Green Tease is a series of events taking place since 2013. They are run by Creative Carbon Scotland, comprised of informal meetings, discussions, and networking opportunities that connect the arts and cultural sector with environmental and sustainability focussed organisations. In this setting, the variety of different perspectives and experiences enable innovative conversations and a cross-sectoral approach to solving complex problems, allowing new ideas to flourish. “Planting Seeds for the Future” was a Green Tease event hosted on the 1st of July 2019, in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Forests and Landscapes, Confor and the Institute of Chartered Foresters. Each were represented by speakers who provided insight into the work and vision of their organisation.

Arts and sustainability: connecting different perspectives

Creative Carbon Scotland is a charity that looks at environmental sustainability from a perspective that may seem unfamiliar to some. Their belief is that the arts and culture are just as important as any other in achieving sustainability, and that the sector plays an essential role in the adaptation to the climate crisis, by using its influence to encourage sustainable ways of living and working. Thus, by hosting Green Tease events, Creative Carbon Scotland seeks to create an opportunity to bring representatives of those different sectors together.

Professor Jaboury Ghazoul, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Forests and Landscapes at the University of Edinburgh, emphasised the need to share ideas from different sectors and embed ourselves within the myriad of diversity and perspectives available to us. This will allow us to rethink our approaches to the environmental challenges posed in landscape, agriculture, energy, forestry, and how we engage communities in this. He stressed that only by respecting the power of different cultural perspectives will we be able to develop shared understandings in our response to the climate crisis. He sees the Green Tease events as an inclusive ongoing platform to connect, exchange information and learn from each other. The platform may not solve problems, but inspire and stimulate each participant for their own projects.

The benefits of cross-sectoral collaborations

Andrew Heald MICFor, Confor Technical Director, showed the importance of these collaborations in real-life terms, by explaining that foresters often struggle to communicate complicated ideas about landscapes. He believes that cross-sectoral connections will allow for clearer, more engaging language that the people living in the landscapes will understand and respond to.

Hester McQueen, Marketing Manager of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, explained how the Institute is raising its standards in professional forestry by initiating cross-sector collaborations, including through the arts sector. Art has proven effectiveness in connecting people to nature and can be utilised to communicate complex ideas about how to become more resilient to climate change.

Nature as an inspiration and linking point

The challenges and opportunities emphasised by the speakers from the sustainability and environmental sector where then rounded out by a presentation of Hannah Imlach giving the audience a vibrant idea about practical implementation of arts and sustainability. Hannah Imlach works as a visual artist specialising in exploring specific ecologies through her work. Her research methods involve immersing herself in the landscape of interest through participating in field work. This allows her to fully understand the complexities of the environment and the threat it faces, predominantly through climate change. She records all her experiences in a Sketchbook, that is a sample of photos, sketches and articles, providing a viable way of communicating with environmentalists and a source of inspiration for her art works.

Amongst others, Imlachs work includes a series of sculptures created in the Flow Country after working with peatland scientists, and encapsulates the idea of presenting difficult scientific, technological or environmental ideas in new, transparent ways through art.

The speeches were followed by a discussion session with the attendees, allowing these cross-sectoral conversations to come to life. Questions were raised and engaged in lively discussions, and new ideas stimulated from across different perspectives. As Professor Ghazoul concluded, the environmental threats that face us will not going to be solved in a day; but continuing these collaborative conversations will prove crucial in our response to them.