climate resilience, there is call for a deeper, more collaborative, multi-disciplinary and creative engagement with climate change to inspire action at a community level. Mathie and Cunningham (2003, p.475) state that there is a two-fold challenge for communities: ‘to create and seize opportunities for sustainable development, and to claim and retain the rights and entitlements of state and global citizenship’. Environmental scientists Sheppard et al. (2011, p.401) agree that there is an urgent need for ‘a new type of capacity-building process and decision support tools on climate change’ for communities. They highlight understanding interconnectedness as a key issue in catalysing action, and highlight a gap for guidance on it, stating that: ‘there are few if any approaches or frameworks for ‘‘connecting the dots’’ between global climate science and information on the one hand, and the range of local community activities and options on the other’. Environmental photographer Braasch (2013, p.33) hopes 18
that ‘a new [visual] framing of local climate impacts and positive actions may encourage more people to take action’, and calls for a move away from the clichéd, overused and irrelevant images of ‘burning Earths, blazing suns, and calving glacier ice’. Research project Climate Visuals (Corner et al., 2015, p.5) found that: ‘a pressing challenge for climate change communicators is to widen and deepen public engagement with climate change’. To help address these calls we turn again to Freire (1972, p.81), who suggests a dialogical approach to education, using a ‘problem-posing’ model rather than the typical ‘banking method’ of imparting knowledge from teacher to student, focusing on a pedagogy based on the students’7 own views of the world. It could therefore be argued that, in climate change, the point of most relevance for the people is a good place to start (Freire, 1972)8. 2.7 But how? The gap in guidance for artists and facilitators Artists’ approaches to engaging communities have been haphazard, with little guidance to aid artists stepping into these complex, public landscapes – and none, to my knowledge, in creatively engaging communities in climate change. There are, however, important conversations happening around art and climate change. The Watershed’s (2015) debate What is the role of art and artists in considering climate change? drew on work by artist Adam Chodzko to discuss art and climate change9. Alice Sharp chaired the debate: curator and director of Invisible Dust (2016), an arts producer that brings artists and scientists together to promote awareness of climate change10. The British Museum (2016) staged a similar conference: Visualizing Climate - Changing Futures?11 which explored how visual media can shape public understanding of climate change from a more anthropological perspective. While these debates open the conversation, guidance for artists on more practical, ethical steps to engage communities in climate change remains sparse. Deveron Arts’ ARTocracy: A Curatorial Handbook in Collaborative Practice, is a notable exception for public participation guidance. It dissects their The Town is 7
(In this case the ‘students’ are the residents/community/public) Freire (1972, p.95) expands: ‘[…] this view of education starts with the conviction that it cannot present its own programme dialogically with the people, it serves to introduce the pedagogy of the oppressed, in the development of which the oppressed must participate.’ 9 Two of its panellists, Adam Corner and David Cross, were later interviewed for this paper. 10 Invisible Dust also produced HWL in Bristol. 11 Where Adam Corner also presented Climate Visuals. 8
the Venue curatorial programme through diagrams, interviews and infographics and aims to provoke a ‘practice-led dialogue’ between ‘art, context, informal spaces, communities and social consequence’ (Sacramento and Zeiske, 2010, p.9). The HighWaterLine (HWL) Action Guide (Watts et al., 2014), discussed later in this paper, provides guidance for communities looking to create a HWL in their area; and charity Julie’s Bicycle (Julie’s Bicycle, 2016) advises on the environmental impact of arts organisations but neither is focused on the individual artist. Cape Farewell (Buckland, 2016; Cape Farewell, 2016) runs expeditions to the Arctic amongst other opportunities for artists and scientists to collaborate on climate change, but again does not offer guidance for the individual practitioner or promote a community-building approach. This suggests a gap for a more focussed set of recommendations for participatory artists specifically seeking to engage communities in climate change. 2.8 Literature review analysis The literature has shown that a simple image can spark a movement, but asks if that still applies in today’s visually saturated world. It suggests that seeing our world as interconnected – at a global and local, environmental and social scale - is key to understanding our impact and our own climate resilience in our own communities, but asks how in our post-Earthrise era? Thriving, resilient communities are those who connect with each other and use the skills inherent in the community in a true Asset-Based way. The state expecting communities to simply ‘be resilient’ and accept their fate is akin to oppression, however working ‘with not for’ at all levels could pave the way for a more collaborative and empathetic approach. A critical consciousness and awareness of climate change is necessary for communities to take action, but a Freirian and ABCD approach would advocate for knowledge coming from the community themselves rather than an external expert. This suggests a gap building knowledge together, but raises critical issues around who sparks that process if it does not come from the community. The importance of connecting climate science and academia with community action is widely recognised. Visual approaches and public engagement are suggested, and again Freirian pedagogic approach of ‘problem-posing’ is offered as a potential starting point. 20
Finally the literature review has shown that there is a gap for support for the individual participatory artist who is seeking to engage communities in climate change.
3. Methodology 3.1 Research question, methodology and aim This paper’s key research question asks: How can participatory art use ABCD methodologies to catalyse more climate-resilient communities? To answer the research question, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight key practitioners working around climate resilience and participatory art in a UK context with a focus on Bristol. Alongside answering the theoretical research question, this paper also develops a practical toolkit of recommendations. 3.2 Narrative, my story and research position Narrative is an essential element of participatory art and ABCD. This research therefore informs a collaborative narrative building approach. Connelly and Clandinin (1990, p.12) realised: ‘We learned that we, too, needed to tell our stories. […] And in our storytelling, the stories of our participants merged with our own to create new stories, ones that we have labelled collaborative stories.’ Indeed my own story is also important: it is what has led me to conduct this research and strive to build new knowledge, drawing on Freirian and feminist pedagogies of using personal narrative to connect to political issues (Ledwith, 2005). Ledwith (2005, p.6) says: ‘I see action and reflection as a process of search, of research, of curiosity and a desire to understand, driven by a commitment to change things for the better.’ I also seek to reflect on my praxis through my positions as a participatory artist12 and as a part time Community Development Officer for BCC13. This positionality enables a greater empathy into the experiences of my interviewees. This research will also reflect my own practice values: creativity, communication, honesty, connection and engagement (Shipman, 2016). This paper is therefore a collaborative story in itself.
Through my consultancy something good, something useful. See www.somethinggoodsomethinguseful.com Correct at the time of writing, November 2016.
3.4 Focus on Bristol This story has led me to Bristol as the contextual focus for this research. Bristol’s position as one of the 100 Resilient Cities (100 Resilient Cities, 2016); its active political and environmental scene (Wall, 2016); environmental support from the City Council (Bristol City Council, 2016b); previous status as European Green Capital (Bristol 2015 Ltd, 2016; European Commission, 2016) and vibrant arts scene (Parkin, 2015) suggests it is a ripe testing ground for new, creative ideas around sustainability. Bristol also sits on an estuary with a 14m tidal surge (Bristol City Council, 2009). While there is limited projected climate impacts for Bristol specifically, one can presume that (at the very least) sea level rise will impact the city as the IPCC14 (Gregory, 2013, p.15) state that it is ‘virtually certain’ to continue to rise globally far beyond the year 2100. 3.5 Introduction of interviewees Interviewees were selected for this research based on their range of expertise, geographical relevance and the diversity of their initiatives (see Table 1). Owing to different project timescales, interviews were the most appropriate method of research, allowing additional conclusions to be drawn from interviewees’ learning and reflection. Interviewees’ names have been used with permission and they were happy to speak publicly about their work. Where information was confidential it has not been transcribed. Hogan (1988 cited in Connelly and Clandinin, 1990, p.4) identifies three important traits of a narrative-based research relationship: ‘the equality between participants, the caring situation, and the feelings of connectedness’. Using this approach, as well as building rapport (DiCicco-Bloom and Crabtree, 2006) and having the subject matter in common resulted in passionate and engaging interviews. Interviewees were all fully aware of my research question, reason for conducting the research, and my roles. Table 1, overleaf, outlines the interviewees’ roles, organisations and the project discussed, as well as the justification of their selection:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
3.5.1 Table 1: Interviewee's details and selection justification Interviewees
Project and reach
Justification of interviewees
A. James Cartwright
Weapons of Reason (magazine)
Weapons of Reason, national
An academic and highly illustrated 8issue magazine aiming to turn ‘ideas into action’ around socio-environmental issues.
An attempt to bring academia to the mainstream printed media, through use of engaging visuals and infographics as well as breaking the barriers between academics and popular culture.
B. Ann Cousins
Senior Sustainability Consultant
100 Resilient Cities (100RC), global with Bristol focus
A global urban resilience programme inviting 100 cities to contribute 10% of their budget to resilience initiatives and commit to the 100RC Framework.
A global perspective on a programme to support urban resilience, which has local relevance to Bristol as one of the 100RC cities.
C. Adam Corner
Climate Visuals, international
A research project exploring responses to climate-related photographs from UK, USA and German audiences.
An academic investigation into visual representations of climate change and reactions from the general public.
D. David Cross
Reader in Fine Art and tutor
University of the Arts, London (UAL)
UAL Fossil Free, institution
A creative campaign from an artist/tutor and students within the university to divest student fees from fossil fuel investment.
An unusual, rebellious and creative initiative from a staff member from within an organisation, holding the university accountable for it’s actions.
E. Mark Edwards
WHOLE EARTH?, global
A touring worldwide public exhibition of environmental photographs with text explanations of impacts aimed at university students and their tutors.
A perspective from an older generation environmental campaigner and comparison of a non-participatory creative project, again in a university context.
F. Eve Mosher
HighWaterLine (HWL), global and Bristol
A public art project inviting communities to use a pitch marker to draw blue lines around their area to visualise future sea level rise.
A project that uses elements of community development, public and participatory art and developed a replicable model, which has been used globally.
G. Sarah Toy
Chief Resilience Officer
Bristol City Council, ARUP
100 Resilient Cities, global with Bristol focus
Bristol’s role in the 100RC global urban resilience programme.
An insight into Bristol’s role in 100RC: how it operates at a city level, as well as a perspective of working from within local government.
One Day Day One, Bristol
A geodesic dome artwork illustrated with visions of Bristol’s future, inviting participants to record ideas for ‘one day’, as if today was ‘day one’.
A project creatively exploring resilience at a grass-roots level supported by Sarah Toy (as above). An artist’s perspective and community development angle on the broader 100RC and Green Capital 2015 projects.
H. Sara Zaltash
3.6 Coding process and sub-questions Constructivist grounded theory was used as the reflexivity of my own positionality and epistemology (Ramalho et al., 2015) was essential in the coding process to draw together and reflect on the narrative. The eight interview audio recordings (between 30 to 90 minutes each) were transcribed by hand using online software Wreally.com. 124 pages15 of transcripts (see example in Appendix A16) were coded according to the subject of each point (i.e. funding, participation etc) resulting in 1093 codes. These codes were transferred to an Excel database (see screenshot in Appendix B) and processed to reveal the most commonly occurring codes, and thus key themes. Figure 3 is a wordcloud generated from codes that occurred three or more times in the transcripts - the larger the word, the more regularly occurring the code. These codes informed
Figure 3: Wordcloud of most commonly occurring interview codes
five sub-questions, underpinned by community development, engagement and
Transcripts are single line spaced, size 12 font. Please contact the author for original transcripts: email@example.com
challenges. Interviews that offered contrasting or connecting dialogues on these themes were then linked. See Table 2. 3.6.1 Table 2: Questions, related codes and interviews Section
Can visual communication bring climate academia and science to the mainstream?
visual communication; digital communication; media
Adam Corner, Climate Visuals; James Cartwright, Weapons of Reason
Can participatory art provoke climate action at an institutional / organisational level?
action; activism; solidarity; institution; support
David Cross, UAL Fossil Free; Mark Edwards, WHOLEEARTH?
Can participatory art aid public understanding of climate resilience?
resilience; Bristol; Bristol City Council; framework; artist role; funding)
Can participatory art make climate change accessible and engaging?
What is the importance of legacy in a participatory art / climate context?
Ann Cousins and Sarah Toy, 100 Resilient Cities; Sara Zaltash, One Day Day One
accessibility; participation; collaboration
Eve Mosher, HighWaterLine
legacy; inspiring action; be the change
3.7 Recognising research limitations This research recognises its limitations: empirical, qualitative evidence are its main sources; its timescale was limited; it was unfunded and conducted by a single researcher. However this does not impact its validity of adding new knowledge to these fields, which, to my knowledge, have not yet been brought together in this way. Diefenbach (2009, p.891) believes the researcherâ€™s position affects the approach and analysis. This paper is an investigation into a personal subject area to enable a deeper understanding and critique and is therefore deliberately informed by my research position. Interviewees have specific relevance to the question and each open a different facet on the debate. 26
Diefenbach (2009) states that interviewee selection is not systematic and interviewees may have unconscious bias. Collier and Mahony (1996, p.57) highlight the pitfalls of case selection bias, but warn that ‘random sampling may create as many problems as it solves’. These issues are more concerned with comparative studies based on dependent variables, whereas the interviewees on whom this research is based are to add to the ‘collaborative story’ and are drawn from lived experience. As DiCicco-Bloom and Crabtree (2006, p.40) state: ‘The purpose of the qualitative research interview is to contribute to a body of knowledge that is conceptual and theoretical and is based on the meanings that life experiences hold for the interviewees’. 3.8 Future research and development Partnering with institutions, collaborating with other practitioners or researchers or exploring a practice-led PhD are possible avenues for future research and development. The framework will be developed within my own practice, with the hope that applying its knowledge, reflecting on and sharing my experiences will broaden my own and others’ learning.
4. Can visual communication bring climate academia and science to the mainstream? 4.1 Introduction This chapter asks whether visual communication can bring academia and science to the mainstream through exploring the relationship between image and action on climate change. Two key interviews structure the debate. The first is with Dr. Adam Corner, co-author of Climate Visuals (see Table 1, section C). The second is with James Cartwright, Editor of Weapons of Reason, an eightissue magazine described as: ‘A project to understand the interconnected challenges shaping our world’ (Weapons of Reason, 2016) using highly illustrative visuals to support academic knowledge (see Table 1, section A). Both interviewees have a unique stance on their interpretation of academia to the mainstream – the former from an academic, the latter from an editor / designer. The interviews reveal the variety in dissemination and availability of climaterelated images in the media, types of public interpretation and how to utilise more accessible diagrams to inspire action on, or understanding of, climate change. ABCD is discussed in relation to these findings, with suggestions around utilising locally relevant climate-related images, and how to bring academia to more diverse audiences. 4.2 The single image and action on climate change Corner highlights the lack of public awareness through media communication around climate change: ‘If this is the biggest change we face in the 21st century, you wouldn’t know about it really’. Climate Visuals aimed to bridge the gap between academic research and campaigner-practitioner needs, drawing on an extensive literature review, international survey, discussion group findings and existing research to create an online image library. Key recommendations included using authentic photos of real people, rather than staged photo opportunities; using less clichéd and more thought-provoking images; and showing climate impacts beyond individual behaviours. Images such as extreme weather events overwhelmed participants, but it was
recommended that ‘a concrete behavioural ‘action’ for people to take can help overcome this’ (Corner et al., 2015). Corner believes visual communication is of particular importance in today’s increasingly virtual world: ‘[…] everyone knows that the value of a protest or a demo is how it is reproduced afterwards. It doesn’t really matter if you were there, what matters is how many views you get.’ This could be originally illustrated in the number of ‘views’ the Earthrise image received, as mentioned in the literature review. It could be said that Earthrise was the first ever pre-internet image to effectively ‘go viral’, pre-empting our modern trend and hunger for the wildfire spread of online content. More recent reports on the viral spread of social media cite cuteness, humour and emotional arousal as the traits most likely to spread content (Cashmore, 2009 cited in Guadagno et al., 2013). Perhaps emotional ‘awe’ was one reason in the Earthrise example. Social validation, particularly sharing content from someone believed to be an ‘in-group’ member (i.e. sharing the same political beliefs, cultural values, university or workplace etc) has also been found to increase the likelihood of an individual sharing content (Guadagno et al., 2013), again illustrating how an image could spark the foundations of a movement or community with similar values and concerns. This is a challenge in ABCD – trying to reach a geographically defined community who may not share the same values. Greenpeace’s co-founders knew the value of the image long before the memes of today, using photography and video in their activism17, coining the term ‘mind-bomb’ to describe how media can be used as an effective tool for change (Greenpeace International, 2015).18 Corner also wants to use images to help activists in their campaigns. He understands it is not always possible for campaigners and activists to thoroughly research their causes, but highlights the gap between action and academia that Climate Visuals responds to:
In Greenpeace’s 1975 anti-whaling campaign, they photographed one member straddling a dead whale to show the world that it was undersize and therefore illegally harpooned (Greenpeace International, 2015; Wapner, 1996). 18 These developments were captured in the powerful documentary charting the origins of the charity, How to Change the World (Greenpeace International, 2015).
‘[…] there [are] these quick-fire instinct campaigners that have really good ideas, but you [as academics] can make them a bit more robust. And there’s this kind of slow chain of academic ideas that are probably quite robust but that no one knows about.’ Therefore the visual image can help bring together academia and activism and is beneficial for campaigns and sharing new knowledge with the general public. But, in today’s world, can a single image also inspire action at a local, community level? 4.3 The distance from the polar bear: un-relatable clichés in environmental imagery The image of the polar bear is now so synonymous with climate change it has begun to remove a sense of urgency from its viewers. Corner found that, while the polar bear image had strong public associations with climate change, it did not function as a prompt for action: ‘The polar bear on the melting ice cap, because it already means something, they [survey participants] were like: “Oh well okay. You want me to respond as in: climate change.”’ ‘In the discussion groups […] they said: “Well, it does make me feel sorry for that polar bear, but not for climate change”. There were a couple of times where people actually made that distinction […]’ One of the report’s key findings (Corner et al., 2015, p.5) also noted the interconnectedness issue: ‘There is a balance to be struck […] between localising climate change (so that people realise the issue is relevant to them) and trivialising the issue (by not making clear enough links to the bigger picture)’. Climate Visuals (Corner et al., 2015) found that people recognised images of traffic as related to climate change – something everyone could relate to and clearly see. It recommends visualising the issue at scale to help make the connection. Freire (1972, p.86) also advocates for coded images used in educational practices to represent familiar situations to the participants ‘so that they can easily recognise the situations (and thus their own relation to them).’ 30
The general lack of interconnectedness however, is a key issue in preventing action on climate change as we found from the literature review (Sheppard et al., 2011). It seems that the greater the distance from the polar bear (or any other far-away image), the less likely it is people will see their own environmental behaviour as having a direct and negative impact on its plight, or realise that, as the ice melts under the bear’s paws it rises on our shores. Indeed,
recorded the second lowest volume of Arctic sea ice on record (Kahn, 2016). Again
Figure 4: Your ignition is my extinction – Greenpeace’s fake Shell crowdsourced advertising (The Guardian, 2012)
Greenpeace, partnering with environmental activists The Yes Men, played with this concept, setting up a hoax Shell website to crowdsource parody ads for pro-Arctic drilling (Greenpeace, 2012; The Guardian, 2012). Figure 4 is one such ad submitted by an online user. This image is not only a scathing attack on Shell but also a fitting critique of the consumer separation between actions and environmental impact, and an interesting alternative example of public action on climate change: digitally, from the comfort of their own homes. Corner agrees that using arts to inspire public action on climate change ‘makes much more sense than starting with graphs and science’. He describes a ‘hangover’ of climate change communication being formulated in science, which seeps into science-focused campaign strategies. Corner advocates for a more creative, empathetic and identifiable response to engaging people in climate change: ‘[…] we don't live our lives through that [science]. You live it through stories and quick fire responses to things we like and identify with. And in that sense art and creativity is holding all the aces.’ Corner
understanding and acting on their local environmental challenges: 31
‘We can't just come up with the cleverest, smartest, top-ten-tippiest [sic] way of communicating drought risk and flood risk. At some point that has to stop and allow people on their own, because they've got it, to the extent that they can own it [and] engage with it on an ongoing basis.’ This fits in with an ABCD approach of handing over ownership and the development of the citizen-producer, as discussed in the literature review. Corner also advocates participatory methods of inspiring action on climate change: ‘It's a slow burn, long lead in disaster that is happening in slow motion but way too fast as well. You just can't skip past the bit where you give a shit. […] We haven’t got enough time for solutions that no one wants either. So you have to get them to a point where they will. And that takes time, it all takes time, but it is the best hope we’ve got. And the participatory bit is the only important bit here; you can't trick people into this stuff.’ These findings suggest that a combination of participatory art with locally relevant and shareable visuals (which people can add their own voice to) could be a starting point to bringing climate academia and science to the mainstream. Using Freirian approaches to listen to and challenge participants (Freire, 1972) and ABCD methodologies of empowering people to take ownership of local climate impacts could be combined to begin to catalyse more climate-resilient communities.
4.4 Graphs versus illustrations in catalysing action on climate change Cartwright Weapons
(WoR) as engaging with activist
visually interesting way’. ‘Visually interesting’ and climate change data do
Figure 5: Google Image search results for ‘climate change graph’ (Google, 2016)
not typically go hand in hand: type ‘climate change graphs’ into Google and one is overwhelmed with infinite graphs of terrifyingly sharply rising lines (Figure 5). WoR translates scientific data into accessible illustrations to critique and raise awareness of global issues from environmentalism to ageing (Weapons of Reason, 2016). The melting Arctic was not left untouched here either, but Figure 6 illustrates more extensive data, such as territories of indigenous
Figure 6: Welcome to The Arctic (Weapons of Reason, 2015)
people, wildlife and natural resources. This breakdown of information informs the reader of facts far beyond the distant and un-relatable ‘the ice is melting’ 33
message implied by the clichéd polar bear image, or the confusing and fearinducing line graph. How do these more accessible illustrations inspire action though? WoR aims to address this through providing ‘Action Points’ such as signposting readers to charities addressing the article’s issues, relevant documentaries or links to further reading to inspire action thus bridging the gap between popular culture and academia. Cartwright recognises the limitations of these simple suggestions, however, and plans to start reading groups to inspire measurable action: ‘[…] for a magazine that’s saying ‘we want people to take action’ to then create a platform where we're actually instigating the action and actually nurturing it rather than just suggesting that it might be something people want to get involved in.’ Cartwright recognises the inaccessible nature of activism as one barrier: ‘I think a lot of the time activism is quite a hard thing to approach because you think ‘how does one go about changing their life or taking direct action?’ But what we’re trying to do is to provide our readership with ways that people can get involved in different causes.’ As well as translating academic research, WoR also invites academics to submit articles. Cartwright described his surprise at academics’ willingness to get involved and how WoR opens the conversation to a wider audience: ‘Once you get to a certain level in academia I think a lot of the publishing industry around it is quite insular. You're not necessarily putting work out there to people that want to find out about it and that's what we offer - we offer a way of talking about, a lot of the time, quite dry research in an interesting and engaging way - I hope!’ Cartwright discussed that more public distribution in airports and cafes is required to reach an audience beyond their main readership: people already engaged in sustainability and those interested in design.
Alienating potential new audiences from being too design-heavy is also an issue when attempting to creatively inspire public action on climate-change, which WoR attempts to resolve through approachable design: ‘It has to be super approachable otherwise there's a chance that people say ‘that’s not for me’ because they think ‘I'm not really design-minded’. You don't want to be alienating people with your design sensibility.’ 4.5 Conclusion This chapter has shown that non-clichéd and accessible diagrammatic visuals could help bring climate academia and science to the mainstream. However, any subsequent actions are almost impossible to monitor and audiences are not definable. These findings suggest that the preferred consumption of locally relevant images could lead to images being more actively produced and evaluated by participants themselves. This could then inform more practical participatory art projects within local climate concerns identified, where possible, by the community themselves. As discussed in the literature review (Freire, 1972; Ledwith, 2005; Russell, 2015), herein lies the challenge.
5. Can participatory art inspire action at an institutional level? 5.1 Introduction Moving on from the single image, this chapter asks whether participatory art can inspire action on climate change at an institutional level through exploring the relationship between exhibitions, creative activism and institutions, in these cases a university. The chapter is structured around two interviews with artists attempting
facilitate action on climate change. The first is photographer Mark Edwards (see Table 1, section E), whose
aims Figure 7: WHOLE EARTH? exhibition installed at University of the West of England (UWE Bristol, 2015)
students and tutors in
(see Figure 7). The second is with artist David Cross (see Table 1, section D) who established UAL Fossil Free as an internal divestment campaign using his positions as academic and artist to educate, inform and take action. The former is working from outside the institution, the latter from within. The findings again illustrate the difficulty in monitoring real action as a result of a climate-related creative intervention. They also show the challenge of engaging even defined communities with more specific values (Guadagno et al., 2013), as mentioned in the last chapter â€“ in both cases being university students and teachers. They also raise agenda, power and dissemination of knowledge issues around climate change creative interventions. WHOLE EARTH? displays arresting visuals with text panels of calls to action, and UAL Fossil Free involves active student participation and critical pedagogy (Freire, 1972) to directly empower others.
5.2 Telling it is not enough: moving beyond the environmental exhibition Edwards says that the environmental movement, of which he has been a part, has failed to engage people in the importance of values as well as the possibilities of a more sustainable world, which WHOLE EARTH? aims to rectify: ‘We [environmentalists] have been showing the problems but we haven't been so good at showing the kind of world that is available to us - if we are brave enough to take it’. Edwards believes that the arts world will be the change society needs to transition into a more sustainable future: ‘If society is going to change it is the arts world that will probably take it there. Scientists are not that great at communicating, politicians are not interested in sustainable development for the most part, so the arts world has a really important role to play […]’ WHOLE EARTH? has toured the world as an outdoor public exhibition focusing on universities. The format is a collection of powerful images representing people and environmental issues ‘at the sharp end of the environmental debate’ (Edwards) accompanied by text describing the climate challenge and impact, as well as questions, suggestions and calls to action for students and their tutors. The website (Hard Rain Project, 2006-16, no page) describes it: ‘WHOLE EARTH? offers solutions in the areas of climate, energy, fresh water, oceans and agriculture, but also in areas such as human rights and economic rule-making. It proposes some new ways of thinking. And it gets personal: it wants to know what visitors are going to do now – now that they understand the problems and know that solutions are available.’ In ABCD the ultimate goal is also to inspire community action but the desire to do so must come from the community themselves (as Freire (1972) also teaches). Presuming people will take action simply based on an increase in knowledge is sadly not evidenced in our lack of global collective action on climate change. At an institutional level the outcomes of WHOLE EARTH? included workshops, talks and seminars (Hard Rain Project, 2006-16) but monitoring individual action as a direct result of seeing the exhibition has been difficult. Edwards admits:
‘I've always been very bad at monitoring […]. Here is some advice, if this is for the arts world: monitor your projects! You need to show off your products so you can get funding for the next one and I have been very bad at that.’ While the photographs in WHOLE EARTH? are undoubtedly striking, they hark back to an older style of environmental communication – the starving child, the deforestation – which now seem as far-removed and clichéd as the polar bear on the melting ice-cap. If these images had been tested with Corner’s Climate Visuals perhaps they too would be found to not be locally relevant enough to inspire action and help communities make the connection to climate change. Edwards’ identified student audience is also interesting. While Edwards justifies the decision by saying ‘the future belongs to today's young people’ (Hard Rain Project, 2006-16, no page), the format of WHOLE EARTH? is not synonymous with communication methods generally preferred by a Millennial 19 audience: digital, participatory, interactive and two-way (Lantos, 2014). The youngest current undergraduate students were born in 1998 – almost post-millennial – and thus are an audience who have grown up in an entirely digital age. The only student feedback comment on the WHOLE EARTH? website (Hard Rain Project, 2006-16, no page) indicates this lack of initial engagement with the WHOLE EARTH? format even though she was inspired to campaign: ‘I have to admit I walked past it without reading it until my tutor sent us all out to look at it and write an essay on the issues it presents. Then I got it: the impact MY plastic, MY meat, MY waste paper is making to the planet that is keeping me alive.’ Although the WHOLE EARTH? exhibition is visually compelling, educational and informative, there is no element of participation in the artwork itself20. From an ABCD perspective, WHOLE EARTH? does not include its audiences’ voices on either side: the photographs are observed and presented by an outsider to the people and impacts they illustrate, and the display itself does not feature any responses or suggestions from the community of students it is trying to engage. 19
Millennial audiences (also known as Generation Z) are defined loosely as those born in the digital age, usually after 1990 (Lantos, 2014). 20 It should be noted that WHOLE EARTH? was not intended as a participatory artwork, but is used in this research as it does intend to inspire action on climate change from its audiences.
To view the entire exhibition requires time to read the lengthy (although fascinating) text on each panel and students and their tutors are often timepoor. Being able to physically and digitally participate in something can lead to greater engagement - as we see in the next chapter, interactive artwork One Day Day One had queues going into it, while WHOLE EARTH? is walked past. 5.3 Critical pedagogy in action: creatively campaigning from within an institution Cross is tackling climate change from within UAL through his campaign UAL Fossil Free. Cross describes the campaign as bridging elements of his art practice, part of: ‘[…] trying to overcome the separation between my research into the relationship between visual culture and sustainability, and what the institution does.’ Cross highlighted the importance of artists as role models for leading change: ‘It seems to me that, we have to practice what we preach, and if artists and designers learn to take up their role as citizens, as producers and consumers of visual culture but that's detached from what their institution does - I think there is a subtext message which is that art and design can say or do anything it likes as long as it doesn’t actually instigate real change. So I think the institution, if it's really going to teach people about art and design and its relationship to the world we live in, has to practice what we preach, so the Fossil Free campaign came out of that attitude.’ This message is vital in the argument for participatory art using ABCD methodologies to catalyse more climate resilient communities: it connects back to my own practice values outlined in the methodology - creativity, communication, honesty, connection and engagement (Shipman, 2014). Whether an artist is representing an institution or simply their own beliefs, a more genuine artwork will be produced if personal and institutional values are practised. Genuine participation should surround this: a dialogue and two-way collaboration between artist and participants which prioritises the ‘with not for’ approach whilst giving space for differing views, values and voices. Cross’s campaign also connects to our collective role and responsibility as citizens within our own communities – be they institutional or geographic.
Cross’s activism is unusual in that it is practised within the institution. Cross wrote to the Vice Chancellor to highlight the hypocrisy between their sustainability statement and their
banking with Royal Bank of Figure 8: UAL Fossil Free ‘Die In’ (Brown, 2015)
fracking and coal gasification. When
response, Cross began giving lectures awareness
student community which took the form of protests (see Figure 8) and Cross’s own first performance piece21 (Figure Figure 9: Master of the Universe (Cross, 2015)
within this participatory art practice is essential – Cross is transferring his sustainability and institutional knowledge and building it with the student community, a process also practiced in ABCD. Cross described his perceived responsibility to question the hypocrisy of the institution: ‘It's an unquestioned assumption in the university that what the business side of the university is separate from its curriculum and pedagogic function. I've decided to challenge that, I've taken it on myself unasked […].’ This raises two important issues in initiating action on climate change – responsibility and boundaries. In ABCD, responsibility is a slippery issue, as we found in the literature review – from the perceived justification of removal of 21
Cross dressed as an ‘un-dead’ professor referencing: ‘a tenured academic, obsessing over the destruction of social value through the pursuit of profit, yet implicated in the commodification of my own cognitive and affective labour’ (Cross, 2015).
state services (Macleod and Emejulu, 2014; Mathie and Cunningham, 2003) to state promotion of ‘resilience’ in communities (Diprose, 2014). Cross has taken the campaign on himself as he is passionate and knowledgeable about climate change, and is utilising his position within an institution to tackle it. Defining one’s ‘Sphere of Control, Sphere of Influence and Sphere of Concern’ (Martin, 2016) is helpful is negotiating where to focus efforts against climate change. In ABCD, one first question asked of residents prompts reflection on their influence and ideas: ‘If you had three neighbours to help you, what would you do?’ (Russell, 2016). Combining these approaches, Cross has used his ‘Sphere of Control’ to lecture and disseminate climate-related knowledge, drawing his ‘Sphere of Influence’ around the university to take action on his ‘Sphere of Concern’ thus multiplying his impact. There is a paradox in participatory art and community development: the role of the artist or community worker advocating for participation from a position of power. Here the delivery of the process itself is the critical element. Cross’s hierarchical position as a tutor within the university could therefore be described as non-conducive to genuine participation with students but the invitation for deepening the project came from the student community themselves. ABCD and Freirian approaches both advocate not taking action unless the community have invited it (Freire, 1972; Russell, 2015). Students invited Cross to give a lecture on Art and Activism, to which he responded by inviting the students to see the interconnected elements of the institution, art and action: ‘So I said “Ok, let's collapse the distinction between art and activism and not see art as an autonomous activity in the white cube, let's see it as connected to what we teach and learn and how our institution functions”.’ Cross’s reference to interconnectedness indicates a smaller ‘ecosystem’ as it were – the institution, the students’ place within it and their creative practices. However this first step to understanding a positionality to the practices, functions and processes one has an impact on and is impacted by is crucial to understanding climate change and sustainability more broadly, and connects back to Ledwith’s (2005, p.2) epistemological shift towards a more ontological understanding of ‘a world held in common’.
Cross also describes an (unintentionally) Asset-Based approach to growing student interest in UAL Fossil Free – he acted as a ‘connector’ (Russell, 2016) for those students who showed an interest across the UAL colleges: ‘I took it first of all to Camberwell College and then across to Chelsea and Wimbledon and then St Martin's and gradually people got on board and I put them in touch with each other and they started meeting up.’ This is a vital part of ABCD, connecting people who share common interests or skills to take action in their own community (Russell, 2015). Again this suggests that there is a place for climate-related participatory art to use ABCD methodologies to inspire action on climate change. Throughout the campaign Cross discovered the oft-conflicting public faces of the university: ‘What we found was that actually, a fairly straightforward request “Let's divest from fossil fuel and practice what we preach” revealed something about how the university functions - it's not a democracy. The students were allowed to act out and say and do all sorts of controversial things exploring extreme or radical ideas, but the deal is that it must not actually change the operation of the institution.’ Despite these barriers, UAL Fossil Free has led to UAL divesting £3.9million22 and Cross is aiming for full divestment. Freire (1972, p.60) when discussing the ‘word’ (or praxis of dialogue) defines action and reflection as bound in the word itself. Thus, Freire says, if there is a sacrifice of action, verbalism is the result, and a sacrifice of reflection results in activism. In UAL Fossil Free, Cross has encouraged reflection within the dialogical praxis – deepening what would otherwise be purely activism through building a critical pedagogy with his students which has led to real change. 5.4 Conclusion WHOLE EARTH? and UAL Fossil Free have illustrated two different ways of creatively provoking action on climate change within an institution and specific community – the former coming in with permission from the institution, 22
(at the time of interview, May 2016)
presenting knowledge and expecting action; the latter being within and taking action without permission, but successfully using ABCD methodologies such as disseminating, sharing and building knowledge and connecting activators to result in real, measurable change.
6. Can participatory art aid public understanding of climate resilience? 6.1 Introduction This chapter asks whether participatory art can aid public understanding of resilience, moving towards participatory art with a more community-focused approach and exploring surrounding support structures beyond the institution at a local, citywide and global level. In this case the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) programme will be explored through its global approach, its application in Bristol through the local authority and an artwork which engaged residents with resilience as part of the programme on the ground. This chapter uses three interviews to do so: Ann Cousins (see Table 1, section B), Senior Sustainability Consultant at ARUP; Sarah Toy (see Table 1, section G), Chief Resilience Officer at Bristol City Council (BCC) and Sara Zaltash (see Table 1, section H), a performance artist and facilitator of participatory artwork One Day Day One (ODDO). These interviews found that the 100RC programme focuses on top-down policy and infrastructure rather than how to engage communities in their own resilience through an Asset-Based approach. The programmeâ€™s use of language and methods of dissemination are also not accessible to the layperson. 100RCâ€™s global delivery through local authorities further impacts local level participation, as it is dependent on the varied resources, skills, capacity and will to do so from those delivering it. In the Bristol 100RC programme, the interviews revealed that there is a desire and awareness of the importance of participatory art in engaging communities in resilience and some (non-financial) support for projects that do so. However there is a gap for connecting the impact and legacy of artistsâ€™ self-initiated projects on the ground into these surrounding structures, as well as issues around the responsibility of those structures to support the artist. Through ODDO Zaltash single-handedly engaged more than 7000 residents in talking about resilience in just 16 weeks. Sadly, and seriously, this was to the detriment of her wellbeing. This shows that it is possible to creatively engage people in resilience but asks, at what cost and with what support? Could the 44
solution draw on the resident-led gifts and actions of ABCD, catalysed by a participatory artist but with the support of an organisation? The following sections explore these questions. 6.2 A change of tone: the need for more accessible resilience communication The
communication, and decreasing accessibility and focus on community engagement (Cousins; Toy) is significant when discussing how to catalyse more climate resilient communities. This paper argues that higher levels of resilience communication need to be fully, publicly accessible as well as incorporating and advocating for community development to help catalyse action from the ground up. This is an integral part of the critical pedagogy discussed earlier: communities need to be active participants, advocators and producers of action. While ABCD could encourage this process, as we found in the literature review, wariness must be given to whose agenda this is serving (Barr and Pollard, 2016). More resilient communities are more connected communities as we now see. Connected communities can call on help from their neighbours, are less service dependent, are more self-sufficient (Russell, 2015) and therefore more likely to not only survive, but thrive (Diprose, 2014) in the face of uncertainty. For example, after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, in a true AssetBased approach the Vietnamese community saw the need to rebuild and replace infrastructure themselves, led by local priest Father Vien Nguyen (ARUP, 2014c, no page): â€˜By resuming masses at the church, Nguyen helped restore a sense of normalcy and reminded residents of their cultural and historic ties. Residents bartered with one another to make repairs; local electricians and roofers traded services to help restore one anotherâ€™s homes, for example.â€™
The sharing of this example is also a case in point around the accessibility of understanding resilience. ABCD practices storytelling to share its impact (Russell, 2015), which is arguably more accessible to the layperson than deconstructing
Framework (ARUP, 2014d) summarised in Figure 10. Cousins admitted they were considering alternative ways to communicate the strategy and highlighted
Figure 10: ARUP’s City Resilience Framework (ARUP, 2014)
her concern around the relevance of the framework’s language too, where political terms like ‘empowered stakeholders’ (ARUP, 2014d, no page) have little relevance for the general public. The need for a more relatable, publicfacing approach with more accessible language is clear: to find a useful way to talk about complex interactions (Cousins). The contradiction of using participatory approaches in marketing should be acknowledged here, but this
example is used as its focus on resilience is for community benefit. Cousins describes the 100RC approach: ‘It's not saying “Be prepared for this earthquake” with emergency planning saying “You need this, this and this and hide under the table” […] but more saying “How are our communities ready to face whatever the world might throw at us?”’ Perhaps a rephrasing from global to local language would be more apt to inspire community action – ‘how is my community ready to face whatever the world might throw at us?’ After all, as we found in the literature review (Lazier, 2011), we are within not with-out. 6.3 Experienced barriers in engaging Bristol’s communities in resilience Bristol’s commitment to the 100RC programme is to create a 50-year strategy for the city ‘to get a deeper understanding of what our shocks and stresses are and then to create a response to that’ (Toy). Of course this is not without its challenges. Toy identified key issues in her two year role as: having different skills to those necessary to engage communities; inconsistent crossdepartmental support within the local authority; lack of resource for delivery; and the academic exclusivity of the programme itself, saying: ‘[…] a few people really think it is very interesting and everyone else thinks “Well what the hell are you on about?”’ Toy was aware of the need for an artist to specifically support creative engagement of communities in resilience, quipping: ‘I'm just an engineer - I don't know how to engage with people!’ She recognised the value of Zaltash’s ODDO, which she supported throughout (Zaltash also mentioning her appreciation of Toy’s support), although admitted they could have done more with it: ‘[…] when I started to hear about [ODDO] I thought: “This is amazing because she is doing the thing that I know I can't do” - which is really being out there, using the "R" word [resilience] but in a completely different way - really bringing people to her.’ The lack of resource for delivering the programme prevented Toy being able to engage communities as much as she had planned to. After an unsuccessful 47
later attempt to ask for cross-departmental support to invite community representatives to a resilience event, Toy said: ‘I realised again the mechanisms or the reach that I had wasn't good enough to really engage people - it was feeble - like putting a magnet and trying to pull a car!’ Toy recognises that she has also unintentionally perpetuated the (anti-ABCD) service-led model, but concluded: ‘If I could change the world it would be that every professional is required to work with the community right the way through - not when they are about to say something.’ 6.4 One artist, 7000 engagements: the extraordinary case of One Day Day One Artist Sara Zaltash opened up the conversation on resilience with Figure 11: One Day Day One dome (Zaltash, 2015)
public touring featuring
futures (Figure 11), and an iPad for participants to record their video hopes for ‘one day’ inside (Figure 12). Zaltash condensed the definitions of resilience Figure 12: Film still of residents recording their messages of resilience in One Day Day One (Zaltash, 2015)
question: ‘One day our world will change. What if today
were day one?’ (One Day Day One, 2016). For Zaltash, inviting participants to simply consider their future was part of the solution: ‘The way that people think about their future is a way of them becoming more resilient to the future that's coming.’ In just 16 weeks ODDO reached well over 10,000 people: an estimated 7000 whom people Zaltash personally spoke to; 1800 residents who recorded a video; and extensive online engagement. This achievement is even more 48
remarkable when compared to the BCC Community Development Team’s 3000 yearly resident engagement target (with nine full time posts)23 (Black, 2016) and Toy’s estimate of her engagement as Chief Resilience Officer with around 1600 people24. Zaltash admits: ‘It's good right? 8 - 10,000 people [engaged] for £15,000. And basically one full-time staff member [laughs].’ This quantitatively shows the potential impact a creative project can bring to engaging communities which, had it been more connected and supported by the local authority and 100RC, could have helped widen their reach too. Zaltash outlines visual and interactive elements of the project as part of the appeal: ‘[…] it was something free, it was interactive, something different and it wasn't trying to sell you anything. And the dome was really colourful, and it had this multigenerational invitation as part of it...’ This interactive approach is in line with ABCD as it enables the citizen-producer. Zaltash is facilitating an artwork ‘with not for’ (Cahill et al., 2010; Freire, 1972) communities through involving people in the private recording of their own video, recorded and contributed by residents themselves, albeit within the creative framework Zaltash developed and facilitated. The ODDO approach meets Diprose’s earlier critique of resilience and call to be the change we want to see (Diprose, 2014). Zaltash synonymously referenced the well-known Gandian philosophy as she described ODDO as attempting to promote self-led change in participants. Residents taking action is much harder to gauge than the ABCD aim of connecting residents. The piece does aim to draw commonalities between people, however, which is a stepping-stone in identifying community assets (Russell, 2015). Zaltash expanded: ‘The more people saw that someone who they didn't know, in a part of the city that they never went to, was actually having the same ideas, fears, hopes that they were, the more they would feel that they could be more resilient for the times to come.’
It should be noted that this is the target and is often surpassed, but here is used as a point of comparison to the ODDO impact. 24 Toy’s engagement estimate was from the start of her role in February 2015 to the time of interview, May 2016.
6.5 Conclusion This chapter has shown that ODDO made a significant contribution to aid public understanding of resilience through encouraging residents to directly consider their own resilience and hopes for their future, akin to an ABCD approach. This participant-led reflection is essential to understanding resilience, drawing it away from the organisation and out from the community (Russell, 2015). We have seen that the support of larger organisations could have produced more beneficial two-way relationships – the artist making citywide initiatives accessible, widening their reach through connecting and engaging residents, and the organisation giving the artist financial and mentorship support. This is reflected in ABCD’s three key pillars of ‘gifts’ – individuals, associations and institutions (Kretzmann and McKnight, 1993; Nurture Development, 2016a) – which ODDO has started on the path towards. Figure 13 proposes a model for climate-related participatory art support, engagement and outcomes informed by this chapter’s learning to help catalyse more climate-resilient communities.
Figure 13: Climate-related participatory art support, engagement and outcome model
7. Can participatory art make climate change accessible and engaging? 7.1 Introduction This chapter asks whether participatory art can make climate change accessible and engaging, more explicitly exploring how participatory art can use ABCD methodologies to inspire community action on climate change. It uses artist/interventionist Eve Mosherâ€™s (see Table 1, section F) HighWaterLine (HWL) as the structure for the discussion, a participatory public artwork that invites communities to draw projected sea level rise as a blue chalk line around their local area (Figure 14). Informal conversations with
Anna Wilson, artist and local
UWE Research Fellow in
Floods, Figure 14: Participants drawing the HighWaterLine in Bristol (Wilson, 2014)
Manager. These conversations revealed the significance of participatory art inspiring the citizen-producer, the artist producing work as a resident in her own local area; the replicable nature of the artwork and its additional function as a tool for community development, climate change awareness raising, and community action on increasing local resilience.
7.2 Visualising climate data onto the public realm with the public Visualising climate change in the public realm is not a new idea, having taken various guises over recent years (Hawkins, 2015). From Michael Plinsky’s sea level markers Plunge25 (Plinsky, 2016) to Olafur Eliasson’s melting iceberg Alarm Clock (Ice Watch Paris, 2015), it all too often draws on the imagery clichés which Climate Visuals found to be mostly uninspiring (Corner et al., 2015). Visualising climate data with the public is less common. HWL is one significant anomaly. HWL was originally established in Mosher’s own community in New York, where she used a sports pitch marker to draw over 70 miles of blue chalk line around flood-prone areas26, aiming to: ‘give [people] a chance to visualise climate change and […] have conversations that were outside of the holes of science or spaces of activism.’ HWL’s second phase went beyond those conversations to actively encourage the creation of a community of people in other cities, coming to Bristol in 2014. This is a rare claim for a participatory artwork: not only engaging the existing community but also aiming to create a new one. After parts of the New York HWL were submerged in October 2012 after Hurricane Sandy, Mosher’s work was seen as: ‘an innovative way to visualise the future impacts of climate change’ (Morris, 2014, no page) – a suggestion that there is a need for participatory art to bring climate change into the public realm, with the public. Similarly to Zaltash’s decision to ‘start making [work] about the world’ Mosher decided to shift her practice from ‘abstractly talking about nature and the environment’ towards making ‘issue-oriented work’ looking at our direct environmental impact. Mosher’s research into her local climate-change impacts revealed a 10 foot above sea level line, previously a 100-year flood zone, which was projected as happening every 4 years in the worst case climate scenario which Mosher believes ‘we are pretty much locked into now’. This line evolved into HWL, through stages of ‘anger, understanding and curiosity’: ‘[I] came up with this idea of using a court marker to do a freed up process of thinking about the project and writing for friends when I 25
In this case showing projected sea levels of the year 3012 through installing blue lights on monuments of London (Plinsky, 2016). 26 Mosher used USGS Topographic maps to inform the position of line itself (Watts et al., 2014).
realised: wait a minute this is actually awesome! This is an amazing opportunity to talk to people because I am going to be going at a pace that is conducive to conversation and I can just walk and talk with someone. I have this thing that is going to draw attention to me because I am drawing this blue line across streets and sidewalks. So [HWL] evolved from being an artist making a visual mark to an artist making a mark while having conversations.’ The realisation of participatory art as a public conversation starter is key to the success of HWL in engaging communities, and another example of participatory art using this ABCD and Freirian methodology of listening and exchange (Freire, 1972; Russell, 2015). ABCD and climate change have an interesting relationship: the ABCD approach pioneers citizen-led action on issues of concern to them (Russell, 2015) but, as the literature review raised, how can citizens take action on climate change if they are not aware of its potential impacts? HWL shows participatory art using ABCD methodologies could offer a solution. 7.3 The need for an engagement ‘hook’ This paper argues that there is a need for a ‘hook’ to engage people in climate change or indeed ABCD conversations, such as a creative event, project or activity. HWL provides an interesting example through the public drawing of the line using a pitch marker. Participants said that not only was drawing the line enjoyable (Leach) it also gave them: ‘the sense that it was drawing people to it to have conversations’ (Everett). This process became the focus of HWL which, this paper argues, outweighs the aesthetics of a simple blue line chalked across the city’s pavements. Similarly, to learn the physical and social ‘assets’ latent within a community, community builders begin ‘learning conversations’ (Russell, 2016). These conversations can be held on a doorstep, in a café, at a community centre or any other public or semi-public place where a resident might be. However, they can be challenging – both to conduct and receive, partly because they begin in such an open way, which, in my experience, can sometimes lead to confusion. The process of HWL provides a ‘hook’ as an alternative approach to learning conversations, led by residents themselves (again see Figure 14), so the 54
platform of a participatory artwork could offer a more accessible way to encourage resident-to-resident conversation. As Mosher says: ‘the power of one-to-one conversations cannot be underestimated.’ 7.4 A local application of global concern: flooding and HighWaterLine in Bristol Reflecting an ABCD approach, where the call has to come from the community (McKnight in Russell, 2016), Mosher says: ‘The first thing you want to do is always ask members of the community: do you want to do this project? We don't want to come in and push it.’ In Bristol, this desire for HWL did indeed come from the community, where flooding from the River Avon after a storm surge in January 2014 caused widespread concern amongst residents but left the question of what to do unanswered. Affected resident Anna Wilson (2014, no page) found HWL as a potential solution: ‘As the last high tide flowed out to sea in mid March we felt relieved, but confused. We thought we understood the river and the risks. A few days later I came across HighWaterLine by chance and felt I had found a way to answer our questions.’ Wilson became a local champion of HWL, working with a group of residents to answer these questions, which she outlined on her HWL blog (Wilson, 2014, no page): ‘What threat do changing water levels bring to communities at risk? What can communities do to help themselves and inform others? What can we do to get the authorities to work with us on solutions and treat us as equal ‘experts’? Here in Bristol we believe we have found a way to work together and we want to continue sharing our knowledge to help communities build resilient solutions and share our experiences with the world.’ This illustrates the residents’ desires for climate knowledge, ownership and action and treatment as experts themselves. Their quest to disseminate their own climate knowledge through the project shows that participatory art can use ABCD methodologies to catalyse more climate-resilient communities (reflected in Stage 6 of the model proposed in Figure 16). 55
7.5 The move away from the expert Through the residents’ ‘experiential learning’ (Mosher) the role of the “expert” was passed to the layperson as their own knowledge increased and they took public, visible action. The participatory and creative process facilitated by the artist is vital however – the role of “expert” does not automatically transfer, it must be vacated. From an ABCD perspective, a difficulty in a themed approach is that it attracts those who are interested in the subject and have shared values as discussed earlier. This could avoid reaching a wider audience and limit room for disagreement and other voices. More research is needed to investigate participation and community building around resistant communities. For example, some participants in HWL were already active in climate change circles, such as those from UWE and BCC. However this knowledge, in ABCD terms, is also an ‘asset’ – a gift from an individual, in an association, from an institution (Kretzmann and McKnight, 1993). 7.6 Artwork replication and artist ownership Mosher actively promotes HWL as a model for communities to facilitate through a downloadable Action Guide (HWL, 2016b) – see Figure 15. The Action Guide (Watts et al., 2013-14, p.4) clearly states its intention: ‘educating and activating communities to reduce CO2 emissions, and to advocate for adaptation, mitigation and resiliency’. The guide (Watts et al., 2013-14, p.8) shares an ABCD approach of creating resident agency: ‘[…] agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. In the case of this learning guide, Mosher wants to inspire agency in all individuals who recreate her HighWaterLine as a social practice artwork.’
Mosher is now working on a new guide with a more community-development focus27, showing her determination for HWL to be adopted and adapted by communities.
Figure 15: HighWaterLine Action Guide, screenshot of pages 14-15 (Watts et al., 2013-14)
Figure 16 (overleaf) illustrates a model of the stages of artist ownership and climate knowledge transfer in participatory art, of which Mosher used stages 1, 4, 5 and even 6: inviting the community to take part, sharing and building climate knowledge together and giving the community ownership under her guidance, the community facilitating the artwork themselves with hands-off support
At the time of writing, November 2016. See HighWaterLine.org for more details.
Figure 16: Climate-related participatory art: stages of ownership and knowledge transfer
7.7 Conclusion HWL has shown that participatory art can use a curiosity-provoking public process (or â€˜hookâ€™) to simultaneously be led by and further engage communities, deepening and exchanging their own climate knowledge and awareness. This has the potential to lead to community development as the artwork connects residents around a common theme, which is what ABCD practises. Following up with residents and mapping resulting connections and climate understanding would be necessary further research to solidify these findings, and questioning whose agenda remains critically paramount. The HWL model is nonetheless an innovative case study, spearheaded by an artist who understands participatory art, climate change and community development.
8. The importance of legacy 8.1 Introduction This chapter examines the importance of legacy, reflecting on the interviews discussed to decipher how it applies to both participatory art and ABCD when aiming to catalyse more climate-resilient communities. 8.2 Legacy of creative outcomes Zaltash’s ODDO had a virtual legacy of 1,800 video recordings, the website and app. Creative outcomes, whether physical or virtual, have to be planned for however, as Zaltash had no outlet for these after the funding ended. Institutional support could help to negate this issue (Zaltash mentioned the project being ripe for a PhD student to take on), but the unpredictable nature of participatory art may not always allow for such organisation. 8.3 Legacy of greater collaboration and policy shift Corner hopes Climate Visuals could strengthen ties between academics working on similar research or encourage key NGOs to make a shift in policy, using the research as an evidence-base for guidance on which images to use in campaigns. 8.4 Legacy of measurable action, democracy and knowledge sharing Cross’s UAL Fossil Free campaign has achieved a legacy of divesting £3.9million but he hopes to see full divestment. Cross has ambitions to make the process more democratic: ‘[…] I think the legacy will be opening up a strategic decision making processes of the University to participation: not just consultation but proper democratic participation by staff and students’. This embodies elements of ABCD, allowing a process to be shaped and developed by and with those impacted and involved. Cross’s pedagogic practice demonstrated the importance of knowledge exchange, which would also apply to using participatory art to create more climate resilient communities. 60
8.5 Legacy of infrastructure change In the 100RC programme some cities will maintain the post of a Chief Resilience Officer after the two year funded period, where infrastructure is already in place (Cousins). The overall legacy of the programme is undetermined and will vary from city to city, but Cousins says there is an overall hope for a shift in citywide thinking about resilience. At the city-wide level Toy said that, while Bristol will continue to commit at least 10% of its budget to ‘resilience’, there will not be funding continued for her role. It is also currently28 unknown as to who will adopt the resilience plan, but she hopes for a political legacy. The translation of understanding resilience at a community-level, as demonstrated by Zaltash’s ODDO, could also inform this shift in thinking and political legacy - if the right support structures are put in place. 8.6 Legacy of a model shift and planning past the finish line HWL projects its legacy as a shift from being the impetus of one to one conversations towards becoming more of a community development model, inspired by Mosher’s experience in New York: ‘I was like, “Wow, I have all this information and this experience - what do I do with that? Where does it go?” And [I was] going through the process of thinking about how might another place might take it on and it became more about individuals learning and growing together.’ Mosher also described actively planning a project legacy as essential: ‘Heidi [HWL coordinator] has this wonderful coach - she ran crosscountry in High School and the teacher always told her not to run to the finish line but to 50 yards past. So I was like: “Let's plan the project for 50 yards past the finish line”. We are not going to plan the project for 'the drawing of the line'; we are going to plan for what happens after.’ Drawing on ABCD methods of building trust to inform a legacy, HWL showed that:
At the time of interview, May 2016
‘Once that community is formed there is enough cohesion and shared trust and support to continue working together beyond the moment of marking the line.’ Two participants of HWL in Bristol went on to create artwork around flooding on the Somerset levels with the communities affected there (Brice, 2014), demonstrating another potential impact of participatory art using ABCD to catalyse more climate-resilient communities. 8.7 The challenge of monitoring and evaluation Monitoring and evaluation is somewhat contradictory in a Freirian / ABCD approach as it is about proving the value of the work primarily for financial longevity rather than social liberation. If the monitoring can show how the community themselves are producing the work using their own (social) assets, it would link to McKnight’s (McKnight in Russell, 2015, location 826) more sustainable approach: ‘[…] an asset is the opposite of a grant. It starts small and, if you connect it well, it ends up big.’ Zaltash highlighted the challenges of monitoring the impact of creative projects: ‘[…] we don't measure it, we don't know how. We don't bother to; we don't make enough of an effort to. It's a complexity you know’. Mosher said that they ‘collect anecdotes and experiences’ rather than conduct formal monitoring. Zaltash highlighted the value of anecdotal evidence, describing an autistic, deaf Muslim boy responding to her performance of the Islamic Call to Prayer at Sanctum29 with a thumbs-up: ‘And that was better than any review, any critical response, any further bookings that you could get, this deaf kid being like '[thumbs-up] Like what you're doing babe!' I was like 'Yes!’ There's no way of measuring that is there?’ 8.8 Personal wellbeing as a participatory artist Zaltash admits her approaches to her own wellbeing during ODDO ‘were shockingly bad’. After not receiving funding for volunteer support, Zaltash describes continuing regardless - working 60-hour weeks and every weekend 29
Sanctum was a performance space and series of events curated by artist Theaster Gates held in Bristol 2015 (Gates, 2015).
for four months, transporting a 25kg kit, meeting up to 700 people per day and trying to genuinely engage them in the project. Zaltash explained: ‘[…] at the end of that, I was deeply traumatised, in a way that really I've only just started to come out of in the last couple of weeks. ODDO broke me’. This is significant in terms of the potential negative legacies of participatory art, and shows the lack of support structures or shared responsibility and accountability of those surrounding her. The context of climate resilience also had an impact, infiltrating other areas of her life, and taking over more than just ODDO: ‘Everything that I was learning [about climate change], the despair and the hope, was going into trying to create ODDO so that it could bring about the change that I wanted to bring about, which was to get people to think more resiliently about their futures. And everything, everything, I did became about that.’ ABCD approaches also advocate that the positioning of oneself in the community is of vital importance to building trust, relationships and learning about the community (Russell, 2015). Even from ODDO’s relatively short timescale in each community, Zaltash found this too, and now gets recognised by residents across the city. 8.9 Evolving, moving on and handing over Corner described wanting his research project to be taken on by others: ‘[…] I feel like these things are to catalyse stuff. I don’t feel like they’re going to be there forever. So in five years it would be nice to think [the Climate Visuals research library] would be around and being used but I don’t know in ten years I almost want it to have been absorbed into other people’s practices. And pack it up and say “That was that”.’ This desire was reflected in many of the interviews. Cartwright described the limited timescale of WoR as having benefits too: ‘I think limiting it to eight issues is quite freeing in that we don't have to be a magazine forever and we can evolve as we see fit.’ Toy highlighted the importance of being able to move on: ‘I am quite output driven that's why I like a two year job because I know what I am trying to do. And at the end of it I think 'great I can move on now and do something else!'’ 63
Zaltash also wanted to move on from ODDO, and talked about selling the idea (her ‘baby’) to a start-up or collective as an alternative legacy: ‘Wouldn't that be great!? People are like 'aren't you worried about selling your baby?' And I'm like 'Nah mate! That baby is just starving in the corner - take the baby! Feed it, do whatever you want with it, have it as your own!' I've got more babies; I've got tonnes of babies!’ Handing over the artwork to the community is an important legacy in Mosher’s HWL as discussed in Chapter 7. This is essential in the process of participatory art catalysing more climate-resilient communities – allowing them to become part of the legacy, and inform the future of the work itself. Mosher also wanted some distance: ‘Ultimately I think HighWaterLine is an amazing project and every time I am involved with it I am optimistic but it is not what I want to do all the time.’ The desires interviewees shared to move on from their projects were unprompted but came up in the majority of conversations, illustrating the importance of a project timeline and structure – something that ABCD does not offer. Again this supports the argument for a combination of participatory art and ABCD – participatory art, with permission from the community, putting the wheels in motion and setting a flexible structure, ABCD allowing the community to adopt aspects of it and define their own ongoing practice and legacy. 8.10 Conclusion This chapter has shown the challenges around legacy when attempting to catalyse more climate resilient communities: planning for project outcomes, collaborating, sharing knowledge, rebelling, hoping and moving on. Corner summarises: ‘You're trying to light a spark aren't you? So that then it catches momentum… It can’t be possibly say what will happen, but you've hopefully lit it in a way that sets it on the right path.’
9. Toolkit of recommendations 9.1 Introduction This chapter synthesises this paper’s learning to propose a toolkit of recommendations around how participatory art might use ABCD methodologies to help catalyse more climate-resilient communities. This toolkit is designed to encourage the trial, test and critique of these ideas in the real world: to share learning, to broaden the conversation and to take action. This toolkit includes a shareable summary page (Figure 17). R1: Listen to the community and ask what they can do When working in a participatory way with communities, listen to the people you are engaging and ask them what they want – but be aware of your own positionality and voice. Mosher has been an advocate of pairing participatory art practices with community development techniques through HWL. Mosher advocates one-to-one conversations and listening as essential parts of the process: ‘Stop talking; start listening. Learn from people who are living with the [climate] impacts, listen and learn from their stories, their experience, and then as an artist, know that you have something to offer, to help, but you have to deeply understand collaboration and cooperation to create longer term engagement. These slower processes are what we require to really shift the conversation and de-politicize the issue. Don't tell people what they need to do, ask them what they can do…’ Asking communities what their skills, gifts and interests are is a core aspect of ABCD as mentioned in the literature review (Nurture Development, 2016a; Russell, 2015). This becomes even more poignant in a climate-context, as we saw with the New Orleans example in Chapter 6. R2: Gain permission, build trust, participate and share your story Only begin working with communities who have given you permission to do so, spend time building relationships and trust with those you are working with, and share your own stories, as Mosher explains: 65
‘Drawing the line was like this amazing moment. We have all these workshops that lead up to it when we are talking and we're planning and we're strategising and we are telling our stories and all these kind of things but the physical action of drawing the line is this amazing moment of: “Hey we all experience this crazy wonderful thing together, and now because of that we move the level of community trust. We told our personal stories, we've drawn the line together, so we now have a built level of trust with one another”.’ R3: Provoke curiosity through the artwork – what is your hook? Invite people into the artwork, do something unusual, disrupt routines. Both Mosher’s and Zaltash’s pieces provoke curiosity out in the public realm through using ‘hooks’ (as discussed in Chapter 7) such as the process of painting the water line using the sports pitch marker (Mosher) and popping up the geodesic dome (Zaltash). Both were free, interactive and were not commercial as Zaltash highlighted in Chapter 6. R4: Share and build climate knowledge collectively Thoroughly research the climate facts and figures behind your projects from valid, scientifically-sound, peer-reviewed sources, and share and build this knowledge with participants – their local knowledge and insight is as valid, if not more so, than any external “expert” knowledge, as Wilson (2014) identified. Cross used his position as lecturer to share his climate knowledge, but the invitation to do so came from the student community, where they learnt and built new knowledge together reflecting both ABCD (McKnight in Russell, 2015) and Freirian methodologies (Freire, 1970; Ledwith, 2005). R5: Partner with others and build your support network Build a support network around yourself through inviting others to come on board, asking institutions to offer support beyond financial help - such as volunteers, including you in their lone working policy for the project duration or lending resources. As Edwards said: ‘If you don't ask the answer is always no.’ Partnering with institutions can also help raise awareness and support the validity of the project (Zaltash), or could lead to collaborative opportunities.
R6: Know it’s ok to just be an art project! But be aware of your role… Being an art project with a beginning, end and defined structure is ok. Keep your project to the scale you can manage and are happy with to avoid ‘burnout’ and make it sustainable for you. Mosher described her decision around HWL staying as an art project: ‘Creating projects that require a lot of support is something that would be better done by a Not For Profit. But I don't want to be a Not for Profit because that has a lot of bulkiness that goes with it.’ Keeping a critical perspective of your place in relation to society, funding streams, surrounding agendas and politics is also vital to understanding the how you and your project interconnect to the bigger picture. R7: Aim for the artwork to be sustainable Your project should aim to be as environmentally, ethically and economically sustainable as possible to have longevity and adhere to its own values30 - and importantly not do more environmental damage. Use environmentally friendly materials31, ensure the project has enough financial backing to support it as well as your own time, and change your plans if you decide it is not for you. As a single artist there is no one else to say no for you! R8: Catalyse! (Even in a small way) Your project might not change the whole world, but you have to start somewhere – as we saw in Chapter 5, drawing boundaries and identifying your Spheres of Influence (Martin, 2016) could help find a manageable starting point. Even if you spark a conversation between two neighbours, help give someone a new perspective on a local issue, or promote greater understanding of just one fact about climate change, that is a start and should not be dismissed as unimportant. R9: Evidence your impact but know why and who for Monitor and evaluate your work to build up evidence, tell its story and show its impact – but be wary of who this is for and why as discussed in Chapter 8. Where possible, use creative methods to embed monitoring into the project, such as a sticker vote system for question responses, audio or video recordings 30
If indeed those are its values! See Ethical Consumer (Ethical Consumer, 2016) and Cradle to Cradle (Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, 2014) to check products’ sustainability, and Julie’s Bicycle (Julie’s Bicycle, 2016) for environmental arts support. 31
of participant responses, people writing their feedback on a display or wall rather than on an un-engaging form. If participants lead evaluation it could help collect more honest responses and be a stepping-stone to handing over ownership to the community. R10: Have hope Hope is vital for dialogue and action, and hopelessness ‘is a form of silence, of denying the world and fleeing from it’ (Freire, 1972, p.64). Indeed, climate change and community building are unstable and unpredictable worlds, as Zaltash and many other interviewees have found. But, as Cross took it upon himself to catalyse action within his community, and as Mosher did in hers, they did so with hope. As Freire (1972, p.64) said: ‘Hope does not consist in folding one’s arms and waiting’.
Figure 17: Toolkit of recommendations
10. Conclusion 10.1 Answering our question This paper sought to answer the question: How can participatory art use ABCD methodologies to help catalyse more climate-resilient communities? We have seen that the single image can help prompt climate-related associations and awareness to an extent, but found it is more effective when locally relevant and coupled with a participatory approach to building climate knowledge. Involving the participant in producing images could deepen the process, and ABCD approaches to listening to communities could support it. We have learnt that institutions can both support and conflict with climaterelated participatory art, depending on the depth and adherence of their own values and approach to sustainability. Having an advocate championing climate-related participatory art and sharing their knowledge can help engage and inform others, and working within the institution provides a ‘boundary’ to the challenge. In ABCD, the geographic boundary of a community would provide a similar focus, and the involvement of local champions and promotion of creative ways to build knowledge together could help reach more people. The global, citywide and local approach to resilience around 100RC revealed that ODDO, a creative, participatory artwork, engaged more people in 16 weeks than the Chief Resilience Officer and the yearly BCC Community Development Team target. It found that a support structure is essential in safeguarding the artist, and could also lead to benefits for the supporting organisation. The use of ABCD methodologies, particularly connecting residents to take action, could have helped maintain and develop ongoing relationships with the 7000 participants of ODDO, illustrating the potential of participatory art to catalyse conversations around resilience. We have found that HWL resulted in a creative engagement model which hands ownership over to the community themselves, and again develops shared climate knowledge led by the community. Although this supports the argument that participatory art can use ABCD methodologies to catalyse more climateresilient communities, the lack of project monitoring – to see if participants’
adopted more pro-environmental behaviours or connected with neighbours for example - weakens the evidence. 10.2 Further research This paper has found that participatory art can use ABCD methodologies to catalyse more climate-resilient communities, but further research is necessary to explore outcomes. Investigating participantsâ€™ behaviours and understanding of climate change; mapping local connections and projects in defined geographical communities at risk of climate impacts would be interesting next steps. Contradictions in this question open other areas for further research: the conflict in the hierarchical position of the artist or community builder and their relationship to the communities they are engaging; criticality around whose agenda they are serving; allowing room for disagreement32 are just some of the crucial areas to investigate further. The role of participatory art in engaging communities in decision-making processes could be an area to explore these issues from. 10.3 Hope This exploration gives hope that a more collaborative and supportive process between artists, community builders, institutions, academics, scientists and communities could have real benefits for all involved. This could offer a more efficient
communities, encouraging citizens to become the producers rather than consumers of their own culture and future. I hope that the recommendations will inspire and encourage those working with communities around climate change: you are not alone, and you have to start somewhere. END
With thanks to Dave Beech for raising this issue.
Appendix A Transcription of interview with Eve Mosher [via Skype] 15.04.16 Eleanor Shipman: So to start with can you describe your practice and what you do and the aim of High Water Line please? Eve Mosher: Okay so I am an artist, I call myself an interventionist, and in general the goal of my artwork is to connect people with their environment, in particular urban environment, in a way to gain more engagement and more connectivity and a chance to be interactive in the experience. Experiential learning is an important part of my practice. ES: The other thing is the initial aim of HighWaterLine? EM: We like to talk about as HighWaterLine and HighWaterLine 2.0. So the initial aim of HighWaterLine that occurred in New York City was about giving people to give a chance to visualise [the impacts of] climate change and a chance to also have conversations that were outside of the holes of science or spaces of activism - just to really have a normal conversation that's not a lecture or something like that. That was really the initial intention of the project. As the project changed and developed and Heidi [Quante] came on board, it was about, for Heidi and I, the real audience and goal for HighWaterLine was to create an active and engaged community that was then going out and drawing the line. Then the important thing for us was to walk across a large geographic area which allows us to create space for people to interact who might not normally have some reason to come together. They are in different silos but they all have a shared experience by participating with HighWaterLine and therefore have a shared strength as a community to go forth and to do other things. ES: Thank you so much - you have covered quite a few of my questions! [laughs] Thank you I appreciate that. EM: That definitely is a summary version.
ES: We will delve into them a little bit further on. What kind of brought you, personally, to initiate High Water Line back in 2007 and did you have any idea of how it would develop and where it would take you? EM: No, the second part is no. I had been working primarily as a studio artist and I had come to a point where, on the one hand I didn't have a studio space so all of my work was existing in sketchbook form which actually meant they could be - in my mind - any scale or size! And at the same time I came across this one issue of Zero Magazine issued here in the US and it had these four articles which were all very powerful to me, one was the photo essay about the [inaudible], one was a story about Katrina one year later, and one was Sebastiao Salgado, the photographer, who presented a series of images of the Galapagos and talking about biodiversity, and the final one were these scanned documents for a report commissioned by the Bush Administration about climate change and the guy had edited it to soften the language and say that climate change would be an 'economic benefit' and climate change 'might happen' and the combination of all these things got me to this point of being really mad. Anger is an interesting motivator. At that point, I thought: I really have to shift my focus from abstractly talking about nature and the environment and to this very direct issue-orientated work that was looking at what the environment impact is of the things that we are doing. In thinking about that and all these really big projects that had a lot of different topics but I was like: 'what does it really mean for me locally? This is New York City - what does it mean when climate change starts to impact New York City?' So I started reading these reports and doing research - which I do a lot of now. One report I studied one report for very well known researchers at Columbia, Vivien Cornet, and Cynthia Rosenswag [inaudible] and there was another author in the paper and they were talking about all the different kind of impacts, there was a myriad of impacts all along the coast because of climate change here in New York City but the one thing they kept referencing was this 10 foot above sea level line. And how that is normally seen as the one hundred year flood zone, but with climate change - in the worst case scenario, which is what we are actually at this point locked into now - is that it would flood once in every four years so suddenly this line becomes inhabitable, unusable, unless you are thinking if it as soft, like a buffer zone. 73
I got really interested and I started looking at maps of New York City and looking at what does the template of the sea level line look like? And I realise that something that we do often in this day and age is that we use maps as this 2 dimensional format for understanding the world. The experience of looking at a map is very different from the experience of being out in that space which the map depicts. So it became really important to me to think about what does it mean to be in that space? How can you demarcate this 10-foot above sea level line? [I] came up with this idea of using a court marker to do a freed up process of thinking about the project and writing for friends when I realised: wait a minute this is actually awesome, this is an amazing opportunity to talk to people because I am going to be going at a pace that is conducive to conversation and I can just walk and talk with someone, I have this thing that is going to draw attention to me because I am drawing this blue line across streets and sidewalks, so it evolved from being an artist making a visual mark to an artist making a mark while having conversations. ES: Yes I love that - it is great. EM: Like anger and understanding and curiosity - these different stages, but that's without the long version... ES: Yes thank you. Would it be helpful for me to give you a bit of background of what I am doing at the moment? I am sorry I just launched in and I haven't really told you where it has come from other than briefly in an email. I can completely emphasise with what you are saying so when I first got with you last year I was doing a short course in Creating Sustainable Behaviour Change, so I wrote about HighWaterLine in that assignment which is just a quite short assignment then and this year I decided to do the full Masters because it was absolutely fascinating and I just thought - my background is in Fine Art and I focused on socially engaged art and practice that now as well, kind of through my consultancy but also on different freelance bits and bobs as well, and it is absolutely about being in the public realm and that opportunity for interaction is great and I think this doesn't happen enough in art really - so that is what I am an advocate for as well!
So through this Masters, as I said in my proposal, I am just trying to look at different projects which are addressing this in different ways and trying to find out if there are any common denominators that make kind of engaging community development but also participatory art and climate change related projects so it is great to hear more about the background of HighWaterLine because it absolutely is hits the mark, I think. So thank you. The next question is who were the key stakeholders in HighWaterLine you mentioned Heidi coming on board when did that happen? EM: She came on board in 2012 and she was going to do it in some other locations in a conversation with a Museum in Dublin and she wanted me to come over and draw the line, like to re-enact the project. But it didn't make a lot of sense to do thatâ€Ś ES: Oh, as a kind of performance piece? EM: Yeh - I learn the information and then I go away. But the reason it worked in New York is because I am a New Yorker, and I can talk to people about my city, so [I said] use the money which you would spend on me then let's develop a curriculum around it that you could use as a means of educators and you could get a group of students to participate and they learn to do research, and map making and public speaking and documentation and all these different things - and they can also tell their personal stories because they are doing it in their community! We have gone along this process and I have started to develop this idea of how other communities could undertake the project and then was approach by Patricia Watts about writing an Action Guide for taking up the project, she and I... The Dublin project ended up being cancelled because there was a severe flood in which four people died, and they felt uncomfortable taking on the project understandably. ES: Where was that one sorry? The Dublin one? EM: Dublin yes. So Patricia and I wrote this Action Guide which I see it like an intervention to the project, [inaudible] super in depth levels of community engagement. So Heidi and I met, she had contacted me after she had read about the flood in the New York Times and we became friends and started talking and we collaborated on something else and she called me up in 2012 75
and she said: 'I know you are working on this guide with Patricia, I would really like to think about how can we... this project would be so great for a community engagement, let's talk about how can we collaborate and do it!' I had also been working with someone in London about bringing it to London, she was like, 'let's go to London, let's figure out how we can get it to London and let's go to Miami!' So she came on board for what we call HighWaterLine 2.0 which is the really community engagement driven kind of project. So Heidi and I have been collaborators. What she brought to it all is her years of community engagement experience and knowledge and it became a project that really was about developing a community around the project with their own sort of flavour to it and so we then had these local coordinators who we worked with, so local managers. In Miami it was a woman called Marcia [inaudible]. It ended up being a situation where we were trying to find somebody to take ownership and she and I would act as consultants. Everybody we talked to, we like interviewed as project manager, somebody else that we were talking to in one of the other organisations was like: 'well they have a background in this...' or â€˜they may not work because they have this background...â€™ There were always these weird silos. Heidi sort of realised we need a totally neutral person to come to Miami because it was a really complicated place - and that person was Heidi! She worked there for four months, she hosted the workshops that we designed, and was doing all this work on the ground - she became the Project Manager. Martha ended up joining and continued to do the work after the project. In Bristol we were lucky enough to find Isabel Tarr, she took the project and really ran with it and Heidi and I acted as consultants and Heidi went over a couple of times and I went over one time just to help with some of the different aspects to the project and then Anna Wilson came on for the project a bit later and she is the one who, in Bristol, has continued to do things. ES: So hopefully I will chat to her a bit further. I did see her on the video actually, she sounded very engaged. EM: Yes she and I have kept in touch and we are working on stuff still. ES: So you created the guide, as you mentioned, which I think is a fantastic resource - are there any other ways communities who might not be online can get involved, or is it more as you do the project yourself, in the walks? 76
EM: I should mention there is actually a way more in-depth community guide that's being authored. There are a lot of people working on it: myself, Heidi, Martha, Isabel and Anna are all working on it. ES: Wow, amazing. EM: Almost to the point of getting it published and it will live online. Having said that, there are... Delray Beach is another community that is undertaking the project where Heidi and I really worked specifically as consultants. They had got in touch with me and wanted to do the project, and I helped them with grant writing and then Heidi and I join them for weekly calls so that became a thing where it wasn't as if they were following guidelines in the written documents and there is one aspect of people reading the guidelines and interpreting and doing, but Heidi and I are very open to acting as consultants for projects. Providing our experience. ES: Great, thank you. This might be a bit of a difficult question, I'm not suggesting you have the answer, but how does HighWaterLine approach connecting people's everyday behaviours to the climate change impact for sea level rise? Is that something is discussed as you go? EM: So: what is your personal story - why do you care? Why should this community care? - so how do you find your personal story in the community â€“ and: what can we do about it? [inaudible] So we use that style of storytelling in the work that is engaging in a way that people get involved in the action. We also use power mapping [inaudible], Heidi found a fantastic Reverend in a church that was underneath the line in the city of Miami and he gave a sermon on the rising water. He was really involved. So who are the influencers and how do you get them engaged? Those are the two mains things which come from a very clear community engagement background. ES: That is very interesting, we have a similar approach, and my other hat I work part time at Bristol City Council in the Community Development Team and we use an Asset-Based Community Development approach. I am sure you are aware of it, yes very similar, trying to tell stories and encourage and empower residents to take action on stuff themselves but obviously there is the flip side and the critique of going door-knocking and saying: 'I am from the Council and
residents going yeah what about our community centre that you have shut down?' or whatever. EM: Yeh - 'You are from the Council and you are telling us to do the work ourselves?' ES: Yes it doesn't go down well! But it is trying to find an approach that works with whatever community we are working in and trying to do it in as genuine a way as possible and to be honest it is very agenda-less in how we are trained and how we are taught - do you know Nurture Development? They are based in Ireland but they are an international organisation around community development and they are doing a 2-year pilot programme with us and training us in an Asset-Based Approach, it sounds like a very similar approach. Turning those stores and those kind of personal anecdotes into action is just so challenging isn't it? On your site around 'create your own' HighWaterLine - what are the options that are presented and what is the most common media? EM: So far the only thing is that has been used in the States is dry chalk [audio not clear] and the UK you don't use dry chalk stuff anymore and there is a sports field marking company outside Bristol and they use a wet paint material. We were talking to someone who worked in Vietnam on community engagement and we were like, what would you use there? Because the sports marker has more cultural significance in the US and the UK. I am sure there are a lot of sports fans who recognise it from their youth... So in other neighbourhoods we have talked about different methodologies, but the really unique thing about sports markers is they have that recognition and connection with people who are like: 'I remember somebody pushing that around' and somebody in Miami was like 'yeh I used to push that around'. These are weird little connections. It is sort of remarkable enough looking - that thing going down the street to attract people's attention, and it's slow enough moving so that people can walk along with you and make conversation. And stopping to refill it and that kind of thing, gives it the time for people to engage. We have talked about people carrying loads of blue ribbons or tying ribbons on trees... and we haven't come up with another specifically correct thing there, because we haven't really had to because the organisations we have been working with 78
have sort of shifted their focus. There has always [been] an openness. There are some people marking a line in the Pacific North West on unrelated art projects [which] have happened in a similar time frame. [Inaudible] And the good thing it that it is environmentally friendly, we try to have eco friendly materials. ES: It is interesting, I am really not a sports fan at all, so I just hadn't thought about the relevance of the sports marker to a US audience at all, or a UK audience. EM: That is a really big chunk of people that might just exist outside of typical environmental action. That's a whole other reason people approach it. ES: ...and perhaps just outside of an art audience as well. EM: Exactly. ES: That is amazing, that is really interesting. I was going to say as well the sports marker - it's kind of such a weird machine I think that even if you use that in Vietnam or somewhere where it wasnâ€™t so culturally relevant it would still maybe have the same or similar reaction. EM: Yeh. It would just be harder to get the materials! ES: Yes that is true. So what stage in the process do community participants come on board and how is it initiated at the beginning? EM: Usually pretty early. So every project has been is different. In Miami, Heidi and I started making phone calls and doing outreach like immediately. Because the first thing you want to do is always ask members of the community: do you want to do this project? We don't want to come in and push it. Izzy was from Bristol, so she started talking to people she knew: do you guys think it would be a relevant project for Bristol? Heidi and I spent a week in Miami, we had made a bunch of phone calls and we went to meet with the University of Miami [who] came on board as a partner really early and we went to small organisations [â€Ś] When we were at the University of Miami everybody was super enthusiastic about the project. We went around and had one-on-one meetings with an immigrants rights group, a housing rights group [saying] 'this is what we are proposing to do would you 79
guys be interested?' Not even, 'do you want to participate or not? But 'do you think the project is right for Miami?' And we got a wonderfully enthusiastic yes. Interestingly enough Izzy had had that with residents in London and the community you she was doing outreach into was giving a lot of push back, so she decided not to do the project [there] but she thought Bristol would really work, she went back to Bristol, where she was from and asked around. So that is why we ended up doing it in Bristol instead of London. ES: Oh I see - Bristol was the alternative. EM: It turned out to be, in a lot of ways, a much better space. In London they're going to keep adding to it [the Thames barrier and other flood defences] to protect it forever... and plus other cities are not getting funding because of that... You know. ES: Yes it is interesting and with Bristol it feels a bit more... the relationship with water is, as it says in your video, is a lot more tangible - you can see it a lot more. The London waterways are underground, hidden away, it doesn't feel like a big threat until you are right against the Thames and actually it really is a massive threat! It's so silly. EM: If you look at the flood maps for London the flooding happens much more in the southern part of London. ES: A lot of the area used to be Marsh it is crazy. EM: Anna is from Catford and my mother in law is just south of Catford and one of my husband's friends comes from Catford so whenever I am in London we stay in Catford. And she's like 'we need to do this project in Catford because that's what's going to flood!' In Central Park there is a little bit of flooding but most of the time it happens from outside the floodgate and pushes itself further south. So Catford is really vulnerable and nobody knows because you can't see it [laughs]. ES: I lived in London for 6 years. I studied there originally and I always lived south. It just feels slightly mad if you look at historical maps of London they didn't build there for ages and ages and then suddenly did and now it is snowballing... It's so stupid. Anyway I won't rant about London buildings [laughs]. 80
So in emails last year I was asking you about the project legacy and you mentioned a shift from HighWaterLine being the kind of impetus of one to one conversations towards becoming more of a community development model...? EM: Yes, that is still the case and I think some of that came from when I completed HighWaterLine in New York I was like, 'wow, I have all this information and this experience - what do I do with that? Where does it go?' And [I was] going through the process of thinking about how might another place might take it on and it became more about individuals learning and growing together and then Heidi coming on board with her... she's so about community engagement, she comes from that background and naturally you fit together. For me as an artist the participants were my... the first version, the interactions really were at the centre of the whole project, and then in HighWaterLine 2.0 the participants became the real audience for me... Like how do we work together to collaborate and create something that allows you to move beyond the experience of drawing the line? Drawing the line was like this amazing [inaudible] moment. We have all these workshops that lead up to it when we are talking and we're planning and we're strategising and we are telling our stories and all these kind of things but the physical action of drawing the line is this amazing moment of: 'hey we all experience this crazy wonderful thing together, and now because of that we move the level of community trust. We told our personal stories, we've drawn the line together, so we now have a built level of trust with one another. Heidi has this wonderful coach - she ran cross-country in High School and the teacher always told her not to run to the finish line but to 50 yards past. So I was like: 'let's plan the project for 50 yards past the finish line'. We are not going to plan the project for 'the drawing of the line'; we are going to plan for what happens after. Can we put in some plans and some funding to help support some communities beyond the project? So we raised money for Miami in order to keep Marta funded to continue to work on advocating and building the community and doing the other projects beyond the [HWL] project. A little bit of funding in Bristol, but not really enough support for Izzy and Anna [but there was] support from the Environment Agency and [inaudible] and Heidi and I just offered to continue the consultation. And it evolves - it doesn't mean necessarily 81
that they're doing HighWaterLine in other locations or anything it is that there is a community that's been built or there's something that has been put into the public narrative and [inaudible]. ES: Have there been any challenges in meeting the aims of HighWaterLine so far? EM: Yes - I think the fact that it takes a lot of work is challenging for a lot of communities, it is not the kind of public art project that can just be packaged, like 'here is the money come in and do it'. It [takes] more resources than a lot of institutions can put towards it. That is one of the biggest challenges - it takes a lot of work. To do it well, takes a whole lot of work and more than I think most people realise even when we talk them through: like 'this is what is going to happen' and they are like 'okay!' and actually doing it is really hard. So for me community engagements are really hard. You probably learned this working for the council! ES: Yes it is so tricky isn't it, I think for us as well... part of why I am trying to make the argument that art or something social needs to be the impetus to get people involved in their local area because our approach is just going up to communities and saying 'what are your skills, what are your stories, what are your passions, what are your ideas that we can then help support?' but yes there is no hook, and I think HighWaterLine also provides a really great way of starting to be that hook. EM: [inaudible] It helps people to feel that they are part of something. ES: Definitely. So if anything what would help HighWaterLine meet its aims even more effectively? EM: More funding [laughs]. That's always the answer! Creating projects that require a lot of support is something that would be better done by a Not For Profit. But I don't want to be a Not for Profit because that has a lot of bulkiness that goes with it [inaudible]. ES: It is a difficult place isn't it? So HighWaterLine is it a CIC? EM: It is just an art project!
ES: So it is not registered as anything? I have been having this with my own consultancy at the moment it is just me as a freelance artist basically, but then I am bringing in other freelancers to collaborate with and I am similarly not registered with anything yet - I might do. It makes you feel like it is not the kind of angle you want to take or it doesn't give you as much flexibility in the end. I can appreciate that. EM: Ultimately I think HighWaterLine is an amazing project and every time I am involved with it I am optimistic but it is not what I want to do all the time. Neither Heidi or I have any desire to spend a tonne of time to take it to another community, we are happy to do some consulting. But raises the funds that we went through for Miami and Bristol, we just don't have that capacity to continue working in that way. ES: Now that you have the kind of existing guide and the new guide coming out that it will be a more kind of...[hands off?] EM: Yes I think we would always like to remain involved to a certain degree because I think there are nuances of the project that you don't just simply 'do it!'. [inaudible] For the UK I absolutely connect them to Anna so she can give her personal experience and what she's learnt. ES: [cut off recording] If you could share one piece of learning from HighWaterLine what would it be? EM: Let me think, it could be the first what - the power of one-to-one conversations, that cannot be underestimated. I know we can't go around having one-hour conversations with everybody in the city. It is always astounding to be there for the drawing of the line, like the visceral reaction to a line drawn in a neighbourhood is amazing and you know it is not an exact line because it's parts are not exact [inaudible]. So the drawing of the line, the physical act, is more powerful than sometimes I give it credit for! We do all these workshops and telling personal stories and solutions and blah blah but like, literally just the act of drawing the line gives a greater voice than they realise they have. So they might be advocating for mission change in their organisation but then they go out and draw the line and they are seen differently by their own community as well [inaudible].
ES: It sounds amazing I wish I had seen it [being drawn]. I only moved to Bristol, I saw it drawn but I only moved to Bristol just after I think. Well I moved in June actually but I was commuting back and forth between here and London, I was still working in London for 8 months so I wasn't fully in Bristol until February. Last few questions, so what do you think the role of the arts are in inspiring public reaction in climate change are? EM: I think it doesn't speak from the high altar of science. It doesn't speak from a, sometimes alienating, position of activism because it is a different thing. It gives voice to invisible impacts... it gives visibility to invisible impacts. It gives a visceral sense of impacts. So one thing I feel is a problem in communicating around climate change is that we are not expressing enough [inaudible] about the danger, which is the thing that drives action. So the arts has an ability to express present danger. And activism knows how to lay the stepping-stones. So I think the visceral impacts [are coming] from a different place [than] these other places which seem more exclusive in different ways or alienating. ES: You mentioned fear earlier to climate change - how has this project informed that and been informed by that I suppose? EM: It has changed a lot over the years. In 2007 I felt like there was still some agency and I don't feel that anymore. I think we have gone so far down the path... I mean my big wish now is that we would call this a war. You know like you get the 'war on drugs' the 'war on poverty' - we need a war on climate change and we need all the executive powers involved in that. I do feel like it is still about individual actions on the one hand, but that doesn't stand up to the needs. So there is this really big thing that wearing your jumper in your house, instead of [inaudible]. Driving less and wearing jumpers in your house is not enough. If we all collectively did that it would have an impact but it needs to be concerted with these really big actions. END
Email responses from Eve Mosher on 15.04.15: ES: What is the most important legacy of HighWaterLine and how is its community resilience impact monitored? EM: This notion of impacts has changed (for me) over time. When I initially did HighWaterLine in NYC in 2007 it was very much about both one-on-one conversations and raising public awareness around regional climate change impacts and solutions (the roles that we can individually take). As I was invited by other communities, and subsequently worked with Heidi Quante to bring the project to other communities I realised that my own measure of impact was more closely related to the outcome in relation to the community building (of participants). So, in Bristol, we were able to draw together a previously unconnected group of people (those living in/near the flood zones all along The Cut and the Avon, as well as those concerned with climate change impacts and flooding). Once that community is formed there is enough cohesion and shared trust and support to continue working together beyond the moment of marking the line. We don't do formal measurements or monitoring, but collect anecdotes and experiences (we have a series of interviews with past participants). My personal interest was creating a lasting legacy and Heidi brought years of experience to help make that happen. ES: Do you think there is a place for the arts to help create climate resilient communities? EM: Absolutely. (I can share a presentation I recently have about that :)). Climate change is big, amorphous, daunting. Arts and creativity can make data more real, visceral, comprehensible. It can create a way into the conversation for a broader constituency by being non-threatening and more approachable. Plus it can be driven by the very communities feeling the impacts, can utilize their voices and stories and can happen out in the public. ES: What would your advice be for community development organisations or artists working on climate-resilience projects? EM: Whew. That's a hard question. I think the power of listening is vitally important. Stop talking; start listening. Learn from people who are living with the 85
impacts, listen and learn from their stories, their experience, and then as an artist, know that you have something to offer, to help, but you have to deeply understand collaboration and cooperation to create longer term engagement. These slower processes are what we require to really shift the conversation and de-politicize the issue. Don't tell people what they need to do, ask them what they can doâ€Ś END
Appendix B Coding database screenshot This database was created on Excel and sorted the comments from each transcription from Word into codes
interviewees. The 1093 codes were processed to find those most regularly occurring, which informed the wordcloud diagram and chapter question.
Figure 1.1: Coding database screenshot
Interview references Please note the interview transcriptions for this research are available on request. Please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cartwright, J. (2016) Interviewed by Eleanor Shipman. 05 April [by phone: audio recording and transcription]. Cousins, A. (2016) Interviewed by Eleanor Shipman. 31 March [in person: audio recording and transcription]. Corner, A. (2016) Interviewed by Eleanor Shipman. 01 August [in person: audio recording and transcription]. Cross, D. (2016) Interviewed by Eleanor Shipman. 30 March [via Skype: audio recording and transcription]. Edwards, M. (2016) Interviewed by Eleanor Shipman. 25 May [in person: audio recording and transcription]. Everett, G. (2016) Interviewed by Eleanor Shipman. 22 August [by phone]. Leach, M. (2016) HighWaterLine Participant Survey Response. 19 August [online form]. Mosher, E. (2016) Interviewed by Eleanor Shipman. 15 April [via Skype: audio recording and transcription]. Toy, S. (2016) Interviewed by Eleanor Shipman. 24 May [in person: audio recording and transcription]. Zaltash, S. (2016) Interviewed by Eleanor Shipman. 17 May [in person: audio recording and transcription].
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Swell, breach, absorb asks how participatory art can use AssetBased Community Development methodologies to catalyse more climate-resilient communities. This exploration is supported by eight interviews with professionals working in and around climate resilience and a literature review spanning participatory art, community development and resilience. The paper concludes with a toolkit of recommendations for artists and other facilitators who are seeking to creatively engage communities to take action on and understand climate change, becoming more resilient in the process. This research hopes to pave the way for greater collective action, crosssector collaboration and creative community development to connect and prepare people for climate change - the greatest threat to humanity.
How can participatory art use Asset-Based Community Development methodologies to help catalyse more climate-resilient communities?
Published on Nov 29, 2016
How can participatory art use Asset-Based Community Development methodologies to help catalyse more climate-resilient communities?