Without community there is no liberation. (Audrey Lorde) 1

Terrania consists of a series of micro-episodes that total around thirty minutes of audio with a specifically composed music soundtrack. Listeners experience these otherworldly geographies through the perspective of dual protagonist viewpoints and a sonic environment that evokes hope in the face of impending doom. It locates Disabled and genderqueer bodies on the frontline of climate disaster. This exposition provides critical commentary and a rationale for the techniques and strategies adopted in an original, hybrid work incorporating theatre and sound art, with illustrations, packaged in a published podcast and broadcast radio format. 


This research project is produced on unceded Wurundjeri Country.

Terrania begins in 2021 at the end of the last and longest covid lockdown on warm, sunny late November afternoon, in the backyard of a rental share house in the inner northern suburbs of Occupied Narrm.

My dear friend and collaborator Nat Grant is visiting for the first time since 2020.

It is so nice to see them.

We sit in the sun.

Nat shares a link with me. It is about a covid relief grant for artists.

‘You should apply for this,’ Nat tells me. ‘We could make something together.

A podcast drama.  About forests and climate emergency.’

‘What about disability and genderqueer themes as well?’

‘Yes, all of those things.'

Research Participants

Nicky Stott
is an emerging writer, media activist and artist working with analog and digital media since 1991. Nicky produced 3CR Community Radio’s environmental current affairs program Earth Matters from 2010 to 2022. They completed their Bachelor of Arts Honours research project in Creative & Critical Writing at the University of Southern Queensland in 2021, and Advanced Diploma of Digital Design & Interactive Media at Victoria University in 2001. https://linktr.ee/nickystott

Dr. Nat Grant is a sound artist with more than 15 years experience across live performance, recording and broadcast, digital arts, and community arts. Nat has created original chamber music, durational sound art works, has composed and created sound design for theatre, dance, film, and live art, and in 2018 received the Age Music Victoria award for best Experimental/Avant-Garde Act. A broadcaster for 3CR Community Radio, Nat is invested in creating and maintaining community around sound making. http://natgrantmusic.com 


Luc Yong is a potter, writer, musician, and painter. She is a practicing potter with Carlton Arts Centre Pottery School, where she had a group exhibition alongside resident artists and students in December 2019. A series of her work was also exhibited at the “Seoul International Handmade Fair” in South Korea, May 2019. Luc was recently commissioned to write as part of Multicultural Arts Victoria’s “Shelter” program. Her paintings were featured in the July / August 2020 issue of “Archer Magazine”. http://lucslikeit.com 


I’m dreaming up this story just a few short weeks after I submitted my Honours thesis. The themes in this exposition are themes I originally wanted to do for my thesis. Something along the lines of ‘how can a contemporary work of speculative fiction be a driver of social change?’


My supervisor is not completely dismissive of this notion, but they tell me, ‘The biggest problem with a question like this is that to answer it, you'd have to measure (somehow) the social change brought about by a creative work/s. Pretty much impossible...’.


And so, meekly, I change my thesis topic to something more ‘measurable’.


But this central question about how a creative practice or work might drive social change lingers in my thoughts. And while I’m thinking about what the story of Terrania might be about, I find myself drifting back again to this space.


I am told that one of the key tests of a good research question is that it must be able to be answered. I am told that art activism can be quantified by the way it exhibits a demonstrable effect in challenging and changing power relations. 2


But how should these effects be measured? And by whom? And for how long?


If a tree falls in the forest…

If I/we could change just one mind.


The choice to develop this hybrid artwork for popular formats (podcast and radio) was based on a manifold process of reasoning, with an aim to increase its cultural and socio-political scope. Traditional radio drama forms have developed new mainstream audiences in recent years as podcasting gains in scope and popularity. BBC immersive sci-fi drama Forest 404 is one such example that initially inspired our project (albeit on a much larger scale employing well-known actors and a big commercial budget). Vachon and Woodland (2021) observe that while entertainment venues closed during the onset of COVID-19, online and broadcast audio platforms presented a viable alternative for sonic art and theatre audiences.

 Australians—who are notoriously more into sport than art—are also (interestingly) currently the biggest consumer of podcasts globally. 4  Inexpensive production costs promote accessibility for culturally and socio-politically marginalised voices and stories. Because podcasts are an online format, they also increase disability access for practitioners and audiences. As always, it should also be noted the internet is not free and therefore not indiscriminately accessible. However, the point remains that creative practice and works can allow us to share scientific and political viewpoints in more enjoyable, palatable, and accessible formats. Reducing the risk of alienating people by being too “preachy”. 


Climate science concepts are abstract and inaccessible for many people.  Conventional activist avenues like protest or direct action can also be confronting. We may find ourselves looking around for more accessible forms. Certainly, there is quite a solid body of practitioners and works in all creative disciplines exploring climate science concepts and critiquing extractivism with conventionally familiar art forms, like visual arts, music and theatre. This tactical approach can help to make abstract and deeply political concepts more tangible, friendly, and approachable/accessible for more people. Furthermore, where pop culture forms, such as podcasts and broadcast radio, merge with more niche art forms like dramatic theatre and experimental sound design—this increases accessibility to activist themes. Particularly when working within speculative fiction/drama genres, which already have the subversive imaginary built into them.


Terrania is an eco-gothic microdrama podcast project exploring gender-queer and disability themes in the face of climate catastrophe. This project draws on contemporary environmental realities to explore how Disabled and genderqueer bodies might be reimagined in dystopian and utopian futurity narratives.

This cultural turn has been accompanied by a critical and theoretical movement towards understanding the politics of sound and listening, which interrogates the coercive power of sound and the potential for sonic agency through reorienting notions of ‘empowerment’ and ‘voice’ towards the act of listening as a social responsibility and political imperative. 3

Activism celebrated and re-enacted in the arts...supports and nurtures the spaces where resistance springs from, provides moral support, inspiration, and bears witness.

In cultures of resistance, people know their history and remember their struggles.

(Aric McBay) 5

Glory B is a creature of flight trapped inside a very small box. East Hastings are an entity living in symbiosis with the Last Forest, expanding their consciousness across time as their roots descend through the geological strata. These two beings find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other in a post apocalyptic world devastated by climate and industrial disaster.

               Reading List



Anderson, S & Bigby, C 2021, ‘Community participation as identity and belonging: a case study of Arts Project Australia, “I am an artist”’, Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, vol. 8 (no. 1).

Bible, V 2018, Terania Creek and the forging of modern environmental activism. Springer, New York.

Community Radio Federation, 2023, 3CR Community Radio, https://www.3cr.org.au/

Green, C 2001, The third hand: Collaboration in art from conceptualism to postmodernism, UNSW Press, Randwick.


Höglund, J 2022, ‘The Anthropocene within’, in JD Edwards, R Graulund & J Höglund (eds.), Dark Scenes from Damaged Earth: The Gothic Anthropocene. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, p. 253-254


Hubrig, A 2022, ‘Care work through course design: Shifting the labour of resilience’, Composition Studies, vol. 50 (no. 2).

Kafai, S 2021, Crip Kinship: The Disability Justice & Art Activism of Sins, Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver.

Killjoy, M 2009, Mythmakers & lawbreakers - Anarchist writers on fiction, AK Press, San Francisco. 


Land, C 2015, Decolonizing solidarity: Dilemmas and directions for supporters of Indigenous struggles, Zed Books, London.

Lorde, A 1983, ‘The masters tools will never dismantle the masters house’, in C Moraga & G Anzaldua (eds.), This Bridge called my back: Writings by radical Women of Colour, Kitchen Table Press, New York. 

McBay, A 2019, Full Spectrum Resistance: Volume One, Seven Stories Press, NewYork.

Meikle, G 2018, ‘Artistic Activism’, Routledge Companion to Media And Activism, Routledge, Abingdon & New York.

Polli, A 2012, ‘Soundscape, sonification, and sound activism’, AI & SOCIETY, Springer-Verlag, London.

Ricketts, A 2003. ‘"Om gaia dudes": the North East Forest Alliance’s old-growth forest campaign', Belonging in the rainbow region: Cultural perspectives on the NSW north coast, Southern Cross University Press, Lismore.

Serafini, P 2018, Performance action: The politics of art activism, Routledge, London & New York.

Schalk, S 2018, Bodyminds reimagined:(Dis) ability, race, and gender in Black women's speculative fiction, Duke University Press, Durham.

Sliwinska, B 2021, Feminist Visual Activism and the Body, Routledge, Abingdon.

‘Australia overtakes the US as world’s biggest podcast-listening nation, Infinite Dial study reveals’, Mumbrella, August 15 2022, http://bitly.ws/SiT8

Vachon, W & Woodland, S 2021, ‘Finding resonance: applied audio drama, inquiry and fictionalising the real’, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 26, no. 4, pp.638-655.

Luc Yong: Glory B
Nicky Stott: East Hastings

Nicky Stott: writer / director / artwork / producer
Nat Grant: sound design / original music soundtrack / producer

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Oil crayon illustration with rich, vibrant colours depicting a close up perspective of a single disembodied, bloodshot eye peering out of thick rainforest foliage.







Locating myself as an activist leaning into identifying as an artist.

Environmental and social justice.


Queer, increasingly Disabled.

On the poverty line.

Often homeless.
I want to also acknowledge my white settler privilege.


My first true love has been DIY media, and for the last twelve years I have been very active with 3CR Community Radio.  A community owned and operated platform prioritising the voices of marginalised peoples since 1976.


3CR is much more than just a radio station. It is a proactively anti-capitalist, collectivist networking space, with more than 400 volunteers producing more than 120 programs in around 15 different languages.9 Being involved with this radical space affords me the opportunity to collaborate with a wide network of activists and connect with their variously marginalised communities. All these relationships have a significant impact on my creative practice.


The narrative for Terrania was partially born out of my experience of covering environmental current affairs for twelve years as a media activist at 3CR. Environmental activism is sort of stuck on repeat. Colonial ecocide/genocide, logging, mining, hyper-militarism and corporate profiteering of agriculture and scientific technology, irreversible destruction of critical habitats and mass extinction, irreversible climate disaster and the criminality of “false solutions”. Year after year. I noticed that when I was scripting these news stories, it was the same generic story arcs every time. Different names, voices and geographic locations, but the same old stories.  And although the activists I was connecting with did sometimes have wins, overall things were getting steadily worse. And as I got more and more burned out by it all, these stories started to feel quite surreal to me. Like (profoundly terrifying) theatre. I began to ask myself, when current affairs mimics theatre, can theatre perform current affairs?


And so, the script for Terrania is partly inspired by these experiences of limitations, burn-out and despair, and by the impetus to change tactics and try something new. Creative arts can be a constructive channel in the face of despair, and another way to hold the line. To refuse to give up, even in the face of defeat. As creative practitioners, part of our accountability is the responsibility we have—first in not turning away—and secondly, to take action within our practice. The central concept for Terrania explores how Disabled and genderqueer bodies might be reimagined in dystopian and utopian futurity narratives, while locating Disabled, genderqueer bodies on the frontline of climate emergency. This concept is rooted within our personal, collective experiences as practitioners. Reconceptualising the personal as political as popularised by feminist movements of the 1960s-70s, Serafini (2018) interrogates how (queer) transgression and performativity can be negotiated aesthetically and politically through the use of the body as a tool of action. Transgressive forms confront heteronormativity codes on the appropriate look and behaviour of bodies, while also addressing wider structural issues at the systemic level.





 Serafini also references filmmaker, performance artist, and activist Liz Crow (from Roaring Girl Productions), who states that while the body is very present when dealing with disability as a theme, her work is more about diverting attention from the disabled body and refocusing the lens on systemically located structural barriers that impact Disabled People. As I went about conceptualising the narrative structure for Terrania I was also struggling heavily with the debilitating impacts of chronic illness, while experiencing systemically located structural barriers, including concerns about navigating extreme climate impacts. Instinctively, I followed this notion of the genderqueer, Disabled body as a tool for action in challenging systemic and structural oppression out of the city walls and deep into the forest to see where it would lead.



In order to get meaningful political change, you have to change the culture. Art is one of the few things that can do that. The more that art can show positive images of defiance and rebellion against our culture of greed, the more chance we stand of making changes in the real world.
(Margaret Killjoy)6

Developing the script

The relationship with one’s body in the making of art and activism, can be quite complex, especially when dealing with issues of gender, race, sexuality, disability, and other matters that define our daily social and embodied experiences as well as our identities. 10 

Fiction is not a good medium for preaching or for planning. It is really good, though, for what we used to call consciousness-raising.

(Ursula K LeGuin) 8

storytelling is cultural activism...because stories can uncover and give voice to those who are unseen, marginalized, and forgotten. (Shayda Kafai) 7

Developing sounds for Terrania


Nat Grant is a sound artist and composer working with a hybrid of ‘real’ world field recordings, synthetic sounds, and digital processing to create textural and collage-like work.


       Nat’s practice is world making: Creating sonic spaces that are “environmental”. Nat has found that they are drawn to speculative fiction forms, and the potential they offer to explore the possibilities of change. 


       The aim of the sound design in Terrania is to support the dialogue and transport the listener, to create space when needed and to evoke some of the feelings of panic and terror we have about globalisation, neo-colonialism, and global warming by centering sounds that we tend to push away in our day to day lives. 


In terms of our process: working collectively can be survival. The exponential effects of what is known as the ‘third hand’ in collaboration has creative benefits: many minds and many hands can make something greater than if they all worked individually.11 Further, and especially for those living as part of any minority, having the opportunity to rest and for someone else (or many other people) to share the burden of work can be the difference between completing a task or not. There is a lack of creativity in the lack of flexibility afforded to workers, students, and even artists, that holds us back, individually, and collectively. 12  13


(Nat Grant)




Contemplating the literary development of a dramatic work incorporating key themes—climate crisis, genderqueerness and disability—I ask myself, what does patriarchy, gender, sexuality and ableism have to do with saving forests?  

Bodymind theory in disability studies emerges out of the Queer of Colour community and Disability Justice movement to influence queer disability discourse more broadly (not dissimilarly to how intersectionality theory emerges from Black Lesbian feminism). Leading voices in bodymind theory, such as Sami Schalk and Shyda Kafai, advocate for a holistic approach. 14 & 15  This generous sharing of hard earned Disabled, Queer of Colour knowledge resonates for me/us in my/our collectivist, eco-centric development of Terrania as an eco-gothic microdrama. Kafai describes bodyminds with unmitigated love as a multiplicity of non-normative and non-able, deeply rooted in community and collective action, observing that disability arts would not exist without disability politics. Schalk cites the genius of Octavia Butler as a formative example of how Black women’s speculative fiction creates alternative possibilities and meanings of bodyminds in the interstices of (dis)ability, race, and gender. The way in which Butler’s visionary speculative fiction merges bodymind concepts with eco-centric concepts is a powerful influence for me as a writer and storyteller. 


Budget and time constraints for Terrania pre-determine its narrative form as microdrama, restricting the number of characters to two (dual protagonists). One protagonist is trapped in a small, restrictive, and non-organic urban space while the other(s), a multiple entity, is/are located at the site of an historical forest blockade to protect the last remaining forest in a world (not necessarily Earth) devastated by climate and industrial disaster. Engaging with bodymind theory, Terrania recognises the direct action tactic of the forest blockade as inextricably intertwined with the notion of the bodymind as a cohesive tool of action, and envisions this paradigm as a striking narrative device. Forest blockades, out of strategic necessity, are creatively formed from the landscape in which they are constructed. Forest activists, often ingeniously, utilise the natural lay of the land, and whatever local materials are available, to construct blockade structures (tripods, "dragons", cables, pipes, etc.), and incorporate diversionary tactics such as "black wallaby", strategically across key access points and within logging coupes to maximise the efficiency of the blockade. These structures literally incorporate human bodies as a tool of action in every conceivable way to obstruct habitat destruction. Activists intentionally lay their individual bodies and lives on the line, not only to protect the holistic / whole of our ecosystem, but also as a practical means towards sociopolitical systemic change through the repertoire of civil disobedience. 16 Furthermore, expanding on the notion of a planetary devastation and renewal sequence in which the "dominant" species is either marginalised, transformed beyond recognition or notably absent, the fallacious "border" between humans and nature is necessarily unmasked. Cognisance of this liminality partly determines our choice to preserve the "human" sound quality inherent in the raw vocal recordings of Terrania's ostensibly beyond-human characters. Aside from our aesthetic and practical aversion for audio effects that sound hackneyed and grate on the ear, we also strive to maintain, within the vocal soundtrack, an intimation of fragile (albeit uncanny) "humanity" as it encounters, merges with, and is transformed by the more-than-human forest / blockade assemblage. Höglund (2022), drawing on Donna Haraway’s gothic materialist “Chthulucene” (incidentally sans Lovecraft, and yet not unproblematic), in which ontological versions of human and beyond-human coexist as inextricably linked assemblages, writes:





Thus, the forest blockade, initially located within the logging coupe, as a literal site of contention in the embodied form of direct action against the systemic violence of extractive industries (capitalism), is likewise informed by the multiplicity of transgressive and fluid queer forms that automatically infuse gothic genres in much the same way that speculative fiction, more generally, lends itself to the subversive imaginary. Terrania promotes a kindred liminality in these spaces that imbues a Deleuzian-style deterritorialisation / reterritorialisation. A nebulous becoming-other refusing homonormativity and beyond. Invigorating deeply rooted systemic change in the form of a holistic, ever-expanding inclusivity without barriers or borders. Likewise, the (ongoing) Australian “feral” forest activist subculture, which first developed in the mid to late 1990’s through the notable participation of subversive creatives such eco-conscious crusty punks and ravers, later extended beyond the forest into other spheres of protest, subsequently feeding back into wider artistic and musical scenes.18 For decades, this activist/artivist subculture has also aligned and overlapped with Indigenous land rights movements in colonial Australia, imperfectly, but probably more successfully than most.19 Parenthetically, while conceptualising Terrania as non-Indigenous artists, it is not our place to speak directly to Indigenous land rights. However, the narrative of Terrania (set outside of—but not oblivious to—the colonial Australian settler context) speaks to the colourful, vibrant and battleworn spheres of forest activist / artivist subcultures, formed through a multiplicity of coalitions, holistically reimagining the forest blockade itself as a collective bodymind. A heaving, seething mutual entity. A genderqueer “We”, forever growing back into a fluid forest becoming, instinctively reshaping itself around an ever-expanding collective, and holding the line at the utmost, molecular level. A symbolic insistence that ableist, cis-heteronormative, homonormative and anthropocentric notions of existence can be deeply subverted in the pursuit of systemic resistance.


History shows us that the campaigns and social movements that win are the ones that embrace a full spectrum of resistive tactics. Collectivism with an aim to challenging systemic power is what builds cultures of resistance. Not just with big flashy public actions, but with little everyday lowkey actions. Some with immediately tangible results, and others with longer, slower, less perceptible strategic aims and outcomes. Searching and trying, sometimes successful, often failing. 20  My/our position is that community is what grounds us, partly by making us accountable for our words and actions. As a writer and as a media activist/artivist, every time I make something I must consider and ask myself: ‘Is this work going to be okay by all of my community networks?’ And by community networks, I mean my broadcast communities, activist communities, and other marginalised communities that I belong to, and have connections with, and responsibilities to. That keep me accountable. And grounded in these various grassroots movements for survival.


For marginalised people, even mundane acts, such as standing on the street or walking have always been political. The occupation of space by those who are not privileged to it has always been a political act. 21  I/we collaborating and collectivising, as artivists and researchers, exploring topic X for platform Y, while intersectionally (respect to Queer Black feminism) oppressed, is a political act.


A cautionary note to researchers who want to quantify or limit what constitutes artivism is that this path may be too narrowly constrained. It risks privileged readings that exclude, marginalise or erase othered practitioners and other perspectives. For some creatives who are maintaining a practice with additional intersectional barriers such as illness and/or disability, racial, gender and/or sexuality oppressions, low income, homelessness etc—simply surviving is a form of resistance.


For all of us involved with this research project, practice-led inquiry is just one way to reimagine our social and environmental accountabilities. It’s just a different way in. A different means to an end. Maintaining a holistic creative practice that values community and ecosystems before profits is inherently resistive. And if it is resistive, then it is activism. And you can add further layers to that, or not.


When I/we look at how these communities that I’m/we’re connected with are negotiating extractivism and neo-colonialism, that process of negotiation is most often survival centered. Correspondingly, my/our own practice is often focussed on the themes of surviving extractivism and unpacking my/our settler privilege on stolen land. With a focus on how poor, Disabled, culturally oppressed and/or genderqueer people and communities are navigating that frontline space.

And what a just transition to a better world might look like.

And this research is grounded along those long, slow, and arduous lines of enquiry.
Searching, trying, and often failing.

Often quiet—occasionally full volume—resistance.

And slower-than-snails change.



(Nicky Stott)

To the barricades!

Extinction is not the end of everything… ecology will persist, meaning that humans are disposable to the planet, to agency, to history, even to love itself. ...love is not the anthropogenic, heteronormative emotional bonding celebrated in mainstream culture but a complex and interspecies queer erotics that constantly remakes the world’.  17