INSIDE THE GREENHOUSE | Re-telling climate change stories

Green Suits BVSD

Green Suits: Sustainability in Action in and around the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD)

Green Suits BVSD features nearly 80 photographs taken by middle and high school students
selected by a jury of professional photographers and sustainability experts.

Students at Casey and Manhattan Middle Schools and Boulder, Centaurus, Fairview, and Monarch High Schools had an opportunity to wear, experience, and photograph sustainability in action in and around their schools and communities wearing “green suits.” 

First, Second, and Third Prizes were awarded by the jury in sustainability themes including nature, energy, transportation waste and food with special attention to how the themes affect people socially and culturally. The first-ever James Balog Award was also given, selected by and named after the acclaimed photographer featured in the films The Human Element and Chasing Ice who is also a scientist, adventurer, and President and Founder of the Colorado-based Extreme Ice Survey and Earth Vision Trust. 

The idea of “green suits” was originally conceived by Dr. Beth Osnes, University of Colorado, Boulder (CU) Theatre & Dance faculty member and co-founder of Inside the Greenhouse, as part of ITG’s Green Suits Your City project. According to Osnes, Green Suits aims at “by passing people’s defenses to climate communication by catching their attention in a fun and quirky way.” 

The Green Suits: Sustainability in Action collaboration was initiated by EcoArts Connections, bringing together BVSD Sustainability Coordinator Dr. Ghita Carroll’s pioneering work with BVSD schools, Dr. Lisa Gardiner’s expertise in combining science and art at the UCAR Center for Science Education, and Osnes’s Green Suits Your City idea. 

Osnes loaned green suits to the six participating schools. Art and Language Arts teachers asked students to set, create, and photograph scenes of sustainability in action including one or more students dressed in a green suit—and then to write a description of up to 150 words for each photo describing how the photo relates to their chosen sustainability theme(s). 

When describing the Green Suits idea, Osnes says, “We may not be able to merely think our way out of our current environmental situation. We may have to take risks of the imagination, shake up our behavior, and make unlikely connections. We might benefit from discovering new ways of communicating while doing this—ways that help us to feel what unites us above what divides us. Since words can trip and snag us, this project is visual, physical, playful, and a bit silly. That could all seem frivolous, yet I have a hunch something important can happen when we connect around delight.”