Art is powerful. It has been used for centuries as a way for artists, activists and groups to get their message out to others. The Thurston Climate Action Team (TCAT) is harnessing that power to create a large Climate Justice Mural in Olympia to help address some of the largest crises for our generation. The hope is for a permanent wall mural in Olympia that will bring hope and spark change for years to come.

Stone creek woodfired pizza logoThe project was born out of TCAT’s The Chrysalis Project: Transforming Together. “That project was about grand visions of creating a future where we not only survive, but thrive,” says Carrie Ziegler, community engagement organizer for TCAT. “For the Climate Justice Mural Project, we are looking at the tangible steps it will take to get us to that future.”

Their grant application for the Climate Justice Mural explains the purpose further:

In these times of multiple overlapping crises upending our ability to live our daily lives, art has a unique, critical, and powerful role to play in helping us to bring our full humanity as we struggle with what is sometimes unthinkable. This is true of the triple crises we currently face: climate change, the COVID pandemic, and racial injustice.  We propose to create an opportunity for members of the Olympia public to better come to terms with these crises using the power of art, and then using that new power, to determine steps they will take towards creating a world where each of us, our children, and our grandchildren can thrive. We are often bombarded with negative, hard things in response to climate change. This project takes a different perspective, one filled with hope and art, one that can break down barriers and inspire real action.

Six local artists were selected to help bring the mural to life. “TCAT recognizes that some populations are/will be disproportionately Impacted by climate disruption, including tribal communities, people of low income, people of color, youth, and immigrants,” explains Carries. “We emphasized outreach to these communities. We were less concerned with choosing artists that already have wide portfolio of work and were more interested in offering the stipends to those who are likely to have greater impact and less opportunities.”

Climate Justice Mural Design Team
These six local artists will be designing the Climate Justice Mural. Front row from left: George Galvez, Carrie Ziegler, Darishma Alphonse
Back row from left: Imani Mabwa-Childress, Karina Greenlee, Ahna Rader. Photo credit: Carrie Ziegler

Carrie Ziegler (lead artist), Imani Mabwa-Childress, Ahna Rader, George Galvez, Darishma Alphonse, and Karina Greenlee were chosen to work together to design the mural. From a senior in high school to a transplant from East Los Angeles, the six artists have a varied background that helps bring a myriad of ideas to the committee.

Designing the Climate Justice Mural

On June 26, the six Thurston County artists met with 50 members of the public for what was the first step in planning the mural’s design. It was the kickoff for a series of workshops that will bring together artists, volunteers, and subject matter experts to envision what Climate Justice looks like in our community and bring that vision to life through public art.

“The entire project is at the intersection of climate change and justice,” shares Carrie. “During the workshop, each artist shared their perspective as to what Climate Justice means to them. We broke into five different groups based on TCAT’s Action Groups: Trees, Food and Agriculture, Youth, Buildings, and Transportation. Climate Action Groups give an opportunity for community members to volunteer with TCAT in different areas of interest. They led their group through different guiding questions, listed below. We wanted to overlay the importance of equity and justice on topic.

Thurston County Climate Action Team Climate Justice Mural
The artists, members of TCAT and the public, met on June 26 to start the design process. Photo credit: Carrie Ziegler

“We are so often bombarded with negative, hard things in response to climate change,” she continues. “This project takes a different perspective, one filled with hope and art, one that can break down barriers and inspire real action. This project brings together art, science, and action.”

While the design is not finalized yet by any means, the plan is to use imagery that connects the five action groups mentioned by Carrie, into one cohesive mural.

Painting the Climate Justice Mural

The hope is to have the mural painted on a wall in a permanent location, though they are still working on that currently. Carries says the plan is to start painting the mural late this summer and have it finished early in the fall. This is where you come in! The public will be invited to help paint the mural once the artists have laid out the design.

You can also help through donations. You can make a donation on the Thurston Climate Action Team website. Make sure to note that the donation is for the Climate Justice Mural Project. If you have questions or want more information on volunteering, contact Carrie Ziegler at 360.970.4582 or Carrie@Thurstonclimateaction.org.

At the June 26 event, they led their group through different guiding questions:  How do we center Equity and Justice?; How do we center youth voices?; What do you see when you imagine climate justice realized?; What are tangible steps to reach this future?; What is our personal responsibility towards climate justice?; How do we use our collective voice to create change in government?; How can we design a mural that will welcome people in – and invite people to solve the climate crisis so we can create a better future?; How could the mural invite people to join the climate movement?
At the June 26 event, they led their group through different guiding questions: How do we center Equity and Justice?; How do we center youth voices?; What do you see when you imagine climate justice realized?; What are tangible steps to reach this future?; What is our personal responsibility towards climate justice?; How do we use our collective voice to create change in government?; How can we design a mural that will welcome people in – and invite people to solve the climate crisis so we can create a better future?; How could the mural invite people to join the climate movement? Photo credit: Carrie Ziegler
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