By Rosy Gentle | Jan 15, 2017

One aspect of the UW Sustainability in the Arts (SITA) initiative involves looking at art as a way to communicate about sustainability. Art can play a huge role in sustainability through embodying environmental themes and supporting activism as well as bringing people together on these issues. One event I was particularly interested in that effectively brought together art and activism was the recent DeFund from DAPL mass action.

On January 5th a crowd of activists of all ages congregated in downtown Seattle in a mass effort to get Wells Fargo to divest from fossil fuels. Wells Fargo is one of the biggest investors in the Dakota Access Pipeline which has sparked mass social and environmental action over the past months. The event brought together a wide variety of artists in a powerful display of community and action. Early in the day there was a mock funeral procession for the Dakota Access Pipeline which involved parading around the bank accompanied by a brass band and carrying a 40-foot-long inflatable pipeline and tombstones built at the latest 350 Seattle art build. As the daylight sank away earth lanterns began popping up in the crowds and the action turned to guest speakers, indigenous drum circles and singing. The event was a striking example of how art can bring people together with a common cause and provide powerful visuals and narrative for environmental actions.

With the kick off of UW SITA this quarter it is exciting to see how other organizations are using art to address environmental issues. To get involved and learn more about the UW initiative check out and come to the first organizational meeting on January 24th 3:30-4:30 in the lobby of Meany Hall!