EcoCultureLab forum: Leading Burlington into a “Feverish World” (Friday 3:30 pm)

Dear Feverish World participants and supporters, EcoCultureLab associates, BASTA-ites, and other friends:

EcoCultureLab will be hosting a forum and mini search conference this Friday, entitled “How Can Burlington Respond Creatively to Climate Change? The event will be held between 3:30 to 6:45 pm at John Dewey Lounge in UVM’s Old Mill Building. (There will be a break for food, provided, at 5:00, so if you are not able to stay beyond that time, or not able to come before that time, you are welcome to come for the first part or the second.)

This event is intended to bring all interested people together in order to explore, discuss, and decide how to follow up on the overarching goals of Feverish World — especially the goals of bridging the arts and sciences, and bridging academe and the greater Burlington/Vermont community, around the interlinked challenges of climate change, ecological disruption, social dislocation, and the like.

  • What should we in the Burlington area be doing to anticipate and build capacity for dealing with these coming challenges of a “feverish world”?
  • In what ways can we build on the collaborations initiated or activated in the Feverish World Symposium?
  • What new connections and relationships should we cultivate with and between people, communities, organizations, and institutions in the local area and beyond?
  • How should we move forward with these efforts and find support for them?
  • How specifically should the arts be engaged in these efforts?

These are broad questions that could take us in many different directions, and we (whoever we are) are not the only ones asking them. Among other educational and sustainability oriented initiatives, for instance, are the Greater Burlington Sustainability Education Network, the Vermont Learning for the Future ProjectBurlington Geographic, and initiatives of the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, Shelburne Farms, the Intervale Center, the City of Burlington, UVM Extension, and many other organizations and efforts. And many similar questions are being raised by artists and other professionals working in their own fields of endeavor.

To begin provoking some thoughts about what and how we might take up these questions this Friday (and beyond), I would like to give a brief synopsis of what EcoCultureLab is and can be, since it was the key player and coordinating force in the organization of Feverish World.


Defining itself as an “environmental arts and media initiative,” EcoCultureLab is hosted at UVM but based in part in the larger community; its goal is to help bridge between the two. As our web site states,

“EcoCulture Lab is devoted to new forms of collaboration between artists, humanists, scientists, designers, and engaged practitioners of many kinds. In particular, it aims to be a nerve center for developing, critically assessing, and sharing forms of artistic, media, and cultural engagement that bring momentum and conviction to the scholarly and activist work of socio-ecological change. EcoCulture Lab is devoted to the building of a culture that is socially and ethically just, aesthetically gratifying, and ecologically viable. Spurred by these broad goals, EcoCulture Lab focuses on three lines of effort: (1) Creative media pedagogies, (2) Research and critical practice, and (3) Local and international collaborations.”

The most high-profile of these collaborations has been Feverish World, which brought several dozen speakers, artists, and performers for a 3+day even in Burlington and at UVM last month. (I won’t repeat the details, which most of you are well aware of, but they can be gleaned herehere, andhere.) A similarly ambitious precursor event, organized by BASTA (which hatched EcoCultureLab), was the 6X Howl, an art-music-performance-food-&-conversation event that accompanied Elizabeth Kolbert’s UVM First Year Read talk on The Sixth Extinction.

EcoCultureLab has been doing other things as well. Over the past year and a half, EcoCultureLab has brought a series of speakers to UVM (including Starhawk, John Elder, Natalie Jeremijenko, and others), provided a Media Mentor program for UVM students (last year), and hosted an annual(ish) student Eco-Arts Exhibition at UVM’s Davis Center. We have developed and maintain a web site, which we hope will be able to provide a more active, ongoing link to activities in the local area. On an international scale, EcoCultureLab is one of a consortium of institutional partners involved in the development and launching of a new, peer-reviewed, international, open-access journal in media and environment, published by the University of California Press and whose first issue will be appearing this spring. The journal will be accompanied by a public web presence to be hosted at UVM, which we hope will be open to a wide public audience.

The future of EcoCultureLab is both wide open and uncertain. It is wide open in that it depends on the initiative of anyone interested in pursuing its goals, and to the extent that there are many of us, there is much that could be done. It is uncertain in that it requires funding to continue to pursue those goals; and to that end, we are forming a fundraising committee that will be meeting soon. Up to this point, its activities have been largely funded by my own 3-year Steven Rubenstein Professorship (which ends this coming summer), to which we have added grant funding and other support successfully obtained from the Gund Institute for Environment, the Burack Distinguished Lecture Series, the Molly Ruprecht Fund, the UVM Humanities Center, and other partner institutions and collaborations. We have not yet “gone national” in terms of our funding, but that is one trajectory we should be pursuing.

Moving forward

All of this is to say that EcoCultureLab would like your input and your participation, because without it, it wouldn’t be able to continue its work (nor even necessarily know what that work should be). In particular, if EcoCultureLab is to play a role — as catalyst, instigator, organizer, mediator, facilitator, co-participant, workshop/(col)laboratory, salon, or whatever — in Burlington’s “creative response” to climate change and associated challenges, it will need your help. And if it turns out that some other form(s) are called for to take the steps we identify as desirable or required on the way forward, then let’s think together about what those forms should be.

With all that in mind, I would like to ask that you come to Friday’s forum if you are able to. Please RSVP if you can, as we are planning to have some food and drinks available. If you are not able to come but have ideas to share, please send them to me at And if you have suggestions for how we might take up these ideas on Friday, please share those as well!

Thanks for your support, interest, and/or participation!

Looking forward to seeing many of you this Friday ~

Adrian Ivakhiv

—  Adrian J. IvakhivSteven Rubenstein Professor for Environment & Natural ResourcesProfessor of Environmental Studies/Environmental Thought & CultureRubenstein School of Environment & Natural ResourcesUniversity of Vermont, Burlington VT 05405 U.S.A.Tel: 802.656.0180  Email: aivakhiv@uvm.eduWeb:, EcoCultureLab ecoculture@uvm.eduImmanence: EcoCulture, GeoPhilosophy, MediaPolitics