Update From the Foundation

Why we are still headed to Paris

November 20, 2015

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ArtCop21, an exceptional city-wide climate festival and cultural events to be staged in Paris during COP21

When Compton awarded a series of grants this summer to support organizers, artists, and cultural activists to increase the “surround sound” on climate change during the UN COP21 negotiations in Paris, board and staff agreed that sending a small Compton team to Paris would help us better understand the question: Does culture really shift beliefs and behavior, and can it change policy and politics?

Over the last few months, four of us—two trustees and two staff—have been setting up meetings, organizing events, and strategizing about how to make our time there useful for the Foundation’s learning and how to best to support our grant partners who will be working there.

The Paris attacks on November 13 shook the world and dramatically shifted the Paris landscape and the context for the UN meeting, the civil society events, and all of our work for social and environmental transformation.

As foundation staff and board, we began to wrestle with new questions: Should we still go? What role does a cultural strategy have in this new moment?

We decided that we believe it is essential to bear witness, to be in solidarity, and to support artists and cultural activists who are helping to make sense out of the madness that is Paris, Beirut, Bamako, and so many other places where people are dying and the planet is under stress. Creativity and human connection are all the more urgent in a time of fear and anxiety, a time when reminders of our linked fate are the most important tools we have to address the climate crisis AND the quest for peace.

We are all connected in one complex web of humanity. As our dear colleague, Akaya Windwood recently wrote: Remember that there is no person outside the human circle—every single one of us belongs. There really is no “them” or “us,” even when it is politically or emotionally convenient for me to pretend otherwise.

 We are headed to Paris now even more inspired by the work of all of the activists who will be there. We are awed by the courage they show daily in their work to transform our world. We go forward with a renewed commitment to the mission of this Foundation to ignite change for a more peaceful, sustainable, and just future for all.

Onward,

Ellen

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