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 coronavirus. Shining 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 summit, a digital event hosted to demonstrate that change and recovery is possible.
I had originally intended this post to be a recap of the symposium Stemming the Tide-Global Strategies for Sustaining Cultural Heritage Through Climate Change, which 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 takeaway—it 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?
- Sustainability in Conservation website
- "What is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and How Does it Help Heritage Professionals?," by Sarah Nunberg and Sarah Sutton, American Institute for Conservation
- "Creating Sustainable Strategies for Managing Collection Environments," by Foekje Boersma, The Iris, The Getty
- Proceedings of the Smithsonian Institution Summit on the Museum Preservation Environment, by Sarah Stauderman and William G. Tompkins, Smithsonian Scholarly Press
- Environmental Management for Collections: Alternative Conservation Strategies for Hot and Humid Climates, by Shin Maekawa, Vincent L. Beltran, and Michael C. Henry, The Getty Conservation Institute