Creative Dundee

Fabric Day 4 – Environment

For our final session of Fabric – a peer development programme focusing on creative leadership – we went on a field trip to Alyth and across the Cateran EcoMuseum, which is a museum without walls, set in the beautiful and dramatic landscapes of Cateran Country. This was a great opportunity for getting a breath of fresh air outside of the city, stepping back and giving ourselves a different perspective on our own work and creative practices.

With a focus on Environment, we met with Clare Cooper – one of the founding Directors of the Cateran EcoMuseum, and co-founder and co-producer of the Caterans’ Common Wealth – and discussed how to explore the cartography of our work, practice or day-to-day routines, and the places and communities which we interact with, how we use names to tell the story of places, how we can see familiar things with new eyes and how to reset our own compass. Clare also introduced us to the concept of ‘bioregion’, which enlightens the real geological, political and cultural boundaries of a territory.

A bioregion re-connects us with living systems, and each other, through the places where we live. It acknowledges that we live among watersheds, foodsheds, fibersheds, and food systems – not just in cities, towns, or ‘the countryside’. Bioregions are not just geographical places; they also embody the inter-connection of our minds, and nature’s, at a molecular, atomic and hormonal level. A bioregion repairs the unity of mind and world, that has been fractured by modernity. – John Thackara, From Neighbourhood To Bioregion: The City as a Living System

The cartographer says
no –
What I do is science. I show
the earth as it is, without bias.
I never fall in love. I never get involved
with the muddy affairs of land.
Too much passion unsteadies the hand.
I aim to show the full
of a place in just a glance.
The rastaman thinks, draw me a map of what you see
then I will draw a map of what you never see
and guess me whose map will be bigger than whose?
Guess me whose map will tell the larger truth?
– Excerpt from ‘The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion’ by Kei Miller.

Clare Cooper is also part of the team who have developed The Art of Living Dangerously, which is a platform to help creative people achieve more sustainable livelihoods and which has grown out of a peer learning programme led in collaboration with Donna Halford Lovell, and involving some of Dundee’s most original cultural and creative people.

Hearing Clare’s story of developing creative networks in Alyth and building the foundations of the Cateran EcoMuseum, we discovered – or were reminded of – some key elements of how to make things happen:

  • building local relationships and leadership through serendipity;
  • seeing possibilities and going outside of our comfort orbits;
  • enabling conditions for things to happen and knowing who your allies are;
  • connecting what you do with the largest forces in movement;

What a day! Great chats, new maps and beautiful energy with @adminndee Fabric friends at the museum with no walls! @CateransCommon

— Manuela de los Rios (@Manuela_de_Rios) March 28, 2019

Photographed by David P Scott. All rights reserved.

After a bus trip to the Spittal of Glenshee and a tasty lunch at The Barony Cafe, we had a reflective afternoon, mapping our own Fabric journey and committing to a few clear and realistic actions for the near future. Mapping our personal journey through the Fabric programme, and focusing on the people who have inspired us and whom we want to keep in touch with, the challenges that we encountered and made us grow, the insights that the programme offered us, and the learnings that we want to develop further… these are some of the things we wanted to share with you:

  • we enjoyed the diversity of people in the Fabric group, and we were all learning from each other – it’s important to think about how we set the example for others, and how to really listen and understand the way others think;
  • we appreciated the time set aside to take part in the sessions, to put the application in and be part of something bigger than ourselves – it gave us a great picture of what a creative leader should look or sound like, which is about making things happen and getting others along;
  • we do most of our thinking and working in Dundee, and it was liberating and important not being in the city – it changes the context and our creative energy:
  • we need to make an intentional effort to take time out of our work/practice, and let serendipity happen – it’s more beneficial to let encounters happen spontaneously and relationships grow naturally than forcing them;
  • creative leadership is about creating joint/shared ownership of an idea – and if it seems difficult, it’s because it is!

Thanks for following our work! You can read more about the Fabric programme and read insights from all Fabric sessions here and find the photos from the day here.

Thanks @ClaireDufour_ and @Creative_Dundee – a breath of fresh air!#FabricDundee

— Claire Dow (@DowClaire) March 27, 2019

Thank you @Creative_Dundee and @ClaireDufour_ in particular for the vision of Fabric and for arranging today.

This view from the coach was a perfect end to a very inspiring day.

— Mike Press (@MikePress) March 27, 2019


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