“The opinion that art should not be political is itself a political opinion.” George Orwell

Life on earth as we have come to know it is the most beautiful chorus ever sung, the most lovely painting ever painted, and truly the highest art. Current scientific research is painting a different picture of our earth, one of devastating global climate change brought about by our seemingly innocent daily rituals of driving to work, warming our homes, and powering our modern lifestyles. Change needs to happen immediately, it cannot wait for a slow movement to build, we cannot be patient. We must act now. If we do nothing, change will happen, but it will not be a change for the better, and the best part of what we think of now as life on earth will vanish.

On April 14th we joined the Step it Up movement, a nationwide network of demonstrations calling for immediate policy change to address global warming. A group of local residents walked from the Olympic Sculpture Park to All City Coffee in Pioneer Square through downtown Seattle. We marked a line of new “terrain” – the shoreline that would be created in the case of a twenty-foot rise in sea-level, as could occur with the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. We call this twenty feet of sea-level rise the Watermark. Dressed in somber dark clothing each member of the group carried a bag of seeds to sprinkle along the way. As we walked a kind of meditation took place, we could hear the seeds hitting against the sidewalk, reflect on the state of affairs, and on each small action affecting the whole world. Designated participants talked with passersby and distributed cards explaining the project. On Earth Day 2007, we walked the line again giving a tour of the Watermark, and each person was astonished at what 20 feet looks like. In August, we were included in the Groundtruthing show where we showed a video of the first walk at SOIL Gallery in Seattle, distributed postcards, and led tours of the imaginary “new” waterfront. We used humor here, as we donned snorkel gear and swimsuits for an “underwater” tour, and carted along a giant block of ice to “water the urban desert.”

Enjoying a walk is by its very nature an art form, a dance, a place to contemplate. It is something we can do every day that would make a significant difference in the world. Rather than taking time, walking gives us time to enjoy the richness of the world around us, instead of speeding by at 60 miles an hour or more. It gives us a simpler pace that allows for spontaneous stops, unplanned encounters, and little delights for all five senses. When we take a walk, we become one with the world, not living in denial of it.