Berlin, 18 September, 2014.

Berlin, 18 September, 2014.

I have been spoilt this week in Berlin. The weather is clear and sunny, and I have been to a remarkable writers’ festival where the emphasis is on ideas and exchange rather than celebrities and book sales. My hosts have been remarkably generous. I feel blessed and energised, rather than drained of effort.

As part of the Global Weather Stations project, I have had the chance to meet with high school students here. Today, I conducted a creative writing workshop with the students, discussing the power of poetry, locality and the effects of climate change on each of us. Rather than ask them to contemplate a global ‘crisis’, or attempt to decipher the extent of the scientific information available about the issue of global warming, I suggested that they go home from school today and take a photograph of the sky directly above their own street or home. I asked that they then study the photograph, live with it a while, before writing a piece of prose or poetry about their own little piece of sky.

I let them know that I too have a piece of sky above my own home. I showed them an image I made the day before I left for Europe, just to prove it. We each have a piece of sky, joined to the next piece, and so on and so on, reaching from Melbourne to Berlin and all points beyond. Where would I draw a dividing line, a wall, between my piece of sky and the roof above the heads of these wonderful young people? There is no line. We are in and under this together.

Tony Birch

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  1. Dear Tony,
    I am one of the pupils you talked to in Berlin. We all wanted to thank you for being with us. We enjoyed the breath-taking lesson you gave us and hope to see you again soon.
    I (Lukas) made a poem on my piece of sky:
    Late Summer Afternoon

    I look up.
    The ocean that we call sky is clear.
    The burning light of the sun hurts my eyes.
    Instinctively I turn my head in another direction.
    What I see is the reflecting after-glow on the other side of the big mirror.
    My brain tells me it’s a good day,
    but it’s been a cold day.
    The sun wants to tell me something,
    now that I have been thinking about her.
    But she doesn’t like what I have been thinking,
    so she goes and her place takes a red and orange cloud.
    This beautiful blue ocean turned into a dark unclear cover.
    All that happened within a few minutes.

    Lukas Hoffmann

    Greetings from Berlin!
    Class 1023 / Lukas

  2. A beautiful and thoughtful exercise Tony, and it has obviously produced some wonderful pieces of writing. A great poem Lukas. Thanks for sharing!


  3. Today we introduce the Weather Stations project to the group of students at Footscray City College who will participate in this global dialogue over the next few months – as part of the morning I will show them the site and introduce them to their peers / collaborators and read this piece, which so beautifully connects us all and begins, from a shared place the journey we will all undertake – which we are already all on. I look forward to the writing that will come from these next weeks.

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