World Environment Day with FCB Chicago

An ensemble presents selections from "Here: Poems for the Planet" at Cafe Brauer

An ensemble presents selections from “Here: Poems for the Planet” at Cafe Brauer

The Wind City
agency celebrated
the planet with
a creative
call to action for
hundreds of guests


FCB Chicago celebrated World Environment Day with a sensational poetry reading at Café Brauer on June 5.

Combining selections from Here: Poems for the Planet with a multimedia performance by Clark Street Bridge, the verse, music, and imagery swept listeners into passages like, Ask me if I speak for the nautilus and I will be silent as the nautilus shell on a shelf. I can be beautiful and useless if that’s all you know to ask of me.*

"Here" at Café Brauer
“Here” at Café Brauer

Here: Poems for the Planet is an anthology of 128 poems dedicated to saving the earth, in some cases with urgency. Clark Street Bridge is an audiovisual performance group that evolved from an FCB writing workshop.

The book and the performers were united by former FCB Creative General Manager Trina Woldt, who learned about Here through a Kickstarter campaign.

“I became a backer and then I reached out to FCB and said do you want to be a backer and they said yes, of course, we love this idea,” she recalled. “They’re very cause oriented as well.”

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A self-described “poetry lover” who is “very passionate about the environment,” Woldt explained the book’s staying power before the start of the show.

“Hopefully, at the end of the performance, people will feel inspired to take action to recycle or not use paper napkins,” she said. “All those little things add up, and we can all do something.”

John Claxton
John Claxton

Woldt enlisted FCB with help from the agency’s Global Chief Communications Officer, Brandon Cooke. She also contacted John Claxton, the FCB Executive Creative Director who founded Clark Street Bridge.

Claxton and CSB accompanied the presentation with a diverse score performed by a miniature orchestra that included two cellists, a violinist, drums, bass, keyboards, and electric guitar.

The music enhanced the poetry with a variety of sonic moods. Beginning like an ethereal symphony, rising to a tribal stomp, and climaxing on a jukebox twang, it was played to perfection by CSB’s finely tuned sonic machine.

Visuals projected onto a giant screen behind the ensemble complemented the piece.

“The biggest challenge for us was finding a way to represent the book using music and films and singing and performance,” Claxton said. “The book is in five sections and it follows the arc of, you know, the world is a wonderful place, it’s in danger, here’s what we can do to help.”

“And you know it’s not just adults,” he added. “It’s kids too.”

Indeed. A couple of young representatives from Off The Street Club, a nonprofit dedicated to helping youth on Chicago’s West Side, earned mad applause for their inspired readings.

Guests at Café Brauer
Guests at Café Brauer

Other speakers included Elizabeth J. Coleman, who edited Here: Poems for the Planet, contributed work of her own, and convinced the Dalai Lama to write the forward; Elaina Ellis, Editor for Copper Canyon Press, the book’s independent publisher; and June Lee, a retail marketer from Patagonia, who co-sponsored the event along with FCB and Copper Canyon.

After an alfresco cocktail reception, FCB Chicago President and CEO Michael Fassnacht introduced the performance for about a hundred guests who came to celebrate the earth.

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“You might ask yourself why is a creative agency hosting such an event because normally we try to sell, you know, light beer, diapers — a lot of amazing products that have changed the world,” he joked. “But we truly believe that creativity can change the world, and I think probably 2019 we need all the break from all the craziness and just be together for like an hour, listen to some amazing inspiration, some amazing music, some amazing thoughts.”

It happened underneath the graceful geometry of the Café Brauer’s exhibition hall, before a shifting vision of moons and waves and cultures from around the world.

The performance
The performance

*Characteristics of Life by Camille T. Dungy

Send your environmental updates to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton,