Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Climate change: who should we trust?

By Orla Price

On 30 September this year the Free Word Centre held a discussion on the topic ‘Trust and the environment’. The discussion centred on what sources of information we could trust in the face of climate change, and how education, the media, politics and the public perceived threats to the environment. What I found most innovative and indeed engaging about the nature of the discussions was the choice of speakers and the input from the audience. Chairing the discussion was comedian Tiernan Doueib, and the panel included seventeen year old student and activist Claudia Delpero as well as Tony Birch, an Australian novelist. Also, they happened to have me doing a poem.

Often when trying to access debates and discussions on political subjects we are confronted with ‘experts’, academics and politicians who distance us from subjects that affect us constantly. Speaking in languages of their own, these arenas become intimidating, we are made to feel opinions on these matters are ‘left to the experts’ fostering a culture of helplessness at best and complete detachment at worst. By the end of the discussion an audience member pointed out that if the opinions of front line communities that are experiencing the worst of climate change were taken more into account in the media, as well as having their opinions heard by politicians, the public would find it easier to trust the information about climate change and our future, and would then become more engaged with these issues.

Tommy Clark, "Harnessing Nature"
Taking part in this event and also participating in SHAKE! has shown me there are alternative ways to communicate, and that experiential knowledge and telling our stories can have as much –indeed, probably more- impact than passively listening to expert opinions purposely convoluted to distance us from engaging properly with important issues, just in case we pose a threat. 

We're told Change and flux are a part of nature

So nothing or no one can be sure

No magic calculator

Calculating the sums of the future

No equations to justify pure

So we go round in circles with no end

Inaction, the only theory to defend

Can't see the destination, this road has too many bends

People are showing us the answers

Others tell us to step back

Say we can't understand

Palms up, overturned hands

Cash is passed on

They're passing the blame on

Thinking how long this will go on

And I'm doing my bit

But truth is, I'm getting scared of the news

And truth is, I don't know what more I can do

Cause I'm following the advice

But the TV's shouting crisis

Worrying how much time there is

In a society with no off switch

So I'm doing my recycling

But they're making more packaging

Taking the bus to work

Elsewhere they're selling mercs

Checking the labels on my food, trying not to import

Climate refugees moving country, trying not to get hurt

Somewhere in the back of my mind,

I'm thinking it wasn't us that overstepped the line

We're coming to a point where doing our bits not enough,

There's got to be someone out there we can trust

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Why Do They Judge Me? New Rebels Ditch Bingeing for Bingo

We know we are lucky to be working with Dershe and Patrice from NuWave Pictures, not only are they great film-makers and facilitators, they always prepared to tell and show new stories and non-mainstream narratives through their work. We are proud to see their latest short film for Channel 4 do exactly that by challenging stereotypical perceptions of young people.

More info below from the Channel 4 Website and watch the film here

"Youth used to go hand in hand with rebellion. But Channel 4 News speaks to the Londoners playing it straight and challenging perceptions of what it means to be a millennial rebel in 2014.
Eat, sleep, rave, repeat, eat, sleep, rave repeat: just your average day in the life of an early twentysomething - if the myths (and Fatboy Slim) are to believed.

Despite plenty of studies showing that young people are skint, stressed out about the future and worried they will never get a decent job, they are still subject to perceptions that they are either lazy, or out to cause trouble. The recent 2011 riots, still fresh in people's memory, haven't helped the cause.
Generation swap - tune in to Channel 4 News at 7pm for more on the new millennials
Down at Bingo Palace, in the inner depths of Elephant and Castle shopping centre in London, Gary Dighton is there with his mum and for him, it's all about the win: "I'd prefer make money, than just go out and drink." The most he has won is £80, but this is a big club with national games - players regularly win up to £1,000.

He's close to his mum, and takes her twice a week for a night out. But just by virtue of being a hoodie-wearing 20-year-old, he says he rubs people up the wrong way. "People around where I live aren't very polite to me. It's their influences, they just think I'll be involved in crime or something," he said.

He's not the only one more likely to be down the bingo hall, than down the pub - and it's not just the hipster joints putting on bingo nights as an ironic nod to a bygone era. The Bingo Palace manager Patrick Kelly, who's also vice-chair of the Bingo Association, says the average age of players is getting younger.

"Young people are always attracted to clubs that are bigger, busier, and offer good money. It's like everything - it's about the atmosphere that goes with it," he said. "They come in the evening. People often meet up, and you'll see them moving from table to table. It's a very safe environment, especially for women.""

Headspace - Shake #5 Poem - "Dear Beauty in the Rubble"

Headspace: when we think about how the amazing capabilities of the mind to imagine and  agility of the brain to calculate, reason and deduce, we always imagine it to be an electrifying place to be. It should and always be.
Shake's Headspace 2014  is about how we connect with these abilities, how we learn and how the brain and mind should be maintained as healthy places. Shake thought about the brain and mind in relation to the human spirit and the well being of the body.
Environment and relationships will influence how the headspace interprets and creates the world we live in. So all that said what did Shake Headspace discover or reveal? 

For one week we explored how the education system and the environment young people learn. Often learning is exciting. Often they feel stressed and pressurised. We spoke about how when a regimented, conformist, often discriminatory  hyper-consumerist and oversexualised society becomes too much, confidence and esteem are so affected, the body will react. The human spirit might be distracted but the mind is an amazing thing and will create all kinds of coping mechanisms to keep the body alive and "safe". Here is where assessing and taking care of our mental well being comes into play. 
We heard stories of first hand experiences with medication for depression and many shared other less mentally aggressive means to get through another day. Sharing our day to day sanity self maintenance was one of the weeks highlights, along with the brilliant games to provoke discussions and debate which inspired some very cool creative work.

Through images, poetry and film, we unpacked one of the most crowded places on the planet - inside our heads. Orla Prices image, which we have used for all Shake August 2014 promotion, is a perfect illustration for our headspace inquiry.
Here is the video of Shake! poets group piece that the Shake! filmmakers produced with our brilliant film duo, Dershe and Patrice from NuWave Productions. 

"Dear Beauty" puts the system we live under in the spot light and praises the subtle energy of  the human spirit resisting modern day pressures.
Powerful stuff as usual...  

Dear Beauty Amongst the Rubble

Eternally conflicted
I pray for the day
They tell you that your beauty can only take you so far

I am breaking through
Burning up inside

The base of a tool you proclaim necessary
The weight of thousands on me
Lost on earth my forefathers reigned the land

My existence displaces that which came before me
abused so freely  with confidentiality 
you created me
A fever constantly rising 
you created me

Your power can beat me?

I might be forgotten, faded now
but the Earth used to be mine

yes I look happy, I feel yellow
But they don;t tell you without their version of beauty
you're given permanent scar

How does my thinness grow green out of this dense grey?

The wind blows the tune
The gentle flower dances happily