Ukiah High students work on the Singing Tree Mural of Climate Solutions. (Chris Pugh—Ukiah Daily Journal)
Students at Ukiah High School are finishing work on an art mural called “The Singing Tree Mural of Climate Solutions,” which seeks to raise awareness through art about the growing effects of climate change to the environment.
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 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Ukiah Daily Journal PUBLISHED: May 18, 2019 at 4:08 pm | UPDATED: May 18, 2019 at 4:10 pm