WHOLE EARTH? Aligning human systems & natural systems

Hard Rain Project and the National Union of Students to launch WHOLE EARTH? exhibition with SOS at universities around the world in September 2015. 

WHOLE EARTH? is based on the premise that the future belongs to today’s young people and that students and universities everywhere can play a major role in making society more sustainable. 

The exhibition provides the kind of evidence students need to join the debate about their future. But it's not prescriptive – it's an invitation to students and their tutors to articulate the kind of world they want to live in, and, through Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS - see below) bring them together to show political and business leaders support to take the difficult long-term decisions that underpin security for all. 

WHOLE EARTH? will launch simultaneously in September 2015 at universities in the UK, Scandinavia and Australia. Our partners in Bangladesh, BRAC, will host the project in universities and slum and rural communities ahead of a wider roll-out in the majority world. Universities are invited to send their exhibition banners on to partner universities in Asia, Africa and South America. Venues will be connected via a YouTube channel so that students can communicate across campuses and continents.

SOS is a new, informal alliance of student organisations around the world, initiated by the National Union of Students in the UK. Through SOS, student organisations will collaborate on research, campaigns and communications, providing a global response to global challenges. SOS will help students understand the connections, follow the changes and have the right sort of evidence to influence the decision makers who need to be involved for change to happen.

 “It is vital that students have a voice in the debate about our future. WHOLE EARTH? gives us the opportunity to connect students around the world and create a huge constituency to bolster the resolve of governments to take the difficult, long-term decisions that underpin security for young people alive today and their children”.

Piers Telemacque, NUS Vice President 

NUS will provide teaching notes with links to the formal curriculum. A digital edition of WHOLE EARTH? for universities not able to host the exhibition is planned. 

WHOLE EARTH? is our successor project to Hard Rain, a collaboration with Bob Dylan which was launched in 2006 and has since been seen by some 15 million people on every continent. 

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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