August 12, 2019
Issue 09 2019

Massey Creatives Share Hopeful Stories at Climate Change Themed Festival

Massey students have spent a weekend discussing creative ways to face climate change at Wellington’s Festival for the Future.


An event that aims to inspire young people to face current issues, this year’s focus on climate change brought in expressive arts students Harry Townsend and Liana Roberts-Letiu.


From their interactive stall, they shared hopeful stories about the environment through spoken word, physical art, music and conversation.


Alongside contributing to the festival’s major theme, these creative displays were to generate exposure for their online publication, titled The Anthropozine.


This is described by Townsend as a “digital campfire” of hopeful environmental stories to counteract “negative emotions that are caused by media.”


Townsend says there are varied ways to face climate change, and that actions can come from personal strength or passion.


“You don’t have to scale a building with a Greenpeace banner, you don’t have to write academic university articles. You can write a poem, you can paint a picture, you can record a song to fight climate change,” he says.


A Massey academic gave a presentation about the need for creativity in the midst of a climate crisis, because she feels it is important “to activate people’s hearts to care and to humanise issues.”


Dr. Elspeth Tilley, a professor of expressive arts, demonstrated how theatre can be a platform for this, speaking about the impacts of her self-written plays that featured in a global climate change theatre movement.


“You need storytelling, you need visuals, you need to cut through all the information with something that will grab people’s attention,” she says.


These creative perspectives were present among a range of artists, activists, and policy makers, all of whom hosted workshops and panels, as well as networking in the festival’s marketplace. As a grassroots initiative, Festival for the Future has grown over a decade to accommodate more than 1000 attendees each year, with the majority of them being students.


Despite being a Gold Sponsor of the festival, Massey University had an extremely limited student presence there.


“For us as students, it’s been a really great opportunity to show the product of what we actually do at Massey as well, so I think that could benefit Massey,” says Roberts-Letiu.


With tickets costing upwards of $200, many young people received financial support to attend, but it appears there was no discount for Massey students, despite the university’s sponsorship of the event.