SCANZ2013:liberation starts right here

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A Pakeha social work view: liberation starts right here

Author: Lesley Pitt


Social work by it’s nature is ecological; the role of a social worker is to consider the person in their environment. Social work is about the “connectedness of the world” (Payne, 2005, p. 154), integration, relationships, developing safe and caring communities and working towards social justice.

Pākehā social workers have a tendency to focus on the human part of the environment rather than attending to the physical world people inhabit. This leaves out a crucial aspect of the totality of a client/s lived experience. The political context in which social work is practiced in the 21st Century encourages a narrow approach: the priorities of neo liberal governments are for service delivery which is cost effective and does not challenge of the dominant order.

Social work is about social justice; the link between social deprivation, social exclusion and environmental damage and decay is a significant issue. This is evident in this community (Taranaki) as it is in other parts of the world. Neo colonialism has impacted in this area on all inhabitants but some feel the impact more directly and harshly than others. For tangata whenua this process has been on going on since the contact period and continues its unrelenting march. For some non-Māori there is instant gratification to be gained from ‘progress’ however for the most marginalised in our community the impact of capitalism and it’s use, and destruction of, the physical world has a direct impact on their daily lives and well being.

For people who are on the margins of society and socially excluded the ideas of critical theory and feminism encourage the use of consciousness raising, and education in the broadest sense, as a way of making sense of the world they live in, both the physical and social and as a tool of liberation. Exploring the link between the abuse of the environment, of which there are examples within this area, and the abuse and oppression of people allows ‘space’ for people to consider their own lives within their political, social and historical context. Making the personal, that is the lived experience, political, creates an emancipatory force which seeks change (Freire, 1993). The wisdom of critical thinkers and feminists can be drawn on to liberate ourselves, our communities and our environments.

SCANZ2013:Sustaining Waitara Waterways

Sustaining Waitara Waterways

Authors: Margaret Smith, Fiona Clark

In February 2012 the Friends of Waitara River/Ngaa Hoa Piri o te Muriwai o Waitara set up camp by the Waitara river mouth to raise awareness of pollution affecting the river and the northern Taranaki coastline, with particular focus on the Waitara Marine Outfall and how sewage and industrial waste in our water breaches the Treaty of Waitangi. Rather than spend too much time and money in the Environment Court advocating for the needs of our environment we decided to camp and enjoy our environment, to raise awareness with the locals who care about our place. We included history displays and tour, information stalls, speakers, DVDs, music, art, waka ama and knitting slippers. For the report by Taranaki Daily News go to:

For February 2013 we plan to camp again at the Waitara river mouth to raise awareness for the same reasons in similar ways. However from our debrief meeting we have decided to include more sustainable practices and more information sharing, such as cooking without power or gas and involvement from a wider range of environmental groups. We plan to demonstrate how we can reduce our reliance on power companies and build communities who take responsibility for managing environmental resources for generations to come. The philosophies we hold are part of world-wide movements to develop communities with more sustainable practices. The Transition Network across the globe has similar purposes as it supports community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy, building resilience and happiness. See for more information on the transition movement.

We would like to be involved in SCANZ to present our solutions to modern day problems of balancing economic and environmental sustainability.

Project Proposal – Brooke Sturtevant-Sealover

Prototype 4.3
12” by 12” by approximately 24”- size varies according to the growth of the plant
Custom Built Circuits by Karl Palm, Plant, 2011

Project Proposal:


a) to study the interactions between the plants, other living organisms, and the environment,

b) to dialogue and/or collaborate with scientists

c) to create a set of traditional and/or allographic drawings based on collected data


I am particularly interested in complex relationships like the endemic mistletoe Peraxilla tetrapetala[1] has established to ensure its survival.  This mistletoe plant creates exploding flowers whose morphology allows native birds, such as the Bellbird, to nibble at the buds in a certain way to open the flower.  In exchange for the sweet nectar the bird inadvertently pollinates the blossom. This plant has also established an interesting relationship with two species of native bees that are the only known invertebrates to be able open an explosive, vertebrate-adapted flower. [2] In return for pollination, the Peraxilla offers the bees an untouched supply of nectar in over-harvested areas.  As a parasitic plant, the mistletoe is also dependent on the success of its host. These relationships exist in a unique delicate balance.

To study these relationships I will use custom-built galvanometers to measure the changes in electrical resistance within a selected group of plants. The changes in electrical resistance denote the plant’s physical responses to their ever-changing environment.  These changes will be monitored and recorded using a set of Arduino microcontrollers and laptop computers. I will also employ stop-motion cameras to follow the movement of the plants as well as the motion in the surrounding environment throughout the day.  To create my work, I will use a method of generative notation to explore the vital nature of the plant through the use of collected data and two, three and four-dimensional drawing strategies.  I have found that this method of working often produces new insights concerning the nature of the plant’s growth and intensions.

Is it possible through these methods of observation to determine if plants can sense a bee or bird’s proximity? Can other plants sense the opening of a neighboring plant’s blossom? How connected are the Peraxilla tetrapetala plants to their host? How do the established relationships of the host plant affect the growth and flowering of the Peraxilla tetrapetala?

Moving from the individual to the species as a whole- I will also work with a botanist from the Allan Herbarium, as well as other scientists to see what correlations exist between the climate changes (weather conditions, habitat disruption) and fluctuations in bird and bee populations (changes in amount of plant interactions), with the population of Peraxilla tetrapetala and its flowering density.  This research will also generate a series of drawings – much like the ones described above.


[1] If for some reason I would be unable to work with the Peraxilla tetrapetala, there are many other interesting relationships established between plants and other species. The Harakeke or Flax plant, for example, is home to several symbiotic insects that spend their entire life cycle on the plant. I would work with this plant or another in a similar way to what is described above.

[2] Ladley, J. J.; Kelly, D. (1995) Explosive New Zealand mistletoe. Nature 378: 766


Brooke Sturtevant-Sealover is an artist who establishes relationships with plants and investigates their intentions and life strategies. The drawings that emerge from this examination explore the changes in growth and morphology of the plant as well as how our relationship with plants is different from what is perceived. Her work is a product of the ever-changing relationships between the plant, the artist, and the carefully constructed environment surrounding the plant. Through the use of generative notation she explores the vital nature of the plant with the data collected from her investigations and two, three, and four-dimensional drawing strategies. Her method of working, which creates unintended visual results, leaves open the possibility for producing a new awareness concerning the nature of the plant’s growth and intentions.




SCANZ 2013: Wānanga-symposium second call

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Feb 1st–3rd, 2013

We know we have built a civilisation which is unsustainable. How are we developing today the new culture that will allow us to create a sustainable civilisation?
— Roger Malina, Astrophysicist and Editor of Leonardo

Second call for abstracts, due September 7th 2012

This is the second call for wānanga-symposium abstracts. From the first call we received proposals for presentations from the perspectives of Mātauranga Māori, art-science, culture and climate change, pre-Columbian sustainability, bio technology, creativity and the environment from the social perspective.

We are very interested in further proposals from tangata whenua, indigenous peoples, scientists, engineers, artists, thinkers and environmentalists. Our topic is important to this country, the planet and humanity and we all have a role to play in a positive future.

We are also interested in workshop proposals that meet our themes.

Following is a list of selected abstracts from the first call.


Potential grouping and paper title
Mātauranga Māori, Science and Art
Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru Keynote 1
Alex Kmoch, Sheena Mannering-Tawera, Diane Bradshaw, Paul White and Hermann Klug A groundwater resources portal for New Zealand
Kura Puke and Stuart Foster The substance of experience
Nina Czegledy Keynote 2
Margaret Smith & Fiona Clark Sustaining Waitara Waterways 
Josh Wodak Comprehending Complexity: Art in the Anthropocene 
Ricardo Dal Farra & Leah Barclay Balance-Unbalance: Arts + Science x Technology = Environment / Responsibility
Society – human, animal, informational
Lesley Pitt A Pakeha social work view: liberation starts right here
Pinar Yoldas The very loud chamber orchestra of endangered species
Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez Digital Anthropophagy
Lenka Dolanova KRA – Kravín Rural Arts
With regard to indigenous cultures
Gabriel Vanegas Logics of nature-driven technologies in a place Called America
Leah Barclay SONIC ECOLOGIES: Practice-led intersections of sound art, science and technology in global communities
Ana Terry & Don Hunter Un Litro de Agua
Deborah Lawler-Dormer He Poi, pattern, collaboration and electronic art installation
Data and technology
Vicki Sowry Echology: Making Sense of Data
Brian Degger Make, Do, Mend and Hack (MDMH) the biotechnologies of the 3rd Nature
Elise Smith and Anne Scott Technology meets Ecology – Where have all the little blue penguins gone?


Thematic framework

Integrating indigenous perspectives with creative, environmental, scientific and academic views on reality is essential to a sustainable future. At the same time, computing and digital media are changing our relationship to culture and the environment.

On the one hand digital technology allows us to analyse and display data in new ways, as when anthropologists use language databases to shed light on the movement of culture.

On the other hand digital technology adds to our senses, and extends them beyond the body to the forests and the land. Scientists, artists and others are transforming the environment into an organism, as Maori and indigenous peoples have always known it to be.

SCANZ 2013: 3rd nature will bring together diverse people to discuss how to approach working together across culture, discipline and media. We must work together to resolve the issues emerging at the boundary between fresh knowledge and deep knowledge, beginning with sharing knowledge and projects.

Presentations and projects which highlight cross cultural interchange and/or computing and electronics projects and/or the hybrid arts are sought. The ensuing discussion and presentations will then be shared in a special edition of Leonardo Electronic Almanac, the online publication of Leonardo – the leading Massachusetts Institute of Technology journal. Abstracts are due September 7th 2012.


Who should attend?

Tangata whenua, indigenous peoples, scientists, artists, environmentalists, academics, philosophers, educationalists, musicians, teachers, technologists, and those concerned about sustainability, the future of Earth and humanity. Tangata whenua –people of the land – are indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand.

The first day of the hui will be held at Owae marae. Keynote speakers are Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru (Aotearoa New Zealand) and Intercreate International Research Fellow Nina Czegledy (Canada & Hungary). The second and third days are to be held in Te Piere o te Rangi on the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki campus.



There are four types of presentations which will be reviewed by robust process: peer reviewed, panel presentation, solutions and individual.

Peer reviewed

Papers can be put forward for peer review and inclusion in a special edition of Leonardo Electronic Almanac. The process will be rigorous. A peer reviewed paper could be based on a presentation made as a panel, a solution or as an individual.

Panel presentations

An important aspect of the hui and symposium will be themed discussions lead by interdisciplinary teams. These presentations will be an hour long, with panelists giving a concise 6 minute presentation (each) on their work, and then leading a discussion. Panelists will define a series of questions and then develop a position on the questions as preparation for the discussion. Panel teams can be proposed, applicants can simply indicate they wish to be part of a panel, or they will be invited.


Solutions are 20 minute presentations about a completed project that crossed one or more of  boundaries of the following: art/science (or any other Western discipline)/computing and/or indigenous awareness. This may involve reporting on projects or activity that involved a negotiation of cultural borders, with an attempt made to preserve some values from both cultures;  or a computing project that put fresh light on culture, nature, the environment, science and/or art.


These are fifteen minutes duration, with a presentation of 10 minutes followed by 5 minutes of discussion. These presentations are drawn from disciplines across the spectrum. What are the health, environmental, psychological, culinary, audio, scientific, historical, engineering, business, construction, farming and/or creative implications of engaging across cultural borders or with electronic media? Presentations in this category can be from the perspective of a single discipline, but must involve engaging across cultural borders or involve electronic media. Individual refers to discussing one project, or by one presenter.


If you are submitting a workshop, please include the word ‘Workshop’ as the first word in the title field. A workshop involving drumming would be titled ‘Workshop: Drumming’ for example.


Submission process

Abstracts will be submitted using Easy Chair, a conference management system. Instructions for using this system are the following:

  1. Go to:
    This is the Easy Chair SCANZ 2013 log in page.
  2. Get an Easy Chair log in. You will need a working email address that you can use at the same time, as confirmation emails will  be sent.
  3. Log in as an Author once you have your log in details.
  4. Then click the link at the top which says ‘New submission.
  5. Enter your submission. In the appropriate boxes, enter your name and contact details. Provide a title. Write an abstract (maximum 500 words, 350 preferred). Select the category you are applying under. Enter at least three keywords with each word separated by a line (the page does remind you to do this). You must enter at least three keywords. Check the ‘Abstract only‘ check box. Papers for those submitting them are submitted later.
  6. To edit your submission. You will be able to change your submission until the deadline of September 7th 2012. To change a submission, log in as an author. Click the link with the ‘Paper’ and a number. Click the ‘update information’ link on the right side of the page. Change details as required and then click the Change information button at the bottom of the form. You can also submit a new version, update authors and withdraw using the same page.

Note: If you have any queries, please contact us at or


Project Proposal – Ilka Blue Nelson

Project Proposal

“Weaving stories with deep thinking beyond the limits of the anthropocene, I am trying to recall myself in a more-than-human world.” – Ilka Blue

The great Storyteller Robert Bly says mythology feeds our soul in the same way that science feeds our brain. So while our minds expand with discoveries like quantum physics, our souls are starved in the modern world that has historically rejected mythology. The challenge is to remember our mythological bodies so we can evolve in relationship with the more-than-human world. Deep Ecologist John Seed calls this “evolutionary remembering”.

Ecocide is not only the death of natural habitats, as biodiversity dies we loose our own diversity. Nature sustains us beyond the physical realm. Contemporary societies are awaking to the complexity of our dependence on nature including: psychological, spiritual, societal and pedagogical needs. For centuries mythologies have revealed these significant connections between self and environment. For example, in Pakeha myths the forest represents the place where initiation rites occur in order to transform innocence into maturity. As global deforestation increases we physically loose essential ecologies as well as vital reference points for the maturation of our emotional intelligence.

The opportunity of this project is to share and interlace cultural mythologies (Maori and Pakeha) that uncover and strengthen the reciprocal connection between individual and environmental health. It is a participatory dialogue in resistance to a paradigm of ‘mono-sapiens’. The project stakes out diverse spaces as potential ecological strongholds that will be documented (by participants) using multi-media and published via the social media platform Placestories.
Ilka Blue is the resident Magician heading the transdisciplinary studio The Last Tree. With roots deep in Bundjalung Country Australia, we branch far & wide to work with community projects. We’re currently focused on discovering the potential of storytelling as a pattern recognition & adaptation tool used to remediate biodiverse ecosystems (cultural & biological). Our practice weaves deep ecology with mythological connections to a more-than-human world. The Last Tree and Ilka Blue share a penchant for patterns and boundless passion for our planet.