Unity Through Creativity

The students in the classes of Biology and French for Ukiah High teacher Eveline Rodriguez are researching and depicting the top 10 solutions to climate change in a mural with the help of artist Laurie Marshall, who works to help students in schools across the Bay Area bring attention to social issues through art.
Climate change is of grave concern right now for life on the planet, and most solutions need humans to bring down carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. CO2 levels just reached 415 parts per million for the first time in Earth’s history earlier this month, and scientists say there is a correlation between higher temperatures on Earth and rising CO2 levels.

According to a recent United Nations report, humans are putting around 1 million species of plants and animals in danger of extinction in the coming decades. Food and water security, human health, and economic instability are all likely to become more significant issues as the effects of climate change occur.
The top 10 solutions represented in the mural are based on the recommendations of Project Drawdown. Project Drawdown, a nonprofit founded in 2014 by environmentalist Paul Hawken, is a climate advocacy organization that offers solutions on its website to different aspects of climate change. It lists the top 10 solutions as refrigerant management, more wind turbines, reducing food waste, plant-rich diet, tropical forest restoration, education for girls, family planning, solar farms, the farming practice of Silvopasture, and more solar rooftops. The nonprofit also provides solutions based on sectors like electricity generation, food, women and girls, building and cities, land use, materials and transportation.

The mural is not the first that Marshall and students from Ukiah High School have worked on together. In 2017, students worked on the Manzanita Singing Tree of Kindness mural, which explored ways that students could provide acts of kindness and how it could help improve relationships. The new one will go next to the Manzanita mural and will be made using the same techniques.
The students learned about techniques like three-dimensional painting, how to paint the background of the mural first, adding different layers on top of each other, and how to design and complete a mural art project.
“We had these great conversations, and then the kids came up with a design that contains both the grief of this time and the hope,” Marshall said.

When the students finish the mural, kids from other science classes at the school will glue renderings of leaves and birds onto the final layer. The leaves will have answers to the question of what solution to climate change captures your imagination, or what action are you going to take. The birds will include answers about what the students wish for in regard to climate change. Around 350 kids will participate in total.
“They are very worried, and they want ideas for action. They don’t want what’s politically possible; they want what needs to be done,” Marshall said.

As part of the mural design, it will include an oak tree, redwood tree, willow tree and the Pacific madrone tree. They are also honoring the monarch butterfly and will have a pregnant woman with the Earth inside her as well as a gas mask to represent education for girls and family planning. The Singing Tree Mural will also address issues of pollution, the lack of time left, and the hope for the future of the Earth.
The students hope to be finished by the end of next week and possibly have an unveiling ceremony on May 28. Their goal is to have the project completed over a short stretch to demonstrate that many people can work together quickly to achieve something.

Eveline Rodriguez says that her goal is to try and have her classes next year also get the opportunity to create new murals if she can find the funds. The Manzanita Singing Tree mural focused on kindness while this mural message deals with citizenship and the different effects of climate change. She hopes that working together to create art and the themes of the murals will stay engrained with students for the rest of their lives.
“I think it’s important because it leaves a memory, and it stays there,” Rodriguez said. “Some of these students who are freshman are going to see it for four years and are going to have an investment in it. So I’m hoping that it will be a reminder of what we talked about in class and what we can do.”

By Curtis Driscoll | cdriscoll@willitsnews.com | Ukiah Daily Journal
PUBLISHED: May 18, 2019 at 4:08 pm | UPDATED: May 18, 2019 at 4:10 pm

Students at Ukiah High working on mural focused on climate change

Ukiah High students work on the Singing Tree Mural of Climate Solutions. (Chris Pugh—Ukiah Daily Journal)

The project was inspired by award-winning children’s author Kate Seredy’s story of a World War I battle during which Hungarian soldiers crawled all night through total desolation. When they reached safety, there was one tree still standing, and hundreds of birds of varying species were singing together, birds that do not naturally do so, creating a unique and beautiful song.
In 1999, that story inspired an 8-year-old girl to wonder what would happen if people from all over the world, from different backgrounds and traditions, came together to make something beautiful like the birds’ song. She asked, “What if the whole world made a painting together?”
Today, a forest of “Singing Tree” paintings have been created by almost 12,000 people worldwide, according to Laurie Marshall, co-founder of the Singing Tree project. Each painting explores a theme and honors the essential role trees play in human life.
This project came to Ukiah after UHS teacher Eveline Rodriguez attended a summer seminar where Marshall shared information about her project. With support from fellow MESA teacher Sezgin Ramirez and MESA director Matt Sweeney, Rodriguez enlisted their MESA students in an ambitious project to create the 49th singing tree mural.
The name of the Ukiah High tree is the Manzanita Singing Tree of Kindness, and in it, students use art to explore questions such as, “What is a memorable act of kindness that you received or gave?” and “Is there someone you were unkind to whose trust you need to restore?”
Marshall coordinated the project, coming to Ukiah on Dec. 5, 12 and 19. She asked students to draw their visions of kindness and she incorporated those visions into a final mural design. She then encouraged project participants to invite students outside the MESA class to decorate the manzanita tree by creating leaves where they shared their ideas about kindness.
Rodriguez said, “Almost 50 MESA students were involved, and everyone had a role. We had committees responsible for preparing the leaves, for creating instructions so others could participate, for painting the mural, for figuring out where to display it once it’s done, and many others.”
The project not only produced a beautiful work of art, it incorporated several academic subjects, as well as enhancing students’ social and emotional development.
MESA students learned about the role of manzanita trees in local ecology. They used mathematics to create the grid to enlarge the master design, and they used engineering to design and build the free-standing mural with the help of the woodshop students.
They also used communication skills as they collaborated with classmates and invited others to participate by adding to the mural or documenting the project for the yearbook. Students expanded their social and emotional learning as they explored kindness; and finally, they used creative expression as they produced unique images that reflected their personal understanding of kindness.
Rodriguez said she was pleased so many colleagues chose to have their classes participate.
“More than a dozen teachers from many different departments got involved, like English, psychology, PE, science, art, independent study, special education, and foreign language,” she said.
Part of the project included more than contemplating kindness: students who shared memorable acts of kindness were encouraged to continue to practice those acts, and students who shared stories about needing to restore trust or apologize were encouraged to follow up and make amends.
“For the students who participated, I think this project created awareness about kindness, and how important it is. I also think it gave them hope. It showed them they can make changes when they believe in themselves. We did this project in three weeks. We can do so much more when we work together.”
To learn more about the Singing Tree project, visit www.unitythroughcreativity.net/programs/singing-tree-forest. Marshall and co-founder Lili Lopez also work with an international non-profit whose mission is peace-building through art (createpeaceproject.org).
By Ukiah Daily Journal | udj@ukiahdj.com |
PUBLISHED: January 23, 2018 at 12:00 am | UPDATED: August 23, 2018 at 12:00 am (used with permission)

Ukiah High School collaborates with artists worldwide to spread message of kindness

The climate mural unveiling was timed to coincide with climate change protests from around the world. Students from the U.S. and around the globe have skipped classes and raised awareness about what climate change will mean for their generation. The United Nations also held a Youth Summit on Sept. 21 to talk with global leaders and come up with possible solutions.

The students worked on the mural in the Spring of 2019, and they put it up in the fall. The Singing Tree Mural is part of the Singing Tree Mural Project, an on-going international mural series of 80 murals so far made with 19,500 people from 52 countries. The mural honors four trees: the oak, the redwood, the madrone and willow, and includes Mother Earth crying and animals from the area like the Monarch Butterfly.

The bottom of the mural shows nature thriving with plants and animals, while one of the trees is a female figure saying no to climate change and working to educate girls about stewardship of the Earth. Other themes include plant-based diets, food waste, the hope of youth, and alternative energy. People can also buy small prints of the mural for $20, and it costs $10 for students. Email eveline.rodriguez1@gmail.com for more information.

Artists and project leader Laurie Marshall gave them the structure of the mural, and the students expanded the structure and came up with the design of having four trees and other parts of the mural. They also used the Top 10 climate solutions from Project Drawdown, a research organization that identifies the best global climate solutions, and used that to generate imagery. Marshall was proud of the unique representation the students came up with and the ways to communicate it.

“I’m so proud of how they let in the information, which has been painful, about what’s going on with the Earth and how the Earth is suffering,” Marshall said.

Artist Lili Lopez helped the students work on the mural and was proud to see that their hard work created a beautiful mural. She said that although the students were at first shy around each other, they worked together to come up with different ideas.

“No matter what environment or what school or what issues schools have, that longing for community and working together, it always overpowers whatever is happening,” Lopez said.

The students from the AP French class and French 3 class also collaborated about their fears of climate change to write this poem:

The Earth is slowly dying

But nobody is crying

This Earth is our mother; it takes care of us,

It is time to do our part, and be conscientious

The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to it

The least we could do is take action and admit

We can’t turn away from what we’ve done

Our carbon is burning and blocking the sun

We always want to have it all

But grab too much and down we’ll fall

The Earth is slowly dying

But nobody is crying

We should care for the Earth and not push her away

For she needs us now yet we roam astray

Only after the climate’s warmed and the icebergs melt

Will humanity’s horrible impact finally be felt

One easy answer is composting food waste.

Let’s return the food to the soil, its original state.

The sun is also a powerful solution

Zero carbon, and a positive evolution

Education is our best tool to bring awareness

Girls, boys, women, men, let’s stop being careless

Because the Earth is slowly dying

But almost nobody is crying

When will we learn that our actions have consequences

We should fight for clean air and stop sitting on benches

The youth are starting to understand that notion

Everyone applauds to their efforts and motivation

We must all unite and fight for the common cause

Together we can, together we have claws

By Curtis Driscoll | cdriscoll@willitsnews.com | Ukiah Daily Journal
PUBLISHED: September 25, 2019 at 3:40 pm | UPDATED: September 26, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Ukiah High students unveil Singing Tree of Climate Solutions mural

The Singing Tree of Climate Solutions mural at Ukiah High School. (Curtis Driscoll—Ukiah Daily Journal)