Art in Society Coordinator Erica Nashan
Photo courtesy of Idyllwild Arts Academy

By Idyllwild Arts Academy

Idyllwild Arts proudly invites members of the Idyllwild community to an all-day Sustainability Symposium from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21.   

At six different campus venues scientists, activists, visiting artists and Idyllwild Arts Academy students devoted to sustainability will present to six different groups of academy students and teachers and Idyllwild community members. 

Student guides will lead the groups from venue to venue while recounting the history of each venue and of the campus as a whole. A midday break will include a sustainably sourced lunch in Nelson Dining Hall.  

Community members can show up as early as 8:30 a.m. at William M. Lowman Concert Hall. If you are unable to make it to the start of the day, go to William M. Lowman Concert Hall for directions.  

The Academy’s Art in Society program has organized the symposium. The invited guests are Bill Madrigal, a member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians and a Cahuilla Bird Singer, best-selling author and filmmaker Colin Beavan (of “No Impact Man”), Oceanographer Dr. Wade Jeffrey, and young and adult musicians from Southern California’s Neighborhood Music School and South Dakota’s Lakota Music Project.

Academy students contributing their artwork to the event include senior Dance major and choreographer Brooke Manning and senior Film and Digital Media major Kate Gladkaia.

    “We hope the townspeople come to this,” says Art in Society Coordinator Erica Nashan. “Sustainability has to be a project for all of us working together, not just for individuals. Sustainability requires global cooperation, but small, close-knit communities like you see in Idyllwild are perfect for sending messages of encouragement to the larger human community.”     

Nashan is not an environmental scientist, but her leadership of Art in Society and her 35 years of experience in the performing arts, together with her increasingly passionate commitment to sustainability, hint at the richness of the idea of sustainability, which is about more than finding the silver bullet that will eliminate our need for fossil fuels.   

“There’s a wealth of research that establishes the value of the arts in sustaining communities,” she says. “The arts give people a reason to come together not just in creation — not everybody’s an artist — but in appreciation. The arts provide occasions for us to affirm certain values together. Those communal acts of affirmation help us bond to one another so we can behave like true communities instead of random collections of individuals.

“Do I sound high-minded? It’s actually pretty down to Earth. Families have birthdays and holidays to bring them together, but communities come together around performances and exhibits. We need those powerful moments of togetherness in order to experience the feeling of community, so that we’ll trust each other and work.

“Another way to experience the feeling of community is to feel optimism; pessimism drives us back into ourselves, dividing us from each other. That’s what can happen when we hear about environmental destruction: we want to give up. But our student guides will show off different parts of our beautiful campus — especially Toback Trail — that are environmental successes. The kind of thing that inspires hope!”

In fact, the Idyllwild Arts campus as well as the symposium’s scientists, activists, and artists will all provide inspiration. And they’re excited about sharing that inspiration with the Idyllwild community.