What’s bothering your green conscience?

by Franke James


Franke’s University of Cincinnati Art Workshop

While I was in Cincinnati, I did two art workshops on the green conscience theme, one at the University and one at a booksigning at Park + Vine.

At the University, I started by showing the students an updated version of my Six Tools for Climate Change Art presentation. Students then created collages using colored paper, markers and images cut from old magazines. Below are some examples of their artworks created on the theme of: “What’s bothering your green conscience?”

University of Cincinnati photo by Franke James.

I am always amazed at the variety of ideas. Cars, lights and water were just some of the ideas that nagged at them. UC architecture student, Minh, created an op-art collage of an exhaust-spewing sports car driving over a subdivision of houses. He says, “My green conscience is bothered by my love of driving around.”

University of Cincinnati photo by Franke James.

UC architecture student DJ says, “My green conscience is bothered by using lights when the sun is up.” Hmmm…. buildings that don’t need lights on in the daytime? What a great idea!

University of Cincinnati photo by Franke James.

UC student Genna says, “My green conscience is bothered by running the dishwasher twice a day, just to avoid doing any by hand.”

Franke’s Art Workshop at Park + Vine

At Park + Vine, the workshop participants were all working adults. They caught on very quickly to the concept of “What’s bothering your green conscience?” and had no problem putting their ideas down on paper. Their occupations? Architects, graphic designers and product designers! The set up was very basic. Folding tables and chairs, stacks of magazines, colored paper, glue sticks and scissors. It was a comfortable setting that allowed people to chat and express their ideas about their green conscience!

Park and Vine workshop Cincinnati

Here are some examples of their work:

Matt Anthony drawing at Park and Vine workshop.
Matt Anthony, a product designer, said, “I feel bad when I try to eat healthier, but end up wasting more.”

Dan Montgomery, Park and Vine workshop Cincinnati

Architect, Dan Montgomery, told me about his collage which features a blue building from Dubai in the middle. He told me he is bothered that any building goes on there because it is so hot it requires a great deal of energy to make life comfortable. He also talked about the irony of advertising automobiles and jet skis against pristine wilderness.

Christine Brown, Park and Vine workshop Cincinnati

Christine Brown’s collage is about showing sincere appreciation to the earth for all that it gives us! Christine is a graphic designer. Her friend, also a graphic designer, did the one below about “My green conscience is blue.”

Park and Vine workshop Cincinnati

Matt Anthony’s second collage below (clearly a productive guy!) says, “I feel bad when other countries want to be like US.” You’ll see he’s colored in the US with stars and stripes.
Matt Anthony collage at Park and Vine workshop Cincinnati
Author, Thomas Friedman expressed the same disappointment about the lost green opportunity for developing countries in “Hot, Flat and Crowded.” What a shame that they are more often mimicking North American bad habits than developing new green technologies.

collage at Park and Vine workshop Cincinnati

This person’s work is funky and expressive. He says, “Sometimes I drive my car to Clifton or Northside instead of the bus.”

Everyone had something that nagged at their green conscience. The art workshop got people thinking about those little actions that no one will know about

So, what bothered my green conscience?

Flying back to Toronto, the plane I was on had an unexpected mechanical problem. The airline steward made an announcement saying he was sorry to be the bearer of bad news (!!) but we’d have to fly back to Cincinnati! (I was kind of relieved it wasn’t worse news.)

The airline gave us meal vouchers to use at the airport while we waited for our flight out. I rarely eat McDonald’s (honest!) but there wasn’t a lot of choice… All that packaging for one person’s meal!! Multiply that by the number of passengers that fly in and out every day…. Very scary, and no recycling bins around!

collage at Park and Vine workshop Cincinnati

Now you are probably wondering…

Yes, I did buy carbon offsets for my flight.
Terrapass (1,000 lbs. of CO2) one return flight: Toronto to Cincinnati: $5.95

Pretty inexpensive, eh? But some day I’d like to figure out how to do “Do it Yourself Carbon Offsets.” Wouldn’t that be cool? Then I could plant a tree, or do something tangibly green for someone in my life or in our community.

What’s bothering your green conscience?

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse at my green conscience workshops. Let me know what you think!

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