Sister Cities Celebrate Shared Values Around Art and the Environment
Neighbors Abroad’s rainwater capture project in Oaxaca illuminated a paradox inherent in certain environmental initiatives. Some of the most impactful environmental programs are under-appreciated because they operate out of sight or involve complex or little-understood mechanisms. Watershed and rainfall run-off programs are critical to the environment, but they happen “behind the scenes” and often receive little attention. Similarly, rainwater capture tanks provide life-changing drinking water, but they are not visually compelling or innately inspiring.
The Question: What if we could harness the power of something that is visually compelling to draw attention to sustainability initiatives across all of Palo Alto’s Sister Cities?
The Answer: Neighbors Abroad's Art & Sustainability Program.
The Goal: To leverage the transformative power of visual art to focus attention on inspiring sustainability projects in Palo Alto and our Sister Cities. The selected art may or may not comment on issues of sustainability (the viewer can decide). We simply invite viewers to be drawn in by the beauty of the art and then--upon clicking a QR code adjacent to the art--to learn about an important sustainability initiative affiliated with the relevant city.
In April 2022, we launched this exciting initiative where the idea took root, in San Nicolás Yaxe, an indigenous community near our Mexican Sister City. Neighbors Abroad displayed art from Oaxaca, Palo Alto and other Sister Cities on the water tanks that we helped install a few years ago, turning functional objects into a lively outdoor gallery. We also exhibited the art in the Oaxaca City Hall.
Going forward, we will exhibit art from our Sister Cities in public venues in Palo Alto and in our participating Sister Cities, each of which has selected a local artist and a sustainability project to highlight.
As we roll out the exhibits in Palo Alto and around the world, we invite viewers to appreciate how art speaks to all of us, across cultures and languages.