Activate, Innovate, Change: Unleashing Creativity in Climate Activism — Part 3

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
6 min readApr 11, 2024

A co-produced blog series by Lizzie Lovejoy — poet, performer and picture maker- and pupils of XP School, Gateshead. Part of the Green Programme at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

Part 3 : CHANGE

‘We are all part of one ecosystem; we cannot be separated from one another.’

To listen to an audio recording of this blog by Lizzie Lovejoy, please click on the play button below.

During our final session together, we put together all the skills we’d been practising to create some final pieces. From collage to creative writing, the wonderful students communicated their ideas and opinions about environmental conversation, the changing environment and how it impacts the North East.

What else have our fantastic young people created? Two collages, a letter, one visual poem and one large scale illustration. My blog co-writer, Lizzie, created a powerful piece of writing about how it feels to lose local woodlands and forests:

Lizzie Lovejoy illustration, 2024.

Today isn’t a good day for me. In fact, it’s a terrible day for me. My eyes are spilling with tears as I wander down the land. I can’t believe this day has come. As I walk through the streets, I see the edge of the woods. The thought that I can walk through the woods today, one last time, occurs to me. I decide to go that way; it’s longer which means I’ll have more time to think about what’s really happening.

I step into the woods, the sun shining brightly through the trees. It’s so beautiful that it almost makes me feel better. Almost. The fresh scent of the grass and the colourful flowers swishing in the cooling wind. I just can’t think why anyone would want to harm a place like this.

I see the stump of a tree. Then another. Then another. There’s a huge area of the woods where the trees have been cut already. Probably sheets of paper by now. I try to imagine how it must feel to be felled. The pain, the sorrow… Today I can relate.

I see the flower beds that have been dug up and destroyed. Who would do that? The woodland is deteriorating. Being destroyed. The woods are important, and I don’t mean just for making paper. I mean for the health of our environment. For the housing of birds. It was so beautiful before and now it is ruined. It’s now a place of devastation. Today I can relate. I feel worse than before. Usually the beauty of the woods would make me feel less miserable, but now it is gone.

Why would someone harm our woods? Why?’

Freya focused on the brilliant pioneers that helped form our Northern cultural identity, looking at the people who made life better for our working-class communities with public transport and mining equipment. It started with steam trains, but now our railways are powered differently, and are an environmentally strong option for distance travel compared to individual cars.

Lizzie Lovejoy illustration, 2024.

Molly was inspired by Roker lighthouse in Sunderland. Using an illustrated postcard from a previous project with Sunderland CoLab and Seascapes, she wrote a letter to the people living by our coast. Elina developed a visual poem/ illustration, forming a tree from the word trees. She was interested by the idea that all trees communicate with each other, with an underground network of roots. All of the trees together make one tree. We are all part of one ecosystem; we cannot be separated from one another.

Creative activism responses from Molly and Elina.

Isaac wondered what it would be like when the seas rise so high that entire continents disappear. He used green and blue paper from our previous projects to cut out the continents and create a world map — only this one has some pieces missing. Europe is lost under the waves. James found a sense of joy in collage. Over the weeks, he repeatedly created stories for the men in the Tyne & Wear Archive photographs, imagining their lives by the water. In this latest piece, he submits a call to action, honouring the people of the past, celebrating current steps being made to take care of the environment and requesting that people of the future continue down a path of care for life on our planet.

Creative activism responses from James and Issac.

Throughout this blog post you may have noticed a series of illustrations. These are drawings I created of the young people while they were developing their fantastic works of protest and celebration. I was inspired by their determination and passion for our world, committed to sharing their views and making a difference. After witnessing their care for the lives of trees, I have adapted a poem I started a while ago, about ancient trees that live with us.

The Yew

I was here in the beginning,

since before humans were living

in this place, now their town.

Yes, my roots were in the ground

long before you all came around

to build my church yard.

The people, they come and they go

I watch as they grow

and slow

then decay.

It’s with me that they stay,

in my church yard.

I hold up the weight of birds and children.

They clamber over my branches

taking chances

with gravity, and my trunk hollowed by time,

as they climb

in my church yard.

Time is different,

I watch, I listen.

You all move too fast

while going past

to catch

a word that I am saying,

not just the children playing

but those who are not ready,

their steps unsteady

as they come through to mourn and bury

in my church yard.

So many

hungry for answers, I would

give if I could

but our meeting

is fleeting,

though it’s your life whole.

When the bell tolls

and you’re past fully grown

I’ll stay with you until you’re unknown

in the earth of my church yard.

I am not death.

I am the guardian of the dead,

I will go with you into the dark.

Press your palms up to my bark

while you live

and I will give

you my company

in your eternity

of rest next to me

in my church yard.

I am Yew.

I witness you.

I am seemingly eternal,

existing in the liminal

9000 years in this spot

and you chose to share my plot

to place your graves around my body,

as though it was godly

to be close to me

at the end.

But the truth is that I will be your friend.

Companion, at your side, keeping guard

here in my church yard.

Audio recording of Lizzie Lovejoy reading ‘The Yew’.

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Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Major regional museum, art gallery and archives service. We manage a collection of nine venues across Tyneside and the Archives for Tyne and Wear.