Blog: Green Tease Reflections

20th June 2014

Creative Carbon Scotland’s new “green” intern, Allison Palenske, reflects on her first Green Tease… A satisfyingly diverse audience gathered this …

Creative Carbon Scotland’s new “green” intern, Allison Palenske, reflects on her first Green Tease…

A satisfyingly diverse audience gathered this past Wednesday for Edinburgh’s first Green Tease. Creative Carbon Scotland has been hosting the Green Tease “after school” monthly discussion groups in Glasgow for six months now, but the event had yet to take place in Edinburgh. In a sun-drenched auditorium at Summerhall, a beautifully repurposed building that once housed the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies, we were joined by Imaginate and artist Sarah Hopfinger for discussions of sustainability stemming from Sarah’s work in children’s performance theatre.

Sarah started us off, presenting her thoughts on children’s theatre and sustainability. She suggested that thinking ecologically starts anywhere and from anything, and that this mode of thinking cannot be limited strictly to an environmentalist crowd. An early provocation from Hopfinger was the idea that nature cannot and should not be separated from the lives of urban city-dwellers; nature is not the fantasy of an idyllic ‘Nature’ located elsewhere, but in fact exists in our everyday lives, regardless of the amount of green we see on a daily basis. Through living as a participant in society, we are always contributing to a concept of a developing and ever-changing ecology, an interconnected web that is in a constant state of flux. Hopfinger’s suggestions of ecology’s meaning aim to embrace the unknown, relinquishing established roles of power and a leader-follower dynamic for a more fluid model of shifting roles and responsibilities. Hopfinger suggests that ecology is not a network of points, but rather a collection of things and identities that are issued forth through on-going interconnectivity.

As Hopfinger noted, the methods we use to discover or create are inseparably tied to what we discover or create, and how we make something is just as important as what we make. This mode of thinking resonates in Hopfinger’s performances, in which the adult-child power dynamic is erased, and collaborative approaches to innovative performance emerge. Hopfinger recalled a performance in which herself and Carragh, a child whom acts as her counterpart performer in her work ‘Age Old’, reversed these roles and complemented each other’s work within the performance. This often involved the intentional, and sometimes unintentional, use of voids or silences, or a concept of incompleteness.

Through her anecdotes Hopfinger suggested that incompleteness is a method for ecological thinking. The term sustainability may often give incorrect connotations of ecology, as the term implies something as being fixed, solid or consistent. But as we are always evolving through interactions, ecological thinking is much less stable than this term may suggest. As it was noted during the discussion, ecology is completely equal only when it is dead.

Questions and thoughts that arose from Sarah Hopfinger’s provocations included the following-

  • What happens in the silence or void suggested in Hopfinger’s performances, as well as in everyday experiences? Does silence cause people to say or do things that they otherwise wouldn’t have intended?
  • Drawing from the aspects of improvisation in performance art and theatre, how can we improvise our thinking regarding sustainability?
  • How do we recognise power and balances in the work we are making?
  • This mode of thinking about ecological philosophy as in a constant state of flux suggests we rethink the way we live now, opting for a less established existence and a more flexible way of living, in which our roles constantly change.

 

As this was our first Edinburgh Green Tease event, the latter part of the night addressed certain logistics about the continuation of Edinburgh Green Tease meetings. The group was asked what they would like to see at forthcoming Green Tease events. The following were some suggestions answering this question-

  • Green Tease “Random Acts of Kindness”: promoting action during Green Tease groups by meeting for site clean-ups and city beautification activities
  • “Show and Tell” amongst Green Tease members: many participants in the group have projects that would be of interest to the green community in attendance
  • Using the group as a platform for networking, collaboration and cross-promotion
  • The emergence of collaborative projects amongst members outside of Green Tease meeting times, as many projects that participants are involved in seem to overlap, and could benefit from the power of collaboration
  • Balancing the use of online networking and social media with in-person face-to-face activity time
  • Bringing some conflict, not being afraid to disagree or embracing different views, in order to bring a sense of roundedness to group discussions
  • Forging a connection between the Edinburgh Green Tease and Glasgow Green Tease groups

As this was my first Green Tease event, and the first meeting of the event in Edinburgh, I was quite surprised by the mixed knowledge and expertise of audience members- participants included the Scottish Poetry Library, local eco-entrepreneurs, the Himalaya Centre Edinburgh, scientists and artists, many of whom are based in Summerhall. However, what was most impressive about the audience was the collaborative and participatory energy that was present. The lack of silences or breaks in conversation made the two-hour session seem exceedingly terse due to the abundance of discussion.

It goes without saying that the night was a great success, and we anticipate many more thought-provoking and proactive Edinburgh Green Tease events to follow. Keep tuned to Creative Carbon Scotland’s Facebook, Twitter, and Events page for more information about upcoming Green Tease events.

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We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.


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Edinburgh Festival City Edinburgh Festival City

A project initiated by Edinburgh’s Festivals with key partners the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network

Edinburgh Festival City Federation of Scottish Theatre Scottish Contemporary Art Network