Meeting Climate Change with Art: The Space Before Definitions

This post was originally part of an email list with a group of like-minded student artists, but I turned it into a blog post so more people can have access. Enjoy!

One of the big things I will be doing with this email is sharing art that either points us in a cool direction or makes you think.

For this week, I chose a film that represents a particular spirit of this project. Let There Be Light directed by John Huston. Click here for the full 57 min film on youtube, courtesy of the US National Archives.

This film has nothing to do with climate change, but there’s something important for us in Let There Be Light. It’s a documentary produced by the US Army following a group of “emotionally wounded” soldiers through rehabilitation returning from World War II.

Today we all have a pretty good word for this issue – PTSD – but, the word PTSD did NOT exist when John Huston made this film.

It was a film before definitions!

John Huston didn’t come from a word and look for a story that fit. All Huston knew was that soldiers were being severely damaged in more ways than just the physical, and Huston couldn’t ignore it.

He couldn’t ignore the flesh and blood experiences he saw.

Climate Change is the largest challenge humankind has ever encountered. It is big, It is full of depth, and to an extent it’s mysterious. We need art that can push our boundaries on climate change. 

Ten years from now we’re going to have all sorts of new words to talk about climate change, but the road to those new words is built on the art. 

So, we do what artists do best. We focus on the stories. This is my challenge: Find those real-life stories of climate change. Bring it down to the basic level if you have to. What’s your story with climate change? What’s your roommate’s story?

Hopefully, this gives you something to think about.


Deeper Dive Into Sustainability: One thing artists said they’d like from me is more educational information on climate change and sustainability. So, coming from the opposite side as Let There Be Light, maybe your art will come from research and go from there.

This week I’m focusing on an intersection of climate change that I’m particularly passionate about…Food and Agriculture.

Food is fundamental to human life, and the way we make the types of food we eat is fundamental to many of our problems. Here are some of my favorite resources:

Civil Eats Somehow, someway, there’s a news publication dedicated exclusively to “Food Justice”. I actually love Civil Eats. I’m on their weekly email list. 

They have all sorts of interesting articles ranging from “California Farmers Face a Long Road to Recovery from Wildfires” to “Craft Beermakers are Banding Together and Brewing for Good”.

Rodale Institute Rodale is the biggest name when it comes to organic agriculture in the US. They pioneer TONS of amazing research on the power of organics to improve crops and our environment. I HIGHLY recommend checking them out.

“The Raiders of The Lost Crops” (NPR) – This team of international researchers raced against the clock to collect seeds from wild relatives of common crops. This story is a great introduction to the world of biodiversity and the hunt for climate-resistant foods.



(This post has since been combined with content from ‘The Intersection of Race’ and ‘An Introduction to form a larger story on Medium).

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