Energy Matters Workshop (Part B): An Auditory Approach to Energy Accessibility
Art can become a means to integrate marginalized voices into the conversation. It can voice aspects of the issue not otherwise expressed in public documents or policy statements. Art helps us to listen better. How might we harness the power of arts to explore issues around energy accessibility? Energy affordability is an increasing concern for many Canadians; however, speaking about (un)affordability continues to be problematic. In the series of community-engaged arts workshops, Energy Matters, we involved stakeholders to address questions such as: How vital is energy affordability in developing sustainable cities? How do climate change and Canada’s transition to Net Zero impact low-income groups struggling with energy affordability? Why must Affordable Housing integrate energy affordability?
I was privileged to collaborate (as the FUTURES/forward and Trico Changemakers Studio’s artist-in-residence in co-creating and facilitating the Energy Matters project) with Alberta Ecotrust (SEE the LINKS BELOW for more information) and their partners (ACORN, Kambo, Energy Efficiency, All One Sky, and others) in their Energy Poverty and Home Upgrades Program. Energy Matters was a series of participatory arts workshops where participants (stakeholders who were energy advocates within their organizations, including Home Upgrades program staff at Alberta Ecotrust and advocates from Ecotrust’s partners: ACORN, All One Sky, and Calgary Alliance for the Common Good) engaged in arts-based dialogue around energy poverty using creative activities to reflect on the ways energy affordability is connected with climate change and the pro-poor policies that could generate more equity. The project was based on intersectional ethics of care that looked at the ways energy affordability impacts various sections of our society, including seniors, people with disabilities, women, and newcomers.
Each workshop started with an activity that involved embodied deep listening and attuning the ear to approach questions about energy unaffordability from an auditory approach that facilitates creating sound arts for social change. Refer to Part A in PCM hub to see an example of this activity. Part B will assist you in creating prompts for participants to reflect on.
1) Following a guided meditation, involve the participants in an auditory reflection activity that pertains to their everyday realities and their experience of them. See below for examples:
Example 1: What is the one sound that you heard this morning that brought you here today. [See the attached video]
Example 2: What are the sounds that you find agreeable and calming?
Example 3: What are the sounds that you find unpleasant and disrupting your comfort?
2) Next, engage the participants in a reflection that pertains to their work on energy accessibility.
See the images below as an example of how the participants were involved in a critically self-reflexive dialogue that ensured the creation of a space of openness and mutual respect where they shared the biases and prejudices that they bring to their work on energy accessibility. Participants were asked to question the biases and prejudices they bring to their work addressing energy inaccessibility. What are the limitations to their listening to people experiencing the crisis of energy affordability? [See the responses of one group in the jam board in the image gallery below]
3) Ask participants to read other responses on the jam board and share their perspectives. [See the attached video for an example of this activity].
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