“Is climate changed happening to us or for us?” Paul Hawken asked at the Bioneers Conference this October. “If it’s happening to us, we’re victims. If it’s happening for us, we have the greatest impetus in human history to work together while connecting deeply to the needs of the planet that supports us.”
It is with this thinking in mind that the Singing Tree Project invites the whole world to create together, led by youth. The most recent collaboration, the Water Willow Singing Tree. was designed and prepared by students at Marin School of the Arts, in Novato, CA. Artists Teaching Art, a program of the Sausalito Arts Festival Foundation, funded my residency to facilitate the mural. Ten Digital Design students came up with studies of a tree on the earth in space, incorporating the theme of water.
Here’s Shannon Boorman’s (aged 16) brilliant digital design.
I put the different designs into a unified whole. Painting students created the 8′ x 16′ background. The Product Design class built the mural’s structure and laser cut the leaves and birds. The experience of collaboration across departments was exciting.
Here are some of the 35 painting students who added their mark to mural. People at the Bioneers Conference completed the mural by adding their wish for water on the leaves and birds. Ten students attended the Conference free of charge.
At Bioneers, singer Noe Venable of San Francisco and her family adds to the tree. Isa Twist points to his tear-drop leaf. He wrote “We can make a better future. The Time to act NOW!”
The Marin School of the Art’s students finished the mural by gluing the pieces on back at their school. Here’s some feedback from the students about the project.
“The painting flows like our creativity does. The painting IS water, in that way. I also appreciate how many people connected over this at the Bioneers conference.”
“As a group we did a fantastic job making all the pieces work together to making one giant painting.”
“I like this piece because it shows that the unity of the world starts with the protection of our world.”
“It gets people to think about the topic of water in a creative way.”
“This project brought something deep inside people up to the surface.”
“I like the new life in the center with possibilities branching off.”
When Anna Berzitskaya, who grew up in Moscow and now works with Judith Glaser in NYC, saw the image she wrote, “The meaning I get is that we live in such a beautifully designed place…we are connected with mother Nature through umbilical cord. We are given air to breathe, food to eat, all opportunities to enjoy life. The question is how we treat our mother in return.”
Beating the odds of climate chaos may unleash an unprecedented level of joyous invention and cooperation. Just look at what is possible when we work together. This is what democracy looks like. This is what Peace looks like.