In Citizens’ Climate Radio Episode 9, Quaker activist Eileen Flannagan told us about four roles that change agents can play: advocate, rebel, organizer, and helper. Most of you who listen to Citizens Climate Radio are advocates, volunteering your time trying to convince the public and members of Congress that we need a price on carbon. You approach congressional members and staff with respect and cordiality as you educate and persuade them to support climate solutions.
And the rebel? The rebel exists to put pressure on those lawmakers to get them to act. This doesn’t mean we all need to use these rebel tactics, but the rebel has an important role in creating change.
As Bayard Rustin, the Black, gay Civil Rights leader said,
“We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.”
In this episode, you will hear about UK-based climate change rebel, Caroline Harmon, and the non-violent and very disruptive direct actions she and Christian Climate Action use. From kneeling for prayer and halting traffic in front of the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street to holding a worship service outside a coal mine. They even helped shut down bridges all over London.
From a Christian Pentecostal background, as a child she thought the famous passage from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world,” meant that God loved people so much that he sent his son to save them. As a young adult, though, someone challenged her to think more expansively. God loves all the world, including all of the living things on it and the rocks, air, and water. That inspired her to lower her carbon footprint, write letters to members of Parliament, lobby large companies, and contribute to awareness campaigns. However, for Caroline and some other fellow Christians, these actions were not enough to tackle the climate crisis.
Hearing Caroline’s story will affirm you in your own climate work while giving you greater appreciation for rebel activists who are playing a vital role that will help us as we seek to have a seat at the table with decision makers.
You can hear and read about personal stories of Christian Climate Action activists in action, talking about why they do what they do, the successes they have had, and what they hope to change.
The Art House
Regular listeners know we feature artists who are using their art to explore climate change. This is an emerging field. Some artists are grappling with just how to integrate climate work into their works of art. Today we feature Sophie and Josie Davis, sisters who grew up on the coast of Maine who, after studying classical violin at conservatory, returned to their home state. They seek to fuse their love of music and the natural world along with their growing concern for climate change.
Founding members of Halcyon, a string quartet based in Maine, USA, they choose to be good citizens as they remain faithful to their art. In speaking with them, we identified six helpful principles for artists interested in addressing climate change.
- Know Your Stuff: knowledge of both your craft as an artist and essentials of climate change messaging.
- Think Locally
- Pursue Collaboration: to date, Halcyon String Quartet’s most successful collaboration was with visual artist Jill Pelto.
- Pivot to Solutions: focus less on the many horrible impacts of climate change and instead help your audience experience the future with the beneficial impacts of climate solutions in place.
- Promote Action: as Katie Patricks, the author of the book and podcast How to Save the World stressed for us on Citizens Climate Radio episode 61, artists and event organizers have to find ways to offer people the next meaningful step for themselves and their communities.
- Remain Faithful to the Art: Halcyon String Quartet seeks to straddle the balance between the old time favorites audiences love and new music, including music by Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color. Excellence in their art is essential as they seek to help the public engage in good art and effective climate change discourse.
About Sophie and Josie
Sophie received degrees in violin performance and environmental studies from Oberlin College and Conservatory. Playing and sharing music are integral to Sophie’s creative and professional practice. She has performed on NPR’s “From the Top,” at the Kennedy Center, Chicago’s Symphony Hall, the Monte Music Festival in India, and with the Jordan National Orchestra (JOrchestra) in Amman, Jordan. In 2017, Sophie was awarded a Fulbright Research Grant to spend nine months in the South Pacific island nation of Samoa where she explored the ways in which the arts can raise awareness of climate change. In addition to pursuing research, Sophie taught and performed with the National Orchestra of Samoa. Sophie divides her time between musical performance and pedagogy. She serves as violin faculty and chamber music coordinator at Bay Chamber Music School in Rockport and is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Halcyon – an ensemble dedicated to using music and art to cultivate environmental stewardship.
Josie Davis received her undergraduate degrees in violin and sociology at Oberlin College and Conservatory where she was a student of David Bowlin, and her Ed.M from Harvard University. She has performed in a wide range of venues from Carnegie Hall to the Monte Music Festival in India and has appeared with her sister on NPR’s “From the Top.” She actively explores ways to share classical music in new contexts and has performed chamber music with Emanuel Ax in a taco shop, played solo Bach for Chris Thile, and is currently a member of Palaver Strings. Her teaching has brought her to Panama, India and Community MusicWorks in Rhode Island where she completed a two-year Fellowship. In past summers, she has studied at the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar, Bowdoin International Music Festival and Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival. She is committed to creating more chamber music opportunities for young people and is the founder and director of summer workshops for young people in Maine and Connecticut. As a violinist, educator and arts administrator, Josie is interested in how the arts can be used as a form of cultural empowerment to build bridges and strengthen communities.
You can hear standalone versions of The Art House at Artists and Climate Change.
We always welcome your thoughts, questions, suggestions, and recommendations for the show. Leave a voicemail at (518) 595-9414 (+1 if calling from outside the USA). You can email your answers to email@example.com.
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Citizens’ Climate Radio is a monthly podcast hosted by CCL volunteer Peterson Toscano.