Jen Porter, Director of Metal Liverpool, reports back on a journey to Southeast Asia.
I was recently invited to take part in a series of Climate Storytelling workshops organised by D-Fuse as part of the British Council’s UK Vietnam season 2023. Being a partner on D-Fuse’s Nine Earths project in 2021 we were invited to showcase the participatory elements of this project. Taking place in two cities, Ho Chi Minh and Da’lat, across 5 days the workshops shared the inspiration behind Nine Earths and invited participants to submit their own films to become part of the project.
This was such an inspiring trip and a unique chance to meet with such a wide range of participants; young people, students, teachers, farmers and young mothers, all generously sharing their perspectives and concerns for the environment. At each workshop we took the group out on a local urban climate walk, looking at local evidence of the thematic elements of Nine Earths; water, waste, transport, communication, energy, and food. I particularly enjoyed visiting Phố Bên Đồi creative studio in Da’lat. It was like a Metal away from Metal! And exciting to see such an amazing creative resource for the community.
The idea of Nine Earths comes from the concept of Earth Overshoot day, that each country has a level of consumption that its natural resources can reliably regenerate within a year. This is measured by a country’s bio-capacity (water and land use for agriculture, waste systems and energy production) against their ecological footprint. We introduced this concept to participants and discussed ideas of de-growth and the Doughnut Economic model by Kate Raworth.
The opportunity to travel and, yes, consume a high level of carbon to go and speak to people about climate change may seem contradictory. It was something that ourselves and D-Fuse grappled with. However, making these links and sharing this project on a deeper level with people in a country that does seem on the cusp of making important decisions about their consumption felt important. I hope the mutual exchange of ideas we were able to establish through our Climate Storytelling workshops more than outweighs the levels of carbon we consumed.
The outcomes for us are hard to measure. I have come back re-energised to make a difference and to use my creativity to question the usual narratives we’re facing when it comes to climate change. The challenge is huge but the solutions exist and our capacity for positive change is great. I’m working on a mini travel zine sharing some of my experiences, and through Shift Liverpool we’re hosting a seminar on sustainable practices for arts organisation next month.
For more information on Nine Earths, visit the project page here.