Sustainability as an Art Form
On a human level, climate change evokes a lot of emotions. Have you ever had a discussion on climate change that left you feeling overwhelmed and afraid? If so, you’re not alone. Climate anxiety has grown to be such a concern that the American Psychological Association created an extensive climate change guide. The facts are scary. Thankfully, hope is far from lost for the environment and our collective mental health.
Avenues of self-expression have proven to be not only healthy coping mechanisms, but effective ways to engage people with the issue of climate change. In today’s polarized political space, the arts serve as an outlet for commonality and a forum for productive and uplifting discussion on the state of the environment. Art is an expression of humanity. Be it painting, drawing, music, comedy, dance, theater, poetry, or any other form, art helps people deal with their emotions surrounding sustainability. Art is inherently vulnerable, and vulnerability strengthens relationships. Artists express themselves in their work, and the audience member who relates to that expression then feels understood and validated in their own experience. Art societies can facilitate these connections between artists and their audiences.
Setting the Stage For Organized Action
It’s no secret that the threat of climate change is imminent, but it’s possible to mitigate it. More and more is expected of organizations in terms of sustainability. Trends in decision-making indicate that consumers and other stakeholders continue to weigh sustainability practices with increasing importance.
In short, the climate crisis affects business, and it’s good business to be environmentally friendly.
Poor corporate practices are largely the reason the entire population is facing a crisis, but we can all contribute in some way to the solution. Small businesses and organizations may not have a wealth of resources to take drastic measures that will have immediate results on the climate, but they can build caring, responsible communities–and there is a plethora of power in local communities.
Two art organizations in New York have made huge strides by connecting with the community to create opportunities for dialogue on how to deal with these issues collectively. The Arts Society of Kingston (ASK) and Roost Studios and Art Gallery serve as outlets for education, discussion, and action.
Arts Society of Kingston (ASK)
Hailing from Kingston, NY, ASK is an umbrella organization for all manners of artistic education and performance. Founded in 1995, the beautifully renovated headquarters serve as a venue for art galleries, performances, and a host of classes and programs for the community. Here are some highlights from their awesome organization:
- Monthly gallery shows open to the public
- Beautiful theater space for stand up comedy, dance, music, and more
- After school programs
- Curated performing arts series
ASK is driven by the greater good and emphasizes community in all that they do. The folks there are acutely aware of the necessity of the transition to clean energy, and ASK doesn’t take their influential role in the community lightly. In true form, ASK partnered with Solstice to help bring their community clean energy.
“One of the things we’re focused on is sustainability. How are we as a society going to be here? How are we as artists going to be here?” – Brent Felker
Roost Studios and Art Galleries
Marcy Bernstein noticed that the artists of New Paltz, NY lacked a space to connect, learn, and grow with each other. Thus, Roost Studios was founded in 2016 to connect artists, students, and patrons alike. The studio and art gallery supports established and emerging artists through art shows, including visual arts, dance, theater, poetry, tai chi, and educational programming.
Much like ASK, Roost’s service to their community runs deep. Although Roost caters to the arts, the studio first and foremost serves the community at large. Roost is not one to sit back on issues important to their people. Their course of action included teaming up with Solstice to host an Evening of Art and Energy, where attendees created paintings around the theme of energy and learned how solar can benefit their community.
“Anything that is a concern for our community members–and taking care of the environment is a huge concern here in New Paltz–is an opening for us to create programming to support. Of course, we found a way to connect it directly to the arts.” – Marcy Bernstein
Clean Energy Is In
Climate affects all industries, businesses, organizations, communities, and individuals. Every business has an impact on their community and on the world — sustainability is not just for industries who fit neatly into the “green” category. Any organization can be part of the transition to a greener world.
Organizations of all shapes and sizes are tackling these issues head on by teaming up to offer solutions with real impact. Unlikely duos, like an art gallery and a solar energy startup, for instance, are working together to create a sustainable future for consumers. By diversifying partnerships, conservation efforts are made stronger across industries.
In addition to being the ethical and moral stance to take, promoting clean energy can serve as an opportunity for organizations to engage with the community and give back to their members in a new way. The satisfaction of witnessing those efforts pay off for the community, in savings and in air quality, is priceless.
“One of the benefits of partnering with Solstice was that we were able to reach out to our members in a different way. Sustainability is not just something that ASK is concerned about. A lot of people are considering solar, but don’t necessarily have the means to put it on their own house. Reaching out to our contacts benefits us because it shows that we’re looking beyond the walls of our gallery.” – Brent Felker
A Single Twig Breaks, but the Bundle is Strong
In our experience, teamwork does, in fact, make the solar dream work. So, what does it mean to team up with Solstice? Essentially, it is a mutually beneficial, engaging, and hands-on relationship between Solstice and organizations local to the solar farm project that extends beyond the project timeline. The organization helps Solstice expand clean energy access in the community by simply tapping into its network and hosting events. Solstice is responsible for planning and running the event, as well as supplying food, drinks, etc.
The partnerships program exists for the same reason Solstice does–to make solar energy available for every American. That can’t happen single-handedly. A huge emphasis is put on teamwork, with trust and transparency being at the center of every partnership. One of Solstice’s core values is gratitude, and we could not have more of it for our partners. In exchange for helping us to expand clean energy access, Solstice donates to the organization accordingly.
The severity of the current climate situation leaves no room for waiting around. Taking action doesn’t have to be lonely, though. Every individual should do what he or she can to live a green life, but there is power in numbers. The art of action is simple–working together helps us to feel the impact of our efforts. Collaboration can restore faith in a renewable future and allow feelings of optimism to flow. We’ve got this!