e62 compilation – season / saison 2

This content is also available in / Ce contenu est également disponible sur: Français

A compilation of excerpts from 41 conversations (31 in English, 10 in French) in season 2 of the conscient podcast. 31 are in English and 10 are in French. You will find a written translation for each French language excerpt below.

Video version


e21 dufresne : capitalism is over, my conversation with philosopher Dr. Todd Dufresne about reality, grief, art and the climate crisis.

Democracy of Suffering

  • I think capitalism is over, but the problem is we have nothing to replace it with. Here’s when we need artists, and others, to tell us what kind of vision they have for a future that is different than that: a future of play and meaningful work would be one future that I think is not just utopic, but very possible. So there’s a possible future moving forward that could be much better than it is right now, but we’re not going to get there without democracy of suffering as we’re experiencing it now and will at least over the next 20, 30, 40 years until we figure this out, but we need to figure it out quickly.

e22 westerkamp : slowing down through listening, my conversation with composer and listener Hildegard Westerkamp about acoustic ecology and the climate crisis.

Some Hope

  • We need to allow for time to pass without any action, without any solutions and to just experience it. I think that a slowdown is an absolute – if there is any chance to survive – that kind of slowing down through listening and meditation and through not doing so much. I think there’s some hope in that.

e23 appadurai: what does a just transition look like?, my ‘soundwalk’ conversation with climate activist Anjali Appadurai about the just transition and the role of the arts in the climate emergency.

The deeper disease

  • The climate crisis and the broader ecological crisis is a symptom of the deeper disease, which is that rift from nature, that seed of domination, of accumulation, of greed and of the urge to dominate others through colonialism, through slavery, through othering – the root is actually othering – and that is something that artists can touch. That is what has to be healed, and when we heal that, what does the world on the other side of a just transition look like? I really don’t want to believe that it looks like exactly this, but with solar. The first language that colonisation sought to suppress, which was that of indigenous people, is where a lot of answers are held.

e24 weaving : the good, possible and beautiful, my conversation with artist jil p. weaving about community-engaged arts, public art, the importance of the local, etc.

The roles that artists can play

  • The recognition, and finding ways to assist people, in an awareness of all the good, the possible and the beautiful and where those things can lead, is one of the roles that artists can specifically play. 

e25 shaw : a sense of purpose, my conversation with Australian climate activist Michael Shaw about support structures for ecogrief and the role of art.

Listen to what the call is in you

  • It’s a real blessing to feel a sense of purpose that in these times. It’s a real blessing to be able to take the feelings of fear and grief and actually channel them somewhere into running a group or to making a film or doing your podcasts. I think it’s important that people really tune in to find out what they’re given to do at this time, to really listen to what the call is in you and follow it. I think there’s something that’s very generative and supportive about feeling a sense of purpose in a time of collapse.

e26 klein : rallying through art, my conversation with climate emergency activist Seth Klein about his book A Good War : Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, the newly formed Climate Emergency Unit and his challenge to artists to help rally us to this cause

My challenge to artists today

  • Here would be my challenge to artists today. We’re beginning to see artists across many artistic domains producing climate and climate emergency art, which is important and good to see. What’s striking to me is that most of it, in the main, is dystopian, about how horrific the world will be if we fail to rise to this moment. To a certain extent, that makes sense because it is scary and horrific, but here’s what intrigued me about what artists were producing in the war is that in the main, it was not dystopian, even though the war was horrific. It was rallying us: the tone was rallying us. I found myself listening to this music as I was doing the research and thinking, World War II had a popular soundtrack, the anti-Vietnam war had a popular soundtrack. When I was a kid in the peace and disarmament movement, there was a popular soundtrack. This doesn’t have a popular soundtrack, yet.

é27 prévost : l’énergie créatrice consciente (in French), my conversation with sound artist, musician and radio producer Hélène Prévost about the state of the world and the role of artists in the ecological crisis.

The less free art is, the less it disturbs

  • It is in times of crisis that solutions emerge and that would be my argument. It is in this solution to the crisis that, yes, there is a discourse that will emerge and actions that will emerge, but we can’t see them yet. Maybe we can commission them, as you suggest: Can you make me a documentary on this? or Can you make me a performance that will illustrate this aspect? But for the rest, I think we must leave creative energy be free, but not unconscious. That’s where education, social movements and education, or maybe through action. You see, and I’m going to contradict myself here, and through art, but not art that is servile, but art that is free. I feel like quoting Josée Blanchette in Le Devoir who, a week ago, said ‘the less free art is, the less it disturbs’.

é28 ung : résilience et vulnérabilité (in French), my conversation with educator and philosopher Jimmy Ung about the notion of privilege, resilience, the role of the arts in facilitating intercultural dialogue and learning, education, social justice, etc. 

Practicing resilience

  • Resilience, at its core, is having the ability to be vulnerable and I think often resilience is seen as the ability to not be vulnerable, and for me, the opposite, more like resilience is the ability to be vulnerable and to believe with hope. Maybe we have the ability to bounce back, to come back, to rise again, to be reborn? I think that’s a way of practicing resilience, which is more and more necessary. Because if we want to move forward, if we want to learn and learn to unlearn, we will have to be vulnerable and therefore see resilience as the ability to be vulnerable.

e29 loy, : the bodhisattva path my conversation with professor, writer and Zen teacher David Loy about the bodhisattva path, the role of storytelling, interdependence, nonduality and the notion of ‘hope’ through a Buddhist lens.

The ecological crisis as a kind of the karma

  • Some people would say, OK, we have a climate crisis, so we’ve got to shift as quickly as possible as we can from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, which is right. But somehow the idea that by doing that we can just sort of carry on in the way that we have been otherwise is a misunderstanding. We have a much greater crisis here and what it fundamentally goes back to is this sense of separation from the earth, that we feel our wellbeing, therefore, is separate from the wellbeing of the earth and that therefore we can kind of exploit it and use it in any way we want. I think we can understand the ecological crisis as a kind of the karma built into that way of relating and exploiting the earth. The other really important thing, which I end up talking about more often, is I think Buddhism has this idea of the bodhisattva path, the idea that it’s not simply that we want to become awakened simply for our own benefit, but much more so that we want to awaken in order to be a service to everyone. 

e30 maggs : art and the world after this, my conversation with cultural theorist David Maggs about artistic capacity, sustainability, value propositions, disruption, recovery, etc.

Entanglements of relationships

  • Complexity is the world built of relationships and it’s a very different thing to engage what is true or real in a complexity framework than it is to engage in it, in what is a modernist Western enlightenment ambition, to identify the absolute objective properties that are intrinsic in any given thing. Everyone is grappling with the fact that the world is exhibiting itself so much in these entanglements of relationships. The arts are completely at home in that world. And so, we’ve been sort of under the thumb of the old world. We’ve always been a kind of second-class citizen in an enlightenment rationalist society. But once we move out of that world and we move into a complexity framework, suddenly the arts are entirely at home, and we have capacity in that world that a lot of other sectors don’t have. What I’ve been trying to do with this report (Art and the World After This) is articulate the way in which these different disruptions are putting us in a very different reality and it’s a reality in which we go from being a kind of secondary entertaining class to, maybe, having a capacity to sit at the heart of a lot of really critical problem-solving challenges.

e31 morrow : artists as reporters, my conversation with composer, sound artist, performer, and innovator Charlie Morrow about the origins of the conscient podcast, music, acoustic ecology, art and climate, health, hope and artists as journalists. 

In tune with what’s going on in the world

  • I think that artists are for the most part in tune with what’s going on in the world. We’re all reporters, somehow journalists, who translate our message into our art, as art is in my mind, a readout, a digested or raw readout of what it is that we’re experiencing. Our wish to be an artist is in fact, in order to be able to spend our lives doing that process.

é32 tsou : changer notre culture (in French), my conversation (in French) with musician and cultural diplomacy advisor Shuni Tsou about citizen engagement, cultural action, the ecological crisis, arts education, social justice, systemic change, equity, etc,

Cultural change around climate action

  • Citizen engagement is what is needed for cultural change around climate action. It’s really a cultural shift in any setting. When you want to make big systemic changes, you have to change the culture and arts and culture are good tools to change the culture.

e33 toscano : what we’re fighting for, my conversation podcaster and artist Peterson Toscano about the role of the arts in the climate crisis, LGBTQ+ issues, religion, the wonders of podcasting, impacts, storytelling, performance art, etc. 

Where the energy is in a story

  • It’s artists who not only can craft a good story, but also we can tell the story that’s the hardest to tell and that is the story about the impacts of climate solutions. So it’s really not too hard to talk about the impacts of climate change, and I see people when they speak, they go through the laundry list of all the horrors that are upon us and they don’t realize it, but they’re actually closing people’s minds, closing people down because they’re getting overwhelmed. And not that we shouldn’t talk about the impacts, but it’s so helpful to talk about a single impact, maybe how it affects people locally, but then talk about how the world will be different when we enact these changes. And how do you tell a story that gets to that? Because that gets people engaged and excited because you’re then telling this story about what we’re fighting for, not what we’re fighting against. And that is where the energy is in a story.

é34 ramade : l’art qui nous emmène ailleurs (in French), my conversation (in French) with art historian, critic, curator and art and environment expert Bénédicte Ramade on the climate emergency, nature, music, visual arts, ecological art, etc.

With music, you can convey so many things

  • I am thinking of artist-composers who write pieces based on temperature readings that are converted into musical notes. This is also how the issue of global warming can be transmitted, from a piece played musically translating a stable climate that is transformed and that comes to embody in music a climatic disturbance. It is extraordinary. Is felt by the music, a fact of composition, something very abstract, with a lot of figures, statistical curves. We are daily fed with figures and statistical curves about the climate. ‘They literally do nothing to us anymore’. But on a more sensitive level, with the transposition into music, if it is played, if it is interpreted, ah, suddenly, it takes us elsewhere. And when I talk about these works, sometimes people who are more scientific or museum directors are immediately hooked, saying ‘it’s extraordinary with music, you can convey so many things.

e35 salas : adapting to reality, my conversation with Spanish curator + producer Carmen Salas on reality, ecogrief, artists & the climate crisis, arts strategies, curating and her article Shifting Paradigms

Artists need help in this process

  • I find that more and more artists are interested in understanding how to change their practice and to adapt it to the current circumstances. I really believe artists need help in this process. Like we all do. I’m not an environmental expert. I’m not a climate expert. I’m just a very sensitive human being who is worried about what we are leaving behind for future generations. So, I’m doing what I can to really be more ethical with my work, but I’m finding more and more artists who are also struggling to understand what they can do. I think when in a conversation between curators or producers like myself and people like you – thinkers and funders – to come together and to understand the current situation, to accept reality, then we can strategize about how we can put things into place and how we can provide more funding for different types of projects.

e36 fanconi : towards carbon positive work, my conversation with theatre artist and art-climate activist Kendra Fanconi, artistic director of The Only Animal about the role of the arts in the climate emergency, carbon positive work, collaboration and artists mobilization.

Ecological restoration

  • Ben Twist at Creative Carbon Scotland talks about the transformation from a culture of consumerism to a culture of stewardship and we are the culture makers so isn’t that our job right now to make a new culture and it will take all of us as artists together to do that? …  It’s not enough to do carbon neutral work. We want to do carbon positive work. We want our artwork to be involved with ecological restoration. What does that mean? I’ve been thinking a lot about that. What is theatre practice that actually gives back, that makes something more sustainable? That is carbon positive. I guess that’s a conversation that I’m hoping to have in the future with other theatre makers who have that vision.

é37 lebeau : l’art régénératif (in French), my conversation with Écoscéno co-founder and executive director Anne-Catherine Lebeau on collaboration, circular economies, the role of art in the climate crisis, moving from ‘Take Make Waste’ to ‘Care Dare Share’ and creating regenerative art.

From ‘Take Make Waste’ to ‘Care Dare Share’

  • For me, it is certain that we need more collaboration. That’s what’s interesting. Moving from a ‘Take Make Waste’ model to ‘Care Dare Share’. To me, that says a lot. I think we need to look at everything we have in the arts as a common good that we need to collectively take care of. Often, at the beginning, we talked in terms of doing as little harm as possible to the environment, not harming it, that’s often how sustainable development was presented, then by doing research, and by being inspired, among other things, by what is done at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in England, around circular economies, I realized that they talk about how to nourish a new reality. How do you create art that is regenerative? Art that feeds something.

e38 zenith : arts as medicine to metabolize charge, my conversation with animist somatic practitioner, poet, philosopher, ecologist and clown Shante’ Sojourn Zenith about reality, somatics, ecological grief, rituals, nature, performance and ecological imaginations.

The intensity that’s left in the system

  • Art is the medicine that actually allows us to metabolize charge. It allows us to metabolize trauma. It takes the intensity that’s left in the system, and this goes all the way back to ritual. Art, for me, is a sort of a tributary coming off from ritual that is still sort of consensually allowed in this reality when the direct communication with nature through ritual was silenced, so it comes back to that wider river…

e39 engle : the integral role of the arts in societal change, my conversation with urbanist Dr. Jayne Engle about participatory city planning, design, ecological crisis, sacred civics, artists and culture in societal and civilizational change.

How change occurs

  • The role of artists and culture is fundamental and so necessary, and we need so much more of it and not only on the side. The role of arts and culture in societal and civilizational change right now needs to be much more integral into, yes, artworks and imagination – helping us to culturally co-produce how we live and work together into the future and that means art works – but it also means artists perspectives into much more mainstream institutions, ideas, and thoughts about how change occurs.

e40 frasz : integrated awakeness in daily life, my conversation with researcher and strategic thinker Alexis Frasz about ecological crisis, creative climate action, community arts, Buddhism, leadership and cross-sectoral arts practices. 

A lack of agency

  • There is a lot of awareness and interest in making change and yet change still isn’t really happening, at least not at the pace or scale that we need. It feels to me increasingly like there’s not a lack of awareness, nor a lack of concern, or even a lack of willingness, but actually a lack of agency. I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of arts, and culture and creative practice in helping people not just wake up to the need for change, but actually undergo the entire transformational process from that moment of waking up (which you and I share a language around Buddhist practice). There’s that idea that you can wake up in an instant but integrating the awakeness into your daily life is actually a process. It’s an ongoing thing.

e41 rae : a preparedness mindset my conversation with artist-researcher, facilitator and educator Jen Rae about art and emergency preparedness, community arts, reality, ecological grief, arts and climate emergency in Australia 

How artists step up

  • The thing about a preparedness mindset is that you are thinking into the future and so if one of those scenarios happens, you’ve already mentally prepared in some sort of way for it, so you’re not dealing with the shock. That’s a place as an artist that I feel has a lot of potential for engagement and for communication and bringing audiences along. When you’re talking about realities, accepting that reality, has the potential to push us to do other things. It’s great to hear about Canada Council changing different ways around enabling the arts and building capacity in the arts in the context of the climate emergency. It’ll be interesting to see how artists step up.

e42 rosen : when he climate threat becomes real, my conversation with architect Mark Rosen about what is enough, green buildings, how to change the construction industry, barriers and constraints in finding solutions to the climate crisis and deferred ecological debt.

The idea of enough

  • The idea of enough is very interesting to me. The idea that the planet doesn’t have enough for us on our current trajectory is at the heart of that. The question of whether the planet has enough for everyone on the planet, if we change the way we do things is an interesting way. Can we sustain seven, eight, nine billion people on the planet if everyone’s idea of enough was balanced with that equation? I don’t know, but I think it’s possible. I think that if we’ve shown nothing else as a species, as humans, it’s adaptability and resiliency and when forced to, we can do surprisingly monumental things and changes when the threat becomes real to us.


  • One of the things that I find very interesting in my design process as an architect is that if you were to show me two possible building sites, one that is a green field wide open, with nothing really influencing the site flat, easy to build, and then you show me a second site that is a steep rock face with an easement that you can’t build across. Inevitably, it seems to be that the site with more constraints results in a more interesting solution and the idea that constraints can be of benefit to the creative process is one that I think you can apply things that, on the surface, appear to be barriers instead of constraints. Capitalism, arguably, is one of those, if we say we can’t do it because it costs too much, we’re treating it as a barrier, as opposed to us saying the solution needs to be affordable, then it becomes a constraint and we can push against constraints and in doing so we can come up with creative solutions and so, one way forward, is to try and identify these things that we feel are preventing us from doing what we know we need to do and bringing them into our process as constraints, that influence where we go rather than prevent us from going where we need to go.

e43 haley: climate as a cultural issue my conversation with British ecoartist David Haley about ecoart, climate change as a cultural issue, speaking truth to power, democracy, regeneration, morality, creating space and listening.

Deep questions and listening

  • Climate change is actually a cultural issue, not a scientific issue. Science has been extremely good at identifying the symptoms and looking at the way in which it has manifest itself, but it hasn’t really addressed any of the issues in terms of the causes. It has tried to use what you might call techno fix solution focused problem-based approaches to the situation, rather than actually asking deep questions and listening.

A regenerative way of doing and thinking

  • Going back to reality, one of the issues that we are not tackling is that we’re taking a dystopian view upon individual activities that creates guilt, syndromes, and neuroses which of course means that the systems of power are working and in terms of actually addressing the power – of speaking truth to power – we need to name the names, we need to name Standard Oil, IG Farben who now call themselves ESSO, Chevron, Mobil, DuPont, BP, Bayer, Monsanto BASF, Pfizer and so on. These are the people that control the governments that we think we’re voting for and the pretense of democracy that follows them. Until those organizations actually rescind their power to a regenerative way of doing and thinking, we’re stuffed, to put pretty bluntly.

Create the space for life to move onwards

  • What I have learned to do, and this is my practice, is to focus on making space. This became clear to me when I read, Lila : An inquiry into morals by Robert Pirsig. Towards the end of the book, he suggests that the most moral act of all, is to create the space for life to move onwards and it was one of those sentences that just rang true with me, and I’ve held onto that ever since and pursued the making of space, not the filling of it. When I say I work with ecology, I try to work with whole systems, ecosystems. The things within an ecosystem are the elements with which I try to work. I try not to introduce anything other than what is already there. In other words, making the space as habitat for new ways of thinking, habitat for biodiversity to enrich itself, habitat for other ways of approaching things. I mean, there’s an old scientific adage about nature abhors a vacuum, and that vacuum is the space as I see it.

e44 bilodeau : the arts are good at changing culture, my conversation with playwright and climate activist Chantal Bilodeau about theatre, cultural climate action, the role of art in the climate emergency and how to build audiences and networks

Let’s think about it together

  • I think of the arts as planting a seed and activism as being the quickest way you can get from A to B. So activism is like, this is what we’re going to do. We have to do it now. This is a solution. This is what we’re working towards and there’s all kinds of different solutions, but it’s about action. The arts are not about pushing any one solution or telling people, this is what you need to do. It is about saying here’s a problem. Let’s think about it together. Let’s explore avenues we could take. Let’s think about what it means and what it means, not just, should I drive a car or not, but what it means, as in, who are we on this earth and what is our role? How do we fit in the bigger ecosystem of the entire planet? I think the arts are something very good to do that and they are good at changing a culture.

e45 abbott : a compassionate, just and sustainable world, my conversation with filmmaker Jennifer Abbott about her film The Magnitude of all Things, reality, zen, compassion, grief, art and how to ensure a more compassionate, just and sustainable livable world.

Untangling the delusion

  • The notion of reality and the way we grasp reality as humans is so deeply subjective, but it’s also socially constructed, and so, as a filmmaker – and this is relevant because I’m also a Zen Buddhist – from both those perspectives, I try to explore what we perceive as reality to untangle and figure out in what ways are we being diluted? And in what ways do we have clear vision? And obviously the clearer vision we can have, the better actions we take to ensure a more compassionate, just and sustainable livable world. I’m all for untangling the delusion while admitting wholeheartedly that to untangle it fully is impossible.

We’re headed for some catastrophe

  • In terms of why people are so often unable to accept the reality of climate change, I think it’s very understandable, because the scale and the violence of it is just so vast, it’s difficult to comprehend. It’s also so depressing and enraging if one knows the politics behind it and overwhelming. I don’t think we, as a species, deal with things that have those qualities very well and we tend to look away. I have a lot of compassion, including for myself, in terms of how difficult it is to come to terms with the climate catastrophe. It is the end of the world as we know it. We don’t know what exactly the new world is going to look like, but we do know we’re headed for some catastrophe. 

e46 badham : creating artistic space to think, my conversation with Dr Marnie Badham about art and social justice practice Australia and Canada, research on community-engaged arts, cultural measurement, education and how the arts create space for people to think through issues such as the climate emergency.

There’s a lot that the arts can do

  • I think going forward, there’s a lot that the arts can do. Philosophically art is one of the only places that we can still ask these questions, play out politics and negotiate ideas. Further, art isn’t about communicating climate disaster, art is about creating space for people to think through some of these issues.

e47 keeptwo : reconciliation to heal the earth, my conversation with Indigenous writer, editor, teacher and journalist Suzanne Keeptwo about Indigenous rights and land acknowledgements, arts education, cultural awareness and the role of art in the climate emergency.

Original Agreement

  • In the work that I do and the book that I’ve just had published called, We All Go Back to the Land, it’s really an exploration of that Original Agreement and what it means today. So I want to remind Indigenous readers of our Original Agreement to nurture and protect and honor and respect the Earth Mother and all of the gifts that she has for us and then to introduce that Original Agreement to non-indigenous Canadians or others of the world that so that we can together, as a human species, work toward what I call the ultimate act of reconciliation to help heal the earth.

é48 danis : l’art durable (in French), my conversation with author and multidisciplinary artist Daniel Danis on sustainable art, consciousness, dreams, storytelling, territory, nature, disaster and the role of art in the ecological transition

Images of our shared ecology are born

  • It’s like saying that we make art, but it’s an art that, all of a sudden, just like that, is offered. We don’t try to show it, rather, we try to experience something and to make people experience things and therefore, without being in the zone of cultural mediation, but to be in a zone of experiences, of exchanges and therefore that I don’t control. For example, in the theatre, a bubble in which I force the spectator to look and to focus only on what I am telling them, how can we tell ourselves about the planet? How can we tell ourselves about our terrestrial experiences, where we share a place between branches, clay, repair bandages and traces of the earth on a canvas or ourselves lying on the earth? No matter, all the elements that one could bring as possible traces of a shareable experience are present, and from there, all of a sudden, images of our shared ecology are born.

Art must emit waves

  • For me, a manifestation of art must emit waves and it is not seen, it is felt and therefore it requires the being – those who participate with me in my projects or myself on the space that I will manifest these objects there – to be in a porosity of my body that allows that there are waves that occur and necessarily, these waves the, mixed with the earth and that a whole set, we are in cooperation. It is sure that it has an invisible effect which is the wave, and which is the wave of sharing, of sharing, not even of knowledge, it is just the sharing of our existence on earth and how to be co-operators?

e49 windatt : holistic messages, my conversation with Indigenous artist Clayton Windatt of about visual arts, Indigenous sovereignty, decolonization, the arts and social change, communications, artists rights, the climate emergency and hope.

Make a change

  • What if you tasked the arts sector with how to make messages, not about the crisis, but on the shifts in behavior that are necessary on a more meaningful basis. When the pandemic began and certain products weren’t on the shelves at grocery stores, but there was still lots of stuff. There were shortages, but there wasn’t that much shortage. How much would my life really change if half the products in the store were just not here, right and half of them didn’t come from all over in the world? Like they were just: whatever made sense to have it available here and just having less choice. How terrible would that be: kind of not. How can we change behavior on a more holistic level, and have it stick, because that’s what we need to do right now, and I think the arts would be a great vehicle to see those messages hit everybody and make a change.

e50 newton : imagining the future we want, my conversation with climate activist Teika Newton about climate justice, hope, science, nature, resilience, inter-connections and the role of the arts in the climate emergency.

There are no limits

  • There are so many amazing people across this country who are helping to make change and are holding such a powerful vision for what the future can be. We get trapped in thinking about the paradigm limit in which we currently live, we put bounds on what feels like reality and what feels possible. There are no limits, and the arts helps us to push against that limited set of beliefs and helps us to remember that the way that we know things to be right now is not fixed. We can imagine anything. We can imagine the future we want.

We need to love the things around us

  • I see that there are a lot of ways in which people in my community use the landscape in a disrespectful way. Not considering that that’s someone’s home and that a wild place is not just a recreational playground for humans. It’s not necessarily a source of wealth generation. It’s actually a living, breathing entity and a home to other things and a home to us as well. I find that all really troubling that there is that disconnection and it sometimes does make me despair about the future course that we’re on. You know, if we can’t take care of the place that sustains us, if we can’t live with respect for not just our human neighbours, but our wilderness neighbors, I don’t know how well we’re going to fare in the future. We need to love the things around us in order to care for them.

Feel connected to others

  • Having the ability to come together as a community and participate in the collective act of creating and expressing through various media, whether that’s song, the written word, poetry, painting, mosaic or mural making, so many different ways of expressing, I think are really, really valuable for keeping people whole grounded, mentally healthy and to feel connected to others. It’s the interconnection among people that will help us to survive in a time of crisis. The deeper and more complex the web of connections, the better your chances of resilience.

e51 hiser : the emotional wheel of climate, my conversation with educator Dr. Krista Hiser on research about climate education, post-apocalyptic and cli-fi literature, musical anthems, ungrading, art as an open space and the emotional wheel of the climate emergency.

Help them see that reality

  • What motivates me is talking to students in a way that they’re not going to come back to me in 10 years with this look on their face, you know, Dr. Hiser, why didn’t you tell me this? Why didn’t you tell me? I want to be sure that they’re going to leave the interaction that we get to have that they’re going to leave with at least an idea that someone tried to help them see that reality.

The last open space

  • The art space is maybe the last open space where that boxiness and that rigidity isn’t as present.

Knowledge intermediaries

  • The shift is that faculty are really no longer just experts. They are knowledge brokers or knowledge intermediaries. There’s so much information out there. It’s so overwhelming. There are so many different realities that faculty need to interact with this information and create experiences that translate information for students so that students can manage their own information.

Not getting stuck in the grief

  • There’s a whole range of emotions around climate emergency, and not getting stuck in the grief. Not getting stuck in anger. A lot of what we see of youth activists and in youth activism is that they get kind of burned out in anger and it’s not a sustainable emotion. But none of them are emotions that you want to get stuck in. When you get stuck in climate grief, it is hard to get unstuck, so moving through all the different emotions — including anger and including hope — and that idea of an anthem and working together, those are all part of the emotion wheel that exists around climate change.

e52 mahtani : listening and connecting, my conversation with composer Dr. Annie Mahtani about music, sound art, the climate emergency, listening, nature, uncertainty, festivals, gender parity and World Listening Day

That doesn’t mean we should give up

  • If we can find ways to encourage people to listen, that can help them to build a connection, even if it’s to a small plot of land near them. By helping them to have a new relationship with that, which will then expand and help hopefully savour a deeper and more meaningful relationship with our natural world, and small steps like that, even if it’s only a couple of people at a time, that could spread. I think that nobody, no one person, is going to be able to change the world, but that doesn’t mean we should give up. 

Exploration of our soundscapes

  • For the (BEAST) festival we wanted to look at what COVID has done to alter and adjust people’s practice, the way that composers and practitioners have responded to the pandemic musically or through listening and also addressing the wider issues: what does it mean going forwards after this year, the year of uncertainty, the year of opportunity for many? What does it mean going forward to our soundscape, to our environmental practice and listening? We presented that goal for words, as a series of questions, you know, not expecting necessarily any answers, but a way in a way to address it and a way to explore and that’s what the, the weekend of concerts and talks and workshops was this kind of exploration of our soundscapes, thinking about change and thinking about our future.

e53 kalmanovitch : nurturing imagination, my conversation with musician Dr. Tanya Kalmanovitch about music, ethnomusicology, alberta tar sands, arts education, climate emergency, arts policy and how artistic practice can nurture imagination

The content inside a silence

  • One of the larger crises we face right now is actually a crisis of failure of imagination and one of the biggest things we can do in artistic practice is to nurture imagination. It is what we do. It’s our job. We know how to do that. We know how to trade in uncertainty and complexity. We understand the content inside a silence, it’s unlocking and speaking to ways of knowing and being and doing that when you start to try to talk about them in words, it is really challenging because it ends up sounding like bumper stickers, like ‘Music Builds Bridges’. I have a big problem with universalizing discourses in the arts, as concealing structures of imperialism and colonialism.


  • Normal life in North America does not leave us room for grief. We do not know how to handle grief. We don’t know what to do with it. We push it away. We channel it, we contain it, we compartmentalize it. We ignore it. We believe that it’s something that has an end, that it’s linear or there are stages. We believe it’s something we can get through. Whereas I’ve come to think a lot about the idea of living with lossliving with indeterminacy, living with uncertainty, as a way of awakening to the radical sort of care and love for ourselves, for our fellow living creatures for the life on the planet. I think about how to transform a performance space or a classroom or any other environment into a community of care. How can I create the conditions by which people can bear to be present to what they have lost, to name and to know what we have lost and from there to grieve, to heal and to act in the fullest awareness of loss? Seeing love and loss as intimately intertwined.


  • My idea is that there’s a performance, which is sort of my offering, but then there’s also a series of participatory workshops where community members can sound their own stories about where we’ve come from, how they’re living today and the future in which they wish to live, what their needs are, what their griefs are. So here, I’m thinking about using oral history and storytelling as a practice that promotes ways of knowingdoing and healing … with storytelling as a sort of a participatory and circulatory mechanism that promotes healing. I have so much to learn from indigenous storytelling practices. 

Nature as music

  • We are all every one of us musicians. When you choose what song you wake up to on your alarm or use music to set a mood. You sing a catchy phrase to yourself or you sing a child asleepyou’re making musical acts. Then extend that a little bit beyond that anthropocentric lens and hear a bird as a musician, a creek as a musician and that puts us into that intimate relationship with the environment again.


  • I guess this is plea for people to not think about oil sands issues as being Alberta issues, but as those being everyone everywhere issues, and not just because of the ecological ethical consequences of the contamination of the aquiferwhat might happen if 1.4 trillion liters of toxic process water, if the ponds holding those rupture, what might happen nextThat story will still be there, that land and the people, the animals and the plants, all those relationships will still be imperiled, right? So to remember, first of all, that it’s not just an Alberta thing and that the story doesn’t end just because Teck pulled it’s Frontier mining proposal in February, 2020. The story always goes on. I want to honor the particular and the power of place and at the same time I want to uplift the idea that we all belong to that place.

e54 garrett : empowering artists, my conversation with theatre artist Ian Garrett about ethics, theatre, education, role of art in Climate Emergency, Sustainability in Digital Transformation & carbon footprint of Cultural Heritage sector. 

Complete guarantee of extinction

  • I don’t want to confuse the end of an ecologically unsustainable, untenable way of civilization working in this moment with a complete guarantee of extinction. There is a future. It may look very different and sometimes I think the inability to see exactly what that future is – and our plan for it – can be confused for there not being one. I’m sort of okay with that uncertainty, and in the meantime, all one can really do is the work to try and make whatever it ends up being more positive. There’s a sense of biophilia about it.

A pile of burning tires

  • The extreme thought experiment that I like to use in a performance context is: if you had a play in which the audience left with their minds changed about all of their activities, you could say that that is positive. But, if the set that it took place on was a pile of burning tires – which is an objectively bad thing to do for the environment – there is a conversation by framing it as an arts practice as to is there value in having that impact, because of the greater impact. And those sorts of complexities have sort of defined the fusion and different approaches in which to take; it’s not just around metrics.

Individual values towards sustainability

  • The intent of it [the Julie’s Bicycle Creative Green Tools] is not like LEED in which you are getting certified because you have come up with a precise carbon footprint. It’s a tool for, essentially, decision-making in that artistic context, that if you know this information, then you have a better way to consider critically the way that you are making and what you’re making and how you are representing your values and those aspects, regardless of whether or not it is explicitly part of the work. And so there’s lots of tools in which I’ve had the opportunity to have a relationship with which that are really about empowering artists, arts makers, arts collectives to be able to make those decisions so that their individual values towards sustainability – regardless of what they’re actually making – can also be represented and that they can make choices that best represent those regardless of whether or not they’re explicitly creating something for ‘earth day’.

The separation of the artist from the person

  • The separation of the artist from the person and articulating as a profession is a unique thing, whereas an alternative to that could just be that we are expressive and artistic beings that seeks to create and have different talents but turning that into a profession is something that we’ve done to ourselves and so while we do that, we exist within systems, our cultural organizations exist within systems, that have impacts much farther outside of it so that a systems analysis approach is really important.

é55 trépanier : un petit instant dans un espace beaucoup plus vaste (in French), my  conversation with indigenous artist France Trépanier about colonialism, indigenous cultures, ecological transition, time, art, listening, dreams, imagination and this brief moment…

The responsibility to maintain harmonious relationships

  • I think that with this cycle of colonialism, and what it has brought, that we are coming to the end of this century, and with hindsight, we will realize that it was a very small moment in a much larger space, and that we are returning to very deep knowledge. What does it mean to live here on this planet? What does it mean to have the possibility, but also the responsibility to maintain harmonious relationships? I say that the solution to the climate crisis is ‘cardiac’. It will go through the heart. We are talking about love of the planet. That’s the work.

Terra nullius

  • For me, the challenge of the ecological issue or the ecological crisis in which we find ourselves is to understand the source of the problem and not just to put a band-aid on it, not just to try to make small adjustments to our ways of living, but to really look at the very nature of the problem. For me, I think that something happened at the moment of contact, at the moment when the Europeans arrived. They arrived with this notion of property. They talked about Terra Nullius, the idea that they could appropriate territories that were ‘uninhabited’ (I put quotation marks on uninhabited) and I think that was our first collision of worldviews.

Eurocentric vision of artistic practices

  • If we take a longer-term view of how the eurocentric view of artistic practices have imposed itself on the material practices of world cultures, this is going to be a very small moment in history. The idea of disciplines, the way in which the Eurocentric vision imposed categories and imposed a certain elitism of practices. The way it also declassified the material culture of the First Nations, or it was not possible, it was not art. Art objects became either artifacts or crafts. It was completely declassified, we didn’t understand. I think the first people who came here didn’t understand what was in front of them.

The real tragedy

  • The artist Mike MacDonald was telling a story, Mike, who is a Mi’kmaq artist, who is with us now, but who has done remarkable work, a new media artist, he was telling a story once about one of the elders in his community, he was saying that the real tragedy of Canada, it’s not that people have been prevented from speaking their language. The real tragedy is that the newcomers have not adopted the cultures here. So ‘there have been great misunderstandings. 

Rewriting the world

  • I don’t think we need to rewrite anything at all. I think we just need to pay attention and listen. We just need to shut up a little bit for a while. Because it’s in the notion of authoring there is the word ‘author’ which presupposes the word authority and I’m not sure that’s what we need right now. I think it’s the opposite. I think we need to change our relationship to authority. We need to deconstruct that idea when we’re being the decision makers or the masters of anything. I don’t think that’s the right approach. I think you have to listen. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t imagine – I think that imagination is important in this attentive listening – but to think that we are going to rewrite is perhaps a little pretentious.

é56 garoufalis-auger : surmonter les injustices (in French), my conversation with activist Anthony Garoufalis-Auger about sacrifice, injustices, strategies, activism, youth, art, culture, climate emergency and disaster 


  • It’s going to take sacrifice and it’s going to take a huge commitment to change things, so maybe getting out of our comfort zone will be necessary at this point in history. What’s interesting is looking at the past and the history of humanity. It has taken a lot of effort to change things, but at least we have examples in history where we have come together to overcome injustices. We need to be inspired by this.

We are really heading for disaster

  • The people around me, the vast majority, understand where we are with climate change. There is a complete disconnect with the reality that we see in our mass culture and in the news which is not a constructed reality. What science tells us is reality. We are really heading for disaster. 

é57 roy : ouvrir des consciences (in French), my conversation with artist Annie Roy on socially engaged art, grief, cultural politics, nature, how to open our consciousness, the digital and the place of art in our lives

The contribution of art

  • Is being creative also about getting away from the world, pure to the source as it is, rather than just accepting that we’re small and we should go back to the basics? I don’t know if art brings us back to the essential versus brings us back to drifting completely. Maybe creativity or creation takes us so far away that we imagine ourselves living on Mars in a kind of platform that doesn’t look like anything, or we won’t need the birds, then the storms, then the this and that. We will have recreated a universe from scratch where it is good to live. That could be the contribution of art. I don’t like this art too much.

Opening consciousness 

  • If we are in reality and then we say to ourselves in the current world, it is necessary that it insufflate desire and power towards a better future. But it is not the artist who is going to decide and then that disturbs me. It bothers me to have a weight on my shoulders, to change the world while not having the power to do it, real. The power I have is to open consciousness, to see dreams in the minds of others and to instill seeds of possibility for a future.

On the back of art

  • The artist is a being who lives in his contemporaneity, who absorbs the ‘poop’ in everything that happens and tries to transform it into something beautiful, then powerful for a springboard to go towards better. But we could leave it at that, in the sense that people, how do they use art in their lives? The artist may have all his wills, but what is the place of the art that we make in our lives? Because they are between four walls, in a museum or in very specific places. It’s not always integrated into the flow of the day as something supernatural. It’s a framed moment that we give away like we consume anything else. Then, if you consume art like anything else, like you go to the spa or you go shopping and then you buy a new pair of pants and then it feels good to have gone to a play. Wasn’t that good? Yeah, it’s cool but it’s not going to go any further than anything other than a nice thrill that’s going to last two or three hours and then you’re going to get in your Hummer and go home all the same. I think that’s putting a lot on the back of art.

e58 huddart : the arts show us what is possible, my conversation with Stephen Huddart about dematerialization, nature, culture, capital, supporting grassroots activity, innovation and how the arts can show us what is possible.

Existential crisis

  • This is now an existential crisis, and we have in a way, a conceptual crisis, but just understanding we are and what this is, this moment, all of history is behind us: every book you’ve ever read, every battle, every empire, all of that is just there, right, just right behind us. And now we, we are in this position of emerging awareness that in order to have this civilization, in some form, continue we have to move quickly, and the arts can help us do that by giving us a shared sense of this moment and its gravity, but also what’s possible and how quickly that tipping point could be reached.


  • I think we have to more broadly, dematerialize and move from a more material culture to some more spiritual culture, a culture that is able to enjoy being here, that experiences an evolutionary shift towards connection with nature, with all of that it entails with the human beings and the enjoyment and celebration of culture and so I think those two perspectives that the arts have an essential and so important and yet difficult challenge before them.

Gabrielle Roy

  • Let’s just say that on the previous $20 bill, there’s a quote from Gabrielle Roy. It’s in micro-type, but it basically says : ‘how could we have the slightest chance of knowing each other without the arts’. That struck me when I read that and thought about the distances, that have grown up between us, the polarization, the prejudices, all of those things, and how the arts create this bridge between peoples, between lonely people, between dreamers and all people and that the arts have that ability to link us together in a very personal and profound and important ways. 


  • A lot of my time is really now on how do we influence capital flows? How do we integrate the granting economy with all that it has and all of its limits with the rest of the economy: pension funds, institutional investors of various kinds, family offices and so on, because we need all of these resources to be lining up and integrated in a way that can enable grassroots activity to be seen, supported, nurtured, linked to the broader systems change that we urgently need, and that takes the big capital moving so that’s a space that I’m currently exploring and I’m looking for ways to have that conversation.

e59 pearl : positive tipping points, my conversation with arts organiser Judi Pearl about theatre, climate emergency, collaboration, arts leadership, intersection of arts and sustainability and the newly formed Sectoral Climate Arts Leadership for the Emergency (SCALE)

That gathering place

  • It’s (SCALE, the Sectoral Climate Arts Leadership for the Emergency) a national round table for the arts and culture sector to mobilize around the climate emergency. A few months ago, you and I, and a few others were all having the same realization that while there was a lot of important work and projects happening at the intersection of arts and sustainability in Canada, there lacked some kind of structure to bring this work together, to align activities, to develop a national strategy, and to deeply, deeply question the role of arts and culture in the climate emergency and activate the leadership of the sector in terms of the mobilization that needs to happen in wider society. SCALE is really trying to become that gathering place that will engender that high level collaboration, which hopefully will create those positive tipping points.

é60 boutet : a la recherche d’un esprit collectif (in French), my conversation with arts practice researcher Dr. Danielle Boutet on ecological consciousness, reality, activism, grief, art as a way of life, innovation and spirituality


  • Collectively, we are unconscious. We try to talk about ecological consciousness. If there is a collective psyche, which I believe there is, I do think there is a kind of collective mind, but it is a mind that is unconscious, that is not capable of seeing itself, of reflecting and therefore not capable of meditating, not capable of transforming itself, and therefore subject to its fears and its impulses. I am quite pessimistic about this, in the sense that ecological grief, all grief and all fear is repressed at the moment. There are activists shouting in the wilderness, screaming, and people are listening, but in a fog. It is not enough to bring about collective action. Therefore, our grieving is far from being done, collectively.

Changing our relationship to nature 

  • We need to change our relationship to nature, our way of relating to others, and it’s not the generalizing science that’s going to tell us, it’s this kind of science of the singular and the experience of each person. For me, it is really a great field of innovation, of research and I see that the artists go in this direction. You know, you and I have been watching the changes in the art world since the 1990s. I see it through the artists who talk about it more and more and integrate their reflection in their approach. 

How art can help humans evolve

  • I hear a lot of people calling for artists to intervene and of artists also saying that something must be done, etc. I think that art is not a good vehicle for activism. I’m really sorry for all the people who are interested in this. I don’t want to shock anyone, but sometimes it can risk falling into propaganda or ideology or a kind of facility that I am sorry about, in the sense that I think art can do so much more than that and go so much deeper than that. Art can help humans to evolve. It is at this level that I think that we can really have an action, but I think that we have always had this action, and it is a question of doing it again and again and again.

e61sokoloski: from research to action, my conversation with arts leader Robin Sokoloski about cultural research, arts policy, climate emergency, community-engaged arts, creative solution making and how to create equitable and inclusive organizational structures

Connections to truly impact policy

  • I think that there needs to be greater capacity within the art sector for research to action. When I say that the art sector itself needs to be driving policy. We need to have the tools, the understanding, the training, the connections to truly impact policy and one thing that Mass Culture is really focused on at the moment is how do we first engage the sector in what are the research priorities and what needs to be investigated together and what that process looks like, but then how do you then take that research create it so that it drives change.

Creative Solution Making

  • I’m very curious to see what the arts can do to convene us as a society around particular areas of challenges and interests that we’re all feeling and needing to face. I think it’s about bringing the art into a frame where we could potentially provide a greater sense of creative solution making instead of how we are sometimes viewed, which is art on walls or on stages. I think there’s much more potential than that to engage the arts in society.

Organizational Structures

  • We do have the power as human beings to change human systems and so I think I’m very curious of working with people who are like-minded and who want to operate differently. I often use the organizational structure as an example of that because it is, as we all know is not a perfect model. We complain about it often and yet we always default to it. How can we come together, organize and, and bring ideas to life in different ways by changing that current system, make it more equitable, make it more inclusive, find ways of bringing people in and not necessarily having them commit, but have them come touch and go when they need to and I feel as though there’ll be a more range of ideas brought to the table and just a more enriching experience and being able to bring solutions into reality by thinking of how our structures are set up and how we could do those things differently.

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