The Storyhouse Climate event on Friday, 4 November saw 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.
The one day conference on climate change and sustainability clearly resonated with Chester audiences, welcoming over 500 attendees.
Event organiser Neuza Morais said, “Storyhouse Climate was a day to promote and discuss what we are doing individually and collectively, to unite for a global cause, to inspire and educate; to listen to scientists, artists, schools, and community organisations.
We feel very proud of what we have accomplished and are already planning next year’s event. We would also like to thank the University of Chester especially our colleagues Tamara Hunt and Helen Southall that also worked very hard in making this day a success.”
A host of leading scientists and thinkers, sustainability pioneers, creatives and young people came together to talk about the work that is being done to combat climate change and promote a more sustainable way of living.
The day-long event also included performances and practical workshops as well as presentations, discussion panels and stands where visitors and delegates could 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 gave illuminating talks on the day.
Dr Niall Macfadyen member of the Cheshire West and Chester climate emergency task force, presented 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 engaging talk focused on methods of 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, were also 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, was 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, presented papers on environmentally compost gels for heat storage and utilising waste materials from green industries to create construction materials.
And physicist Dr Theodoros Papadopoulos did an informative talk about solar cells, while geographer Dr Graham Wilson hosted a workshop introducing 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 presented Mini World Café, a session in which he introduced 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, delivered 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 – was the subject of a talk given by Lucy Rutherford and Lindsay Murray.
Dr Katharine Welsh and Dr Rebecca Collins of Chester’s Department of Geography and International Development had a stand to 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, were involved in the conference.
Co-lead Uná Meehan was 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 was another 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, posed 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 was 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 carried out demonstrations of equipment, while the campaign’s Ian Slater did road safety checks on people’s bicycles.
Eileen Morgan from Chester Wheelers showcased 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, led 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 was also a practical workshop held by Georgina Spry, joint lead for the arts in the University of Chester’s Faculty of Education and Children’s Services, who helped participants to create felt pockets, and by Liverpool Business School senior lecturers Dr Ann Hindley and Dr Konstantina Skritsovali who introduced learning tools like stimulations and games to help develop an understanding of the complexities of climate change.
Amanda Moore, education officer at Culture Warrington, delivered 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 drew 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 spent 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 had written a special adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, aimed at young audiences, which was performed by university undergraduates.
And children from St Werburgh’s and Oldfield schools performed songs about climate and sustainability which had 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 was also involved in the day.
Storyhouse is already looking ahead to hosting the conference again next year, with even more expert talks, workshops and collaborations. Sign up here to be the first to hear about it. https://www.storyhouse.com/subscribe
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 gave 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 and bring this vitally important subject to our community here at Storyhouse. It was a fascinating and invigorating day.”
For more information, contact:
Marketing and PR Manager
For more information, contact:
Marketing and PR Manager
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
Website: www.storyhouse.com To subscribe, visit https://www.storyhouse.com/subscribe Twitter: @storyhouselive Facebook: www.facebook.com/storyhouselive Address: Hunter Street, Chester, CH1 2AR To become a member: https://www.storyhouse.com/storyhousecard