In the future...
For decades the environmental movement had been defined as an exclusive white-led club. The movement preferenced scientific debates about the ozone layer over honoring indigenous knowledge about generational considerations; it created space for white men to villainize how Black and Brown communities lived their lives without taking into consideration structural racism; and it excluded youth voices in spite of the fact that environmental destruction was a lifelong reality for younger folx as older cohorts continued a life of inaction.
This attitude and approach was never the entirety of the movement. And as the century turned a bolder, more radical, much more inclusive movement emerged. This movement prioritized holding politicians accountable through direct action. It tore down capitalist structural inequalities by targeting consumer culture and it reclaimed an intersectional leadership that lifted all voices for deeper impact.
As climate change turned to climate catastrophe the messaging shifted. We applauded good actors when they were good, but held their feet to the fire the minute they signalled they were returning to their old ways. We moved beyond the inaccessible scientific jargon of years past and passed the microphone to frontline and fenceline communities who were living the collapse not studying it. We imagined what a vibrant thriving future could be for all of us and we spoke that dream giving it a chance at reality.
We shed loyalty to parties and institutions and chose instead to represent our first Mother standing by our relatives.
The movement became an identity rooted in survival, rightly so.
Political Art & Communications
This project in political art and communications highlights just a glimpse of the environmental movement during a globally politically turbulent time. It is my understanding of how youth culture, activist sentiment, modern artistic design tools and this era’s political messaging meet. I believe I’ve captured this intersection by highlighting several modern ideas:
- Admiring politicians is falling out of vogue. As right wing anti-truth political movements have made a resurgence, political disillusionment is at an all time high. With the survival of the planet in such a short timeframe as the focus, there is not much hope that one politician, party or global leader can accomplish this unilaterally.
- Juxtaposing empty political messaging with identifiable symbols of climate collapse. As social media has boiled down communication practices to virality instead of substance, many political figures and parties have gone with bumper sticker politics over solutions centered policy discussions. As a modern intersectional movement, environmentalists have been keen to take down any politician or party that uses empty promises by exposing how they are influenced by special interests and or attempting to coopt movement messages for their own agendas.
The Plan of Action
How we can achieve this vision of the future
This style of political messaging may be popular only in the present, but it is shifting both the way environmentalists talk about the need for action as well as the way our leaders are acting. Focusing on political campaigning that treats political, business and community leaders as targets rather than heroes is a plan of action that is proving successful. Whether or not the style and messaging is similar to today’s post-irony approach remains to be seen. Strategically though we have learned a lot as a movement about how to talk about our movement goals and obstacles.