In the quest to build a better tomorrow, artists and performers are stealth change agents. Their power is both subtle and profound: They grab hold of hearts and minds, and reveal a whole new way of seeing things — a way that can inspire people to take action.

Every year, the Grist 50 highlights emerging leaders who are working toward a more sustainable and equitable future. These five artists are using their creative skills to show us a different tomorrow:

  1. After Hurricane Maria, filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo kept the cameras rolling — capturing not only the disaster capitalists seeking to profit from the island’s misery, but also the ways Puerto Ricans began repairing their own communities.
  2. Louisiana scientist-artist-conservationist Brandon Ballengée’s artwork dives deep into Gulf ecology, dreaming up interactive exhibits that showcase local species — and the threats that put them at risk.
  3. Layel Camargo’s culture jamming and arts organizing builds a creative community that is focused on justice, sustainability, and solidarity.
  4. Playwright and cultural worker Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s new work, cullud wattah, set against the backdrop of the Flint water crisis, is scheduled to open at New York City’s Public Theater this year.
  5. Artist and arts impresario Beka Economopolous launched a traveling museum pop-up that, among other things, investigates how museums portray indigenous history.

There are 45 other folks doing great work on our list! Read about all of them on the 2020 Grist 50.

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