The Pacific Northwest has been choked with wildfire smoke the past two summers. In a region that abounds with natural beauty where many people look forward to the sunny summer months in order to enjoy the outdoors, wildfire smoke affects this time of year. To help raise awareness of this potential new normal in the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific Science Center (PacSci) and the Seattle Center have multiple public art exhibits and installations that challenge visitors to think about the reality and impact of wildfires in our region.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) worked with local artist, Ted Youngs, onThe Smoke Season,art installations throughout the Seattle Center and PacSci. The installation at PacSci features a burned tree from the 2017 Jolly Mountain Fire in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, public health information about wildfire smoke and air quality, and helpful tips on how to be prepared for wildfire smoke. The air quality forecast from PSCAA is part of the installation and updated daily, which allows visitors to learn about air quality and health impacts from wildfire smoke.
There are two other installations throughout the Seattle Center campus. One installation includes ten burned trees from the same wildfire laid flat on their side to spell SOS. Viewed from the top of the Space Needle, this peaks visitors curiosity. Visitors can also have a more up close and personal interaction with the installation by walking on the trees and reading subsequent signage about air quality and health impacts of wildfire smoke.
We, at PSCAA, hope these installations bring a broad awareness about air quality, provide helpful information to the public about wildfires, and are an educational resource for the myriad visitors at PacSci and the Seattle Center. The exhibits are open through September 15, 2019.
By Joanna Gangi, Communications - Equity and Community Engagement, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency