EncountersArts is a Permaculture Association business member and specialises in designing participatory arts projects amd interventions that inspire creativity, dialogue & exchange between people of all ages and cultures. Running for ten years, Encounters has been using the transformational power of the arts to work creatively with thousands of people in arts, environmental, community, education, reconciliation, rehabilitation, and regeneration contexts.
Through performances, workshops, public interventions, co-authored exhibitions, publications and tailored events, the invitation is to re-look at who and how we are in the world at this time of crisis and opportunity and together to explore new stories to live by on individual, local, city wide and global levels.
One of Encounters projects is A Little Patch of Ground, which has been delivered since 2009 in communities across the UK from the East End of London to Plymouth in the South West and is devised by Ruth Ben-Tovim, Encounters creative director and Anne-Marie Culhane, associate artist with Encounters. It is an inter-generational food growing and performance project that culminates in a permaculture inspired vegetable garden and a multi-media performance about relationships with the natural world.
A Little Patch of Ground takes place over a period of 20 weeks. A diverse inter-generational group of local residents (who have been age 4 to 80) meet weekly to create and grow their own vegetable garden, cook for each other and eat together. Through a variety of media and creative activities the group explores thoughts, feelings and ideas on food, resources, climate change, interdependence and sustainability. The project weaves together work in the garden framed by permaculture principles with creative and personal development work giving the participants both practical skills and developing their confidence in exploring their ecological identities in a community setting.
Participants explore the world as our shared home, with personal stories about moments of connection in nature, documentation and writing tasks about special places outdoors. Through creative writing, making and drama the group takes a journey together, inspired by eco-philosopher Joanna Macy’s cycle of behaviour change: Gratitude, Despair, Seeing with New Eyes, Going Forth.
In the last weeks of the project, these transformative personal experiences are woven together into a public performance incorporating verbatim text, image, objects and movement to tell an intimate and personal tale about the joys and challenges of living alongside each other in this time of ecological challenge and opportunity.
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