Since behaviour is contagious to the third degree, you don’t know which friends – and friends of your friends’ friends – might be moved, by your example, to also turn the page to the next chapter of the adventure story they were meant to live in mutuality with you.
Kare Anderson, Mutuality Matters (2012)
I’m looking forward to this Wednesday 11 March where I will be joining a panel for a discussion on Pathways Toward Sustainability – a joint initiative from the UCD Art in Science programme and The Lab Gallery (Dublin arts office). Each of the panel will be talking briefly from different perspectives, from the coast to the forest, from science to local authorities, which is so important as moving toward sustainability affects so many aspects of our lives.
I’ll be very briefly talking about the ‘culture of un-sustainability’ that modern industrial society is immersed in. And, how my modest project of transforming a small monoculture plantation into a forest is creating a ‘story’ that envisions deeper sustainability understandings and agency, to help us move away from the status quo of monoculture, industrial forestry. I will very briefly talking about how my own project connects with people from non-art areas: foresters, educators, writers, politicians, and some of the local people in the area the Hollywood project has touched.
I won’t be able to go into a lot of detail in my 10 minute talk but preparing for the talk I am reflecting on how the project is developing ‘lines of flight’. This is a term used by French theorist, political activist, therapist Felix Guattari who tried to simplify how we might move towards a more ecological paradigm. Simply put, he suggests that in regarding the complexity of ever-changing social and ecological systems, that we consider three interdependent spheres: the personal (our individual worldviews), the social and the environment. He argues how we need to change or relate differently to these ‘three ecologies” if we are to live more sustainably. He therefore placed little faith in technological fixes that did not attend to root causes of un-sustainability, such as erroneous views we might hold of nature as being an unlimited resource. He held great hope that eco-aesthetic workings (supported by new independent internet technologies), despite the unpredictably of creativity, were important cultural ‘nodes’ to develop new thinking, new visioning, which could transfer ideas of greater eco-social agency to audiences.
Guattari thought some eco-aesthetic workings have great societal value in their potential to inspire radical new “lines of flight”.
For example, from my first Hollywood workshop, a friend and neighbour, Nicola Brown, was inspired to plant some of her land after my first Hollywood workshop in 2008. Here below she talks about her interest in forestry – she knows a lot more now (in the video below I filmed her being interviewed by Jan Alexander, Crann founder and ProSilva Ireland past chair – an RDS Forest Award recipient).
Nicola soon after the workshop ‘borrowed’ my continuous cover ‘close-to-nature’ forester Chris Hayes. Now her forest is growing and supplying materials her own work as a leading eco-print fine textile producer and tutor (and in the future will be supplying her home fuel). See her gorgeous video of her work and her young forest below.
Another ‘line of flight’
Then last November, after giving my talk in Hollywood to local people, one of the attendees, Fritz Ringal, came up to me the next day, saying he was inspired from Hollywood talk to plant some of his land. I thought he might be just saying this (Fritz is wonderfully enthusiastic about a lot of things), but last month I got a call from him to come to his land to discuss ideas for planting with a local forester/ecologist and forestry contractor.
Holly and I were delighted! Holly loved running around this new site that will become a small woodland. I so remember how we lacked confidence in forestry to start – so many people told us to clearfell our conifers – what a loss that would have been. It makes all the difference when you have a network, even a small one, to give people agency and confidence to try new things. Holly and I will have to remember this as well, that:
Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up’ – O. Wendell Holmes