Weatherfronts: climate change and the stories we tell: June 23 & 24

A two day event for writers keen to engage with the subject of climate change and for researchers interested in its under-explored cultural dimension: at the Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA, from 2:00pm June 23rd  to 5:30 June 24th 2014.  Attendance is by nomination or application – see below.

The past winter has brought home to us yet again that we are living through extraordinary weather. The science shows we can expect more extremes as our climate continues to change – floods, droughts, coastal erosion, the impacts on communities, essential infrastructure and wildlife. Climate change is not just a question of science – it is a question of living. The greatest challenges are cultural; our society has barely begun to understand the scale of the changes in prospect. We are in need of deep insights, creativity and imagination.

This special event presents a unique opportunity to explore the nature and future of our changing climate, exchange ideas and stimulate new creative work. Participants will include novelists, poets, graphic artists and experts in the physical, natural and social science aspects of climate change.

TippingPoint events offer more talking and interacting – in a variety of plenary and group formats – than listening to formal presentations, though there will also be some of that.  Weatherfronts will mark the launch of new TippingPoint commissions for novelists, short story writers, essayists, poets and graphic writers, and opportunities for climate researchers to link with creative networks and work. The event will draw on essays in a new book, Climate Change: Narratives, to be launched by the Open University’s Mediating Change Group immediately after this event, also at the Free Word Centre. Participants will receive a free copy in advance and are invited to the launch.

The 90 attendees will include:

John Ashton, former Special Representative for Climate Change for three successive UK Foreign Secretaries.

Maggie Gee, acclaimed novelist – including The Ice People; Where Are the Snows; The Flood – and Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

Jay Griffiths, writer of fiction and non-fiction – including: Pip Pip; Wild: an Elemental Journey; A Love Letter from a Stray Moon.

Gregory Norminton, novelist – including Serious Things – and editor of the short story collection Beacons – stories of our not so distant future.

Ruth Padel, award-winning poet and writer of fiction and non-fiction – including The Soho Leopard; Tigers in Red Weather.

Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at University College London and former Director of the British Antarctic Survey and the Science Museum.

Chris West, Adaptation Specialist at the Environment Agency and former Director of the UK Climate Impacts Programme

What we are looking for from you – and what we want you to gain:


–  Bring your questions and your ideas to share with others, and experience from previous work you might have done or have underway on the past, present or future of living with or reacting to a changing climate.
–  Take away new contacts, possibilities and energy for your creative work and engaging others.


–  Bring your expertise and knowledge of climate change and your perspectives on the challenges, so that writers can gain insights into the issues and the practices, rewards and challenges of the climate change research process.
–  Take away ideas as to how creative writers might inform your own or others’ research and teaching, as well as new or renewed contacts with other researchers across the climate change field.

Our aim is for a stimulating event for all, and an appetite for further discussion between disciplines!

Cost: The event is supported by the Arts Council of England, Free Word, Spread the Word, the Ashden Trust and the Open University. This enables us to significantly reduce the costs to participants.

The full cost for researchers is £100, and for writers is £50. Some bursaries are available – please apply, stating your reasons.

These costs cover participation on both days and catering and refreshments during the event, including Monday evening. Participants will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation.

If you would like to take part (or wish to recommend someone else we should contact), please respond with full contact details to Weatherfronts project manager, Mark Goldthorpe, at mark@tippingpoint.org.uk by 16th April at the latest. Please include a sentence or two on why you would like to take part, and please also give your reasons if you wish to apply for a partial or full bursary for the fee.

For nine years, TippingPoint has run events to help artists of many disciplines answer the difficult question – ‘how can I bring this into my work?’ Artists and scientists alike have found TippingPoint events thought-provoking and inspirational, and many projects have emerged as a result.

 “In my experience, big meetings and especially writrs’ conferences are a complete disaster! The masters of the word fail when it comes to communication or conversation! TippingPoint, however, was the best conference I’ve ever experienced. The vividness, the openness, it was an atmosphere I felt filled with creativity and concern.” – Author Liane Dirks, after a previous TippingPoint event.

Presented in partnership with Free Word  and the OU’s Mediating Change Group


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