Winning mural for UC Davis Climate Raising Challenge painted on local barn

Civil and environmental engineering Ph.D. student Rachael Dal Porto’s submission to the Climate Raising Challenge was selected to be painted on a local barn

By KAYA DO-KHANH — campus@theaggie.org

This past fall quarter, UC Davis Sustainability partnered with the UC Davis Institute of the Environment and the One Climate Initiative to launch the Climate Raising Challenge, a mural design competition open to undergraduates and graduates identifying a climate-related agricultural issue in the Valley. The winning mural, “Hungry for Connection” created by civil and environmental engineering Ph.D. student Rachael Dal Porto, was awarded a prize and painted on the side of a local barn off the frequently traveled County Road 102 between Davis and Woodland on March 26.

“It was about getting students and the youth more involved in climate change and activism,” said Director of Development, Strategic Initiatives Ashley Green. “It was a different way to engage students and also to engage the community as a whole.”

The painting was selected by a group of 15 jury members, which consisted of artists and climate winning. Their evaluations were based on five criteria: accessibility, feasibility, connectivity, defensibility and engagement. Dal Porto’s winning mural was inspired by the Sacramento River, as she wanted it to illustrate ways to make use of natural landscapes in a climate-friendly way.

“I hope people can take away a positive view on the world we could live in if we adequately, appropriately and feverishly address climate change,” Dal Porto said. “It will take serious action immediately, and many are already feeling the negative impacts of climate change.”

Emily Schlickman, an assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental design, led the project, and she hosted a webinar series in the fall that brought in artists and local experts to speak about climate change and agriculture in the region. At the end of the fall quarter, students were invited to submit proposals that conveyed the message about agriculture being a part of the climate solution.

UC Davis students and members of the community gathered on March 26 to help paint parts of the mural on former UC Davis Professor Mike Russell’s barn. Local muralist Leon Willis guided the mural painting and had members of the public contribute in a way similar to painting by numbers.

“We thought instead of a poster competition, let’s do it on the barn,” Schlickman said. “Let’s actually put this message on the landscape that we’re talking about so that we can go beyond the campus and start to raise awareness in the larger community and have that located in the agricultural landscape.”

Around 250 people attended the event and enjoyed a live band, a lemonade stand and food catered from Guads. According to Schlickman, people from ages 2 to 80 contributed to the painting. There were also some UC Davis departments in attendance that spoke about different aspects of agriculture and the environment.

Schlickman said that there were future plans of adding a component such as a hashtag to the mural for anyone interested in understanding the origins of the project and where it might go. She views the project as a starting point and hopes to have other barns in the Central Valley painted to eventually have a trail where people can learn about climate activism and agriculture across the state.

“There are so many cool, progressive things that are happening in the realm of agriculture that maybe aren’t visible to the general public, and I think by using art as a medium to elevate those initiatives that are already happening serving to increase visibility, Schlickman said.

Written by: Kaya Do-Khanh — campus@theaggie.org

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