Christopher Houltberg is a Minneapolis-based designer, artist and educator. Houltberg employs an interdisciplinary approach to his creative practice both in teaching and making. Looking for connections and systems, he creates spaces through a range of media including graphic/ information/ environmental design, photography, economics and behavior science. Houltberg is a professor and director of Design & Agency at Augsburg University.

Colin Kloecker is a public artist, designer, and filmmaker with Works Progress Studio. He is also Co-founder and Collaborative Director of Water Bar & Public Studio (see below). Kloecker received his B.S. in Architecture from the University of Minnesota College of Design. He is an alum of the Creative Community Leadership Institute at Intermedia Arts (’11) and the recipient of a River Stewards Emerging Leader Award (’14). His collaborative public artwork and documentary filmmaking has been shared at art museums and cultural spaces across the country.

Aar Maanta is a Somali musician whose activism, work, and creativity led him to become ambassador the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), while leading one of the only active touring bands in the world that plays live Somali music. His work includes Dangerous Crossings, the recent UNHCR campaign about irregular youth migration in the Horn of Africa, for which his song “Tahriib” was reproduced and performed in collaboration with leading artists from Africa. As a singer and songwriter, Maanta has embraced an eclectic mix of styles including influences from rock and reggae jostling with traditional Arabic and Somali music. Despite graduating with a science degree, Maanta pursued music. He began the Horn 2 Groove recording project which generated his 2009 debut album, Hiddo & Dhaqan. The album merged traditional Somali music with Western influences like house and reggae into a fusion described as Afro-hop. In 2010, the Paris-based radio station StarAfrica recognized Maanta’s achievement in creating this new sound when it named him “A Somali Culture Shaper in London.” He released the 2014 EP, Somali Songs from the Diaspora to connect with Somalis around the world. Maanta hopes to take his music to the wider community with an album in the works to be released in fall 2018. He is currently the 2018-19 Artist In Residence at the Cedar Cultural Center.

Ali Momeni was born in Isfahan (Iran) and emigrated to the United States at the age of twelve. He studied physics and music at Swarthmore College and completed his doctoral degree in music composition, improvisation and performance with computers from the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies at UC Berkeley.  Between 2007 and 2011, Momeni was an assistant professor in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he directed the Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Art. Momeni has served as an associate professor in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University where he founded and directed CMU ArtFab, a laboratory that’s focused on making complex creative workflows accessible to youth and non-technical folks. Momeni was also a founding faculty member in CMU’s IDEATE program, and contributed to the Music Technology program.  In 2018, Momeni joined as a Senior Principal Scientist focused on User Experience, and Brown University as a Professor of Practice within the Brown Arts Initiative and Data Science Initiative. He is co-founder of IRL Labs, an educational technology start-up focused on transforming everyday situations into interactive learning opportunities, using every technologies. His research interest include educational technologies, human-computer-interaction for performative applications of robotics, playful urban interventions, interactive projection performance, machine learning for artists and designers, interactive tools for storytelling and experiential learning, mobile and hybrid musical instruments, and the intersection of sound, music and health.

Earth Guardians Youth Director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, (his first name pronounced ‘Shoe-Tez-Caht’) is a 18-year-old indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and powerful voice on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement. At the early age of six, Martinez began speaking around the world, from the United Nations Summit in Rio de Janeiro to the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York. He has worked locally to get pesticides out of parks, contain coal ash, put moratoriums on fracking in his state, and is currently a plaintiff in a youth-led lawsuit against the federal government for their failure to protect the atmosphere for future generations. Martinez has traveled across the nation and to many parts of the world educating his generation about the state of the planet they are inheriting and inspiring youth into action to protect the planet. Earth Guardians has grown to hundreds of crews in over 50 countries. His work has been featured on PBS, Showtime, National Geographic, Rolling Stones, Upworthy, The Guardian, Vogue, Bill Maher, The Daily Show, Skavlan, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, CNN, MSNBC, HBO, VICE, and more. In 2013, Martinez received the 2013 United States Community Service Award from President Obama, and was the youngest of 24 national change-makers chosen to serve on the President’s youth council. He is the 2015 recipient of several awards in recent years including the Peace First Prize, the Nickelodeon Halo Award, Captain Planet Award, the Children’s Climate Prize in Sweden, and Univision Premio’s Ajente de Cambio Award. In 2018 Martinez received My Climate Hero and the Shorty Award Finalist, and was named as one of Huffington Post’s Top 10 Movers and Shakers.

Shanai Matteson is a writer, public artist, and cultural organizer. She lives and works in northeast Minneapolis and across the Mississippi River watershed. She is co-founder and collaborative director of Water Bar & Public Studio (see below). Matteson is also one of the founding artists behind Works Progress Studio, a public art and design studio focusing on collaborative socially-engaged artistic and design projects. Matteson received her B.A. in Cultural Studies from the University of Minnesota. She is an alum of the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) City Arts program, and the Creative Community Leadership Institute (’11). Matteson received a Bush Leadership Fellowship (’13) to pursue her environmental arts leadership work, and is currently a McKnight Artist Fellow (’18).


Daira Quiñones is an Afro-Colombian human rights defender, singer and peacebuilder who creates songs and stories of resistance and peace. Amidst escalating violence in post-accords Colombia, Quiñones builds women-led movements and organizations including FUNDARTECP that fight for complete reparations (including territory), the truth of crimes committed during the conflict and direct participation of all victims. Quiñones was displaced from her ancestral lands in Tumaco, Colombia and began organizing with other displaced Afro-Colombian, Indigenous and Campesina women in Bogotá, creating spaces of sharing and hope.

Isa Roske-Marzon has been working in the fields of activism and leadership for over two decades. She has been an Earth Guardian since the age of six and has spoken and performed at high profile events and conferences across the country. In 2003 Roske-Marzon co-founded Youth Leaders in Action, a project that gave young people the opportunity to feel empowered to create positive change in the world, by first educating themselves about issues directly affecting their community and then taking informed and peaceful actions to make a difference. She has received the E-Achievement Award from E-Town Radio and the Peace Maker of the Year Award from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. Music and dance have always been one of Roske-Marzon’s passions and her work as an activist is now being creatively expressed through the arts. She writes and sings songs to share a message of love, connection, and celebration. Roske-Marzon and JoeAlan, the Indie Soul band she co-founded with JoeAlan Meador, released a debut record called Lifelines in 2014. Their original music has been featured at conscious festivals, events, and rallies in the United States and Australia. Isa has now teamed up with her brother Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and band. Together they are sharing their music and message at music festivals and venues across the country. They just completed their second tour opening for Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People, and are preparing for the release of their first full-length album, titled Break Free.

Artist Jenny Schmid lives in Minneapolis where she runs bikini press international and is a Professor at the University of Minnesota in The Department of Art.  Schmid is represented by The Davidson Galleries in Seattle and her prints have been purchased for collections including The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Block Museum, The Spencer Art Museum and the Library of Congress. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to Slovakia, the McKnight Fellowship, the Bush Artists Grant, a Jerome Film and Video grant and two Minnesota State Arts Board grants. Recent projects include a live animation performance at the Vertice Festival in Mexico City with Ali Momeni, a residency at Frans Masereel Center in Belgium, and 2018 solo exhibitions in at the National Gallery and Gradska Galerija in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Upcoming projects include a solo exhibition at The Davidson Galleries and a live animation performance commissioned by the Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis.


Water Bar & Public Studio is an artist-led benefit corporation based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They serve water to build relationships and transform the culture of cross-sector collaboration. They do this through a free tap water bar in Minneapolis, and at pop-up Water Bar events in other communities. Water Bar began in 2014 as a public art project, and is now a community art and science storefront space (or public studio) in northeast Minneapolis. Water Bar artists  work in partnership with a network of other organizations, water advocates, government agencies, and local residents all across the State of Minnesota and the United States to #ServeWater

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