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Crowdsourced Art Campaign Inspires People to 'Vote the Environment'

California-based outdoor apparel company Patagonia, in partnership with the Creative Action Network and the Canary Project, has kicked off a crowdsourced campaign to create a set of designs aimed at encouraging voters, especially younger ones, to get to the polls this November by focusing on the environment as the key issue.

Patagonia is inviting artists to submit poster designs such as this one by Luis Prado.

Designers and artists are invited to submit poster designs that say "Vote the Environment." Anyone may submit a design, and all designs that meet the guidelines will be posted in an online gallery for people to order. Artists receive 40 percent of the profits from their design; 30 percent will go to HeadCount, a nonpartisan organization that partners with bands, promoters and festivals to register and educate voters.

Patagonia has also had graphic artists Eric Junker, Natas Kaupus and Alex Trochut create three new “Vote the Environment” T-shirts that are available online and in Patagonia stores. Five dollars from each shirt sale will go to HeadCount.

The 41-year-old company has a history of environmental activism going back decades. It not only works to be environmentally responsible throughout its supply chain, but also donates 1 percent of its annual profits to environmental organizations. And this crowdsourced collection is only the latest effort in its longstanding "Vote the Environment" campaign. In 2012, it helped register more than 100,000 voters at Wilco concerts. Its "Vote the Environment" website has voter registration information, as well as a candidate scorecard provided the the League of Conservation Voters.

Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario said:

We’ve rooted our business in the environment–we want to act responsibly, live within our means, and leave behind a planet we would want to live in. We need leaders who will act on behalf of the future and the planet and we know art can create a sense of pride and urgency and inspire real action for this movement.

Lisa Pike Sheehy, Patagonia's global director of environmental initiatives, explains why the company feels that it's essential to mobilize voters around environmental issues:

We face a great crisis: climate change, extinction, destruction of wild places.That’s why we must support candidates who push hard for clean, renewable energy, restore clean water and air and turn away from risky, carbon-intensive fuels. We cannot afford to sit out this election.

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Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

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"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

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