Change is in the air!

Category: Environmental Sustainability
Image of a small grey colored frog sticking to a window.

PIC-Green

In the 2007 Application to form the Professional Interest Committee on Green Museums, John W. Jacobsen wrote, “…over at least the next decade, we have a lot of work to do, and many challenges that require creative innovations. Dialogue among museum professionals committed to environmental conservation will be a critical catalyst for finding practical answers that work for museums.”

It is now 2018—a decade since PIC-Green’s official founding. Accomplishments include establishing the annual Sustainability Excellence Awards (SEA) to educate, facilitate, and encourage green practices in museums, and connecting colleagues across the world in a collaborative conversation of why environmental sustainability and museums should not be mutually exclusive.

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Over the last few months, PIC-Green’s leadership evaluated our scope, purpose, and impact, and decided we need to make a few changes. With AAM’s backing, we are excited to announce the renaming of PIC-Green Museums to the Environment and Climate Network. During AAM’s 2018 Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, AAM President & CEO Laura Lott stated: “…data tells a story…and can prove a point”. We have data that proves climate change is not only real, it is happening today. As cultural leaders, we have the responsibility to lead and be pro-active in our response to climate change and the environment. We are the ones that engage the public, our city officials, the government, and our children. We are the curators of our future and the educators of everyone that is a part of the present. We can collaborate within cultural institutions, but also across sectors to make a difference for our future. This uses every position at every cultural institution and affects everyone – board members, staff, and visitors alike.

We are more than capable of meeting, and exceeding these statistics, and we are ready. Please visit the Environment and Climate Network website to view our new strategic plan, open leadership positions, resources, and more. You can also connect with the Network on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Please email environmentandclimate@aam-us.org with any ideas or questions.

A Call to Action

John W. Jacobsen also wrote that “Museums are community beacons that establish high standards: By example, by program choices, by engaging citizens, and by reporting on our environment, we can lead toward more positive relationships with the world we live in.”

We invite you to join the leaders of 2,500  states, counties, cities, businesses, investors, colleges and universities, and tribes who are part of We Are Still In, the largest cross-section of local leaders in support of climate action in the United States. It is a nonprofit funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rocky Mountain Institute, and World Wildlife Fund among many others. AAM, through the Environment and Climate Network, has endorsed this effort and we are calling on you to help lead toward more positive relationships with the world we live in.

This spring, #MuseumsforParis, a program created by Sustainable Museums, aligned with We Are Still In, to help the cultural sector easily and visibly support the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and share in the work of creating a more sustainable world. Through We Are Still In, cultural institutions can now:

  • raise their profile locally and nationally
  • access better tools and information
  • gain peer mentors to advance this work more effectively, and
  • increase their potential for funding

The focus of this coalition is not only greenhouse gases; it also encourages education, research, and creativity to mobilize action locally, regionally, and nationally. The goal is significant environmental impact so health, justice, and cultures flourish. Through We Are Still In museums, zoos, gardens, aquariums, and sites can aggregate information on mitigation initiatives and results, and share resources among and across sectors to leverage new and greater work by each signatory. You can align the mission-based work you already do – and that you wish to do – with the larger effort and share your successes with others.

Here you can discover how to scale more change; communicate more effectively about climate; find out about socially-responsible investing; discover the 100RE program for 100% renewable energy goals; share data to count greenhouse gas emission reductions (which will build a museums category in EnergyStar Portfolio Manage for LEED); even begin an aggregated record of species or habitat protected. We design the commitments; we decide how to highlight the value of cultural institutions in this important work.

What should you do, now? Head to the We Are Still In website to sign on and to search for stories of other cultural institutions’ (26 and counting!) participation. By signing on during June and July, your contributions will be part of the Cultural Institution Sector’s reporting at the Global Climate Action Summit in California in September. Also, read our upcoming article in the July/August issue of Museum.

Sign up for an online meeting on July 11th at 12 pm (EST)  to walk through the sign-up process and answer any questions about We Are Still In.

We are also co-hosting the 2019 Historic House and Sites Summit with the Historic House Network. Join us February 4-5 for the second American Alliance of Museums, Historic House and Sites Network Summit, “Sustainability: Governance, Relevance and the Environment” at Vizcaya, located in Miami along the waters of Biscayne Bay. Agricultural industrialist James Deering built this Gilded Age estate more than 100 years ago.

Following a first successful Summit in 2018, we are teaming up with the Historic House Network to focus on sustainability, which will connect our network with relevant and accessible topics that drive the everyday decisions of the Historic House Museum professional.
We hope you will join us to explore this beautiful historic property, learn from experts in the field, and enjoy a robust discussion with your peers. Detailed program and schedule will be available by mid-summer.

Please contact environmentandclimate@aam-us.org with any questions or ideas, and keep a look out on social media for updates and additional information.

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