From giant globetrotting puppets, to wildly influential guest speakers, to collaborations with fashion icons: we look back on nine incredible days of The New York Times Climate Hub.
We’re still reeling from nine incredible days hosting our most significant event to date. From the first blurry-eyed 6am start to the last tree being heroically transported out of the steel doors - an oddly emotional sight - the sense of energy, optimism, ambition and positivity rebounding through every corner of our complex during The New York Times Climate Hub was palpable.
If you weren't there, the nine-day stint led by the journalistic powerhouse was a kaleidoscope of panels, think tanks and workshops; stunning climate photography, exclusive film screenings, a fashion show and art installations; all fuelled by sustainable food, drink, chat, coffee, and - if it's not too OTT to say it - hope. From the 150+ speakers, from politicians to singers to climate warriors, who came to impart knowledge, passion and ideas, to the diverse audience members who came to listen and share, it was a genuinely exhilarating experience. It felt like something was happening.
While we're not unaccustomed to having the odd famous or exciting person grace our stage, to have so many, and from so many different spheres, casually cropping up in the Galvanizers, stopping by for a quick debate in the Warehouse or holding court over a video link was something special.
Just a small selection: Pakistani activist for female education and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai; climate activist Greta Thunberg; former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; renowned artist Oliver Jeffers; U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry; actor and activist Emma Watson; and fashion designer and founder Stella McCartney. Equally satisfying and eye-opening was stumbling, festival-like, across a less well-known voice with a powerful or urgent message that made you literally stop in your tracks to listen.
Even more heart-stirring was to witness them framed by leaves and foliage of 197 species of trees and plants, with whom we shared the Galvanizers for the duration. The space was totally transformed; created by celebrated British artist and stage designer Es Devlin, The Conference of The Trees took inspiration from an idea in Richard Powers' award-winning (and pretty outstanding - seriously, read it) novel The Overstory. As sad as we were to see the trees go, there’s a happy ending: they’ve now been donated by The New York Times to be used in a new community garden being built at SWG3 as part of the Climate Hub’s legacy.
The penultimate evening gets a mention for being very up our street: a sustainable fashion show spattered with live art performance (artist Craig Black’s stunning painted globes) and a sustainable clothing upcycling bar from the excellent Revolve/Recycle initiative, encouraging people to swap pre-loved parts of their wardrobes.
It was always going to be emotional: as the conference came to an end, Little Amal – the 3.5m puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian girl, who’d travelled from Syria to Glasgow – finished her COP26 journey with a walk through Es Devlin’s trees. A feat for everyone involved, particular hats-off must go to a tech crew who dealt impeccably with the casual request of getting a 3.5m tall puppet through the doors of the Galv…
Honey, Honey, Honey Fucking Dijon: An interlude
In amongst all of this was a collective moment to celebrate - and, you know we take our celebration very seriously. Our much-lauded BODYHEAT project is an innovative way of radically reducing our carbon footprint, as per our promise to become net zero by 2025 or sooner (you can read about that here). Using pioneering technology to capture and convert body heat from visitors and staff, before transporting it to a series of boreholes where it can be stored for days, weeks or even months, it's estimated to save up to 70 tonnes of carbon per year.
To launch the start of the system’s installation, we invited the globally renowned DJ, producer, activist and fashion icon Honey Dijon to headline our party, which she did with inimitable style (obvs), earning her own personalised version of the infamous Glasgow chant. We're not entirely sure what she made of that but we really enjoyed it.
Meanwhile, on Eastvale Place
Honey’s legacy extends longer than just that night; we’d asked her to collaborate, along with one of our favourite fashion brands Dover Street Market, on an exclusive t-shirt heralding the BODYHEAT system. The result is an acid-warped, Paradise Garage-inspired melt of colour on white or black, which we were super proud to display for sale, alongside items from Honey’s enviable AW21 collection, at a temporary pop-up in our t-shirt printing space, Head Girl. Excitingly you can also own your own.
A couple of arches down, global ocean-preservation campaigners Parley hosted their own pop-up, displaying their latest Parley Blueprint Module, a huge construct like an alien claw replacing our usual gallery of street arts and feeling like The Future. Its official description is an end-to-end, circular solution for plastic waste on islands and remote areas, the system is designed to be added to Parley’s flagship AIR Stations, serving as collaboration hubs for ocean awareness, exploration and activism.
Getting the young team involved
Never content with containing things inside our walls, the art inspired by COP26 sprawled far and wide. On our iconic archways, directly facing the COP26 blue zone, was a mural designed by 14-year-old Colin LI and painted by Yardworks artists Ciarán Glöbel and Conzo Throb as part of a prestigious UK-wide competition.
In a Yardworks commission by Glasgow City Council Education department to develop environmentally-themed work with Glasgow schools, artists Molly Hankinson and Michaela McManus led a raft of children from primary schools across Glasgow in designing some bright and bold archway murals full of sea creatures at risk.
And, artist Craig Black also delivered on a double-arch mural using typography to stylishly convey a simple but effective message: “words are pretty, but actions create change”.
All of these are available for everyone to see on the railway arches lining Eastvale Place, so come down and take a look next time you're in the area.