The Environment – Protecting Art in Nature

“The Mountain Play began as both an artistic celebration of the beauty of Tamalpais and as a means of bringing together the hiking community with the goal of preserving this natural beauty that was threatened by private land developers in the early 20th century.” – Tom Killion, forward of Marin’s Mountain Play: 100 Years of Theatre on Mount Tamalpais

P erforming in a state park, surrounded by giant curly, flaking madrone trees, the Mountain Play aims to create a harmony between all of our activities and nature. This means we consider all our environmental impacts from building the sets to what we sell at our merchandise booth. For example, when building elaborate sets, the stage is completely built up from the dirt. Then everything is removed and returned back to nature every spring, leaving no trace of our festival. During the performances, the rocks, trees, and even the fog, become characters in the stories being told on stage. 

It’s a gift and a joy to perform beautiful stories on stage alongside the stories being told in nature. However, as artists for the environment, we take responsibility for all our actions and footprint both on and off the mountain. Actions we can all take to create a safer and healthier world, will manifest a safer, healthier environment for the Mountain Play and for future generations. 

Please use this page to understand the problems that the environment faces and the countless resources for solutions, for both individuals and companies.

Check out this fantastic blog for an exhaustive list of Black-owned businesses who support a plastic free life!


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Plastics were originally made to make our routines easier (plastic grocery bags, single use utensils, plastic water jugs, etc.). They have become normalized in our everyday lives. Unfortunately, most plastics were created to be used only once and then thrown away. They have become so prevalent in our world that scientists have begun to call this modern era the Plastics Age.

 “Since the first plastic polymers were invented, about six billion tons of plastics have been made and spread around the planet, from forests to oceans.”  – Andrew C. Revkin New York Times.

However, our world was not built to decompose these plastic polymers (very long chains of carbon and hydrogen molecules). This is where we have to find solutions and resources to help us conquer our own man-made monster.

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Climate Change

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Because the Mountain Play relies entirely upon the goodwill of nature, it’s time to focus on what we can all do to protect this century old treasure. 

What is Climate Change?

There are certain gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that help keep us perfectly warm, by capturing some of the heat from the sun, like a nice blanket. However particular human activity, such as burning gas, coal and oil, has pumped many, many more of these gases into the atmosphere. This creates a much thicker blanket. Two of these “greenhouse gases” responsible for most of the extra blanket, are created by burning fossil fuels and deforestation (carbon dioxide) and agricultural land use and landfills (carbon monoxide). Check out Nasa’s Website for more science behind the problem. 

The Mountain Play has always leaned into the “greener” lifestyle by encouraging hiking and shuttling to the show! Click here to find how you can get to the show. 

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Water Quality

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It all starts from a mountain! Water collects from the highest points on earth – the mountains – and then flows down. Finally, water gathers in large basins or collections of water like rivers, lakes, and finally, the ocean. Wherever water flows on land = a watershed! 

No matter where you’re from, you live in a watershed. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, most likely you live in the San Francisco Bay Delta watershed. It covers more than 75,000 square miles and includes the largest estuary on the west coasts of North and South America. It also contains the only inland delta in the world! However like all watersheds, there are a lot of problems with the stuff water carries with it. This includes plastics, oil and gas leaked from cars and trucks, and poop from all our domesticated animals.

The San Francisco Bay is an incredible story of beauty, struggle, and protection. The San Francisco Bay Delta has been the source of much controversy as people fight over what the water is used for and where it goes. A visit to the Bay Model in Sausalito is well worth the free admission to learn more. 

There has been a lot of progress in restoring healthier water flows to California. Many more people recognize how important it is to have a healthy watershed from the mountains to the ocean. However there is always more work to be done. 

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Did you know that the San Joaquin River, one of 2 rivers that flows into the San Francisco Bay Delta, had the largest salmon run on the west coast of North America before 1940? Read here to find out what happened

Environmental Justice

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Environmental justice is the crossroads between social justice and environmental protection and are utterly linked. Protections for the environment of people of color and low income communities leads to a better environment for everyone. 

Poorer communities and communities of color are usually most affected by pollution, climate change, water quality, and many other harmful environmental burdens. Because many of these communities are often next to something that pollutes the air, water, or environment, it becomes impossible to have a healthy lifestyle. Kids can’t play outside, people don’t feel safe, or can’t safely drink from their own tap water. These communities are “othered” or forced to the outside of towns because of race and/or income bracket. Because of this, their health problems go “unnoticed” or “unheard”.

In the early 1980s, one community in Warren County of North Carolina fought back, which turned into a national campaign. This became the birth of the environmental justice movement (see videos below for complete history). Later, the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit gathered in 1991 to produce principle, which today help guide action.  You can read those Principles here.

In order to work on anti-racist policies for our communities, organizations, and homes, we must also consider environmental justice: the opposite of environmental justice is environmental racism. See our Social Justice Advocacy Resource page to help further your work. 

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