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How Anika Larsen is using Broadway to fight climate change

From her “Broadway Vlog to Save the Planet” to her collaboration with the Broadway Green Alliance, the actor will showcase Broadway as an example before the United Nations.

Anika Larsen (Credit: Jenny Anderson)

On an ordinary day in 2022, Tony Award-nominated actor Anika Larsen read another worrisome article about the climate emergency and reacted the way she always does after absorbing coverage about the dire situation of this planet. “I panicked and I thought, ‘But I recycle. I drive a Prius. I take short showers. I vote for people who care about passing green legislation. I simply don’t know what else to do. This problem is too massive and I don’t know how to fix it,’” Larsen recalled. And then she waited for the feeling to fade into the background as it always did. But it didn’t.

“I have two little boys, and I just needed to be able to look them in the eyes and say, ‘I really tried to fight for your planet,’” said Larsen.

So she called her friend Andrea Varga, a sustainability faculty fellow and associate professor of theater design at SUNY New Paltz. Varga introduced Larsen to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (also known as the “global goals”); the U.N. cites these as the “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” Varga also gave Larsen valuable advice: “All anyone can do is what they can do locally, but your local is Broadway — and Broadway gets attention,” Larsen remembered.

Larsen harnessed that attention by launching “The Broadway Vlog to Save the Planet,” in partnership with the podcast “Broadway Gives Back,” hosted by Jan Friedlander Svendsen.

Inspired by the 17 global goals, each episode of the vlog focuses on one goal with one Broadway industry professional. Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz walks viewers through Goal 7, affordable and clean energy; Tony-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes talks about Goal 12, responsible consumption and production; Tony-winning scenic designer Derek McLane breaks down Goal 9, industry, innovation and infrastructure; Tony-winning performer Ruthie Ann Miles digs into Goal 13, climate action; and the list goes on.

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