Protest comes with discomfort
The figures in the Creemore Children’s Dress Up Fountain were carrying an added weight last weekend, the burden of all the plastics being discarded into the world’s landfills and oceans.
The group CLEAN said, with the blessing of sculptor Ralph Hicks, they chose to plastic bomb the fountain during the Creemore Festival of the Arts as a way of drawing attention to their cause. The group of adults and youth have been working to draw awareness to the amount of single use plastics people use in an attempt to encourage them to find alternatives, by turn encouraging businesses and food suppliers to rethink packaging.
Guerilla artists swooped in the night before and turned the base of the fountain into a pool of plastic containers and clamshell packaging, while on the backs of the children, they added plastic bags filled with even more packaging signifying that the heavy load of dealing with these plastics will fall on the youth.
The sight of the beloved fountain covered in plastic, however artfully, did not sit well with some but like any good art, it certainly was impactful.
Be it about a march that slows traffic, a sit-in that reduces access or a strike that disrupts service, the success of the protest depends on the impact of the action. So often, especially having just narrowly avoided a school closure as a result of a CUPE walkout, the public asks, why does their action have to affect us? The answer is, because otherwise the issue would continue to be ignored. If a protest doesn’t cause anyone to squirm, it isn’t much of a statement.
When looking at the fountain last weekend, did it make you stop and think about where all the plastics of the world are going? Did you pledge to yourself to stop using plastic bags? Did you wonder how you could better support today’s youth who are begging us to stop destroying the planet? Did you bear witness?
If you were able to look past the nuisance of the fountain being transformed for two days and see a bigger picture, then you have received their message.
Protest is not meant to be comfortable. It is in the discomfort that we are able to see something from another point of view and reevaluate our position. Choosing to change our behaviour for the betterment of society is the ultimate reward.