What Bothers College Students Green Consciences?

by Franke James


“You can’t ski on green.”

What would you say if someone asked, “What bothers your green conscience?” Well, that’s the question I asked students who participated in my Green Conscience Art Workshop at Dalhousie University this past Fall. The workshop was sponsored by the Dalhousie Art Gallery and the College of Sustainability as part of my talk and ‘Banned on the Hill’ exhibition.

I kicked off the Green Conscience workshop by teaching them my Six Tools for Climate Change Art. The six tools are intended to help anyone express themselves visually (even the most analytical “I-can’t-draw-a-straight-line” kind of person). My thinking goes like this… many people today are anxious about climate change and feel powerless. Making art can help you express your concerns and realize that you have the power to take action on climate change — starting by changing your own behaviour.  By sharing your artwork with friends and family (and beyond), you can make positive social change happen.

I first developed the Six Tools for a presentation at the McMichael Art Gallery in 2007. Since then, I have given workshops at many universities, high schools and conferences in Canada and the United States. I plan to publish a Six Tools Teachers Manual in 2014.
Six Tools to Make Climate Change Art

green conscience six tools by Franke James

The Dalhousie College of Sustainability students were already tuned into their “green conscience” so they got the 6 Tools concept very quickly. Here are some of the fabulous artworks that were created during the four hour workshop. Take a look at their artwork below. And then think about yourself — “What’s bothering your green conscience?”

Dal students share what bothers their green conscience:


“I won’t keep smiling and pretending it’s OK to waste water”


“My green conscience is bothered when I observe… instead of participating.”


“My green conscience is bothered by buying too much stuff that I don’t need.”


“My green conscience is bothered by how warm I keep my house”


“A lease for all humans on the planet to sign”


“My green conscience is bothered by my love of power boating”


“It is vain to think that man has walked on the moon…”


“Things have a way of piling up…”


“It’s melting up in the Arctic, but it’s hot in here.”


Students creating their green conscience artwork


Artist Franke James speaks with a Dalhousie student.


“My green conscience is bothered by my grocery footprint.”


“My family’s business is unsustainable…”


“My green conscience is bothered by excess packaging”


“My green conscience is bothered when we fail to appreciate the bigger picture”


“Am I environmentally two-faced?”


“If you’re a vegetarian how will you get enough protein?”


“Car culture is cramping our style”


College of Sustainability Director Steven Mannell pictured with students and Franke James.


Dalhousie Art Gallery Peter Dykhuis with Franke James.

Credits: Artwork by Dalhousie University students participating in Franke James’ Green Conscience Workshop. Photos by Franke James and Billiam James.

More from Halifax…

The College of Sustainability also arranged to have an art show of my large posters from the original outdoor protest show in November 2011 in Ottawa. See Banned on the Hill Goes to Halifax.


“Thanks so much for the excellent presentation you gave at the Ecology Action Centre! I’m delighted that I was also able to be at your talk/slide show last night at Dalhousie. Your work is an inspiration to all of us who are already involved in dealing with the horrible threat of climate change, and, I’m sure, equally so to others who you have helped bring into the movement.” Ruth Gamberg, Volunteer EAC

RABBLE: “Franke James: Artist and activist extraordinaire!” by Chris Majka

“Franke James is a Canadian political and artistic phenomenon. A wicked thorn in the side of Stephen Harper; a woman fiercely passionate about the pressing need to address climate change; a witty and imaginative artist who would not acquiesce to having her work silenced and censored by the Harper government; and an activist and educator working to empower citizens and galvanize progressive change in our society. More…

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