Seasonal lives

Welcome to a lunch seminar on Seasonal Lives, a collaboration between the CALENDARS and Living with SAD projects.

Illustration of woman with closed eyes and a sun and a rainy cloud over/in her head
Illustration by Eli Kjelkenes Løfvenius

Main content

The seminar seeks to deepen the understanding of how seasonal rhythms and patterns affect various facets of human life and the environment.

Presentations from both research projects will be followed by a possibility to discuss the topics over a vegetarian sandwich for lunch.

In order to estimate the amount of food, please register via this form before the 14th of June.


10.00: Welcome by Scott Bremer and Hester Parr

10:15: Coordinating seasons in Bergen arboretum, by Scott Bremer

10:45: Seasonal Forecast in Sidama, Ethiopia, by Mathias James Venning

11:00: Seasonal Affective Disorder and the Practice of Wintering Well, by Dr Shawn        Bodden, Professor Hayden Lorimer and Professor Hester Parr

11:30: Open discussion on CALENDARS and Living with SAD

12:00: Lunch: Vegetarian Sandwiches

Detailed program:

Coordinating Seasons in Bergen Arboretum

Scott Bremer (University of Bergen)

Through critical ethnographic research conducted over 2021 and 2022 workers at Bergen arboretum were invited to reflect on and receive the seasonal rhythms that affect their work patterns and how these come to clash and fall apart with global environmental changes.  This is important because temporal competency – the skill to notice and (re-)synchronise action to temporalities – is a key environmental knowledge or capacity enabling (human and non-human) individuals and groups to act ‘on time’ and avoid temporal mismatches. Adaptation to environmental change is linked to the capacity for timely action.

The research turned up a vast array of ways for knowing and acting seasonally; there is no overarching framework for understanding seasonality within that small organisation. The seasonal patterns ordering time ranged from the formal institutionalized calendar of the university to the flowerings of species, the maintenance cycles of machinery, the cultural calendar of the city of Bergen, or the rhythms of invasive species for example. We saw how practitioners fit together seasonal frameworks in deciding when to act, and the ways certain senses of seasons became more, or less, visible depending on the task at hand.

The research culminated with a workshop where participants designed a contemporary version of a traditional Norwegian “primstav” with 24 temporal markers, ranging from phenological symbols to tools and practices or public holidays.

Seasonal Forecast in Sidama, Ethiopia

Mathias James Venning

Seasonal forecasts are fast being popularised as a key tool in the enablement of seasonal climate adaptation, particularly in agricultural practice. Derived from advances in meteorological science and technology, a seasonal forecast introduces a novel temporal framework that seeks to coordinate the rhythms of agricultural practice against a modelled future.

However, a ‘season’ is comprised of a complex knit of temporalities, differentiated across those actors that comprise the networked pathways, and through which, seasonal forecast information must be communicated before it can be enacted in practice. Such temporal barriers to the use of seasonal forecast information in agricultural decision-making have been less commonly and critically assessed across the literature on climate service use.

Utilising interview data collected from a variety of actors across one communication pathway in the Sidama Region of Ethiopia, this study appraises the seasonal forecast as a novel temporal framework and describes how it has become embedded and extended through rhythms of agricultural practice.

Although seasonal forecasts are seen to have some coordinative effect, we find that the seasonal forecasts are disconnected from extant temporal frameworks that govern existing rhythms of local agricultural practice. This limits their potential use in adaptation decision-making. We summarise key lessons learned for the development and communication of seasonal forecasts, which must more meaningfully account for the multiplicity of temporalities that influence agricultural practice.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and the Practice of Wintering Well

Dr Shawn Bodden (University of Edinburgh), Professor Hayden Lorimer (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Hester Parr (University of Glasgow)

The Winter Blues is one of a number of commonplace terms describing depressed feelings associated with the long, dark season occurring at northerly latitudes; a phenomenon that connects two of Europe’s wet-cities, Bergen and Glasgow. Our presentation introduces an ongoing research project (‘Living with SAD’) where we are examining peoples’ multifaceted wintertime experiences of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Acknowledging SAD as a contested and complex condition, we have used online surveying and in-depth interviewing to explore aspects of individual lived experiences. Our qualitative data informed the design and delivery of ‘Wintering Well’, a workshop programme based around arts practices, trialled with a group of people who self-identify as experiencing SAD.

Wintering Well was a collaborative interdisciplinary venture involving cultural geographers, an artist-poet, and a psychosocial psychiatrist. Each workshop event offered participants different activities and resources to reframe disordered and disturbing feelings of seasonality, and to encounter winter light, weather, and feelings afresh.

Through a series of workshop-snapshots we will do some theorising of SAD and the emotional experience of seasonality. First, to demonstrate how uncertainty can form the basis for empowering forms of bio-sociality, and bio-solidarity. Second, to validate creative practices as a pathway leading to improved mental health, and organised social intervention. Third, to think through some of the implications arising for global climate futures, and seasonal experiences characterised by increased unpredictability.