The Greenmont Bear, known as Ursa Gaia, or “Earth Bear,” is getting an Earth-conscious makeover.
In 2016, Adelheid Schaupp brought the Greenmont Bear home to Green Street, where it has been brightening the neighborhood ever since. Now the Ursa Gaia Community Art Project, a collaboration between Morgantown Art Party and West Virginia Climate Action, will give Ursa Gaia some brightening of her own. The bear’s fresh coat of paint will feature native West Virginia species like the Monarch butterfly, in danger of extinction. Kathryn Williamson, founder of West Virginia Climate Action, painted the butterfly on Ursa Gaia this week. Climate change has made the Monarch caterpillar’s food source, milkweed, too toxic, prompting discussion about protecting the butterfly under the Endangered Species Act.
Williamson started West Virginia Climate Action last September, inspired by the global climate strikes happening in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. WVCA elevates the voices of those taking action to combat climate change, and the Ursa Gaia Community Art Project makes the conversation about climate change more accessible, Williamson says. She quotes atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe: “The most important thing you can do about climate change is talk about it.”