Shift and Signal

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Shift and Signal
Dr Alex Lockwood

November 2017 – May 2018

Shift and Signal is an attempt to imagine how we can go deeper in our adaptations to the crises of the contemporary moment such as social inequality, climate change, and species extinction.

The project is an attempt to SHIFT us beyond stuck conversations about how we implement change, drawing upon identity psychology and behavioural theory as a means to overcome obstacles to change, and then to SIGNAL towards responses and better ways of living that are already appearing.

The work is led by Dr Alex Lockwood, a writer, journalist, activist and scholar who’s been working in areas of climate change, development praxis and critical animal studies since 2001. Shift and Signal is shaped by a series of aural explorations of the urban space of Newcastle and Gateshead, a set of podcasts that are imagined as walks or journeys around both exterior and interior space, and a sequence of events building a collaborative, participative and embodied response from those who engage with the project.

Commissioned by The Newbridge Project as part of its programme exploring the Deep Adaptation agenda, these investigations are a new way of thinking about how we respond to the state of the world. The term Deep Adaptation was introduced by Jem Bendell (Professor of Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cumbria) as a response to the ‘tragedy of climate change’ and the dominance of neoliberal economics since the 1970s, which has led to hyper-individualist, market fundamentalist, incremental and atomistic approaches to how we shape our societies and living practices. But there are ways to talk about sustainability, healing and the future that are not full of despair. Deep Adaptations are about a realistic but positive future of the climate debate that is not hopeless, how we talk about what sustainability leadership involves, how we need to heal capitalism, and how we are in the right time and place to ask ourselves tough questions about who we are, and can be. Three key areas for thinking through these questions are:

  • Relinquishment: this involves people and communities letting go of certain assets, behaviours and beliefs where retaining them could make matters worse. The first three podcasts focus on asking if we need to relinquish masculinity, beauty, and humanism.
  • Resilience: this involves people and communities better coping with disruptions, such as how river catchments can better cope with rains, or how buildings can better cope with floods. The fourth and fifth podcasts ask how we can build resilient homes and resilient hearts.
  • Restoration: this involves people and communities rediscovering attitudes and approaches to life and organisation that the hydrocarbon-fuelled civilisation eroded. The last three podcasts ask how we can restore our soils, restore our climate, and restore our (post)humanism.

You can subscribe to the podcast in ITUNES or follow on Soundcloud.com. All individual episodes, events and information about the project will be gathered here. If you want to get in touch, please contact Dr Alex Lockwood by email on alexlockwood@phonecoop.coop or via Twitter or subscribe to The Newbridge Project’s mailing list.

Visit the SHIFT AND SIGNAL website for more information about the project and upcoming podcasts.

 

THE PODCASTS

 

EPISODE #1: RELINQUISH MASCULINITY 

If we’re really going to change the habits that have brought us to the brink of mass extinction and societal collapse, then we need to talk about men, masculinity, and the patriarchal culture on which our cities and communities are built, from the founding stones up. This episode weaves together a narrative of the ways that masculine culture has come to shape contemporary life with interviews from over a dozen academics, writers, feminists, activists and community leaders. The walk engages with how place shapes our lived experience and embeds our everyday choices in the broader currents of climate change, social inequality, and the changing nature of human identity. The podcast asks you: is masculinity a stuck place of damaging patterns? Or is masculinity already changing into a fair and sustainable identity we can use to bring forth resilience and restoration?

Download or stream Episode #1 here

As part of this episode there was a guided walk along the route of the podcast, entitled, Do We Need to Relinquish Masculinity to Save The Planet? Followed by a performance by poet Lisa Matthews and visual artist Melanie Ashby.

 

EPISODE #2: RELINQUISH BEAUTY 

Ideas of being good enough are central to the Western lifestyle that says it’s okay for each of us in the UK to individually consume four planets’ worth of resources each year. That is clearly unsustainable. If we’re going to live more ecologically-sound lives, in touch with our resources and our communities, a number of things need to change. While the previous episode went right to the root of the problem in examining patriarchal masculinity, this episode challenges the concepts of beauty, fashion, and how we present ourselves to others through mass consumerism. With a focus on how images of beauty are used against women (Naomi Wolf) to limit their lives, this podcast takes a walk around consumerist Newcastle, and is interwoven with interviews from academics, feminists, women working in fashion, and those tackling patriarchal capitalism, to ask how and if we can ever relinquish beauty?

Download or stream Episode #2 here

A guided walk for this podcast will take place on Wednesday 29 November. The walk will be followed by refreshments and a discussion with participants and some people featured in the podcast.

 

EPISODE #3: RELINQUISH HUMANITY

Is it even possible to relinquish out humanity? Would that make us in-human? Wouldn’t that just make the crises we face worse? Or is it the belief that, as humans, we are somehow exceptional, more important, more fundamentally valuable than all other beings that has gotten us into this mess? This episode of the podcast asks what it means to be human today, and if ideas of “posthumanism“, discussed widely in academia, can find their way into our everyday conversations, and if thinking of ourselves as posthuman can help us reconfigure how we live our lives in balance with the world around us.

The Podcast will be available to download or stream on Sunday 10 November

 

EPISODE #4: RESILIENT HOME

If we are going to live in balance with the world, not using more of our fair share of resources, and building stronger and more resilient communities, we’re going to have to change how we live at home. In fact, it might even challenge what we think a home should be. This episode of the podcast asks you to put on your own walk and evening performance–in your own home. The podcast, a mix of narrative and interviews with artists, climate change activists, engineers, poets, home-dwellers, and home-makers, will ask you to take a tour of your living space, and spend time with everything from your air vents to your washing basket, asking if there are better ways to restore a connection with the spaces and places in which we have come to create our homes.

The Podcast will be available to download or stream on Sunday 28 January

 

EPISODE #5: RESILIENT HEART

All change is bodily change; that’s the lesson we’re learning from neuroscience. That’s why changing our habits is hard; they become part of who we are, wired into our ways of being. So if we really do need to change how we live and behave–what we consume, how we relate, and who we want to be–then we have to take the inner journey too. This episode talks to psychologists, embodiment researchers, artists, and people who have experienced change, to consider the questions and practices we need to ask of ourselves to relinquish bad habits, build resilience in ourselves, to be able to restore our connection with others and a sustainable planet.

The Podcast will be available to download or stream on Thursday 15 February

 

EPISODE #6: RESTORE THE SOIL

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation, we may have only 60 seasons of soil left. If we don’t care for the earth–literally, the earth we can feel between our fingers–then as a global society we will collapse, and our species will die out before your grandchildren reach old age. This podcast looks at what we can do locally as well as globally, and what better ways of living we can practice if we want to restore the earth on which we depend for our food.

The Podcast will be available to download or stream on Saturday 10 March

 

EPISODE #7: RESTORE THE CLIMATE

Only Donald Trump and those who make their millions from the fossil fuel industry continue to deny climate change is happening and driving our planet to a sudden, watery, chaotic grave. The whole purpose of Deep Adaptation thinking is to look at connecting our practices, individual and societal, to these great challenges we face. We all know, deep down, that recycling isn’t enough. We need to give things up–such as masculinity, fashion, our sense of human exceptionalism, even perhaps our beliefs in human ingenuity. We’ve built resilience at home, and inside our bodies. Now it’s time to restore old practices of living in balance with our world–beginning with soil, and now looking up and around us, to the climate. This episode invites climate engineers, refugees, activists, writers, artists, and those working in environmental roles, to share with us ideas of how we can change our home into a resilient city.

The podcast for this episode will be released on Thursday 12 April

 

EPISODE #8: RESTORE OUR HUMANITY

We are human. But that doesn’t mean we’re not connected to the planet and to other beings. It doesn’t mean we’re in some way invulnerable or immortal or exceptional. Perhaps we’re just more extreme than other beings. And perhaps we need to reign in our extreme ability to build (and destroy) and to create (and pollute). What would it mean to restore a better form of humanity? How could we do that? What would we look and feel like once we’ve done this?

The podcast for this episode will be released on Monday 23 April

The Newbridge Project