My thoughts and environmental concerns:
My biggest environmental concern is climate change because it can unleash natural forces that humanity may never be able to reverse. Unless we address this issue powerfully and quickly I fear that there will be mass extinctions of plants and wildlife, large scale loss of human life, an economic black hole that will suck up all our resources, environmental destruction like we have never witnessed, and possibly our own extinction as well. I am so frustrated that this problem was brought to our attention decades ago by earth scientists and very little was done. I have lost faith in our political system to deal with climate change. It makes me feel hopeless and powerless to think that alone, I cannot do anything about it. These feelings inspired me to figure out an action that I could do.
How I got the action idea of what to do when the earth was in my hands:
I am not a political activist, a fundraiser or a scientist doing research. My strengths are in artistic expression and the understanding of the environment. As an artist who loves creating and is a driven problem solver, I wanted to do something involving those skills. As a landscape architect, I have learned the valuable ability of getting diverse groups of people to work together, people, who have different viewpoints and different skills but have one thing in common, the same goal. Preventing self-destruction certainly qualifies as a good common goal. The idea of creating Carry the EARTH came to me suddenly after reaching depths of despair at a conference of the ASLA in Los Angeles in October 2017, which focused on the extreme environmental issues we will have to deal with in the near future. Early in my career, these conferences focused on design issues around shopping malls, parks, and housing developments but now it is more about how to deal with coastal cities under water and wildfires burning millions of acres of forests in the west or scarcity of clean water and air pollution leading to a much quicker progression of climate warming. I have been developing Carry the EARTH ever since.
Using art is a different approach to addressing our environmental challenges. I hope it engages people who normally feel like they are on the sidelines helplessly watching things play out and makes them feel empowered. I hope that non-participants find the project intriguing and that it might just inspire people who have resources and power to take significant action.
In addition, I hope that this project will help us understand and connect with each other not only within our divided countries but around the world to realize that all of humanity has a common goal and should work together to make our home habitable, peaceful, and as close to paradise as possible. In doing so, I hope we improve the state of humanity in the process.
My action plan unfolded:
1-HELP!-Finding like-minded friends and family to help so that I am not alone.
2- THE PROJECT NAME-Finding a name and registering a website.
My husband, Peter Siegel came up with the name Carry the EARTH after we reviewed hundreds of possibilities.
In the Merriam-Webster English dictionary the word Carry has many meanings all of which are implied by our project including to move, undertake, shoulder, travel, reach, endorse, sway, convince, persuade, influence, distribute, maintain, and to gain victory for THE EARTH. All definitions seem so appropriate to this project and we are carrying the symbolic object as well. The best news was that the domain name was not taken yet!!
3-THE GLOBE– At first we wanted to mass-produce globes with tracking devices. We found out that the tracking device was a bad idea since people want privacy and the cost and battery size added huge complications.
Our goal evolved to one of starting small with a low budget and a limited number of volunteers and gradually growing to make sure, we could do a good job of managing the project. When looking into mass production methods, which would start at 1000 globes, we realized that this would not be the best way to start our project and it might be something to think about later in the first year. After attending a 3D printing conference in Pasadena, we thought that this process would be perfect as it allowed us to make one globe at a time. I was able to get a magnificent 3D printing model of a globe given freely by Ben Diedrich, a scientist in Alabama. Finding someone who could print a 3d printed globe was a challenge. A well-advertised place in LA spent a few months without success and then Raise 3D printed globe #1 and kindly donated it but did not want to print any more due to the difficulty of a sphere and keeping costs low. They referred me to Ivan Contraras of SOC who came to the rescue, and printed all 13 other globes. Researching materials for the globes that did not contribute to global warming or ocean trash lead me to using PLA manufactured by NatureWorks. I also found affordable glass globes that I could paint and a glass-etching artist that was able to etch on a spherical surface the website and globe number on another 12 globes. I spent the next few months painting the globes because I wanted to make each globe a one of a kind object reflecting different themes and thoughts about the earth.
I had 3 more artists show an interest in the project and each created their own globes to contribute. After having so much fun creating the globes themselves and never running out of ideas to express the endless feelings and viewpoints about the earth, I decided to have other artists who want to participate create the future globes. This decision would open up the project to more engagement and unique viewpoints and expressions of caring for the earth.
4-THE WEBSITE– The next major hurdle was finding a web developer to create a complex website that could handle a growing list of circulating globes, their diaries and timelines, and one that explains the project to the casual site visitor easily. After trying with great difficulty to make one myself, contacting 8 leads who never came through, and getting one bid for the site that was way beyond unaffordable, I found a miracle worker, Marc Walker of Luckae Web Solutions. He is a web developer who loved the idea of the project and had all the skills necessary to make the site function well plus artistic ability to maintain high standards for the design of the site.
5-THE BLOG- What makes this environmental artwork multilayered is the artistry of the globes, the places the globes go, the connection of people, and most important of all the stories in the blogs. Here we have no control and in some respects that adds to the surprise and interest of the project. What would you do if the EARTH were in your hands? I hope to get some interesting answers as the project progresses. I want to emphasize to the earth carriers/story tellers that each one of them has diverse talents and interests. I hope that they express their unique selves in this task as their statement and actions will be more powerful. We came up with ideas on our website to inspire thought but hope that each of the carrier’s stories are heartfelt expressions of their own individuality.
6- LOCATION: Finally, I needed to find the first 25 carriers of the earth and get the globes to them. Kickstarter forced me to create a video and with the help of Kelly McGrath and Alex Lohninger, they donated one, which I used to explain my project to others more easily. I wanted to get the globes started in many different countries so that the interest in reading about people who hold the earth would be global and diverse. The video helps me articulate the project and spread the idea. I was delighted with many positive responses and the globes will get a broader distribution around the world at the start of the project.
7- So here we are letting go of the globes and letting the project take flight and not knowing where it will go or what will happen next. I hope you enjoy the journey with me.