Hopium toker raises environmental awareness

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Kathryn Blume

Kathryn Blume is a self-proclaimed hopium toker and creative roustabout, who challenges others to de-colonize their minds and follow their bliss.

Blume spoke to a packed audience in the Stearns Performance Space on Wednesday, Oct. 17 as part of a series hosted by the Department of Environmental and Health Sciences. Her speech was entitled “Art, Activism and Inspiration.” Blume, with her wild and curly red hair, was a charismatic speaker, gesturing to the audience and recounting stories of her father reading “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” to her as a bedtime story.

“I have to say that giving a lecture for a ‘current topics in science’ series kind of cracks me up,” said Blume. “Don’t get me wrong, I love science and I totally dig quantum physics. But I am not a quantum physicist. I am not even a regular physicist. I am not any kind of scientist at all. I do, however, get the basic science behind our current planetary situation when it comes to extreme and immediate perils of climate change. These days, regardless of the context when you talk about climate change in the U.S., one of three things tends to happen. One: People flip out on you because they don’t believe in climate change, as if it’s mythological, kind of like men believing there’s no such thing as foreplay. Two: People will ignore you because they don’t think they have to worry about climate change because modern technology will solve the problem. Three: People bring out razor blades because they think you are going to depress them so badly with news of the imminent demise of the world that they might as well just slit their wrists right now. But, the bottom line is that climate change is real. It’s happening now. And it is much, much faster than anyone ever predicted. Things which scientists thought would be happening two and three hundred years from now, are happening now.”

Because of this, Blume has found many creative ways to rouse interest about global issues on which she finds it pertinent to act. She has written and acted out a one-woman show called “The Boycott” about the first lady of the United States launching a sex strike to fight global warming, co-founded the Lysistrata Project, an anti-war comedy which was the first ever worldwide theatrical act of dissent based on a play written by Aristophanes in 411 BC . In that play, the women of Athens and Sparta denied their husbands sex in order to stop the war. She also co-founded the Vermontivate project, an inter-town competition that aims to bring fun and creativity to the work of energy conservation, and is also a published writer.

Blume insists that the best way to get the job she has is to follow your bliss, simple as that. “So many things are possible, as long as you don’t know they are impossible. History is chock-full of people doing totally impossible things,” says Blume. She recounts the plot line of “A Phantom Tollbooth” written by Norton Juster in which the main character, Milo, is brought on many impossible quests that he ultimately overcomes all because he was not told at the start that they were impossible.

And so, Blume poses a question: “How do we begin to see the invisible chains holding us back, how do we rattle them, throw them off, and how do we know what kind of a world it is that we want?” Here is where she believes is the greatest purview of the artist. “Art shows us the world as it is, allows us to see ourselves, our whole selves, in infinite shades of light and dark. Scientists can come up with raw data, the objective measures of reality, but artists can cook it into an intense, highly concentrated, extremely potent and sneakily digestible form.”

Through art, Blume expresses her hope and urges others to do the same by becoming the most effective, creative and hopeful activists and citizens that they can be.