Winter Reception Celebrates Remembrance of Climate Futures Arlington Project

A special event took place in December to celebrate the end of the Remembrance of Climate Futures Arlington project. The reception, held in the Arlington HIgh School Lobby, honored the 12 student interns whose study of climate change impacts and resilience resulted in the 23 markers of possible future events that are now located throughout town.

The AHS students selected for the competitive internship met weekly for eight weeks during the summer of 2021 to do research, discuss climate issues, and learn from experts in the field. During this time they met with a sustainable international development specialist, an urban agriculture activist, representatives from the Arlington Department of Planning & Community Development, and with over 20 town committees and community groups including Sustainable Arlington, the Tree Committee, and Friends of Spy Pond Park. This study of science, planning policy, and local activism led the young people to imagine future events like catastrophic flooding and extreme heat and create messages for the markers.

Continuing their work into the school year, the interns created the descriptions for the markers, developed their project website, and composed blogs highlighting their experiences and reflections on the project. The locations for the markers were thoughtfully selected by the interns in collaboration with the project organizers and reviewed by the Town Manager, Planning Department, Department of Public Works, and the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Additionally, five of the interns participated in a mural project that was installed in June 2022. Mural artist Sophy Tuttle was one of the special guests who met with the students during the summer. At that time she led a discussion and art activity about the impacts of climate change on local wildlife and the potential adaptations animals may need to survive these impacts. The resulting artwork was displayed at the Robbins Library in the fall of 2021 and later at the high school during the December celebration. The creation of the Native Plants and Pollinators mural, located on the corner of the building at 830 Massachusetts Avenue was another opportunity for the interns to work with Ms. Tuttle. The mural is one of the Climate Futures markers and was featured in the Visit Arlington 2022-2023 magazine & community guide.

The Remembrance of Climate Futures regional art project is the creation of artist, designer, and Northeastern University Graphic Design professor Tom Starr, and Arlington was the first youth-led site. Cecily Miller, Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture (ACAC) Public Art Curator, and Rachel Oliveri, Arlington Public Schools Sustainability Coordinator, served as the project coordinators and mentors. Climate Futures Arlington was generously funded by a grant from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and contributions from the Arlington Department of Public Works, Sustainable Arlington, and individual supporters.

The December event included a performance by the AHS Honors Orchestra, an exhibit of  artwork by the students, a display of “posters with a purpose” by local artist Kari Percival, pizza donated by Za (the site of one of the Climate Futures markers), and refreshments donated by FoodLink. Arlington Commission for the Arts Co-Chair Stewart Ikeda served as the MC and the speakers included Mr. Starr, Climate Futures interns Juliette Bennett and Greta Mastro, Ms. Percival, Selectman Eric Helmuth, APS Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Homan, and Massachusetts State Representative Sean Garballey. Mr. Garballey presented each intern with a certificate of recognition from the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Click here to see the ACMI news coverage of the event. Click here to listen to the remarks delivered by Mr. Starr and two of the student interns.