Issue 283: Sustainability In Action
We gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance of the Province of British Columbia
As the seasons shift, I am reminded of what a joy it is to get outside in nature and community. Every morning, I hear the birds more and more, I feel the sun coming in the windows and my brain craves getting off the computer and out the door. There are more people out and about town runner errands on foot, more people to share friendly smiles and ‘hello’s with downtown. There are even tourists wandering about the waterfront!
I began running during the pandemic as a way to work towards a steady goal while everything else seemed a moving target, and I have been loving running in the woods. I recently relocated to Nanaimo, and am enjoying the new trails I am finding. While gathering contributors to this issue around sustainability, I have wondered what the summer and fall will bring. I breathe the forest air deeply knowing that in August I may have to quit running outside altogether for fear of inhaling too much smoke in wildfire season.
I recognize that inhaling smoke is a small problem in relation to large-scale environmental disasters; I haven’t feared losing my home, I have not lost my community or my connections to others due to fire or flood. But perhaps, like you, climate disasters seem to inch closer and closer to my life and mind, impacting parts of my day, and I wonder what things will look like and how much adaptation will I need to make in the future other than just avoiding August air quality warnings by running on a treadmill?
This issue brings together our largest compilation of contributors yet, telling stories about sustainability; from environmental aspects to social and community aspects. I hope that we all take the time to reflect on the need for sustainability in our lives and that these articles inspire you to take action in some way to make a better future in your communities. I hope that you join me in imagining communities with more opportunities to explore in nature, more community members to say hello to, and a better future for us all.
Over the years, the Potato House has gone through various restoration projects to allow the organization to increase its capacity for tours and programs, while preserving the heritage character of the architecture and decor. Each project is planned with the organization’s heritage and sustainability values at the forefront.
From data collection and reporting all the way to social marketing, strategic planning, eco-responsible operations, inclusive and diverse workplaces, and sustainability and/or DEI managers, there are business concepts and strategies that should be of particular interest to museums as the latter face rapid changes within their operating contexts.
To reclaim the memory of the lake, the Reach initiated a collaborative, multidisciplinary partnership with a number of Stó:lō leaders and knowledge keepers. Through a series of interrelated projects... we have since sought to work respectfully and cooperatively with our Stó:lō hosts to build intergenerational and intercultural understanding about Indigenous history, land, and resource use in the Fraser Valley.
Within the context of sustainability, reconciliation may be seen as a process that strengthens community relationships by building inclusive and safe spaces for the people of tomorrow. For a small-town community museum located on northern Sunshine Coast, the journey to reach this sustainability goal has recently gained momentum as the former Powell River Historical Museum and Archives Association (PRHMAA) has finalized the process of changing its colonial name.
I’ve seen a growing number of historic house museums with extensive grounds incorporating the topic of climate change into their narrative, but only when discussing their grounds. Our global responsibility to combat climate change, however, doesn’t stop when we go inside. And at King Manor, we believe the period room is an untapped resource for environmental education.
Such relevant programs can help sustain museums by engaging people with historical records of value. Community members, students, and visitors can connect to and better understand history by handling artifacts, listening to oral stories from an earlier time, and even participating in hands-on activities.
Sustainability: it’s one of those words that can mean a lot of different things. And for precisely that reason, it can be very difficult to figure out just how to put it into action in our museums. For those of us in small museums, this can be even more challenging as it’s yet another thing on a never-ending to-do list.
I worry about climate change. I make dozens of micro-decisions each day to try to be less wasteful and more considerate of the environment. However, I confess I have not yet made any major changes to my lifestyle to reduce my impact on Earth. I don’t own an electric car, my stove is gas and the roof of my house isn’t fitted with solar panels. In 2021, though, green initiatives went beyond the personal and started directly overlapping with my work: Ingenium’s travelling exhibition program began offsetting the carbon resulting from shipping its exhibits throughout Canada.
On the morning of Saturday, August 7, most of Vernon was placed under an Evacuation Alert. The fire was even closer to O’Keefe Ranch, however. So, rather than wait for an official Evacuation Order, the curatorial committee decided to evacuate valuables from the ranch immediately. Vernon Museum would be the safest destination.
The BC Museums Association gratefully acknowledges funding support of our Climate Action and Leadership for Museums Initiative.
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Roundup Issue 282
We wanted to know how you were taking the year into review and maintaining momentum on the issues that matter most to you and your community. From tackling burnout to indigenous engagement, managing the digital shift to opening new museums, we got some wonderful stories about moving forward in the sector!