From Bogota, Colombia to Suva, Fiji to Paris, France we’re expecting thousands of people, hundreds of events, and more than 63 countries to Rise for Climate Action on September 8th. While many of us speak different languages, we will be speaking a common language with the symbols that unite us —

The symbol of an orange X represents what we need to put a stop to: fossil fuel infrastructure and climate impacts. A yellow Sun represents the solutions we need: solar power, wind power, resilience to climate change, people power!

These symbols aren’t new – they carry the momentum and energy of the climate movement; the toil, joy and creativity of hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have campaigned in recent years for leadership on climate change.

The orange X has its origins in the fossil fuel divestment campaign, which in a little over 6 years has won over 900 divestment commitments and a staggering US $6.35 trillion to be divested of fossil fuel industry investments by institutions. All of this has been achieved by local people-powered Fossil Free campaigns targeting their local institutions: university campuses to churches to council meeting rooms.

Now with Rise for Climate, the orange X will take on new energy and momentum, appearing in new countries, at the frontline of new campaigns, and a symbol of strength in the face of climate impacts.

The symbolism of the sun has been adopted in rallies and campaigns in many parts of the world – it’s not hard to be inspired by the power of the sun! Synonymous with the sun, sunflowers have become a symbol for climate justice movements from North America to New Zealand. From the movement resisting Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, California to Wellington, New Zealand where hundreds blockaded the recent oil and gas industry conference (and won an end to offshore oil and gas just weeks later).

On Sept 8th, make the image of the X and the Sun, and take a photo of it to share. People around the world will be doing the same at their Rise for Climate mobilisation. It will show we are united across the world at one moment in demanding real climate leadership and a fossil free world. It will show the force of our combined people power, and raise the visibility of our demands! The images will last beyond the day of action as a beacon of what we stand for.

What ways can you think of to make the orange X and the yellow sun? Here’s a few we can think of to get you started:

Choose a location: You could choose a location outside a political target or in a popular public space. Photos can look even more powerful and interesting if taken from high up, like a building or from steps, so even better if your location has that.

With your bodies

Mark it out. Make a X shape and a circle shape with string or chalk on the floor.

Hold coloured card or fabric. Have one piece or side of card painted orange. Have another piece or side of card painted yellow. Stand in the X shape and face the orange side upwards. Stand in the circle shape and face the yellow side upwards.

Alternatives: Dress in orange or yellow, and make the shape of an X or a circle/sun with people. Use your arms to make the X and circle signs.

Move & Speak: Moving from one to the other can help create a story from resistance to hope. You could speak or sing about what your resisting, and what hopeful solutions we want to create as you move, creating theatre for anyone watching.

Take a photo, from above if possible: See tips above on group photos. If you can get up high, from a window in a building, from a bridge, a staircase, using a drone, or even a ladder, it can help add drama to the photo.

With fabric

Tip: Painting fabric takes time to dry, so try to do this at least a few days of ideally a week in advance of your day of action.

Choose your space and protect your floor: You may need a space big enough to lay your entire material out flat, which may be outdoors. The paint may soak through the material: protect the surface below with either old cardboard, old plastic, lots of old newspapers, or another piece of thick scrap material.

Buy yellow fabric: Buy fabric that’s light enough to carry for some time. You’d be surprised how quickly arms get tired! Parachute material is ideal.

Make your fabric into a circle: Smooth it out and tape the material down on opposite sides to stretch it out and hold it still while you mark it. Take a length of string half the width you’d like your Sun to be. On one end of the string, tie a pencil, on the other end of the string, tie a pin. Place the pin in the middle of your fabric. Stretch the string out fully, and use the pencil to mark the fabric, turning around the pin until you’ve drawn a full circle on the material. Cut out the circle. Smooth your circle-shaped material out and tape the material down again on opposite sides to stretch it out and hold it still while you write and paint your message on the material.

Choose your image/message: The more complex the image and the more/longer words you choose, the longer it takes to lay out and paint.

Mark our your message/image: To make your words/message neat, you can take your piece of string that has a pencil at one end and a pin in the other, shorten the piece of string, put the pin back in the centre of your material, and draw a semi-circle or circle to mark the line where the top of the words/message will be. Then shorten the string again, and repeat marking the line where the bottom of the words will be. Mark out your words or image in chalk or pencil, before going over it in paint.

Paint your message/image: Buy or borrow old latex/emulsion/acrylic paint in bright strong colors (1⁄2 gallon or 2 litres). If paint is thick I thin it with about 1 part water to 3 parts paint, so it flows easily, but still covers solidly. I pour paint into quart/1 litre sized old plastic containers (such as ice cream or yoghurt), and paint with both foam and bristle brushes of various sizes. I set paint containers on a piece of cardboard or box top and if I do drip, I wipe it off right away with a wet rag. Make sure to paint out any heavily painted areas where paint has pooled, so it will dry faster.

Let it dry completely–for as long as you can. For the first week try not to compress tightly or fold so paint is touching paint–roll it loosely and don’t compress until it’s a week old. The fresh paint can still be a little tacky and stick to itself.

Move it: Get some people to practice holding the material before your action. Practice stretching it in a circle from all sides so it’s perfectly flat and readable – how many people do you need? Practice tipping the top of the circle to the holder’s chin, and the bottom of the circle down to the ground, with the holders kneeling so it can be read (and photographed!) from directly in front.

Play with it: You can play climate games at your action.

  • Rise up with the material (Rise for people, climate justice, etc)!” — everyone lifts up.
  • Go round the circle, each person counting either Number 1 or Number 2. Hold the material up high and call out: “Number 2’s trade places!” . . . then all people who counted Number 2 have to run under the material , taking each other’s places. You can have a short dance party in the middle.
  • “Down with (Big Oil, fossil fuels, fracking, oil trains, oil/gas pipeline, climate impacts, etc)” Bring the material low down to the ground.
Other ideas

You can also make the X and Sun shapes with paint, paper, with costumes, with graffiti and more. Check out the Rise for Climate Art webpage for more ideas!