A beaver-rich story and artwork!

I started on this Art2imagine project straight after new year. As happens to many of us, the optimism of the new year may have outweighed the realities of life and how much free time I had.

My grand idea was to make a collage, using all the various wildlife and eco-related magazines I have stacked up over the years. What I hadn’t quite factored in is how time consuming it is to flick through trying to find the perfect picture to fit in each slot.

The collage under development!

So the work has progressed more slowly than I wanted… and isn’t that an accurate reflection of what happens to all the changes we need? We know how urgent it is to stop adding excess carbon to the atmosphere, to stop wreaking devastation on the natural world, to shift the balance of justice and wealth towards those who are currently without… but it all gets rather complicated and progress is slower than our impatient souls would like. So what happens? Do we give up? Or do we keep ploughing onwards even when our initial enthusiasm has faded and the conflicting demands on our time and energy have built up? What’s the point? Maybe what I’m doing will have no effect whatsoever? Am I really wasting my time?

In my case, I’d made a promise to the Art2Imagine team to get this initial sample artwork ready for the website. Many people make promises, from the huge treaties of nations to small individual steps. Of course we need to keep to them. If promises fail, so does our belief in what’s possible. When we’re aiming for an imagined future, belief in possibilities is fundamental. So, perhaps I can’t force the leaders of nations to keep their promises, but I can make sure I keep mine, and therefore play my part in keeping the faith alive.

And so here I am, flicking through that pile of magazines, looking for picture of beaver meadows and building an eco-city. As an exercise in imaging a better future, it turns out to be hugely beneficial. Look at all the projects underway! I’m immersed in a stream of eco-houses, new energy schemes, landscape projects and individual acts. On my living room carpet blooms a multitude of wildflower meadows interspersed with bounteous vegetable gardens, and of course the thriving wetlands of the beavers that are popping up all over the place.

My optimism is restored because I’ve spent this time engaging with positive people and wildlife: even if only through the virtual means of magazines and an image in my head. I can see the future that’s is worth aiming for: boosted with the photographic proof that some of it exists already, in the present. Beautiful visions have already begun to blossom in many people’s minds. I can participate in those. For now, I’ll keep cutting and sticking because that’s the small step I promised to take right now. Does it have an effect? It’s had an effect on me! I may not have encouraged anyone else (although I hope I have), but I haven’t failed the team. And who knows what opportunities this may lead to? I’ve engaged in an act of faith, in imagining a better future, and fixed it on a piece of paper. It exists, and so does my belief in beavers and wildflowers and people who build eco-houses. It’s not finished yet, but it’s real.

The future is full of these possibilities. Look, there they are!

By Iszi Jones.

“We had such a good picnic down by the beaver meadow. The beavers are so cute! My dad told me about how the town used to flood but now the beavers look after the river so the water doesn’t flood so much.”

The completed artwork

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