New Pop-up Project Offers Space for Creative Ways to Tackle Climate Change

Words: Emma Tapp
Photos: Rick Hall
Friday 17 December 2021
reading time: min, words

The Green Light in the City project aims to offer a space for learning, fun, and discussion around environmental issues... 


Tucked away in the heart of Nottingham lies a new creative pop-up project aiming to make a change to the city and open up conversations around climate change. Led by a diverse group of educators and creative organisations, it goes by the name of Green Light in the City (GLitC).

The pop-up has been set up in the former Tokenhouse shop unit on Bridlesmith Gate and will run until February, with plans to introduce other similar spaces in the near future. Members of the public can visit Thursday to Sunday between 1-4pm (re-opening from January 8th), and anyone can offer to run workshops and activities on green topics in the space. 

Climate change can be a depressing subject, but the partners behind GLitC - which includes the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University, Carbon Neutral Nottingham 2028, ChalleNGe, Ignite!, and Green Hustle - are taking a hopeful approach. Just two weeks prior to my visit this was an empty space; now, it’s been transformed into a space for learning and discussions around environmental issues.

Upon visiting GLitC, you step into a world of opportunity with a host of fun ways to engage, learn about the challenges the planet currently faces and contribute your voice. An artistic display greets you from the street, with colours so vibrant they draw you into a sea of discovery. You can make a 'drop in the ocean' pledge, explore the natural world through microscopes and virtual reality, write your 'promise to the planet' on fabric coral, or just have the team attempt to answer all your burning questions about sustainability.

The pop-up has already had an array of high profile visitors and contributors, including MP and Shadow Minister for Universities, Matt Western

There’s a strong theme of engaging younger people and creating a safe space throughout, away from the climate anxiety-inducing headlines and top-down leadership approach on show at COP26. Globally, we face a crisis, one that won’t be solved by only looking to those in political power to make a difference. As Rick Hall, founder of Nottingham-based charity Ignite! and Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity (FoSaC) says, “If we think the ideas of the future are in the heads of the politicians, then we’re doomed. The solutions are in the imaginations of young people.”

If that isn’t enough, there’s also a reading corner, meditation area, arts and crafts table and other opportunities to absorb all the eco-friendly information you could wish for. The pop-up has already had an array of high profile visitors and contributors, including MP and Shadow Minister for Universities, Matt Western, who left the message “I hope we can replicate this everywhere” in the visitors’ book. 

“The aim of [GLitC] is to bring more creativity into science. Science is creative and part of our everyday lives,” says Rick. Amongst plans coming up is an exhibition presenting the evolution of our response to climate change in the city. “Given the chance, I’m sure young people will rise to the challenge,” Rick continues - and projects like Primary Parliament are already hearing the voices of the young people locally.


Susan Anderson, academic lead for public engagement at the University of Nottingham, describes the pop-up pilot as a “collaborative space” and a “real hub of activity”, and she hopes that it will evolve and progress attitudes to science within the education sector. On her key message, she says, “It's important for me that people can see that they are part of a larger collective, including our researchers that are working on solutions to the climate emergency, such as net zero aviation and eco living, and that can only make us feel more motivated to continue and improve our individual efforts.”

During the height of the pandemic, it wasn’t just COVID that threatened public health. Increased waste entering our oceans became an issue, with mismanaged plastic disposal just one negative environmental side-effect of the ‘stay at home’ order. The team aims to educate the community on the changes that need to be made. However, “Deciding not to use plastics is only a very small part in helping the environment. We need to get other messages out,” Susan explains.

It was a natural fit for the day’s resident arts and crafts leader, maker and illustrator Laura Jay Doohan, who came into the team via her involvement with the music and arts festival Hockley Hustle (who also run Green Hustle). She tells me, “I don’t like anything going to landfill… I’m a bit of a hoarder,” and she shares how she began to consider the effects of her daily activities. “Ever since finding out how much water can be wasted by not properly switching off a tap, I’m so conscious of turning off lights and taps properly.”

If we come together in spaces like this, hopefully we can evolve our society to meet this existential challenge

Susan and Rick both reflecton the past and the part they’ve played towards the planet. “[Growing up] I lived in rural Ireland, where the only waste would be the paper bag when getting sweets from the shop,” says Susan. Rick adds, “I’m anxious as I’ve seen it change from the fifties to now. I feel responsible as part of that generation.” The climate emergency has created anxiety and fear. “It has gotten exponential over the past few decades,” says Susan, but she adds with optimism that “together we’re making a difference”.

If we come together in spaces like this, and get creative in how we imagine the future, hopefully we can evolve our society to meet this existential challenge.

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