How A Local Family Started A Global Project
The Paris Climate Conference was the tipping point, a moment of hope and time to take action. At home, our family was incrementally doing more and more sustainable things. First, we received a large blue recycle can from our Town of Somerset, then my wife helped to begin a compost program. More recently, we have switched to 100% renewable electric energy and all LED lights. But in general, we felt our contribution was SO minimal that we decided we wanted to do more. During this same time, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery was commissioning me to place the Mother Earth sculpture in the front of the museum. In the 11th hour, the director decided to commission me to create a smaller 12” high version of the same design, which is now the Portrait of a Nation Prize, basically the Smithsonian’s version of the Oscars, given to great Americans. As a result, the large-scale 20’ high Mother Earth sculpture became available and my youngest son Ari (13 years old at the time) told me that I should place it in all of the continents. Thus, began our global project!
The success of this project is that it is authentic, grassroots, and involves art, one of the international languages. People love communal art projects, and creating parachutes has become the perfect project for schools, families, clubs, and organizations. Plus, we as humans feel that our voices are small, but this global project gives people hope and power - to be a part of a collective voice.
The largest challenge we have had is understanding the goals of the Mother Earth Project and what we want to accomplish. We continue to discuss this to this day! We knew that we would use art to raise awareness but we were unsure how we could do more and actually create and activate sustainable communities. How could we get people in Tunisia to want to live more sustainably?
Most recently, Parachutes For The Planet has been launched. We are collecting “parachutes”, 12’ diameter circular cloths decorated with artwork and comments about living sustainably from students, schools, and organizations from over 20 countries and numerous states around the U.S. "Parachute” is a metaphor for bringing the planet back to a safe place. MEP plans to have its first world exhibition of parachutes in Washington, DC in the coming months.
We are presently reaching out to schools all over the world to participate in the Parachutes For The Planet project. They can go to this website for easy instructions: www.motherearthproject.org/parachutes. After they create their parachute, display it locally, and then ship it to us (address on website) for the upcoming world exhibition in Washington DC. And, MEP encourages them to commit to weekly sustainable actions, such as changing your light bulbs to LED, picking up 10 pieces of trash on the streets, switching to renewable energy, asking restaurants to change their plastic cups to paper (PLEASE!!), composting your food scraps, and using your bicycle more. There are MANY things you can do to help the planet!