Corvallis Activists Bring #StopLine3 Art to Farmers’ Market

Correction: The Defund Line 3 posters will be available next Saturday, August 14. Our original article had the wrong date.

Resistance against construction of the Line 3 tar sands pipeline in northern Minnesota has been gaining nationwide momentum, in no small part thanks to numerous climate activist groups turning to arts- and culture-based tactics to educate and engage their own communities on the issue. Spanning multiple states and cities — including Corvallis — these tactics were first made widely possible through the collaboration of NDN Collective and Stop the Money Pipeline, which co-organized a #DefundLine3 Arts Visibility Week of Action during the week of July 12.

The week of action was a call for widespread, hyper-visible solidarity with Indigenous water protectors and allies who continue to put their bodies, voices, and futures on the frontlines in their efforts to stop the continued development of Line 3, which would desecrate the ancestral homelands, waters, and lifeways of various Indigenous nations in its path.

Ten Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists from across the climate justice movement contributed poster designs for people to use during the week of action. These posters were enclosed in newspaper sets, 6,000 of which were printed and shipped to over 400 climate justice groups and activists throughout the US — one of them being 350 Corvallis.

“I asked for three newspapers and they sent me 40,” said local environmental activist Patti Warner, a member of 350 Corvallis.

The newspapers included tips to help spread these images in public spaces, such as displaying them in the windows of houses and businesses, wheatpasting them near the banks funding and profiting from Line 3, turning them into protest signs, or hosting pop-up art shows. The latter was the first action to be taken up in Corvallis.

The Clothesline Art Show

On July 14, Warner, along with fellow environmental activists Karen Kos and Larry Weymouth — both of whom traveled to the Treaty People Gathering in early June — hosted an informal “clothesline art show” at the Central Park gazebo from 12:00 to 9 p.m. Posters were clothespinned to string tied around the poles of the gazebo with the artists’ statements displayed next to them. Additional copies of the posters were available for passerby to freely take, as were yard signs that featured poster designs on both sides.

Warner was able to create these by reusing 45 leftover yard signs from Energize Corvallis, as well as yard signs promoting the election campaigns of Sami Al-AbdRabbuh and Luhui Whitebear during this year’s Corvallis School Board race. Not only practical, it proved to be a creative alternative to the restrictions Corvallis has in place that limit how visual art can be displayed around the city.

“We didn’t go wheat pasting all over Corvallis since they have so many laws and regulations in place for posting signs,” said Warner.

Leading up to the week of action, Stop the Money Pipeline and NDN Collective hosted an art deployment training webinar, where participants heard from artists David Solnit and Cy Wagoner, the Creative Resistance Coordinator of NDN Collective, about different art-based tactics and ideas to utilize in their communities.

“It was cool because nobody else [in the U.S.] started putting the posters on yard signs,” said Warner. “And [at the] art activist webinar a few days before the week of action… David brought up, ‘Someone in Corvallis decided to put the posters on yard signs!’”

Arts Exhibit at the Farmers’ Market

With a handful of posters left over from the art show, Warner pasted a copy of each design onto cardboard to make a triptych, which made its first public appearance at a demonstration held in front of the Wells Fargo building on 3rd and Monroe on July 18 — the final day of the week of action. Thanks to Warner’s efforts, however, the posters have continued to turn up in Corvallis, albeit this time in a more visible — and casual — community space.

On July 24 and 31, Warner’s triptych — equipped with maps, a list of recommended actions, and President Biden’s phone number — made the rounds again at the Farmers Market. Curious onlookers asked questions about the posters and were provided information by Warner about the Line 3 pipeline, including the sacred lands and waters it threatens.

One of the onlookers was Shiggoap, an Alaskan Native of Ts’msyen, Haida, and Tlingit descent who was visiting Corvallis over the weekend of July 24 with his two children.

“I’m from Southeast Alaska, and we have the exact same issues,” said Shiggoap. “Cruise companies dump all their waste in the waters. In northern Alaska, oil companies are threatening the tundra and caribou, which is important to my relatives up there. And mining companies are threatening our rivers and salmon habitats.”

Art as Storytelling

Salmon are a sacred cultural resource for many Indigenous nations across the Pacific Northwest, including the Nez Perce or Niimiipu people, who, on July 29, returned to and blessed part of their ancestral homelands in Joseph, Oregon, which they were forcefully driven from more than 100 years ago by the US Army, which sent the Nez Perce people to a reservation in Idaho. 

Earlier that month, the Nez Perce and Shoshone-Banock Tribes called on President Biden to act on their ongoing efforts to petition for the removal of four dams along the lower Snake River, the Columbia River’s longest tributary, to restore once-abundant salmon populations.

Much like the arts visibility week of action, five Indigenous artists — including Aly McKnight of the Shoshone-Banock Tribe — were commissioned by IllumiNative to create pieces that tell a story of the urgent need to protect at-risk sacred sites, including Anishinaabe territories threatened by Line 3. These artworks were deployed to support and amplify the Red Road to D.C., a cross-country journey in which a 25-foot-long, 5,000-pound totem pole carved and painted with imagery illuminating the struggles that Indigenous communities face as a result of environmental desecration — including the loss of salmon and other culturally important wildlife — travelled from the Lummi Nation in Bellingham, Washington all the way to Washington D.C.

According to the Red Road to D.C.’s website, the totem, which arrived at the country’s capital on July 29, made multiple stops along the way “for ceremony and live-streamed events with communities leading efforts to protect sacred places under threat from resource extraction and industrial development.” These stops included Snake River, Bears Ears, Chaco Canyon, Standing Rock, and the Shell City Campground in Menahga, Minnesota, which saw an increasing number of anti-Line-3 activists gather for a “Women for the Rivers” rally in mid-July.

On July 25, the totem was met and blessed by water protectors at Shell River, which is currently being drilled for Line 3 to cross under. Among these water protectors was Trish Weber, a Corvallis-based Board member of Honor the Earth who, along with six other women — including prominent Anishinaabe activist Winona LaDuke — were arrested on July 19 for blocking an Enbridge easement along the river by chaining themselves to lawn chairs. 

“As the pole travels it draws lines of connection — honoring, uniting and empowering communities working to protect sacred places,” the site says.

Staying Engaged

Warner will continue to display her triptych at the Farmers’ Market over the next coming weekends and offer information to anyone who’s interested in learning more. She has informed us that she will have 20 extra copies of the Defund Line 3 posters for people to take during next Saturday’s market, though anyone can always download them from the digital #DefundLine3 Art Kit, which also includes other printable resources such as zines and songsheets. In addition, the kit contains instructions on other arts-based tactics for community engagement, including painting street murals, creating stencils and virtual banners, and using chalk art. 

For more updates from the frontlines on the ongoing struggle to stop Line 3, follow Giniw Collective and Northfield Against Line 3

Another countrywide day of action to call out the greenwashing of major Line-3-funding banks is scheduled to take place on Friday, August 13. Stay tuned to 350 Corvallis’ calendar for pending information on a local demonstration.

By Emilie Ratcliff

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