Get to know CYA and ‘Cultivate Croydon’

Burdened with the fallout of the climate crisis, a lack of access to resources and mutual concern, young people understandably feel a sense of climate anxiety. Where this situation may cause a sense of powerlessness to the negative impact of climate change, the transformation faction of the Croydon Youth Assembly (CYA) projects a sense of hope and positivity into this often-gloomy topic. Directed by young people for young people, the transformation group facilitate environmental activism within Croydon, whether through tree planting, litter-picking or opening discussions with local political and activism authorities.

The CYA’s activism to ‘transform’ Croydon and its attitude towards the climate crisis was a directing force in how we approached their contribution to the Arcadia festival. Aiming to encourage other young people to get involved in eco-activism and counteract stereotypes placed upon them by older generations, the group framed their collective message around the theme ‘Cultivate Croydon.’ Within this, they chose to organise themselves into three teams: Research, Ambassadors, and Environmental Vision. Working to their individual strengths and interests, the transformation group found interesting and inclusive ways to engage Arcadia’s diverse audience.

Research Action:
The research team sought to occupy audiences through written stories which explored Local, National and Global climate issues. Looking into Croydon’s ecological heritage through The Great North Wood, the team explored its current presence in locations such as Biggin Wood and the provision of local green spaces for communities. The research team highlights Croydon’s commitment to maintaining its green legacy, but also the barriers which prevent access to these spaces. By raising global responses to greener living in places such as Denmark, the CYA shares with us the potential solutions to ease this issue, and encourages audience members to consider what their local green space means to them.

Ambassadors & Artist Collaboration:
Ambassadors of the group enact this positive approach through a personal lens, using an immersive audio track to detail their experiences of eco-activism and hope for wider community involvement. In addition to drafting scripts and learning how to use their voices to captivate audiences, the group brainstormed atmospheric sounds to present a fully immersive and engaging space. Through working with a sound engineer to combine their voices with sounds of nature and those of urban environments, the eco-ambassadors use sound to elicit dynamic responses from the audience and direct focus towards a more positive outlook on eco-activism.

Similarly, the Environmental vision subgroup collaborated through mood boards and discussions to consider how to achieve a visually and emotionally impactful visual piece – settling on an immersive installation, they aimed to communicate their concerns and hopes for a sustainable future.

Working with Fables Creative production agency, they curated a design that serves as a warning to a future where neglect has caused nature and plant life to become scarce commodities, only to reclaim prominence once humans disappear. To balance this image of a world on the brink of climate disaster, the second part of the installation offers a communal space to reflect on ways we can preserve hope for the environment. As if growing from the walls of Stanley Arts, the research curated by the CYA, illustrations from artist Jo Hicks, budding plant life, posters which encourage action, and personal messages of hope, adorn three large trellises. The installation proposes the potential benefits that small acts of climate activism engender by shifting our approach to the climate crisis from despair and anxiety to optimism and hope.

The CYA Transformation group hopes that you will leave the installation feeling more aware of how we can all protect our environment. As a marker of this impact, we invite spectators to contribute to the ‘wall of hope’, throughout the festival, adding their experience of the event and any future commitments they plan to enact in response to the installation and climate crisis.

We look forward to seeing you at the Arcadia Festival from the 4-7th April and hope to see your contribution to our communal ‘wall of hope.’

Image 1 – The CYA Transformation subgroup supporting a tree planting action at Ashburton Playing Fields

Image 2 – A Map of Croydon Green Spaces from The Planning Handbook, 1969

Images 3 – [The CYA fighting the climate crisis with optimism & concept art from Fables Creative for ‘Cultivate Croydon]

Image 4 – [The CYA fighting the climate crisis with optimism & concept art from Fables Creative for ‘Cultivate Croydon]

The CYA Transformation subgroup supporting a tree planting action at Ashburton Playing Fields A Map of Croydon Green Spaces from The Planning Handbook, 1969 [The CYA fighting the climate crisis with optimism & concept art from Fables Creative for ‘Cultivate Croydon] [The CYA fighting the climate crisis with optimism & concept art from Fables Creative for ‘Cultivate Croydon]
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