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Planet Earth sparks climate conversation in Rochdale

11 January 2022

Councillor Sara Rowbowtham standing in front of the Gaia exhibition.

Over 12,000 visitors got to see Gaia, the giant replica of planet Earth in Rochdale, during its 5-week run which ended in December 2021. The 7-metre exhibit at Number One Riverside was taken down during the festive break.

40 school groups visited the famous 3-dimensional model and 14 support events went ahead during its stay including the Christmas Light's Switch On, live theatre, science shows, astronaut boot camp, circus performances, green careers show, My Earth eco event and many more. They were all themed around considering our impact on the planet and what we can each do to make the borough a greener place. Students from Hopwood Hall College and local residents also took part in a climate change debate, discussing the big environmental issues facing the borough, which is available to watch online.

Gaia's residency in the town centre was part of Rochdale's commitment to raising awareness about the seriousness of climate change and its implications for the future.

Please note: in spacious environments, and with the photographer maintaining social distancing, individuals or family bubbles may remove a face covering for a shot, replacing it immediately afterwards.

A visitor to Gaia looking up at the model of the Earth.  

'Success'

Councillor Sara Rowbotham, deputy leader of Rochdale Borough Council and cabinet member for climate change and sustainability said despite the challenges of the pandemic, it had been a success:

"Gaia has helped start many conversations about climate change and really boost our climate change agenda, and it's been great to see how powerful a piece of art can be. The additional events and the way so many local groups and residents of all ages got involved brought a real community feel to the overall experience. Whilst one or two events had to be cancelled and the pandemic will inevitably have had an impact on numbers, the feedback has been fantastic, visitors were really captivated by it and Gaia has been a success we very much want to build on. Thank you to all our volunteers and everyone who came along to see it. This is just the start in terms of addressing the climate change emergency, there is a lot more work to do."

Visitors to Gaia examining an exhibit.

3,895 visitors shared their views on the borough's climate change priorities, voting for what they thought should be the top priority. In first place was 'reducing, reusing and recycling the stuff we buy and throw away,' with 1,197 votes, second with 860 votes was 'investing in the natural environment including planting more trees and protecting natural habits and the local eco system' and thirdly, 'more green energy to heat and power our homes and buildings to stop the use of fossil fuels' with 831 votes.

Councillor Sue Smith, cabinet member for communities and co-operation said:

"In light of the pandemic, I think there has already been a renewed respect for nature and our thoughts about protecting the planet have strengthened in so many ways. It was a perfect time to bring Gaia to Rochdale."

Visiting children looking up at the model of the Earth.

Darren Grice, deputy chief executive of Your Trust added:

"We're so pleased to have supported Gaia's stay. It has been fabulous to see another high profile exhibit at Number One Riverside, following Dippy's successful visit in 2020, presenting art in a really relevant and accessible way, inspiring us all. You can see from all the social media posts what an impact it has had and what a great space Number One Riverside is for large scale exhibitions."   

The exhibition and supporting events were staged in partnership with Rochdale Borough Council and Your Trust, supported financially by the Garfield Weston Foundation.  

Gaia was created in partnership with:

With supporting partners: