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An open source musical performance for schools to use to jump start youth engagement in authoring their own city's plan for resilience



Shine is an original musical performed by local youth that leads a community through the beginning phases of authoring a more resilient city.  This performance is touring to select cities that are a part of the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities Initiative to get youth perspectives, priorities and ideas included in city planning for resilience at the local and international level. Embodied and fun, this is a fresh way of inviting a wider constituency into the planning process for community resilience. 

This performance has been designed so that:

Act 1 is the story of humanity’s relationship with energy and climate that has already been told by history (and has already been professionally written, composed and choreographed to be accessible and exceptional).

Act 2 is authored by your local youth to contribute local solutions/perspectives to your city’s plan for resilience in regard to energy use, climate shocks, and social stresses specific to your city.

-This entire performance experience is designed so that rehearsing for Act 1 prepares the youth to author Act 2.

The final song—Shine-- celebrates this entire achievement and your resilient city.  The entire performance is about 25-35 minutes in length.

Created by Beth Osnes Ph.D.  Associate Professor of Theatre and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, co-founder of Inside the Greenhouse, an initiative at CU for creative climate communication

Composed by Tom Wasinger, (three-time Grammy winner) Choreographed by Arthur Fredric (Broadway performer and award-winning teacher with the National Dance Institute)

This project is being developed as a model of participatory climate communication for community engagement on climate issues.  It utilizes performance as a joyful and embodied way of exploring a community's feelings, beliefs and hopes surrounding issues that impact their city's resilience.  It is a method that welcomes and celebrates the contributions of youth.


What actions do you propose?

The first model for participatory climate communication through performance is Shine. Our goal is to fully outfit this performance project as a replicable model with a open source curriculum for various settings and a website that has open source support materials (music, videos of how other schools and groups have implemented various aspects of the project…).  We then want to continue to work with the community to initiate and support other participatory models for climate communication, primarily ones in which the ideas, topics and concerns are initiated and expressed by the community, rather than being expert driven.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research can continue to partner with us, as they did with the production of this show in June 2015. NCAR Social Schientist, Paty Romero Lankao, has translated the show into Spanish for Spanish-speaking groups within our community.  We would love to partner with schools to have a Spanish language version of the show be produced.  We also have partnered with Casey Middle School and the Al Bartlett Center for Population at SEEC in October of 2015.  We are now in the process of partnering with Science Discovery at CU in the summer of 2016 to have them offer the performance as a week-long all-day workshop twice during the summer.  We want to gain support and partners in creating a curriculum and open source package for schools or organizations to put on the show with youth to use it as a dynamic tool for engagement.  In this effort we hope to partner with Learn More About Climate and other climate organizations doing outreach to youth.

Who will take these actions?

This is being headed by Beth Osnes at Inside the Greenhouse along with the staff at Science Discovery, and advisor Patty Romero Lankao at NCAR.  We are working towards relationships with other local schools as well and will work with Learn More About Climate to reach out to those schools.  In the fall of 2016 Beth Osnes will be offering a course in Performance for Resilience at CU with the intention of being able to train many young adults to facilitate this project in a wide variety of settings, such as schools and community centers.

What are the key challenges?

The major obstacle that would be faced is how to engage youth voices in city planning.  One major obstacle is finding educational or organizational partners who are willing to attempt a project such as this.  Often science teachers do not feel able to facilitate a performance project because they do not feel they have the appropriate skills.  By developing an easy to use curriculum and online tools we hope to assuage these doubts.  Another way of overcoming this is to train a team of college-aged students to partner with educators to assist in the facilitation process.

What are the key benefits?

With this specific project, Shine, we will benefit from hearing from arguably our greatest asset-- our youth.  We will learn more about their needs, perspectives and solutions.  We will nurture a next generation of change makers who will be more aware and hopefully design lives that have a more positive impact on their environment.

Shine is a new kind of musical performance being created to dramatize the tensions inherent in energy use that contribute significantly to climate change. The musical is an activating framework that can encompass multiple narratives to allow authorship by local communities to reflect each city’s unique energy challenges and ideas for solutions. The project objective is for citizens of cities to be facilitated in coming together as a community to actively participate in authoring a more resilient energy plan for their community. If people are guided in proposing solutions aligned with their values and priorities, they are more likely to feel ownership for and act on those solutions (Markowitz et al. 2014, p.24).  Instead of top-down, expert-driven dissemination of information, this project seeks to harvest local knowledge and invigorate community-based solutions.  Research on climate communication reveals that the most effective scale for framing climate change for engagement is at the local level (Weber et al. 2005).

Beth Osnes is partnering with Riverside Primary School in London currently.  The music teacher is the primary host coordinating 126 student from the 7th level in presenting this musical at their school.  He has pulled in the participation of the instructor for civics, science, arts and history to spend a week addressing all the many issues included in the production.  This will culminate in a public performance on Friday for the community, the school and local public officials.  This is the kind of holistic participatory programing we hope to continue to inspire and model.

What are the proposal’s costs?

The costs for this program are extremely modest given its potential for impact.  Primarily, funding is needed to pay students for their travel and time when facilitating at schools. Funding is needed to create a "performance kit" for schools that includes costumes that can be borrowed and the minimal props needed.  The music, scripts, instructional videos will all be open source online through Inside the Greenhouse.  The productions of these instructional videos will require some resources as will the creation of a video that highlights all the 5 productions of Shine by select cities internationally that are part of the 100 Resilient Cities Initiative (so far Boulder, NYC and London).  We will also need to hire an organizational assistant to coordinate with community partners wishing to use this resource.

Time line

It will take 2 more years to fully refine and develop the form and resources necessary to make Shine a fully suported option for schools to adopt and utilize.  After that we will continue to support community partners who wish to utilize this performance and will begin development of our next shareable form of participatory climate communication.  Given our current interests, we will likely be exploring "stand up for climate" models for exploring stand up comedy and comedy improvisational games to engage groups in climate related issues.

Related proposals

Value not set.


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