Seed Bed 2022-23
Totnes Climate Hub
In January 2023, Totnes Climate Hub ran two Wild Words workshops, facilitated by creative writing teacher Heidi Stephenson. The group analysed what makes for powerful eco-poetry, what its purpose is, how it has to engage hearts and minds to inspire individual and collective change, as well bearing witness, spreading awareness and changing the lens of perception. The participants completed in-depth writing exercises, each devised a Green Manifesto, and completed five new eco-poems, which were shared on Totnes Climate Hub’s social media platforms on Earth Day 2023.
‘We learned so much in six hours both in the workshops and afterwards during our research and writing exercises. The workshops were packed with information and inspiration; we had exercises to stretch our imaginations and technical ability, as well as examples of eco poetry of others to consider and enjoy. A skilled facilitator, Heidi gave us both the tools to pursue further work on eco poetry and a desire to use words to make a difference to the environment and those who inhabit it. Thank you for a thorough and challenging two days – really pleased to have able to be part of it.”’
Chardstock Eco Group
Kit Brook flows for 6 miles through Somerset’s Blackdown Hills, before joining the River Axe. One of Chardstock Eco Group‘s aims is to engage the community and create a plan for the river’s future – to tackle the growing issues of flood and drought, improve water quality, increase the sustainability of the land, and create a better place for wildlife and people.
Thanks to Seed Bed, Chardstock Eco Group were able to recruit the storyteller Claire Viner to lead workshops and teach the community (including pupils from the local primary school) how to tell its stories of the river – from the past, as it is now, and how the community dreams it will become.
‘“Very, very big smiley faces here. Thank you so much. Our project is to create a better future for the communities living close to the Kit Brook in East Devon. People need to be able to imagine what a better future would look like, and this is where story telling comes in.” ’
Coast to Coast – Downstage Write
Downstage Write is a theatre company dedicated to creating development and production opportunities for playwrights in Devon and Cornwall. Thanks to Seed Bed they were able to run writing workshops, commission pieces from local writers, and stage short plays professionally in community spaces. Torbay and Plymouth were chosen for the events because they face similar socioeconomic and geographical barriers.
‘Commissioning 4 emerging local writers meant we ended up with four plays that each had an original voice and authenticity – exploring everything from our dietary choices and access to that discourse depending on your class background, to the impact of the climate crisis on parts of the world outside of Europe and America (who can often dominate our field of vision). But despite the individuality of these pieces, they also felt tied together by the fact they were written for our part of the country; the threat of flooding was something clearly at the forefront of our writers’ minds and there was something that felt very political about putting those plays on in two coastal locations. Local people writing stories for local audiences.’
‘It was a pleasure to work with Literature Works – the process was easy and admin-light, meaning we could focus on the delivery of the project.’
‘As an emerging playwright, it was a real privilege to have been chosen for this opportunity.’
‘FANTASTIC! We really believed it. The Nods to current climate justice culture and movements was really appreciated and impactful.’
‘Really positive to see arts engage in the topic.’
‘Very professional and stimulating.’
‘I felt really part of something last night. Loads of ideas came flooding to us after the sharing…’
The Highest Point – MED Theatre
Wild Nights Young Company, hosted by Dartmoor-based MED Theatre, is a group of 12-19 year olds with varying talents, interests and backgrounds. The company members are from rurally remote locations and use their experience of living in isolated towns and villages to inspire their art. The company has been run by MED Theatre for 19 years and has provided a place for teenagers to find their own voice through writing, performance and media arts.
The Seed Bed grant enabled the young people to use their own feelings about, and understanding of, the current climate crisis to create the Dartmoor 2323 radio play, learning new skills and challenging themselves along the way.
This 15-minute radio play imagines the future of Dartmoor, 300 years from now, and what the consequences will be if the current issues around climate change are not dealt with. Plymouth and Exeter are below sea level and the climate refugees have flooded to the high moor from across Devon, causing clashes between locals and ‘blow-ins’, and an influx of unlikely animal species.
‘I feel more confident speaking about the climate crisis.’
‘It was really fun having Down Stage Write in and having some new input.’
‘This project will help us to explore our creativity outside of school, in a place where we aren’t restricted by time or curriculum constraints. It will take us off our screens and gives us a chance to laugh about and process subject matters that could otherwise cause anxiety or stress. ’
‘The Advice Surgery was great food for thought and we felt very supported by you. The application process was also clear and simple. ’
‘I feel more intertwined with the older community through explaining what the play was about.’
‘I enjoyed the freedom of writing and casting it ourselves, and choosing who we want to play’
Langaford Farm Trust
In July 2023, Langaford Farm Trust ran Wild Words Workshops with Lisa Schniedau (storyteller and author) and Su Bristow (herbalist and author), allowing people to express themselves in storytelling or writing inspired by the unique wildflower meadows at the site. Also supported via Seed Bed was a Black2Nature camp led by Dr Mya-Rose Craig (aka Birdgirl). Black2Nature is a an organisation founded by Mya-Rose that helps inner-city Visibly Minority ethnic (VME) children and families to experience and connect with nature.