Last night, the Emergence Summit – a major event exploring sustainability and the arts, organised by Swansea-based theatre company Volcano Theatre and the Centre for Alternative Technology – got underway with an inspiring opening ceremony created by Sue Gill and John Fox. The ceremony was on the theme of ‘baking the bread for tomorrow’, and participants were treated to a poem of the same title by John Fox, as well as reflections, highlights and experiences shared by some of the walkers on the Land Journey which began at the beginning of September, traversing two elliptical trails around Wales, converging on CAT the evening before the Summit.
The Summit was conceived by Fern Smith and others from the Volcano Theatre company as a way to take the Emergence project further. Several events had already been organised exploring the role of the arts in creating change to a positive, sustainable future – and in 2012, with other events of national and international importance happening in the UK, it seemed the perfect time to organise a summit addressing how we create the future.
Last night’s opening ceremony saw that vision come to fruition. After being welcomed to the conference, participants were invited to quite literally ‘walk in another person’s shoes’ – the WISE lecture theatre filled with a frantic energy as delegates scrambled to find a shoe-swapping partner with an appropriate foot size.
Paul Allen and Peter Harper from the Zero Carbon Britain research team contextualised the Summit with a discussion about the relationship between human beings, human societies and sources of energy. Zero Carbon Britain – which has now entered a new phase of development and research – is a pioneering initiative to try to present a plan for the rapid decarbonisation of the UK. However, as achieving such ashift requires considerable behaviour change, collaborating with creative projects to inspire us about a better, greener world may provide a way forward. As Paul Allen explained, if we can’t imagine a better world or a brighter future, and continue to present dystopian views of where we’re headed, we won’t be able to create it.
Finally, to round off the evening, delegates were given two luggage tags – one to write what they thought they could give to the gathering, and one to write what they hoped to gain from the gathering. These were displayed outside the lecture theatre, to be read throughout the weekend, and eventually to be taken away and kept safely by another.
More pictures are available here.