By Marlee Ginter

OROVILLE (CBS13) — If a daily drive doesn’t take you by some of the harsh realities of everyday life, then multiple billboards in Oroville will. They highlight California’s homeless crisis, devastating wildfires and relentless drought.

“My hope for these billboards is people will look at what’s happening. We ignore it all the time,” said Oakland artist Thomas Broening.

Broening is the artist behind the images. He says his project, which includes six billboards, is not a political ploy. He’s not representing an organization. He just wants to make people think about the issues facing California.

“It’s good, I think. A reminder to folks that that’s what’s happening in real life and we got to open our eyes to what’s really going on,” said Samuel Marez of Oroville.

“They show good awareness.  They show people what to look for here and around the area,” said Katelynn Ginther of Oroville.
“I’m just a dude with four kids and I felt like I had to do something,” said Broening.  “I feel like this is the one thing I can do is I can take pictures. Very little else I do well.  But this is what I can do.”
Broening says the need for change is obvious, but the first step is awareness.  He’s hoping his art is the first step to getting people to look at California’s struggles and acknowledge them.
“I think we’re really facing a catastrophe in all these three areas I’m looking at,” said Broening. “You know, you’re in Sacramento, I’m in Oakland and we breathe the same air. It’s not like this is happening in Oroville only or Los Angeles only. This is happening everywhere.”
That’s why Oroville is just the beginning. Broening’s project moved to Oakland on June 12 and then it will be on to Southern California later this summer.