In early 2016, Matt Wicking, Leisa Shelton and Angharad Wynne-Jones led 9 sessions with the Footscray City College Year 9 students focussing on art and sustainability.
Testamonial from Susan Dwyer Footscray City College teacher:
"From day one, the Weather Stations project run by Tipping Point Australia and the Wheeler Centre at Footscray City College has been informative, engaging and motivating for me and my class of average yet remarkable year 9 students. Back in January, when we asked the class in the very first session what they knew about climate change, the overwhelming response was “huh?” and a shrug. They’d heard the words but most of them had not thought about them much. Four months later, they want to change the world. The growth in their knowledge and awareness about this most critical issue is inspiring and their enthusiasm has given me hope that human beings have a positive future on this planet.
Our writer-in-residence Tony Birch found a way into the students’ hearts by getting them to think about climate change very personally, from the perspective of places and objects they loved, and how they would feel if those things were taken away or disappeared. They have written beautifully and with genuine emotion.
Along the way, Tipping Point Australia introduced us to artists, scientists, writers and performers, and taken us on excursions and activities designed to provoke the students’ thinking. These experiences have done just that – sown the seeds of ideas and imaginings about possible futures and how we might live differently. The students understand that due to climate change the world in the not-too-distant future may be radically different from the one we know now, and our lifestyles and behaviour can have a positive or negative impact. One especially powerful idea that resonated strongly with students was “breaking the silence” on climate change. This idea prompted action in the form of chalk graffiti about climate change on footpaths and walls in the city centre. Another day we chalked a 200-metre line along the Yarra River path at Federation Square, to visually indicate the impact of sea level rise in Melbourne. People in the city noticed.
During the semester, we’ve foraged for (and eaten!) weeds, and heard indigenous stories about 50,000 years of Melbourne’s history. We’ve been scared by the scientific evidence of climate change and laughed at a young politician’s conviction that the impediment to policy change was “old white men”! We hosted an open space forum that included students from other classes and the momentum is now growing for climate change action at school. We’ve helped break the silence with writing and talking about it, with stories in the newspaper, interviews on the radio and making documentary films to screen at film festivals locally and beyond.
As a result of this project, these amazing young people have begun to reimagine their futures in a world with different climate, food, houses, jobs, society – different everything. And they’ve taken up the challenge of communicating their ideas to family, friends and community with gusto. It’s been an exhilarating ride! I’ve loved every minute and feel very privileged to have been a part of it. For me now, the future appears full of hope."
Footscray City College