‘Shaping the Future’: a PLATFORM residency programme of art, activism and education launched with a fiery spectacle at 5pm on Tuesday 10th November at the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Lewisham, London. ‘Shaping the Future’ is led by the arts and ecology group PLATFORM, and speakers at the launch included the Mayor of Greenwich, Doreen Lawrence, (mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence), and Maria Saro-Wiwa, (widow of the Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa).

The ground breaking Living Memorial to Ken Saro-Wiwa lit up the night sky with a burst of fire, to highlight the ongoing campaign to stop oil companies, in particular Shell, flaring gas in Nigeria.

The Living Memorial takes the form of a two-tonne steel Bus, created by Sokari Douglas Camp CBE. It is the centrepiece of a new, year-long PLATFORM residency at the Stephen Lawrence Centre, that commences in 2010 and aims to inspire young people to learn creative ways of campaigning for change through workshops and collaborations with established global artists.

Doreen Lawrence of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust said, “Stephen Lawrence dreamed of becoming an architect, and making a positive impact on his community and the wider world. The Trust aims to empower young people to change their communities, both locally and globally. We are delighted to welcome the arts and campaigning group PLATFORM to take up a residency that will promote global awareness about environmental and social issues, and explore the vital role of creativity in bringing about social change.”

Ben Amunwa from PLATFORM said, “The oil fields of Nigeria are notorious for decades of pollution and toxic gas flaring on a massive scale. Fourteen years ago Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others were executed for their campaigning against those gas flares. We now know that gas flaring in Nigeria affect us all, by destroying the global climate. We are launching ‘Shaping the future’ to keep alive the struggle for justice, and to inform young people about their role as global citizens and about responding creatively to these urgent issues.”