Storytelling for Sea Change – TEDxHermitage?!
On Thursday we transformed the community centre on Hermitage moorings to share stories and discuss how we can create great stories which drive a sea change in how we share our wealth around the world.
It was a blustery cold evening with ice cold driving rain but this was not going to stop our intrepid visitors from making it down the gangplank where a warm reception had been created complete with piping hot soup, sour dough bread, spiced apple juice and deadly caiprinha cocktails.
The evening opened with soulful shanties from the Ballina whalers. Shanties are working songs harvested from mariners at sea and as such are infused with tales of our maritime history. One song told the tale of the whaling ships which brought whale populations to the brink of extinction in our desire to fuel the street lights. In the 1870s London was one of the largest whaling ports in the world!
The Stranger Collective, a falmouth based communications agency chaired the evening first giving some background into how they use stories to create change giving examples of work designing materials for early diagnosis in psychosis patients. Using the creative process of storytelling to help them make sense of their experiences of psychosis, a film was created to help parents, family, practitioners identify the early signs of psychosis.
Chris Wainwright an artist and director of Cape Farewell, a project creating cultural responses to climate change presented a range of material created over the last 11 years of the project. In essence Cape Farewell takes artists, musicians, comedians, scientists, journalists on voyages to the arctic and challenges them to create specific works in response to their experiences there. Chris has worked with some really big names in the pop world including Jarvis Cocker, Katie Tunstell and Martha Wainwright.
Ian McEwan was one of the authors taken to the Arctic. McEwan wrote the bestseller Solar written after his adventures with Cape Farewell. Chris explained how it can be a challenge to fight the delicious pessimistic funks which can result from being faced with just how fast the Arctic is changing and the consequences for life on earth. In his mind the canary in the coal mine died in 1977. Climate changing is happening. Fast. Tipping points have been reached and significant feedback loops are already kicking in. McEwan is quoted as saying in a particularly pessimistic funk that he failed to see how we could solve climate change if the inhabitants of the Arctic base couldn’t even manage to find their own wellies…
Without doubt a magnificent body of work has been produced by Cape Farewell.
But I was left wondering why I hadn’t seen more of the work. As my friend Liv, a science teacher in London, pointed out “I work in a top london school, I’m concerned about climate change and love art. I’ve never heard of Cape Farewell before now”. Cape Farewell you need to spread your works!!
Sam Kimmins from the Sustainable Shipping Initiative at Forum for the Future took us on a journey of the dark secretive world of mega shipping. The size and scale of goods transported by sea boggles the mind. The ships are vast and fossil fuel hungry megabeasts. Sam explained how shipping has largely been ignored in terms of environmental campaigning because compared to flying it is very efficient form of moving goods around. Plus the IMO have done an effective job lobbying to keep shipping out of climate regulation. But with rising fuel prices and a changing climate this has changed. Forum for the future are taking the biggest names in shipping on a journey to sustainability, first making the case for action and then creating the space for innovation and collaboration.
Alex and I were up next with our tales of the New Dawn Traders with our dreams of our voyaging epicurious future.
“One morning on the docks of a coastal city somewhere around the Atlantic ocean, a farmer’s market is in full swing. It’s a lively and rustic gathering featuring stalls of locally sourced groceries, products and troubadours. Also on display are the green vehicles & slow travel devices used by these local producers to transport their goods to site.
The docks are getting crowded with visitors when a majestic tall-ship enters the harbour and approaches the quay. On a giant flag, people can clearly see the Sail-Cargo symbol that has been carried across the ocean.”
Alex shared how the dream started in Brazil on a cocoa farm and her first forays into the dream of transporting cocoa from the farm to europe to make zero emissions chocolate bars.
I gave the highlights of the voyage aboard the Irene and the subsequent reality checking of the last 6 months, as we have both explored the idea of creating our audacious vision for sail cargo slow food circus.
I explained my reasoning for joining the New Dawn Traders; that this presented a real and highly creative lifestyle whereby together we could create life pattern (paradigm) based on the wisdom of understanding interconnected ecological systems of which humanity is a conscious part. And do this through combining all the things I dearly love; sailing, food, travelling, new people and places, telling stories with the core purpose of inspiring a shift away from lifestyle based on fossil fuels.
“Inspiring change through adventures under sail”
Our idea is using the very action of trading by sail in produce, culture and ideas to reconnect and re-enchant people across the globe with nature, earth care and people share. Essentially the tenets of permaculture. But on the travelling community platform of a tall ship. We are currently making plans for our next research voyage which is planned for 2013-2014 in conjunction with another sail cargo company. Watch this space! Don’t want to jinx it by sharing too much now!!
After a good round of questions we rounded off the night with Theo Bard, his gorgeous voice and guitar.
A big THANKS to Biz Bliss, a Forum for the Future Masters Scholar, for curating the speakers Chris Wainwright from the Cape Farewell Project, Sam Kimmins from Forum for the Future’s Sustainable Shipping Initiative, and the New Dawn Traders. A big thank-you also to Clare and Lucy from Stranger Collective for introducing their inspiring work and chairing our discussion.
Also many thanks to the very fitting Hermitage Community Moorings event space, whcih swayed us through the night, and was elegantly styled by Becky McDonald. Becky also cooked delicious cheese scones to compliment my hearty soup made from vegetables ‘gleaned’ from the market and sail shipped spices. And the COCKTAILS! A huge big-up to Hal from Abelha Cachaca who plied us with delicious exotic caipirinhas! Hmmm they were great and oh so strong.
Last but not least a HUGE thank-you to all of you who came to hear our STORIES.
May the stories we share inspire us to re-enchant the world. Setting our course by the stars, hoisting our sails and sailing for foreign shores to sustain our abilities to care for our shared world.
Alex and myself are available for talks and events. Please do get in touch if you would like us to speak at an event or share our visions with you.