The FEMİN-ART Women Artists Association from Trabzon, Turkey, one of the regions worst affected by the Chernobyl meltdown, has been awarded funding to produce root-based paints and distribute them for free.
Chemical-based paints have long been known to cause adverse health effects, from reduced sperm counts in men to raising the risk of miscarriage or birth defects for the children of pregnant women.
The link between organic living and better human health is obvious to residents of Trabzon, along the Black Sea coast of Turkey, an area seriously blighted by the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown of 1986. Now, with funding from the Turkey-European Union Civil Society Dialogue, a female artists’ association from the city of Trabzon will strive to replace standard chemical paints with ones from healthier, organic sources.
For the next year, in an atelier in the Maçka district of Trabzon, FEMİN-ART will grow a variety of plants whose roots yield dye that can be used to color artists’ paints.
“When we look at the world, we see that the chemical production has taken over the main part of our lives while affecting our lives in negative ways,” FEMİN-ART president Şükran Üst told the Turkish Anatolian News Agency.
The Turkey-European Union Civil Society Dialogue has awarded FEMİN-ART 130,000 Euros for the project, which aims to ultimately distribute the organic paints for free to artists in the Trabzon region. FEMİN-ART has already distinguished itself by carrying out civic beautification projects around Trabzon, and even organized a female artists’ festival in Trabzon this summer, drawing participants from thirteen other countries.
In line with the founding goals of the Turkey-European Union Civil Society Dialogue, representatives from FEMİN-ART will also visit Germany to learn more about organic paint production there.
The project represents a small but hopeful step forward for advocates of organic living in Turkey. The Turkish government has legally targeted scientists who try to study the effects of harmful chemicals on local populations before, and will certainly try to do so in the future. But the more support Turkish environmentalists receive from EU organizations and countries, the more likely the government is to eventually join the effort to clean up Turkey’s air, water, and industrial sector — even if it has to happen one can of paint at a time.
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