A Sol 2 Sol talk and Pop up Show

After the climate march I stayed in the city for a couple more days of city wandering/sketching, then went home (to Sebastopol).

A couple days later I returned to S.F. to do some more! The actual Global Climate Action Summit was going on at the Moscone Center, with Governor Brown and Al Gore and 4500 delegates from around the world. I couldn’t get into the actual summit, but wanted to dip my toe in the action. So I met some other sketchers in the Yerba Buena gardens across from Moscone Center. A group of marchers were congregating in front of the Contemporary Jewish Museum across the street.

Loretta Bolden2

I honestly didn’t know what people and climate stories I would find as I walked into a group of people dressed in yellow t-shirts who were chanting and then breaking for lunch. The group was Sol 2 Sol, participating in the “It Takes Roots Solidarity to Solutions Week to spotlight frontline community solutions to the interlinked economic, democratic and climate crises currently threatening humanity.” They were there ” To discuss place-based solutions that serve to simultaneously decarbonize, detoxify, demilitarize and democratize our economy through critical strategies such as Indigenous land rights, food sovereignty, zero waste, public transportation, ecosystem restoration, universal healthcare, worker rights, housing rights, racial and gender justice, and economic relocalization.” That sure covers a lot of ground!

When I approached Loretta I didn’t know any of this, just that she looked like someone I would like to meet and who probably had her own interesting story to tell.


She had come all the way from Cherokee, N.C. (Geeze I hope they’re OK with Florence still on the rampage!) to support her people. I learned that it is not a reservation but part of the Qualla Boundary, a term I had not heard before which signifies that it was purchased by the tribe in the 1870s and subsequently placed under federal protection.

Loretta of course had concerns about threats to the health of their lands, but was impressed also by wider climate changes. Her group had toured Santa Rosa just the week before to see the devastation wrought by our Tubbs fire! It was moving to hear her reaction as she recounted what she had learned on that tour about the climate-wrought disaster in my own community!

Needless to say I found it difficult to sketch the portrait of this fascinating lady out in the bright sun while also interviewing her and trying to make notes of what she said! Bless her heart for hanging in there with  me!

That evening we hung a pop-up show at the Contemporary Jewish Museum of about 200 climate story portrait sketches by urban sketchers.


What started as just an interesting idea by our fearless leader Laurie Wigham turned in one month into a project of great interest not only to the sketchers in the Bay Area but to so many of the participants in the climate summit-related efforts who were anxious to have their stories heard and and recorded.


The show has been taken down now, but you can see the sketches on the SketchingClimateStories website! And if you’d like to get involved in this form of story-telling sketching, and you live in the Bay Area, please let me know and I’ll try to get you connected.

ImpactofClimateChangeCA2_SusanCornelisThe next morning I attended another event about “The Impact of Climate Change on California” at City College, which was another opportunity for people to share their experiences. I had pictured a town hall meeting type event where I would sit discreetly on the side, but it was a small classroom with several organizers and a handful of participants seated in a circle including us four sketchers.


With respect for those who do not speak English, everything was translated into Spanish. The meeting was led in by a facilitator from the group Sustaining All Life, an international grassroots organization working to end climate change within the context of ending all divisions among people.


I enjoyed participating in the personal sharing exercises, which gave me the opportunity to talk about our community’s trauma with the firestorms. It also made the reportage efforts more challenging as I crossed the line from reporter to participant.

Seated to my right was Ruying, an electrical engineer/climate scientist and Summit delegate from Beijing, China, who was hoping to gain some insight into the experience of Californians. She spoke with enthusiasm about the joint efforts of China and California in dealing with climate change. I suspect that this meeting was eye opener for her!


Global Climate: Protect the Sacred

When I arrived at the Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco last Saturday morning the streets were blocked off for the Rise For Climate, Jobs, and Justice march and groups of people were painting the streets in colorful designs illustrating our need to protect our precious planet and its people.


I started right away sketching the liveliest group, and found myself wishing I could pick up one of the big paintbrushes and join in. (Of course they were using earth-friendly non-toxic paints that would wear away quickly when traffic resumed.)


Agana here seemed to be everywhere and directing the show, so I talked to her and found out that she was/is the designer of this circle piece and a member of Few and Far Women . She offers her considerable artistic talent in murals, film, jewelry and more!

I got the feeling right away that this day was no procession of gloom about global warming (although lord knows there’s plenty of that!) but a celebration of our planet and people and the desire to make us all wake up to the threat of global warming and figure out how we can help protect all that is sacred.

Our group of urban sketchers Sketching Climate Stories had a table under the tents along with all the other groups represented at the event. Our mission was to sketch and listen to the stories of people who had gathered for this event; to ask them how global warming was effecting them in their home community; and to find out what they are working on. No sooner did I show up at the table, then I was connected with my first story sketch.


I sketched Kamurra while while Cathy interviewed her. Kamurra introduced herself as a 75 year old who had been marching for 50 years and would continue to show up for these causes as long as she lived.

Kamurrah By SusanCornelis

I barely got some of her words written down before the next person showed up, ready to be sketched.


Barbara Chan from El Cerrito had fashioned a hat with recycled materials including the plastics her group is working to ban: “Skip the Straw”.


Our Sketching Climate Stories table was getting really busy at this point with the marchers arriving and more sketchers on hand. The finished sketches were immediately placed in clear protective sheets in binders so that passersby could see them. And many of them stayed to be sketched.

At this point a polar bear arrived. She had clearly lost her way or maybe given up trying to find any ice! Another lifelong champion of environmental causes, Sharon had driven down from Laytonville for the march.


At this point things were moving pretty fast and I didn’t get much of the interview points down. Unable to draw with the right side of my brain and at the same time, write with the left side I guess!


(note the bear nose/mouth around her neck!)


Just to give a flavor of the day. . .these circles on several blocks around the Civic Center were 50 feet across. This one says “Immigration is a Right!” and behind it you see the music amplifiers and City Hall.


Later in the day, when the crowds had cleared, you could get a better look at the art! I have more sketch stories to share, so stay tuned.

Tomorrow evening the Contemporary Jewish Museum is hosting a pop up exhibition of the climate story sketches. The Museum is located on the opposite side of Yerba Buena gardens from the Moscone Center, where the Global Climate Action Summit is happening today through Friday. I’ll be there doing some more Climate Story Sketching!

The SF Chronicle did a great article on the project. See it here.