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Public Events: Earth Optimism Summit

April 23, 2017

Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center

The Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Summit is open to the public on Sunday, April 23.  Join us for stories of conservation success, interactive exhibits, conservation comic workshop, infrared selfies, and many more activities. Catch an inspiring film about what’s working in conservation around the world.  And commit to your own Earth-friendly action on our Pledge for the Planet wall.  

Innovation Commons

Explore the Innovation Commons, an interactive space featuring 20 exhibits and activities hosted by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University, Smithsonian National Zoo / Conservation Biology Institute, Conservation International, National Geographic, Roadmap.org and many more. Check out the Conservation Comics booth for a comic-making workshop or experience a coral reef or the amazon in virtual reality.  Plus there are hands-on science activities or view stunning imagery and videos of natural spaces and species. 

Open Hours:

Friday, April 21st:  7:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday, April 22nd:  7:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday, April 23rd:  7:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Conservation Chats

From the Trenches: Fighting for and Achieving Success
9:00 am - 10:30 am (Amphitheater)

It takes staying power to grow and take a conservation idea to success. In this session, Bill Kurtis interviews iconic conservation leaders, including Denis Hayes, who started the first Earth Day celebration to a scientist from the Mars Advanced Research Institute who has spent decades developing best practices in sustainable agriculture. Explore common threads and differences among these innovative conservationists.

Moderator: Bill Kurtis, Kurtis Productions

Speakers: Denis Hayes, Bullitt Foundation, Founder of Earth Day; Dan Janzen, University of Pennsylvania, Winner of Crafoord & Kyoto Prizes; William Laurance, James Cook University; Jane Lubchenco, Oregon State University; Howard-Yana Shapiro, Mars Advanced Research Institute; Robert Stanton, National Park Service (former director)

Micro Interviews: Bill Kurtis interviews Jennifer Nagashima, Smithsonian/Cornell and Michael Trizna, Smithsonian

Looking Forward
11:00 am - 12:30 pm (Amphitheater)

Inspiring speakers talk about the future of conservation and how to achieve this vision.

Moderator: Ali Velshi, NBC News & MSNBC
Speakers: Paul Bunje, XPRIZE Foundation; David Grinspoon, Astrobiologist, author; Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia; David J. Skorton, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution; Kyung-Ah Park, Goldman Sachs

Special Interview: Ólafur Grímsson, chairman, Arctic Circle & former President of Iceland

Pitches for the Planet 
12:30 pm - 1:00 pm (Amphitheater)

Meet the winners of Make for the Planet, a competition by hackers, coders, makers, engineers, designers, entrepreneurs, creative thinkers or tinkerers to create solutions to challenging conservation problems! Teams competed in a pop-up maker's space with equipment to create prototypes and models of hardware and/or software solutions to specific conservation problem.

Interviewer & Closing Remarks: David Rubenstein, Smithsonian Board of Regents

Judging Panel: Paul Bunje, XPRIZE Foundation; Alex Dehgan and Barbara Martinez, Conservation X Labs; Brad Ack, Oceans World Wildlife Fund; Steven VanRoekel, maker, investor & philanthropist; Nancy Knowlton, Smithsonian; Ólafur Grímsson, chair, Arctic Circle & former President of Iceland

Fire-Sci Chats with the Smithsonian

Hosted by the PBS NewsHour with Nsikan Akpan and Julia Griffin

Casual 15-minute chats on hot topics and what’s working in conservation. Stop by for a sci-tacular take on giant panda obsession, wildlife tracking technology, coral reef cryopreservation, and the future of zoos.

Sunday, April 23 

10:35 – 10:50 am: Suzan Murray, Program Director, Smithsonian’s Global Health Program

12:35 – 12:50 pm: Dennis Kelly, Director, Smithsonian National Zoo

Film Festival

1:30 pm – Amphitheater

Mysteries of the Rainforest

The island of Barro Colorado in the Panama Canal is full of mysteries. Every year, hundreds of scientists and students come here to uncover the rainforest's secrets. This year the island is running dry and no one knows why. Follow teams of scientists as they try to find out what happened to the rain.

Directed by Ciaran Flannery

Smithsonian Channel

3:00 pm – Amphitheater


The filmmakers visited 10 countries to talk to pioneers who are re-inventing agriculture, energy, economy, democracy and education for a better tomorrow.

Directed by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent

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Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse

Cooper Hewitt, 2 East 91st Street, New York NY 10128

Now through Sunday, April 23 2017, Weekdays and Sundays, 10:00 AM –6:00 PM, Saturdays, 10:00 AM –9:00 PM

Offering creative, alternative approaches to confronting textile waste, Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse presents the work of three designers who put sustainability at the heart of the design process: Luisa Cevese, founder of Riedzioni in Milan; Christina Kim, founder of dosa, inc., in Los Angeles; and Reiko Sudo, managing director at NUNO in Tokyo. Each designer’s practice involves innovative and sophisticated reuse of textile materials and resources, while engaging in preservation of local craft traditions. Through more than forty works, the exhibition explores key facets of sustainability, such as the efficient use of materials and resources, the preservation of local craft traditions and the integration of new technologies in the recycling process. For more information please email BohlkL@si.edu

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Where the River Flows: Scientific Reflections on Earth’s Waterways

Washington, DC

Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 6:45-8:15PM

Drawing on his new book, Where the River Flows: Scientific Reflections on Earth’s Waterways (Princeton University Press), geophysicist Sean W. Fleming examines how mathematics and physics can reveal the hidden dynamics of rivers, offering insights into the profound interrelationships that they have with landscapes, ecosystems, and societies. He looks at topics including why rivers run where they do; where their waters actually come from; how the same river can flood one year, and then dry up the next; and even whether rivers have “memories.” He also investigates how science can address the primary threats to watersheds today: pollution, land-use change, climate change, and deliberate human modification.

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What’s Working in Conservation - Community Lecture Series

Front Royal, VA

April 5, April 12, April 19, April 26, 7pm

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) plays a leading role in the Smithsonian’s global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. Learn about conservation success and initiatives from Smithsonian scientists and other conservation professionals during this free lecture series. For more information please email blackkr@si.edu.

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Smithsonian Associates - Evening Program

S. Dillon Ripley Center,1100 Jefferson Dr SW,Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)

April 19, 2017, 6:45 PM to 8:45 PM

Urban Wildlife: Balancing Coexistence and Management Washingtonians share our city, filled with parks and abundant green spaces, with plenty of non-human fellow residents. Wildlife biologist John Hadidian examines the challenges and rewards of becoming better neighbors in nature. Members: 20; Nonmember: $30.

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An Evening with David Grinspoon: Earth in Human Hands

Washington, DC

Thursday, April 20, 2017, 6:30 PM - 8:10 PM, Baird Auditorium, Ground Floor, National Museum of Natural History 10th St. and Constitution Ave. N.W. Washington, DC 20013

The National Museum of Natural History invites you to attend an evening with award-winning astrobiologist and author, David Grinspoon. Using a big-picture, planetary perspective, Grinspoon will describe the transformative role humans have played as he speaks about his new book Earth in Human Hands. In a conversation with Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, Grinspoon will suggest that our present moment is not only one of peril, but also great potential, challenging audiences to awaken to our role as a force of planetary change and become conscious shapers and caretakers of Earth. Earth in Human Hands will be available for purchase and signing after the program. This program was made possible through the generous support of David M. Rubenstein and is offered in conjunction with the Earth Optimism Summit programming at the National Museum of Natural History. This program is part of the An Evening With... signature series featuring thought leaders in conversation with paleontologist and Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, Kirk Johnson.

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National Museum of Natural History Main Library and Earl Silas Tupper Library in Tropical Biology - Watch Events

Washington, DC; Panama

April 21, 2017

The Smithsonian Libraries will host two Earth Optimism Watch Events on Friday, April 21st in the National Museum of Natural History Main Library and at the Earl Silas Tupper Library in Tropical Biology at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. We will live-stream the Earth Optimism programs throughout the day, offer a “petting zoo” of some of our more popular “Earth-Optimistic” books, and host a presentation on the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), which works collaboratively to make biodiversity literature openly available to the world. BHL literature enables scientists to study and conserve life on Earth. The library's vast collection of over 50 million pages helps researchers identify new species and prioritize conservation efforts through a better understanding of species relationships, the impacts of past extinctions, and the identification of "keystone" species critical to the health of an ecosystem. For more information, please contact Barbara Ferry (ferryb@si.edu) or Martin Kalfotovic (kalfotivicm@si.edu).

Family Program: Earth Day at ACM!

Washington, DC

Friday, April 21, 2017, 10 AM – 12:30 PM, Program Room, Anacostia Community Museum

In collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Office of Facilities Management and Reliability (OMFR), and Meridian Hills Pictures, the museum recognizes Earth Day with an information display on energy conservation and re-cycling, and a screening of the short film City of Trees. Also get a tour of the museum’s exhibition The Backyard of Derek Webster’s Imagination. Webster was a self-taught artist who used discarded materials to create sculptural figures. Today we would say he “up-cycled” everyday objects to create art! Register online or call 202.633.4844 to register for this program.

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Smithsonian Gardens

Washington DC

April 21, 2017, 11 AM - 1 PM, Pollinator Garden Open House

Smithsonian Gardens (http://www.gardens.si.edu/) will host a celebration of pollination in its Pollinator Garden along with members of the National Pollinator Garden Network and local partners. Guests can enjoy the beauty of the garden, see pollination in action and participate in fun, family-friendly activities staged throughout the garden. The garden’s theme focuses on the ‘Pollination Investigation’ that takes visitors on a discovery of the who, what, when, why, where and how of pollination by interpreting the unique relationship between pollinators and flowers. Visitors will be inspired to take lessons for creating pollinator friendly landscapes back to their homes and communities in support of the Million Pollinator Garden campaign (http://millionpollinatorgardens.org/). This event is open to the public and will take place in the Pollinator Garden located along the east side of the National Museum of Natural History at Ninth Street between Constitution Avenue and the National Mall. For more information, contact James Gagliardi at GagliardiJ@si.edu.

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Smithsonian Libraries and Biodiversity Heritage Libraries - Innovation Commons Participation

Washington, DC

April 21-22, 2017

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), in conjunction with Smithsonian Libraries, will participate in the Innovation Commons on Friday, April 21 and April 22 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. BHL and SIL staff will be available on hand at a designated booth to share examples of how the open access biodiversity literature in BHL supports the study and conservation of life on Earth. The library's vast collection of over 50 million pages helps researchers identify new species and prioritize conservation efforts through a better understanding of species relationships, the impacts of past extinctions, and the identification of "keystone" species critical to the health of an ecosystem. BHL also collaborates with biodiversity and natural history institutions throughout the world in various capacities. Staff at the booth will be available to answer questions, showcase some of those partnerships, and demonstrate key strategies for accessing the literature in BHL. Contacts: Carolyn Sheffield (sheffieldc@si.edu); Grace Costantino (costantinog@si.edu).

Earth Optimism Day at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Saturday, April 22 2017, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

This Earth Day, celebrate conservation success stories at the Smithsonian's National Zoo! Earth Optimism Day will feature activities, interactive demonstrations, and talks on some of the most uplifting and exciting success stories in wildlife conservation today. Learn how zoos have helped save species like golden lion tamarins and black footed ferrets from going extinct, sip some bird-friendly coffee, or find out how you can help protect wildlife every day as you take on our conservation scavenger hunt. In the spirit of Earth Optimism, event attendees are encouraged to ride their bicycles to this event to help reduce carbon emissions. Free bicycle valet parking is available for the first 100 cyclists who register through the Zoo’s website. For more information, contact Kirstin Schoeninger at schoeningerk@si.edu.

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Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Panama City, Panama

April 22, 2017, 10:30 AM - 3 PM, Punta Culebra Nature Center, Amador Causeway

Join us for an "Earth Optimism" Festival to celebrate nature and wildlife, hosted by STRI’s Punta Culebra Nature Center. The daylong event will feature lightning talks by inspirational conservation leaders, as well as local youth making a difference for the future of the planet. We will have music and art performances, crafts made from recyclable materials, tours, storytelling, and animal exhibits. A special feature will be our new Q-Cart, a mobile hands-on science library and exhibit for curious people, featuring an array of beautifully illustrated books, scientific artifacts, ancient fossils, giant insects, experiments and more! Please contact Crystal Dimiceli (dimicelicj@si.edu) for more information.

National Museum of the American Indian

Washington, DC

April 22, 2017, 2:00 PM, Rasmuson Theater

Doug Herman, senior geographer at the National Museum of the American Indian will talk about traditional leadership and resource management practices in old Hawai‘i. There is ample evidence all around us that the management of human-environment relationships by the dominant society has brought huge imbalance. His presentation will include a discussion of the values of the voyaging canoe, represented by Hōkūleʻa as it winds up its world-wide voyage of mālama honua (take care of the Earth) — offer lessons on how to live on a finite vessel—whether it is the canoe, an island, or island earth. For more information on this inspiring voyage, visit the website below or contact Shawn Termin at TerminS@si.edu.

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An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch

Washington, DC

Saturday, April 22, 2017, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM, Baird Auditorium, Ground Floor, National Museum of Natural History, 10th St. and Constitution Ave. N.W.

An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch (US/Bahamas/Canada/Honduras/Senegal, 2016, 46 min.) Around the world, more than 3 billion people depend on fish as an essential part of their diet, but fish populations are falling; how close are we to a global food catastrophe? An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch follows renowned fisheries scientist Dr. Daniel Pauly and his team of international experts as they piece together the evidence to determine exactly how much fish we’ve been taking from our oceans. It’s a detective story that ranges from the Atlantic coastline to the reefs of the Bahamas and the shores of Senegal – uncovering the startling discovery that we have drastically underestimated the amount of fish we catch globally and are running out of fish much faster than we thought. But there is hope. Dr. Pauly’s landmark research reveals that if we manage our fisheries better we can have more fish than we thought was possible. And, new technology developed by Dr. Stephen Box, Vice President of Global Fishery Solutions at Rare and former scientist at the Smithsonian Center for Marine Conservation, transforms the way we can manage small scale fisheries, safeguarding the bounty of the seas for future generations. Along the way we find hope as Dr. Pauly’s landmark work and a new approach to sustainable fisheries being developed by the Smithsonian reveal the opportunity to preserve the bounty of the seas for future generations. Written and directed by Alison Barrat, co-produced by the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation and the Smithsonian Channel. Followed by a discussion focused on solutions presented in the film featuring experts in the film Dr. Daniel Pauly, Dr. Stephen Box, and the filmmaker Alison Barrat. This program is presented with the Smithsonian Channel and the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation in conjunction with the Earth Optimism Summit programming at the National Museum of Natural History.

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National Museum of Natural History - Teen Event

Washington, DC

April 23, 2017

The National Museum of Natural History is hosting a teen-only event to inspire teens to share their voice and connect them to people and projects that are having a positive impact on the planet. Activities will include; a teen-panel conversation, game jam, poetry prompts, interactive activities, and opportunities to talk with leaders from the Earth Optimism Summit and the region. This will be take place in the Q?rius Education Center (qrius.si.edu) and will open to the public for part of the day. Register for this event by copying and pasting link: http://qrius.si.edu/earth-optimism-registration-teens-only

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Life in the Age of Humans: Wild Cities – Connecting People and Nature

Washington, DC

April 26, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, Q?rius Theater, Ground Floor, National Museum of Natural History

Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson popularized the concept of biophilia, which he described as “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.” To what extent can cities be biophilic and provide basic conditions for urban citizens to live a life in close contact with nature? University of Virginia Professor Timothy Beatley addresses this question, exploring some of the ways that cities are integrating nature into their planning and fostering connections to the natural world. Beatley will discuss the Biophilic Cities Project at the University of Virginia and the global Biophilic Cities Network, which aims to extend and expand the important role that nature can play in the growth and development of cities around the world. Offered in conjunction with the Earth Optimism Summit programming at the National Museum of Natural History. Part of the Anthropocene: Life in the Age of Humans series, “Wild Cities – Connecting People and Nature.” Visit the website to learn more and RSVP for this event.

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Open House – Bay Optimism hosted by Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Edgewater, MD

May 20, 2017, 10 AM - 3 PM

Join the Smithsonian for a festival of Bay Optimism! SERC’s 2,650 acres of forest, farmland, wetlands and shoreline host some of the longest-running environmental projects in the world. While it’s no secret that Chesapeake Bay has struggles, there are also reasons to celebrate: ospreys returning, blue crabs rebounding and seagrasses taking back their territory. Hold a horseshoe crab. Talk to a scientist. Discover environmental success stories that ecologists, policymakers and citizens like you make happen every day. So go ahead: Release your inner optimist. Free parking at nearby South River High School. For more information, contact Kristen Minogue at MinogueK@si.edu.

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