During the weekend of 14/15 January, the EA Sustain Festival takes place at Colchester Firstsite art museum. It brings together environmental experts and artists with the aim of promoting climate awareness and local culture.
What is EA Sustain?
I spoke to organiser Joanne Ooi about the idea behind it.
She says the main message of EA Sustain is that ‘flourishing localism is key to decarbonisation’. If local rural communities are thriving, there is less dependence on global supply chains and less reliance on carbon-emitting travel for daily needs. For example, she believes that industrial farming has resulted in the disappearance of local and regional food markets, prompting a ‘race to the bottom’. Many country dwellers, even farmers, buy internationally sourced food from supermarkets, rather than local suppliers. Sustain is about nurturing the basis for a flourishing and self-reliant economy in East Anglia.
Culture and agriculture
The EA Sustain event focuses on environment and culture, and aims to reach ‘the ordinary person on the street – the consumer, the voter,’ says Ooi. She believes that access to culture is important for everyone. Art, music and literature which celebrate the beauty of nature are particularly accessible to those who live rurally.
The line-up includes Lord Deben, Chair of the UK’s Climate Change Committee; Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England; Patrick Holden of Sustainable Food Trust; nature writer Helen Macdonald; Charles Clover of Blue Marine Foundation and Jake Fiennes, director of Holkham Nature Reserve. They will speak about sustainable food, marine conservation, eco-fashion, environmental art, regenerative agriculture and nature writing, amongst other subjects.
EA Sustain was born out of the EA summer festivals held at Hedingham Castle in 2021 and 2022, where many East Anglian creatives were contributors. There, a need was recognised for more environmental programming, and so Sustain was conceived. The third EA Festival will take place at Hedingham Castle on the weekend of 10/11 June 2023.