Creative Dundee

Blog: Food for Thought on Climate Justice

#vegetableoftheweek by Jeni Reid

In this blog, Jeni Reid and Kirsty McKeown—Creative Practitioners taking part in CULTIVATE—share more about their collaboration with Community First in Forfar.

CULTIVATE is a regional leadership programme for Creative Practitioners and Local Communities to collaboratively engage, create and produce locally relevant work, with a climate and social justice lens, across the Tay region.

Now half-way into their commission, the Creative Practitioners have been invited to share more about their journey so far, and how they see their project evolve in collaboration with communities.

Jeni and Kirsty are working with our Community Partner, Community First to collaboratively explore shared interests around the intersections of systematic injustice and climate justice, sustainability and found objects. Based in Angus’s first Social Supermarket, S-Mart, they’re bringing people together through food and lived experiences, in celebration of and to build upon existing community resilience.

Climate justice is a way of understanding the consequences of climate change through the lens of social justice. It helps to explain that the people who will bear the brunt of climate change are those already impacted by existing inequalities. This is a strong reminder that the transition to a more sustainable future has to be a just transition, benefitting all members of society. We are interested in the way climate justice intersects with other systemic injustices and hope that in working towards a climate justice solution, we can also highlight and possibly improve other problems. 

Jeni: I find that the most interesting work occurs when other people are involved, there is a wonderful spark that lights up when ideas are shared and trust develops and my practice is indebted to the generosity of others. I believe that there are stories everywhere – in the food we eat, the words we choose and the fabric we dress ourselves with. These stories give me inspiration and keep me awake at night with the ideas they generate. Like Kirsty (and the Wombles) I love the things that everyday folk leave behind and I appreciate the way that our practices overlap with our commitment to celebrating and using found objects and second-hand items, rather than always depending on new stuff. 

Our shared commitment to working alongside the communities we find ourselves in and in re-using and recovering existing objects fits in well with the values of the Social Supermarket and their customers, I am looking forward to exploring these ideas further. 

#vegetableoftheweek by Jeni Reid

Kirsty: My practice has always looked at the world around us, particularly relating to social, political and economic factors of women’s history. This time, I am looking forward while still acknowledging our shared histories and how we can learn from them to impact the now and future. I am thankful to have met Jeni and to discover that we have so much in common in the way we look at the world and approach our practices; it seemed like a no brainer to collaborate on a project together and CULTIVATE is the perfect opportunity for this.

Aside from general wombling around, our practices overlap in a shared love of what has gone before and what is left behind (or not!). Like Jeni, I see stories everywhere around us and I aim to put these things into a relatable context.

During our time with CULTIVATE, we really want to focus on what folk are already doing right. We are all constantly being bombarded with messages of what we are doing wrong in tackling climate change, it’s very easy to feel worn out and defeated before you have even begun. We want to highlight and draw attention to the positive actions the community are already taking (often not through choice), building upon these actions by finding innovative and accessible ways of doing research in the community. This might be through engaging and connecting with the community without the jargon, bringing people together in the hope of showing how resilient the community already is, whilst working together to continue building on this resilience.

Hands wash homegrown apples in preparation for pressing them for juice as part of a climate justice event
Celebrating the apple harvest at Community First

Our plan is to bring people together through food; talking about it, making it and most importantly eating it! Using these shared experiences as a means of starting conversations, researching, making and maintaining connections. We want to harness the power of the famous Forfar Bridie (the original superfood) as a way of connecting folks with the intangible culture of the area.

Our dream successful scenario would be creating and implementing something that can be continued after our time with CULTIVATE is over, creating connections and links with people and projects that can be sustained and built upon.  We are both excited about the chance to talk to lots of people each with different skills and knowledge and then work together to make a positive change; we view the process of building connections and co-creating as important as the final work we create.

Success looks like a room of people talking excitedly about ideas and finding connections with other members of their local area. It looks like a community getting to know and support one another as we work towards a more sustainable future. AND it looks like a plaque at the Buttermarket in Forfar to commemorate the spot where Margaret Bridie sold her famous Bridies. 

Jeni & kirsty sit on a doorstep in frint of a red door and an iron railing, the are both smiling
Jeni Reid and Kirsty McKeown, photographed by David P Scott

CULTIVATE is a pilot project, which engages communities with climate justice through creativity and peer-education. We’ll be sharing insights into each of our first six Creative Practitioners commissions over the coming weeks. Read more about our Community Partners and the six commissions.

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