Image of a group of people watching the UC Sheepmowers graze a lawn from the other side of a temporary fence.

Sheep Shift Climate Poetry

Submit your climate-change inspired words by April 21, then join in the three-day event April 24-26

Image of a herd of UC Davis sheepmowers with one that is looking at the camera.

Ways to Participate!

  1. Share your climate-change inspired word(s) by Apr 21, 2024. 
  2. Attend a mowing events April 24-26 and submit a poem.
  3. Help paint a mural! Fall Quarter 2024 
    (Date TBA).

Share your words by April 21!

What words come to mind when you think about climate change? Urgency? Innovation? Carbon-free? Now, imagine those very words adorning the fluffy coats of sheep, transforming them into living symbols of our sustainability goals. Only at UC Davis could such a whimsical, yet meaningful event take place.

From April 24 to 26, the UC Davis Sheepmowers, a team comprised of several dozen sheep working in partnership with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden to maintain campus lawns as part of an ongoing research endeavor, join forces with the Big Shift (an ongoing construction project essential to reducing our campus's reliance on fossil fuels). Together, they are collaborating to create "Sheep Shift Climate Poetry."

To kick the event off, campus and community members are invited to submit climate-change inspired words today through April 21. Crowd-sourced selections will then appear on the sides of the campus’s beloved sheepmowers.

“Imagine the bucolic site of sheep grazing on a lawn, as they once did in New York City’s Central Park, but now, each one is adorned with carefully chosen words like "renewable," "biodiversity," "sustainability," or "resilience,” said Haven Kiers, assistant professor of Landscape Architecture + Environmental Design and lead sheepmower researcher.

As visitors gather to witness this unique spectacle, they will be encouraged not just to watch but to engage in the act of creation. Craft a poem, compose a haiku, or pen a sentence inspired by the haphazard order of words appearing in the pastoral scene. 

"It's a creative process akin to poetry magnets, but with a wooly twist," said Kiers. "These sheep will become canvases for our shared aspirations of a greener, more resilient future."

Image of a non-descript building on the UC Davis campus that houses equip vital to the Big Shift, a large-scale construction project essential to facilitating the campus's move away from fossil fuel use in its operations.
This nondescript temporary building on the corner of North Quad and California Ave. houses equipment vital to the Big Shift – a large-scale construction project essential to moving our university operations away from fossil fuel use. The lawn here will be the location of the next Sheepmower grazing events from April 24-26.

The location for this particular series is also meaningful, and selected to highlight the Big Shift.

“This time the sheep will be grazing on a lawn adjacent to a nondescript, temporary building housing equipment vital to the Big Shift,” said Kiers. 

“While the sheep do their part helping our campus cut its carbon emissions, the Big Shift is really where we’ll get our biggest reductions. Let’s bring them together in a meaningful way to highlight the incredible moves our campus is making to improve its overall sustainability.”

The culmination of this climate-change-inspired poetic journey extends beyond April 26. Throughout the three-day event, participants will be encouraged to submit their literary creations as inspiration for a mural.

“The currently nondescript Big Shift building won’t blend into the background for long,” said Kiers. “We plan to highlight it and the sheepmowers, as a testament to UC Davis’s dedication to sustainability and innovation.”

To accomplish this, at a date currently proposed to happen sometime this fall, the UC Davis community will be invited back to help envision and paint a mural with the help of a professional artist, featuring selections of the literary works offered by Sheep Shift Climate Poetry participants.

Organizers encourage everyone to participate by first submitting their climate-change inspired words by April 21, then they invite everyone to attend any of the three days of the Sheep Shift Climate Poetry events and enter their verses.

Be part of this unique event celebrating greener, more resilient futures!

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