#FridayArt4Emergency: Lisa Fingleton’s annual 30-Day Local Food Challenge

It is not easy to eat local Irish food all year round and I know that. There are hungry months in late Spring when the food is just not ready after late frosts. So three years ago I decided to do a trial month: A 30 day local food challenge. September seemed a really good option as the garden is truly abundant with tomatoes, kale, spinach, herbs, peas, beans, onions, garlic, beets, carrots, parsnips and the list goes on. It is a luscious month in the gardening calendar. To eat Irish still means doing without what Barbara Kingsolver called ‘botanically outrageous’ foods, but it is somehow easier this month with all the food on offer in the garden and hedgerows.

Lisa Fingleton talking about the annual 30 Day Local Food Challenge

A creative eco-social art practice that I really admire is Irish artist Lisa Fingleton’s 30 Day Local Food Challenge. The creative idea grew several years ago when Lisa was horrified to read the 40 listed and many imported ingredients in a BLT sandwich, and then and there, decided to challenge herself to just eat local Irish food for a month. She then shared her challenge on social media and others became involved.

Growing up in a household where her father grew all their food and now living on a small farm with her partner in Co. Kerry, Ireland, Lisa’s creative practice awakens awareness of the unsustainability of the globalized food system for herself and her local community. Her work highlights the shocking statistic that only 1% of Irish farms grow vegetables, the lowest in the EU  (which is doubly shocking considering Ireland’s history of famine). Most heartening is that Lisa’s practice has uncovered and promoted networks of local food producers in a fun and engaging way.

Lisa brings many strands of artist activity together and through drawings, photos, keeping a diary, and great conversation fosters much needed community awareness about an urgent topic for us all.

Over time, Lisa’s 30 Day Local Food Challenge has developed considerable national press and radio attention. Lisa has since toured the project to other counties, conducted children’s workshops and created a very delightful, informative book about the project (which can be purchased from her website (http://lisafingleton.com).The-Local-Food-Project-Book-For-Sale

Three years later, this year’s 2019 Challenge is underway for the month of September and I’m happy to see the idea is catching on across the country. To join in, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/30daylocalfoodchallenge/

And, it is a challenge once you start, to only eat food from your country and forgo all the imported treats and exotic fruits. However, making decisions about your food does makes real how the industrial food model all too easily has alienated us from being sustainable and self reliant. When environmental writer Naomi Klein writes thats ‘everything must change’, Lisa’s work shows how creative workers can help communities foster ecoliteracy, fun and agency for a better world we know is possible.

 

 

#FridayArt4Emergency: ‘Solastalgia’ – the film

I have been thinking for some time, in my development of an online course for essential ecoliteracy, that I should begin sharing creative works.

Many people have asked me how to develop creative work for the ecological emergency that is not too preachy. This sometimes seems a hard thing to achieve with a complex topic in which many creative workers and their audiences are little informed of the environmental collapse that modern civilization promotes. In these urgent times, we need all types of creative approaches to envision and inspire a new ecological way of living, that safeguards lives now and for the future.

I also wanted to chime with Greta Thunberg’s extraordinary efforts, and many other young people across the world who are raising awareness that we must all understand the environmental science that confirms our way of living is causing accelerating ecological collapse and mounting social injustice in many countries. With Greta and the children schoolstriking every Friday, I will likewise post an art practice every Friday that I feel touches audiences and inspires creative workers too.

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For my 1st post of #FridayArt4Emergency, I’m starting with a new short film work that incorporates dance, spoken poetry, and audio-visual recordings of the other-than human world. The film work is titled Solastalgia (2019, Pascal Tremblay and Sean Stiller, British Columbia). The film embodies responses to a new term for the grief many of us now feel for our environment ‘solastalgia’, particularly highlighted these last few weeks with the devasting increasing deforestation and fires set off across the Amazon region.

Although the film doesn’t mention it, the film also ably depicts, through dance, image and words, a powerful, underlying ‘soliphilia’, our graditude and love for the Earth.

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These new terms, solastalgia, soliphilia, and more, are from Australian farmer-philosopher Glenn Albrecht. In his recent book Earth Emotions: New Words For a New World (2019) (which I previously have written about here), he details how such terms, and shared in creative works have much power to inspire a new, sustainable way of being with the Earth. He believes that creative workers will be at the forefront to share ideas of a new age, the Symbiocene, where we live life so all beings thrive.

Solastalgia the film below conveys the context of the crisis many creative people are now approaching in a emotive, engaging way. Works like this can move us in ways science can’t – we need both understanding and engaging ways to change societal behaviour to the better world we know is possible.

Congratulations to the communication agency, Good Kind Films – their ethos speaks to a new ecological age, the skilled filmmaker, dancer and world renowned eco-poet and educator Craig Santos Perez from Guam.

Lets share this film, this meme for the Symbiocene, far and wide.

The background story to this film is here

PS I have found other filmworks on Solastalgia made in recent months since writing the above. It’s so fantastic to see more creative expressions, more ecoliteracy fluency and confidence developing in the arts, for these urgent times.

Do feel welcome to share works that inspire you too!

 

Survey for new online ecoliteracy course for creative people – please add your ideas!

A short survey to determine the key ideas for an online ‘ecoliteracy for the arts’ course

I’m exploring ways to help others in the arts gain ecoliteracy as I’ve had an increase in people seeking out my knowledge this year (even though I live in a rural area).

I’m looking at new ways to share my experience that don’t overstretch my and the Earth’s resources. Please read below for proposed course outline and the link to the short survey – Thank you for participating!

Please note: if you are already familiar with this topic, I do invite you to fill in the questionnaire. This may help others who are struggling to find adequate learning for this topic and develop the art and ecology field further. This is a field of creative practice that will have immense importance in the years ahead.

A new online ‘Ecoliteracy for the Arts’ course

by Cathy Fitzgerald, PhD by Practice in Ecological Art  Cathy Fitzgerald

Proposed course idea:

In this unprecedented time of ecological emergencies, I am developing an accessible and affordable online course* to increase ecoliteracy (ecological understanding) for creative practitioners, art educators, curators, art organisation staff, art activists and art historians in all art disciplines.

Ecoliteracy is the basis of creating impactful work and strategies to inspire audiences and communities for the better world we know is possible.

The proposed ‘Ecoliteracy Essentials for the Arts’ course is not intended to instruct people on how to make environmental art. Rather, the course lessons and resources will help creative workers to confidently navigate environmental science, explore the root causes of the eco-social crises and give examples of best practice. An online format also has the potential for networking, developing a community for support and peer-to-peer learning.

I would be very grateful for any ideas and feedback on how this topic might be of interest to you. Filling in the questionnaire does not mean you have to do the course.

Please find a link to the short survey here:

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ihttps://forms.gle/scPHmBosh8E9Cgmb9

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With much gratitude everyone!
o

Cathy


PS if the idea of learning online is new to you, I have summarised some key benefits below.

Online courses benefits over learning in an education institution:

  • you can learn from home, therefore eliminating the costs of living away from home and / or  the resources used in travelling
  • online courses are much more affordable than courses offered by institutions as there are few overhead costs
  • you can learn at your own pace, at a time and in an environment, that suits you
  • online learning provides accessible opportunities for learning if you are working, caretaking or have other difficulties in attending a class
  • online courses require motivation, you will improve your work habits
  • online course providers can offer topics that may take traditional colleges years to develop
  • you can have access to experts and like-minded people in online discussion forums, who may or may not live in your country

I wish to gratefully acknowledge the support of the following organisations and people:


 

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