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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Another World Is Possible: Displays from the Women’s March

“We are unstoppable, another world is possible.” One of my favorite rally cries from the Women’s March on Washington is carrying me through the first week of this bonkers administration. This phrase, and the experience of being surrounded by thousands of people showing up for similar goals, signified to me the possibility for a sustainable future. The creativity on display, through signs, costumes, and performance, contributed to the impact of the weekend. These displays offered intersectional perspectives – the Women’s March was in no way solely about women, but about the equitable and just world that we want to live in, despite what the people in power have in mind. Walking out of the D.C. Metro on Friday, January 20 was like entering a ghost town. No cars, very few people, eerie silence. There was the familiarity of red, white, and blue, of a Starbucks on every corner. Familiar, but not comforting. These symbols of nationalism and consumerism are not

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A Year in Theatrical Review, Featuring Climate Change

As this year sprints to a close, I’ve been thinking back on what all has happened in the world, the country, the city I live in. And then I have to take a breath. Slowing it down in my mind, I reflect on the outside world: the fears, the confusion, the urgency. Then I reflect on the experiences I’ve had inside a theatre, and how so many of those experiences drew together events and questions from the world at large, putting them into conversation with theatre audiences. Most of the plays that I’ve seen are not about the planet’s climate. The plays that I’m reflecting on inspire me to address climate change more intersectionally, using tactics that reach audiences not only on environmental questions, but also around political and cultural considerations. What follows is not an exhaustive list, nor a series of critical reviews, but rather some standout theatrical experiences of the past year, and how they are fueling me

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Climate Change

This article originally appeared in the Capital City Weekly on June 22, 2016. We were at the Fish House in Ketchikan early in April, talking about climate; the room was full and the conversation was lively. Outside, the berries were blooming and the snow was gone. Ketchikan was the third stop of the Tidelines Journey, a nine-town ferry tour organized through my work at the Island Institute, a Sitka based nonprofit dedicated to fostering resilience by promoting creative, collaborative explorations of the connections between place and community. I was traveling for the month with a group of storytellers, artists, and culture bearers, all of us working in our own ways to better understand the relationship between the changing climate and our changing cultures. A week into the tour it was becoming clear that other people in Southeast Alaska are as preoccupied with climate change as I am. For my entire adult life there’s been an environmental alarm in the background of my consciousness, sometimes

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