Sometimes, art and a mission team up in the most brilliant ways. When Mona Newton, the executive director of the Community Office for Resources Efficiency (CORE), and her team planned this year’s ambitious Imagine Climate outreach, they had no idea how important outdoor art would become during the pandemic. The energy nonprofit, along with the Inside Out Project—a global art initiative by renowned French artist JR—will partner with Colorado Mountain College to create a communitywide mural installation called “Stories of Climate Change/Historias del Cambio Climático.”
The installation features a crowd-sourcing twist: Since early January, residents of the valley have been asked to upload a selfie and a 90-second story about climate change in their lives (aspencore.org/participate). The first 200 respondents become eligible to have their images posted as massive murals on the exterior walls of Colorado Mountain College locations in Aspen, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. The exhibit will run for one month beginning in March.
Outreach is in both Spanish and English with the support of a multicultural advisory council. “Just as our climate is changing, the face of our communities is changing. Our population is diverse—each of us must be involved and are needed to stem climate change,” says Newton. “We may not always see people who look like us standing up for issues. We want to show the human diversity of this phenomenon, representing a breadth we don’t see in the media or in the environmental movement. We hope our portraits and personal stories will demonstrate that we’re all in this together.”
The installation also addresses something that might seem abstract in a world where social media screams the loudest: the daily, monthly and yearly impact climate change has on the lives of people living in the Roaring Fork Valley. “The valley has 30 more frost-free days than it did in 1980,” says Newton. “People like myself, who’ve moved here only recently, may not see the difference. We stop and look at photos of old Aspen in the winter and see snow piled up and ask, ‘Why doesn’t it snow like that now?’ Together, we can turn this ship around and make a difference.”