It is the now the second day of the workshop that Pal (Performing Arts Lab) are running in partnership with us and the CEE (Centre of Environmental Education) at the Fourth International Conference on Environmental Education in Ahmedabad.
This is a huge event - 1500 delegates and us, right bang in the middle of it. To our knowledge it's a world wide first to have the arts and design properly represented at one of these things.
Our workshop – Art, design and ecology - the role of artists and designers in creative education for sustainable development – is outside under a big orange awning with a floor made of packed and dried cow dung. In our group we've attracted a growing crowd. Everyone is curious. We have people from Russia, Egypt, Hong Kong, Bosnia, the States, Latvia, Ghana, Australia, the South Pacific, of course India and the U.K. I've met others from Taiwan, Vietnam, Borneo, and all over.
It was quite sticky yesterday trying to get people to participate, but today we really got energy and dialogue in spades. Some truly amazing projects: designers talking about work in the Andaman Islands, people making beautiful things and textiles out of recycled stuff, working with and training the poor in doing so, artists using dance with reference to drought in Africa, you name it.
In tomorrow’s session we lodge our recommendations for action and involvement on behalf of the international cultural sector as part of the Conference response. No one has much patience for anything other than for the doing: working across disciplines and focusing on the poor with their light footprint and their totally unfair vulnerability.
I know a conference can sound dull - but this one is on a beautiful campus with monkeys, peacocks in the trees, very tame chipmunks, the noisiest of birds, apparently snakes, and of course dear old mozzies. So we do feel part of the planet. We invited a group of local schoolchildren to join our workshop – they gave a stunning presentation and said 'don't expect the animals to save the planet, it's down to us'.