We believe that a crisis of imagination exists, in both mainstream society, in the communications and policy work of many environmental NGOs and change makers, and in the popular and contemporary arts. We also believe in the urgent need to elaborate positive, informed visions of new systems, to help shift the mainstream perception that alternatives are not feasible.
The new progress stories, changes in environmental policy and collective behaviour change, and new visions of a happier and sustainable future must be articulated through accessible, informative, and inspiring arts and culture if they are ever to take root. We believe that creatives have a responsibility to lend a hand to these most urgent of tasks, helping people see and feel the need for specific changes in values or behaviour, and understand in simple ways how Transition could lead to a future worth fighting for.
We understand the science, which is speaking loud and clear about the consequences of climate change and the collapse of multiple life supporting systems. We are clear in our understanding that only a short window of time exists to avert the worst effects of these threats to human and all life on Earth.
We do not believe that technology alone will save us from these threats. We do not believe that economic growth, in its current form, and with its usual political dilemmas, is compatible with preserving a habitable planet. We know that climate change requires deep changes in values and behaviour of citizens and governments, above and beyond the necessary changes in policy or investment signals.
Even if the environmental crises did not exist – we believe the God of endless Economic Consumption Growth is a meaningless, terrifying and often dehumanising story of progress. In the rich world, it is clearly not delivering improvements in happiness. It must be replaced by something more positive, balanced and sane. The New Economics Foundation calls it the Great Transition. Others call it a New System based on an economy of well-being instead of consumption. Others talk about a ‘Steady State Economy.’ All of these have a common thrust. Creativity and the magic spell of poetry are desperately needed to transmute this thinking into ways that can help shift the zeitgeist.
So part of why the Swarm has emerged is that we believe that we need to combine our creative skills to intervene in the cultural landscape. We know from analysis of history that this is possible if we can connect enough creatives, change makers and cultural influencers together over time, repeating key iconography, film, ideas. We know that pie in the sky utopic dreaming is not enough. We need to draw on the work of experts in environmental policy, alternative economics, well-being, or communication to ensure that our art and creative thinking projects are expertly informed, and to help others engage wider audiences.
But we also believe that creatives are people who think differently. It’s not just about making inspiring or instructive art, designs or film. It may be even more important to see artists and creatives embedded with experts and campaigners to help them truly innovate and imagineer solutions. Swarm Dynamics also helps design and establish these partnerships and residencies.