In 2013-2014 the Human Impacts Institute is partnering with the Transatlantic Climate Bridge Program of Germany to explore how we can make climate change personal to our communities and re-communicate climate issues to the American public in creative and engaging ways through our "Creative Climate" Human Impacts Salons series. Working with local partners in eight U.S. cities and in Berlin, this year-long tour bring together creative visionaries with community leaders, environmental experts, and activists in a salon-style event of performance and in-depth discussion to highlight local action, resources, and solutions to addressing one of the most pressing issues of our times--climate change.
After much planning, the Human Impacts Institute’s highly anticipated Human Impacts Atlanta finally took place at the Goethe-Zentrum in Atlanta’s own Colony Square. Attendees included political figures and activists, college students, artists, and professionals from a multitude of sectors. In keeping with Human Impacts driving question of “where do we put our trust in changing climate?”, guests were asked to share where they placed their trust with colored “dots” indicating media, faith/spirituality, government, or science. “Trust Dots” were placed on nametags, and guests were then able to learn and discuss why they chose their respective colors. Talk about open communication!
Kevin Dunn, a local gospel singer, kicked off the night with an inspiring rendition of “How Great Thou Art”, and Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald of the Georgia Public Service Commission was honored for his advocacy for solar energy before the conversation kicked into high gear. With Human Impacts Institute's Executive Director, Tara DePorte, as moderator (hear her Southeast Green Radio interview about Human Impacts Atlanta here>>), speakers from all different backgrounds conversed candidly about what is needed to inspire action, why climate change is considered fact by some and opinion by others, and how we can use our own resources to make real commitments to acting on climate challenges.
Panelists included Michael Weber, Energy Policy Advisor, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany; Jay Hakes, author and former Director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library; Alexis Chase, Executive Director, Georgia Interfaith Power & Light; Debbie Dooley, Co-Chairman Atlanta Tea Party and Co-Founder Green Tea Coalition; Shane Owl-Greason, Co-Founder, Georgia Solar Utilities; Susan Pavlin, Director, Global Growers Network; and Daniel Blackman, Environmental Justice Advocate. More inspiring performances from contemporary dancer Darbie Duff, and spoken word artist Yani kept the energy in the room high and audience members on the edge of their seats. The energy in the room reached its peak when Alexis Chase, minister and Director of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, asserted “climate change is real, y'all and we need to do something about it!"
As over 80 participants from the Atlanta area joined together to explore how our "missions impact emissions", conversations dealt with issues as far reaching "what an environmentalist looks like"--touching on the need to expand the U.S. environmental movement beyond a traditionally white, politically-left, and middle-class audience--to how trust in the free market economy can bring conservatives on board the renewable energy train. The diversity of the panelists, combined with breakout sessions where audience members got to actively brainstorm local resources and actions available for taking climate action, created an event where participants were both inspired and open to new partnerships. Audience members ranged from community activists and leaders from local corporations, such as Coca Cola and Siemens, to Tea Party members and environmental lawyers.
Many of those participating said they met over five new potential partners, from local groups that had not yet heard of, and even two of the panelists linked up during the event to join forces in developing an urban gardening program. As the salon series aims to both highlight the important work being done in U.S. communities to address climate change and to bridge new partnerships--from local to global--the event was a great success.
For those of us intimately involved in the planning of the event, the knowledge and commitment to stewardship and environmental justice for future generations expressed by our speakers and attendees was impressive and truly rewarding to hear. We hope to create the same dynamic, action-oriented atmosphere at our next Salon in Washington, D.C. You can learn more about the Human Impacts Salon Series here-- we may be coming to a city near you. See you there!
This event wouldn't have been possible without the help of our amazing partners:
The Transatlantic Climate Bridge Program of the German government, which aims to support platforms and partnerships that help Americans and Germans exchange their know-how and to pave the way for joint solutions;
Georgia Solar Utilities, Inc. which has created a sustainable market place for the solar industry in Georgia;
Green Tea Coalition which seeks for common ground across the political spectrum to empower consumers to unlock America's full energy potential;
Virgin Breeze who created products engineered to instantly kill smog and greenhouse gases at the surface and purify the air around it;
German Consulate General in Atlanta is the official representation of the German government to the southeast of the Unites States. The consular district includes Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee; and
Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta supports and informs all those who would like to teach or study German and are interested in Germany and its culture.
by Tess Clark, Development Manager, Human Impacts Institute, and Tara DePorte, Executive Director, Human Impacts Institute