This past Wednesday evening, Zach Springer brought his KCAI green sculpture students down to Columbus Park where Sean and I gave a little demo on the project. It was easy to set up at the park near my house, and great to talk with students about our goals. The students had great questions. The conversation focused on issues of terms such as “green” or “sustainability”, and how ambiguous and possibly limiting these words are, especially in light of the green-washing phenomenon. What words are safe from corruption? Zach mentioned (I paraphrase here) that green can include environment-creating actions and work, or work that affects by integrating and involving community. The idea of including local sources and local input also came up.
It seems that the desire for a clearly defined term for a rapidly evolving field of sustainability may be the problem, and why it is so easily corruptible. I am of the thinking that green is more of a verb; a term that points to a territory of greater awareness of consumption choices, and helps situate the discussion in a location of constantly shifting parameters. Social and economic realities are fundamental to the conversation, but are just two of the many intersecting view-points on the table. These terms can mean different things to a variety of contexts. How people encounter each others success stories that they trade, steal or borrow illustrates an exciting process of moving towards a more aware and sustainable world.
Incidentally, towards the end of the evening, the locals came out and inquired about the S’mores Grant project. It was good to meet them-I am amazed at how people love the cart, the mission, and seem interested in learning about contemporary art practice. I met Sam, who has lived in Columbus Park for about 50 years, and Richard, born and raised here, another friend named Doc and other neighbors.
It is exciting to constantly re-phrase and re-frame my “artist” or mission statement to curious onlookers who approach the cart. I must admit- I perform a 2 second psychic assessment of the person inquiring, so I can aim for a language they can hear. I think that is good practice for all creative folks trying to get their work out there, in any form. Thanks to Zach for bringing your students.