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'Cool Globes' on Parade

by: Fran Spielman    7 February 2007

This summer's outdoor art exhibit in Chicago will be "Cool Globes" — up to 100 giant globes, each designed by a different local artist, each bearing a different message about how Chicagoans can do their part to help solve global warming.

Some of the "Cool Globes" will bear environmental messages from prominent Americans, including former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Jodie Foster and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.

A globe with the theme — "Use Your Feet" — that encourages walking over driving will be covered in recycled athletic shoes from the Bears, Bulls and Sky as well as from Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.

Unlike the wildly popular "Cows on Parade," and the street furniture exhibit known as "Suite Home Chicago," the 5-foot-diameter globes will not be scattered throughout the city.

They'll be shown "as an exhibition" at the Field Museum, with a few "teaser" globes on Michigan Avenue and Navy Pier directing people to the larger exhibit, officials said.

"After the weather we've been having the last few days, some people might have trouble believing that global warming is a serious problem. But, let me assure you that it is," Mayor Daley told a news conference today after a breakfast meeting with 250 program sponsors.

"Last week . . . a group of scientists from 113 countries issued a report that said global warming will cause rising sea levels, more powerful storms, both floods and droughts. But, you don't have to read a scientific report to see the impact of global warming. Last summer was the hottest on record. Two years ago, we had some of the worst hurricanes in history. Entire lakes in Asian and Africa have practically disappeared. And so have entire glaciers. We all share responsibility for global warming. We all can be part of the solution."

Daley called public art a "way to communicate, break down barriers and really educate people." Cool Globes chairwoman Wendy Abrams said the purpose of the program is "to give people a call to action."

"We finally have gotten to the point where the public understands global warming is a problem that we need to address. And now, people are saying, ‘Okay. So what do we do about it?' We're using public art . . . to showcase solutions. . . It's solar power and it's wind power. It's hybrid cars and energy-efficient lightbulbs and green buildings and rooftop gardens and on and on and on," Abrams said.

"Our message is that it takes all of these solutions together to make a difference," Abrams said.

The "Cool Globes" exhibit will run through September, 2007. After that, individual globes will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Proceeds will benefit education programs in the Chicago Public Schools, including the mayor's Chicago Conservation Clubs.

There are 22 clubs right now. With the help of "Cool Globes" proceeds, there could be 50 by the end of the school year, Daley said.

Major corporate sponsors of "Cool Globes" include Exelon, Pepsi, Walgreens, Medline Industries, NBC5 and Starbucks. Sony, Tecta Roofing, Goldman Sachs and the solar-powered World's Largest Laundromat in Berwyn will be sponsoring individual globes.