Letter from far away
The email is from Bangui, steamy capital of the Central African Republic. Iâ€™ve been twice to this suffering place, wrecked by French colonialism and corrupt leaders. Alain writes that patient zero is an Italian priest returning from leave in Italy and that panic grows: westerners leaving and the wealthy emptying supermarkets for their pandemic hibernation. The rest dread confinement, fearing hunger more than the virus.
Looking up, I see my garden, my comfortable shelter-in-place life and an image, blurred by tears, of Alain, activist-citizen who loves his country. Then I reply that I will share his news.
â€” Maggie Ziegler (Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada)
* * *
Pandemic Phone Boyfriend
In art, itâ€™s called continuous narrative. Thatâ€™s the chat window blipping on and off throughout the day. He messages me about his dog. I text him a photo of my lunch. We discuss artificial intelligence and humans becoming obsolete.
We met before the pandemic and had plans to see each other, but of course had to cancel. Now our weekly FaceTime dates go on for hours. Are we assigning too much significance to this, I wonder? Is it mostly an escape from the leaden impossibilities that drag down our days?
â€œIâ€™m glad we met,â€ he says. I am, too.
â€” Sara Bir (Marietta, Ohio)
* * *
The Other â€œCâ€ Word
Once you know the truth, itâ€™s devastating. The mental anguish of the reality at hand can feel paralyzing and overwhelming. The storm is upon us. Understanding clearly that the outcome may not be okay â€“ for me, my community, and my family â€“ is both angst and grief-provoking. It is incredibly frustrating to see friends, colleagues, and those â€œin chargeâ€ downplay the facts; particularly when science and mother nature are telling us we must act with urgency and that we are out of time. A lifetime of climate emergency warnings and lessons â€“ momentarily overtaken by another â€œcâ€ word â€“ Coronavirus.
â€” Harriet Shugarman (Wyckoff, New Jersey)
* * *
The virus was transmitted to humans from bats. According to scientists, the pandemic could have been prevented by letting the bats have their territory.
On Easter Day, new snow has fallen. Everything looks open and clean, like new space has been created outside.
Letâ€™s consider corona as natureâ€™s warning. Ever since the spread of agriculture, man has been conquering new territory, at a terrible cost at times.
Snow symbolizes hope. We can still reconsider our relationship to each other, to land, and to other creatures on Earth. Letâ€™s leave to each one the territory they need and deserve.
â€” Kristjan Urm (Turku, Finland)
(Top photo: Clean territory, view from the artistâ€™s window.)
This series is edited byÂ Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.
Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.
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