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SYMPOSIUM - Nov 30 :: 2007
MORE THAN US - Conversations Between Humanity, The Arts & Ecology
A one-day symposium to be held at The Town House Inverness







Our Chairperson : : RUTH WISHART is a journalist and broadcaster who has held senior editorial positions on a number of Scottish publications including The Sunday Mail, The Sunday Standard and The Scotsman. She has been the presenter on a wide variety of radio programmes from the Scottish editions of Woman's Hour on Radio Four to Eye to Eye on BBC Scotland.  Currently she is a columnist with The Herald and presents a series for Radio Scotland on contemporary ethics.

Opening Remarks : : MICHAEL RUSSELL MSP has been an active member of the Scottish National Party for over three decades and following their success in the 2007 elections he was appointed to the position of Minister For Environment.  He won the Scottish Parliament 'Debater of the Year' award in 2000 and is a frequent member of various cultural and campaigning boards, as well as a regular columnist and author of seven books including his latest, The Next Big Thing.  
  SPEAKERS
: : DAVID ABRAM. The intensifying ecological crisis may usefully be considered a crisis of perception; many persons - indeed whole cultures - seem to have lost their ability to actually see surrounding nature with any clarity, or to hear as meaningful anything other than a human voice. This blindness and deafness have lodged themselves in ways of speaking that continually deny the expressive vitality of other animals, of oak trees and rushing rivers, and indeed of the living land itself. Cultural ecologist David Abram will explore the fluid, participatory nature of perception, and the ancient reciprocity between our senses and the sensuous earth. Weaving storytelling and poetics with insights from indigenous, place-based cultures, he’ll ponder the ecological dimensions of language - the power possessed by our words to either enhance, or to stifle, the solidarity between the human animal and the elemental, animate earth.

[ biography ] David Abram is a cultural ecologist and philosopher and is the author of the landmark and brilliant The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World. He has been described as one of a hundred visionaries currently transforming the world - this will be the first time he has spoken in Scotland. His essays appear often in journals such as Environmental Ethics, Wild Earth, Resurgence and The Ecologist, as well as in many edited anthologies. David’s writing has had a deepening influence on the contemporary environmental movement and his work is a profound and constant inspiration for artists and writers.
   
: : JAY GRIFFITHS' writing has been described as being feral itself; certainly when reading her book Wild: An Elemental Journey, there is an energy emanating from the pages, which is exhilarating and perhaps even dangerous. In this symposium Jay will talk about wildness within us and outside us, of what this is and where it might be found. She will describe the qualities of wildness she found on her many encounters across continents and how she came to understand that this state is not only natural to us but absolutely necessary for our well-being. Jay is keenly interested in indigenous thought and has written against the intellectual apartheid of the dominant culture which dismisses their philosophies and knowledge.

[ biography ] Jay Griffiths is author of Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time and winner of the Barnes and Noble Discover Award for best new non–fiction writer in the USA. Her new book Wild is being hailed as a masterwork on wild ecology and the wildness within us. In this she explores the tender connection between human society and wild lands. Jay has appeared in the London Review of Books and has also had essays published in the Guardian, the Observer, the Ecologist and Resurgence magazine, of which she is associate editor. Jay was winner of the 2007 Orion Book Award.

 

 
: : JOHN LISTER-KAYE will examine the influence of childhood on our relationship with Nature, citing encounters which long reverberate into adult life. He records not just the drama of such encounters but what we can learn from these meetings – his writing on this subject matter proposes a foundation from which a more egalitarian relationship with Nature might be fostered, questioning whether, as our tastes and sympathies change in adulthood, it is possible to retain this clarity of connection.

[ biography ] John Lister-Kaye is one of Scotland’s best known and respected naturalists and conservationists. He has lectured on three continents and served prominently in the RSPB, the Nature Conservancy Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. He is the author of eight books including the highly influential Song of the Rolling Earth and the beautiful and deeply moving Natures Child. His Aigas Field Centre, founded in 1977, has won international acclaim for its environmental education programmes.
   
: : MARK LYNAS will explore why humanity's greatest-ever crisis may also contain the seeds for its greatest-ever opportunity. The desire for continued economic growth is deemed to be a good thing by economists and mainstream politicians despite the spiralling cost to the environment. However, the real result is increased rates of depression and alienation, the loss of green space and children's freedom, the loss of leisure time due to commuting and long office hours, and the fracturing of communities and extended families due to increased mobility.  Reversing all of these trends would not just be good for reducing carbon emissions; it would be good for society as a whole.

[ biography ] Mark Lynas is one of the leading voices in the climate change debate in the UK. He has worked full-time on the issue since 2000, when he left the website OneWorld.net (where he was editor) to work on his book, ‘High Tide: News from a Warming World’ which went on to be published in six languages to great international acclaim. Having spent many years as both a journalist and an environmental campaigner his policy statements can be radical and controversial, but his analysis of the climate change problem is firmly rooted in scientific fact. Rather than being seen as a threat, he feels that the business community should focus on the opportunities for innovation and new technologies that climate change mitigation offers.