Storyhouse is putting Earth at the heart of the conversation this November when it hosts a full day conference on climate change and sustainability.
The Storyhouse Climate event on Friday, 4 November sees the cultural centre joining forces with the University of Chester and the Royal Geographic Society to give people of all ages the chance to share knowledge and explore solutions to the challenges facing our planet.
It will see a host of leading scientists and thinkers, sustainability pioneers, creatives and young people come together to talk about the work that is being done to combat climate change and promote a more sustainable way of living.
And the day-long event will include performances and practical workshops as well as presentations, discussion panels and stands where visitors and delegates can learn more about ways in which they can help reduce their carbon footprint and protect the environment.
A wide range of top academics and climate and sustainability experts are involved in the day.
Dr Niall Macfadyen member of the Cheshire West and Chester climate emergency task force, is due to present plans for a Green Careers centre in the old Hydro building on Chester Weir.
Dr Macfadyen is chairman of CHASE CIC which is developing the new Hydro Hub, a state of the art centre to promote the future of clean energy. His talk will also touch on decarbonising agriculture and land use, and emerging plans for ‘greenhouse gas removals’ including carbon capture.
Professor Joe Howe, executive director of the University of Chester’s Thornton Energy Research Institute, and founding director of the North West Hydrogen Alliance, will be part of a panel focussing on energy transition, while the university’s Professor John M Counsell, who is an expert on Digital Energy Systems and Controls invention and research, is also involved in the day.
Dr Andrew Fogg, senior lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the University of Chester, and Roger Rothon, founder and director of Cheshire-based Rothon Research Ltd, will present papers on environmentally compost gels for heat storage and utilising waste materials from green industries to create construction materials.
And physicist Dr Theodoros Papadopoulos is set to talk about solar cells, while geographer Dr Graham Wilson will host a workshop which will introduce the fundamentals of past climate reconstruction and explain how they can help to evaluate the rate and magnitude of current changes.
Dr Tony Wall from Liverpool Business School will present Mini World Café, a session in which he will introduce the latest evidence on what helps people to modify their behaviour to cope with climate change, while Dr Daniel Bos, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, will deliver a practical demonstration of how virtual reality technology is being used to encourage social, political and environmental change.
Current PhD research work on developing novel methods to help elephant wellbeing – working alongside keepers and the science team at Chester Zoo – is the subject of a talk which will be given by Lucy Rutherford and Lindsay Murray.
And Dr Katharine Welsh and Dr Rebecca Collins of Chester’s Department of Geography and International Development will have a stand where they explain their smartphone app Home Grown Green which helps engage and motivate people to continue to make small lifestyle changes which many started during the Covid lockdown and which improve sustainable living.
Good for Nothing Chester, a community group with more than 400 members whose purpose is to use their individual talents to accelerate positive change across the city, is also involved in the conference.
Co-lead Uná Meehan will be joined by Cheshire West and Chester Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economy and Regeneration Richard Beacham to outline how the group has been involved in community consultation which has fed into the council’s One City Plan, and to discuss the forward-thinking framework which will support the goal of ‘net zero’ by 2045.
Sustainable transport is also a focus of the day.
Professor Peter Cox of the University of Chester’s Department of Political and Social Science, and chairman of the international academic network Scientists for Cycling, will pose the question – What if There Were No Cars? – in a presentation that asks listeners to think radically about sustainable transport and look at opportunities for reimagining our travel.
Marina Farey from the North Cheshire Community Rail Partnership will be on hand to discuss the role of Community Rail, a growing grassroots movement across the UK, in promoting sustainable transport.
And Cathey Harrington of the Chester Cycling Campaign will carry out demonstrations of equipment and answer any questions from her audience, while the campaign’s Ian Slater will check over people’s bicycles to make sure they are roadworthy and offer advice on any repairs.
Eileen Morgan from Chester Wheelers will showcase the Mountain Trike Wheelchair which enables visitors with mobility difficulties to be able to enjoy all aspects of Chester’s many attractions, including city tours on cobbled streets which are tricky to negotiate in a standard wheelchair.
And in addition, Simon Brown, an environmental activist at Transition Chester, will lead participants on a Virtual Sustainability Walk around the city centre, pointing out examples of sustainable design, lower carbon transport, renewable energy production and use, energy conservation, a thriving local economy and biodiversity habitats.
There will also be practical workshops held by Georgina Spry, joint lead for the arts in the University of Chester’s Faculty of Education and Children’s Services, who will help participants to create felt pockets, and by Liverpool Business School senior lecturers Dr Ann Hindley and Dr Konstantina Skritsovali who will run a session which introduces learning tools like stimulations and games to help develop an understanding of the complexities of climate change.
Amanda Moore, education officer at Culture Warrington, will deliver a presentation about the urban rooftop Sky Garden which has just been opened on top of a car park in the town’s Golden Square.
In Sanctuary, Daniel Bellis will draw on his own experiences volunteering in Sri Lanka to talk about revisit our thinking when it comes to tourism and the reciprocity between conservation and entertainment.
And artist Esther Woolley will spend the day creating a piece of work that draws inspiration from the world around us and makes uses of natural materials.
Meanwhile award-winning playwright Lizzie Nunnery is set to present Heavy Weather, a play with songs which is featured in the book 100 Plays to Save the World.
The vibrant and hopeful story centres around a girl who takes control of her destiny in a world rocked by uncertainty.
Dr Shelley Piasecka from the University of Chester’s School of Arts and Media has written a special adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, aimed at young audiences and which will be performed by university undergraduates.
And children from St Werburgh’s and Oldfield schools will perform songs about climate and sustainability which have been written by youngsters and communities, along with their Chester Zoo song.
The performance is supported by AmaSing, a Chester-based arts organisation and charity foundation which offers exciting opportunities for children and young people.
Meanwhile University of Chester interior design student Ffion Jones and award-winning graduate Sophie Downes will present their work on The People Place in Chester and an abandoned slate quarry in Snowdonia respectively, two disused locations which have had imaginative new life breathed into them.
And Sarah Griffiths of the University of Chester Press will also be involved in the day.
Ahead of 4 November, people are also being given the opportunity to submit their ideas around sustainability and climate change for a chance to be actively involved in the event. It could be anything from a poster to a presentation or performance, a practical workshop or simply a suggested topic for discussion on the day.
Visit www.storyhouse.com/storyhouse-climate to learn more.
Storyhouse Climate takes place on Friday, 4 November and tickets for the event are £5.
Collaborators at the University of Chester, Tamara Hunt, of the Sustainability Team and Dr. Helen Southall, of the engineering faculty, said “Climate change and how we can live sustainably are key challenges, impacting all our lives whether that’s at a local, national or international level.
“How we get from a to b, how we power our homes or businesses and how we produce our food all affect this planet we share.
“Storyhouse Climate will give everyone the chance to learn more about the work already going on to combat – and find solutions to – the effects of climate change and the move towards a more sustainable lifestyle for all.
Storyhouse creative director Suzie Henderson said: “I’m very pleased we’re able to work in partnership with the University of Chester to be able to bring this vitally important subject to our community here at Storyhouse. It’s going to be a fascinating and invigorating day.”
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Storyhouse is one of the UK’s foremost cultural centres incorporating a library, theatres and a cinema. It is one of the country’s most successful arts buildings, with more than one million customer visits each year.
The pioneering new library within Storyhouse, where members of the community work alongside city librarians, boasts the longest opening hours of any UK public library and is open every day until 11pm. It runs over 2,000 sessions a year for marginalised communities
The company also runs a highly successful theatre company and the country’s most successful regional open-air theatre, in the city’s Grosvenor Park and Moonlight Flicks open air cinema.
Storyhouse currently holds the official title as the UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre and was the overall national winner in the 2018 Guardian Public Service Awards
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