Hour of the Wolf: Creative Action Network and Earthjustice Want You to #JoinThePack

Surrounded by prints of artwork depicting wolves, with a soundtrack including TV on the Radio’s “Wolf like Me,” the Talking Heads’ “Wild Wild Life,” and Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild,” Drew Caputo, Earthjustice’s Vice President of Litigation, explained why his organization is taking on a campaign, #JointhePack to protect wolves.

“Wolves excite really strong passions on both sides of the coin,” he said. “People who are pro-wolf feel they’re an important part of the ecosystem and the embodiment of real wildness. The opposition hates them for those same reasons.”

Earthjustice has partnered with Oakland-based Creative Action Network, to make people aware of wolves’ plight. In what’s considered one of the greatest achievements of the Endangered Species Act, gray wolves were reintroduced to the northern Rockies 20 years ago. But they’re constantly threatened with being delisted, and this year both the House and Senate slipped a “rider” into government spending bills that would take away federal protections for wolves in several states.

The reasons for delisting wolves are not based on science and reason, Caputo says – but rather on politics and trying to please ranchers. If a wolf kills an animal, ranchers can be compensated, he added.

With the launch of their campaign, along with the artwork and music, there was also a howling station at the party on San Bruno Avenue. People could go up, hold a #JointhePack sign, say why they loved wolves and howl on camera, then post it to get some social media support for wolves.

The co-founders of Creative Action Network, Aaron Perry-Zucker and Max Slavkin, were there taking it all in. Inspired by Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” image for Barack Obama’s campaign, they created a website for artists to share their own images for the campaign. When the campaign was over, they founded CAN, so artists could continue to crowd source their art for causes such as the national parks or gun control.

Slavkin, CAN’s CEO, says the organization does good for the causes as well as the artists, who get 40 percent of the proceeds.

“I like the two-sided nature,” he said. “The artists get paid and get their work out there, and these causes get on the radar of what’s typically a younger audience.”

Getting involved with a campaign to protect wolves is particularly exciting, Slavkin says. He likes to think arts have the power to change hearts and minds, and with wolves, it’s one of the few times he feels art has gotten it wrong.

“In fairy tales and art, wolves are often depicted as the villain,” he said. “Or in pop culture like Twilight.”

He said some of his favorite of the pro-wolf artwork were the ones that took these negative fairy tale images on and flipped them- such as the three little pigs riding on the back of the Big Bad Wolf, or of Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes.

Artwork like this captures why wolves are compelling and people care so much about these social creatures, Caputo says.

“Our job is more linear to litigate to protect the wolves,” he said. “Together with the artwork and that creative process, we make a powerful team.”

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