Just what the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice (CMCJ) really is kind of defies description.
An ad hoc, amorphous blob of a group is about as close as I can get. So how can you tell if a blob is squishing forward? Let’s look at what the CMCJ has accomplished in 2018.
Meeting the Mission?
One good way to measure progress is to start with the mission. The CMCJ’s mission is to mobilize and support Canadian museum workers and their organizations in building public awareness, mitigation and resilience in the face of climate change.
The Coalition welcomes participation from people who support the goals outlined below and who are employed within Canadian museums and other cultural institutions along with those who work in support of museums in Canada and around the world including, among others, board members, volunteers, consultants, students, scholars and public servants.
At the end of 2018, the CMCJ had about 1500 “supporters.”
What are the Coalition’s Goals?
Then we look at the goals …
1. Help build internal awareness of climate change responses within the museum community
2. Support museums in strengthening public awareness and mitigation of climate change
3. Mobilize museums as participants and activists in public discourse on climate change.
4. Empower museums to lead by example by providing tools and resources to do so.
How did we do in 2018?
Building Awareness of Climate Action
This was probably been the most active element of our social media platforms – sharing articles and stories drawn from other sources. Our social media crew along with a raft of motivated supporters posted on the CMCJ Facebook Group Page and our Twitter Feed literally hundreds of times. Links We’re Loving in our Newsletter got lots of clicks, too. And our YouTube Channel even got a few views! We learned about things as diverse as climate change politics in countries around the world, solastalgia, and The Secret to Talking About Climate Change.
And we reached out, too! On top of several other speaking engagements, CMCJ Founder and Co-Chair, Robert R. Janes,
- wrote Museums and Climate Change Activism article for The Beam, a tri-annual printed publication covering the energy transition and the race to a zero carbon economy and a chapter, Rethinking Museum Collections for a Troubled World, for the book, Active Collections, edited by Elizabeth Wood, Rainey Tisdale, Trevor Jones © 2018 – Routledge.
- planned, organized and moderated the opening and closing Plenary Sessions for the 2018 Alberta Museums Association Conference – devoted to climate change and environmental stewardship
- was interviewed on CBC Radio’s The Current – September 10, 2018
- was appointed to the ICOM Working Group on Sustainability
And Naomi Grattan, Advisory Group Member, contributed to Canadian Art’s The Green Cube, a story about what Canadian cultural institutions are doing to reduce their footprints—and about what we choose not to see
Supporting Museums in Strengthening Public Awareness & Mitigation of Climate Change
Museums of all shapes and sizes around the world ARE doing something. We just need a little nudge sometimes to talk about it. Our Climate Action and Case Studies collection continued to grow, with stories like these …
- Historic Site Addresses Sea Level Rise Impacts through Community Partnership – Strawbery Banke Museum [Case Study] (Published March 21/18) Guest Post by Rodney Rowland, Director of Special Projects and Facilities, Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA.
- Growing History: The Historic Garden’s Role in Inspiring Behavioural Change [Case Study](Published May 2/18 ) Guest Post by Lauren McCallum, Acting Program Officer at Montgomery’s Inn. Montgomery’s Inn is one of ten historic sites belonging to Museums and Heritage Services, City of Toronto.
- Journey to the Sea: Exploring the environment in a children’s museum [Case Study] (Published May 16/18) Guest Post by Rebecca Shulman Herz, Director of the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum in Peoria, Illinois, USA, and Margaret LeJeune, an image-maker, curator, and educator from Rochester, New York.
- Weather Watching on Semiahmoo Bay: White Rock Museum Exhibit Tackles Ocean Health and Climate Change [Case Study](Published June 20/18) Guest Post by Kate Petrusa, Curator at the White Rock Museum and Archives in British Columbia, Canada.
- Nature’s Place: A small museum where local climate issues are presented and new voices heard [Case Study](Published August 1/18) Guest Post by George Farrell, Nature’s Place, Minden Hills Cultural Centre, Minden, Ontario, Canada.
Mobilize museums as participants and activists in public discourse on climate change.
As an entirely volunteer group with no funding, the Coalition once again depended on the kindness of others to get the word out. We’re proud of what a small but mighty group of supporters can do — and of the associations who worked with them!
- Toronto Museum Educators For Climate Justice Workshop – How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Systems Thinking (Jan 22/18)
- Putting Ideas to Work – Forming a Peer Learning Circle to Help Museum Workers Tackle Climate Justice (May 28/18)
- How the Coalition “Popped-Up” at the OMA Conference – and found museum workers care about climate change (October/18)
- A Museum Studies Call to Action launched with Joy Davis’ post 6 Considerations as Museum Studies Programs take Climate Action (November/18)
Empower museums to lead by example by providing tools and resources
The Resources Page of the CMCJ website was still under construction with hope for more in 2019. In the meantime, the Alberta Museums Association (AMA) in partnership with the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice and Shadow Light Productions, announced the launch of a new video series, Taking Action Against Climate Change.
These five videos – which debuted at the AMA’s 2018 Conference Cultivating Connections: Museums and the Environment – will help museums to raise awareness of this vital issue and will support the global museum community in taking an active role in the fight against climate change.
And, of course, we continued to help create and to share tools and resources from our colleagues around the world, including among many others:
- Climate Museum UK
- Happy Museum Project
- Sustainable Museums
- Environment & Climate Network, American Alliance of Museums
- Museums & Climate Change Network
- Climate Heritage Network
- Sustainability in Conservation
- World Creativity and Innovation Day
- Climate Action Network Canada
- Indigenous Climate Action
- Climate Outreach
- Climate Interpreter (National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation)
- Missing a group or association? Apologies! Please add in comments below!
Not too shabby
So, all in all, not too shabby for an ad hoc, amorphous blob of a group, eh? This coming year we hope to find evidence that at least some of these efforts at so many different levels are taking root and helping to move museums forward.
Perhaps like the Lyman-Alpha blob we’ll be be the precursor to a galaxy of change.