We are urged not to forget the commitment and passion for climate change that many people took to COP 26 last November in Glasgow. On the other side of the country the staff and students in the School of Divinity at New College led a project to send a message to the delegates at COP 26, the UN Climate Change Conference.
Two giant banners were suspended from the towers of New College on the Mound in Edinburgh, a location from which to beam a signal across the city centre to all who passed in the belief that news and views would be carried westwards.
The 22 metre banners were made up from patches designed and crafted by 40 faith communities , youth groups, guilds, church organisations and individuals around Scotland. The staff and students from New College crafted patches to spell out CREATION CARE and NOT ECOCIDE. Together they created an unambiguous message from people of Muslin, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian faiths and none.
With a theme of green in every sense of the word, the materials used were recycled, upcycled, repurposed, regifted and rescued from charity shops, making use of old bedsheets and evening gowns, curtains and raincoats, and embellishments such as huge knitted insects which defied gravity and remained attached during three weeks of November weather. The ingenuity of young designers was matched by the exquisite stitching of others, brought together with a collaborative purpose held by all generations and faiths involved.
An undertaking like this is not without its challenges, not least the size. During October we anxiously waited as the patches started to arrive. By the deadline we had exactly the right number! With the help and support of a good friend we set about creating banners from patches. We had great fun putting the banners together, selecting which went where, taking account of colour and texture, making adjustments to size, accommodating some materials that do not easily go through a domestic sewing machine. Attaching the 22 metres by two metres banners to the stiff backing required for health and safety was a tough job.
Designs included representations of birds (lady and dovelike) bees and botanicals. Earth, water, wind, and fire as well as human intervention using good technology were there. Each patch held a story and we learned of the awareness raised in those participating as well as the conversations while working on them.
There were no token gestures here. Some spelled out a warning; others exhorted hope and change, particularly to those in positions of influence and power.
More pictures and information is on the New college website, and the story is told at https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/newcollegecop/banners/