CULTIVATE is a regional leadership programme for Creative Practitioners and local communities to collaboratively explore new ways of embedding creativity at the core of grassroots collective action for climate justice, across the Tay region.
We introduced the programme and its participants in summer 2021, detailing each collaboration and the ambitions of the Creative Practitioners and Community Partners working on the projects. We also shared a mid-programme reflection in February 2022, sharing some of the highlights and challenges we’ve experienced whist working on this pilot initiative.
This case study collates the work of Creative Practitioner Jade Anderson and her Community Partner in Dundee, Gate Church Carbon Saving Project (now Transition Dundee). These case studies act as an archive for each CULTIVATE project, aiming to share the learnings of each participant, demonstrate the impacts of individual projects, and provide concrete examples of the benefits of working with creative practitioners on community-based projects.
Jade Anderson is a queer, working class mother, actor, theatre maker and facilitator. After seeing her first play at Dundee Rep aged 21, she left her law degree to focus on the arts, joining Dundee Rep’s Community Company and volunteering with their Creative Learning Department. Through continued support from family, friends and colleagues at Dundee Rep, Jade went on to gain her HND in Acting & Performance at Dundee & Angus College and a BA (Hons) in Acting for Stage & Screen at Queen Margaret and Edinburgh Napier University. She is now focused on creating her own work that celebrates working class Dundee and promotes the beautiful Dundonian Scots language. Jade’s goal is to establish, nurture and sustain a long lasting working relationship with the communities of Dundee so that she can continue to create and perform in new theatre for and with the community.
Gate Church Carbon Saving Project (now Transition Dundee) is a climate action project to lower the collective carbon footprint of our community through waste-reducing whilst helping those experiencing poverty first, and to inspire people to make more sustainable choices to help us transition to a greener, but also fairer future.
Lynsey Penny, Senior Project Coordinator at GCCSP, said, “We want to tackle the stigmas attached to re-using, taking things for free/cheap and particularly with clothes. Our ambition through our Community Wardrobe project is to reach more people and save more items from going to waste – our planet needs it!”
Jade said, “Having grown up in some of the most deprived areas in the city, I really appreciate the importance of community and ‘the healing powers’ of the arts. Through previous work, I’ve noticed that a lot of people from deprived backgrounds see the arts, especially the performing arts, as neither accessible or relevant. I’d love to change that and shape a creative partnership with the communities. Everyone has a voice and a story to tell and the right to tell that story.”
“I’ve seen family members go without or get into debt to put their children in new, branded clothing so finding a way to make second-hand the first option really appeals to me. It’s not just about saving the planet but also the mental health of those affected by poverty.”
Half-way into their commissions, CULTIVATE’s Creative Practitioners, were invited to share their journeys so far; you can read Jade’s reflections in her mid-project blog.
It was hugely important to Jade to use this project as a chance to confront how overwhelming and alienating messaging around the climate crisis can be, especially when so many people already live sustainably out of circumstance. Jade’s aim was to create opportunities to highlight and celebrate the positive choices we already make, and to lead with love to ensure we are taking care of each other as well as the planet.
In working with and volunteering at the Community Wardrobe on Perth Road, Jade started to explore how to use storytelling, performance and theatre to reduce the stigma attached to second-hand clothing, focusing on the way memories can strengthen our attachment to the things we wear.
Her hope was to create space for discussions and storytelling with communities around Dundee, encouraging people to share their opinions and perspectives with one another. She could then bring these stories together in an exhibition alongside workshops and a pop-up Community Wardrobe, using the individual experiences of many to paint a fuller picture of how we understand, connect and engage with conversations about the climate crisis.
Using her passion for storytelling and connection through performance, Jade met with with community groups around the city, including the Boomerang Community Centre, Hot Chocolate Trust, Just Bee Productions, Feeling Strong, Stand Easy Productions and Dundee Rep’s Engage. With each of these groups, she prioritised getting to know participants and their thoughts on the climate crisis, rather than making assumptions about what people might think or feel.
These conversations were recorded and compiled as a film. Group participants shared honest and open responses to questions like “what do you think/feel when you hear ‘climate crisis’?” and “what can you do to help climate change?”. People highlight anxiety about the future, the hypocrisy of corporations and world leaders, and the barriers to taking action in the city.
At the workshops, Jade also encouraged participants to share memories and explore the stories behind our clothes, seeking ways to celebrate our belongings as items to be cherished, rather than as things that temporarily serve us before being thrown away. You can hear some of the responses in three Oor Memories / Oor Stories compilations from Stand Easy Productions, the Boomerang Community Centre’s Reminiscence Group, and Dundee Rep’s Engage group, Rep Juniors, for 11–13-year-olds.
Jade spoke at the Zero Carbon Tour‘s event in Dundee. She shared her talk, Sustainable Choices and Social Stigmas for the Working Class, which highlighted her work on CULTIVATE and how we need to celebrate the small actions that people already take, even when they’re primarily out of necessity; focussing on the positives leads to more positive change.
From Sat 19 until Fri 25 February 2022, Jade’s community work culminated in Wee Wardrobe—a week long event celebrating the stories our clothes hold.
Wee Wardrobe took place at ScrapAntics’ Wellgate space, and showcased six months of collaborative working. Visitors could enjoy the Oor Stories exhibition, which brought together all of the storytelling activities Jade had facilitated across the city, and Ab’dy’s Wardrobe, a pop-up version of the Community Wardrobe where people could come and take away clothing for free.
There were free activities throughout the week for people to get involved in, such as crafting with scrap fabric, and the space hosted a a mending cafe, knitting group and storytelling workshops.
Visitors were also able to sign-up to receive a Wee Wardrobe Starter Pack, which included a clothes rail, hangers and four simple steps to on how to run a small shared wardrobe in their community space.
One of our other CULTIVATE Community Partners, PLANT, visited the Wee Wardrobe. Keri shared her experience in a blog, reflecting on taking part in activities and thinking about the impact of our clothing on the planet.
Jade wrote a reflective blog for us, looking back at the six months spent working towards the Wee Wardrobe. She shares how the focus of her project morphed from how we talk about the climate crisis to how to forge meaningful connection in community engagement.
Led by Creative Dundee over three years, CULTIVATE brings together creative practitioners and community groups across the Tay region to explore climate justice in a practical and meaningful way.
CULTIVATE is part of Culture Collective, a network of 26 participatory arts projects, shaped by local communities alongside artists and creative organisations. Culture Collective is funded by Scottish Government emergency COVID-19 funds through Creative Scotland.
Culture Collective has the potential to place creative practice right at the heart of a just transition and help shape the future of local cultural life, demonstrating the critical impact of community engagement, and the role creativity and culture play within it.
If you would like to support us in creating even better content, please consider joining or supporting our Amps Community.