Today marks World Earth Day – a day dedicated to celebrating achievements in environmental protection, while continuing to raise awareness on how to tackle our environmental crisis and build a more sustainable future. This is a great moment to reflect on how our Green Futures cultural programme is motivating, and mobilising, the people of Coventry to Invest In Our Planet, which is the Earth Day theme this year.
We started by developing an environmental action plan to make Coventry the greenest UK City of Culture to date. The principles and guidelines set out in our Green Code have ensured the delivery of an environmentally conscious culture programme. We believe innovative solutions are needed to produce a greener future and so we have created a space for local artists and communities to uncover and celebrate Coventry’s hidden nature, to foster environmental awareness, and to ignite local stewardship and activism. And we are delighted that this week we have announced that our Green Futures programme will create a bedrock for the activity that the Trust will lead in the coming years, as part of our legacy programme.
There are a series of events throughout April dedicated to creatively exploring, and engaging with, Coventry’s hidden blue spaces – its rivers, canals, and waterways.
- Coventry primary and secondary SEN students have collaborated with children in classrooms in Tanzania and with local artists to create a series of river-inspired drawings, paintings, photographs, and sculptures, as a part of the Rivers of the World project by Thames Festival Trust. During this two year collaborative project, students not only learnt about our local River Sherbourne, but through their connection with students in Tanzania, they also learnt about the River Ruvu. The amazing artworks from this project will be on display next month in the foyer of the former IKEA building.
- There will be creative workshops and making sessions led by artists from Juneau Projects for Spon End residents to learn about the past, present, and future wildlife along the River Sherbourne. They will investigate how this ties into Spon End’s clock-making heritage, ultimately working towards the production of a co-created art trail in the area.
- Today marks the last showing of Imagineer Productions’ Flow: Turning The Tide – An Ocean Fair. This event explores threats to the ocean and encourages participation in ocean recovery through VR, film, sound experiences, exhibitions, live performances, and hands-on activities. A great way to both stir the imagination, create a wonderful event, and hopefully encourage audiences to think about the state of our blue planet.
- Across the May Day bank holiday weekend, we are working with the Canal and River Trust. Two of the city’s Canal Basins, River Sherbourne, and other waterways in the city will be bustling with activity, in the four-day celebration WaterWAYS. There will be free storytelling and water-themed craft activities from the Canal and River Trust education boat, music from Norfolk Broads at The Village Butty, and the launching of electronic folk duo Crewdson & Cevanne’s EP Rites for Crossing Water. Roam + Dwell from Ludic Rooms will be putting on traditional and tech-based versions of Maypole dancing, as well as yoga, folklore, and garland-making workshops. You can go on ecology and heritage walks, including Jack’s Frog – Frog Walk, and Walk With Me (Talking Birds), or walk by the waterside with Muslim Hikers for a multifaith celebration and Iftar feast. You can also join our Let’s Paddle, Let’s Ride and Let’s Fish sessions for some kayaking, cycling, and fishing along the canal. There is something for everyone, so we can all celebrate Coventry’s blue spaces!
We hope to bring people closer to nature and help promote the benefits of a land rich in wildlife.
From blue spaces to green - we want to get people into Coventry’s green spaces, to deepen their connections with our diverse heritage, wildlife, and natural landscape, and build a culture of wanting to protect and sustainably develop our city’s environment.
The interactive performances of ANIMALS!, created by Dens & Signals, prompted discussions about connections between animals, humans, and nature, through its fun, original songs earlier this month.
Another way for people to learn about Coventry’s incredible wildlife is through the city-wide Coventry Creature Count with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, taking place at the end of this month. Citizens will be invited to record the wildlife they see and share their experiences, culminating in a 48-hour wildlife census, to measure the success of biodiversity initiatives. Living Moss Murals, made by Mosstika, will be dotted around the city to highlight some of Coventry’s hidden wildlife and encourage biodiversity in urban areas. This will be a really fun and creative way for visitors to explore the city.
Next month in War Memorial Park, enjoy Celestial’s fantastic drone show Our Wilder Family, inspired by the movements of flocks of birds, which encourages reflection on our role in preserving local nature and protecting the planet. It will be accompanied by poetry and a live soundtrack created by composer Dan Jones in collaboration with students from local primary schools. Our Wildlife Gathering weekend will celebrate Coventry’s wildlife through numerous activities across Coventry’s green spaces, including exploring local walking trails, creating your own habitat for animals in your garden (from hedgehog sanctuaries to bird boxes), and conversing with cultivation experts in the Food Union city allotment.
Our Green Futures programme pledges to ‘plant a seed to cherish the place we live in’. Working with local communities and nature lovers we have supported events that encourage the actual planting of seeds and teach new skills in sustainable urban farming!
This has taken place through our Song and Soil events at the Food Union allotment, monthly Crop Swaps between local food growers, and our major pollinator planting project Bee-lines. We have distributed thousands of seeds to encourage planting citywide and create spectacular new pollinator pathways and wildflower meadows. At the end of this month the Spaces(in)BETWEEN Film Screening will show short films, which celebrate our city’s cultivated and incidental growing spaces, to spark discussions about the importance of green spaces and the plants that occupy them. We would love to see pictures of your planting and gardens by tagging #GreenFutures, @coventry2021, @heritagefunduk and @WKWT on Instagram!
Spending time in green spaces can be greatly beneficial for health and wellbeing. As we commemorate the centenary of the War Memorial Park, we encourage you to visit the War Memorial Park Sensory Garden, where you can experience the immersive sound art installation Innervation by Rosie Tee and Bryony Rose. Our Days of Doing in April and May, are free drop-in events in green spaces across the city. You can take part in creative workshops, wildlife, and nature activities, watch theatre performances, help with wildflower growing, or enjoy the picnic area and relaxation zone. You can also participate in nature-inspired creative activities at our woodland wellbeing sessions, as a part of the Nature Nurture series produced by Starfish Collaborative, every Tuesday at Moat House Park. The Little Acorns sessions are perfect for preschool children, and the Breath of Fresh Air sessions are great for adults.
Finally, we want to help spark youth environmental activism. The World Earth Day team highlighted a recent Deloitte survey, which shows that 50% of the Gen Z participants are reducing how much they buy, and 45% have stopped purchasing certain brands because of ethical or sustainability concerns. This spotlights Gen Z as a major source of inspiration, and we want to provide a platform to encourage and call attention to their efforts.
We have the Forest Camps events coming up, where you can see what young people from Coventry have created through a series of workshops on nature, safety in urban green spaces, and climate activism. Next week, we have the Haus Of Kraft Junk Kouture recycled fashion competition, where primary school children from Coventry will show off their upcycled creations as a response to the global impact of fast fashion. The Haus Of Kraft: Beneath The Seams catwalk will also focus on the connections between people, places, and the planet, through a fusion of arts, movements, music, spoken word, and more sensational designs made from sustainable materials.
We hope that you will go to some of these Green Futures events, and that they will motivate you to spread awareness and lobby for environmental protection. Because the way we get to a greener world is to move together. There is still time to fight the climate crisis and produce a healthier planet for future generations if we move together. It will take all of us.
- Creative Director Chenine Bhathena