In support of climate change events that were happening around the world this past weekend, the Southern Oregon Climate Action Network hosted a rally and art installation in Medford, Ore. that drew a crowd of more than 150 people. The event organizers, Southern Oregon University (SOU) graduates, asked the general public to create their own piece of recycled art — a cardboard tile describing what they love most about the Rogue Valley and what worries them most about climate change. More than 1,000 cardboard tiles decorated by community members were collected to create a gigantic salmon.
Sarah Burstein and Hillary Lowenberg made their own tiles, decorating them with images of the salmon life cycle and sent them to the artistic directors earlier last week. They wanted to see how their tile fit into the larger image, which drew them to the rally. Being good climate change activists, they decided to bike the 15 miles to Medford from Ashland and back, which neither of them had done before.
The goal of the event was to gather support in protecting the Rogue Valley from the effects of climate change by inspiring creative and collective solutions, said Hannah Solh, an event organizer, in an interview with the “Medford Mail Tribune.” The guest of honor, State Rep. Peter Buckley, gave an inspiring speech to the diverse audience about what he’s trying to accomplish in Salem, Ore. and how grassroots movements need to continue to organize by knocking on people’s doors and contacting their government representatives to keep the pressure on. There was a band playing and Phoenix High School’s musical theater group performed, which added to the small-town feel of the event.
To culminate the event, a photo was taken of the finished salmon surrounded by all of the contributing artists. The photographer captured the picture from a 60- foot crane looking down on the masterpiece. The Southern Oregon Climate Action Network hopes to send the pictures to Salem and to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate what a local community can do when they rally around a common cause — saving the planet.