I’m sure you remember a childhood moment at the beach, on a mountain or in an observation tower, begging your parents for a quarter so you could look through the coin-operated binoculars and get a close-up view of everything that was once so small to your naked eye.
Now imagine if, instead of focusing on the distant eagle’s nest or passing sailboat, those binoculars revealed the future of your immediate surroundings.
That’s exactly what Climate Access and Resource Media board member Cara Pike are doing with their Here. Now. Us. campaign in Marin County, Calif. But the future they’re revealing to visitors isn’t nearly as pretty as an eagle’s nest or sailboat.
When you look through these viewers, you are struck by the harsh reality of climate change in Marin County. Climate Access partnered with the County of Marin and tech company Owlized to place high-tech, virtual reality OWL viewers in places at high risk of flooding due to climate change. These OWL viewers, modelled after the classic coin-operated binoculars, create 3D visualizations of what surrounding streets, homes and businesses would look like when flooded under projected scenarios of rising sea levels.
Because most people see climate change as a distant concern, the Here. Now. Us. campaign actualizes the problem by showing people how rising sea levels affect them here and now. With their OWL viewers, the campaign encourages residents to join the fight to change the area’s bleak future.
Here. Now.Us. installed OWLs on May 18 at the Mill Valley-Sausalito multi-use path where they will remain until Aug. 10. If you’re not in the San Francisco Bay area during that time, you can still experience looking through an OWL by watching this video. You can also follow Here. Now. Us. on Twitter and Facebook for project updates.
Here. Now. Us. is a great example of an organization creatively working around the human brain’s inability to comprehend climate change or other threats considered to be distant or in the future. Do you think it’s working? Tell us what you think and share with us any other creative activism projects you find interesting.
— Quinn Sanderson, summer intern