Nobody knows this better than Canadian artist Franke James, a tireless environmental advocate who has been calling attention to her government's tar sands dealings with great humor and playfulness. As a thank you for being such a pain in their oil-barrel belly, Franke has been getting stiff-armed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tar sands-banking government. Not only were they able to choke off Franke's What can one person do? art show which had been set to tour 20 cities across Europe to raise environmental awareness with youth and inspire teens to make their own climate change art, but got her on Harper's infamous political black list.
The whole story reads like a cold war spy movie, but it basically comes down to this:
But apparently, I’ve ignited the Harper Government’s fury by telling the truth about Canada’s footdragging on climate action. And having the audacity to advocate pollution taxes and tougher environmental policies on Alberta’s Tar Sands!
Please follow me below the squiggle for some action items to stop the proposed tar sands XL pipeline from Alberta down to Texas and more info on Franke's creative campaign of becoming a mosquito in the government's ears to stop the oil from flowing in the first place.
That's what happened to Franke when she started talking back to her fat cat government...
You see, in their fantasy world of perpetual growth in oceans of black gold, we're just going to keep sucking the oil out of every cell of Mama Earth's body, so we can all keep growing and accelerating into eternity and the fat cat industry and government big wigs can play golf on their yachts.
I mean, if you're a thinking human being with any kind of long-term consciousness and your soul hasn't gotten completely numbed by Viagra commercials and Republican primary debates, you're going to say something, right?
“Who was the idiot who approved an art show by that woman, Franke James?”
Memorable words from one of Canada’s top officials on hearing that the Canadian Embassy in Croatia had offered support for Franke’s art show.
They took a big swat at that little mosquito and sabotaged her tour with a few big-wig fat-cat phone calls that dried up her funding like Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage and put her on a secret Voldemortian list, making her as toxic to funders as a Tailing Pond.
Franke's response is to fight back creatively, taking her delightful and irreverent series of visual environmental commentary to billboards and bus shelters in Ottawa, with a little help from her friends.
The moral of the story, of course, is that the best way to have your voice heard, even in light of bullying, stonewalling, smears or cold shoulders, is to tap deeply into your creative reservoir to stay upbeat, inspired, focused, and slick as Teflon. It keeps your arsenal fresh and hard to predict and your response portfolio diversified. Remember that a wicked sense of humor is the ultimate defense shield, disarming your opponent. Most importantly, tapping into your inner muse keeps you connected to your center, the part of yourself that knows why you're doing what you're doing, even when you're dealing with distracting external circumstances that have nothing to do with the cause.
Last but not least, try to have fun. I know that sounds strange considering what is bringing you out there, but it's strategically important to lift your spirit and keep your momentum. When things turn frustrating or aggravating, think of Franke, who'll be having a Blacklisting and Banned Art Party at her studio to keep the gooey bitumen from leaking across North America.
All illustrations are from Fat Cat Canada’s Giant Litter Box, by Franke James