The Miami Mural Movement Turning Up the Heat on Climate Change: An Interview with Linda Cheung by Anja Laubscher (Class of 2018)
The latest season of Van Alen Sessions, “Turning the Tide in Miami,” sheds light on climate change in South Florida and profiles how Miamians—real estate developers, artists, architects, ecologists, activists—are fighting the effects of sea level rise. In investigating the future of Miami and questioning the sustainability of its real estate economy, infrastructure, and drinking water supply, it became evident that radical intervention is necessary to effectively prepare for sea-level rise.
Before It’s Too Late (BITL), a non-profit prototyping lab using arts and technology, is at the forefront of climate change education for the public. BITL couples scientific climate research with art and technology, and experiments with social theory in an effort to spark changes in behavior. Currently, Miami Murals—depictions of present-day Miami overlayed with augmented reality simulating Miami’s future—is BITL’s flagship program. Miami Murals’ pilot mural launched in the Wynwood neighborhood in February, and the lab is currently designing their second mural at EcoTech Visions, a Miami-based green tech incubator hub.
Despite being less than a year old, BITL is enthusiastically exploring various avenues to transform their pilot mural into a movement. Earlier this year, they worked with the City of Miami to propose an expansion of the program into twelve more communities through the Bloomberg Public Arts Challenge. The plan proposes the creation of several murals across Miami-Dade County as a means to combat climate gentrification and unite segregated communities in a common cause. BITL is also working on a high-impact proposal to cover Miami Beach in its murals and create the first augmented reality art walk.
We spoke with BITL Founder Linda Cheung about the Miami Murals campaign to understand how creative thinkers can engage with issues surrounding climate adaptation and to explore the power of using one’s own voice to ignite a cultural movement.
Anja Laubscher: What sparked the inspiration to create the Miami Murals campaign and this unique way to create awareness about sea level rise?
Linda Cheung: I was working on climate change, approaching it from a business, policy, and science perspective, constantly aiming to align incentives to get the system to work for us, and observed that it was not working fast enough. I realized that there was a lack of inspiration, and that the only way to get under 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 was through a total radical systems change, which is not possible with an incremental way of thinking in business and policy.* So I researched radical cultural changes in the past that totally shifted our mental and ethics model for society. This idea of being a catalyst for cultural change inspired me to think about climate sustainability, and ask “what are the best tools to captivate and build a bridge to the public? (read more…)