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NORTHERN SPARK 2017 Climate Chaos | People Rising

June 10, 2017 @ 9:00 pm - June 11, 2017 @ 5:30 am

Northern Spark is a free all-night art festival exploring the effects of climate change through participatory projects happening in neighborhoods along Metro Transit’s Green Line.

From sunset on June 10 to sunrise on June 11, Northern Spark will illuminate and draw audiences to neighborhoods and public spaces all along the METRO Green Line, connecting Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  Experience the largest Northern Spark yet, with nearly 70 art projects organized around neighborhood nodes: Cedar Riverside/West Bank, Weisman Art Museum/East Bank, Little Africa/Snelling Ave,Rondo/Lexington Ave, and Little Mekong/ Western Ave. In downtown Minneapolis the festival moves from its usual river location to The Commons, the new green space at Portland and 5th, and culminates in Saint Paul at Union Depot, the Green Line terminus in Lowertown.


For Northern Spark 2017, we have challenged every artist to translate their project into an action you can do on the spot or in the future or every day going forward. Something to cherish, nourish, explore, encourage, modify, argue with, live by, do. Some may think that these actions are trivial. We believe they are not. Taken together, whether over the course of one night or every day for the next four years, they represent the people rising. Only together can we make change.

The spirit of Northern Spark 2017 is dedicated to this desire to make a difference through action. Through hundreds of participatory performances, installations and surprising experiences, this year’s festival asks: What are the actions we can take individually and collectively to cumulatively create the conditions for change?

Let us be clear. With regard to climate change and its effects, science matters. Politics matters. Economics matters. No dispute. And culture matters. Not just as a means to motivate people to call their Senator. Not just as a message to join a march. Not just as incentive to contribute money. As important as these actions are. Culture is how we imagine the world we want to live in; the world we want our children to grow up in. Artists are extraordinary culture workers, collectively shaping the world we inhabit as surely as any billionaire data miner, with as effective a pulpit as any politician, as deftly as the most accomplished machinist or coder. Art changes culture, which makes a difference. A critical difference.

Partners and Collaborators

Northern Spark 2017 is organized differently than any festival to date.

We’re working with neighborhoods and communities directly to bring a more diverse set of artistic voices into a conversation about how to change our cultural climate about the environment.

This year we’re excited to introduce the first Northern Spark Program Council, a leadership group of artists working with Northern Lights.mn and our Neighborhood Partners to inspire participation from artists and residents in cultural communities along the Green Line. In 2017 the Program Council is organizing artists in Little Mekong, Little Africa, Rondo, and on the West Bank to present projects at Northern Spark that respond to climate change from culturally diverse perspectives.

Northern Spark 2017 Program Council: Adan Dirie, Sara Endalew, Graci Horne, Filsan Ibrahim, Pa Na Lor, Brittany Lynch, Sagirah Shahid, Aki Shibata-Pliner and Ahmed Yusuf.

Northern Spark 2017 Neighborhood Partners:  Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA), African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS), The West Bank Businesses Association (WBBA), Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation (ASANDC).

And as with every iteration of Northern Spark, we are grateful to our numerous Presenting Partners:

Altered Aesthetics, Arts Culture and the Creative Economy of the City of Minneapolis, Danza Espanola, Forecast Public Art, Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Minnesota Sacred Harp Singing Convention, Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, Mizna, Motion Poems, Patrick’s Cabaret, Printland Press, Public Art Saint Paul, Somali Museum of Minnesota, Saint Paul Saints, St. Cloud State University Art Dept., Saint Paul Public Library, Textile Center and Weaver’s Guild of Minnesota, The Southern Theater, TPT, Union Depot, UW-Stout School of Art and Design, Weisman Art Museum, Zeitgeist

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Climate change at Northern Spark 2017 is not just about the rising of temperatures and sea levels, but the rising of people and our collective power. Climate Rising Collaboration (CRC) is a set of projects that pairs artists with organizations working directly on issues concerning energy, environmental justice and climate change. Artists and staff work together to find connections while the organization lends its resources and expertise to help each project reach its zenith.

CRC is a collaboration to take our Climate Chaos | People Rising theme from theory to practice. We believe that in order to develop realistic and hopeful maps for the future in the face of real and growing climate chaos, artists, scientists, policymakers and activists will need to collaborate.

Climate Rising Collaboration Partners: Climate Generation, Conservation MN, Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment, MN350, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Take Action

People Rising

The theme Climate Chaos | Climate Rising launched at Northern Spark 2016 with an audience of 37,000 people who wandered, engaged, and explored together through an array of participatory art projects focused on Earth’s changing environments. We learned many specific things from the tastiness of dandelions to the composition of local soil samples to the way resource use in the global north affects the global south, which relates directly to complex issues of power and privilege. Above all, we learned that festival goers are at once inspired and daunted by the challenges posed by climate change. Being together at Northern Spark, however, left us all feeling that none of us is alone in this. Encouraged by this spirit of collectivity, we changed the title of the 2017 festival to Climate Chaos | People Rising, because only as #people rising, we can make a difference.

Supported by

Northern Spark 2017 is generously supported by a number of committed foundations and grantors. In particular, we would like to thank Bush Foundation, Carolyn Foundation, Knight Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. A full list of our supporters is here.

Northern Lights.mn

Northern Spark is produced by Northern Lights.mn, a Twin Cities arts organization whose work ranges from large-scale public art platforms like Northern Spark to Art(ists) On the Verge, a year­long mentorship program for 5 emerging artists working with innovative uses of technology. We support artists in the creation and presentation of art in the public sphere, such as at St. Paul’s Union Depot (Amateur Intelligence Radio), “choir karaoke” at the Minnesota State Fair (Giant Sing Along)and most recently Words For Winter, programming poetry into the construction landscape along Nicollet Mall. Through projects such as Ruination: City of Dust, a location-­based environmental mystery game played on bicycles along Minnehaha Creek, and the monthly climate conversation series, Anthropocene Awareness Association, our work helps audiences explore expanded possibilities for civic engagement through art.


June 10, 2017 @ 9:00 pm
June 11, 2017 @ 5:30 am

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