Corvallis’ latest mural is more than just a pretty picture — it’s a call to action.
Painted on the back of the Shell gas station at 300 SW Fourth St., the 50-foot-by-10-foot mural is titled “Walking Lightly in Time” and depicts three young people hiking through a meadow between a forest and a river.
Woven into the colorful design are a beaver, an otter, geological strata, fossils, animal tracks, human footprints and the tire treads of a car and a bicycle. There’s also a date, in Roman numerals: Oct. 29, 2018.
The mural was commissioned by the local chapter of Youth Climate Action Now, or YouCAN, an initiative of the Our Children’s Trust. The Eugene-based nonprofit is backing a lawsuit to force the federal government to protect future generations from the ravages of climate change.
The Corvallis YouCAN chapter is working to pass a local ordinance that would accelerate the city’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Designed by Eugene artist Esteban Camacho Steffensen and executed with the help of Corvallis YouCAN members, the mural was dedicated during a brief ceremony Thursday afternoon attended by about two dozen people.
Camacho Steffensen, who panted an earlier mural on the side of the Benton County boardrooms at 205 NW Fifth St., said his latest large-scale artwork was intended to convey a sense that all life on earth needs a healthy climate to survive.
“Humans are sort of walking with fellow species,” he said. “Three youths are leaving a light footprint on a path.”
YouCAN member Aravind Sriram, a 17-year-old junior at Crescent Valley High School, talked about the group’s efforts to pass a climate recovery ordinance in Corvallis.
“We can’t just rely on people to voluntarily take action,” he said. “At some point, we need to have concerted, government-level action.”
Jessica Hovermale, a 16-year-old CV sophomore, said the group wanted to inspire other young people to join the fight against global warming.
“This mural is a great talking point to start youth talking about climate change,” she said.
Also on hand were a number of other YouCAN members who helped paint the mural, including Sarah McCullough, Connor Robson, Sage Rasmussen, Iris Fu, Alanna Volk, Luca Greeven and — dressed in a polar bear costume — Gwen Gray. Ranging in age from 15 to 18, all are students at Crescent Valley High.
Camacho Steffensen got more help with the painting from his Corvallis cousins Zira Steffensen, 10; Miles Steffensen, 12; and Garrett Steffensen, 19, while his mother, Kara Steffensen, helped create the concept for the design. Jennifer Moreland of the Corvallis Mural Project approached the owner of the gas station about making a wall available for the mural.
Coreal Riday-White of Our Children’s Trust noted that the date painted into the mural is a reference to Juliana V. United States, the group’s climate change lawsuit, which is scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 29.
He thanked the teens who took part in the project for their work to save the climate.
“You guys have taken the YouCAN campaign and really showed what it can be,” he said.
“We can’t just wait around for our federal government to take care of this,” he added. “What these youths, these young adults, are showing is that action can be taken right here at the local level.”
The Corvallis YouCAN chapter meets every other Saturday at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library and invites other young people to join. For meeting times, check the group’s online calendar at www.youcancorvallis.org.