The supervisor at Lawrence Heritage State Park's Visitor Center roves the upstairs poster exhibit and notes offhandedly how it teaches you the word for green in multiple languages: English, French, German and Spanish among them.

Here in the gallery on Jackson Street hang 57 posters. 

They're at once colorful, telling and emphatic, declaring the peril that pollution and global warming pose to lives, jobs and the environment.

The show, “Green Politics: An International Poster Exhibit,” up through Sept. 29, proves timely for a couple of reasons.

One, the center regularly exhibits posters around Labor Day, coinciding with the annual Bread & Roses Heritage Festival, which honors the historic 1912 strike by workers in Lawrence. The exhibit typically has a connection to unions and workers' lives.

Two, many of these pro-environment posters draw attention to global warming and its potential for ecological disaster at a time when a major one has unfolded along the Gulf Coast in Texas.

Musing earlier on the show's timing, James Beauchesne, the center's supervisor, said rampant development and pollution exact a heavy cost.

“People who bear the price are not usually the people who make the profit,” he said.

The posters come from Stephen Lewis' collection. The longtime labor activist has collected almost 7,000 posters, gathered, in part, through his world travels.

For a decade, Lewis has exhibited posters in Lawrence under a host of categories, including worker safety, labor history and rights, and, now, "Green Politics."

The current posters both recall and champion environmental marches and causes, as well as document degradation to soil, air, water, wildlife and people.

One poster is of world leaders hunched over a table, its top a hemisphere shedding coal chunks and dripping blood. Others display penguins, forests, flowers and the sun.

The placards address topics like renewable energy, public transportation, fracking, nuclear weapons, cloning, genetically modified plants and forest protection.

Transition to an economy that respects and protects natural resources also offers opportunities, said Lewis, the treasurer for the Bread & Roses Festival, the annual Labor Day Festival in Lawrence that celebrates the city's history and diverse cultures through music, theater, dance and art. It's set for Monday, Sept. 4.

"One example here in Massachusetts is IBEW Local 103," he said. "Part of their apprenticeship training is now in the fields of wind power, solar power and electric vehicles."

Lewis sees a correlation between the poster exhibit and the historic event the festival celebrates, a correlation between the present and past.

"The mill workers of Lawrence in 1912, had to fight against the mill owners to achieve better working conditions and better wages," he said. "The fight today of workers is against much more powerful business interests who put profit over the future of person-kind."

Still, everyone has a stake in a safe and healthy world.

The flooding and loss of life and property in the Houston area makes no distinction among people, Lewis said.

“What impacts the environment is going to impact everyone, whether they are working class or wealthy,” he said. 

 

IF YOU GO

What: “Green Posters: An International Poster Exhibit” 

When: Through Sept. 29; open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Lawrence Heritage State Park Visitor Center, 1 Jackson St., Lawrence

How much: Free, fully accessible

More information: 978-794-1655

BREAD & ROSES HERITAGE FESTIVAL

What: Multi-cultural, multi-ethnic labor and social justice, open-air arts and music festival

When: Monday, Sept. 4, 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: 200 Common St. Lawrence

How much: Free admission

More information: breadandrosesheritage.org, 978-309-9740

ABOUT CHEAP SEATS

Cheap Seats is a recurring feature where we highlight places in our region to go for free or a few dollars. Got an idea for a Cheap Seats? Email Terry Date at tdate@northofboston.com.

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