Earth Month at The New School highlights the importance of art, music and design to environmental causes
Musicians, chefs and artists join scholars, scholars and activists at The New School during Earth Month in April, sharing their experiences, art, music and research and showcasing creative ways and engaging to build environmental justice, sustainability and community elasticity. Coordinated by the Tishman Environment and Design Center, this year’s events have broadened the focus to include art, music and design as well as research and activism, underscoring the importance of these areas to environmental movements. social justice and their relevance to environmental causes.
“The Tishman Environment and Design Center works through The New School to advance the university’s commitment to justice as it relates to climate change and environmental justice, by building knowledge, working with and in communities and supporting action for a just transition. The interdisciplinary strengths of The New School make the university an important contributor to the urgent and critical transformations that need to be made, especially in cities, in order to adapt to climate change and address structural and long-standing environmental impacts. on the frontlines and vulnerable communities,” says Joel Towers, professor of architecture and sustainable design at the Parsons School of Design and co-director of the Tishman Center. “In this context, our Earth Month programming explicitly aims to engage the production of culture, art, design and performance, reflecting a broad understanding of the challenges presented and promoting the actions that can be taken to address the urgent crises of climate change and the cascading impacts of historical and contemporary environmental injustice.
Earth Week 2022, titled Art, Design, Democracy: Tools to Achieve Climate Justice, featured programs created by Eugene Lang College’s Arts Department, the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, the Program’s Food Studies Program bachelor’s degree for adults and transfer students in the Schools of Public Engagement, Parsons School of Built Environments, Urban Systems Laboratory, and the new School of Social Research.
“Since we work at The New School, which includes fashion, art and music, it makes sense to bring these areas to how people can engage with environmental justice and sustainability,” says Mike Harrington, MS Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management ’18, Deputy Director of the Tishman Center and Earth Month Events Coordinator. “In my work and as a student at The New School, I have noticed that many people, like students at the College of Performing Arts, for example, often don’t have many opportunities to engage in sustainable activism. So I wanted to bring in people like Simón Mejía from Bomba Estéreo, GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominated band, who are musicians but work hard to help the environment. I think it’s important for artists to be spotlighted, because art is an important part of social movements, and the environmental justice movement is no different.
Food Studies Chair and Visiting Assistant Professor Kristin Reynolds, who is also a percussionist, playing drums and marimba, has used music to address social justice issues in the food system and to help students in her classes connect with the subjects they study. . She partnered with Harrington to create the Listen Up! Understanding food justice and environmental justice through music. “Last summer Mike Harrington and I were talking about our shared interest in music. We thought it would be exciting to host an event that brings together musicians, conductors and artists who incorporate music into their work for the food justice, food sovereignty and environmental justice,” says Reynolds.
The event, which featured Chef Bryant Terry, winner of a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award and an NAACP Image Award; Indigenous musician Lyla June; Dr. Thomas RaShad Easley, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant and Music Artist; and Dr. Tanya Kalmanovitch, Associate Professor of Music Entrepreneurship at the Mannes School of Music, demonstrated how music can be used to strengthen, diversify, and elevate the practice of food and environmental justice. “It was wonderful to bring together this amazing group of panelists who are leaders in their fields to share some examples of their artistry and how they connect this to food justice and environmental justice,” Reynolds said.
Although the university reopened the campus for public events, Earth Month programs remained online, as planning began months before the change. Harrington noted that while in-person events have a special energy, staying online has made programming more accessible for presenters and attendees, who don’t need to be in New York to participate. “For one of the events, all the panelists will be in Colombia. Hosting events online gives us a wider audience and is accessible to a large number of people. Anyone around the world with the Zoom link can come. We are looking at hybrid online and in-person events for the future,” says Harrington.
Harrington looks forward to working with even more programs across the university that have an interest in sustainability. Both Harrington and Reynolds point to the many benefits of these interdepartmental collaborations. “Working together to conceptualize and plan many events has been rewarding in terms of the types of ideas, speakers and formats that Food Studies and the Tishman Center have co-hosted. We are also able to reach more diverse audiences by promoting our events in a collaborative way,” says Reynolds.
“I see a lot of potential to work with centers and departments across the university on this and help them behind the scenes and with promotion. It helps people to see everything in one place to know that all these events are connected. I think a lot of times people look at environmental issues as just science issues; they don’t see it as a social justice issue, which it really is,” Harrington says.