Pilgrimage for COP26

S. Gittins and J. Baxter

17th – 31st October 2021

A walk and a learning journey from Dunbar to Glasgow to reflect on the climate and ecological crisis in anticipation of COP26. Working with cultural, community and interfaith organisations to reimagine what it means to be ecological.

The pilgrimage launches in Dunbar on the 17th October with a series of exhibitions, family-friendly events and an evening talk by Alastair MacIntosh. Walking commences on the 18th, to arrive in Glasgow on the 29th, with key events taking place in Edinburgh from the 21st to 24th and in Glasgow on the 30th and 31st. Pilgrims are invited to join the pilgrimage at any point during the journey.

Overview

A pilgrimage from Dunbar to Glasgow to reflect on the climate and ecological crisis in anticipation of COP26.

Why are we walking?

  • We’re walking to raise awareness of the climate and ecological crisis. 
  • We’re reflecting on that crisis as it relates to our own lives, the communities we pass through and the lives of those already impacted; both human and more-than-human.
  • We’re building a community of witness and resistance committed to climate justice now and in the wake of COP26. 

The pilgrimage includes a public engagement programme to accompany the walkers and encourage participation en route. See here.

Participating organisations include Deep Time Walk Project, Interfaith Edinburgh, Glasgow and Scotland, John Muir’s Birthplace, North Light Arts, Scottish Dance Theatre, and more.

The route mostly follows The John Muir Way from Edinburgh to Kirkintilloch – with some diversions. From Kirkintilloch we follow St Ninian’s Way along the canal and into Glasgow.

Dates and locations

  • 17th – Dunbar (launch)
  • 18th – Dunbar to N. Berwick
  • 19th – N. Berwick to Aberlady
  • 20th – Aberlady to Portobello/Edinburgh
  • 21st – 24th – Edinburgh Way Station (various events)
  • 25th – Edinburgh to S. Queensferry
  • 26th – S. Queensferry to Bo’ness
  • 27th – Bo’ness to Falkirk (via Grangemouth)
  • 28th – Falkirk to Kirkintilloch
  • 29th – Kirkintilloch to Glasgow
  • 30th – 31st – Glasgow Welcome (various events)

For more details about the route and the public engagement programme see here.

Original statement

‘All sites of pilgrimage have this in common: they are believed to be places where miracles once happened, still happen, and may happen again.’

(Victor and Edith Turner)

What we understand by the term ‘miracle’ is open to interpretation. Here a ‘miracle’ is understood to be a collective form of hope and hope in action. What we understand by the term ‘pilgrimage’ is also open to interpretation. Here it refers to a journey freely chosen that offers potential for transformation.

In 2015 thousands of civil society activists journeyed to Paris for COP21 where a UN agreement was made to limit levels of global warming to less than 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. Since that time global temperature has continued to rise, negative impacts have been felt across the globe and public consciousness has been shaken.

With the aim of implementing guidelines for Article 6 of the Paris Agreement – guidelines that focus on the ‘cooperative approaches’ to tackling climate change – will COP26 meet the major challenge of our time? Will it adequately address the social, environmental and economic roots of climate change? Or will it merely seek to decarbonise an economy without addressing the social, ecological and economic injustices that climate change brings to light?

The Pilgrimage for COP26 is being organised to reflect on these questions and discern a way forward. Just as streams flow together to form a river, the Pilgrimage for COP26 will increase its flow as the journey develops. Individuals, communities and cultural organisations are collaborating to bring their concerns, imagination and resources to bear to shape the pilgrimage and articulate its vision.

In addition to other voices, artists, art organisations and faith communities have a key role to play in engaging the public in a value-based conversation around the climate and ecological crisis. To that end the Pilgrimage for COP26 offers a forum to gather and share a collective vision and to sustain engagement beyond COP26.

(See here for an amended statement witnessing to this collective vision, drafted in response to the first multi-partner Zoom meeting called by the Pilgrimage for COP26 in June 2021.)

Quotes

“Pilgrimages are a common cultural practice. Historically associated with religions, today they speak to a wider public. The Pilgrimage for COP26 draws attention to the climate and ecological crisis. It offers a chance to reflect on this crisis by walking two well-trodden pathways, The John Muir Way from Dunbar to Kirkintilloch and St Ninian’s Way from Kirkintilloch to Glasgow. A key question animating the pilgrimage is this, ‘How can we honour the mutual bond between people and planet, a bond that sustains our very existence?'” Jonathan Baxter, artist-curator, Pilgrimage for COP26.

“North Light Arts are co-curating the start of the pilgrimage from Dunbar and across East Lothian along the John Muir Way. We are working with East Lothian Council, Sustaining Dunbar, the Battery Theatre Company and Friends of John Muir’s Birthplace to begin the conversation with exhibitions, talks and an opening event on Dunbar Harbour.” Susie Goodwin, Director, North Light Arts.

“The simple act of walking together through time and space enables us to explore the many ways humanity is deeply interconnected with the more-than-human world. We are pleased to bring a deep time perspective to the Pilgrimage for COP26, helping to galvanise positive action and advocacy at this critical juncture for humanity.” Robert Woodford, Executive Director, Deep Time Walk Project.

For more information and to get involved see the drop down boxes that accompany this link or click here: cultural partners // route // programme // values // revised statement // sign-up.

#pilgrimageforcop26

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