September 2017

Firerock: Pass the Spark Inspiring Change Heart to Heart


Molly Sturges and The Firerock Team


Firerock is a project that catalyzes community engagement with climate change through the ancient practices of song and story. At its core it is a mythical, warm-hearted, family-friendly musical production that illuminates humankind’s disconnection from the destructive social, spiritual and economic impacts of extractive energy. Performances are integrated with engagement activities to build community, create spaces for dialogue and foster sustained collective action. Ultimately, Firerock focuses on what we can do to adapt to combat the worst impacts of climate change and join together with dignity and care to create a truly just and compassionate world.

In early January 2018, Firerock: Pass The Spark launches with a premiere at the Adobe Rose Theater in Santa Fe. In partnership with the advocacy/educational groups New Energy Economy, Earth Care and others, the Firerock team will support and amplify ongoing efforts for a just transition in the Southwest. At the same time, three DIY versions of different scales that anyone can produce, a Firerockers Unite social networking platform, and a comprehensive toolkit including support videos, educational materials, activities and more, will be released to assist host groups around the globe.  


The overall project design and artistic core of Firerock has taken many years of collaboration and learning at the front lines of creativity and climate change. The production is motivated by a heartfelt prayer for connection, engaged reciprocity and the need to identify and honor that which is sacred. Firerock has literally been created by a committed team of artists, activists and cultural workers from around the country, and by hundreds of people in residencies and workshops with students, directly impacted communities, faith groups, climate advisors, activists and native communities.


Firerock is designed so that any individual, group or organization can bring the production to life in its community. Firerock can be staged in schools, places of worship, universities, cultural centers, community theatres, around dinner tables, etc. Firerock is intended to evolve and create a network of cross-community learning and regionally appropriate solutions.  


The central story of Firerock goes like this: A coveted vein of Firerock, a symbol for fossil fuels, has spent 365 million years underneath the Wildwood, a magical forest outside the mining town of Hopewell Junction. The ancient and wise Firerock yearns to stay in the earth, but her cries are ignored. Years of burning firerock have produced the Snooze, a numbing slumber that disconnects Hopewell’s inhabitants from the natural world. One family grapples with whether to sell the beloved Wildwood, a move that could help a young student and provide for the struggling community in the short-term but bring devastation for generations to come. Their decision is complicated by the arrival of an ambitious young man from a mining company. With everyone’s future at stake, Firerock and a bumbling otter must awaken the spark of connection in Hopewell residents before their world is lost forever.


Climate disruption is one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced. Confronting it requires that we find emotional connection and pathways to meaningful participation in climate change efforts. It also requires true sacrifice, long-term commitments, fundamental rewiring towards honoring that which is sacred, and effective actions to ensure universal access to clean air, water, food for all humans and the species with whom we share the Earth.  


As a musician and artist, I have deep faith in the power of story, song and dance. They are time-tested. They move hearts and minds. We are creatures of belief, feeling and story. We need myths, and we need good ones to help us navigate these times. There is no clearly defined path forward, and inspiration is necessary for our vital presence and engagement. The Firerock team has worked hard to accomplish this. Directed by Acushla Bastible, Kristin Rothballer, Kavita Krishna and myself, and supported by an incredible team of many others, the project has been carefully shaped after years of learning from many forms of feedback. I have heard it said that strong art has to change its maker. Firerock has done just that. 


Making long-term commitments to art projects wasn’t something that was my first idea as a professional composer and artistic director. For me it evolved from seeing how participatory creativity actually has the power to change lives. As the founding artistic director of the artist collective Littleglobe, an arts and hospice and aging program (Lifesongs), and other initiatives, I learned through on-the-ground experiences filled with hard challenges and blessings. Addressing the era of climate change asks each of us to take our place as part of the story, to welcome in the shadow and the challenges, to truly celebrate our uniqueness and to protect, respect and care for each other and our world. It is not about quitting when it is convenient or when it does not feel good. At the very least, may we learn to give as much as we take and get very real with what that means in daily life. Personally, I struggle with this every day, but I am comforted to know I am not alone; we are an evolving work-in-progress, and each day is truly a miracle worthy of immense gratitude.


Firerock engages heart, hope and imagination at this time of great urgency. It is one of the many threads of a great tapestry of expressions and efforts that helps build the relationships and resources needed to meet this time with dignity, care, clarity, precision and love.


 Join us for all things Firerock. Visit to hear songs and see videos.




Firerock Workshops

The focus of Firerock’s 2018 launch (January 11–14 and 18–20) is to premiere the full-scale musical with a focus on documentation to assist DIY host sites in staging their own versions of Firerock. With the introduction of the online DIY Toolkit, the Firerock team will support communities in mounting the production and catalyzing climate engagement around the world. Firerock will be offering participatory workshops and family-friendly activities from October 2017 to January 2018 that will enable schools, community members, faith communities, family and friend groups, workplaces and others to participate. To learn more, hear songs and see videos, or to sign up to become a host, email or visit




Art Becomes the Oxygen: An Artist Response Guide

A Guide for Artists, Emergency Management Agencies, Funders, Policy-Makers and Communities Responding to Natural and Civil Emergencies


The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (not a government agency), an action network of artists and allies dedicated to cultural democracy, recently released Art Became the Oxygen: An Artist Response Guide, a free, downloadable 74-page guide to arts-based work responding to disaster or other community-wide emergencies, from Katrina to Ferguson, Sandy to Standing Rock. Most of the work featured in the USDAC’s Guide was created in collaboration with community members directly affected by crisis. Most of it pursues one or more of three main objectives: offering comfort, care, or connection in the immediate wake of a crisis; creating powerful images and experiences that amplify and focus protest, penetrating the media and public awareness; and engaging those most affected by a crisis in creative practices over time that help them reframe and integrate their experience, building resilience and strengthening social fabric. Visit, #ArtResponds




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