Climate Change In Our Backyard

In order to convey the urgency of the climate change crisis, new voices, stories, and strategies are needed. Artists are uniquely poised to contribute to this with their creativity, communication skills, and unparalleled reach into communities.

Climate change is often depicted in melting glaciers and swimming polar bears, which can create an “over-there” mentality about the crisis. By bringing artists to New Orleans—the historic heart of American music—RPM takes a “right here” approach. We bring artists to the front lines to witness the effects of climate change and climate injustice in our own backyards, and then work to figure out new ways to communicate those effects and solutions to their fans.

One of our partners in this work is Gulf Restoration Network (GRN). They have been a part of the Artist Lab retreats we’ve done in New Orleans since early 2010—bringing artists in RPM’s network to see the disappearing wetlands on boats and airplanes, and giving issue briefings on the phone, in person, and backstage.

Artists that RPM has brought to New Orleans have gone on to amplify GRN’s message through social media, video, appearances on talk shows (warning, you won’t get this one out of your head for a while), and shout outs at concerts. Since 2010, RPM has raised and directed over $150,000 to GRN.

“Successful advocacy requires a compelling message, credible messengers, and effective delivery…RPM [and the artists it works with don’t] just understand this; they make it happen, and in doing so change the world for the better.” —Steve Murchie, Campaigns Director, Gulf Restoration Network

By bringing artists to New Orleans, RPM is putting what is happening there into the bigger context of climate change and climate justice. We are also helping artists understand what their role can be in restoring and sustaining New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, as well as in the greater climate change work and what they and their fans can do.

RPM also leads a working group looking at how concerts and touring can be most sustainable with artists like Jack Johnson, supports efforts of artists with securities to divest from coal, engages artists in social media campaigns to activate fans, and works with artists to implement philanthropic strategies embedded in their businesses that generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for climate justice organizations every year.