Public Environmental Art for Children, Oh My!

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Today the Washington Post turned its arts coverage to two hot topics at once: the environment and children. Who can resist miniature environmentalists with purple paint smeared across their mouths who spout perfect sound-bites like little PR spokespeople?

Fifty people participated in a public art project called Vote for Art last Saturday in Takoma Park at which they painted over 2006 campaign signs with fresh slogans, largely environmental, to post in their yards on Arts Advocacy Day, next Tuesday. The Post’s article quoted 6-year-old Sasha Schneer, who was completing a piece of anti-car publicity, as saying, “I’m trying to convince people to stop using the products that are polluting.” It’s not that I disbelieve his sincere conviction that pollution is bad. It’s just that he is almost certainly regurgitating phrases he has heard his parents exchange in the recent past—and to the national media, no less!

When I was only a few years older than Schneer, destruction of the rainforest and the prospect of global warming used to keep me awake at night. So I am sure that he comprehends environmental degradation on some rudimentary level. And hey, at least the media is letting us know that some of the next generation cares about the state of the Earth—and that someone is giving them the language to let others know why it matters.

Arts organizations in other towns might take a bit of inspiration from this project. When I was a kid, I remember my classmates uttering phrases like “recycling is stupid” while throwing trash around the classroom. I could have used a little bit of Schneer’s vocabulary to help me let my classmates know why there are a few smart reasons to recycle.

–Rose Miller

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