The Cool Globes Are Coming to Boston Common

Starting next week—just in time for Boston GreenFest—49 giant globe sculptures will be displayed around Boston to raise awareness about climate change.


Photo via Cool Globes

Wendy Abrams’s license plate says “UNLESS.” Why? Because for the founder of Cool Globes, a major public art exhibit coming to Boston next week, those last lines of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax are words to live by.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

How fitting that Abrams attended the second annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2006, where community leaders were challenged by the Clinton Foundation to make effective and active commitments to improve the world.

Abrams, surrounded by political powerhouses and leaders of NGOs, decided her commitment would be to start a public art exhibit—Cool Globes—that would spread awareness of climate change in her home city of Chicago. The concept: a collection of large globe sculptures, each created by a different artist, depicting various solutions to climate change. The tagline: “Hot ideas for a cooler planet.”


Photos via Cool Globes

With support from then-Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley and a goal of 20 to 25 globes, Abrams and her committee set out to acquire artists and sponsors.”We had so much enthusiasm from the community that we ended up with 125 globes.” Abrams said. “The project really grew in Chicago. Several million people saw the exhibit, and Toyota, one of our sponsors, said, ‘We want to bring this to other cities.'”

Going beyond her own home turf was not part of Abrams’s plan.

But then the Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC, called and said, “We want to bring it here.”

And then the mayor’s office in San Francisco called and said, “We want to bring it here.”

To date, Cool Globes has visited more than a dozen cities around the world, with 18 globes currently on view in Jerusalem. On August 15, correlating with the first day of Boston GreenFest, Cool Globes will come to Boston, where 49 globes will be put on display. Most of the Cool Globes slated for Boston will be set up in the Common, while others will be hosted by the Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium, the Esplanade, and other hot spots.

You’ll see globes sponsored by big-deal Massachusetts companies like Bain Capital, Reebok, and MedLine, as well as Boston power players like Jack Connors, the Granthams, and more. Governor Deval Patrick and Congressman Joseph Kennedy III are honorary co-chairs of the project.

Several of the globes are being made especially for Boston. (Look for a Boston Strong tribute globe appropriately placed at Copley.) At the Common, keep an eye out for Cool Globes by Nancy Schon (who crafted the Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Public Garden) and David Phillips (maker of the bronze frogs keeping kids entertained near Frog Pond).

“I want this to be a Boston event. We want to really engage Boston artists and have the globes talk about initiatives that are happening in Boston,” Abrams said.

Below, check out some of the locally made Cool Globes that will debut next week:


Photos via Cool Globes / Nancy Schon

Even before finding out about Abrams’s life mantra, Boston sculptor Nancy Schon (pictured above) also drew inspiration from The Lorax for her Cool Globe. With the assistance of her intern Nellie Robinson (pictured bottom left), Schon covered her piece with some 100 book covers of famous children’s books (including Make Way for Ducklings, of course). She said:

I have 11 grandchildren, and I am very interested and care about what’s going to happen to my grandchildren’s world. I worry about the future—things have changed a lot. I’m an older person—I’m going to 85—and I can see that the climate has definitely changed. I used to be able to go skating all winter, and I can’t anymore. … I think about children, and I think about books, and I think about reading. Kids can read! And they don’t use up any energy but their own. They, by reading, will learn about how to change our planet in the future. They’re the ones who are going to save our planet.


Photos via Cool Globes / David Phillips

David Phillips created his Cool Globe with a frog theme. Using rubber molds and polyester resin, Phillips made about 500 frogs of various sizes to place all over the globe. Similar to Schon, Phillips was also inspired by poetry. The Frog by Hilaire Belloc begins: “Be kind and tender to the Frog…” Phillips said:

It struck me that this was a different era. Global warming wasn’t even a concept then, but [my globe] is bringing a new take on that poem of treating the frogs well. They’re sort of an indicator of if the ecosystem is healthy. If you have a freshwater pond where all the frogs are dying, you know something’s wrong. … One of the things going on with frogs is they’re growing extra limbs and extra eyeballs—there’s kind of a mutation going on among frogs—it’s very predominant in the United States. So I’ve included a bunch of weird, deformed frogs in this mix. That’s another thing you’ll discover on my globe.


Photos via Cool Globes / Conservation Law Foundation

Cool Globes delivered white fiberglass globes to all of the artists and sponsors, to build on however they please.

The Conservation Law Foundation decided to ask people, including performers at Bank of America Pavilion, to sign their Cool Globe. Each John Hancock represents a pledge to address climate change, with the main text on the globe reading, “We Pledge to Do Our Part to Reduce Climate Pollution.”


The Cool Globes opening celebration will be held Thursday, August 15, at 11 a.m. by the Brewer Fountain in Boston Common. Mayor Menino, Congressman Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will speak at the event.