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Chris Stewart

Collective Architecture's Chris Stewart discusses his overlapping roles as architect and member of the Scottish Ecological Design Association in promoting green design to a wider audience.

HL Memorial Lecture 2016, The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson

August 24th, 2016

A film, a play, a discussion, following the theme of Eco-Max, this year SEDA will focus on the life and legacy of Rachel Carson. Her book Silent Spring, is widely recognised as a catalyst for the environmental movement and was written in 1952 when Rachel was herself suffering from cancer. She brought to the attention of a contented America enjoying homespun rock & roll and Walt Disney, stories of dead fish in rivers, silent songbirds in hedgerows and children storing up toxins.

Eco-Max was set out by our own Sandy Halliday in last years inaugural  Howard Liddell memorial lecture. Paying respect to a number of eco pioneers, Eco-Max questioned whether with everything to gain, ecological design is still marginalised and largely perceived as counter cultural. She noted that we continue to ignore science and common sense and pondered whether we will ever be able to create a radical change of direction. Each year Sandy will choose an eco pioneer to develop both Howard’s and her own ideas. We are all delighted that this year, together with Liz Rothschild, she has chosen marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson.

Having first read Silent Spring in bursts over the last half decade, it is not the science Rachel Carson lays bare but the dark beauty of her writing which keeps drawing me back. In 1952 science was quite different to what it is now but the poetic prose continues to perceive the negative effect humans can have on the natural world;

‘the lifeless remains of the birds that fell before the unselective bludgeon of insecticidal poison'

For those who are unfamiliar with Rachel Carson, her main argument is that pesticides and their poison are never limited just to the target, they concentrate inside the bodies of all living things. Most of the book is devoted to their devastation of natural ecosystems but four chapters are specifically devoted to human misery, accusing the chemical industry of spreading disinformation and officials who unquestioningly accept industry claims.

The evening will commence with the film, The Power of One Voice: A 50-Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson a documentary examining the life of Rachel Carson and the profound implications of her environmental work. This will be followed by a reading by Liz Rothschild, a writer, performer and celebrant. Liz worked as a community arts worker and then trained at the Bristol Old Vic. She worked in rep and small scale touring. Knowing the SEDA crowd expect a lively debate to follow, which will spill out into the streets and pubs after the Lighthouse has shut it’s doors.

So join us for a film, a play and a discussion, about a book and the woman who wrote it. Come along on the 29th to meet Sandy and Liz and discover how deep the legacy of Rachael Carson does truly run.

The second Howard Liddell Memorial Lecture will be held at the Lighthouse, Glasgow  on the 29th September 2016 at 6.00 pm - 9.00 pm. For more information and to reserve tickets please refer to the link below. Please note that spaces are limited and it is recommended to book early.

Link for tickets through Collective Architecture Web Site here

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