The Beehive Collective: Against Environmental Injustice

A zoom in from the "Mesoamerica Resiste," where robots are representing government forces subjugating the people.

Students admire the work of the Beehive Collective depicting various environmental tragedies.

One description of the Beehive Collective would be that it is a small group of folks brought together by mutually shared passion and a commitment to the type of story telling that challenges the foundations of listeners, and opens eyes and ears to truth. A loose organization of artists, activists, sharers, and tellers makes up this grassroots group that travels the continent to raise awareness about the issues, tragedies, and triumphs that are taking place in our home.

Their website describes their mission as, “To cross-pollinate the grassroots, by creating collaborative, anti-copyright images that can be used as educational and organizing tools.” (www.beehivecollective.com).

The collective made a short stop in downtown Harrisonburg last week to do a presentation of their most recent work, “Mesoamerica Resiste” in the basement of local restaurant and bar, Clementine. Their most recent narrative poster details globalization in the Americas, and was (at the risk of sounding kitschy) quite a sight to behold. “Our narrative posters weave together a myriad of facts and lived experiences to explain complex global issues,” the website explained.

A zoom in from the "Mesoamerica Resiste," where robots are representing government forces subjugating the people.

A zoom in from the “Mesoamerica Resiste,” where robots are representing government forces subjugating the people.

These graphics campaigns use richly detailed drawings as a means of visual storytelling, seeking to make big-picture realities accessible regardless of personal background or knowledge base.”

The poster spanned the height and width of two walls and was gorgeously and terrifically detailed. There were stories of Starbucks, Monsanto, NAFTA, Burger King, TV, corn, the International Monetary Fund, Mayan pyramids, gardens, music, murder, mayhem, highways and byways, water, women, deception, border patrols and high-stakes chess games, and ultimately much more than can possibly be represented by one newspaper article.

Tales of “resistance, resilience and solidarity from Mexico to Colombia” detailed the poster that took nine years to create. The work of the collective is unique in its accessibility to any viewer, detail, and ultimate message of hope.

While globalization was the focus of the first half of the presentation, over half of the “Mesoamerica Resiste” poster is devoted to portraying the work of people against and within these forces. The culture, spirituality, and passion of the region, coupled with the grassroots resistance against seemingly impossible odds offered a message quite distinct from what could have been fear-mongering or despair in the face of transnational superpowers. Portraits of birth, growth, planting, art, and miracles peppered the giant canvas, which depicts all of these stories through animal, plant, and insect representations in the nature of traditional fables.

The Beehive Collective presented an extraordinary tale and message that was deeply meaningful and memorable, and was a testimony to the power of storytelling and the possibilities of what can be when fourteen volunteers set out to share some small renderings of truth.

-Rehana Franklin, Staff Writer


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