How do you use your platform as an artist to inform your style of advocacy?
My work focuses on human rights and within human rights, focus on the marginalised communities and peoples such as women, children and BIPOC. Art is indeed a powerful tool that I utilise to inform and spread awareness. One of the things I strategically rely on is vibrant colors and stories of people, combine that with social media and we have a real change making tool. Somebody may find one of my illustrations about any of the issues our society faces, and they may feel attracted to the colors. They may come to my platform for the colors, but they will stay for the stories being told. This is one of the ways I welcome people into conversations they otherwise wouldn’t be interested in. Because the reality is, though it sounds like a cliché, that until and unless we all stand together, we cannot make a significant difference. One person is enough to inspire millions, so I use stories of those people that have the potential to inspire many. Their story is shown on my platform through my art and writing.
When did you first realize that the ocean’s health was at risk?
I had seen photos of ocean animals trapped in plastic and had been in conversations about recycling, but it wasn’t until my father stopped me from visiting Pakistan one summer because of the extreme heat that killed 1500+ people. My father was in Pakistan and he was worried for me visiting. This way, he had saved me from the heat wave, but I remained worried for all the friends and family back home. Climate change impacts everyone, no matter where you are, and rising temperatures are just one of the signs/impacts of it. We need to believe the research, listen to the experts and change our ways. This is not an issue for just one community or one country. It’s an issue for all living things on the planet.
Why do the stories behind people matter in the movement to beat plastic pollution?
Every story is different and has the potential to inspire someone. Through stories of people, we can build connection with them and that can motivate us to listen to their message. Plastic pollution is something we firstly need to understand in order to properly tackle it and build a safer society where we all are thoughtfully contributing to the environment. Stories also show us that climate change is impacting everyone from around the world so through stories of people, we can see diversity.
Sharon Lavigne is seeking environmental justice both for herself and her community of St. James, Louisiana. Sharon runs a faith-based organization, RISE St. James, that is advocating to stop Formosa Plastics from building a $9.4 billion plastic manufacturing complex about a mile and a half from her front door.
Ridhima experienced the effect of climate change in the form of the Kedarnath flood of 2013. Since then, Ridhima has accompanied Greta Thunberg in protesting the negligence of governments at the UN Climate Action Summit, calling on global leaders to take action on the climate crisis.
Vanessa grew up in Kampala, Uganda and in 2019 began a solitary strike against inaction on the climate crisis. In 2020, she joined around 20 other global youth climate activists, publishing a letter to participants at Davos. The letter called on companies, banks and governments to stop subsidizing fossil fuels.
Xiye is one of the lead organizers of the Fridays For Future youth climate strike movement, founded Re-Earth Initiative, and is featured in the All We Can Save anthology published in 2020. Xiye was born and raised in Mexico as part of the Otomi-Toltec indigenous peoples and her work advocates for climate justice.
Advocating for the rights of the Sarayaku community to maintain custody over their land, Helena is advocating against continued exploitation of the environment for private gains by big oil. Her work also centers our connection to nature.
Dr. Katherine Wilkinson
An author, strategist and teacher, working to heal the planet, Dr. Wilkinson co-founded and leads The All We Can Save Project with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, in support of feminist climate leadership. She also co-hosts the podcast A Matter of Degrees, telling stories for the climate curious with Dr. Leah Stokes.