Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Culture & Climate

Aloha and mahalo nui loa (Hawaiian for "thank you very much") for clicking this link and following this blog. 

The Sustainable Museums website and blog have moved. Now you'll find the website here, and the blog at Culture & Climate

I hope you'll keep following, and bring along some friends -- this movement needs us all. 

Mahalo for what you do and help others to do. 


Monday, August 20, 2018

Pacific Risk Management Conference: Relevance for Cultural Institutions

When a climate-driven flood, storm, or fire roars into your community, nearly everyone is affected. Pre-planning a response helps anyone or anything survive, recover from, and then thrive after the event. That's called resilience.

With so much more risk and damage around us, everyone will have to help, not just the first-responders, the waste haulers, and the construction crews.

Last week I attended the Pacific Risk Management 'Ohana (family/group) known as PRiMO to find connections among cultural institutions sector and the risk and disaster management sector. There is so much room for zoos, aquariums, museums of all kinds to work with our communities to help manage the increasingly frequent crises. I didn't find much happening, yet, but I did find terrific willingness among NOAA scientists, emergency communications specialists, community managers, and product developers to work with the cultural sector. They don't like disasters any more than we do! They too want to help the public understand the science of climate change, plan better for themselves, and make changes that will reduce risk and increase resilience.

So, if you had to deal with a present or future natural disaster in your community, what would your museum, zoo, garden or historic site do to help? If your community were in recovery mode, what could you do?

Short term: Could

  • your site be an accessible gathering spaces for preparation planning and staging, for professionals to host at-risk populations, and to provide services or staging during recovery?
  • you allow your empty parking lots be the staging site for power company equipment or emergency communication vehicles? 

    Post-disaster: Could 
    • your staff collect stories and oral histories from the community, then plan to share the stories of resilience and recovery in your community while memorializing losses and achievements?
    • your collections provide the information for restoring what has been lost?
    • your zoo and aquarium plan to care for a certain number of injured animals, and plan to relocate others suitably?

      NOAA has a great resource Digital Coast with instructions to 3-D print your own coral polyp modules
      You can made them sensitive to a warming ocean and watch them bleach!

      Long term: Could 

      • your aquarium be part of the process of educating people to protect coral reefs while rebuilding a living, resilient coral reef to protect your shores against rising seas and storm surges?
      • your historical records help explore potential impacts and better solutions for the future?
      • you educate the public about the science of safe drinking water and how to protect themselves after an event...maybe explain how MadiDrops work...


      There's no limit the the relevant topics your museum, garden, aquarium, zoo or historic site can interpret. And there is so much your physical plant can provide to support the resilience effort.

      Please join the disaster planning conversations in your community. Help each other!

      Wednesday, August 15, 2018

      Announcing Successful NEH Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Proposal

      I am delighted to share that last week, when the National Endowment for the Humanities announced $43.1 million in funding for 214 humanities projects nationwide, Saint Peter's Lutheran Church in New York City was awarded $350,000 as one of 14 grants under the Endowment's Sustaining Cultural Heritage program.

      Nevelson Chapel, From Entry to Cross of the Good Shepherd

      To prepare the proposal I worked with the Church staff members Jennifer Eberhart Powell, facilities manager Sam Hutcheson, and Pastor Jared Stahler. I also worked with the project art conservator Sarah Nunberg who is my co-PI on an NEH Research Grant on Life Cycle Assessment in sustainable collections care through the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. We developed an holistic approach to improved climate conditions and room construction to find a safer way to present, preserve, and protect the Nevelson Chapel and its artwork as it is restored. I will join that planning team for implementation for 2018-2019.

      When announcing the award, Pastor Amadus J. Derr wrote this to his parishioners and supporters:
      Thanks is due in particular to our Project Managers: Debra Inwald with Christine Wahba and Jigme Pokwal of Works-in-Progress Associates. Debra, Christine and Jigme not only kept design of the project moving along, but were instrumental in ensuring and multidisciplinary environmental upgrade team submitted materials required by the grant application on time.

      The NEH's award is high praise for the work of Sarah Nunberg, our conservator, and this remarkable team:
      •  Jane Greenwood with Jamie Downie and Marian Prado of Kostow Greenwood Architects;
      • Michael Ambrosino of ADS Engineers;
      •  Michael Henry of Watson & Henry Associates;
      •  Ryoko Nakamura of LOOP Lighting; 
      • Dominick Pilla and Elise Martos of Dominick R. Pilla Structural Engineer Associates; 
      • Stephen Short of Lite-Trol Lighting Control Service;
      •  Sarah Sutton of Sustainable Museums

      He gave particular thanks to the champion for the project, a man whose passion for the history and setting of this cultural icon made all the difference: Pastor Jared R. Stahler, whose organizing and administrative skills and unwavering passion for this project have played the major role in the success of these grant applications. [The project has also received significant support from the Henry Luce Foundation.]

      What a pleasure it is to work with an inspired team of passionate cultural professionals: climate and culture on the same team. 

      If you are on Lexington Street in New York City, in the vicinity of the old Citicorp Tower before work begins in mid-October, please stop in to the church, and sit and visit with the sculptural installation that is this remarkable gem of chapel in the hidden in the heart of the City.

      Press Release: Nevelson Chapel is the artist’s only remaining complete environment always open to the public. Restoration of this New York City treasure hidden in plain sight will conserve an important piece of cultural heritage for the future and secure Nevelson’s legacy as one of the most influential and celebrated sculptors of the 20th century.

      Wednesday, July 25, 2018

      Raise Awareness; Boost Contagion; Count on Disaster.

      Have you read In Defense of Food? Do you know American author Michael Pollan and his role in the healthy food movement?  Pollan very simply and effectively describes his approach to the complex problem of changing to healthier, more sustainable food choices in seven words: “Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much.”

      To shape my own practice, I developed a similar mantra as an organizing structure for moving us forward. The first two parts are simple statements based on research-based conclusions. The final flourish is just plain reality:  

      Raise Awareness; Boost Contagion 
      Count On Disaster

      Raise Awareness
      Humans respond to issues relatable to their current or desired situation. They need an opportunity to see how the issue affects them in a way that matters, and to imagine achievable, acceptable actions to create change.

      Boost Contagion
      To catch on, new ways often need a boost. Composting, generating energy, choosing alternative packaging and products must become the choice for more of us, but the change can be slow. Trends, legal compliance, incentivized choices, even opt-out instead of opt-in choices, are ways to boost contagion of a new behavior.   

      For creating change, when all else fails, we can Count on Disaster
      The"Disaster" can be costly mandates, changed regulations, or climate-related events. The force will trigger change where awareness and social signals have not. Only after a serious and damaging storm event, with the ever-present nuisance of rising daily tides, is there change in a coastal community. Urgency and focus appear with a new law, an extended heat wave, or cold snap.

      In our climate work, let's use awareness-raising (through knowledge, skill-building, and conservation communication), and positive contagion (shared learning, responsible standards, cooperative solutions) to build a climate movement among cultural institutions and their audiences. The goal is to create our own change, not to let disaster do it for us. 

      Let's learn how to best do the work to mitigate and avoid damage to our communities and the world around us.

      Friday, July 20, 2018

      We Are Still In News & Upcoming Calls July/August

      The good news just keeps on coming about We Are Still In and the cultural institutions sector.  In the last two weeks

      Everyone who is part of this effort to build cultural institution support for the values of the Paris Agreement is so heartened to see this. 

      Individual institutions and associations from national to the state level are considering the value and opportunities afforded by collaboration, and are ready to explore how to be a part of this sea change in community connections by zoos, gardens, historic sites, museums and aquariums.

      To help others consider these options, the volunteers at AAM's Environment & Climate Network have set up a series of calls. I look forward to speaking with you - and I hope it's soon.

      Here are the dates. Please note that, though these times are all Eastern, they're staggered to provide comfortable times across the regions - including Hawai'i. 

      Wednesday, July 256pm (EST)
      Thursday, July 261pm (EST)
      Wednesday, August 16pm (EST)
      Wednesday, August 812pm (EST)
      Wednesday, August 156pm (EST)
      Wednesday, August 2212pm (EST)
       Wednesday, August 29   12pm (EST)

      Each call uses this link. If you'd like to call in instead, here are the numbers:
      iPhone one-tap:
      US: +14086380986,,2523448288# or +16465588665,,2523448288#
      Telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 408 638 0986 or +1 646 558 8665 AND Meeting ID: 252 344 8288

      Tuesday, July 17, 2018

      More News: We Are Still In, the Cultural Sector

      If the last week of June was busy, now, with the holiday over, the We Are Still In action is heating up again.

      Vizcaya Museum & Gardens signed on - a heritage site dealing with significant impacts of sea level rise on the Florida coast. They're experiences are important for us all to understand. How can we help them; how does their experience prepare others?

      Then the Museums Association of Arizona signed on as our first association signatory and first state museum association signatory. Janice Klein attended an online session, then made an excellent case to her board. They are in!

      Tomorrow is another chance to  listen and ask questions.  It's noon EST. Just follow that link.

      There are similar live webinars every week this summer, and we'll be archiving copies. We're trying to make it easy for you to learn, have your questions answered, and then join your peers. They're interested in working across sectors to help create solutions, and participating in or hosting environment and climate discussions not just with visitors, but also in their communities. It's not about what you're doing now, it's about what you want to start doing.

      Meanwhile, the We Are Still In Steering Committee is sending invites to our Forum on September 11th at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, but you have to be part of We Are Still In to participate. The Field Museum and New England Aquarium committed immediately to participating. Museums, gardens, aquariums and historic sites will be able to send a valuable message during the Summit.

      It's just incredible to experience. We are showing the world that the significant abilities, resources, and influence of our sector can help address our greatest social, scientific, and economic challenge ever: climate change. Without the volunteers of AAM's Environment & Climate Network, Stephanie, Emily, Carter, Holly, Roger, and Pat, this would not be possible.

      So, will you listen in to our calls, or have a private one with me? Will you go to the website yourself? www.wearestillin.com

      Then will you sign on and help us tell the world that America is Still In the Paris Agreement because we care about our World?   'Cause we do.