May 2010:Bothered by My Green Conscience is the winner of the 2010 Green Book Festival Award for Graphic Novels. The award honors books that, “… contribute to greater understanding, respect for and positive action on the changing worldwide environment.” Bruce Haring at the Green Book Festival said, “Franke’s book is a sheer delight and the judges are proud to honor it with this award.”
Author and artist, Franke James commented, “I’m absolutely thrilled it won the Green Book Festival Award for Graphic Novels! Book awards catch the attention of the media — and are therefore a great way to get the core message of my book to the public, and that is, ‘Do the hardest thing first.’ And then brag about it, shamelessly!”
“Do the hardest thing first.”
“Tell everyone about the wonderful green thing you did! Pretty soon, you’ll discover it’s fun and you’ll be inspiring others. Your friends and family may feel envious at first — but before you know it, they’ll be doing their own ‘hard green thing.’ And then we’ll have a real green revolution happening! And we need that.
“We’re treating our world as though it was disposable, and we had another shiny new one just waiting on a shelf for us. But we don’t! We need to get serious about protecting the environment, so that our children and grandchildren will have a healthy planet to live on. We can do a lot to fix the world, but we need to get ambitious now — and not wait for the politicians to save us.
“Do the hardest thing first. You’ll be surprised how fun it is, and how good it makes you feel!”
Franke James’ book is in good company — other Canadians who won the US Award…
James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore won the overall Green Book Festival prize for Climate Cover-Up (Non-fiction). It is a book I highly recommend. It’s a fascinating, and illuminating read about the crusade to deny global warming. It will give you insight into the inner-workings of the PR campaigns (financed by the fossil fuel industries) that are sewing climate confusion, and in many cases, using outright deception to fool the gullible public.
The campaign to deny global warming mirrors the campaign by the tobacco industry to convince people that smoking was safe. And we all know how that ended up. Decades were wasted, lives lost, all unnecessarily, because society refused to face the scientific truth.
Now every cigarette pack in Canada comes with warning labels, such as “Smoking Kills.” What warning label should we put on our planet that will wake people up? Please leave your suggestions in the comments.
Artist and author Franke James speaks at Bates College Sept 5, 2009
So, thinking that one of the best ways to inspire the Bates students is to show other students making a difference… I started by showing photographs from the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali. The first photo shows students asking for hard caps on emissions. They did a great job of finding a symbol (hard hats) to tell their story, visually. (My thanks to environmental activist and speaker David Noble for the Bali photos.)
The “Act Now” photo shows people creating an image of the world, with half of it submerged in water due to rising sea levels from climate change.
Students at the 2007 conference were frustrated that they did not have a voice at the negotiating table. And they found a memorable way to communicate that message to the cameras.
During my talk, I also pointed students to 350.org for ideas on what they can do and how they can organize an action for October 24th. The Great Barrier Reef, Chinese Universities, the Swiss Alps — these are just three of the many actions planned for October 24th, in over 100 countries.
Brainstorming 350 actions
So, do you remember at the beginning when I said I’d been inspired at the dinner the night before my talk? During dinner we brainstormed ideas for worldwide actions on October 24th, which included using performance art techniques.
Bates College French professor, Kirk Read told me about Frozen Grand Central, an improvisational acting piece that took place in New York City. It is a brilliant example of live street theater at one of the busiest stations in the world, Grand Central. Over two hundred people suddenly stopped — frozen — caught in the middle of various ordinary activities (picking up papers, eating a banana, looking at a map, kissing) as if in suspended animation. The on-lookers didn’t know what to make of it. Why were the people not moving? What was wrong? You can watch the YouTube video below to see their stunned reactions. After 5 minutes, all 200 actors snapped out of it, as though nothing had happened.
So how does this relate to climate change?
Getting the world’s attention on climate change is tough. You need a strong hook. Frozen Grand Central offers that hook in a fun, easy way. I can see the opportunity to use this dramatic “Frozen” act for a Flash mob 350 demonstration on October 24th. And so I wove it into my talk at Bates the next day… Now I don’t know if anyone will use the idea — but if you do — please let me know!
Freeze to Protest Inaction on Climate Change
Stage a Freeze Flash Mob: Gather a team of 350 people. Have all of them wear t-shirts, buttons, or hand-made labels, with the 350 message. Gather in a busy (and safe) public area. Take video as your team freezes for 350 seconds (about 5 minutes). Watch the stunned reactions of passersby… When they snap out of it explain the meaning of it: To protest the glacial pace of action on climate change. Of course, don’t forget to upload the video to YouTube and send it to the news media, with a press release.
Curious what Bates is doing for October 24th?
Bates Buzz on 350
Bates is buzzing with activity… The 350.org group (which includes on campus and local people) has multiple arts and sports projects planned for October 24th. While I was on campus, I met with Julie Rosenbach, Environmental Coordinator at Bates and Emily Grady, a Senior student. Emily is developing an environmental leadership program and is involved in organizing 350 students to cycle in support of 350.org.
Ryan Dean, a 2009 Bates graduate working with the 350.org group, shared with me his Bird’s Eye View project. Ryan is hoping the idea will spread internationally, from rooftop to rooftop.
“The Bird’s Eye View is a network of recycled art installations, constructed on rooftops, in collaboration and support of 350, an international grass-roots organization for the reduction of carbon emissions. Images of the installations will be taken to be spread by use of the media to the general public, raising awareness about global warming. The images send a message of green peace, global solidarity, and a broadened human perspective.” Ryan E. Dean
I think of the Bird’s Eye project like horizontal billboards on rooftops — but shouting their message to air traffic, satellites flying overhead — and of course, the all-seeing eye, the news media. With Google Maps, and a little Photoshop artistry, we can imagine what Ryan has in mind…