Explaining Policy, Exploring Poetics - Call #1 Summary

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Explaining Policy, Exploring Poetics

How do healthcare and jobs help fight climate change? How does addressing climate change upend inequality and deliver justice in our time? The Green New Deal is a proposal for a decade of legislation that takes on many of the interlocking crises of our time. It’s ambitious and complicated—but as artists it’s our job to see and help activate its inspirational potential. 

Wow! Thank you to the 100+ people who signed on to hear Molly Crabapple, Pablo Akira Beimler, Priya Mulgaonkar, and Rajiv Sicora unpack the policy behind the Green New Deal and talk about how they are engaging with policy as local artists and activists! We heard from concerned citizens from all over the U.S. from Texas to Alaska to Hawaii, and who work in media as diverse as film, music, and even circus arts! (Want to access the call recording? Sign up here and we’ll send you the link—and other goodies!)

What did we learn?

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We started with a briefing about the Green New Deal from Rachel Schragis, Minister of the Bureau of Energy, Power, and Art, and Rajiv Sicora, Senior Manager of Research at The Leap. The briefing discussed how the Green New Deal came to be, it’s goals to address the interlocking crises of the climate, of equity, and of work. They shared some of the visionary potential for artists, cultural workers and community to engage, emphasizing that the legislation is still a work in progress that is being co-created through civic participation. You can download the briefing here. 

What does creative engagement with the Green New Deal look like?  For one example, we heard from Molly Crabapple about her video, “A Message From The Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez”, the film that she created with Naomi Klein, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and The Intercept. Molly discussed how climate narratives can be frightening and overwhelming, and how she instead wanted to create a representation of the beautiful future that is possible through the Green New Deal. Watch the video here.


For a living example of artistic civic participation in co-creating the Green New Deal, we heard from  Pablo Akira Beimler, spoken word artist and part of the team of regular community folks building a Green New Deal for Hawaii.  He started off with a spoken word poem, and spoke about his years of organizing for environmental justice in Hawai’i through film screenings, concerts, and other forms of cultural organizing. Pablo spoke about the creation of the Green New Deal Hawai’i working group and emphasized the self determination of indigenous communities to restore the land. He finished by asking us to consider, what is policy without heart? Without empathy? Check out his presentation and poem here.


And what will it look like to win a Green New Deal? For a small taste, we talked to Priya Mulgaonkar from New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, who spoke about the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act-- a piece of “Green New Deal style”  legislation that just became law in New York State! She helped us understand the concept of Just Transition (check out the Movement Generation zine and how a Green New Deal needs to center the most marginalized and impacted communities. She presented about the solar energy work at The Point CDC in the South Bronx as an example of a community realizing a vision of arts connected to environmental justice. 

What did we hear?

During the breakout groups, we heard from so many of you who wanted to connect with each other and with policymakers to advance the work of a Green New Deal. During the Q&A session, you were curious about what type of art is needed in the movement for a Green New Deal, and how to connect with work in your community. One answer from our speakers is that all art is needed to help visualize the future that is possible through a Green New Deal. Our speakers also encouraged seeking out groups working on the issues in your local area, and focusing on building authentic relationships first.

What’s next? 

We highlighted the conversation using pieces of our Graphic notation, done in real time by Emily Simons! You can see the full picture here

We heard from you a desire for collective artistic action, and our team convening these calls agrees.  We can’t wait to hear more from you as we build our shared understanding of what is possible and necessary this month. 

We hope to see you on our next two calls! Join us for Science Facts, Science Fictions with Kali Akuno and Shambe Jones with Cooperation Jackson, Demetrius Johnson with Albuquerque Red Nation, Ananda Lee Tan with Climate Justice Alliance, and artist Carrie Marie Schneider on August 22 at 5pm PST/8pm EST. And see you on our third call, Building Strategy and Co-Creating Culture, on September 5 at 5pm PST/8pm EST. 

Sign up at usdac.us/gnd to make sure that you receive the registration link and updates about this series!