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We’ve seen the line graphs, we’ve heard the statistics, we’ve seen the images of polar bears stranded on melting ice blocks. Yet political momentum on climate change has stalled. What can younger generations do to get this urgent issue back on the agenda? Can literature and storytelling shake us out of inertia?
We think so. That’s why, for the past 18 months, the Wheeler Centre has worked with partners in Berlin, Dublin, London and Warsaw on the Weather Stations project; a project that seeks to put literature and storytelling at the centre of efforts to discuss climate change.
As part of this project, students from Footscray City College have been working with our Weather Stations writer-in-residence Tony Birch on strategies to break the silence on climate change through art, writing and creativity. The students have met scientists, activists, artists, politicians and filmmakers and created their own films on topics including food miles, sustainable architecture and extreme weather events.
At this event, which marks the conclusion of the project, we’ll screen the students’ films and talk with Tony Birch and facilitators from Tipping Point Australia about their involvement in Weather Stations. We’ll also speak with the young filmmakers from Footscray City College about how the Weather Stations project has affected their outlook on climate change and their views on strategies to confront it.
Tony Birch is a founding member of the Melbourne School of Discontent. He has published three novels; The White Girl, Ghost River and Blood. He is also the author of Shadowboxing and three short story collections, Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People. In 2017 he was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award for his contribution to Australian literature. In 2021 he released two new books, a poetry book, Whisper Songs and a new short story collection, Dark As Last Night.
The Wheeler Centre is one of five partners in a brand new global project, which places literature and storytelling at the heart of the conversations around climate change. Launched in 2014, the Weather Stations project harnesses the transformative power of words to imagine, in the context of a threatened environment, how we might live our lives differently.
Over 18 months, the project will bring together five cultural institutions from around the world: the Wheeler Centre, Free Word in London, internationales literaturfestival Berlin, Krytyka Polityczna in Warsaw and Tallaght Community Arts in Dublin.
Each Weather Station has appointed a writer in residence, whose task is to produce a body of work that reflects how they view our relationship with the environment. The Wheeler Centre’s writer in residence is Tony Birch.
Tony has been blogging regularly at globalweatherstations.com, alongside the other writers involved in the project –Jas Kapela, Mirko Bonné, Oisin McGann and Xiaolu Guo. From Monday 21 April to Monday 12 May, all five writers undertook a residency together in Australia – including several discussions held at the Wheeler Centre. Videos will be produced and posted here soon.
Still to come: in collaboration with some of Victoria’s young citizens, Tony will explore the wide-ranging implications of climate change on future generations. And the writers will undertake further residencies in the home countries of participating Weather Stations partners.
Find out more about Weather Stations at our project page.