Page 1


















Welcome to O.P.C. While A.R.T.’s Toolkits are primarily a resource for teachers, the issues raised in O.P.C. are so immediate and so crucial that we have chosen to orient this Toolkit for all ages. Inside, you will learn about climate change, food waste and consumerism, capitalism, and how artists grapple with these issues.

12 13


The A.R.T. Education Staff Supervising Editor

Brendan Shea


Georgia Young and Robert Duffley

Contributors Robert Duffley, Georgia Young, and Amy Lippe

At the end of the Toolkit, you can learn about the organizations partnering with A.R.T. on this production, and read about the community events at A.R.T. that offer you the opportunity for deeper engagement with the issues explored in O.P.C.

If you have questions or comments, email the A.R.T. Education and Community Programs department at: 617.496.2000 X8894/X8891 2

ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE “We all know that human activities are changing the atmosphere in unexpected and in unprecedented ways.” -President George H. W. Bush, 1990 “The problem with all these tired excuses for inaction is that it suggests a fundamental lack of faith in American business and American ingenuity.” -President Barack Obama, 2013

Nearly all climate scientists agree that Earth’s temperature is rising at an alarming rate. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” Rising temperatures could lead to the expansion of inland desert areas, further melting of glacial and Antarctic ice, rising sea levels, increased atmospheric methane, and extreme weather events. Most scientists agree that rising temperatures are exacerbated by unprecedented greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat from manufacturing facilities, diesel-powered vehicles, and coal-fired power plants. Combined with the knowledge that the current rate of temperature increase is unparalleled in the past 1,300 years, this has persuaded most climatologists to conclude that climate change is linked to human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.

SPECIFICS ON CLIMATE CHANGE • Global sea level rose about 6.7” in the 20th century. The rate of rising sea-level has nearly doubled in the last decade. • Global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880. Most of this warming has been since the 1970’s. The 20 warmest years on record were all from 1981 on, and the 10 warmest years happened in the past 12 years. • The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 2,300 feet of ocean showing warming of 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969. • Increased global temperatures have also led to shrinking Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Greenland lost 36 to 60 cubic miles of ice per year between 2002 and 2006. Since 2009, this rate has nearly doubled. Antarctica is losing about 36 cubic miles of ice per year. • Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the upper layer of the ocean has become 30 percent more acidic, due to human-generated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The amount of CO2 absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year. 3


1990 Global atmospheric CO2 concentrations are above 350 parts per million (ppm), compared to ~280 ppm in 1750. Global CO2 emissions are 21 billion tons per year, with 4/5 from industrialized countries (1/5 from US). 1990 The U.S. is the first industrialized nation to ratify the UN’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change. 1997 The Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC is adopted by 150+ countries, aiming to cut industrialized countries’ GHG emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. 2001 The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that global temperature and precipitation continue to increase and that most warming since 1950 is likely due to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration. March 2001 President Bush says the US will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. 2003 The first U.S. Senate vote on legislation to control GHG through a cap-and-emissions trading system, the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, fails (4355), but has more support than expected. 2005 Russia ratifies the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol required sign-on from developed countries representing 55% of carbon dioxide emissions in 1990 in order to take effect—with Russia, that threshold was finally met. 2005 The U.S. Senate calls for “comprehensive and effective ... mandatory, market-based limits” to slow, stop, and reverse the growth of GHG emissions, in a way that would not “significantly harm” the U.S. economy. 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decides in Massachusetts v. EPA that GHG are air pollutants and that the EPA must exercise the authority granted to it by the Clean Air Act to consider regulating these emissions. 2008 The U.S. Senate votes (55-40) that no new mandates on GHG should be enacted without effectively addressing imports from China, India and other nations without similar programs. 2009 The UN Climate Summit produces the Copenhagen Accord, which “recognizes” the scientific case for keeping temperature rises to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, but contains no emissions reductions programs. 2010 End of the warmest decade on record. Warmest year on record. Global atmospheric CO2 hits 390 ppm. 2012 The UN extends the Kyoto Protocol to 2020, and sets a date of 2015 for the development of a next step. Commitments (primarily from Europe and Australia) account for 15% of global GHG emissions. 2014 The White House says federal agencies have cut their GHG emissions 17 percent since 2008—roughly equivalent to taking 1.8 million cars off the road— and announces plans to implement the Clean Power Policy, which includes measures to cut carbon emissions from US power plants 30% by 2030 (not yet ratified). 2014 At the UN Climate Summit, the largest high-level international climate gathering since 2009, China pledged to deeply cut its emissions by 2020, a first for that nation. 196 nations have ratified the UNFCCC.



It may surprise you that a huge amount of what ends up in the garbage in the U.S. is food.

THE PROBLEM American food production & transportation uses 10% of our energy 50% of our land 80% of the freshwater we consume


SOME SOLUTIONS Food Recovery: the redistribution of food slated to be thrown away to those who need it. The Bill Emerson Food Donation Act of 1996 protects donors from food-safety liability when giving food to a non-profit. In Cambridge, Food For Free recovers uneaten food from restaurants, stores, and bakeries and delivers it to sick and disabled people. Your Habits: shop carefully! Know when food will go bad and eat it before it does. Buy produce that is ugly, but still edible. Cook only as much food as you need. Composting: reduces pollution by diverting organic material from landfills, reduce methane production. It enriches soil, helps clean contaminated soil, and reduces the need for water, other fertilizers, and pesticides in farming. How much food do you throw away each week? Why does it end up in the garbage? What are some easy ways for you to waste less food? 5

GLOBAL CAPITAL AMERICAN WASTE As one of the world’s largest economies, the United States is one of the planet’s largest movers of, to put it generally, stuff. On the production and comsumption sides of the economy, the US handles more raw materials and finished products than any nation on the planet. In addition to supplies and products, the US processes—and generates—a massive amount of trash.


AMERICA’S TRASH: THE NUMBERS The average American uses 167 disposable water bottles per year, but only recycles 38.

It takes 17 million barrels of oil to manufacture the 50 million water bottles we use each year.

Americans throw out

100 billion plastic shopping bags each year Each bag takes

up to 1000 years

to disintegrate, often leaving toxic byproducts US companies discard at least


200 million

wood shipping pallets each year and over half are used

only once


TRADING IN TRASH One of America’s top exports to China: trash!


USA, 2012

In 2011 the US sold China $10.8 billion in metal and scrap paper.


China imports nearly half of the US’ recycled plastics, worth $500 million per year 7

SWEDEN, 2014 99%


MAKE IT BETTER OR SHUT IT DOWN? “ECO-CAPITALISM” Some writers, activists, and experts argue that capitalism is ideologically neutral, that capitalism as an economic system is not to blame for the environmental issues we face today. They blame the current form of capitalism that focuses on 19th-century ideas of production and distribution. Jonathon Porritt, a British environmentalist, argues that sustainable development can be encouraged within capitalist society by incentivizing innovation and adoption of renewable energy technology in Capitalism As if the World Matters. “...capitalism is the only overarching system capable of achieving any kind of reconciliation between ecological sustainability...and the pursuit of prosperity and personal well-being...” —Capitalism As if the World Matters

PARADIGM SHIFT Other activists, discouraged by the pace of political progress toward stronger climate change policy and the belief that profit-motivated activity damages Earth’s ecosystems, have concluded that the current systems of global capitalism and wealth-oriented democracy will not be able to combat climate change. Like Romi, they promote a radical societal shift in order to avert global environmental disaster. Journalist and activist Naomi Klein has led a worldwide reassessment of capitalist culture’s values and processes of valuation. In her new book, This Changes Everything, she argues that capitalism and the climate are in opposition, and that capitalism is winning. “Our economic system and our planetary system are at war...What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of those sets of rules can change, and it’s not the laws of nature.” —This Changes Everything In the Boston area, Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition takes an innovative approach to social justice and climate change. Through efforts like the creation of a food forest—a free, open, forest-based community garden—and collaboration with small businesses, they are working towards a locally-focused economy that actively seeks to reduce climate impact while empowering everyone. Learn more at 8

CLIMATE ACTIVISM In the past few years, climate activists have become more vocal about the need for world leaders and everyday citizens to recognize the warning signs of climate change, and its possible repercussions. As Romi and Smith in O.P.C. are aware, environmental activism has a strong tradition in U.S. politics. Recently, a new generation of activists have been organizing demonstrations and lobbying on a global scale. Here are a few of the most visible recent climate-oriented activist movements and actions:


Founded by writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben, this international organization advocates reducing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere to 350 ppm. Through online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions, raises awareness about and pushes for action on climate change.

This anti-tar sands and pipeline movement has galvanized communities across North America and introduced several key activist tactics: normalization of direct action in land defense, involvement of rural communities and indigenous peoples, and the politicization of even those who support fracking and long-range pipelines.

People’s Climate March and #FloodWallStreet On September 21 and 22, 2014, thousands of people marched in New York City, with solidarity demonstrations around the globe, to call on world leaders to take action on global warming and protest the role of Wall Street financial institutions in global climate change. An estimated 400,000 people participated in the People’s Climate March on Sunday, with smaller numbers appearing on Wall Street—and more than 100 people arrested—the following day. Both protests were timed in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit, held in New York City on September 23.


FREEGANS What is a freegan?

Freegans take radical action against climate change and food waste. Combining the words “free” and “vegan,” freegans reject capitalism, because they feel it destroys the environment. Some freegans renounce money, living off discarded food— often edible, but unsaleable because of imperfections or past sell-by dates.

How do freegans live?

Freegans use society’s trash—using food, manufactured items, and even housing that people have discarded. Often living in squats—reclaimed buildings—a freegan’s whole lifestyle opposes what they see as consumer culture’s wastefulness. Through urban foraging, or dumpster diving, freegans reclaim discarded but edible food at a time when about one in six Americans aren’t always sure where their next meal will come from. “Despite our society’s sterotypes about garbage,” says, “the goods recovered by freegans are safe, useable, clean, and in perfect or near-perfect condition, a symptom of a throwaway culture that encourages us to constantly replace our older goods with newer ones.” Users of the website organize “trash tours” in big cities, to introduce people to sources of discarded food. Frequently, these sites include bakeries and supermarkets which commonly throw away food that has passed its sell by date, but is often still edible.

Vegans are people who avoid products from animal sources or products tested on animals in an effort to avoid harming animals. Freegans take this a step further by recognizing that in a complex, industrial, mass-production economy driven by profit, abuses of humans, animals, and the earth abound at all levels of production (from acquisition to raw materials to production to transportation) and in just about every product we buy.” -

In O.P.C., Romi is a freegan trashion designer—she eats food rescued from dumpsters and creates dresses from objects other people have thrown away. Have you ever claimed items or food other people have thrown away? Have you gone dumpster diving? What about taking home a piece of furniture somebody else has put out for trash pickup? What do you think about the freegan notion that all production, and all products, hurt people, animals, or the earth? Are recycling, eating no meat, or striving to buy “ethically produced” items enough? 10

MAKERS In response to the distinct separation between production and consumption in the world of globalized capital, maker culture relishes a DIY aesthetic. Tracing their roots to garage tinkerers and ham radio hosts of the seventies and eighties, today’s makers merge high-tech fields including robotics, electronics, and 3-D printing with traditional hadicrafts such as metalworking and woodworking. Operating out of shared facilities resembling a combination robotics lab/ carpenter’s shop—called “hackerspaces” or “Fab Labs”—makers strive to bring innovation, and a personal touch, to areas in need of a new spark. The movement, which the Wall Street Journal calls “the marriage of brains and brawn,” has spawned “everything from devices that tweet how much beer is left in a keg to robots that assist doctors,” as well as multi-million dollar companies. The movement has surged with the increased affordability of “computer numerical controlled” devices which precision-cut metal and other materials from designs created on standard laptops—3D printing, in other words. With practitioners’ areas of expertise ranging from tintype photography to converting found objects into wearable software devices, maker culture challenges dominant hierarchies of production and innovation. Makers share ideas and schematics in online hubs including Make Magazine, as well as at annual expositions in New York and California. Some of the largest US Fab Labs are in Brooklyn and the Bay Area, but Somerville, Mass. is home to the Artisan’s Asylum, a 40,000 square foot maker space with 250 members, 140 studios, classes, and tools and machines for metal work, electrical fabrication, woodworking, welding, sewing & fiber arts, robotics, bicycle building and repair, computer-aided design, screenprinting, and more. 11

ECO ARTS Inspired by these issues, and by the techniques of those actively combating them, artists have lent their voices to the call for change.Here are some of the most striking, from photographers, to sculptors, and theater-makers.Their works offer a sobering glimpse at an environment in peril, while also offering often-joyful speculations on what a cleaner, greener world might look, feel, and taste like.


is a revolutionary sculptor and installation artist, who crafts her work from found materials. Her beautiful, unearthly works weave materals ranging from recycled plastic bottles to industrial debris, highlighting the potential for beauty in what we too often regard as trash. WEBSITE


is a California-based photographer whose recent work has challenged families and individuals to allow themselves to be photographed in a week’s worth of their household garbage. WEBSITE

GREGORY KLOEHN is an Oakland-based artist who builds one-room shelters entirely from materials found in dumpsters, and from dumpsters themselves. Many of these are donated to California homeless communities. WEBSITE


O.P.C. Featured Partners Each week, we’re spotlighting a different community partner working in the field of climate change, grassroots activism, socially conscious art-making. November 28-December 6 Artists for Humanity runs a paid-apprenticeship for under-resourced teens that connects them with professional artists. Apprentices work with mentors on innovative projects and learn about creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving in real world contexts.

Stool made from plastic bags, by AFH

December 7-December 13 Cambridge Rindge and Latin School is a public-high school located in Cambridge. With A.R.T. teaching artists, students in Debi Mulligan’s Advanced Photography class studied images by Gregg Segal and Chris Jordan before embarking on their own project to artistically document trust and waste around Cambridge. December 14-December 20 Food for Free takes food that might otherwise go to waste at restaurants, farms, stores and bakeries. They then redistribute it to the people who need it most, including Cambridge residents who can’t leave their homes due to disability or sickness. December 21-December 27 Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition is a hyper-local community organization that works with the residents of Jamaica Plain to build sustainable, resilient neighborhoods and transition to a self-sufficent, low-impact economy. JP Net has helped build community gardens, develop farmers markets and organized community events. December 28-January 3 350 Massachusetts/Better Future Project grassroots network of climate change activists that work together to engage communities, lawmakers, and the media around fossil fuel divestment and climate legacy. 13

Really, Really Free Weekends at A.R.T. Pre-registration required for some events. Please use the registration links below! Saturday, December 13: Pre-Show Skillshare: Learn to homebrew kombucha and brine (for your holiday bird) with Christopher Teare, or learn to make a book safe for storing small items with Janet Kalish. Register online. Sunday, December 14: Post-Show O.P.C. Gallery Opening: With artists from Artists for Humanity, Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, and trashion designer Jackie Olivia. Saturday, December 20: Pre-Show Skillshare: Learn how to make upcycled clothing with Jackie Olivia. Register online. Comic book dress, by Jackie Olivia

Saturday, December 27: Pre-Show Gift Trade and Free Store: Got a holiday gift you don’t really want? Come exchange your trash for treasure at our post-holiday gift market. Saturday, January 3: Pre-Show Skillshare: Come craft upcycled books with Athena Moore. Register online.

Lobby Exhibits See our interactive exhibition of work from our community partners, local artists, and students in our neighborhood. Come early or stay late! For the duration of the production, we will display photographs, trashion, and ecofriendly furniture from local artists, including: • An O.P.C.-inspired photography project by students at CRLS • High trashion dresses by Jackie Olivia • An eco-friendly living room made by teens from Artists for Humanity 14

Special Talkbacks Policy makers, radical activists, and scholars will participate in moderated discussions that take a deeper look at the issues raised in O.P.C. All discussions take place after a 7:30PM performance unless otherwise noted. Thursday, December 4: Discussion with the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants include: Kennedy School professor Jane J. Mansbridge, and Harvard College freshman and Associate Books and Arts Editor of the Harvard Political Review Aisha Bhoori. Friday, December 5: Discussion with O.P.C. playwright Eve Ensler and Dan Schrag, Professor of Geology and Director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment. Thursday, December 11: Discussion of alternative economies with Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies in Boston. Moderated by JP NET founder Orion Kriegman. Tuesday, December 16: Discussion with Dr. Stephen Ansolabehere, Professor of Government at Harvard University. Wednesday, December 17, following the 2:00PM performance: Discussion with Naomi Klein, journalist and author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Thursday, December 18: Discussion with Dr. Dan McKanan, Professor of Divinity at Harvard University. Tuesday, December 30: Discussion with freegans Rachael Kadish and Maximus Thaler of the Gleaner’s Kitchen.


Profile for American Repertory Theater

O.P.C. Toolkit  

O.P.C. Toolkit