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Introducing Grounding Technologies

by Zoe Rasbash, Watershed's Environmental Emergencies Action Researcher

Grounding Technologies: a pilot project exploring creative technology and climate action

At Bristol+Bath Creative R+D, we’ve spent five years working to raise the bar for the region’s creative industries. We’ve sought to support a socially responsible environment for creativity and innovation that is both inclusive and sustainable, putting people and climate action before technology.

But looking ahead to the next five, ten, twenty years, we know we need to radically transform our sector to combat and adapt to the climate crisis. Our response can no longer focus on quick fixes when the issues are systemic. This challenge is innately creative: we are faced with making our society anew when we don’t know exactly what that looks like.

To engage with this creative task of remaking a world where people and planet thrive, technology, and creative uses of it, can play a crucial role. Harmony between nature, technology and humanity is fundamental to the just, green society we want to build.

We want to understand how creative technology can be utilized locally in service of climate action. The West of England is home to a rich ecosystem of climate and biodiversity action, from the birth of Extinction Rebellion in Stroud, to Bristol as a European Green Capital in 2015. We’re interested in how technology can support those mobilising action on the ground. How, in the hands of people, can creative technology support, enhance and build on the work already happening?

Grounding Technologies, a six month pilot project from Bristol+Bath Creative R+D, will support those engaged with climate action in the region to explore this question with us. We want to nourish new regional collaborations, unlocking imagination and sparking conversation.

This summer, we are inviting those involved in climate action, together with creative technologists, artists, designers and creative practitioners to propose new and distinctive ideas that will bolster climate action in our region.

On 6th and 14th June, we are inviting you to join us in either Bath, Bristol and online to meet, share ideas and connect in our Ideas Labs. You only need to attend one lab. Participants will then be invited to apply for six available pots of £15,000 to fund the development of ideas that explore the connection between climate action and creative technology.

We’re interested in making new things and exploring new ideas, but also new processes, new ways of making or new organizational models. We’re not expecting big shiny technology products, but rather ideas that tackle a problem in climate action with creative tech, or use technology in a new and creative way. We love the idea of ‘mundane tech’ - thinking about the processes or hidden wiring that improves projects.

You may be interested in using tools to support biodiversity, such as Pollenize, who used AI to understand which flowers bees prefer, to support planting more locally. Or perhaps you’re interested in how tech might make climate organising or nature experiences more accessible, such as Studio Hyte, who experiment with web-design to create low carbon, highly accessible web platforms, or Emma Blake Morsi, who used hybrid technologies to make nature experiences more accessible to marginalised groups. Maybe you’re interested in how creative technology can be used to imagine future worlds we need to build towards, like Future Soundings, who use live collective audio storytelling to support groups co-creating future cities.

We want to connect and resource groups who are doing the work on the ground. Whether you are engaged in direct action, community gardening, citizen science or retrofitting, we invite you to explore these questions with us.

Alexis Frasz, a cultural strategist engaged with the green transition, writes: Often creative prototypes of new systems and ways of living are small and local, leading some critics to dismiss them as insufficient relative to the scale of the problem. But climate change has global causes and local impacts, so local adaptations might be just what we need to flip the paradigm on its head. Who knows which of these local experiments might carry the seeds of systems change — seeds that can germinate and spread? Regardless, we need more and more of us to practice living in new ways, to rewire our brains and build confidence in possibilities beyond what currently exists.

Read More in our Grounding Technologies Call Out

Register an expression of interest in attending the labs here

Read our FAQs here.

Grounding Technologies - Apply Today

Interested in how creative technology can support climate action? Apply for a place on one of our Grounding Technologies Ideas Labs in June this year. Deadline May 19 2023.