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Conversations   Between  Humanity,  The Arts  &  Ecology

The project culminated in a symposium held at The Town House in Britain’s most northerly city, Inverness.

Dalziel + Scullion brought together a group of inspired writers and thinkers who addressed different aspects of how our separation from the natural world came to be and how we could start to recreate this bond and effect change within the infrastructure and fabric of modern society.

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. He currently holds the post of Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution.
: : MARK LYNAS kicked off this ‘intense green campfire pow-wow’ by exploring how 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 spiraling 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. Lynas suggests that by reversing these trends not only would costs to the environment be reduced; but society as a whole could benefit. www.marklynas.org
: : 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 that is exhilarating, perhaps even dangerous. At the symposium Jay explored wildness within us and outside us, of what this is and where it might be found. She described 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 that dismisses their philosophies and knowledge. www.jaygriffiths.com


: : JOHN LISTER-KAYE provocatively explored the influence of childhood on our relationship with Nature, citing encounters which long reverberate into adult life. Recording 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. www.aigas.co.uk
: : DAVID ABRAM concluded the days presentations with an electrifying performance that explored 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 pondered 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. Abram proposed that the intensifying ecological crisis might 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. www.wildethics.org