For January 2024, I am circling back to four columns published last year that featured Colorado-based projects.

I’ve asked the artists to share with us what art and activism means to them, as well as updates about their work. A heartfelt thank you to  the artists for your activism! 

Brian Hedden – Fracking the System

Brian gives a thumbs up holding a Fracking the System film poster

Brian gives a thumbs up holding a Fracking the System film poster


Fracking The System, a feature-length documentary by independent filmmaker Brian Hedden, was featured in August 2023.

The film documents the heart-felt and hard fought struggle of concerned parents and families and environmental activists who  succeeded in getting Proposition 112 on the ballot during the 2018 election. Brian has this to share,

Art is our moral compass. Art is where we turn when we feel lost in this  upside down world, and when nothing makes sense and we feel utterly alone. Art is an  expression of our higher self, created in an attempt to infuse our base material  existence with a glimpse of the sacred and profound. As activists, we need art to stay  inspired and to remember what we are fighting to save. The future we are fighting to  create is full of art and the ends must also be the means.” 

The film will have its world premiere at the Colorado Environmental Film Fest on the weekend of February 23 – 25, 2024, as well as 10 scheduled community screenings events in Spring 2024 in support of the Safe and Healthy ballot initiative.

To help Fracking the System reach their fundraising goal, please visit and share the campaign:

James Daly – Matriarch

Headshot of Colorado-based musician and composer James Daly

Headshot of Colorado-based musician and composer James Daly

In October, we featured composer James Daly, who released his first solo album, Matriarch, a Neo-classical adventure that is focused on climate change.

This is how James thinks and feels about art and activism:

“Art connects us. Purpose also connects us. When art intersects purpose, we have seen the most pronounced changes across the arc of human history. Art in today’s social/digital landscape is both fleeting and pervasive, and the same can be said for activism. We are trying to communicate our message to minds that are saturated with content, and visual art, music, poetry and other art forms can provide the avenue to amplify our collective purpose.” 

“Matriarch” released in September and can be heard across all digital streaming platforms. The album has appeared on local station KGNU among others, and been  placed on a number of marquee Spotify playlists to date.

As a reminder, all gross proceeds from Bandcamp downloads will be donated to 350CO, and the first donation was made to 350CO this month! Thank you to all who are listening! 

Maggie Hartmans + Brittany Zampella – A Good Neighbor

Lucy, Brittany, and Maggie standing together at a film festival in Colorado

Lucy, Brittany, and Maggie standing together at Denver Film Festival showing A Good Neighbor


The November column featured A Good Neighbor, a feature-length documentary film  by Maggie Hartmans and Brittany Zampella, that tells the story of Lucy Molina, a Latina single mother living in Commerce City, a suburb of Denver, Colorado, one of the most polluted areas in the entire country.

Brittany and Maggie offered this about art and activism:

Art is our lane of activism. We love telling stories because they carry  empathy.”

A Good Neighbor is officially available for public screenings! If anyone is interested in seeing the film or hosting a screening, see this link.

Pictured below, l to r: Lucy Molina, Brittany Zampella, Maggie Hartmans, Cam Hartmans.

Chip Thomas – buffalo soldiers: reVision

Our December column featured the current exhibition at the History Colorado’s Fort Garland Museum & Cultural Center, buffalo soldiers: reVision.

The exhibition is a  partnership with eight independent artists that disrupts the common narratives of manifest destiny and settlement of the American West.

Chip Thomas (pictured below), who just recently retired as a doctor on the Navajo Nation, and was the lead artist on this project offered this quote when asked about art and activism:

“Art is not a mirror  held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”Bertolt Brecht.

KGNU, a local community radio station, recently aired a segment about the exhibition.

Susan Heske posing with a guitar outdoors

About the Writer:
Susan Heske


Susan Heske moved to Boulder, CO, in October 2021. She previously worked as Senior Director of Communications for Student Services at The New School in New York City. She has been involved with social justice issues for many years.