One of the original aspirations for activity inspired by the Friends’ John Muir, Earth-Planet, Universe exhibition was to organise a walk along the John Muir Way from Dunbar to Glasgow ahead of the COP26 Summit that was due to be held in the city in November 2020. Needless to say that COVID-19 restrictions put paid to that last year.
However, due to contacts made during various online, climate action related, conferences, workshops and meetings, members of the Friends of John Muir’s Birthplace began collaborating with co-curators of a more extensive and ambitious ‘Pilgrimage for COP26’ – #pilgrimageforcop26 – curated by Jonathan Baxter – @artandecologyedinburgh. Although this pilgrimage is more than six months away and detailed plans and programmes of events, etc, are still being considered, Earth Day 2021 seemed to be a great opportunity for a ‘soft launch’ in Dunbar and to invite and encourage participations from people and organisations in East Lothian and beyond.
In addition to the Friends of John Muir’s Birthplace the main, local, collaborators are currently North Lights Arts, Sustaining Dunbar, and the Battery Theatre Company. Many more groups have expressed interest in the idea of some form of ‘pilgrimage’ that helps people create their bonds with the natural world. More information of other groups, etc., will be announced in due course and, apart from local news and social media outlets, the main source of information will be Jonathan Baxter’s Pilgrimage for COP26 – A+E which includes the following introduction:
The pilgrimage commences in Dunbar on the 18th October to arrive in Glasgow on the 29th October – with events taking place in Glasgow on the 30th and 31st October. Pilgrims are invited to join the pilgrimage at any point during the journey.
18th October – 31st October 2021
A pilgrimage from Dunbar to Glasgow to reflect on the climate and ecological crisis in anticipation of COP26.
The pilgrimage includes a public engagement programme to accompany the walkers and encourage participation en route.
Participating organisations include Deep Time Walk Project, Interfaith Edinburgh, Glasgow and Scotland, John Muir’s Birthplace, North Light Arts, Scottish Dance Theatre, and more.
“Pilgrimages are a common cultural practice. Historically associated with religions, today they speak to a wider public in search of meaning through an interest in history, identity, roots, and heritage. 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 that exists between people and planet, a bond that sustains our very existence?’” Jonathan Baxter, co-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.