“Art like religion, is one of the ways we digest what is happening to us, and make the sense out of it that proceeds to action.” –Bill McKibben
Of all the challenges to preserving Missoula’s livability in the future, climate change may be the biggest. Choking wildfire smoke, dwindling snowpack, hot temperatures—all effects of a changing climate—put our lovely summers at risk. How does a community prepare for these extremes?
Climate Smart Missoula, an initiative of the Missoula Community Foundation, was formalized last year to build partnerships to address climate change in our community. As we work to shrink our collective carbon footprint, we’re also helping to build a more resilient community that can respond to climate disruptions. Right now we’re launching our first major program “Summer Smart”—a program to help mitigate the health effects of changing summer conditions. No doubt there are practical ways to better “weather the weather.”
As the hub of a larger community collaboration, part of our role at Climate Smart is to spur discussion about how to creatively approach and solve these problems. We believe the arts and humanities can sometimes break down barriers and connect across cultures more effectively than rehashing the scientific evidence. We’re focusing on a solutions oriented, hopeful approach that will inspire action instead of despair.
Toward that end, this winter Climate Smart organized the first annual "Adaptation and Resilience" community art show where 12 teams painted freestanding panels made from repurposed doors donated by our partners at Home ReSource. Teams were given doors, paint, brushes and just a little guidance. The results, produced by multi-generational teams, students and other community members, are varied and thought-provoking.
This outdoor show is featured tonight in Downtown Missoula for June’s First Friday and co-hosted by Hunter Bay Coffee in the First Interstate Bank Building (Higgins and Bank Street). Look for large art alongside our freestanding solar phone charger, which we built to add a little flair, clean energy and sunshine to downtown. Come view the show, read the artist statements and let us know your impressions and thoughts about how we might build climate resiliency in our community.
That’s not all. All day today we’ll be outside the Florence Building on Higgins with our own “parklet” – one of four parking spaces converted for the day into a park replete with trees, plants, art, and comfortable places to sit and visit with friends, read a book, enjoy the sights and sounds of Downtown Missoula and contemplate a healthy, livable future. Come converse with us on this summery First Friday.