Poster Exhibit at Amy's Urges Gasoline Thrift
"Effects of Climate Change Seen," the recent title of an article in the Brattleboro Reformer, is just one of many stories appearing in accelerating numbers in mainstream media outlets regarding the phenomenon of global warming, its causes, and potential dire consequences for the survival of civilization. Many experts warn that we have less than ten years to make drastic cuts in fossil fuel emissions in order to at least stabilize the temperature of the planet and avoid the rise in sea levels caused by melting polar ice, which could put most of the coastal cities of the world under water, disrupt economies, and threaten food supplies.
Most citizens feel helpless in the face of a problem of such great magnitude. However, there are movements and organizations all over the country, at the state and local levels, which are attempting to address this issue. Since the fall of 2005, the Brattleboro Climate Protection group has been engaged in a campaign to encourage people to reduce energy use by 10% in their businesses, homes, and automobiles. And now a group of area artists, along with a local gallery, are joining forces with the Climate Protection folks to create and display visual reminders of practical ways in which ordinary citizens can change consumption habits with automobiles.
"The End of the Romance: Cutting Dependence on our Automobiles" is the title of an exhibition of poster art that will take place at Amy's Bakery Arts Café on Main Street in Brattleboro during May. The sponsors -- Brattleboro Climate Protection, Catherine Dianich Gallery, and Artists for a Cool Planet -- have solicited posters from artists, photographers, graphic designers, and other citizens. The work promises to be whimsical, comical, or deadly serious, in the grand design tradition of humanitarian, political, or socially engaged art. The posters may propose such simple solutions as walking, biking, carpooling, consolidating errands, not idling vehicles, driving more slowly, etc., along with more complex ones, like buying a hybrid car or petitioning state and federal legislators for fuel economy legislation and better public transportation.
Brattleboro Climate Protection director Paul Cameron states that "the Town of Brattleboro has made a commitment to significantly reduce global warming emissions, and since most emissions come from cars and trucks, anything we can do to use less fuel is important."
Artists for a Cool Planet member and show organizer Mollie Burke says she conceived of the show last summer as a way to create a community art project. "I had been thinking quite a lot about the amount of traffic in Brattleboro and how it seems to be exponentially increasing. Also, I have been concerned for a long time about the effects of global warming, caused in part by automobile emissions. Then Hurricane Katrina arrived, and it seemed that the future was now here in the form of deadly storms that had been predicted by climate models of warming."
Burke admits that it is not easy to change habits, especially in this "hyper-busy society." However, she states, "a 10% reduction in car use doesn't ask people to stop driving, just drive a little less, drive a fuel-efficient vehicle, consolidate your car trips, and don't idle your engine. It is a reasonable goal which would have a significant impact. And think of the benefits: cleaner air to breathe, reduction in traffic congestion and noise, savings on gasoline purchases; not to mention a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. And perhaps Brattleboro could set an example for other communities to follow." Burke says she hopes that the show will promote an awareness that there are local solutions which address complex global problems and that change can begin at the local level, with small numbers of people -- and in the face of this dire threat, if people do become involved, there is some reason to hope.
The exhibit will open at Amy's Bakery Arts Café as part of the monthly Gallery Walk in downtown Brattleboro, on Friday, May 5, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. There will be music for part of the time, provided by a jazz ensemble made up of local high school musicians. For more information contact Mollie Burke at email@example.com or call 802-254-9076.
Copyright 2006, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont