Issue One: Introduction

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Welcome to Sustainability Now, the inaugural AIC sustainability email blast. We are excited to be part of a movement of conservators and related professionals who are applying innovative thinking to preserve our cultural heritage and our planet. In this edition, we want to share our views on how we can contribute to the monumental task of creating a more sustainable future and highlight the voices of people, often marginalized, who hold wisdom around how to live in better harmony with the planet. Additionally, how do we channel positive energy to continue showing up for this work?

In reckoning with dual pandemics of Covid-19 and systemic racism, it might feel like these more immediate crises have pushed the urgency of the climate crisis to the background. However, this convergence of crises has also prompted movements for social justice, indigenous rights, community action, mental wellness, and ecological sustainability to find common purpose. The destructive forces of unbridled capitalism, patriarchal structures, and white supremacy are also at the root of the climate crisis. A holistic, sustainable approach to environmental justice necessarily includes justice for all peoples, in particular the Black, indigenous, and people of color who have been repeatedly and disproportionately affected by environmental threats, including the coronavirus. This poem and video, #ASCOLTA, is a beautiful expression of how our health and the health of the planet are intertwined and a reminder of the power of art to help us navigate the future.

In continuing to show up for this work, we are listening to voices who are promoting community-oriented approaches to address the climate crisis. We have found it empowering to move away from an embrace of corporate greenwashing and away from solutions that focus on individual, siloed actions (although these are of course a good start). Rather, it is through community and grassroots action that political pressure, from both sides of the aisle, builds, and creative, lasting solutions begin to emerge. As professionals, we have well-honed problem solving skills and a sensitivity to the best expressions of human creativity and expression. This moment demands that we draw on these skills and begin to see ourselves as multidimensional actors implementing changes in our professional practice, in the cultural institutions in which we work, in the companies from which we consume, and throughout our lives. For this reason we hope to provide conservation related resources as well as inspiration for broader thinking about sustainability.

While this can sound abstract, excellent resources promoting this approach are plentiful. Next time you are plugging in your earbuds for the meditation of a monotonous conservation task, have a listen to the thought leaders featured on the For the Wild podcast or the wonderful podcast series Conservators Combating Climate Change, created by our friends in ECPN. If you are looking for an inspiring documentary try Kiss the Ground about the power of regenerative farming practices or listen to the conference talk by Alison Tickell from Julie’s Bicycle at the Smithsonian’s Stemming the Tide Symposium.  It is refreshing to think about, as Tricia Hersey of the The Nap Ministry so brilliantly articulates, how our individual rest and rejuvenation can fuel our ability to fight for social and environmental justice as well as for better preservation strategies under challenging conditions.

As a committee we would like to hold space for uncertainty and questioning, for radical honesty, curiosity, and openness to big ideas. But we are also here for data-informed decision making and scientific research that we hope will lead to concrete ideas and positive action. To that end, we recently conducted a survey that found that while 93% of those surveyed this year indicated that they were interested in learning more about sustainability in conservation, more than half of all respondents reported that resources and information on sustainable conservation practices were sometimes difficult to find. It is through this newsletter that we wish to better disseminate up-to-date information on sustainable practices in conservation, whether it be a webinar, tips and tricks, or information on glove recycling programs.We will try to bring some news of action, energy and optimism. If there is anything conservators love it's a problem to be solved in order to better preserve things for the future.

Read more about what actions conservators and related professionals are taking to become more sustainable and combat the climate crisis:

Geothermal Systems for Cultural Institutions with Bill Tyre, Executive Director and Curator of the Glessner House by Roxy Sperber, Rachel Childers, Bellie Camp, Rebecca Kennedy, AIC Sustainability Committee

In part 1 of this series, members of the Committee speak with Bill Tyre, the Executive Director and Curator of the Glessner House, about their NEH funded project to install a geothermal system and create environmental controls for the collection.

Geothermal Systems for Cultural Institutions with Mark Nussbaum, Principal Engineer at Architectural Consulting Engineers by Roxy Sperber, Bellie Camp, Rebecca Kennedy, AIC Sustainability Committee

In part 2 of this series, dive further into the technical aspects of retrofitting historic buildings with geothermal systems with Mark Nussbaum, Principal Engineer at Architectural Consulting Engineers. Mark is responsible for the design and implementation of the geothermal heating and cooling systems at the Glessner House in Chicago (see part 1).

Click Here to read the full interview

The Green Initiative at the Missouri Historical Society: Interview with Angela Moore, Facilities and Sustainability Coordinator for the Missouri Historical Society

By Alice Boccia Paterakis, AIC Sustainability Committee

The Missouri Historical Society recently took significant steps to make their institution more sustainable. AIC SustainabilityCommittee Member Alice Boccia Paterakis interviewed Angela Moore, a sustainability advisor certified in LEED and TRUE zero-waste, who led the Museum’s efforts.

Click here to read the full interview.

Click here to read the full interview

Interview with Caitlin Southwick, Founder and Executive Director of Ki Culture and Sustainability in Conservation

By Bellie Camp, AIC Sustainability Committee

On April 14, AIC SustainabilityCommittee Student Member, Bellie Camp, sat down (virtually) with Caitlin Southwick, Founder and Executive Director of Ki Culture and Sustainability in Conservation (SiC) to discuss her career path and the ongoing work of both organizations.

Click here to read the full interview.

Click here to check out the All We Can Save Project Site

Sustainability Book Club

Excited about building community around climate justice and breaking out of a narrative of hopelessness? Need some holiday reading that will inspire your sustainability New Year's resolutions? Our first book club read will be All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions of the Climate Crisis. There is a fantastic audiobook version and one of the most incredible essays by Sarah Miller (read by the legendary Julia Louis-Dreyfus) can be found for free right here.

Email us at to register for the first meeting!

Email with your sustainability questions or expertise! We hope to feature reader's questions in future newsletters. Already innovating in the realm of sustainability? Write to us or use the hashtag #SustainableAIC on social media to let us know what you're up to!

- AIC's Sustainability Committee