On Thursday, June 6th, The Human Impacts Institute joined the Global Kids Climate Change Conference to host a workshop for a group of passionately ‘greenspired’ high-schoolers on just our specialty– creativity in sustainability! It was an absolute delight to see the students’ rich and artistic vision of sustainability unfold in front of us.
HII Executive Director, Tara DePorte, led the workshop, although the students had as much opportunity to lead the discussion as she did: the focus of the workshop was on student engagement, and providing them with a space to express their passions and creativity.
Tara opened with a general question about what the most personally important issues to the students in the room were. Their answers ranged from education and their diverse cultural heritage, to war and global warming. Next, Tara and the students tackled the subject of how art, in its unexpectedness, can capture audiences for the issues we care about, specifically sustainability, and how creativity can be our greatest asset.
She presented on several mediums of art including drawing, music, humor, film, public art, and even flash mobs. She showed several videos of successful campaigns within each of these mediums. We watched the impossible hamster expose the unsustainable thinking of economists today on economic growth, listened to “Plastic State of Mind,” a new, environmentally minded rendition of Jay-Z’s famous song about New York, watched 350.org’s iconic worldwide demonstration, visible even from space, about climate change, and a video of a flashmob in Quebec where everyone in a crowded food court stood up to applaud the first person to pick up and recycle a plastic bottle.
After exciting everyone in the room with so many successful experiments with art, public action, and sustainability, the students got to work brainstorming their own ideas for engaging others in sustainability with art and creativity. We saw a powerful drawing of exhausted polar bears, struggling to stay afloat in a sea which used to be ice before the devastating effects of global warming. We saw burning buildings, animated on paper, choking and running away from their own CO2, as a visual representation of the fact that our cities are manufacturing their own pollution doom. We listened to girls pitch their idea and present their storyboard for a documentary about the economic cost and challenge of eating healthy and organic. We even heard one group’s plan for their own flash mob, where participants ‘spontaneously’ drop to the floor and lay flat as though dead, hitting the point hard that climate change is the most dire issue we face right now.
After spending a full hour and a half in a room buzzing with creative energy and the noble passion to help improve the world for the better, I felt not just re-inspired, but reassured, that this new generation of the youth is going to take on the problems of the world with the full capacity of their imaginations.
I even got one young girl’s business card- talk about inspiring.
By Anna Poon, Education/Environmental Services Intern, Human Impacts Institute