In the fall of 2019, Greta Thunberg had agreed to speak at a rally where 15 Canadian kids were announcing their lawsuit suing the federal government for policy that aligned with a livable future. Large crowds were anticipated. Sherry Yano from David Suzuki Foundation contacted us: The kids were nervous to face the crowds of 10,000 expected. Could we get the crowd to show the kids support: How could we alter the critical perception that the youth climate movement had been encountering? Could we make the climate movement more inclusive, and the engagements to deepen? In response, The Only Animal designed the Sea of Hearts, inspired by the ‘love’ buttons that you use on Facebook or Instagram. Ours were analog signs, that you could hide and then pop up at the rally when you heard something you loved. 100 artists helped us distribute the signs and taught the choreography to 1000 people how to use them in the moment before the protest began. This became the Sea of Hearts, which worked, in the end, to love up, not only the nervous kids, but other speakers at the rally. In facing the Sea of Hearts, most spoke extemporaneously about the values of love and connection in the movement. The press responded. It was a resonant image for the day.
After all, climate strikers are people who love, they love a child and through that child they love the future, they love a wild place, or a wild animal, or a threatened planet. With the Sea of Hearts we were able to offer a metaphor right into the crowd’s hands. This first piece, made in a week for about $2000, launched The Artist Brigade.