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And we're off! Today I go back to school – along with 20 students from our five international “Sub Stations” – to work on the finale of our Weather Stations project, a final coming-together of the creative work of an eighteen-month journey. This Friday, at the international literature festival in Berlin, Free Word will be part of an international youth summit that looks to the future of our planet and invites writers and young people to reimagine what it might look like.
Three months before the world looks to political leaders in Paris, the audiences of the ilb will look to five internationally-renowned writers and twenty-five remarkable young people as they urge us – in their own words – to “stop the silence” around climate change and to start to listen to one of the biggest issues of our time.
At 11.30am German time on Friday join in with our young writers and poets at the ilb Weather Stations Youth Summit – alongside 250 students and teachers from across Berlin – as they read and perform their poems, stories and reflections about our planet. Five students each from the following substations will be part of this momentous occasion:
Arts and Media School, Islington in London (UK), Romain Rolland-School in Berlin (Germany), Colaiste de Hide College, Firhouse Community College and Mount Seskin Community College in Dublin (Ireland), The General Education School Complex in Warsaw (Poland) and Footscray City College in Melbourne (Australia – via Skype).
Later that evening they will be joined on the stage of Berlin's Literature House by our five Weather Stations international writers in residence to talk about the journey that they've been on over the last eighteen months, from exploring early pre-conceived ideas about what climate change might mean to them, to a greater understanding of the issue and to the realisation that no-one is talking about a very real and urgent threat.
Over the final weeks of this project I've heard firsthand how those involved in it describe “the move away from the Polar bear” (!) and international students have told me about just what climate change means for them and the world they are growing into: from the disposable consumerism of Primark to the loss of entire ways of life in certain villages and climates. Their poetry, writing and inspirational stories reflect this shift away from the remote notion of a problem to the powerful call for immediate action. Politicians take note: the next three days is a welcome reminder as we approach COP21 in Paris that this issue matters, and that it matters irrespective of age and nationality.
If you're in Berlin, come and join us! Alternatively check back here throughout the next week for updates, and particularly on Monday to see for yourself the original and emotive work of this remarkable group of people as we launch the anthology of work from the project: “Weather Stations: Writing Climate Change”.
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For the launch of Realistic Utopias – a collection of new writing on our rapidly changing world – we asked Mary Woodbury to take us through the history (and future) of books exploring our environment and climate change.