Graphic for Smithsonian's 2020 Earth Optimism Summit.

MayDay as Earth Day

Now is the time to explore how can we attach sustainability goals to the annual AIC, ALA and SAA Preservation Week/Month events and their MayDay calls to action.

As I write this crossover Preservation Week/MayDay post so close to Earth Day 2020 (the fiftieth anniversary), stunning news continues to break across the globe due to the coronavirusShining through the fog of worry, there have been surprising gains in a period of forced inactivity due to reduced emissions, such as record-breaking solar energy capture in Germany, and cleaner air in metropolitan areas across the Northeastern U.S and elsewhere. Even in writing this post, my soundtrack was the live-streamed Earth Optimism summita digital event hosted to demonstrate that change and recovery is possible. 

The wording over the light blue poster is: "earth optimism 2020." A perched burrowing owl looks to t

I had originally intended this post to be a recap of the symposium Stemming the Tide-Global Strategies for Sustaining Cultural Heritage Through Climate Changewhich my colleagues and I participated in just prior to moving into emergency-response mode for the pandemic. But, especially now, I see the need to underline my major takeawayit is our time to move toward describing climate change as climate crisis, and into climate action. 

In the concluding public panel "Heritage at Risk: A Dialogue on the Effects of Climate Change," I was the voice for conservators–a somewhat daunting task. As a visual thinker, I invoked a system of iconography and artistic expression to frame my discussion points that may surprise and be of use to you. I respond to moderator Julian Bickersteth’s opening question at about  26:27, but I encourage starting from the beginning to hear the diverse voices.


You are free to determine your path, and your future. How will you “do one thing for MayDay” this year? Can you set it up to be actionable throughout the year, going forward? How will you use the spirit of #EarthOptimism and the UN Sustainable Development goals where you have influence, and move into climate action for cultural heritage, and that of our world, in your work?  

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