From countryside to coastline, East Devon is one of the UK’s most beautiful places where we are privileged to live and work. We wanted to ‘play our part’ and explore the most pressing issues of the Climate emergency with East Devon communities directly in their neighbourhoods in new and creative ways. We devised a campaign, educational and creative materials and public programme which encouraged new perspectives and tested different approaches to the climate emergency, helping us understand and adapt to our changing planet.
The vehicle to hold these ‘conversations’ has been our ‘Creative Cabin’ – a mobile creative space. This award winning project was conceived in 2020 at the height of the pandemic – taking art and nature on tour to communities most in need.
During the pandemic our Creative Cabin, took art and nature activities to 30 different rural villages, towns, schools and colleges. We had direct engagement with 2820 adults and 4066 young people during this period
In 2021 have also held Climate Conversations events with special guest speakers in Sidmouth, Exmouth and Honiton.
Although we targeted schools, community groups (eg. Memory Cafes) – during lockdown or in the early stages of lockdown easing these groups were really difficult to engage with – many schools wouldn’t accept visitors on site and couldn’t bring groups out in a minibus. Working outside with the Creative Cabin is great but if you are working with older folks who feel the cold a little more it is harder to make an outdoor space welcoming. So we have mostly focussed on community festivals and public summer events. We are looking forward to engaging more fully with volunteers and the vulnerable as the pandemic recedes.
Climate Conversations was developed within the context of East Devon District Council's commitment to Devon’s Climate Change Emergency declaration and University of Exeter’s declaration of an environment and climate emergency. We were working with some incredible artists – Richard Long and Mike Perry and wanted to take their practice and ideas out into communities and have a conversations about the climate emergency. We hoped through the lens of arts and culture, we could discover different perspectives and create new opportunities to help us understand and adapt to our changing planet.
We were inspired by the artists (Richard Long and Mike Perry) and designers we work with and support by environmental consultancy Resource Futures.
We also worked closely with Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Arts and Culture University of Exeter and Wild East Devon. It was very much a collaboration.
Going out to work with groups at a time when we were all mainly used to our own spaces was something of a challenge – the need to feel safe whilst also making sure that those taking part are safe (Covid-wise). Driving the Creative Cabin! The weather! The risk assessments for all these activities became much longer! But all those challenges were eclipsed by the joy of bringing simply activities that folks could then repeat or continue at home and not having to take money from people. Particularly during the pandemic – this was a real treat!
We wish we could have started sooner and taken the Creative Cabin to more places – looking forward to next year – with the renewed interest in helping the Climate. We feel really confident in our Climate Conversation messaging and activities and am hopeful that we will cover more ground in 2022. Really reaching the parts of the community that need this input!
- Number of trees planted during tree planning to off-set the carbon footprint of the Cabin on tour.
- Number of people who engage in the project – in 2021 it was 2820 adults and 4066 children, which is fantastic during a pandemic.