The Guild and the climate emergency: 2020 and beyond

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Culture Declares is a global community of creative practitioners and organisations committed to taking and inspiring socially just climate action.
The Guild has committed to joining this community for three reasons:
  • Care for what we now call the environment was a primary concern for Ruskin. He believed that nature was a key source of beauty, inspiration, education and the foundation for artistic practice.  If we didn’t care for nature, we wouldn’t protect it.  Ruskin was one of the first to write about pollution caused by human industrial activity.
  • Our work over the last few years has increasingly focussed on engaging people with environmental and climate issues, through nature-based events in the Wyre, the Ruskin in Sheffield programme, and other events and talks around the UK.
  • We want to learn and share practice around environmental and social action so that we can engage with more diverse groups around the UK.

Our declaration is set out in full below.

Find out more about Culture Declares and how you can join them, here.

The Guild’s Environmental Policy can also be read below; the Guild also has an Environmental Action Plan, a working document which we are already beginning (Spring 2020) to put in action. Through the Ruskin Collection in Sheffield, Ruskin Land in the Wyre Forest, our global network of Companions and inspired by Ruskin’s ideas and writings, we run active education programmes to engage diverse communities with art and nature to enjoy and care for the environment.  Through our portfolio of tenanted property we are able to exemplify and implement best environmental practice, particularly with regard to energy performance. We also have close links with other Ruskin-related organisations engaging with environmental issues, including Brantwood in Coniston, and The Ruskin at Lancaster University, and look forward to future collaborations.

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Images above from A Future Fantastic, Sheffield, 2019.

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On Earth Day 2020, the 22nd April, the Guild was proud to join hundreds of cultural organisations around the world in declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency. Our declaration is as follows:

Declaration of a Climate & Ecological Emergency, April 2020

We, the Guild of St George, declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency

We pledge to work with and support our communities and local governments in tackling this Emergency, and we call on others to do the same.

These are our intentions:

1. We will tell the Truth

Governments, and their public broadcasters and cultural agencies, must tell the truth about the Climate and Ecological Emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and communicate the urgency for far-reaching systemic change.

We will communicate with citizens and support them to discover the truth about the Emergency and the changes that are needed.

2. We will take Action

Governments must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.

We pledge to make substantial reductions in our emissions by 2025, working towards reducing our emissions to net zero* by 2030. We will challenge policies and actions of local and national governments and their agencies, where we interact with them, that do not help to reduce emissions or consumption levels.
We will actively work to imagine and model ways that our organisation can regenerate the planet’s resources.

Specifically, the Guild of St George will:

  • Create an Environmental Policy and Action Plan in 2020 to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero, and reduce waste across all operational and cultural activities, by 2030.

  • Create active education and cultural programmes with Guild Companions, partners and local communities around the UK and abroad which inspire participants and audiences, and ourselves, to see and act differently.

  • Influence partners and collaborators to respond to the climate emergency.

3. We are committed to Justice

The emergency has arisen from deeply systemic injustices. Arts and Culture can imagine and forge shifts in the ways we relate to one another and the world, in our values and behaviours.

We will do what is possible to enable dialogue and expression amidst our communities about how the Emergency will affect them and the changes that are needed.
We will support demands for more democracy within our civic institutions and government. We believe that all truth-telling, action and democratic work must be underpinned by a commitment to justice based on intersectional principles*, led by and for marginalised people.

*Net zero means that on balance one's activities are zero emissions, taking into account all possible Greenhouse Gas emissions and actions taken to mitigate or offset those emissions.
*Awareness of how systems of power combine to multiply the impacts on those who are most marginalised in society.

You can download this declaration here.


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The Guild's environmental policy

1. Purpose

The Guild of St George exists to put John Ruskin’s ideas into practice. It aims to work in the spirit of Ruskin’s vision, promoting his values in the modern world. Ruskin was one of the earliest British writers on humans’ impact on the environment, foreseeing the damage of industrial pollution.

The Guild nurtures connection and care for the environment through cultural activity which engages people with arts, crafts and nature. In the face of increasing climate crisis, it is a priority for us to reduce our own carbon emissions, build people’s understanding, care and resilience through our active education and cultural programmes, and influence our partners and networks to take focused climate action.

The Guild has an internationally significant educational cultural asset in Sheffield, the Ruskin Collection; a working natural asset of woodland and farmland in the Wyre Forest - Ruskin Land; an international network of over 300 Companions; and Ruskin’s resonant ideas and writings, through which it engages diverse communities with the environment. The Guild also owns a portfolio of tenanted property within which it is able to exemplify and implement best environmental practice, particularly with regard to energy performance. We have close links with other Ruskin-related organisations engaging with environmental issues, including Brantwood in Coniston, and The Ruskin at Lancaster University. The Guild is part of Culture Declares Ecological and Climate Emergency, a global network of creative practitioners and organisations committed to taking socially just climate action.

2. Commitment

The Guild’s policy is rooted in a commitment to four of Ruskins main ideas:

  • There is no wealth but life

  • Not for present use alone

  • Rural economy

  • Go to Nature The Guild will:

  • Create and start delivering an Environmental Action Plan in 2020 to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero, and reduce waste across all operational and cultural activities, by 2030.

  • Create active education and cultural programmes with Guild Companions, partners and local communities around the UK and abroad which inspire participants and audiences, and the Guild itself, to see and act differently.

  • Implement carbon emission and waste reduction actions which create social as well as climate justice.

  • Influence partners and collaborators to respond to the climate emergency.

3. Review

This policy will be reviewed annually or more regularly in the light of developing national or international policy on climate change.

April 2020

You can download the current version of the policy here.