CORE Values: Imagine Climate creates murals, stories and more to inspire local action |

CORE Values: Imagine Climate creates murals, stories and more to inspire local action

The Community Office of Resource Efficiency’s third annual Imagine Climate project will be a month-long mingling of art, science and action, including a massive public mural project, a virtual musical performance and two art gallery exhibitions — all aimed at inspiring climate action on an individual and collective level.

The centerpiece is “Stories of Climate Change/Historias del Cambio Climatico,” the mural project at Colorado Mountain College that brings together self-portraits and stories by 89 participants at three valley campuses in Aspen, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. It’s part of the long-running global Inside Out Project by the French artist JR.

This wide range of projects, launching Monday and running through March, include collaborations between CORE and 26 local organizations.

With another year of record-setting heat in 2020, along with historic wildfires and drought here in Colorado and the Roaring Fork Valley, the climate crisis is impossible to ignore. Imagine Climate aims to inclusively inspire action to solve it.

“Imagine Climate creates the opportunity to spark conversation around this urgency in new and creative ways,” CORE director Mona Newton said in a February announcement. “Together with our partners, we are inviting everyone to imagine and act for a healthier, more restored climate future.”

The murals are mosaics made up of large-format black-and-white photo portraits. They were crowd-sourced from locals, uploaded digitally and pasted together by the Imagine Climate team with support from Inside Out.



Who: 89 Roaring Fork Valley locals

When: Monday, March 1-April

Where: Colorado Mountain College in Aspen, Carbondale an Glenwood Springs

More info: Each site includes buildings wrapped in photo portraits and audio stories by participants. Also find portraits and stories online at


Who: DJ Spooky

What: Virtual performance

When: Tuesday, March 2, 6 p.m.

Where: CORE’s Facebook and YouTube channels

More info: Spooky will perform from New York and will be joined remotely by local violinist Ross Kribbs and cellist Roberto Arundale from the Collective in Snowmass. It will be followed by an artist talk and panel with architect Harry Teague, MICRO co-founder Amanda Schochet and Imagine Climate director Lara Whitley. Register at


Who: Artists Trace Nichols, Mark Cesark in collaboration with artists and scientists from University of Colorado-Boulder

What: Group exhibition

Where: R2 Gallery, Carbondale

When: March 5-25

More info: Curated by Jorge Perez-Gallego, Brian Colley and Lara Whitley, “NESTed Roots” focuses on how the arts can create conversation and spark action to bring awareness to climate change.


Who: Brian Colley, Jody Guralnick, Sam Harvey, Sandie Johnson, Diego Madero, Esther Macy Nooner, Agustina Mistretta, Nori Pao, Sara Ransford, Deb Shannon, Ellen Woods

What: Multimedia exhibition

Where: CMC Aspen

When: March 11-May 21; limited capacity opening reception 4-7 p.m.

More info: Curators K Cesark and Lara Whitley invited artists to interpret a positive climate future from the perspective of a question: What would the world look like in 2050 if we solve the current climate crisis?


A playlist of 10 songs, curated by Arts Campus at Willits director of programming Kendall Smith, it will debut on Spotify and Facebook on Friday, March 5 at 6 p.m.


Selected by 5Point Film programmer Charlie Turnbull, the movie series debuts on March 11 at 6 p.m. at


Who: Zach Pierce, special adviser on energy and climate to Gov. Jared Polis

What: Virtual town hall

When: Tuesday, March 16, 6 p.m.

Where: Zoom via (Registration required)

More info: Pierce will discuss state plans to go carbon free, followed by segments on local climate projects.

“Climate change knows no boundaries,” reads the CORE application to join the Inside Out Project. “We want to show the human diversity of this phenomenon, representing a breadth we don’t see in the media or in the environmental movement. We hope our portraits and personal stories will demonstrate that we are all in this together.”

Calls for participation went out in early January, with outreach in Spanish and English by leaders in the valley’s Anglo, Latino and Indigenous communities. The diverse outreach and representation in the project represents both the diverse populace of the valley but also the fact that climate change has disproportionately affected people of color globally.

“There are many divides in our high-elevation community – geography, economics, education, race, language, among others – but there’s no getting around that we are all united by the mountains and, like it or not, by climate change,” reads the CORE application.

JR launched the Inside Out Project in 2011 after he won the TED Prize, an honor that comes with “one wish to change the world” and cash to attempt to make it come true.

He saw the project as a way to enable people in communities across the world to tell their own story through public art. Each Inside Out “action,” as JR calls them, has been archived and documented online. It’s since grown into a global phenomenon and was the subject of JR’s Academy Award-nominated 2017 documentary “Faces Places.”

He previously brought Inside Out here as an Aspen Institute artist-in-residence in 2015, for which he brought a mobile portrait studio to town and plastered poster-sized black-and-white portraits on the Institute campus and gondola plaza.

“I’ve tried taking photos in places all over the world and I realized one thing – I went to Sudan, I went to Switzerland, I went to Aspen, the south of France, everywhere – everywhere people are looking for dignity,” he said during an interview during the residency. “That’s what we all have in common.”

For this pandemic-safe climate-focused iteration, CORE and Inside Out have foregone the mobile photo booth and adapted to use selfies submitted online in a socially distanced manner.

The local participants range in age from 2 to 78. They each recorded their story, which you can listen to at the mural sites and on the CORE website starting Monday.

In her story, Cari Shurma recalls living through crises from the 1970s gas shortage to the current pandemic, which she hopes might finally be a catalyst to spur collective global action on climate. Lissa Ballinger recalls pulling plastic bags off a coral reef in Egypt. Karla Ruiz Cravioto, now a climate scholar at Baruch College in New York City, recalls her childhood in Basalt falling in love with mountains and rivers through snowboarding, hiking and rafting.

“I began to notice my winters getting shorter, fires swallowing mountains and rivers becoming shallow,” she says. “How can I continue my friendship with nature if it does not exist? This question led me down a path to steward for green spaces and help mitigate climate change.”


“Stories of Climate Change / Historias del Cambio Climático” is the centerpiece of an ambitious month of cultural events for Imagine Climate 2021.

On Tuesday, March 2, DJ Spooky – the sometime local composer, multimedia artist and activist – will stream a performance of “Arctic Rhythms,” his groundbreaking hip-hop-based climate cri de coeur based on his travels to the front lines of the crisis in Antarctica and the Arctic Circle.

In a remote performance from New York City, he will perform the piece with two local musicians – violinist Ross Kribbs and cellist Roberto Arundale – who will be accompanying live from The Collective in Snowmass. It will be followed by a virtual panel including architect Harry Teague, MICRO co-founder Amanda Schochet and Imagine Climate director Lara Whitley.

The first of two gallery art shows opens on Friday, March 5, with “NESTed Roots” at the R2 Gallery in Carbondale, a collaboration among Carbondale Arts, locally based artists Trace Nichols and Mark Cesark and the University of Colorado—Boulder’s Nature, Environment, Science & Technology (NEST). The following week, CMC Aspen hosts the group exhibition “Regeneration: Imagining the Future,” in which 11 artists have been challenged by curators K Cesark and Lara Whitley to envision what the world look like in 2050 if we solve the current climate crisis.

For more sights and sounds, Imagine Climate tapped Kendall Smith, director of programming at the Arts Campus at Willits to produce his “Soundtrack for Climate Action,” a list of 10 songs to inspire climate action, coming March 5 on Spotify, and tapped Charlie Turnbull of 5Point Film to curate a night of home viewing titled “5 Climate Films for the Future,” to be released March 11 on CORE’s website.