What is With For About?
With For About is our alternative take on a conference, inviting artists, activists, educators and anyone involved in socially engaged and collaborative arts practice to come together to learn. This year we're gathering together on Thursday 25th May, for a day embracing nature and the outdoors.
Care and the Commons
Much of Heart of Glass’ programme for 2023 is informed by our awareness and ongoing research into the convergence of issues affecting our environment and socially engaged practice. Included in these discussions are issues of climate crisis, climate justice, decolonial work, ecological grief and ‘commoning’ resources.
Humanity’s exploitation of the planet’s resources affects us all. Yet - in communities across the world - it is those of us who have contributed least to the climate crises who are being impacted most severely. At With For About this year, we’ll reflect on the interconnectedness between humans, nature, place and land within the context of conflicting crises.
In general use, ‘the commons' refers to land or resources belonging to or affecting the whole of a community. For Nobel Peace Prize winning political scientist Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012), the commons are collective forms of ownership and can include land, meadows, forests and fisheries. Ostrom can be described as an ecological thinker arguing for local collectivity and collaboration over the privatisation of lands (Wall, 2017).
Artists and speakers
To unpack these weighty topics, we’ve invited researchers and creatives whose work explores climate crises, local and indigenous ecologies and slow, interspecies practices to Knowsley. Working with socio-ecological artist Kerry Morrison as a critical friend, we’ll be hearing from writer, scholar, lawyer and social justice activist Radha D’Souza, artist and researcher Youngsook Choi and writer, curator, and arts organiser Wendi Sia. There will also be a series of artist-led workshops for attendees to delve into; poetry with Sean Roy Parker, a tree ceremony with Frances Disley, deep listening with Lucy Powell, permaculture ethics with Liz Postlewaithe and a critical exploration of language with Taey Iohe.
We will also be joined by artists Grace Collins and Fiona Whelan, who will be in residence for the day. They will be mapping the event to share with wider Heart of Glass communities in different ways. Grace will provide visual interpretations of the event whilst Fiona will reflect critically as a listener. This ‘research in public’ will support the development of the learning programme.
As part of With For About this year, we’ll be challenging some of the language used by organisations when referring to the environment and climate crises. This language may include terms like sustainability, diversity and biodiversity, nature and resilience. The WWF has published a useful Guide to Greenwashing.
History of Court Hey Park
For most of the day, we’ll be enjoying the outdoors at Court Hey Park, in Huyton, Knowsley, and home to community allotment Incredible Edible.
Court Hey Park has a rich and active community of visitors. Formed in 1995, Friends of Court Hey Park is a community group of local residents and park-users whose aim is to protect and conserve the historic Green Flag park. They continue to take care of the park to this day.
In 2008, Friends of Court Hey Park set up a local history project named Gladstone Roots. The project was funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund to explore the heritage of the park and the hall, demolished 1955. The hall was built in 1836 by Robertson Gladstone, eldest brother to William Gladstone, as a family home. Gladstone was a prolific merchant, businessman, property developer and local politician. He was a part owner of plantations in the West Indies and Mauritius, as well as several rail lines. The research undertaken by Friends of the Park into the history of Court Hey Park has informed the work underpinning With For About.
Incredible Edible Knowsley is a community allotment and garden based in the heart of Court Hey Park. The community garden is part of a UK-wide activist network of green-fingered groups growing food to support their local communities and bring people together. One of Incredible Edible’s aims is to “find ways to create local solutions to global problems”. Incredible Edible Knowsley also runs a community food club and bank.
In the video above, co-founder Pam tell the Incredible Edible story for Ted Talks.