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  • Lisa Citron

The proposed metal shredder, from a child's point of view

A four-paneled mural at 311 Holly St. depicts text blurbs from children on topics such as climate change.

Children inform my opposition to a proposed ABC Recycling building, a metal shredding facility to be located on Marine Drive.

As the founder/director of From A Child's Point Of View, I have firsthand experience of 9- and 10-year-olds' understanding of, and dread about, the world they intimately know. Smoke from forest fires and plastic washed up on beaches, for example, is what they breathe and is what they hold. Their school studies about habitat loss and rising seas are what they learn. As one fourth-grader put it, "I feel like the world is crumbling.”

Crumbling. Will you oppose or support a metal shredding facility next door to residential neighborhoods?

From A Child's Point Of View is an arts education nonprofit. We nurture the muscles of imagination as young people respond to the consequences of climate change. When I began teaching, I quickly realized how frightened and worried the children were. Clearly, we could not just stop at learning about habitat loss. Children need to do something. When you’re at work solving a problem, fear takes a backseat alongside the nightmares.

So we looked at what children around the world have invented. Wrist warmers! The trampoline! (Have you, too, noticed how practical kids are?) What would help snowy owl? What do coho salmon need? What needs to be invented to protect them?

Three murals on the streets and trails of Bellingham show us what young children and young teens are thinking about their present and their future. Their worries, ideas, and yes, inventions, are the source of their transformative public art hope projects.

A text bubble on the West Holly Street mural comes directly from the journal of a fourth-grader at Sunnyland Elementary School.

Details on a four-paneled "Kids' Text Mural, 2020" at 311 Holly St

As a 9-year-old from Columbia Elementary School asks in her piece of the metal mural installed on the ASB Trail, why not make change?

You can see these salutary ideas for yourself. Take a walk on the waterfront’s ASB Trail and linger in front of the 25-piece mural. Stroll up to the storefront at 311 W. Holly St. and read the students’ texts. Or, how about a bike ride to the 40-foot-wide intersection at West North and Lynn streets?

"A Hope Project Mural, 2023" at West North and Lynn Streets, seen from above.

A tile explains the meaning behind "A Hope Project Mural, 2023," which sought to raise awareness for how the environment is affected by storm drain output.

A tile explains the meaning behind "A Hope Project Mural, 2023," which sought to raise awareness for how the environment is affected by storm drain output. (Photo courtesy of Robbie Hochreiter)

These public artworks clearly express children’s distress. And they show the profound connection they feel to their home, this place on Earth where we all live.

But the proposed metal shredding plant is bigger than what any individual action can affect.

Would you consider asking the kids themselves how would they resolve the conflict of whether to build, or not to build? What would they come up with outside the Yes/No debate?

The "Metal Mural, 2018" began as a drawing project, and was traced in metal. The mural is along Bellingham's ASB Trail.

Kids would imagine solutions not yet imagined. I promise you. Consider the success of the massive plastic-cleaning device now cleaning up the Great Pacific garbage patch. It was imagined by its director when he was a boy. The young people I know partner hope with action. They make the impossible possible.

If this metal shredding business is approved, it will stand as a powerful and visible example to young people that the adults in charge are not listening to, or caring for, their well-being now. Or their future.

Lisa Citron is founder/director of From A Child's Point of View.

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