Last December, on Christmas Day, Laughlin Artz slipped into a polar bear costume, stepped onto a skateboard, and rolled down the Las Vegas strip to draw attention to the global climate crisis. It was a stunt that launched Artz's 400-mile 2030 or Bust skateboarding between Vegas and Salt Lake City, Utah.
"I’m not a great skateboarder, so that added to the drama," Artz jokes. He wanted to draw attention to the climate crisise, in a "fun and radical" manner. "When else have you seen someone skate the Vegas strip on Christmas Day in a polar bear suit and a red sequined mini dress (just two of the outfits I donned that day)?"
Now he's in New York City about to kick off his Skate of the Union,skateboarding across the nation to further raise awareness of the climate change that is threatening the entire planet.
The former management consultant, transformational educator, filmmaker, performance artist, entrepreneur, journalist, and a social activist says, "My passion is that magic that happens when people wake up to how powerful they are. All my work is rooted in cultural transformation, a contextual kind of activism, that phenomenon that makes a world that works for everyone something that could actually come to be, and not just a pipe dream."
It was five years ago, as a journalist, that he became aware of just how grave the situation regarding climate change really is. He recalls, "I started with what I thought was the most important question: 'How long do we have until the shit hits the fan?' The response I got from climate experts was 'It’s probably already too late.' This was a real shocker, not just to hear it, but to realize that most people had no idea the severity of the situation. That’s where 2030 or Bust started."
Since then, he has delved farthter into the science around climate change, but in all the studies he read and conferences he attended, Artz says, "what I found starkly missing was any conversation for what it will take to end the crisis. Not adapt to it, not address it, not fight it, but end it." He's interested in helping others take steps in that direction as well.
As he prepared for the new national tour from New York City, Artz spoke with Out Traveler about the effort, which is now sponsored by Broadway Bomb, the annual longboarding race down Broadway in Manhattan. Two launch events will be held at The Q (NYC's biggest queer-owned club): Wednesday September 8, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM and Thursday the 9th, 10:00 PM - 12:00 AM. Following the Q&A below find the dates that Artz will reach the 8-week tour's main stops in Chicago, Des Moines, Denver, Houston, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Tell us a little more about 2030 or Bust.
2030 or Bust is all about people having power in the matter of a situation that seems way too big and complex. To give everyone the straight facts about the crisis and the chance to empower themselves to make a real impact in ending it. A lot of folks think that the government or the U.N. or scientists or someone or something else is ending the crisis, and that’s just not the case. There is a significant gap between where we’re headed and where we need to be if we are to have any shot at a sustainable future. We have about ten years to bridge that gap, and we can only do that if we wake from the trance, [from believing] that it’s someone else’s job, that we as individuals can only do our best and hope that it will somehow all turn out. The house is on fire and doing our best and hoping will not get it done. Our amazing science team has determined that if 500 million of us take simple carbon-reducing actions, we can make the difference in bridging the emissions gap.
What also distinguishes 2030 or Bust is that we address both aspects of the crisis, the content and the context. What we hear about is the content – rising sea levels, disappearing coral reefs, the flooding, wildfires, droughts and hurricanes. What you don’t hear about is the context — how we relate to the content — and we see that as the root crisis, the crisis of consciousness. We offer the possibility that the opportunity of climate change is not to merely address the physical situation but to wake up to what got us into this mess in the first place, which is how we relate to ourselves, each other and the world, and in that awakening to forge a new future for humanity.
You're going to cross the nation on a skateboard. Why?
Given the success of the Vegas trip, expanding this to country-wide seemed a natural next step. We want to use the tour to get 2030 or Bust on the minds of people everywhere, to put us on the map. To plant the seeds that we have ten years to make this happen, that the crisis is endable, that individual actions make an essential impact, and you, yes you, whoever and wherever you are, make the difference in ending the crisis. And we intend to have a blast doing it. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert meets Paul Revere, all on a skateboard. The Green Queen rides again!
How is this effort going to help fight climate change?
The attention we’re out to garner, and the entertainment value we’re out to provide, is all to wake people from the trance that tells you that you can’t really make much difference as an individual, that someone else is handling it, and that it’s all just going to somehow turn out. The tour is a great way to bust that trance and start a real movement of people empowering themselves to make an impact way beyond what they thought themselves capable of.
We will be holding rallies and different kinds of events, depending on our location and what we find of interest. The tour also gives us the chance to stop in places along the way, highlight the local effects of climate change and feature climate heroes who have taken the situation into their own hands and are making a tangible impact.
The tour is also a great way to engage media and influencers to get the word out. To create a buzz, a groundswell of urgency that we are in the last window of opportunity to turn this thing around, and that what will make the difference is making this a global movement.
How can others get involved? (You mentioned others can join you to skate or bike or using a wheelchair.)
Folks are welcome to join us on skateboard or bike or anything with wheels. We’ll be posting our locations, so it’ll be easy to meet up. The easiest way to find out about getting in on the tour is to go to the tour page: 2030orbust.org/tour. All the options to participate are there, with easy ways to sign up and get in on the action. I’m a lousy skater so no one needs to be concerned about keeping up. You can follow the tour @2030orbust on IG, and you can interact with us @2030orbust on Twitter. We’ll have tour updates on the 2030 or Bust Facebook page.
You can also do your own 2030 or Bust skate trek wherever you are, post your pics and videos and tag #2030orbust and #skateoftheunion. We’re out to raise $100,000 on the tour so making a financial donation is also a great way to participate. And for sure, download the 2030 or Bust app, and start taking that climate-busting action now.
Laughlin with Castrada at Q NYC as the Skate of the Union tour launched in New York City.