A profile of Lisa Marcus, by Sheryl Feldman

Lisa Marcus showed up at 350 Seattle in 2013 to recruit people to make props in protest against coal exports for the Fremont Solstice Parade, but ended up recruited instead to lead the coal working group and join the central leadership body. After completing the five-car walking coal train with ecotopia scenes painted on the side. She went on to develop, and continues to be a lead of, 350 Seattle’s Artful Activism art-leads team and community workgroup, along with working toward Equity & Inclusion, Community Resilience, and being part of the Staff Collective. 

Her blending of environmental issues with art appears inevitable. She’s a “nature lover,” choosing to live in Moab, Utah for eight years, until 1996 — camping, starting a recycling program, doing field biology, river rafting, and earning money every which way to support herself so she could be “out there in all that beauty.“

She’s creative: as a musician, she’s performed as a flute-player and these days she sings and songcatches with The People’s Echo; as a visual artist, she has been part of the Fremont Arts Council for 19 years where she’s has been making things with others– kids’ projects, banners, props, paintings and constructions – at the Fremont Powerhouse

Downplaying her own skills, Lisa calls herself a facilitator of community artists. Anyone, artistically accomplished or not, is warmly welcome to art builds. She “trusts” the community and labels their work a “community brand.” Her greatest satisfaction is “when we come up with a good visual that conveys the idea and draws people in to make a difference. Coming up with just the right art. I love to do that collaboratively.”

Art isn’t the only dimension to her activism. “I think of climate as a combination of environment and social issues. It umbrellas them.” She believes that “If people with privilege in the global north had empathized with the suffering and devastation of people in the global south, and in local BIPOC and less affluent communities, we would have had a huge public outcry, and the climate crisis would have been stopped long ago.”

She has been instrumental in developing anti-oppression work within 350 Seattle, through art, education, policy and cultural shifts, and to supporting groups led by people of color, even when the campaigns aren’t specifically climate-related.

She has been part of the internal community resilience work from early on, co-developing the Tending Circle, to supporting ongoing community spaces, mutual aid, and resource sharing so that we become the thriving health community we want to see in the world.