I was fortunate to be on the last day of a business trip to NYC to have the privilege to attend Study Hall`s Climate Positivity at Scale and the Times Center on Jan 31st. What sets this conference from the too many sustainability conferences I attend globally is that we did not discuss only sustainability but our humanity, our innocence, resilience, our connected, diverse individuality to each other, to the past and to the future – all the elements that make us whole, in tune and bring us together.
Study Hall is founded by Céline Seeman and I could not agree more when she says;
“ What we need to do is expand. Expand our minds in thinking outside of the colonial mind-set. Austerity can never allow for the kind of imagination needed for us to creatively solve the climate crisis globally. We need to zoom out and look at the big picture in a holistic inclusive way, one that challenges the status quo but also dreams up to new possibilities.”
Study Hall aims to gather industry experts, scientists, students, designers, policy makers, executives to take action collaboratively and is growing by the day with 700 participants in NYC at their 5th edition of the seminar series.
The pre-conference atmosphere was already set with the super lively line up at the door, warm greetings of the Study Hall team, the delicious House of Waris tea as I made news friends and embraced old ones. The conference was a melting pot of diverse perspectives and applications of regenerative agriculture, recycling of materials, new raw materials with low to negative carbon impact, circular systems, impact of women and indigenous communities, collaboration versus alienation. I had many take-aways which I feel is my responsibility to share with my community and through genuine collaboration we can embrace our uniqueness and at the same time acknowledge that we are all parts of each other – human, non-human and even non-living and some gatherings transform into happenings – Climate Positivity at Scale was one such gathering which has already transformed into being a happening.
Korina Emmerich of EMME welcomes the crowd by saying that she offers to dismantle systems of oppression. Manhattan had been home to Native American Indians of Lenape and was acquired by the Colonists on May 24, 1626 for 24 $. Manhattan is also home to garment manufacturers who came as immigrants. We later heard Haatepah @_coyotl on the panel of A message from the Earth – that it will not be possible to achieve climate positivity without decolonization, dismantling environmental racism, without learning to live with each other and Mother Earth. It was not only him with tears as he said “and it has been taught to us to hate who we are for hundreds of years. We have been slaves and I feel that now people are beginning to reclaim and understand where we come from.
Whitney McGuire stated that her ancestors have worked and died for the fashion industry and that we have to learn from the ones who have suffered the most. Indigenous people have circular practices. The industry has to start relating to the inclusive and pervasive stories which are interdependent, and we have to notice, understand and acknowledge to be able to device solutions.
Ayana as a scientist cries over the climate crisis data however she uses hope as the hammer that breaks the glass in emergency. She calls everyone for action – not solely on an individual scale but start where one is at his/her best and engage the communities as we are not in isolation. Be a professional troublemaker, change the status quo, be the unexpected Ayana called out remarking that policy follows culture. If we can change and ignite culture, then we can achieve climate justice globally.
Céline Seeman – Céline speaks softly and yet very clearly, there is a nurturing aspect to her voice that invites and welcomes even as she speaks the difficult. “Climate Change is already replacing 41 people each minute globally.”
Jungwon Kim of – Farmers and forest communities have no choice but to take action every single day. She reminds us of our connectivity to the environment. %80 of the Earth`s biodiversity is maintained by the Indigenous people and they manage %11 of the world`s forests. Although they are %5 of the world`s population they hold ecological IP and expertise on land management. Jungwon`s point reminds me that in the denim industry we also need to talk to the manufacturers who are under climate crisis the most to device the right solutions.
Incentivizing Good Behavior Panel
Sebastian Kopp of VEJA sneakers explained how they have worked with the farmers on the fields and aimed to have growth in their earnings as well as paying the fair price for raw materials. Sebastian emphasized that cultural transformation is needed rather than a sustainable product offer and that we are dealing with urgency rather than marketing products.
Matthew Sheffer of Hudson Carbon uses technology to connect the farmers to the brands as well as to the climate concerned consumers. Hudson Carbon offers farmers to be compensated for following practices that sequester carbon. Mark focuses on the value of products rather than the price – “The true cost of food and fiber is not reflected in what you pay for”. Stop for a moment on this thought and consider what this means as an industry expert and/or as a consumer. The idea of value and not price convenes humans with the environment as redefines our relations.
Dominique Drakeford of Sustainable Brooklyn and Fibershed called herself a virus that connects, infiltrates and she sure does with her vibrant energy and passion. Sustainable Brooklyn focuses on the individual, the community as well as the stakeholders. Fibershed on the other hand is a regional fiber manufacturing initiative with the goal to reduce footprint of fashion, invest in local communities and incentives authenticity and craftsmanship. Education, training, local communities, regenerative systems will transform industries. The True Blue Project of Fibershed assesses economic, social and environmental concerns and presents a general overview on indigo, a focus on planting and harvesting strategies and compost making pigment extraction methods enabling a soil to soil indigo production.
Marco Tedesco and Laurel Zaima of Lomont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University presented the impact of microplastics on humans and the environment. There are 13 times more plastic