Submitted by Thurston County Climate Action Team

On Saturday, September 4 and Sunday, September 5, community members came together to paint the Climate Justice Mural on the lower Harrison Ave wall, just above the 4th Avenue round-about. Volunteers from Thurston Climate Action Team (TCAT), the Southwest Neighborhood Association, community organizations, and walk ups off the street were led by a six-artist design team, assembled by TCAT, in painting the design onto the wall. The design for the Climate Justice Mural project came out of a community workshop which TCAT hosted in June, in which artists, volunteers, and subject matter experts gathered to envision what Climate Justice looks like in our community and how to bring that vision to life through public art.

From left to right, the mural features a brown fist holding ribbons representing the trans flag, the gay pride flag, and racial diversity, which weave together becoming roads that feature alternative building and transportation options. The roads blend into images of roots and then water spelling out the words Climate Justice and featuring a killer whale tail. To the right one can see vines with the flowers of medicinal and edible plants and then butterflies representing transformation and hope for the future. One butterfly  lands on a child’s outstretched finger, representing a bountiful future which we are creating for all future generations through our actions today. Within the roots of the tree you’ll find canoes representing indigenous people’s connection to the water and a Lushootseed Prayer, painted in collaboration with Candace Penn and Jeremiah George of the Squaxin Island Tribe. The prayer is written in both Lushootseed, the language of the Squaxin Island Tribe, and English.

“When we talk about climate justice and climate change, it’s such an immense problem. Like many problems all together, we need more people working together to solve it. And so this project is one way to get the community together to have conversations around climate justice, to look into finding solutions for this ginormous problem that we have and create community while we’re doing it,” said Carrie Ziegler, the lead artist on the design team.  The six-artist design team made up of artists from around Thurston County included Darshima Alphonse, George Galvez, Karina Greenlee, Imani Mabwa-Childress, Ahna Rader, and Carrie Ziegler.

Greenlee, one of two design team members from local Thurston County high schools, said, “I think this project is really about hope. We’re coming together to work on this and this is a vision of what we want the future to be. A lot of bravery too. This mural is the culmination of everyone’s hope and bravery.”

The Climate Justice Mural Project aims to engage a broader swath of Thurston County residents in a conversation about Climate Justice using collective imagination to dream up solutions for climate change, COVID, and racial justice, and share those solutions via a public mural as a permanent reminder to the community of what is possible. TCAT hopes to host some more events at and with the mural in the future as we continue to work towards a clean, healthy, and equitable future in Thurston County. In the meantime, this thought provoking piece of public art makes for a more beautiful daily commute for many residents.

You can learn more about this project on the Thurston Climate Action Team website.

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