Image Credit: Aisha Shillingford
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How can we use art to respond, adapt, and heal from the climate crisis? How can art be used to help us move away from an extractive economy and toward the just transition? That’s what Creative Wildfire—an organizing project supporting artists, cultural workers, and organizations—seeks to do. Created by Movement Generation, the New Economy Coalition, and the Climate Justice Alliance, Creative Wildfire supports artists and cultural workers to create art for the climate justice movement, just transition, and community power.
Creative Wildfire’s Beginnings
The first iteration of Creative Wildfire started in 2014 with Josh Healy, a former Movement Generation collective member. After attending one of Movement Generation’s justice and ecology retreats, he eventually joined the organization’s leadership team. He helped to bring their teachings to broader audiences through storytelling and creative writing, leading to the Make it Fresh series. The series was a performance showcase for artists, organizers, and movement builders to tap into their creative energy and share their stories. According to Quinton Sankofa, codirector and collective member of Movement Generation, “As we continued to do our workshops and retreats, we just wanted to experiment.”
As the organization started to create more content focused on narrative and the environment, it reached wider audiences. However, Movement Generation realized that they needed to do something bigger and more collective. In Sankofa’s words, “what do we do to take it up a notch?”
That’s when they began to look at their justice and ecology retreats differently. Initially intended for organizers, the retreats widened their target participants in the summer of 2014 to include artists and cultural workers who had been traditionally ignored in movement spaces. “We also need culture and art because that’s what’s going to move people within their hearts, in their bodies and emotions—and providing folks with a way to tell their story is so important,” Sankofa says. From this, Movement Generation began to explore the power of narrative and culture shift.
The retreats found their home at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, an 80-acre ecological reserve in Sonoma County, CA, where retreat participants could learn about ecology, the climate crisis, and biological and cultural diversity—and have the space to brainstorm ways to use their art for a better future. Then Movement Generation, now an incubator for this narrative and culture shift, held a showcase in October of that year for the artists and cultural workers to share their storytelling, sketch comedy, visual art, and more.