Environmental Stewardship

Contest for Short Student Films about Sustainable Travel

Kuoni Travel, one of the world’s leading globally-active leisure travel and destination management organisations, is launching a short film idea contest on facebook. Starting tomorrow 1 February 2012, film students and makers across the globe are invited to submit innovative ideas for the production of a viral video that raises awareness about sustainable travel.  The aim of the film is to provide travellers with concrete tips on how to embark on holidays that benefit local people and help protect the environment in destinations. There are no restrictions on the style of the video, and the best suggestion will win 7000USD towards financial support for the final production of the film. The submission period is open until 22 February 2011.

By supporting this initiative, Kuoni is underlining its long-standing commitment to corporate responsibility. As a tour operator, Kuoni is deeply involved in all aspects of the travel experience, both now and for the future, and makes every effort to maximise the positive effects of the world travel industry and minimise its more negative repercussions. The company has already initiated and successfully implemented over 30 projects all over the globe, with its prime focus on sustainable supply chains, sustainable products, human rights and environmental stewardship. This is the second sustainable tourism film to be supported by Kuoni. The first winning short-film, which focuses on sustainable hotels, will be featured on the contest’s facebook page.

The first winning film and full contest rules are available online starting 1 Feb 2012, 9AM CET at: https://www.facebook.com/KuoniGroup?sk=app_353019991381070

Interview about EcoArt South Florida

EcoArt on the West Palm Beach waterfront. Michael Springer served as the primary designer of this project, completed in 2010. This work is a significant example of the cross disciplinary work of a sculptor who has been doing large scale infrastructure related environmentally sensitive art for decades.

DCA: Tell us about EcoArt South Florida.

EcoArt South Florida: EcoArt South Florida encourages broad support for environmental stewardship within communities by involving citizens of all ages and demonstrating innovative and aesthetically striking ways to create and save energy, reduce heat island effect, capture and reuse stormwater and many other positive approaches to enhancing the health of our interrelated ecosystems. EcoArt (short for ecological art) is not a new art practice. It is only new here in Florida!

Volunteers collect seeds as a part of EcoArtist Xavier Cortada’s installation on Lincoln Road in Miami. Cortada is a multitalented artist whose projects to restore Florida’s urban canopies and mangrove stands are large scale performance pieces involving hundreds of non artist volunteers, government agencies and philanthropic organizations. (photo submitted by EcoArt South Florida)

Cortada’s EcoArt installation on Lincoln Road in Miami. (photo submitted by EcoArt South Florida)

DCA: How does EcoArt encourage the public, and in particular, elected officials, to incorporate arts and culture into everyday life?

EcoArt South Florida: EcoArt South Florida intends to assist targeted communities to establish “EcoArt Nodes” in each of South Florida’s five watersheds by 2015. We define an EcoArt Node as a committed group of stakeholders, with a strong organization at its center (either as its own nonprofit, or as a subunit of an existing organization) dedicated to growing EcoArt and supporting emerging EcoArtists in their locale. An important stakeholder group that must always be included as each EcoArt Node is established, are elected and career officials of municipal and county governments.

The locations for our EcoArt Nodes have been scientifically identified by our GIS study of all five watersheds in South Florida, completed for us by Dartmouth College’s department of geography undergraduate students, Spring, 2011.

EcoArt South Florida’s comprehensive community education program and artist apprenticeship is specifically designed to engage key communities in best ways to establish and support strong EcoArt practices in their areas. We will work with the communities identified as EcoArt Nodes to field this program which will be the basis for ongoing development and support of EcoArt practice.

In addition to establishment of targeted EcoArt Nodes, starting in early 2012, EcoArt South Florida Board and Advisory Committee members will begin to meet where they live, with county and city officials.

To date, the only municipality in Florida we are aware of that has done this is Boynton Beach. Credit goes to Boynton’s Mayor and Commissioners for establishing a Green Alliance of local citizens involved in Green urban and community development that recommended key elements of a Green Ordinance for the city. EcoArt South Florida was a member of this alliance. The resulting new ordinance Includes mention of EcoArt at various places. We are delighted to encourage our city and county officials to follow the lead of Boynton Beach in assuring that EcoArt is included as their communities develop creative ways to “go green.”

Follow the link to learn more about how EcoArt has been integrated into Boynton’s many new green initiatives, please contact the administrator of Art in Public Places Debby Coles-Dobay.

Jackie Brookner (NY) and Angelo Ciotti (PA) are EcoArtists embedded in design team for restoration of West Palm Beach’s largest urban green space, Dreher Park, revamped from 2002-2005 to expand water retention. Features “BioSculpture” ™ in new retention pond which cleans waters with plants on the sculpture’s surface, sculptural earthen mounds reminiscent of indigenous people’s shell mounds, created from dirt excavated to create a large new retention pond, and a learning garden featuring plants used by inhabitants over a thousand year period to the present. (photo submitted by EcoArt South Florida)

DCA: What does EcoArt do for South Florida?

EcoArt South Florida: EcoArt practice has many identities. All contribute to the community. Most involve the community at every level of the planning, design and creation of EcoArt projects.

In addition to our consultations with communities we have identified as EcoArt Nodes, and continuing to develop our pilot community education and artist apprenticeship program, EcoArt South Florida is also currently working on three program aspects that we believe have great potential for inspiration, education and engagement of the public:

  1. First, the integration of Public EcoArt at the design stage of urban buildings and neighborhoods that will be seeking LEED or other green certification. EcoArt South Florida is working with the South Florida chapter of the US Green Building Council on this.
  2. Secondly, engaging EcoArt with greening the public schoolyard. EcoArt South Florida has been reaching out to public school districts, teachers and administrators through the annual LEARN GREEN conferences; and we are in the process of working with a math and science middle school to develop what will probably be the first comprehensive outdoor classroom in South Florida.
  3. And finally, modeling a new kind of urban streetscape featuring a variety of Florida native canopy trees (instead of the “monoculture” approach currently used) and understory vegetation that encourages the return of pollinators and birds. EcoArt South Florida is involved with a consortium of organizations developing a pilot of this kind of streetscape. Our partners include the grass roots West Palm Beach organization Northwood GREENlife that is taking the lead, the Palm Beach chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, 1000 Friends of Florida and the Center for Creative Education. In addition to the creation of a multiple-species Florida native urban forest pilot streetscape that can be replicated widely, the project will also incorporate arts: sculpture, ceramics, video, storytelling, performance and a community celebratory procession/parade once the planting has been completed.

EcoArt South Florida believes EcoArt will not prosper in our region unless public officials, both elected and career, and our colleagues in the building, development and planning professions are given incentives to do so. It is for this reason that we will be focusing heavily over the next year to two years on insertion of EcoArt within city and county green ordinances as has been done in Boynton Beach.

DCA: What does the future of EcoArt hold for Florida?
EcoArt South Florida: We believe Florida can become one of the key centers for EcoArt practice. EcoArt South Florida is dedicated to making this happen. And this is as it should be. As we point out on our website, engagement of art and culture with environmental issues is still not widely done anywhere, not only in Florida. This is a shame, because, as those of us involved in the arts professions know well, art has the potential to inspire, educate and engage in so many ways. This inspiration and engagement will be necessary if we are to address successfully the many serious implications of climate change. And we have very little time to do this. Art is a form of knowledge, just as important as science. Unfortunately art and artists have not been adequately engaged with science in the struggle to bring our valuable ecologies back to health. Now is the time to bring EcoArt to the task.

DCA: Why do you believe arts and culture are important in the lives of Floridians and visitors to our state?
EcoArt South Florida: Art creates culture and has for as long as human being have inhabited the earth. The best time to have begun to bring art to the task of healing our fragile ecologies was many decades ago. The second best time is now. Florida needs us. The planet needs us. Let’s get to work applying artistic imagination and creativity in tandem with scientific advances to the challenges that face us.

EcoArt SoFla

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Mary Jo Aagerstoun has just posted the following to the EcoArt South Florida website:

Why does South Florida need EcoArt?

EcoArt SoFla believes art must be integrated into sustainability strategies. In South Florida, like everywhere else on the globe, sustainability strategies have been driven by science and political expediency. One searches in vain at all levels of the worldwide sustainability research/policy development community to find the tiniest acknowledgment of the role art could and should play in making sustainability a reality. The sustainability discourse is, therefore, very uni-centric in the knowledges it taps.

It seems self-evident that the kinds of environmental crises we face worldwide require that we tap a multiplicity of knowledges. To infuse societies with sustainability-enhancing scientific innovations, culture must be both mobilized and transformed. And communities and the general public must be inspired and educated to pursue serious and committed environmental stewardship. Artists are the expert innovators and creative thinkers most engaged with the art knowledge and cultural integration skill that help to create the cultural glue holding societies together. Art and science, as twin knowledge forms, must be tapped in tandem to create the wisdom, and activate hope, that underpin sustainability.

But not just any art will do. EcoArt SoFla will seek support for and promote artists whose practices are inspired by the precepts of Joseph Beuys’ “social sculpture” and address environmental problems with creative combinations of conceptual art, process art, connective aesthetics, participatory and socially engaged practices, phenomenological and eco-philosophies, direct democracy processes and other social/aesthetic forms and techniques.

EcoArt SoFla seeks nothing less than development of a large contingent of ecoartists committed to staying in South Florida and who are, or wish to become, master cross-disciplinary learners and social system choreographers, skilled at drawing into the collaborative creation of ecoart stakeholders from grass roots community organizations, scientific institutions, public policy agencies and pioneering philanthropic entities. EcoArt SoFla will dedicate itself to development and promotion of the best ecoart projects: those that engage and mobilize community while employing, enhancing and melding techniques, knowledge and wisdom from landscape architecture, environmental biology and chemistry, planning and engineering and many other disciplines, and collaborating with their practitioners, while drawing from the deep roots of art history and the broadest lexicon of aesthetic methods.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Three Years Later: Portland Center Stage and the Gerding

“Will we have to put salmon runs in the lobby?” asked Artistic Director Chris Coleman, somewhat facetiously, when first confronted with the idea that the new theater he and then-Project Manager Creon Thorne had envisioned would be required to be a green one.  I met Thorne in early March in the lobby of Portland Center Stage’s nearly three-year old Gerding Theatre, where he now serves as its General Manager, and although no salmon runs were in evidence, it was hard to miss the building’s many environmentally friendly features.

Thorne is quick to emphasize that PCS’ vision for its new building, an old armory that they saved from impending demolition, encompasses far more than just environmental stewardship.  Expanding on the advice of designer Ed Schlossberg, who suggested that they work to “move the proscenium outward, so that the audience is on stage as soon as they walk in the building,” they decided to work toward a new model whereby the meeting of audience and organization is not just a “transactional relationship”, with spectators entering the doors to head straight to their seats.  Rather, they envisioned a model in which the theater is a locus of the community, with spaces that function as public arenas and events that enhance the work presented on their stages.

Two views of the PCS lobby

This meant, first of all, the creation of a lobby space open to the public at all hours of the day.  A gorgeous cafe with wireless internet sits just in the doors; at lunchtime, the upstairs lobby is host to tai chi and yoga classes; and as audiences file through the doors, seminars and parties are often underway in an adjoining area.  The theater’s design facilities an open, communal feel, with the oval space of the lobby conveying a sense of swirling movement.  “The project was about creating a building people could identify with us,” said Thorne, and there is little question that a visitor to the Gerding might forget its interior.

Thorne oversaw the work during the Gerding’s retrofitting, and he recounted the process that led them to the decision to move into it.  At the time, they were sharing space with the Symphony and Ballet in a multi-use facility nearby, but the 900-seat house was too large and not well suited to their needs.  A commissioned study of the Portland arts scene recommended that PCS be given its own home, and Coleman was brought on as artistic director in part because of his commitment to that process.  Although the financing was tricky, and required the concerted efforts of a number of dedicated partners, they managed to raise the funds necessary for the move.

And when Norris Lozano, the president of the project funding partner Portland Family of Funds, a newly formed organization tasked with bringing New Market Tax Credits to Portland projects, insisted that the new theater be a showcase for green technologies and aim for LEED status, the learning curve was steep.  In particular, Coleman and Thorne were worried that the concessions they would have to make to earn the points necessary for certification would alter the design of the two spaces that had worked so carefully to craft.  However, the result is a magnificent building with two gorgeous theaters, and has been, as Thorne says, “Better than we could have hoped.”

As for its green credentials, the building was the first on the historical register and the first performing arts facility to achieve LEED platinum status, a mark not easy to hit.  It helped that they were able to reuse the shell of the old building: the recycling of building materials earns a number of points.  However, meeting some of the other measures proved somewhat difficult — it took some persuading to get their seating manufacturer to work with fabric made from recycled soda bottles.  And not all of the green features proved easy to use at first.  The cold water sent from a plant on top of a nearby Whole Foods (also supplied to a number of other area buildings, as the Gerding is part of a larger green development project) was, at first, sent at pressure high enough to blow off a number of the building’s valves.  And properly calibrating the motion and daylight sensors, both meant to reduce lighting usage, has taken some time.  Thorne is quick to point out, thought, that some of the technology the installed was still freshly developed when they installed it and might be far easier to use in this day and age.

Some green measures proved too expensive.  Installing photovoltaic panels on the roof or microturbines in the basement — both of which would have gone some way toward decreasing the theater’s carbon footprint and saving money in the long run — would have added significant expense to the project.  Moreover, under the current LEED standards, set to be changed later this year, these elements would have only garnered a point each, whereas a much less costly step such as installing scrape grates at the entrance doors was also worth a point.  Thorne says that, although it might be tough in this economic climate, they are still looking to add such features to the building, and that they might be able to do so with the increase in funds and tax credits being directed toward green energy projects.  And as the building’s LEED accreditation is set to expire after five years, he’s looking ahead to adding features that will make it eligible for LEED-EB (existing building) status.

Going green has drastically increased PCS’ local and international profile.  Groups of green architects and designers from around the world, drawn to Portland because of its high number of green projects, have taken tours of the building.  Just that day, a group of 100 school high school students in the midst of an environmental education course had come by to learn about the building’s rainwater reclamation tanks, chilled beams, and CO2 monitoring system.  Community Programs Manager Tim DuRoche put their tour in context by explaining that most of Portland’s energy came from coal and that PCS’ efforts would reduce the amount they had to draw from that non-renewable energy source.

Although PCS might have rested on its laurels with a green building, it has continued to try and make its operations as green as possible.  They’ve banned the use of spray paint whenever possible; they use recycled paint from a local city agency whenever they can; and they use Zipcars for local staff transportation.  And they’ve taken an even more significant step by opting to purchase green tags — tradable renewable energy certificates — from the Bonneville Foundation.  Of course, living in a city with the green consciousness of Portland, employees are already fairly mindful of their environmental impact.  They’ve had little luck persuading designers to work with less wattage and fewer materials, however, as most of them are reluctant to change their working methods, and Thorne said he thought it would take a revolution in education before younger, environmentally-conscious designers began to rise through the ranks.

Before I went, I had been told that PCS’ younger demographic had increased significantly with the move to the new building, and I asked Thorne if that could be attributed to their new green credentials.  “Not necessarily, but it has played a part,” he said.  More importantly, he said, was that the new building, and the new model that it represented, had increased PCS’ presence and integration with the city’s residents.  “They feel a sense of pride and ownership.”


“The Four Pillars” (theater, community, history, and sustainability), PCS website


Go to the Green Theater Initiative

Kresge Foundation Folds Green Building Initiative into Env’t Program

The Kresge Foundation has announced that it will be folding its Green Building Initiative into its existing Environment Program.  Whether this was due to a downturn in funding, management consolidation, or a feeling that their efforts were being duplicated by other foundations is unknown.  However, funds will remain available for theaters seeking to rebuild or renovate their existing spaces according to the US Green Building Council’s LEED accreditation system.

Via Philathrophy News Digest, March 2, 2009:

The Kresge Foundation in Troy, Michigan, has announced that it is winding down its green building initiative and has set May 29 as the last day that it will accept applications to cover the planning costs associated with constructing or renovating facilities in an environmentally sustainable manner. At the same time, the foundation has committed to advancing environmental stewardship through its environment program. Launched in 2007, the program is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment, accelerate the adoption of renewable energy technologies, and develop strategies for helping society adapt to the impacts of climate change. Going forward, the foundation will allocate more resources to the program to support policy changes designed to accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient practices in building construction, renovation, and operation.

“The green building initiative has served its purpose just as Kresge intended,” said Lois DeBacker, Kresge senior program director and Environment Program team leader. “The nonprofit organizations that received green planning grants and went on to construct green buildings raised awareness in the nonprofit sector, in the design and construction professions, and in the physical communities where these projects are located.”


“Kresge Is Retiring Its Green Building Initiative in May 2009”: Kresge Foundation Press Release, 2/27/09

“Why Build Green?”: Kresge Foundation


Go to the Green Theater Initiative