Celebrating the Work of Artists and Activists
by Andrew Smith
Artists and Activists met together at Bottega Farm Inn on Fri Mar 2 as part 1 of the Lille Gard Discussion Series. The idea was simply to bring together people from the Okanagan who want to change the world; who want to share ideas and experiences, and discover creative ways to advance justice causes. The people that gathered were from all different backgrounds, faiths, social standings – but it’s safe to say that those who attended have this in common: A determination – for the sake of our kids and our kids’ kids – to leave this valley and this planet in better shape than we found it.
The Artist and Activist event was under the umbrella of Global Citizens Week, but had a decidedly local focus. We wanted this focus because we believe that facilitating ongoing, long-term relationships among artists and activists yields greater results than simply doing one-off ‘benefit events’.
Our panellists for the event included a politician, a farmer and a film-maker – each with different perspectives and involved in different causes. They were: former Kelowna city counsellor Angela Reid-Nagy, activist Gabe Cipes from Summerhill Organic Winery, and ‘accidental activist’ film-maker Jan Vozenilek. They shared their artistic and activist experiences, and then responded to questions from the audience and faciliated a spirited discussion. Afterward, there was time to meet and greet, and carry on the discussion over drinks and snacks.
Although some specifics were discussed – such as organic farming practices, or the political process, or debunking the idea of plastic recycling – I think the main inspirational message to emerge was ‘Let’s Get Outside Ourselves, Let’s Get Creative, And Let’s Make A Difference!’.
Artists often have an emotional connection with a ‘justice cause’ (whether it be environmental issues, poverty, equal rights etc). Artists also have a creative way to ‘amplify’ a message. Activists on the other hand really understand the issue; they have done the research, they realise there are multiple stakeholders, and they are informed when they speak of it. History shows that when artists and activists collaborate – great progress can be made to advance the cause of justice.
Was great progress made at the Artists and Activists event? I don’t know. Only time will tell. And we, as the TribeHouse Artist Collective, will continue to celebrate the important work of artists and of activists – here in the Okanagan Valley and around the world.
Thanks to David Ward for taking the photos