A major highlight of last weekend’s global Rise for Climate protest was what’s believed to be the world’s biggest street mural ever—a 2,500-foot-long, 50-foot-wide creation spanning five city blocks, produced by more than 3,000 demonstrators in San Francisco.
And here’s what made it all possible: The artists didn’t have a permit to paint the streets, so they relied on a group of Indigenous-led grandmothers who “faced off with police to block roads for five hours while the muralists completed their work,” Grist reports.
“With the grannies from the Society of Fearless Grandmothers holding down ground, none of the protesters were arrested.”
The mural “stitched together 50 scenes depicting solutions to climate injustices, each put together by a different community group,” Grist explains. “Indigenous artist and ecologist Edward Willie designed a border around the mural unifying all 50 scenes.” The temporary street art was made of charcoal from areas that burned in this summer’s California wildfires, plus locally-sourced tempera paint and raw clay.
“You have to believe in a little magic and imagination to build the future that we want,” said artist and project co-coordinator Cata Elisabeth-Romo.
“The artists’ and activists’ demands include racial and economic justice, and an end to fossil fuel production in favour of a transition to 100% renewable energy,” Grist notes. Across the more than 900 demonstrations in 90 countries, “from city to city, locals used creative expression to highlight their own priorities.”
In Alberta, renowned Michif visual artist Christi Belcourt “contributed an image depicting a woman facing water, wielding lightning in one hand and holding a feather in the other,” Grist reports.
“No amount of money can buy back a people’s river,” Belcourt wrote, in a message that accompanied the artwork. “No amount of money can buy back the sea. The Trans Mountain Pipeline cannot be built. Because we love the rivers. Because we love the sea. Because we love this sacred earth. We will defend our home.”