As science communicators, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to translate the ramblings of the ivory tower into a relatable and accessible public dialogue. In my experience, our strongest ally in this endeavor lies in the artists, musicians, and storytellers within our communities. “The Writing on the Sea-Wall” series seeks to highlight the skilled artisans and projects that help us in our ongoing mission to connect people to science through tangible and impacting messages.
As a coastal community, the economic, social, and industrial capacity of San Diego is intrinsically linked to climate change. So much so, that the city maintains one of the world’s most ambitious Climate Action Plans. Along these same lines, in an effort to unite the community towards climate resilience and education, the Climate Science Alliance (CSA) was established. The Alliance stands as a bi-national collaboration of over 130 government, academic, non-profit, private, tribal nations, and educational institutions working toward science focused partnerships, capacity building, and innovative community engagement. The ultimate goal — a united front on the South Coast across agencies and stakeholders to come together and work towards safeguarding our coast and communities from the effects of changing climate.
As part of their commitment to building a community of practice around climate adaptation, the Climate Science Alliance has developed the Affiliated Artists Program to work directly with artists who are exploring themes related to climate change and environmental stewardship. They work collaboratively to develop projects, programs, and opportunities to bring artists and scientists directly into climate resilience activities.
The artisans the Alliance collaborates with range from dancers to singers to more traditional art mediums. Working with students across the county and participating in large scale public engagement events, the seamless incorporation of art and science has resulted in a highly effective messaging strategy for the Alliance regarding climate change. The art allows people to connect to the issues of sea level rise, ocean acidification, and warming seas in a way that is more relatable than the science itself. Additionally, most of the pieces serve as a call-to-action platform whereas students and the public are encouraged to incorporate their climate commitments into the artwork. Through this program, the Climate Science Alliance has taken an effective approach for large-scale community dialogue and engagement regarding the most pressing issues facing our coastlines.