The North Carolina Sunrise Movement hosted a discussion workshop in conjunction with St. Anthony Hall, the co-ed arts and literary fraternity, to find the intersection of climate change art and advocacy for Earth Day.
First-year Rachel Maunus is the hub coordinator for the town of Chapel Hill’s Sunrise Movement group.
“Sunrise Movement is a movement of young people who are working to stop climate change and create jobs in the process,” Maunus said. “What that looks like, is pushing the Green New Deal and the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.”
The workshop the group hosted at St. Anthony Hall’s house was a place for conversation about mitigating climate change and the impact of artistic creations on raising awareness for environmental issues.
“A lot of what we’re doing here is more having discussions about what role art plays now and what role it can play in social justice spaces,” Maunus said.
Nora Knapp, senior and St. Anthony Hall sibling, said the platform provides a unique opportunity to bring greater proximity to a seemingly intractable problem.
“It’s kind of hard to wrap my head around the fact that climate change is such a serious issue,” Knapp said. “It’s easy to just kind of feel numb about it and accept it. But I think art is a way of really bringing out emotions and making you feel things in a really deep, real way that just statistics and stuff doesn’t.”
The gallery was comprised of photographs, paintings, poetry and songs that spread the word about group advocacy or emphasized a connection with nature individually.
“A lot of what Sunrise Movement does is based in storytelling, so the idea that we’re a movement of people from every walk of life and that the only way that we’re going to be able to use that to our advantage and understand each other is through storytelling and being able to tell how — to have each person tell how climate change has affected them and what drives them to act,” Maunus said.
Works included a series of photographs taken by first-year Kalley Huang at Wendy’s, McDonald's and Whole Foods Market, which highlight the commercialization of sustainability. An original song by Knapp was also played.
“It’s basically just no instruments, just me singing and humming in different layers over each other and it’s called ‘The Song a Stream Would Sing,’” Knapp said. “The lyrics are almost about writing from the stream’s perspective.”
First-year Claire Bradley said the combination of art and climate advocacy of climate change connects two groups and their counterparts together, bringing greater awareness in general.
“Everyone learns differently,” Bradley said. “Some people learn through visual things or feel through visual things — so I think seeing art, hearing art, feeling art in many different senses can reach more people and get a more broad audience involved.”
Although Bradley said individual efforts are important, she said she believes the greatest change will come through the government.
“What’s even more important is working on changing policy,” Bradley said. “Especially for the 2020 election, working on getting officials elected that aren’t taking money from fossil fuel and support the Green New Deal and then calling senators, calling congresspeople to make sure they are in support of the Green New Deal and other climate change for progress motives.”
The Green New Deal is a program that aims to tackle climate change and inequality at the same time by generating employment. The Green New Deal has been popularized by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez since her time in office.
The workshop was also an opportunity for the Chapel Hill Sunrise Movement to gear up for the Green New Deal Durham Town Hall taking place Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
“There’s a space for everyone in the climate justice movement and the more intersectional it can be, the more it can represent every single person and every single activist space and that’s how we’re going to be effective and create change,” Maunus said.
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