Two weeks ago I went with my friends from the Dutch Climbing Association for a bivouac weekend in the Ardennes in Belgium. Houfallize was the place to be and so we decided to meet up in a local pub from where we walked together to our first resting place in the forest. Weather was mild but wet, just like last year. It must have been an eight degrees Celsius and nights around freezing temperatures.
We had to walk for an hour or so before we could all chose our own space to spend the night. As I had only a bivy sac with me I was searching for the tree with the biggest crown to give me shelter during the night and protect me against rain. This meant I had to sleep a bit upwards as the ground wasn’t flat at all.
Every hour I woke up and turned a bit to find the best spot and felt asleep again. In the morning you always have the ritual of starting the stove to boil water for breakfast and whilst it is doing so you will pack your stuff so after breakfast you can start your day. As we had to do a 35km trip on Saturday with a 15kg backpack this means with an average of 3km per hour that you have to move for at least 12hours without breaks. That is a pretty long day. Most of it is off road and in this season the rivers mostly are over the banks and paths so you have to find your way on a map with coordinates and a compass.
During the day you are full of excitement as there are so many obstacles to overcome and so many times you think; why I am doing this? You know that the night will be cold and wet with less sleep than is good for you after such a long day walk!
When I arrived back home Sunday evening everything was crossing my mind again and a few things came up. There is a mental and a physical element in bringing yourself out of your comfort zone. From the applicants there is always a percentage canceling their trip for many good reasons. Mostly it is not the real reason why people giving up on themselves. It is hard, it is not comfortable and warm at most of the time but just by setting that one step before the next is the start of a new adventure. Any adventure big or small, in cities or in nature.
The physical element is mostly direct linked to the mental state. When we are young we learn to cycle and then when it rains and is cold we still need to cycle because our parents say so. When you are getting older and deciding for yourself suddenly life becomes easier as you are making the calls. Many of us, trying to walk the easy less steep route through life. The route that is not giving you that extra when you succeed but lets you be average. Most of us don’t see the parental strength anymore that we sometimes just need, to do and believe in the outcome and feeling a little of pain. We lost our inner strengths and trust that we can survive on our own with that extra glory moments that come along with it. No matter what choice you make in life, what walk you walk as long as you do it hand in hand with nature you will be surprised about the outcome!
Just before the start of the COP21, 600 anti-advertisement posters have been placed in public outdoor spaces through the streets of Paris. Over 80 artists, from 19 different countries were involved. Joe Elan from Brandalism: “By sponsoring the climate talks, major polluters such as Air France an GD-Suez-Engine can promote themselves as part of the solution – when actually they are part of the problem.” It all started in 2008 when two friends started to reclaim billboards in London. They were tired of the visual pollution that stems from large public advertisements.
The Brandalism artwork illustrates the connection among advertising, marketing, consumerism, fossil-fuel dependency and climate change.
Where the Tides Ebb and Flow
Land art project “Where the Tides Ebb and Flow” is all about raising awareness for global sea level rise. The artwork is located at Montsouris Park in Paris. The artist Edro Mazorati placed 30 sculptures of blue men in water that appear slowly rise up and then sink down again. The artwork was first introduced in 2008 at an Art Festival in the Netherlands. Since 2008 it has been moved to raise awareness all over the world.
A sea of footwear, from high heels and flip flops to sportive sneakers and outdoor boots standing at the Place de la Republic in Paris. With the state of emergency making it impossible to demonstrate, the protesters used the empty shoes as a personification. More than 20.000 shoes were placed. This made a strong impact on the worldwide audience (picked up by many broadcasters), maybe even more than if there had been protesters.
Artist brings icebergs to Paris
Olafur Eliasson brought 12 large blocks, from the Nuuk fjord in Greenland to the middle of Paris. By displacing the ice, the obvious result is that it melts. The huge blocks are a visual reminder of the change climate happening now, at this instant… and that we are creating irregularities on earth. The artist said: “The ice we are going to put in Paris is a tenth of what melts in a second in the Greenland summer.
1 Heart 1 Tree
This artwork is transforming the Eiffel tower into virtual forests with light. People all over the world, will have the opportunity to give life to a virtual tree. After downloading the smart phone app, you can participate in this collective project. You place a finger on the sensor to record the rhythm of your heartbeat; which grows a unique tree on the Eiffel tower. For each virtual tree, a real tree will be planted in one of the 7 reforestation programs over the world.
These are just a few of the inspiring and creative art projects, presented in Paris.
Want to see more art projects, join them or make one here
Art activism is just one of the many ways to let people look at the cause with new eyes. But it’s also important to taking up real space and real time, attaching the cause to real faces and real voices who care enough about the cause to go out there in a public protest.
Art may often used as a medium to express extreme impulse into simplistic flares, but I believe it intended to have a small part in a beneficial purpose. Considering, those ghostly shoes and billboards are not an individual wave. They have a collective spirit and that unity; the small suggestion, hidden within each, that is what can work towards collective goals. Protests are not persuasive themselves but they invite persuasion, they invite change.
When the bodies were found, they discovered Scott’s diary. In the diary he described harrowing experiences during the last weeks. He described the fight against the extreme weather conditions and the lack of food and fuel. He knew they would die. The last words written were: “For God’s sake look after our people.” This was an SOS message to the world to take the right turn before it’s too late.
The importance of expeditions tend to be forgotten but there are still important polar expeditions undertaken, even in our current time. In May 2015 two experienced Dutch polar explorers went on expedition in the Arctic, Phillip de Roo en Marc Cornelissen. Their aim: to do research on the ice conditions. Exploring the effects of climate change on our Arctic.
The first days, the harsh Arctic conditions made it hard to do what they came for, but after some days the weather cleared up and everything went smooth. Then fate struck unexpectedly, Marc sank through the thin ice and Philip tried to help him and got into the freezing water himself. Leaving their third companion, Kimnik, the sledge dog alone on the ice. Remains were the footsteps and the sledges with all the measurements and results of the research.
We consider Marc and Philip as heroes, because the pushed the boundaries of what was possible because they cared so much about the Arctic, and about the earth. With their research they took their responsibility to help to protect what is so precious to us.
We commemorate them as lifesavers, driven to create a better the world. They are a personal inspiration to us by their power and courage, with a common grateful goal. We have to build further on the things they have accomplished and left behind. All together, everywhere and every time.
When you are fighting for something, you care so much about. You mostly want direct results. But making progress never comes easy. From the moment it becomes a personal goal. Let’s say it becomes your ‘why’ in life, it becomes very powerful. Follow your dreams, day by day to make this a better world and do it with a smile on your face.
If you want to go fast, go alone! If you want to go far, let’s go together.