Design for Planet Festival by Rosie Blake

The Design for Planet Festival took place on the 9th and 10th of November last year. I was invited to speak about Làn Thìde in the context of the ‘Co-Create with Community’ panel. Sitting alongside me was Immy Kaur, Co-founder & Director at Civic Square, a public square, neighbourhood lab, and creative + participatory platform; Dr Rhiannon Jones, an artist researcher and thought leader in Social and Design innovation through Civic Practice based at University of Derby; Carolyn Steel, architect and author of best-selling book Hungry City; and Andy Llanwarne, who was representing the Tayside Climate Beacon. Andy has been Coordinator of Friends of the Earth Tayside for the past decade, and a member of Friends of the Earth for 50 years. Our panel was chaired by Jim MacDonald, Chief Exec. of Architecture and Design Scotland.

The festival, held in the V&A building in Dundee, opened with a call to action from Anita Okunde, a 17 year old award winning activist and public speaker focusing on issues specifically surrounding intersectional climate justice and feminism. Okunde talked about over consumption, resources and a lack of sustainability in fashion. Setting the tone for the festival, and making “stepping stones” to create a sustainable future for the design community.

The day progressed at a sustained pace, with the same values of a need for collective awakening in order to reinforce the new system required to create a sustainable future for the design industry. In their presentation ‘The Big Picture’, Kate Raworth and Indy Johar discussed ‘redesigning our economic mindset’. Kate is a radical economist, whose book ‘Doughnut Economics’ is revolutionising how we think about the need to move from extraction to regeneration and live within our planetary boundaries. In her talk Kate invites us to be detectives, to investigate the economic design of our organisations, using these five sign posts: Purpose, Networks, Ownership, Governance, Finance. She outlines the vital importance of connecting the individual body to the planetary body as a means of processing the enormous impact human economies are having on the planet.

Throughout the festival the underpinning theme of sustainable design was punctuated with discussion around community, networks, and resilience. All of this felt very pertinent to the aims of Làn Thìde, and after presenting the project’s work, I was approached by several people wanting to hear more. A common line of conversation was about the Western Isles as a locale. As there were delegates from all over the world in attendance I frequently found myself using my ‘Maps’ app to show people exactly which archipelago Làn Thìde was working from. 

Throughout my presentation, I outlined the aims of Làn Thìde and the intention in “Valuing, visualising, and acting on local knowledge and lived experience of climate change alongside scientific data and evidence is a powerful tool to help us adapt to our changing climate.” The opportunity to meet one of the other Climate Beacons spokespeople was really beneficial. Andrew LLanwarne, from the Tayside Beacon, approached his presentation from a different perspective, and took us through the ‘design’ of workshopping, using visualisations to show the flow of ideas and outcomes.

The festival was facilitated by Snook, ensuring that the event was accessible, sustainable and, as Snook put it ‘more human’. I was sad to have to miss the workshop they facilitated on the second day, but I had to start the long journey home to Innse Gall.

Rosie Blake
Lecturer in Fine Art
University of the Highlands and Islands


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