We Will Paint the Future

The Rise for Climate Justice Mural Project organized the world’s largest street mural on September 8, right before world leaders gathered for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. Dozens of organizations and community groups were involved, painting 50 murals. Each group’s design is a response to the question, “What is one solution to climate chaos in your community?”

Photo: Anesti Vega

Watch the Video

It was a beautiful day. Hear more from people involved and get a glimpse of what unfurled. We hope this moment will continue to inspire people to use creativity in their organizing.

About the murals

There were 50 murals painted that day, and each group’s design is a response to the questions, “What is one solution to climate chaos in your community.” Here are a few more stories about the some of the murals and what they meant.

We used non-toxic tempera and natural clay paints in conjunction with Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice action at Civic Center Plaza.


Chinese Progressive Association


What a glorious day! The sun was shining and I was one of several hundred people making art to declare our commitment to the environment and environmental justice for the whole world to see. Specifically, we wanted to have a strong Asian American presence and, to that end, we included the languages of thirteen different Asian groups.

But my biggest source of satisfaction came from working with youth from the Chinese Progressive Association’s Youth MOJO (Movement Of Justice and Organizing) and Asian American students from Stanford University, all of whom quickly took stock of what needed to be done. I gave them very little direction. I wanted to let them take ownership of the project, and they more than lived up to the task. The day before, when I showed up with the design schematic, it turned out that my scaling calculations were all wrong. It took but a minute for one of the youth to whip out his cell phone and work out the correct dimensions. Saved the day (and my butt)! I thought to myself, with young folks like that, I feel much more confident and hopeful about the future.”


No Coal in Oakland: Grassroots group stopping a coal export facility in Oakland

Photo: Steve Masover

On September 8th, 2018, No Coal in Oakland joined 30,000 marchers from around the Bay Area, California, the U.S. and the globe “to demand our elected leaders commit to no new fossil fuels and a just and fair transition to 100% renewable energy” at the coming week’s GCAS and beyond. The San Francisco march — Rise for Climate Jobs + Justice — lived up to expectations, and the 50+ panel street mural at Civic Center was awesome.

Read more here


Interfaith Contingent: Systems Change

Photo: Kelly Johnson

We believe that by raising our voices and by coming together, we can influence policy makers and world leaders to find sustainable solutions which address the climate crisis.

Artist: Nityalila Saulo, writes, “Inspired by my recent piece, 10,000 fingerprints, yesterday, at the #PeoplesClimateMarch, I was invited and given the opportunity to design the mural for the Interfaith contingent. But instead of fingerprints, we used our feet and made nearly 2,000 footprints to remind us of the prints we leave behind as we live on this earth. It is meant to inspire us to value the choices we make every day. To live simply so that others may simply LIVE.”


Amazon Watch

Photo: Amazon Watch

“Our solution to climate injustice is to protect forests and respect indigenous rights; one key element of his solution is to End Amazon Crude.

Our mural highlighted the work of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku to protect kawsak sacha, the living forest. The central image, of a tree growing out of a fetus, is the symbol leaders from Sarayaku chose to represent their visionary kawsak sacha proposal. This proposal would create a new international category for the permanent protection of native land, free of natural resource extraction, and based upon the interconnected relationship between indigenous peoples and their forests, water, and spirits.

It was beautiful to see how many different people stopped by to help paint the mural and, in doing so, learned a bit about the Kichwa people of Sarayaku and their inspirational struggle to protect their territory from oil and gas drilling. Another highlight was when the visiting leaders from Sarayaku arrived after marching and got to see the symbol of their campaign and message in such a huge scale.”


North Bay Organizing Project: Roots, Roof and Refuge

Photo: North Bay Organizing Project

What a week! NBOP joined hundreds and thousands of beautiful and powerful people and organizations from all over the world for a week of Solidarity to Solutions in San Francisco! As a member of Right To The City Alliance, It Takes Roots, and a host for the week, we walked and took over the streets of SF, we engaged in community conversations and organizing around frontline led solutions, we made our presence and demands known, we welcomed folks to Santa Rosa to witness and learn about our organizing, our people, and partnerships(thank you, LandPaths’ Bayer Farm!), AND we had fun doing it! To all of our brothers and sisters that we shared space with this last week, thank you. We are out here together, defending and protecting our people, land, air, water, nuestra Madre Tierra!”


Sierra Club: Keep close to Nature’s heart: explore, enjoy, protect, resist.

Artist: Julia Foote

Photo: Kelly Johnson

We used a John Muir (founder of Sierra Club!) quote as the basis for our conceptual solution to climate change, “Keep close to nature’s heart” and Sierra Club mission words, “explore, enjoy, protect,” and the more recent, “resist.” The mural points to the idea that we should remember our roots and get back to the heart of nature in order to treat it with the care and respect it deserves. In the spirit of San Francisco, we went for a 60s/70s vibe with bright colors and lots of fun nature imagery. The mural included multiple elements of nature:hills, mountains, a stream, the sun, trees, and flowers.

The amount of collaboration in outlining the mural to follow the vision of the mural was amazing–very quickly we saw the mural look just as it was designed on paper. We moved quickly to make sure we had everything prepared for when the marchers arrived and made way for people to join us in painting as soon as we arrived. The families that joined in to paint were definitely a highlight because we got to see so many little kids trying hard to paint inside the lines. The best highlight was the exchange of both materials and support I saw from group to group that definitely made our mural feel like one component of the mass effort.”

Read more here 


Our Children’s Trust

By Michelle Snider

Laney College’s Eco Arts class brought color to climate change with a massive street mural in support of youth suing the U.S. Government for infringing on their constitutional rights.

Students and their instructors dipped paint brushes into plastic containers of thinned paint and filled the pavement with color on Sept. 5 on the asphalt next to the Art Center building. The #youthvgov mural was a practice run before the students painted a larger version at San Francisco’s Civic Center on Sept. 8, that was twice the size of the one in the alley.

Laney’s Eco Arts class presented their mural along with 49 other groups before the “Rise for Climate” marchers arrived. According to ABC 7 News, thousands protested climate change in San Francisco that day, marching from The Embarcadero to Civic Center.

Read more here. 


Your Story:Do you want to share your own story of that day? Submit Here

Photo Highlights

Learn More


Since May 1, 2012, community groups have created street murals in response to housing foreclosures, the 2012 Chevron refinery explosion, climate-chaos-profiteering banks, and as part of a No Ban/No Wall action at ICE headquarters. A 65-foot mural of Thunderbird Woman was painted at Wells Fargo Headquarters, calling attention to investments in the Dakota Access pipeline and fossil fuels. A Remember and Protect mural was painted in Napa in 2018, drawn with charcoal from the devastating North Country fires.

The Making of the Mural

May Day 2017 Public Street Mural in San Francisco in front of the ICE Building.

Street Mural Guide:Tips and basic steps to painting a street mural.  Download Here


Society of Fearless Grandmothers

By Pennie Opal Plant Idle No More SF Bay (INM SF Bay) is a group of Indigenous people and allies led by Indigenous grandmothers, organized in 2013 to stand for clean water, air, soil and a vibrantly healthy future. We have organized many direct actions in the San Francisco Bay Area, including solidarity actions with Standing Rock, fossil fuel divestment actions at banks, actions at the five refineries along the Northeast Bay, and a series 16 of healing walks over a period of four years along the refinery corridor connecting one fossil fuel impacted community to another.  As a result of how our actions are organized, with prayer, good relationships with law enforcement, and ensuring everyone is safe, our tiny, yet mighty group earned the respect of all who have stood with us at our actions.

Read more

INM SF Bay was the only all volunteer group to be on the leadership teams organizing around the week of actions for both the People’s Climate Movement and the It Takes Roots Coalition.  We held a unique space within these organizing groups and ensured that Indigenous voices and issues were lifted up in everything we were a part of, including the Rise for Climate, Jobs & Justice March which took place on September 8, 2018 in response to the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.  We understood that world leaders and climate negotiators would be planning and speaking behind closed doors and that many of their ideas are false solutions to the climate crisis. We had different plans. Early on in the organizing of the March, David Solnit had a vision of the march ending with murals painted around the San Francisco Civic Center where the march ended.  It was a brilliant idea that INM SF Bay was energized and inspired by. Groups were invited to “adopt” a mural, design their message, and recruit members to paint it. A brilliant end to a powerful day!  We were in total support. Some of the grandmothers of INM SF Bay realized that there would need to be people who committed to street safety the morning of the march to ensure that the murals could be chalked out before and during the march.  Working with the 1000 Grandmothers group in the Bay Area, one of the INM SF Bay grandmothers organized a series of trainings for grandmother age women who would be responsible for blockading the streets around the Civic Center early in the morning on September 13th.  This evolved into a new group called “The Society of Fearless Grandmothers”.  The women were trained to embody the wisdom, power and compassion which are the best qualities which many older women strive to maintain.  Developing good relationships with law enforcement was part of the trainings and this was done by role playing, which was quite humorous at times.   “Street Safety – Planet Safety” were painted on beautiful banners the length of the streets to be blockaded.  About 50 grandmother age women and some allies successfully held the streets with song and conversation for about five hours that morning wearing royal purple street safety vests with lavender silk screened patches attached to the back that read “Society of Fearless Grandmothers”.  These women successfully managed to divert traffic, parking law enforcement who attempted to move them, and catering trucks trying to make their way into the Civic Center for a high-profile wedding happening later that afternoon. It was pretty awesome. Older women have a powerful role to play in the climate justice movement.  As we witness the end of the world as we know it, these women understand their role is to protect younger people who are rising to protect their future.  It is the least they can do to ensure that the younger people are able to experience a world that is at least close to what they have experienced and enjoyed in their lives.   The Society of Fearless Grandmothers will live on and has its own Facebook page.  The woman organizing it will continue to train other older women in being on the front lines of direct actions, to stand between law enforcement and younger people, to calm tense situations and to save the world. Oh, and the mural project was so powerful!  It was deeply satisfying for these women to walk around when the march arrived and witness people of all ages creating the approximately 50 murals with messaging from communities around the country, knowing that it was quite possible that none of it would have happened without a bunch of fearless grandmothers committed to street safety.


Song Leaders

A team of musicians including the Peace Poets, Thrive Street Choir, and others, worked closely with the street mural project organizers to organize two moments of solidarity/unity at the beginning of the march and during the mural painting and to teach and lead songs across the state in the lead up and beyond.

RISE for Climate Songbook Thrive Street Choir + Peace Poets + RISE Arts