Being Human 2021: Pollution Stories Films

Environmental Storytelling Tackling Air Pollution: Between Stoke and New Delhi

Films from Stoke

Stoke-on-Trent by Katy Goodwin

Changes by Reuben Winn

Up in Smoke by Rowan Fitt

Films from New Delhi

E-Rickshaws byMoin & Narita

Cycling byJishad and Nyshma

The Giant Towers (on smog towers) byHeena and Monazza

Latent City- Feeding without Footprint (on urban agriculture)byAvikal and Pankaj

Research on environmental storytelling and air pollution showcased at national festival

A Keele University led research on environmental storytelling as an approach to tackle urban air pollution is being showcased as part of the Being Human Festival 2021.

The British Academy-funded research project, led by Dr Pawas Bisht and with Dr Eva Giraud (University Sheffield) and Dr Sabina Kidwai (JMI, New Delhi) as co-researchers, is being featured as part of this year’s festival with a screening on Saturday 13 November at Stoke-based B-Arts. The event will take place between 1pm and 2:30pm and booking is required.

The screening and discussion event will showcase films produced by young people from Stoke-on-Trent and New Delhi exploring the problem of urban air pollution which affects both these cities. The films from Stoke have been produced in collaboration with B Arts (led by Natalie Willatt and Molly Drummond). The films from New Delhi have been produced by students from AJK Mass Communication Research Centre (Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi) under the supervision of Dr Sabina Kidwai.

The screening will enable attendees to experience and discuss new ways of telling stories about air pollution, as well as exploring strategies for crafting stories that are emotionally engaging, empowering for affected communities, and which generate global solidarities and interconnections.

Urban air pollution is one of the most urgent environmental problems confronting communities across the world. It is also a problem that is often invisible, hard to pin down, and difficult to communicate powerfully in mainstream media.

Being Human is the UK’s only national festival of the Humanities and brings together universities, museums, galleries, archives, independent research organisations, community and commercial partners to make research in the Humanities accessible, and demonstrate its relevance to our everyday lives. The festival is sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Academy, and School of Advanced Study.

Dr Bisht said: “It’s been fantastic to work with young people in Stoke-on-Trent on the issue of air pollution. It’s been energising and inspiring to see them engage with the problem in the local context and find creative ways of communicating their perspectives.

“The festival event also gives us an excellent opportunity to showcase stories from the UK and India side-by-side and generate transnational connections, dialogue, understanding and action on this urgent problem.”

Natalie Willatt from B-Arts, said: “Working with artists on subject matter that is scientific in nature has been incredibly interesting and thought provoking. Each participant has, in their own way, sought to challenge the status quo of how we tell stories about air pollution which has resulted in some incredibly intriguing and innovative work being made.

“These creative and original films being made will no doubt bring new audiences to the issue, which is imperative in the current climate.”

Being Human Festival Funding for ‘Environmental Storytelling Between Stoke-on-Trent and New Delhi’

We are pleased to share news that Dr Pawas Bisht has been successful in securing funding from the Being Human Festival 2021 for the organisation of a series of participatory storytelling workshops and a public screening and discussion event; the activity series is titled ‘Environmental storytelling between Stoke-on-Trent and New Delhi: Tackling Air Pollution’ and involves a collaboration with B arts, the leading participatory arts organisation working in Stoke-on-Trent. Being Human is the UK’s national festival of the humanities, led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. The 2021 edition of the festival is focused on the theme of ‘Renewal’ and runs between 11-20 November. The proposed activities would explore the festival’s theme from the perspective of environmental renewal and draws on Dr Bisht (PI), Dr Giraud (Co-I) and Dr Kidwai’s (Co-I) ongoing British Academy funded project on ‘Storytelling for Environmental Change’

The workshops would engage young people (18–25-year-olds) from Stoke-on-Trent enabling them to produce their own stories about the problem of air pollution in their city and their imaginations of sustainable urban futures. The participants will engage in a two-way conversation with UK and India based researchers, environmental advocates, and filmmakers to share knowledge around environmental storytelling. Drawing on this dialogue, and with the mentorship of B arts based artists Martin Gooding and Natalie Willatt, the participants will produce four short films examining the issue of air pollution and environmental degradation in Stoke-on-Trent. A public event will be scheduled in the festival week (between 11-20 November) for the screening of the films and a discussion about environmental futures and the role of stories and storytelling in enabling cultural and behavioural change.

Overall, the proposed activity aims to:

Provide an opportunity for the development and sharing of community-led imaginations and stories of urban environmental renewal

Focus on engaging young audiences who are the most direct stakeholders in the development of environmentally sustainable futures

Build transnational connections and dialogue

Enhance community resilience and skills for the development of sustainable and hospitable environmental futures