Hello allies!

I hope that you are all doing well and that you had a great Thanksgiving. It’s been a few months since our last update and since ProjectARCC (and I) went on hiatus for a while. It has been a busy few months (I got married), and as I am sure you agree, a disheartening past few weeks. But alas, the work must go on, now more than ever.

Eira Tansey and I spoke couple of weeks ago and are ready to re-boot ProjectARCC efforts, and we have ideas about how to restructure our goals and the scope of our work.

We think it is time to move away from the Committee structure. Though our efforts and projects were lofty and commendable, the Committees spread us thin. Instead of having multiple groups working on specific projects supported and organized by ProjectARCC, we want to make ProjectARCC more of an organizing space for archivists and interested allies (like journalists, scientists, and librarians) to come together, discuss climate change and its impact on our profession, and facilitate opportunities for archivists to find common ground and potential collaborations with others. To that end, we’re organizing monthly conference calls on the second Tuesday of each month. Eira will serve as the host and point of contact for the conference calls.

  1. Evenings on the even-numbered months at 7pm Eastern (December 13th will be the first of these)
  2. Daytime on the odd-numbered months at noon Eastern (January 10 will be the first of these)

We also want to keep the blog available and open for anyone to contribute to. We now have an open Google doc for people to sign up for blog posts. For now, I will take the lead on coordinating with writers who sign up and get posts uploaded to the website.

I’ve also unlocked the listserv so that anyone can join anytime without requiring a moderator to approve it (we should have done this long ago!). I am working on a standard template email that goes out to individuals after they join so that they are made aware of meeting times and ProjectARCC contacts.

So in short, for now, ProjectARCC will be less structured and project-focused and more of a space for individuals to 1) organize and discuss via conference calls and 2) share insights with the community via the blog and listserv.

The website has been updated to reflect our new strategy, and Eira and I would love to hear your opinion. We hope that you will still consider ProjectARCC in its new form a valuable community to be a part of. Please feel free to send a message to the listserv and let us know your thoughts.

It is so important that we continue organizing and taking action both collectively and independently. You’ve probably been following the news that the incoming administration has selected a climate denier to lead the EPA transition, and that the President-Elect himself has argued that the concept of climate change was created by the Chinese to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive. The progress that has been made over the past eight years is now at stake, and it’s imperative that we stay hopeful and stay active in the fight against climate change.

You may be wondering what you can do now. Right now, I encourage each of you to spread the word about ProjectARCC’s new strategy:

  • Share this announcement on social media or on your school or other listserv
  • Encourage your colleagues to get involved
  • Share your insights and thoughts by contributing a blog post
  • Plan to attend our next ProjectARCC meeting and encourage your colleagues to attend as well

Finally, stay informed on what’s happening in the presidential administration transition and don’t be afraid to contact your elected officials and ask them to oppose any efforts taken by the new administration to halt progress combating climate change and transitioning to a clean energy economy.

Thanks so much for your continued action and passion.

In solidarity,

Casey and Eira

This post was written by Heather Widener, communications director for the Virginia Association of Museums, who has been with the organization for 12 years. She can be reached at hwidener@vamuseums.org.

News headlines flare up now and again over the persistent and troubling issue of climate change. It is easy to feel that these predictions are “far off” or that we are helpless against the shifting realities of the world. Virginia Climate Fever: How Global Warming Will Transform our Cities, Shorelines, and Forests, written by Stephen P. Nash, brings these realities home for Virginians – particularly those who act as stewards of our historic and cultural landscapes.
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The Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) recently held its annual conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. One of our most popular conferences, this year’s event drew over 450 museum professionals and service providers from around the Commonwealth and beyond. One of the conference’s exciting draws was Nash, our keynote speaker. Nash is a journalist and the Visiting Senior Research Scholar in the Journalism Department at the University of Richmond and author of Virginia Climate Fever. During the keynote speech, Nash discussed potential impacts of climate change on Virginia’s coastal historic, cultural, and archaeological sites.

Says Lisa Martin, senior program director at Reynolds Homestead, “Global warming has always been a concern for me, but I’ve always thought of it in terms of how it might impact the natural history of our nation and world. Stephen Nash brought home with urgency the cultural impact that climate change will have on our museums, historical sites, and archaeological digs. To imagine the history that could be lost with nearly 200 sites in Virginia alone being affected really makes the issue of environmental change a topline concern for those of us who work in these fields. His presentation was impactful, pertinent, and engaging.”

Combining nearly 30 years of scientific research with data from the Department of Historic Preservation and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Nash’s presentation addressed climate trends, physical strategies for adapting to sea level rise, and advocacy to keep Virginia’s historic resources at the forefront of our state’s climate policy.

“Climate change is already upon us but we still have time to work out good plans in the face of it, and avoid making the worst of it. We have responsibilities to each other, to the natural systems we depend on, and to Virginia’s landscape, one of surpassing richness and beauty.” – Stephen P. Nash, Virginia Climate Fever

The Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) is a statewide network serving the museum community. VAM has over 2,000 members, including individuals, businesses, and member organizations, ranging from historic houses to botanical gardens, aquariums, zoos, children’s museums, historical societies, art museums and galleries, battlefields, military museums, and more. Our vision is a united museum community inspiring the world around us. Learn more at www.vamuseums.org.

Call for Proposals

Libraries and Archives in the Anthropocene: A Colloquium
May 13-14, 2017
New York University
Website: http://litwinbooks.com/laac2017colloq.php

As stewards of a culture’s collective knowledge, libraries and archives are facing the realities of cataclysmic environmental change with a dawning awareness of its unique implications for their missions and activities. Some professionals in these fields are focusing new energies on the need for environmentally sustainable practices in their institutions. Some are prioritizing the role of libraries and archives in supporting climate change communication and influencing government policy and public awareness. Others foresee an inevitable unraveling of systems and ponder the role of libraries and archives in a world much different from the one we take for granted. Climate disruption, peak oil, toxic waste, deforestation, soil salinity and agricultural crisis, depletion of groundwater and other natural resources, loss of biodiversity, mass migration, sea level rise, and extreme weather events are all problems that indirectly threaten to overwhelm civilization’s knowledge infrastructures, and present information institutions with unprecedented challenges.

This colloquium will serve as a space to explore these challenges and establish directions for future efforts and investigations. We invite proposals from academics, librarians, archivists, activists, and others.

Some suggested topics and questions:

  • How can information institutions operate more sustainably?
  • How can information institutions better serve the needs of policy discussions and public awareness in the area of climate change and other threats to the environment?
  • How can information institutions support skillsets and technologies that are relevant following systemic unraveling?
  • What will information work look like without the infrastructures we take for granted?
  • How does information literacy instruction intersect with ecoliteracy?
  • How can information professionals support radical environmental activism?
  • What are the implications of climate change for disaster preparedness?
  • What role do information workers have in addressing issues of environmental justice?
  • What are the implications of climate change for preservation practices?
  • Should we question the wisdom of preserving access to the technological cultural legacy that has led to the crisis?
  • Is there a new responsibility to document, as a mode of bearing witness, the historical event of society’s confrontation with the systemic threat of climate change, peak oil, and other environmental problems?
  • Given the ideological foundations of libraries and archives in Enlightenment thought, and given that Enlightenment civilization may be leading to its own environmental endpoint, are these ideological foundations called into question? And with what consequences?

Formats:

Lightning talk (5 minutes)
Paper (20 minutes)
Proposals are due August 1, 2016.
Notifications of acceptance will be sent by September 16, 2016.
Submit your proposal here: http://goo.gl/forms/rz7uN1mBNM

Planning committee:

  • Casey Davis is Project Manager at the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at WGBH and co-founder of ProjectARCC: Archivists Responding to Climate Change<https://projectarcc.org/>.
  • Madeleine Charney is Sustainability Studies Librarian at UMass Amherst and co-founder of the Sustainability Round Table of the American Library Association<http://www.ala.org/sustainrt/home>.
  • Rory Litwin is a former librarian and the founder of Litwin Books, LLC<http://litwinbooks.com/> (Colloquium sponsor)

rallyTo change everything, it takes everyone. Join ProjectARCC at the New England rally for Jobs, Justice and Climate taking place on Saturday, December 12 from 1-3pm starting at the Boston Common.

 

From November 29 through December 11, world leaders will meet in Paris to negotiate a new global climate treaty. This is the 21st attempt at establishing an international accord, and it’s our responsibility to demand that leaders agree on bold climate solutions. On December 12, people will come from across New England to rally for climate action to ensure a resilient future for current and future generations. As the profession responsible for the long-term preservation of our cultural heritage, archivists must act to ensure that the commitments made by our leaders will safeguard our collections and the communities we document.

If you’re interested in joining ProjectARCC at the rally, please fill out the form below, and we’ll get in touch with you soon with more details.

In solidarity,
The New England area members of ProjectARCC

We are thrilled to announce our SCoSAA/ProjectARCC collaborative event: On The Brink: Archives, Climate Change, and the Future!

The  Simmons College Student Chapter of the Society of American Archivists (SCoSAA) and ProjectARCC are hosting On the Brink: Archives, Climate Change, and the Future,  a panel discussion among archivists and energy policy, ethics and communications experts which will bring the topic of climate change to the forefront, as it will deeply impact the archival profession.

The event will be held at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts on Wednesday, November 11 at 5:30pm in the Kotzen Meeting Room. Register to attend on our Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/on-the-brink-archives-climate-change-and-the-future-tickets-18737615713

While the meeting is capped at 50 attendees, we will have unlimited capability to livestream the event, which you can attend through  GoToWebinar via think link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7581571748555811330 and the Webinar ID: 120-664-547.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact SCoSAA Co-Chairs Betts Coup and Kristen Weischedel at scosaa@simmons.edu.

About ProjectARCC:

Founded on Earth Day in 2015, ProjectARCC is a task force of archivists striving to motivate the archival community to affect climate change. We believe that archivists, those responsible for the preservation of history for future generations, should be as passionate and concerned about preserving a habitable and safe planet for future generations.  To learn more about ProjectARCC, visit our website athttps://projectarcc.org/.

About our speakers:

Casey Davis

Casey E. Davis is an audiovisual archivist and project manager who by day is Project Manager for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at WGBH. Alarmed about current and impending impacts of climate change on the archival profession, Casey, along with other archivists across the United States formed ProjectARCC, a task force of archivists striving to motivate the archival profession to affect climate change. Casey also serves as archivist for DearTomorrow, a campaign to collect and preserve letters from parents to their loved ones about climate change. She is the Co-Chair for the New England Archivists Roundtable for Early Professionals and Students and serves on the NEA Membership Committee.

Lisa Pearson

Lisa Pearson is the Head of the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library and Archives. She oversees all of the operations of the library and archives, as well as creating displays of archival materials for the library and exhibits in the Visitor Center. In addition she manages new library book acquisitions. Earlier in her time at the Arboretum she was the project cataloger for the digitization of several of their historical photograph collections. This has given her an in-depth knowledge of their holdings. Prior to coming to the Arboretum, she was employed for many years as a librarian in the insurance industry, first on the property/casualty side and later in the life/health and financial services realm. Outside of work she is an artist working in metal, leather, and textiles, who gathers her inspiration from Medieval and Renaissance art.

Trisha Shrum

Trisha is a PhD candidate in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School specializing in behavioral science and environmental economics. In her work on how moral frames and time preference affect support for climate change policy, she developed the fundamental concept that underlies DearTomorrow. She credits her own daughter, Eleanor, and Christiana Figueres for the critical inspiration. Prior to coming to the Kennedy School, she earned a Masters of Environmental Science at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Science and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Kansas. Trisha has been studying and analyzing climate change policy for nearly a decade.

Lucas Stanczyk

Lucas Stanczyk is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Affiliated Faculty of Philosophy at MIT. He completed his PhD at Harvard in 2012. Lucas’s primary research interests are in political philosophy and the history of political thought. He is completing a book manuscript on the economic duties of citizenship and has started research for a second book on contemporary inequality. At MIT, he teaches classes in political philosophy, the history of political thought, and the ethics of public policy.

Almost 10 years ago, the Society of American Archivists met in New Orleans just weeks before Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failure caused massive human and environmental loss to the Gulf Coast. In the aftermath of Katrina, many of the archives around Louisiana and Mississippi suffered enormous losses to their holdings. Since then, many archives and cultural heritage sites have either been directly affected by, or had close calls due to increased severe weather, rising sea levels, and wildfire risks. These environmental risks are almost certainly likely to increase according to 97% of climate scientists.

For some time, scientists have been the primary voices sounding the alarm over the widespread impacts of climate change. In 2014, 242 lead authors and 436 contributing authors published the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report, confirming that climate change is happening and is due to human influence, and that we will see irreversible, catastrophic effects within our lifetime if we do not reduce and eliminate carbon emissions by the middle of the 21st century.

As the world moves to the next rounds of climate talks in Paris at the end of 2015, new voices are entering the policy discussion. Two weeks ago, Pope Francis issued a moral call to action on climate change in his nearly 200 page papal encyclical. This reflects the increasing shift of the climate change conversation from a scientific and economic policy discussion, to that of a worldwide movement towards action motivated not just by scientific and economic factors, but by concern for international human rights and social justice.

As archivists, what is our role in the movement to fight climate change? How is climate change affecting our profession, and how can we act as agents for action within our communities? What actions will have an impact?

On July 8, 2015 at 1pm ET, ProjectARCC is hosting a live tweet-up to discuss the above questions with fellow archivists. We invite you to participate by using #preserveclimate and by following @projectARCC. And you don’t have to be an expert on climate change to attend and contribute! We welcome all archivists who are concerned about the impact of climate change on our profession and who are seeking ways to impact its effects and improve public awareness. In advance of the tweet-up, please feel free to send us questions or issues you’d like to discuss to info.projectarcc@gmail.com.

ABOUT PROJECT_ARCC:
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On Earth Day in 2015, a group of alarmed archivists founded ProjectARCC, a task force with a mission to motivate the archival community to affect climate change. We believe that as those responsible for the preservation of history for future generations, we should be as passionate and concerned about preserving a safe and habitable planet for ours and future generations.

The following is a post by Casey E. Davis, founder of ProjectARCC.

Hi everyone, and thank you for visiting ProjectARCC’s new website. We are a task force of archivists concerned about the impact of climate change on our profession, and we believe that climate change should be a core issue of activism among the archival community. That’s why we are mobilizing to address the issue of climate change, and today I’d like to share our story with you.

Last October, my employer (WGBH) held an event called Green Media Innovation IdeaLab, where climate scientists came to speak about how and why public media producers should be focusing efforts on creating and sharing climate-related programming to bring about more awareness and understanding of climate change. I actually didn’t attend the event; climate change didn’t seem like a really big or important issue to me. But I didn’t know much about it, either.

About a week after the event, my boss, who had attended the event, shared with me some of what she learned, specifically some of the more recent research by climate scientists on how quickly our planet and climate are changing, as well as how we will experience climate change in our lifetime. To be honest, climate change had rarely ever crossed my mind. But it got me thinking, and because I’m a worry wart, it got me to worrying. And that’s an understatement.

The worrying actually got the best of me for a couple of months. But eventually I decided I needed to redirect my feelings and seek to learn as much as possible about the issue, with the goal of informing myself about how I can affect climate change on a personal level. I read the research, and a lot of climate scientists’ and activists’ blogs. I read the entire Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which cited more than 12,000 scholarly articles and was written by 242 lead authors and 436 contributing authors. The report unequivocally determined that 1) the human cause of climate change is clear; 2) emissions are the highest in history and are unprecedented over millenia; 3) the oceans and atmosphere have warmed and sea levels are rising; 4) continued carbon emissions will cause severe, dangerous and irreversible effects; and 5) action to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions needs to happen NOW.

I read about methods of reducing ones personal carbon footprint. I experienced firsthand ways in which the media communicates (and often miscommunicates) the issue, and after absorbing all of this information, I learned that half of United States senators don’t think that climate change is caused by humans. Some don’t even think climate change is happening.

All the while I was reading and learning about climate change, I did so while wearing my archivist hat. I immediately wondered, “Why isn’t this a core issue of activism within the archival profession?” We are responsible for the preservation of history for future generations; we should be as concerned and involved in ensuring the preservation of our habitable planet for future generations.

I identified four areas in which there is need for focus within the archival profession around the issue of climate change, and I shared my thoughts at the Spring 2015 NEA/MARAC joint meeting. Along with these four issues, I asked a lot of questions. That’s because I didn’t and still don’t have answers to these issues, but my goal was to inspire one or more people to join me in trying to work toward finding answers to the questions.

1. Protect our collections from the impact of climate change

Last year was the hottest year ever recorded. Last week, temperatures were 40 degrees in Boston, 95 degrees in Fairbanks, Alaska, and 120 degrees throughout India (more than 2,200 people died of heat strokes, and 17 million/10% of their chickens died). Two weeks ago, the long drought in Texas ended — with so much rain that it could have covered the entire state with 8 inches of water. My father’s first cousin’s house was completely washed away. We’ve been setting unsettling records like never before.

One example of current actions being taken in risk and disaster planning is the Union of Concerned Scientists, who have been working with the National Park Service to look at the risks and vulnerabilities of national landmarks due to the future effects of climate change. In a recent report, the Union of Concerned Scientists identified 30 national historic landmarks, including Boston’s Faneuil Hall and Long Wharf, and published case studies how climate change will affect these locations with the goal of illustrating more broadly how climate change is an urgent problem. When Superstorm Sandy hit the eastern seaboard in 2012, two national landmarks — Liberty and Ellis Island — were devastated. Tens of thousands of archival materials and 19,000 artifacts at Ellis Island Immigration Museum had to be relocated.

How are archivists preparing for more frequent extreme weather events? We need to identify how our collections are vulnerable, and how our locations make them vulnerable. As the earth’s atmospheric temperature continues to warm, wet areas will get wetter, dry areas will get dryer, and sea levels will rise. We need to realize that the infrastructure from 50 or 100 years ago may not stand up to changing conditions.

2. Reduce our professional carbon and ecological footprint

Earlier efforts to identify ways to reduce our professional carbon footprint were taken in 2007 when Sarah Kim, a PhD candidate at UT Austin published a paper on building sustainable archival facilities. For many of us who work in academic or larger institutions, decisions like these are not made by archivists; however, as preservers of history with a concern for the future, archivists can and should be advocating for the use of more sustainable resources to power, cool and sustain our facilities. Additionally, with the increase of digital files, we should be considering ways to reduce the amount of energy we use to store and preserve our files. Audiovisual archivists debate over whether best practice for video preservation files should be uncompressed or lossless. One requires much less storage, spinning disk, and energy than the other.

We are not exempt from the need to participate in global efforts to reduce carbon emissions, but in all reality, if all of the archives across the globe became completely sustainable, this would be a just minuscule fraction of the amount of reductions needed to meet the necessary goals. Reductions in use of energy generated by fossil fuels among the archival community will, however, demonstrate that we care about the future of a stable planet and are taking the steps that we can to curb emissions. What would be even more impactful is for archivists to support leaders who understand that climate change is the most urgent issue of our time and are willing to do something about it.

3. Elevate our relevant collections to increase public awareness and understanding of climate change

What collections are relevant to the issue of climate change? How can we make potential users — scholars, journalists, digital humanists, activists, scientists, students, educators, deniers and the general public — aware of these collections that can be used to make historical connections with the current issue of climate change? For example, I plan to curate an exhibition of relevant materials in our collection by the end of this year.

Another great example is oldWeather.org, a collaboration between NARA, NOAA, participating libraries, and users to collect and provide access to historical data about the oceans. The goal is to aid in understanding the weather of the past to help scientists understand what the weather will do in the future.

At Northern Arizona University, the Cline Library has collaborated with the Biology department at NAU to provide the Cline Library Hanks Scholar fellowship to students to use the library’s special collections, specifically photograph collections, to understand the landscape and geography of Arizona and compare it to today’s landscape by taking photographs of the same locations. The Hanks Scholar project is a component of the Southwest Experimental Garden Array (SEGA) project to match historic and contemporary photographs to show the effects of climate change on the region.

There are other libraries and archives that are actively making their collections relevant to climate change accessible for research on the topic, such as the National Park Service, but information about what archives have relevant material is difficult to find using the internet searching techniques of a typical user. An online portal, list of finding aids, or at least an online bibliography that points users to relevant historical collections related to climate change would be extremely valuable to all types of users and is a project on our agenda.

4. Preserve this epochal moment in history for future research and understanding

How are we as archivists documenting and preserving this moment in history? Are we adequately and efficiently working with climate scientists and climate activists to acquire and prepare their collections for long-term preservation and access? As many of these collections are born digital, we know that they are even more vulnerable to being lost before they can be preserved. It’s crucial that we begin to identify what collections exist and start working with these groups to ensure that this time in history is preserved for future generations.

I spoke with Professor Anthony Leiserowitz at Yale University’s Project on Climate Change Communication, and here is his opinion on the most important role of archivists around climate change:

“This is the single most powerful thing your profession can do…How do you document and preserve for future generations this critical moment in the history of our local communities, our states, our nation, and the whole world?”

ProjectARCC is already working to address this piece of our mission through collaboration with WeKnew.org, a campaign that is seeking to gather messages from parents and grandparents to their loved ones describing what they know about climate change and what they are doing about it. We are working with WeKnew.org to find a permanent home for the collection of letters, develop a plan for distributing them to the intended recipients in 2050, and ensure the long term preservation and access of the letters for future researchers to understand how people perceived and acted on climate change in the early 21st century. Read my letter, and I encourage you to write and submit a letter as well.

After giving my talk at NEA/MARAC, I asked the audience to consider joining me in addressing the four issues outlined above, and as you can tell, we’re on it! I didn’t know what to call the group/project at that point — whether it be a task force or just a group of archivists who were as worried as I was, but I’m so excited to begin directing our concern into action — in the form of activism, outreach, and education within and beyond the archival community. Our inaugural meeting was held on Earth Day 2015, where we (actually, Kristen Weischedel!) came up with our name, ProjectARCC. Together we identified ways in which we can achieve our four-fold mission, and we look forward to pursuing this important effort.

Contact us with ideas and/or to get involved!

-Casey