Young People, Arts, and the Environment

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I am lucky to be in Brazil this week for a Climate Conference; so far I’ve seen Bill Clinton and Mayor Bloomberg. I look forward to reporting back to you all upon my return. In the meantime, here’s what happened last week!

Last year, the City Council announced achieving carbon neutrality as one of its priorities. To be successful, we will need to reach members of the Seattle community who may not typically be engaged in the Council’s work on climate change.  We need the participation of every resident, especially young people.

This year, seven Councilmembers partnered with local organizations to promote awareness about climate change through artistic expression at the Green Festival, on May 21. This unique opportunity was extended primarily to homeless youth and youth who are underrepresented in the green movement, with the goal of creating art, learning about sustainability and the environment, developing mentorship and creating career pathways.

On Saturday approximately 20 youth came from the Wing Luke’s “Youth Can” program to paint on doors and discarded lumber and talk about their perspectives on the environment and the barriers for them in participating in environmental endeavors. They worked with Carbon Coaches from the City of Seattle’s Carbon Coach program, volunteers in the community, and artists from the Nature Consortium. Some of the youth blogged about the experience here – it’s a great opportunity to see pictures of their work – here and here and here.

Art on the Ridge will be hosting this piece of art at their gallery through the month of June. Opening day is June 10th, during the neighborhood Art Walk from 6:00-9:00 pm.

Throughout the summer, we will be sending artists and environmentalist volunteers to various youth organizations to talk about environmental justice and work with the youth to create artwork. The hope is then to place the art throughout the city to create awareness about the social justice barriers to achieving carbon neutrality, as well as the immense value of spreading environmental messages through art for all kinds of communities in the city.

We hope to provide opportunities for youth to increase their environmental awareness, contribute to our community in a positive way, and learn how to showcase and sell their art.  With this goal in mind, we are currently working to set up partnerships with local organizations—homeless youth organizations, arts organizations, and substance abuse organizations—to recruit youth, access space and materials for art projects, and identify potential mentors for the youth.

The program will also pair mentors with the youth through a number of sources, to help guide their interests, market their art, and recommend career pathways in the arts.

We are still looking for discarded materials for panels and art supplies. We are also looking for volunteers to help orchestrate each of these different art projects. Finally, we are always looking for new places to display the art! Please contact Sahar Fathi in my office at or 206-233-2788 for more information.