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Here would be my challenge to artists today. We’re beginning to see artists across many artistic domains producing climate and climate emergency art, which is important and good to see. What’s striking to me is that most of it, in the main, is dystopian, about how horrific the world will be if we fail to rise to this moment. To a certain extent, that makes sense because it is scary and horrific, but here’s what intrigued me about what artists were producing in the war is that in the main, it was not dystopian, even though the war was horrific. It was rallying us: the tone was rallying us. I found myself listening to this music as I was doing the research and thinking, world war II had a popular soundtrack, the anti-Vietnam war had a popular soundtrack. When I was a kid in the peace and disarmament movement, there was a popular soundtrack. This doesn’t have a popular soundtrack, yet.seth klein, conscient podcast, april 16, 2021, vancouver
Seth Klein is a public policy researcher and writer based in Vancouver who served for 22 years as the founding director of the British Columbia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Canada’s foremost social justice think tank. He is now a freelance policy consultant, speaker, researcher and writer, and author of A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency. Seth is also an adjunct professor with Simon Fraser University’s Urban Studies program and remains a research associate with the CCPA’s BC Office.
I first heard about A Good War from Stephen Huddart, then CEO of the McConnell Foundation. Stephen suggested that I ‘read this book’. I did not get around to it until March 2021 when Anjali Appadurai (see e23 appadurai) contacted me on Seth’s behalf to see if I would join their Climate Emergency Unit arts campaign. Needless to say, I joined the campaign, and you’ll hear in the conversation that I also read the book, completing it the morning of our conversation on April 16.
Seth and I exchanged on a wide range of issues including the dichotomy between reality and denial, his rationale for the book, the book’s four pillars: (1. spend what it takes. 2. create new institutions 3. move from voluntary to mandatory 4. tell the truth). We also talked about the role of artists and cultural workers, to whom he launched a challenge.
As I did in previous episodes, I have integrated excerpts from e19 reality in this episode.
I would like to thank Seth for taking the time to speak with me, for sharing his vision for our shared future in A Good War and for putting us on high alert about the climate emergency.