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In a recent meeting of Northwest Artists Against Extinction (NWAAE), we talked about the “why” of 'artful advocacy'. Art can offer an alternative approach – a deeper invitation into the intersections of science, history, policy, and culture through the use of aesthetic and creative visuals and narratives. Through NWAAE, art is helping us to reach, in new and profound ways, the people and policymakers who are making important decisions affecting the health of our communities, land, waters - and our future.

In the past several years, exhibits and events we organized with, for example, University of Puget Sound and Patagonia Seattle, inspired a different kind of conversation between educators, scientists, students, tribal members, and others who were especially drawn in because of powerful art and inspiring visual artists and writers. More than a few times, while listening to poetry and/or immersed in an exhibit, people have been visibly moved to tears. These kinds of deep emotional experiences and learning can become anchored in one’s memory and body. These kinds of connections can inspire change and shift trajectories.

We all recognize that change can be hard. At the very least, change requires learning, energy, and effort. All too often in our world today, talk of change comes with messages of fear. At NWAAE, we believe in heartful connections centered on hope, respect, honor, and beauty, with the aim of inspiring individual transformation and a community-based movement toward a healthier, more equitable and sustainable future.

The collaborative, supportive, and coordinated work of SOSNWAAE, and many individuals, organizations, and Nations are making a difference today. With Tribes in the lead, Pacific Northwest people and the Biden Administration are making historic progress today. Powerful decision-makers are leaning in unprecedented ways today to recover endangered salmon, right historic wrongs, and uphold our nation's promises to Northwest Tribes. Working together, we’re taking big steps forward – though we have a lot of hard work still ahead. Time is short and there is so much at stake.

Sue Coccia Chinook