I’m often saying that it is art that will save the world. And it sounds like a rather unqualified, ponsy, irrelevant, liberal statement, obviously. ..Hi. But I mean it as an act of walking through walls, breaching no-man’s land, creating new ways of seeing when there is, I believe, nothing we need more now. Not if we are to make our society resilient. I think part of cracking open the possibilities and the engagement is the empathic testimony and play and disruption of artistic expression. Seizing the courage of it.
And in the Hopey-Changey bit of #UnseeTheFuture‘s first episode of series 2, looking at Disruption, I mention Lorna Rees – and her glorious protest pants. Unsee is currently in the middle of a three-part look at Democracy and last night I made my first ever visit to a full council meeting. Because it was BCP Council’s first full council meeting, at which they were going to work out what the actual council looks like, after a local election board changer from voters. And Lorna had been there already. With this beautiful intervention. And having missed the beginning, and not seen these wonderful pictures, I can still say it just seemed to set the tone. It helped set a seal on breaking the mold of the past.
In an evening of slightly bewildered nervous excitement under the calm proceedings, we saw an impossible seeming unity – no, dammit, rainbow – alliance of people from a spectrum of political representations agree to work together. And thrillingly, I know many of the new faces there are advocates for environment, creative cultures and engagement.
I’ve never felt a sense of democracy in my home town before. But the hope for me here is that it isn’t a landslide for anyone – and breaking out of the empasse of polarised politics will take such coalition practice. I’ve already heard praise for new leader Vikki Slade for her apparent place in encouraging it.
It is all to do for the brave souls who’ve stepped up to help our civil servants together spread that sense of democracy and possibility. A tough tough gig. But Lorna’s words were read out by new Vice Chair, our new ward councillor in Sobo, George Farquhar, and they felt symbolic, mystified as some there might have been by some playful passion appearing in a council meeting:
“CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ELECTION TO THE BCP COUNCIL!
You have the power to make Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole a better place for generations to come
SO WE’VE MADE YOU A MEDAL!
You can be a hero!
You are already brilliant because you care enough to run for political office. We know that you can help save our planet too. We know that you know this is something so important that it transcends party politics.
We are filled with great hope, but action MUST happen right now if we’re to save our species.
Our future depends on you!!! This is a plea to you, our new, brilliant local politicians to put our environment as the NUMBER ONE Priority in your decision making process. We must quickly address man-made climate change by supporting renewable energy and rejecting and replacing fossil fuels. We’re living through the 6th Mass Extinction event in the history of our planet. We must address this catastrophe.
THIS MEDAL IS Made in solidarity with Extinction Rebellion – inspired by David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg.”
Huge congratulations to folk like Lisa Northover and Mark Howell and Fizz Bikes herself and so many others for taking a run up at a new way of seeing politics. And to Lorna for expressing the moment so beautifully.