Arts & Culture

‘Weathering Change’

"Texas Galaxy" by Laura Krueger.

An anthology released by Harvard’s Office for Sustainability features art and poetry by students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Above, “Texas Galaxy” by Laura Krueger.

4 min read

An artful response to the warming climate

“What am I supposed to do now?”

Figuring out how to answer this question is perhaps one of the greatest difficulties faced by people distressed by the rapidly changing environment, says Devin Jacobsen, M.Div. ’18. Jacobsen served as editor for “Weathering Change,” an anthology of art created in response to climate change and been released by Harvard’s Office for Sustainability (OFS).

The compilation of poetry and art was sourced from a range of 21 diverse students, faculty, staff, and alumni. It includes original work from renowned writers such as writer-in-residence Terry Tempest Williams and Amanda Gorman ’20, America’s first Youth Poet Laureate. For other contributors, such as Christian Schatz ’18, it was the first time their poetry was selected for publication.

A community plants mangroves in the Republic of Kiribati, attempting to curb the force of storm surges and sea rise.

Mattea Mrkusic

“The art in this small volume evinces humanity’s commitment and ingenuity in searching for an answer to ‘What am I supposed to do now?’” wrote Jacobsen in the anthology’s preface. “My hope is that rather than drowning in despair or letting ourselves become charred with anger, we begin to unearth some kind of answer by asking the question together.”

Flipping through the pages of the anthology uncovers a range of emotions and experiences. The OFS commissioned the collection to amplify the voices of artists across campus, and to “reinforce the important role that the humanities play in helping us understand and advance our collective responsibility to address the global sustainability challenges facing this generation and future generations,” according to OFS Managing Director Heather Henriksen.

Contributor Aaron Ellison, the senior research fellow in ecology at the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and senior ecologist at the Harvard Forest, touched on a theme in many of the anthology’s pieces in the last sentence of his introduction. “In the face of change, Nature has been, is, and will be, resilient. Can we learn to be resilient, too?”

“In the Eye of”

Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman.

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Listen to Gorman (pictured) read:

a hurricane ripens / like an iris / gasping clumps / of air, heat / coiling thick / like a dirge / soon enough / a basket brimming / with destruction / swoops across ocean / and country one wind / bleeding into / wet earth / i tell you / i see / cows bobbing / bodies drowned pale as damp / paper and / electricity nowhere / to be found / sky heavy / with deaths and thunder / laughing bitterly / at its drunken / self when / will they learn these disasters aren’t natural

“City of Sand and Chrome”

Caroline Silber

“City of Sand and Chrome” by Caroline Silber.


Kathleen Ong

Kathleen Ong.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Listen to Ong (pictured) read:

I lagged behind and dimly saw

your receding back

and the nearing glacier

Springing over crevasses,

you flew with the invisible wings earned by

praying to be mythical

Me? I—


I stared into its depths and

dissolved and became

the meltwater

streaming down sliding

roughly swerving;

passing glacial caverns

down down

until I saw the volcano beneath

and wished to be

vomited out to sea but I

reacted with the elements

and ossified;

nugatory fragment,

silently screaming

for the rest of history

while you still stand there,

terrible and sublime.

“When I Think”

Christian Schatz

Christian Schatz.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Listen to Schatz (pictured) read:

When I think

of the passing wind in chaotic

dance moves a single hair

of my head, moves the ocean,

pushing it up against continents

and my head

till finally it takes a breath

and all is released in

unpredictable hurricanes in

predictable cycles that

make the earth warmer

until the wind becomes rain

washing away what it

once did to me, this

drop of sweat rolls

down my face.


Ariella Ruth

Ariella Ruth.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Listen to Ruth (pictured) read:

white fur engulfed by icy

water sways delicate

wavy to accompany her body

she treds

swims a floating

head bobs in frigid

currents her home

is packed down layers

of snow she knows

when the weakness

of floorboards splinter

there is evacuation

resting place dissolves

her endless

months to follow

are for worn muscle

unswerved movement

“Contested Landscape”

Aaron Ellison

Aaron Ellison.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Listen to Ellison (pictured) read:

Blue-bottles stream in on the hot north wind

windrows drift in Hi-lux treads

fetid bladders snap underfoot

The roaring surf drowns out

the diesels thrumming down

the beach and across the dunes

while the dingoes echo

a faint Butchulla dream

Sand streams from the shores of K’gari

World Heritage disappearing




“Storm Approaching”

Mary Kocol

"Storm Approaching" by Mary Kocol.


Jina Choi

bright, seductive flames

foolish moths risk everything

are we not the same?