WHOLE EARTH? Aligning human systems & natural systems

Hard Rain Project and the National Union of Students announce the launch of a 2015 exhibition to help the planet’s students plot their own sustainable futures.

Hard Rain Project (HRP) in collaboration with the National Union of Students (NUS) will launch the new exhibition, WHOLE EARTH?, simultaneously at universities in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australasia and Europe.

Help us reach a million students at 100 universities in 2015.

WHOLE EARTH? is our successor to Hard Rain. Launched in 2006, Hard Rain has been seen by some 15 million people on every continent (see sidebar text).

WHOLE EARTH? brings the college-age generation more firmly into the sustainability debate, helping them understand the threats as well as the solutions and opportunities that these challenges open up.

The exhibition is not prescriptive. Students and academics have done more than identify and assess global problems. Universities around the world, often funded by business, are researching solutions in the areas of climate, energy, fresh water, oceans and agriculture, as well as areas such as poverty, human rights, economic rule-making and politics. Courses in sustainable art and fashion and positive psychology bring in students who offer new insights.

The exhibition presents sustainable development challenges in a wide range of disciplines and invites university researchers, academics and students on every continent to share solutions they are devising—solutions that underpin security for future generations.

We will propose that the United Nations exhibit the future universities are creating at the UN Headquarter building in New York. Hard Rain was shown there in 2010.

National Union of Students
: Jamie Agombar, NUS Ethical & Environment Manager, “The NUS is really excited to be partnering WHOLE EARTH? We are especially keen to use it as a way of creating dialogue between students in different countries, exposing them to the commonalities of the global challenges we face, and which they will inherit, and to create a network of interested students that we can draw on to inform and influence the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals initiative.”

WHOLE EARTH? is written by Lloyd Timberlake, an acknowledged expert in the field of sustainable development. The Stockholm Resilience Centre provides scientific support to the project with the latest insights on planetary boundaries and global sustainability.

The original Hard Rain exhibition—a vivid reminder of the price of inaction—introduces the new display. The combination of art and rigorous science gives the exhibition wide appeal.

It will be the first exhibition to open simultaneously to a connected, international audience at multiple venues. This innovative approach will ensure media coverage at each university and public venue and is an opportunity to bring students, academics and the public together with political and business leaders. WHOLE EARTH? supports a programme of talks and events designed to give students a voice. Rather than signatures, we aim for a million selfies, collaged together as a mosaic artwork: a reminder to political leaders that they are responsible for future generations as well as today’s voters.

Media Partner
: The University of Salford is our media partner. UoS students will link visitors at all the venues from their state-of-the-art facilities, part of BBC Media City in Salford. Students, academics, the public and people at the sharp end of the environmental debate will be able to explore global issues with a global audience.

Dissemination will include online, new media and social networks, bringing in student creativity and talent at all partner universities. UoS will ensure the widest circulation and engagement by schools, universities and the public.

E-mail Mark Edwards at Hard Rain Project for costs and commitments.

Comments about Hard Rain/WHOLE EARTH?

WHOLE EARTH? deals with the urgent need to make peace with nature. Mark Edwards and Lloyd Timberlake have done a wonderful job showing how human beings can be natural partners with nature. Hard Rain showed in a very realistic way the problems but here we have the solutions, the hope and the possibility for change.  
Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary- General, United Nations

So the lesson from Hard Rain is not only of the damage we are causing, but of the shared responsibility we all have to respond – and to do those things which, step by step, can make a real difference.  
Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

If Hard Rain is a photographic elegy it is also an impassioned cry for change. Forceful, dramatic and disturbing, it is driven by what Martin Luther King called “the fierce urgency of now” – and I believe the call for a truly global response to climate change is an idea whose time has finally come.  
Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Why don’t people in power understand that their money and business are worthless if the planet dies?  
Mathieu Pendergast, UK

Hard Rain inspires me to try and stand again. To know that others share this bleakest outlook brings a ray of hope. At first I thought that Dylan’s lines should not be illustrated. I was wrong.  
Christy Moore, singer, songwriter

Hard Rain is a piece of sustained beauty. I treasure it.  
Arundhati Roy, author and environmental and human rights campaigner

So why is Hard Rain so stunning and so moving, and why does it feel so right? Part of the answer, of course, lies in the quality of the visual images. But the thematic bundling of these images with Dylan’s song could still seem gauche or exploitative were it not for two factors. The most important of these is the sheer brilliance of the dialogue Edwards has created between the words and the images, the way they synthesise into some third form that combines the stillness of a picture with the urgency of a ballad. Edwards’ conjunctions are so carefully and thoughtfully constructed that they enforce on the viewer a kind of tact that wards off mere voyeurism.  
Fintan O’Toole, Times

Hard Rain has deep pathos jumping out of every page which stirs the conscience of the reader in a profound way. The pictures and words remind us of the terribly unequal world we have created and the stark privation and distress that continues to exist in human society across large parts of the globe.
P K Pachauri, Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Chancellor of Teri University

We need to give a damn, and here we can see, if we take a few minutes, why we should. This is the power of art.  
Colin Tudge, science writer and broadcaster

This disturbing, powerfully moving work is a masterpiece that summons up the ghosts of our past and a vision of the future that is ours to change. Regret and optimism make strange bedfellows, but great artists have always known this.  
Tim Smit, Chief Executive and co-founder, The Eden Project

In this extraordinarily powerful work – moving, delicate, cryptic, violent by turns – Edwards and Dylan remind us of how much is at stake.  
Gerry McCarthy, Sunday Times

Everyone should see the ‘Hard Rain’ presentation. It’s powerful and beautiful. The simple honesty of the interaction between image and lyric really spoke to me. It had a profound effect on everyone in the audience. 
Jo Pye, Glasgow School of Art

The fist picture I saw left me speechless. I have never been so moved in my life as I was in the 20 minutes I spent looking at Hard Rain exhibition.
Annie Ngo, NHCC

As a result [of seeing Hard Rain] we have written to our head teacher asking if we can meet her and discuss some changes we can make in our own school to make a cleaner environment. I only hope I can make the difference it calls for as well as one day creating something as moving as this myself.  
Alice Ewing, Farlingaye High School, Suffolk. UK

I showed Hard Rain to my class. The intense look in everyone’s eyes was amazing. Five kids I didn’t even know came up later that day to thank me because it made such an impact on them.  
Nikki Price, Manhatten Beach, California

Hard Rain was truly a life changing event for so many of us at NHCC.
Jean Kim Maierhofer, North Hennepin Community College (NHCC)

I couldn’t help but stop to look, Then I realised I had to look!
Loughborough comments board 

Hard Rain caught me unawares, the same unawareness no doubt responsible for all this in the first place. It brought me back to my senses and deeply unsettled me... action is already taking place.  
Paul Roche, visitor


Bob Dylan is the most influential singer-songwriter of his generation. He has won numerous awards and Grammys. In 2008, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.” In 2013 the French government presented him with the country’s highest award, the Legion of Honour.

We are deeply grateful for permission to reproduce the lyrics of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall which has made this project possible.

Lloyd Timberlake is an expert on sustainable development. As a writer and journalist, he has reported from more than 65 countries, mainly on environment and development issues. His articles have appeared in most of the world’s newspapers. He has served the director of communications for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a Geneva-based coalition of about 200 of the world’s most powerful companies. More recently he advised President Obama’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

He has written prize-winning books in his own name (Africa in Crisis, Only One Earth, When the Bough Breaks) and books for organizations such as the World Commission on Environment and Development and the UN Environment Programme. 

He has appeared as juggler onstage with the Rolling Stones and in the House of Commons. He now lives in Washington DC and kayaks in the Chesapeake Bay.

Mark Edwards was the first photographer of his generation to specialise in photographing environment and development issues. The defining moment that set him on this track was getting lost in Sahara desert. A Tuareg nomad rescued him and took him back to his people. He rubs two sticks together and lights a fire; they have a cup of tea, and he turns on an old cassette player. Bob Dylan sings A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. Edwards has the idea to illustrate every line of Dylan’s extraordinary lyric. 

Assignments for magazines, NGOs and United Nations agencies (supplemented with stow-away trips on jumbo jets) have taken him to over 100 countries. One of the most widely published photographers in the world; his pictures are in museums and private collections and have been exhibited in galleries in Europe and the US.

He has presented the Hard Rain keynote at the United Nations headquarters in New York, to parliamentarians in Europe, the National Assembly of Cuba, IPCC scientists, business leaders and at universities around the world. 


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