We Refuse to Die was part of the exhibition, Unsettling Matter: Gaining Ground, at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, August 2023 - January 2024.
A Story of Resurrection

a story of resurrection

Across the country, Black, Latinx, Indigenous and poor white communities living near refineries, pipelines, fracking sites, and other polluting infrastructure experience disproportionate rates of asthma, rare cancers, and other terminal illness. In the western United States, wildfires cover communities in toxic smoke and ravage the more-than-human world, destroying homes and habitats. Forced to live in unlivable conditions, humans and other species are cast as the living dead. With We Refuse to Die, the living dead speak back. 

Incorporating visual art produced for both museum and outdoor exhibition, public rituals, gatherings within and across communities, and artistic visuals for performances, public hearings, and protest, this multi-year, multi-city project pushes back against the dominant representation of so-called “sacrifice zones” as sites of powerlessness and victimization.

In coalition with communities on the frontlines of climate and environmental justice struggles, We Refuse to Die forges new solidarities—across generations, species, and geographies, metabolizing grief into collective strength and community power.

With We Refuse to Die, the living dead speak back—forging a coalition of the living and the dead, in which the ancestors are not simply victims of industrial pollution, but allies and agents of change.

People with signs featuring animal skulls and the words We Refuse To Die
A group of activists posing with a skull and wearing skull masks

With We Refuse to Die, the living dead speak back—forging a coalition of the living and the dead, in which the ancestors are not simply victims of industrial pollution, but allies and agents of change.

the externalities

In September 2020, the community of Breitenbush in Detroit, Oregon was devastated by the convergence of two climate-fueled wildfires that ripped through the property, ravaging homes and habitat. And yet, from ashes rise aspirations, and the community rebuilds. In 2023, members of the art collective Not An Alternative (also known as The Natural History Museum—a traveling “museum for the movement”) joined members of the Breitenbush community to salvage trees killed in the wildfires.

Over the coming years, the trees will stand again, reborn as outdoor monuments called Externalities, hand-carved and installed in Gulf South and Appalachian yards, facing the petrochemical plants and fossil fuel facilities that cause local and global harm.


We Refuse To Die debuted in Fall, 2023 in an exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a week-long convening with 30 frontline community partners from the Gulf South and Appalachia.

Featuring “toxic tours”, demonstrations, billboards, and guerilla art projections, the grassroots gathering culminated in the first permanent installation of an Externality monument.

Upcoming events include:
  • Toxic Tours, to so-called “sacrifice zones” across the country. Open to members of the public, and led by health professionals and impacted residents, these tours visit fracking drill pads, compressor stations, pipelines, and petrochemical plants.
  • Public ritual around the installation of Externality monuments, on properties in proximity to polluting infrastructure. At each ceremony, a carving is permanently planted in the ground, and local organizers, faith leaders, and community members speak to the struggles they share with others across the country, and to those we have lost, the ancestors whose legacies we build upon.
  • Panel discussions, both virtual and in-person, featuring community partners from Appalachia, Permian Basin, Gulf South, and beyond, as well as artists, historians, faith leaders, and public health experts.
  • and more...
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community partners + collaborators


Better Brazoria (Brazoria County)
Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas
Fenceline Watch (Houston)
Gwyndolyn Jones (Freeport)
Indigenous Peoples of the Coastal Bend (Corpus Christie)
Nieto family (Manchester, Baytown, Galena Park)
Port Arthur Community Action Network (Port Arthur)
Society of Native Nations (San Antonio)
TEJAS/Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (Houston)
Yudith Nieto, Another Gulf is Possible (Houston)


Alyssa Portaro (Vinton)
Debra Ramirez, Mothers of Mossville (Lake Charles)
For a Better Bayou (Cameron)
Lois Booker Malvo, Fisherville Environmental Action Now, A Mother’s Love Support Group (Lake Charles)
RISE St. James (St. James Parish)
Roishetta Ozane, Vessel Project (Lake Charles)

pennsylvania + ohio river valley

BCMAC / Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community
BLAC / Black Appalachia Coalition
Better Path Coalition
Breathe Project
Lois Bower-Bjornson, Clean Air Council (Washington County)
Melanie Meade, BLAC, GASP /Group Against Smog and Pollution (Clairton)
Physicians for Social Responsibility - PA Chapter
River Valley Organizing (Ohio)
Unity Council for the East Palestine Train Derailment
WaSEPA / Watchdogs for South-Eastern Pennsylvania


Halt the Harm Network
People vs. Fossil Fuels Coalition
Permian-Gulf Coast Coalition

pacific northwest

Breitenbush Community (Detroit, OR)