Dancers rehearsed in front of “Tahku,” the whale sculpture ahead of the Climate Fair for a Cool Planet in 2021. (Contributed / Mike Tobin)

Dancers rehearsed in front of “Tahku,” the whale sculpture ahead of the Climate Fair for a Cool Planet in 2021. (Contributed / Mike Tobin)

Art and action: An upcoming fair plans to use art as a way to talk about climate change

There’s free ice cream, too.

Climate change may be scary, but it doesn’t mean you’re alone, said organizers behind an upcoming fair that plans to use various art forms to talk about climate change and what people in the Juneau community can do to get involved in fighting it.

The second annual Climate Fair for a Cool Planet is set to take place in downtown Juneau’s Mayor Bill Overstreet Park on Saturday, July 23 from 3-5 p.m. The event’s goal is to bring community members in Juneau together to celebrate the planet and to share information about mitigating the current climate crisis, said Elaine Schroeder, a co-chair of 350Juneau, a group that works to address “root causes of climate disruption through justice-based solutions,” and promotes climate change awareness in Juneau and the rest of the state. The fair, hosted by a collaboration between 350Juneau and Theater Alaska, will bring together live and many original performances of local musicians, dance, theater and advocacy speeches along with children’s activities and free ice cream.

Schroeder said the choice to bring different forms of art together is to shed light on the climate crisis and relay the severity of the situation in a more palatable way and for a wider audience. She said she hopes the event will motivate more people in the local community to get involved in advocacy and environmental efforts by joining local rallies or donating to climate change awareness groups.

“It’s the arts that make this message presented in a way that looks beautiful and terrifying at the same time,” she said. “Many people feel that there is nothing they can do about climate change and they’re frozen in action, but I would contempt that quite the opposite is true.”

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Local artists have written original music and theater performances specifically for this event and about climate change, said Christina Apathy, a co-producer for Theater Alaska. She said the event’s goal is to use art to remind people about the connection they have with each other and to the earth, and she said she hopes it inspires people to take their own action on climate. She said people must do whatever they can to mobilize and support each other to create systemic change, and to stop climate change from damaging the future of the next generations.

“Art can be a reminder of the degrees we are falling short on and a nudge to get back on the path before it is too late.” she said. “When people talk about climate change, it seems like this gargantuan problem so it might be a little scary to go. But people who do take the risk or a chance on just showing up to the climate fair, are allowing themselves to kind of go on a date with our planet, and learn more about mother Earth. We can realize that we’re actually empowered and we can do even small things when taken together can turn into big things.”

Michael Tobin, a 350 Juneau board member, said he hopes people find a community by going to the event and “bring climate change out in the open and make it a common experience.” He said as climate change becomes more of an growing issue each day, people can still find hope through the arts and pull humor and drama out of the uncertain and “dominant” future of climate change.

“What we hope for is that people are aware of the severity and the urgency of the problem,” Schroeder said. “The truth of the climate catastrophe is very hard to process. It is hard for us to grasp the devastation that is in front of us — for humans, and for all other animals.”

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Know & Go

What: Climate Fair for a Cool Planet

Where: Mayor Bill Overstreet Park

When: 3-5 p.m., Saturday

Cost: Free, accepting donations

Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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