HUFFINGTON POST
09/24/2011 04:48 am ET | Updated Nov 22, 2011

Coal Mining In Navajo Nation Subject Of New Street Art Campaign

Brooklyn Street Art reports: Street Artist Jetsonorama has a new campaign in Flagstaff, Arizona and on the Navajo Nation reservation using his photographic wheat pastes to highlight the relationship of coal to health, economy, and people. As a health care professional, he sees the impact of burning coal vividly, and with a fresh faced model named JC, he makes the simple and powerful connection to the cloud of history that is fossil fuel metaphorically hanging over our heads.

Beginning September 24th, an organization called 350.org will launch an international campaign to raise awareness on carbon emissions and climate change and Jetsonorama joined with a number of other artists to illustrate the relationship we have with fossil fuels.

Here is how Jetsonorama describes the project;

“If the Navajo Nation and coal were to declare their relationship status on Facebook, they’d chose the ‘it’s complicated’ option. I live and work on the Navajo Nation where coal is mined and burned. That’s why I chose to work with this imagery and to use coal as a metaphor for a black cloud over the head of future generations.

I informally interviewed 16 Navajo co-workers and asked them to share with me the first thing that comes to mind when I say ‘coal.’ Everyone identified respiratory problems associated with burning coal in the home.

The Navajo Nation is home to 170,000 people who live in an area that is 27,500 square miles in size, or approximately the size of Ireland. Despite having land that is rich in coal, natural gas, uranium, water and timber, the Nation has an unemployment rate of 40% and over half of the Navajo population lives below the USA defined poverty line. A small segment of the population is able to provide a middle class lifestyle for their families by working in mining operations. The cost to the families who burn coal in their homes and to the environment is great, as indicated in my interviews. Interestingly, only 1 of those 16 identified CO2 emissions associated with coal burning as being a contributing factor to climate change.

Again, it’s a complicated relationship and hopefully the 350.org campaign will heighten awareness of coal’s dark side and strengthen support for more environmentally friendly alternatives such as solar power and wind turbines. We have plenty of sun and wind in Arizona after all.” (Crossposted from Brooklyn Street Art)