Why Artists Need to Know About Global Warming’s “Six Americas” and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

In preparing for a submission to an international art competition on climate change, I came across The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC), a dedicated program within Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Fascinated by their research on public climate change attitudes, behaviors, knowledge, and policy preferences, I reached out to Associate Director, Lisa Fernandez, whose insights guided my application. What I learned from her and from studying the program’s data convinced me that the work of YPCCC is critical to artists of all disciplines whose art is focused on stimulating awareness of, and action against, man-made climate change. Specifically, Lisa called my attention to Global Warming’s “Six Americas.” I have been as guilty as other artists who may assume that their creative expressions against an alarming global threat will be endorsed by an audience of like-thinkers and will convert those who think otherwise. But, in fact, the research conducted by YPCCC indicates that it is not

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A Hope I Can Live With

This article was originally published on HowlRound, a knowledge commons by and for the theatre community, on September 20, 2016. I am a theatre director in an early stage of thinking about performance and climate change—more of an idea and question gathering place than a how-that-translates-to-process-and-dramaturgy place. This is a tour of some ideas. This past fall, I co-organized a conversation with Sarah Cameron Sunde and Moe Yousuf in conjunction with the Theatre Without Borders Conference. About twenty-five folks (across disciplines and nationalities) shared personal entry points to making real the massiveness of climate change; themes I remember include anticipatory grief, environmental racism, individual vs. collective agency, and tempered hope in human ingenuity and the earth’s resilience. Then, Sarah invited Moe to lead us in making pickles. Pickling framed our conversation in a longer experience of time, and it gave (some of) us a reason to meet again later to experience our (well, failed) pickles. Also thinking of a conversation I had with Dehlia Hannah.

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