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Ashland activists dress up for the climate

We’ve all heard so many sobering lectures about climate change, but here’s something new, a fashion show that comically shows the best utopias and scariest dystopias possible in our future.

A fundraiser for climate warriors of Southern Oregon Pachamama Alliance Drawdown Projects, the Utopia/Dystopia Fashion Show features Ashland volunteers strutting in costumes they’ve sewn and shaped with paper mache — portraying the “consumer disaster” of a plastic-wrapped woman, Alexis Hatfield, a “post-mortem tree,” a “Simmering Froggie” in a short play, and scads of shoebox dioramas of potential paradise or doom.

The “Froggie,” says its creator and playwright Jefferson Parson, portrays the old fable where, if you toss him in boiling water, he will hop out and save himself, but if you slowly raise the heat one degree at a time, he won’t notice until it’s boiling and he’s toast — and that’s what’s happening with climate now.

The half-dozen amateur costume-makers have been working all week at the Bellview Grange, where they will stage the show at 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7 and 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21. It also shows at the Climate Strike, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Sept. 21 at Ashland’s Butler Bandshell in Lithia Park.

Parson’s short play, “A Tortoise Tale,” shows a boy removing a plastic ring from a turtle’s neck, only to have the creature save him later from drowning. He said, “It’s about us making a difference with spiritual support for the natural world.”

His shoebox diorama portrays a dystopia of traffic signs warning keep out, wrong way, everything’s prohibited — as contrasted with “welcome to the commons.”

Anya Kumara’s costume is vivid shades of red, symbolizing “women’s passion and truth as they anchor the sovereignty of the feminine for balance in the world, embodying cosmic love.”

Lauren Oliver’s wildflower watercolors, collages and “icons of a utopia are playful design of new habitats.”

Event organizer Catie Faryl, whose fashion statement is a “requiem for trees,” says neither utopia nor dystopia are real, but stand as “predictions and warnings of how the world might be as we try to raise awareness and get information out to the public. Our future climate is a choice, and we can’t let our depression take energy away from solutions.”

Hundreds of local people have taken Drawdown classes, says Faryl, and “once they study the solutions, people feel empowered and don’t get depressed. They realize climate is our choice.”

Faryl says she wishes trees were like ants and could “walk away from our terrible abuse of the environment. My fashion statement is a requiem for the dead trees, which consume carbon and generate oxygen. Our neglect is killing the planet. We need to treasure what we have. It’s being ignored for the profit of the few.”

She adds that, since the Endangered Species Act in 1973, two-thirds of protected species have declined. However only 1 percent of them have gone extinct, according to online sources.

The show costs $10 in advance by calling 541-535-1854 or $12 at the door. There will be food for purchase, an intermission for people to chat and network, and an after party.

The event benefits the Grange and Drawdown, a nonprofit that works locally to reduce the top causes of global warming, as based on the book “Drawdown,” by Paul Hawken. A goal is for the Grange is to hold some sort of climate event every Wednesday evening, giving all the nonprofits a chance to spread information about what they’re doing.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Daily Tidings / Jamie LuschJefferson Parson, "Papa Frog" gets into character at the Bellview Grange on Thursday. The “Utopia/Dystopia Fashion Show”, will be held on September 7th.
Daily Tidings / Jamie LuschJefferson Parson, "Papa Frog" and Catie Faryl, "Requeim for a Tree" get into character at the Bellview Grange on Thursday. The “Utopia/Dystopia Fashion Show”, will be held on September 7th.