Access keynote lectures, discussions, and presentations from the Crossroads Symposium below.
Description of the video:
Sarah Mincey: [00:00:02] So good morning. I hope that many of you were able to be a part of last night's performance of Rising Tide The Crossroads project. I don't know about you. If you were I am still high from it. It was amazing. It was just wonderful. So yeah. I'm kind of probably too amped up for you this morning because of that. Get some coffee and join me in my excitement. I'm Sarah Mincey and I'm the director of the Integrated Program in the Environment here at Indiana University Bloomington and IPE is a really unique entity. Our website is environment.indiana.edu. You can go explore what we do.
[00:00:43] But in short we are an initiative under the auspices of the Provost here at Bloomington and we work across three different schools that support us: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and the School of Public Health. But we represent all of the environmental and sustainability focused initiatives on this campus. And so I have such an exciting job because I get to learn about all these wonderful things that are happening across campus, even in the business school or the fine arts school or media. It's just so fun to be a part of it all. A lot of what we do is academic programming. We manage several undergraduate programs. We also manage the IU Research and Teaching Preserve, which is over sixteen hundred acres of natural lands. That is for for research and teaching. But one of the really exciting things that we get to do is projects like the Crossroads Project which is what you're part of today. So I'm excited to have you here. IPE is not the only game in town at the Bloomington campus. There are so many other folks that are focused on the environment in sustainability so it's such an amazing time to be here. We have the Sustainability Office and they work across academics and operations. They connect those two for a living learning lab for our students to make our campus sustainable and our community sustainable, and giving students real world experience and actually implementing sustainability practices. Many of the undergrads that I'm managing their academics for are doing these co curricular work with the office and it's just so inspiring. We also have the Rural Center for Excellence. The Rural Center for Engagement. And the Rural Center is working across Southern Indiana right now trying to implement - actually implementing wonderful projects to try to build sustainability across this part of the rural portion of this state. We have the Environmental Resilience Institute, which is a research initiative funded a couple of years ago. Fifty five million dollars from the University invested in preparing the state of Indiana for climate change and really beyond the state of Indiana. Right. Everything they do will be a model for the rest of the country in the world. So it's it's an exciting time to be here and with all of that that sets the stage for us to think about what kind of work can we do to contribute to all of this energy that's going on right now at Indiana University Bloomington.
[00:03:30] And so more than a year ago, I think, I came to Betsy Sarah, my partner in crime, and putting on a Crossroads IUB project and I said you know there's this amazing performance piece that I've been told about.
[00:03:45] It's called Rising Tide The Crossroads Project and I think we can write a grant and we can get them here and it would be wonderful if we can add on to that some other things like a symposium where we can inspire people in our own community to try to build interdisciplinary projects like this that will inspire sustainable behavior in people in the face of climate change. And so. That's exactly what's happened. I wanted to just kind of give you that context for for what's going on.
[00:04:16] In case you weren't at the performance last night, the Crossroads IUB project is it was three different events. You're at the the third one today the symposium. But last night we had a special First Thursdays event which is a monthly activity that happens that celebrates the arts and is an environmentally themed one. So that was exciting. And then right after that that event we had the Rising Tide performance at our cinema which again was amazing. And then now here we are at the symposium and all three of these events and the whole point of Crossroads IUB is to explore the question: how did the arts and humanities and the sciences synergize to motivate sustainable behavior in the face of climate change? And so that's the question we're going to explore even more deeply today than than we did yesterday. So we're gonna continue this conversation today.
[00:05:14] I want to give you an overview of what's going to happen today. Some of you are here just for the morning session. But then we have an afternoon session as well. The morning session is exciting we'll have we're basically going to set the stage for the workshop session. So we're going to hear from the experts this morning.
[00:05:34] We'll have a keynote address by our very own Jason Kelly who is at IUPUI and is very much an expert in bringing together the disciplines to address the question that we're looking at today. We're also going to hear from Dr. Rob Davies who is the the I should say the the lead of the Rising Tide Crossroads project. You were the initiator of it. Right. And so Rob is going to talk to us about his experience with the crossroads project. Then we'll have a panel discussion that will bring together all the collaborators who were a part of Rising Tide: to all of the musicians, the five string quartet, the artist, the painter who whose work we saw last night, and the composer. So we'll hear from all those folks about their experience collaborating across these disciplines to motivate sustainable behavior.
[00:06:31] Then we'll break. We'll have a lunch and we'll come back together for our workshopping in the afternoon.
[00:06:37] And the goal there is we'd have wonderful proposals that were submitted by many of you today who are here. And these are projects that are really I would say Rising Tide-like projects. They bring together different disciplines to address the issue of climate change or environmental change. And so we're going to work on those together and try to improve them and move them forward. Take next steps on them and we can do that with these wonderful experts from Rising Tide. Right. So the fact that we have them here means we're going to use them and we're going to improve our our projects so that's the overview of the day. And just a few more things sort of logistical things I wanted to get out of the way.
[00:07:27] In your packet that you got, there's an itinerary basically just what I ran over. There's also an assessment form for today. And one side of it is about the morning session and one side is the afternoon session. So after the morning is over you can complete that assessment for us so we can know how we've done in terms of meeting our objectives I want to welcome you to continue to snack this morning. There's a lot of food and coffee and drinks over there so this is fairly informal.
[00:07:57] So go ahead and help yourself to that and then the bathrooms are just down the hall and to the left. That's important to know. So just feel free to get up and move around if you need to. Lastly I want to acknowledge all the folks who have supported us in making this possible. First and foremost Betsy I mentioned was a copy on our grant that brought the Rising Tide here and she's been just wonderful to work with and very supportive my staff.
[00:08:31] Teresa Dunn who's the assistant director of IPE and our graduate student Amy Rowland have been integral to making this all happen. And then of course the the different entities on campus that have been our partners. I need to acknowledge them. So the Environmental Resilience Institute is the administrative body for the big grant that I told you about the prepared for Environmental Change Grant. And they've supported this. The Jacobs School of Music, the Arts and Humanities Council, the IU Cinema, and the Office of Sustainability, and and the grant program that funded this whole thing is the new Frontiers new current grant program from the Office for the Vice President for Research at Indiana University So without further ado I think it's time to get started with our keynote speakers.
Description of the video:
Sarah Mincey: [00:00:01] It's time to get started with our keynote speakers. So. So first up we have Dr. Jason Kelly. Jason is the director of the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and is an associate professor of British History at the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. He is a visiting research fellow at Newcastle University and a fellow at the Society of Antiquities of London. As director of the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, Dr Kelly supports the IPE research mission by directing the IAAHI grant program, identifying and fostering trans disciplinary research collaborations and organizing research workshops and symposia. Kelly's research projects focus on the histories of the environment, human rights, and art. So he's a perfect person to talk to us today. Right. Come on up and can you guys welcome Jason.
Jason Kelly: [00:01:05] I think it works. Excellent. Good morning everybody. We hope you're doing well. Before I get started I just want to thank Sarah and Betsy and everybody who had a hand in organizing these wonderful events. And I thank the folks from the Crossroads Project for putting on such a beautiful event last night. If you didn't get a chance to see it I encourage you. Hopefully they'll be in town again so we can see it again it's spring. Sarah asked me to talk today about the ways that we can use arts, sciences, humanities and bring them together in the context of thinking about environmental research. And so one of the things that she asked me to speak about some of the work that we do up at IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, specifically our rivers of the Anthropocene program. So I'll be talking about that in the last third of my talk today. But before I get there I kind of want to talk about why it's important first place to bring together the arts, sciences and the humanities and how we might do it. So that's kind of how my talk is structured. So I have some formal things up front. I actually wrote it out by hand. You're going to read a little bit for you. But as we go on it will get more informal at any point.
[00:02:22] Please just stop me and ask me if you have any questions on anything.
[00:02:28] Three years ago I traveled to San Francisco to attend the American Geophysical Union conference. For those who don't know what the conference is like: Imagine twenty five thousand geophysicists, hydraulic engineers, geochemist and space scientists descending on San Francisco to talk about earth science. That's kind of what the field is like. And it was 2016, I guess it was two years ago and I should say it's 2015. That was what was exciting 2016. December wasn't. 2015. That year the mood was really exhilarating. Many people who were there had just gotten off the plane from Paris where they had attended the climate conference where 195 countries had signed a legally binding climate deal meant to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. It was a diplomatic and environmental success and presumably it was the first step in a grand attempt to address the greatest challenge facing humanity. I was there to speak on a special panel on the Anthropocene put together by the international geo sphere biosphere program or IGGP. To my surprise I wasn't the only humanist on the panel. In fact I wasn't even the only historian on that panel. There were two historians on a panel. I think we were also the only two of twenty five thousand people there who were. We were one of three IGGP key panels at the agency that year and it was the last three that the IGGP would ever hold. As it turns out this meeting at the age you was the last hurrah for the organization was closing up shop and its various projects were transferring over to a new organization, Future Earth.
[00:04:13] Since 1987, IGGP had been at the forefront of scientific research on global environmental change. They've been central participants in the field of Earth System Science and the group had been a central player in convincing countries around the globe of the looming catastrophes humanity faced because of its addictions to fossil fuels and artificial fertilizers. It was an IGGP newsletter in 2000 where Nobel Prize laureate Paul Crutzen and Eugene Sturmer first proposed the idea that humanity had entered a new geological age: the Anthropocene.
[00:04:49] So why was the IGGP closing up and transferring its projects to Future Earth?
[00:04:55] It was because IGGP peace leaders had recognized that we had entered a new moment in climate science. Despite the deniers decades of evidence revealed the scale of anthropogenic environmental change, the IGGP had done its job. It had collected the data, it had analyzed and synthesized the data ,and now it had turned over that data for the rest of humanity to respond to their findings. To do this those in the natural sciences needed to work with those in the social sciences and the humanities and the arts. They needed to work with designers with policymakers and with community leaders.
[00:05:33] This was the mission of future earth to bring together those individuals specializing in geo by a physical work with those working in sociocultural work in order to effect real change across the globe.
[00:05:49] But how can those working in the sciences collaborate with those in the arts and humanities? This is the question that we're addressing today. But before we can get to that question we have to make the case for the importance of that union in the first place. Why we want to bring together the sociocultural and the geo- biophysical. So in order to do that I want to turn to an example here in Indiana.
[00:06:16] The great thing about this is I don't think to say I keep repeating.
[00:06:22] Some of you may remember the 2012 drought here in Indiana. In fact it wasn't a drought just here in Indiana. A number of climate systems had converged across the country and 80 percent of the contiguous United States was in drought conditions in the middle of the summer. The economic costs were astounding. 40 billion dollars in agricultural losses alone. While this was happening, leaders in Indianapolis were having a debate over the city's water infrastructure over the previous century. The city had built three large reservoirs north of the city in order to provide the city with a constant flow of water. Eagle Creek Morse reservoir and Geist reservoir developer business groups and government officials were worried that this wouldn't be enough to keep up with the demand over the next two decades. They were specifically concerned with being able to keep up with so-called peak water demand the maximum draw on water reserves at any one time.
[00:07:28] The proposed solution was to create a fourth reservoir. That one top right there. They would flood the White River between Anderson. And Muncie.
[00:07:42] And for those unfamiliar with the area this would flood the area along MountSt. Heart, threatening not only the structural integrity of this important archeological site but also potentially destroying unknown sites and also destroying unknown sites closer to the river. The 2012 drought was a powerful and was powerful ammunition for proponents and they were gonna call it mounds Lake Reservoir and they thought to be a great development.
[00:08:14] Here's what the drought looks like on the ground. And this is what gave them their ammunition.
[00:08:19] This is water consumption in Indianapolis over the course of 2012. You'll notice that at the beginning of the summer water consumption moved from roughly a hundred million gallons per day to a peak of about two hundred thirty million gallons per day. In the middle of the summer. When comparing this consumption to stream flow data we can see that this increased consumption corresponded to decreased stream flow. In this chart the green stuff we're looking at the stream flow along the White River kicks in stream flow correspond to rain events a few of which happened over the course of the summer see exactly every day it rained here at the height of the summer. Residents were pulling eighty four million gallons a day from Moore's reservoir. Forty two million gallons a day from Geist reservoir alone Morse reservoir was already four and a half feet below normal. And every five days it was dropping. We can see that rain events correspond to drops in water consumption. We can also see that as soon as the mayor's office banned lawn irrigation water consumption dropped off precipitously. So we can infer that the most most of the increased water usage over the summer was due to domestically one jurisdiction. The problem is if we're building water infrastructures to correspond to peak demand then peak demand up here is where we're looking at. If we take a lot of irrigation out of the equation then in fact peak demand is somewhere down here significantly lower space. And this is before we ever consider any other water saving measures. Peak demand, in this case, is then not just a problem about engineering. It's a problem for those who specializing who specialize in understanding culture as well. And that's because the green lawns are a product of a long sought process that goes back to the 18th century. I couldn't do that without British history. The 18th century wealth power gentility in Western Europe and the United States became associated with green lawns. And by the 20th century the ideal of the green lawn was a symbol of middle class identity. William Levitt, the creator of the Levitt towns, argued for their importance when describing the suburban ideal. No single feature of a suburban residential community contributes as much to the charm and the beauty of the individual home and their locality as well-kept lawns. And today in Indianapolis this symbol of well-kept greens lawns remains a symbol of privilege and stays. This story of water consumption in Indianapolis during 2012 is only one small example of how geo-biophysical and sociocultural systems are entangled with each other and it begins to point to the importance of studying them in tandem. It also reveals their research analysis and policy are likely to need insights from a range of disciplines working together. But as we know so well there often seems to be an unbridgeable divide between STEM and the arts and humanities. Despite the best intentions of interdisciplinary researchers or organizations such as Future Earth is a real concern. In fact some major challenge for us when considering how important it is to mitigate the effects of anthropogenic climate change. The concern over a division between the arts and humanities. I'm sorry. The arts humanities and social and the sciences isn't new. In 1959 the physicist novelist C.P. Snow complained that British education privilege the humanities over science and education. We don't hear that we're engineering. I don't hear that much anymore. The title of his essay "The Two Cultures' has summed up for many scholars the deep divisions between the science and the arts and humanities. CP Snow certainly wasn't the first scholar who complained about the divide between the sciences and the arts and humanities. But for the late 20th century his essay helped set the terms of the debate especially during the so-called science wars of the 1990s. And it's those terms of the debate that many others have responded to in their attempts to bring science art and humanities together. Most specifically, E.O. Wilson who probably many of you know his 1990 book "Consilience." So how do we in fact bring all of these disciplines together in the context of environmental research?
[00:13:04] When I say three things to start I would suggest that we have abandoned C.P. Snow's line there. There's more that unites the disciplines than divides them, so there's more than that unites the disciplines than divides them. And imagining science and arts and humanities as opposites creates problematic paradigms. We see this all the time in public discourse when politicians argue for the importance of science education over pursuing things like degrees in the arts and humanities. The discourse has become so toxic that the long term viability of arts and humanities programs is in jeopardy. And in fact often misrepresents what scientists do in the process. Likewise. In the way that they're often framed in the context of environmental research. This polarity suggests that science gathers useful facts about the world and that the only way for the arts and humanities to contribute is to serve as science communicators. In this scenario the value of the arts and humanities is in the service of the sciences to provide pretty visualizations or to make science more accessible. It's not that these aren't valuable forms of collaboration but they reduce the arts and humanities subsidiary roles in less than a profound intellectual contributions they have to offer. Secondly to bring the arts and humanities together with sciences we need to recognize two facts. I have lunch with my friends and we listen to fights. I'll call them a and b so we all have two numbers.
[00:14:37] A. First we're pursuing the same project. The quest for knowledge and insight into our place in the universe. Scientia and sapientia: knowledge and wisdom. B. The arts sciences and humanities face the same fundamental challenges. Specifically the hyper instrumentalization of knowledge. By this I mean a system where in all value is determined by its commercialization. We're living in a world in which basic research is being undermined by a political and economic and a cultural attitude that determines worth by short term economic outcomes. A techno libertarian dystopia in which public goods are put in the hands of private interests, one in which charter schools can compete for students in an open market. One in which space travel is being handed over to private companies; one of which university faculty are being driven to develop private enterprises out of their research. One in which knowledge is produced by recent knowledge produced by researchers is being put into the hands of private companies such as Elsevier and then sold facts. The researchers created knowledge in the first place one in which the university degrees are valued by the graduates immediate employability meaning their usefulness to the immediate needs and interests of private companies. That's how we determine the value of a degree by hyper instrumentalization. I'm not referring to research that serves the public good or how some social utility. Rather than talking about a fundamental shift in which all human intellectual and creative endeavors serve Capital One, in which business acumen stands in for knowledge, and financial success substitutes for wisdom. This hyper instrumentalization knowledge is a threat to the shared project of the Humanities Arts and Sciences. And this we're all in it together. The third principle I think is important for bringing together the arts sciences and humanities in Environmental Research is what we might call methodological poly-vocality.
[00:16:55] I was very proud of myself.
[00:17:03] This is one of the most challenging approaches to implement in the current research environment. Methodological poli-vocality offers equal voice and interpretive significance to ice core analysis to oral history. Community based art projects and then each of them can reveal a different and complementary facet of our shared experience of the universe. And each of them captures something unique and valuable from an understanding of climates deep past, to lived experience of day to day environmental change, to the co-production of knowledge and community education about the environment. Methodological poly-vocality has the potential to reveal voices that have been silenced. And it frames the arts humanities and sciences as equal partners in the shared endeavor.
[00:17:52] All right. I told you I was going to read for a little bit and done reading the most part here. So rather than continuing to talk in the abstract and throwing out things like methodological poly-vocality I want to talk to you about what's actually happening on the ground. What we do, to try to illustrate some of this.
[00:18:16] Arts and Humanities Institute we were founded in 2012 that same year we started up a new research project called Rivers of the Anthropocene. Rivers in the Anthropocene is a multifaceted project ,but at the core of it it's an international interdisciplinary group of researchers, community members ,researchers across the fields, artists, geomorphologists, philosophers, theologians, you name it.
[00:18:42] We actually have over 80 scholars and twelve different countries involved in this project looking at water as a way to begin to understand this grand transformation of the environment that we're experiencing called the anthropocene. We're organized as a loose network of folks across the globe and this is roughly the countries that we all work in.
[00:19:08] We hold things like conferences so every year we hold some kind of conference or workshop. Our last big one was last year. Actually this was held up in Indianapolis focused on the anthropology of the Anthropocene. Our next one is going to be looking at race in the Anthropocene.
[00:19:26] We do teaching we teach classes and things like this. Some of our students actually I think Eagle Creek Dam, they're learning about how the water flows are managed in Indianapolis.
[00:19:42] We do research projects. Several of the research projects include a project called Museum of the Anthropocene. Voices from the Waterways. That's an oral history project. The Anthropocene household which is the one I'm going to talk about in more detail today. And that's actually part of the branch challenges program which Sara mentioned before which is that fifty five million dollar project. We're also part of the Sustainable Water Future Program which is a project of Future Earth and we are the Working Group for Memory Place and Community and Global Water Systems Working Group.
[00:20:16] I did not name that, scientists named that. They said they thought my suggested - I suggested we call it the Museum of the Anthropocene. They said no no no. We should have this. That's our working group meme. We publish things, we publish lots of things. There's a recent book we published this from last year. This open access so we're big open access advocates who can get this for free on.
[00:20:42] The download from University California Press, but also any of the online book dealers will have it for free. Can download onto your devices. We have an Anthropocene primer if you are new to the Anthropocene. This is fantastic. It's a set of online exercises that will walk you through. It's open to everybody again. It's open access and you can actually participate in dialogue with people you can highlight pieces of the Anthropocene primer make your comments and let people respond back to you including us if you're putting comments on there. If you're teaching classes you can use this as a private online space to teach your students. You can set up a private working group where you can leave comments for your students and you can mark up the documents together everybody's name is left in there but it's private to you we can't see any of that. And it's constantly growing. So next year version 2 will come out and we're also in the process of putting together a physical and analog copy of the Anthropocene primer which was slightly different than the online primer. They'll be complementary to each other. And you can use those classes as well. We do lots of public programs. We do things like bringing speakers together.
[00:21:52] This is Jim Enos. He's a Zuni Elder. And this is a type of visa is one of our partners at the Keppel Institute in Indianapolis. He runs a community organization that's focused on dealing with environmental justice and put them in conversation about the different farming techniques that they do in the urban and rural environment. We do exhibitions. My last year's postdoc - she just got a tenure line position at University British Columbia, and it's not here anymore. She did an exhibition down with the Santa Fe Art Institute last year. And this is an exhibition from Rebecca. Ours is here as part of the crosswords project that we did in Indianapolis in 2015. Part of that we did lots of engaged public programming, including more traditional public engagement such as this talk was gave at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. But we did more non-traditional informal learning opportunities. This was a public and open public walk and sketch. And so Rebecca led the artistic side of things. And a guy named Tom Swinford. He's a biologist led the interpretation of the flora in the area. And we had lots of people show up and lots of different community partners involved in all of this.
[00:23:20] And while we were there people took photographs and they truth things and they wrote poetry and they talked and they learned together. And then when we were done we scanned everything in and made a book right on site. And so we had a book at the end of the day that everybody could take home and enjoy. With that we want to share we took all of these lessons. And tried to integrate them into the Anthropocene Council.
[00:23:53] These are the three facets of the Anthropocene household. Oral histories, water sampling, and community seminars. The anthropocene household is called that because we were trying to have these conversations about environmental change with people out along the river for example. And we talked about things like nitrogen flux and we talked about parts per million carbon dioxide and all these big global issues that affect you but you don't think about them necessarily from day to day. They're big global things. And that's how Earth System Science often thinks about the world in these big global terms. So what we thought was, Well what if we just flipped the Anthropocene narrative on its head and we looked at the day to day life experiences of the Anthropocene as opposed to big global change? Experience of the Anthropocene and we'll look at it from the household level and we'll do this with the community partners.
[00:24:51] We already have in Indianapolis we're already working in the environmental justice space and you will work with them to determine what questions we're going to ask.
[00:25:04] We're going to work with them to make the connections with other people in the neighborhood and we're going to let them lead portions of the project with us. So in facts community seminars these are based on a series of seminars we do in public art and ethics in Indianapolis. These are actually be held at the Cooper Institute in the community. We circulate readings. People come and discuss big ideas as part of part of that. So they'll be reading anything from highly scientific papers to these reports and discussing and debating how they affects them in the neighborhood. This begins in January. The oral histories part of the project began last year were collected as part of the voices from it's connected the voices from the waterways project. We're collecting a series of peoples oral histories about people's experiences of their environment in Indianapolis. So far we have about thirty six of them. These will continue to grow to hundreds in a one digital framework so all of this stuff is transcribed. All of it is going to be entered into a database. All of it is marked up so that other museums or other libraries can take it and create near sites of voice as well. This has been really great to kind of getting people's understanding of their environments in Indianapolis. There's so many things you learn just by sitting down and talking to people and letting them tell their stories. One thing is that the environment means many different things to many people. You know when you're talking about the city of Indianapolis environment isn't just about LEED in your house although that's really important. It's about whether you're safe on the streets as well and who is guaranteeing your safety on the streets. So those are all really important issues that are part have become now part of the Anthropocene for our analysis here on the ground. The water sampling this begins next month. Our first our first testing begins next month. We're using three different methodologies to test out how this works best for the community. Basically it's a citizen science project people do their own sampling from their houses. We're going to have a mobile van which is skin with the Anthropocene household project. There's going to be you know the lawn signs for pulp. Those are all going to be down the street. So when you're street when we're rolling into your street that they're all gonna be on your street and we're going to do house to house led testing. And we have the equipment that can give us readings within about two to three minutes for every person's house. We're working with the Red Cross as part of this to bring me anybody who wants it they will actually install smoke detectors in anybody's houses. We're going to be doing soil testing and actually allowing people to bring in vacuums into their homes to test the lead in their environment. We're working with our public health care program up in Indianapolis to do that.
[00:28:21] At the end of this we'll think we think we'll have the most the largest database of water what people are consuming in Indianapolis. We hope it can become a model for other projects.
[00:28:38] So that's the Anthropocene household. All of these pieces fit together. The people who are participating in the oral histories they're connecting us to people who might want to participate in water sampling. We're letting our community partners take the lead and we actually have for any of you who might be in the room looking for positions as students.
[00:29:03] So just something to think about. And so what I think you see here is that.
[00:29:10] Methodological playful locality is using up until you all buy it.
[00:29:19] We have the science here. We have the humanities here.
[00:29:25] What we haven't mentioned to you is that these community seminars when this information gets fed back to people they're actually going to be able to create exhibitions that will help funds around those as well which will integrate different methods for them to represent or respond to information that they find. So there is an art community engagement part of all of this as well. So that's my pitch for the importance of bringing together the arts, humanities and science.
Sarah Mincey: [00:30:04] Hold on for just a minute. I think we have time for just a couple of questions. Does anybody want to raise a question on at this point?
Question: [00:30:16] First of all I would say - equal roles. OK before we give the forces of war equal rewards. So what the proposed rule for equal for homeowners. The rule. Also some practical proposals so different.
Jason Kelly: [00:30:45] So yeah there's there's a number of different ways to do this. I moved here from Southern California so so our approach to lawns is very different there in the last several years people have been painting their lawns to be green but the government was actually helping to subsidize people's people to put natural plantings or boulders and things like this which I think you just suggested is one of the solutions which is to move away from the green lawns and move to native plantings that can handle the water stress that you were you were beginning to see more and more of that drought stress here in Indianapolis. That's just one solution to it. My point was not necessarily we need to get rid of lawns. My point was let's not plant our water infrastructure around our lawns. So I think that's really important to keep in mind that we had a few people for 20 percent off if we could get 20 percent of people to use less water that might be the thing that covers the expansion of the population and the growth of industry in Indianapolis. We don't really need to do that much. And then when we do have our droughts, stop watering your lawns.
[00:32:20] I'm just curious. What happened to the mounds lake project? (Inaudbile) Flood through from Anderson. Where is that at?
Jason Kelly: [00:32:21] There was a temporary reprieve when just above Geist there is a big quarry, which they are about to start filling in with water as yet another base for water. But that's not that much reservoir. So what they've they've gone quiet but things are moving forward.
[00:32:46] Who is they?
[00:32:47] So there's actually a Website for all of this. It's the proponents so, that this is back in 2014 when this was really moving forward, It was the city council of Anderson that was pushing this forward as a way to help drive development in the area and of course increase the tax base and move new residents into the area. But this is still simmering there it hasn't it hasn't entirely gone away.
Description of the video:
Sarah Mincey: [00:00:00] So now I'm excited to bring to the front of the room, Dr. Rob Davies. Rob is a physicist and an educator who has served as an officer and meteorologist in the US Air Force. Worked for NASA on the International Space Station project and taught on the Faculty of Free University. He's now at Utah State. The scientific work has included research into interactions of space craft and the space environment. The fundamental nature of light and information in Earth's changing climate over the past decade. Roth's work has focused on communicating the critical science of climate change, sustainable systems, and of course as I said earlier, it was the Rising Tide Crossroads Project is rough each time. So I'm excited to hear from Rob today. You ready Rob? Let's welcome him.
Rob Davies: [00:01:00] So the question of what do you do instead of the Green Line. I just pulled up. This is. This is Rebecca and I as well. This is our cab. But it turns out there is all kinds of great options and they're kind of amazing. And we use very little water in taking care of this in the desert. Here's another picture. These are solar panels. Everywhere. And. This is not what it looks like right now. This was the spring right now. Anything that's green just make it brown.
Rob Davies: [00:01:35] So. Well first of all thank you again for hosting us. This is just amazing and I just - after Jason's presentation, I just want to say that I kind of want to be Jason when I grow up. What what you are accomplishing at IU is what we're in the very early stages at USU of trying to create. And all Jason made a very compelling case for combining the humanities and the sciences. I often phrase it, it is the natural sciences, the social sciences, the fine arts, and the humanities. And I'll just say it. So what we're going to talk what I want to talk about is this notion of the Anthropocene. And a kind of a holistic framework. So as I'm actually doing what Jason just said. I'm just going to make the super global. As opposed to the very local, which is ultimately where we want to go. But from the from the very global picture to my mind this this grand challenge that we're facing of meeting our absolute unsustainability as a society which is true on a scale of decades. If that. Is this the. We the human humans are now the single largest force for change on the surface of the planet. That's the notion of the Anthropocene. We'll come back to that just a moment. This impact is arising from the systems that we have created. To do things for us will come back to that too. These systems are producing this impact on purpose. We didn't design them to do that. It's an emergent phenomena of these systems and it's destroying our our life support system. And so the question is so in the world of systems thinking if you want to change the output of what a system does. There are different levers you can pull and the further down you go in the foundation of the system. Is there a problem, Rebecca?
Rebecca: [00:03:40] It's just a little hard to hear you. Is your microphone on?
Rob Davies: [00:03:41] It is. Only for the recording only covers up. I'll just speak up.
[00:03:46] There is a there is one at the podium.
Rob Davies: [00:03:50] I'll just speak up and please stick your hand you might still not being heard. OK. So. So. This the further you go down you go in the foundation of a system, the bigger change you can affect now in physics. That would be the fundamental laws of physics. So changing things like a big G and Newton's law of gravitation, the gravitational constant. Now we can't change that, but if we could, that would be a big lever to pull on how the universe behaves. But in human systems, the axioms are not fundamental laws. For example, our food system is not designed to produce food. It's designed to produce profits. And so that's an axiom. And then everything flows from there. And so if you change the axiom. Less desire to produce, let's say, maximum human health. Then different things will then that system will behave differently. So. I guess what I'm getting at is, the systems are impacting the planet.
Rob Davies: [00:05:00] It's the systems that need to transform. Where did these systems come from? They came from our culture. They came from what we choose to value. And so the biggest levers to pull are the cultural loads. And that's kind of in my mind and many people who work in this field of sustainable systems. Transforming, maybe, a better word is evolving our culture is the biggest. That's the trick. We don't need new knowledge, scientific knowledge, or technology to do these things. We have what we need we'll get more and even help. But the trick is the culture. And oftentimes the example gets used his weight loss. Most of us will probably trying to figure out weight loss at some time in our lives. It's. It's. It's no mystery. Scientifically we know how to lose weight. Challenge of course is changing our lifestyles our culture. And that's a whole trick. Right. That's the big problem and that's also the case writ large in building a sustainable system. So what I want to go through with you right now is kind of a framework for thinking about these things. And I'll make clear why I think this framework is so powerful it's only come about in just the last decade less than a decade that but lots of ideas that have been synthesized for half a century or more are really and are now sort of getting put together in a very coherent framework for us as a society to start to look at. So it's called a planetary boundaries framework. The idea is trying to create for ourselves a safe, sustainable, just, vibrant, human presence on the planet. And all of these are necessary because, I forgot to put this in. But one can imagine lots of sustainable states for humans on the planet. Many of which are not pleasant. But they're sustainable. So we don't just want sustainable, we want fiber. Which I think applies safe and just so that's the framework. And here it is. Oh sorry. So. Let me just quote last night in that performance I'll just let you read it.
Rob Davies: [00:07:33] I mean you don't have to have a degree in earth science to read that so that doesn't sound good and t his. So this is motivation right. This term Anthropocene has been proposed, as Jason said, by the world's geologists because humans are now the single largest driver of change on the surface of the earth. It's actually being applied as a geologic ethic, I think. That's what they're calling it. So what is this. So and I mentioned last night that performance is replacing the Holocene. Just to orient you here's a temperature record going back about a hundred thousand years inferred from looking at ice cores pulled up out of Antarctica. And Jason, you weren't even close to the only two historians at the GOP, at HGU. Climate scientists are historians. This is a temperature record of the planet going back nearly a million years. You see the planet kind of likes to be cold mostly. And these short little pops up here are the interglacial periods. And here's the Holocene. This is where we are is the last about 12000 years right here. That's about a global average temperature difference of 12 degrees Fahrenheit. To go from here to here took about 12000 years and humans come on the scene by the way. Anthropologist tell us right about here, two hundred thousand years ago. Plus or minus 50000 maybe. But this is our environment and most of that time has been quite cold. The glacial periods. Of the interglacial sir are not very long lived in the one we've been in has actually been unusually long lived. And we understand why that is I won't go into it. But human civilization starts at the beginning of the policy with a stable climate. When you can reliably grow food in certain places and reliably have a community here that doesn't bear the sea levels don't change. So. This is the Holocene the last ten or fifteen thousand years. And it's been really remarkably stable. And that's what's changing. This is where human civilization is built and to which human civilization is very finely adapted. We're very finely tuned to this. So changing it in a big way which we are doing is not likely to be good for human civilization. We've adapted it, so tightly to these conditions. So that's the Holocene that is now turning into this being destabilised. We're moving to a new climate that's going to that's the notion of the Anthropocene. So there's a framework for talking about this notion. So specifically what environmental conditions for example, are necessary for human civilization to thrive? And how do we quantify it? There's the framework if you're looking at that and thinking this. Congratulations you're looking at that correctly. So.
Rob Davies: [00:10:52] This is where we're going to end up. I'm going to get rid of it and we're going to build it up so we understand this framework.
[00:10:59] This is where we start as humans in the universe. Well, we can't survive here so. We need this place and this place provides a place for us to survive and. We often think of the environmental parameters that are necessary for human survival. This is the framework is to think of those parameters as something like an ecological ceiling. That kind of protects us from the rest of the universe and that ecological ceiling that is different pieces of the environment. Now I've listed some things there I think you can all relate those to the environment. It's not important that you get into the details of them. These are aspects of the atmosphere here. Ozone. Air, often meaning pollution in the air of life biodiversity. Land systems, forest water systems, freshwater ocean. And a couple of other things to do with the environment. The chemical environment the area and in particular nutrient flows. Often we focus on phosphorus and nitrogen, as Jason mentioned. But we don't worry about the details. But hopefully these seem plausible to you as important to providing us a stable place to live. And the idea that is it taken together these form this ecological ceiling. And the question is how much can we disturb these different things about our environment and still hope to preserve a stable, livable climate for ourselves. So that's the trick in all of this is figuring out what is the actual measure of biodiversity. What is the measure of climate? What is the measure of nutrient flows, etc? And that's the details of the science that many many scientists work on. And then of course the next release. What are the actual metrics? So in the case of climate, for example, it's carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and suddenly called radiative balance which is just how much energy use can begin versus how much energy is leaving the planet. And then just to get to what the metrics are. Figuring out what they are right now. And figuring out how much can we disturb them and still be kind of OK. So that's the details of the science that goes into this planetary boundaries framework. But the big picture is that we we don't want to just survive. We want to thrive. And so to do that, we build up for ourselves a social foundation. We build a for ourselves stable access to water clean water and enough water. Food. Housing. Shelter. Energy. To do the things we want to do.
[00:14:05] And these are sort of basics right. And we want to give a little bit better. We want education. We want help. We don't just want to survive. We want to thrive. We want things like a peaceful society, vibrant income, and work. Social equity. Community, political voice, gender equity, all of these things that then take a place and make it not just that we're living from day to day but that we're vibrant and thriving. So we build this social foundation for ourselves. And in this framework the space sort of between the social foundation the ecological ceiling we refer to as this sustainable safe just vibrant place for you to exist. Hopefully the idea is this is what we. This is what we want. All humans. And I think maybe there are some people who would argue that's not what we want. But I don't think most people would. What happened was what happened of course is as we build this social foundation we have to chew into our resources. We disturb the environment. And so as you build the social foundation you disrupt the climate you disrupt the various things about the atmosphere about the water system about the land systems all of these things get changed. And. As I said the question is how much can you change them. And still hope to maintain the stable Holocene like state that we have arisen. And then constructed for ourselves. Well. If you try to quantify all of these things which the scientists have done you can kind of think of it as the Green Zone you know and the but the safe zone the sort of. Approaching danger zone and then everybody wrote in. This is really bad so. So in the green areas these are places where we're doing OK. We've disturbed the environment but probably not enough. That. That's going to. It's not sustainable yet. The orange and yellow. Well now we're getting closer to the danger zone climate. For example we're getting very close to the, like. This is absolutely not sustainable. Same thing with changes to the ocean system. As measured by ocean acidification. A couple of things. How much can you pollute the air and how much can you change your chemical environment that we're in.
Rob Davies: [00:16:32] The community hasn't really even figured out what the metrics are yet. But it seems like they're important. For example 80 or 100 thousand synthetic chemical species who've been with us in our environment now that we're not here when we were when we evolved. And what does that do to our bodies and to the living systems or ecosystems? But there are a couple where we have absolutely blown through. What to the best of scientists ability to understand i s a safe zone. So in other words if we continue at this rate we will destroy our liveable environment. And the two that we've blown through the natural barriers are nutrient loading. So this is how much phosphorus phosphorus and nitrogen is cycling through the biosphere. Now on an order of magnitude 10 times or more greater than the natural flows and this is producing all kinds of damage. This is raising all kinds of havoc in the ecosystem, in the biosphere. And the second one where we know that we've just blown through. All sense of safety is biodiversity. So how many. And then there are two categories of this. How many different kinds of species do we have going extinct? And also. So that's what you would call genetic diversity. There's also functional diversity, which is you can you might still have a species that may not have gone particularly extinct but its population numbers are so low now that it can't really fulfill its role in the ecosystem. And the ecologists tell us that species evolve going extinct at a rate of between 500 and a thousand times. The rate the natural background rate. We're calling it the sixth great extinction event. We're losing somewhere between 20 and 200 species on this planet every single day. And. There is no. There is no interpretation of ecology that says we think we can continue to do this for very long. We are immersed in this biosphere. It does everything for us. And the species we don't even know. Most of the species do for us. And we're just sort of passing them out. So that's the risk management notion. OK. So certainly if you're an Earth systems scientist. You can see where lots of the work is to be done right now. All of it every facet of the Earth is, well OK, so we punch holes in the ecological ceiling. And along the way we actually haven't done a very good job of building up a social foundation in this framework. There are, just like, there are eleven or so metrics for the ecological ceiling. There are roughly 20 or so metrics for the health of the social foundation that the social scientists have come up with. And I've kind of grouped some of them together. To put it all on here. But. You get the idea. And if you look at it from a global situation. Sort of global population. Not everybody has access to freshwater. Not actually everybody access has access to nutritious food or sufficient calories. Not everybody has access to basic health care. Basic education. To a safe political environment, et cetera et cetera. Everything in red represents people living in critical human deprivation, some level of critical human deprivation. About two billion people on the planet currently live in some level of critical human deprivation. So. To recap. We had built up a fairly crappy social foundation and in process punched huge holes in our ecological ceiling. And our plan. To fill in the red here to build up a full social foundation for the planet is to accelerate the destruction of our environment. Growth. This is not going to work.
Rob Davies: [00:21:01] Long before we fill in these gaps. We will have collapsed huge pieces of our life support system. And then you know the areas in red get get bigger, not smaller. At the moment, what you'll hear about in the news is economic growth. We need economic growth to provide jobs to know build wealth. A rising tide lifts all boats. You know if you have a boat. And if you don't you just drown.
Rob Davies: [00:21:30] So the notion is. That that's not going to work. What we actually have right now is not economic growth. What we have is uneconomic growth. At this point, every additional hole we punch in the glass ceiling makes life worse, not better, on a on a global scale. Now of course we know that on the local scale. We can build up certain populations. But as we build up the comfort of certain populations most of us in this room. We're taking away from somebody.
Rob Davies: [00:22:04] At this stage. So so the challenge here. Think this is. That's. The challenge here of course. Is. To do this. This is our task. This is our our results. From here on out field in the social foundation. And bring ourselves back to within. Ecological limits within the planetary boundaries. That's our task.
Rob Davies: [00:22:36] And what I love about this framework now that we've built it up and you get a sense of it. What I love about this framework is that whoever you are, whatever your interests, whether they're environmental or scientific, social scientific. Or Humanities or fine arts. And if you could read these, you can find a place for you here. There is work for anyone to do here and you don't have to change your life's interests. You can do it from within your day job. So to speak. So I think this is - and what you'll notice is a huge fraction of it - is in the social sciences and the humanities and the Fine Arts. And so I am certainly guilty of what Jason mentioned about bringing together the humanities in particular into this discussion in a very interdisciplinary hopefully even trans disciplinary way. One reason I'm really interested in doing that is to tell the story because so what you just seen is as a species, as a as a global society, as global civilization. We have this knowledge that it has we have we we now understand that this is our situation. As a species but most of us within the species don't understand this. So this we had this really big dynamic mismatch between the creation of knowledge. And social learning. So certainly our purpose in the Crossroads project really was about addressing that aspect. Helping people better understand this and telling the story in a way that reaches us that connects us to this information. Not just intellectually emotionally. So we can start to feel what does this mean. For me and for others. That's what storytelling is the kind of the performance last night. That's what we seek to do. Certainly. So if this is in that sense the Jason mentioned, you know, the arts in service to communication in this case. And that was understood going into this. Certainly that's not the only reason for the Arts but it's one thing the arts can do really well. And so that shared goal between myself the scientists and various artists that were part of our collaboration. That shared goal helped us make the decisions. That we made in putting together the performance. It wasn't purely an art project. It was an art project seeking to accomplish a particular thing. And so that helped. But of course there's more there's far more to it. As Jason made brilliantly clear in his - There's the storytelling part. To connect us to the information but there's also the part. We have to now imagine, what does a sustainable, safe, just, vibrant human state on this planet look like in its detail? So if I got together a bunch of physicists and engineers and asked him that question they lay out for me well you've got solar panels and the wind, and maybe your fusion reactor, you've got your hydroponic farming, and here's the buildings, you know, their energy efficiency and the transportation and it's all electric cars or who knows what.
Rob Davies: [00:26:16] They're going to give me that. Doesn't tell me anything about what to launch with like what we're eating. How we're entertaining ourselves. How we're situating ourselves.
[00:26:32] Just spatially. So right now we have these great distances between our families and us, many of us. And we did that because we thought well, I could just hop on an airplane and we'll go visit. Is that really part of a can we still do that in a truly sustainable viable society? It's not clear. So there are all these cultural aspects that have to evolve and our systems are not going to change until those cultural things. Our diet isn't going to change until we decide that this is how we're going to live. And this is what I'm going to value. And so that's the necessity in my mind of bringing the humanities. We have to evolve the culture and we have some people in that discussion who spend time thinking about that. So I don't want just physicists, engineers in that discussion. I want historians. I want philosophers. I want communicators. I want economists and entrepreneurs. All of that is going to have to fit into a culture. And we have to envision what that looks like. Then we have to envision what does a path. So here's where we are. Here's where we're going to go. We've tried to envision what this looks like now. We have to imagine a trajectory a pathway that takes us there. What is that. And we have to envision how do we evolve our culture so to put us on that pathway. So these these sort of three big vision projects.
Rob Davies: [00:28:03] What does the future say look like? What is the pathway there look like for various pathways and how do we get all those pathways critically involved, primarily involved? I would say the social sciences and humanities to include the fine arts. And a lot of that is storytelling. But a lot of that is also just pushing. So this is the framework that I sort of start with I've constructed a class. For fine art students around us at Utah State University. With at the request of the College of the arts. Which is also houses the price street quartet. Of. Right. I often say that we we taught one style last spring semester we'll teach again this coming spring semester. And I often say not jokingly that in my view the students some of the students on the campus who have the best grasp on what the notion of human sustainability is are in the College of the Arts. I would say even more complete than the College of Natural Resources. And now we're trying to design a curriculum program that will reach many many more students that USU in combining. And combine the sciences humanities, the Fine Arts. In you know, sort of a package. But of course the challenge of that, I'm sure Jason you've seen this, because the universities are terrible at interdisciplinary. It's not that they want to meet but that's the system is constructed that way. And so there's a lot of work just trying to figure out how do we need to change university administrative framework.
Rob Davies: [00:29:42] In order to better facilitate this kind of work and universities are working in my position as an example of that at Utah State University. And it's one example there are others. And us. But it's still kind of hard. Because you end up with department heads fighting about who's paying for this person's time and who's. Got a teaching buyout over here and etc. All that needs to be figured out and that's kind of a work in the weeds of development. We're working on that as well. It sounds like you've made more progress so we'll be talking to you more. Okay. Well thank you so much everyone. Maybe one just. So there's that too. All right. Thank you.
Sarah Mincey: [00:30:41] Time for a couple of questions I want to bring the lights up. Oh yes.
Question: [00:30:47] I think one thing that I was struck by in both of your talks was the whole idea of these systems and the interactivity of the system. And something that you said Rob, really stuck with me. And as you went through your tour and you interacted with Jason. It really hit me. You said, by sharing - Our food system is not designed to produce food. It's designed to produce profit. And I think that in a certain level the thing that's missing from all of these conversations is about that. Economic value system, that underlies all the problems. Because if. In fact. It's not the systems that are at fault. It's the values that underlie the systems where greed and profit is the value. So. Once we change that and then let's move along part of human cultural level, that's the cultural revolution, which is if profit becomes the value. And it is the value which is why. The Missing Links. In. All the work that we've all been talking about is sort of the business community. Because that's where the rubber meets the road. It's it's. Well we're not going to sacrifice for profit for the shareholders so we won't do this project. That's good for the environment or good for education and good for health because. Our value won't go down by two cents on every dollar we invest and then we don't have a good financial report. And I think that this kind of work that world engaged in if we don't figure out how to engage the business community. Decision makers in business which is more powerful on some levels than governments which is. We're going to lose.
Rob Davies: [00:32:37] So absolutely sure that that was cleared up. So the point is that the law is there. Just to restate is that the business community business needs to be sort of a piece of this discussion because the moment they're setting the profit is the valley. Yes that's what we get out. I would argue that the systems are the problem. Because if you change that underlying motivation and ultimate value, what we choose to value that changes the system that you get.
Rob Davies: [00:33:06] That changes the way businesses operate. So you end up in a lot of people are thinking about this in particular here's a name some of you may have heard. Many of you may not have. Cape Rayworth. She's an economist.
Rob Davies: [00:33:22] And the notion is completely reforming our notion of a growth based econ what's called a neo liberal economic system right. So if you start with the neoliberal economic system where growth is required for it to prosper. If it doesn't grow it's not prospering and people suffer. It's not the only economic model. There's a whole discipline of economics called steady state economics sometimes ecological economics. Which is different than environmental economics. Which is just monetizing stuff like air. What's it worth. Of that, seeks to look at how we organize ourselves. In a very with very different world. Principles recognizing fully that the human economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the policy. And the problem of course we've got is that the human economy used to be. The measure of material and energy flow used to be very small. Relative to the biosphere. Now it's huge. Relative biosphere. So much for that is disrupting it dramatically. So there's a lot of work on. What does a steady state economic system look like? When you asked that question so her Kate Rayworth's book is called "Donut Economics". It's a wonderful synthesis of a lot of work that's come before her.
Rob Davies: [00:34:44] But very digestible. And what does it look like and how does that change that. And so for example when Laura your example of the business community well one way it changes things is the business is no longer organized themselves are articles of incorporation. Such that the prime directive by law is to serve the shareholder. It's not just that the insurance companies won't cover your cancer treatment are evil. They're just they're actually following the law. Their goal is not to produce healthy people or pay for our medical treatments. Their goal is to make money. That's it. And. And if they can legally get away with denying treatments and all of that sort of stuff that's what they're sort of have to do. Usually by their articles incorporation by law. And so if you go to a different economics. And there are different business models like big corporations benefit corporations that quite add up. Increasingly more corporations are organizing themselves by where they don't incorporate themselves to maximize profit for shareholders. In the United States right here in this part of the United States -Nature's Organic Valley. You've seen this brand. This is a big corporations. In their articles of incorporation their prime directive is to serve their producers. To provide a good living for their producers. The second one is to provide great quality healthy products for their customers. And they have nowhere are they trying to make money for shareholders. You can invest in them and they'll say you give us this money. We'll give you X percent of return, that's what you get. We're trying to maximize that. Just what you get. And so there is a way to organize that now changes the whole, starts to change a whole system. So that's absolutely right. And I have a question. It's never clear where to put business and economics in the academics. Is it a humanity as a science the economists like to think of themselves as a science? People like Kate rework will say. No way. The humanity. What is the answer. What do you think of business school? Where does that fall?
Question: [00:37:12] Just what you articulate just what you had to say and I think that in our conversation. About the holistic approach here. Also has to include this kind of, How do we connect the dots? In regards to how this affects people's daily lives. We talking about the household aspect. People have fled to tell you that certainly in terms of what's happened to, and I think you have to ask are - asking everyone for more transparency. Also for a change in our language about them. As well as what you just had to say about shareholders. The system as it exists. Is for all of us to participate in that conversation? Regardless of whether we're talking about. Sciences. Humanities. Mother. Educators. Neighbors. Whatever the people. I think that has to be part of our conversation.
Rob Davies: [00:38:18] So that's a great comment. I would say this is what's going on with Jason. Don't want to put words in your mouth but certainly what Jason is accomplishing in his program and what we hope to accomplish by creating a whole program of study for undergraduates at USU. Is that an engineering major, or an economic major, or a business major, or history major can come out of your undergraduate experience with a much more holistic vocabulary to talk about these things because they've been for four years having these conversations with each other and with faculty. Because right now faculty don't even know how to talk to each other. We're learning. But but we can't wait for a generation for our students. To kind of start to figure this out and they need to come out of their undergrad experience already thinking about things in this very holistic way. Where the physicist is already thinking about what is the long view look like. And what's the purpose of this business. You know. And vice versa when a business major comes out already thinking how is this going to affect the climate. How is this going to affect our nutrient loading. Et cetera et cetera. We want to come up with solutions to the pieces of this. That don't exacerbate other pieces. But instead synergistically help other pieces. But you can't do that. You can't come up with a synergistic piece here that helps these things if you build up. And you don't have the language to talk about it. So I think you're exactly right and that's hopefully the purpose of this. Trans disciplinary approach to the curriculum. To get the students to come up with that vocabulary in their heads.
Question: [00:40:05] Sure. So you talked about. Imagining what the future could be. And that's one of the things I like about sci fi is that that's kind of if part of it. But there's a lot of technological B.S. that comes with sci-fi, too. But. So much of it is dystopian. Like Firefly, very popular television series. And like for every phone that I think of the intro episode talking about mass migration of humanity away for its existence. I talked about where it was you see it for just a moment and spread to the entire planet is Cloud Atlas. The book had one of the sequences is talking about these dead zones across the Earth. In our. That's. Five. Thousand years. So what literature out there has some sort of positive vision for what is to be in the future. So.
Rob Davies: [00:40:56] I come on actually put that question to the audience. But before I do I'd like to say absolutely. And this is why. It's one of my primary focuses on the last five-six years has been has been educating by our students. I get invitations to talk to grade schools all the time. Well not so much anymore. I would say you see a lot. But. I would always say no because I had no idea how to tell the story of third graders. But. I'm happy to tell the story to their teachers. And their teachers will figure out how to tell the third graders any kind of you tell me if I want to tell this this story to you. As a filmmaker, as a writer, as an artist, as a storyteller, and then you figure out how to tell the right story. And. You're right in bad. You know my bother all these dystopic things and this is the beauty of right now. I spent the summer working with playwrights and artistic directors of the theaters. Theater and the age of climate change. How shall I go with you. New York is really driving this. Theater, producers, know. What's great is you get to walk into a performance. And. Something that we shouldn't. We should not be eating. Meat is a huge drain on the way that we do it is it has a huge impact on the planet. And then some will say well that's just not realism. We're never going to get that culture change. We get to walk into a place where maybe that's just a feature of the society in the play and maybe a really big deal about it comes out of. A play or a movie or a story and that's just the way they are. You kind of get to trial on that reality for them for the duration of that story. And then you come out of that stuff about saying you know I was. So. Okay that. There's this great movie. Starship Troopers. ROBERT. ROBERT Well. Assessment based on Robert Hale now has nothing to do with (?)
Rob Davies: [00:42:59] It's kind of a fun run. But what I like about this stuff by space, aliens in space, blah blah, is all about. But just as a piece of it you go through basic training with some of these army recruits that are just out of high school. And in one scene they're going into the showers after their training and it's. First of all men and women are all the recruits they're pretty equal in numbers. And in the shower suspended big cool shower and having conversations it's kind of funny. And it's just normal. It's not weird, it's not sexual assault on anything. And they just slip this thing in about. Imagine a society where this is true and you get to try it on for a while it's got nothing to do with the whole story but it's that. They build a hole. That's the power in our storytelling. That we really need because we get to change our culture. We got to envision ourselves in that culture. And story and these kinds of things I agree with how we do it. Does we have any recommendations for pushing for you or important things, like future novels that have really positive people stepping out on.
Question: [00:44:05] This afternoon I'll tell you all about it. I just want to comment. I went to a conference a few years ago for (??) and it was called Utopia. And Jason talks about a bit how utopia is nothing we can ever reach.And told me some magic. But it is such an interesting combination. These different disciplines coming together to speak about this this idea about utopia. But you know I think when you have like. You're saying is interdisciplinary thinking of humanities. Scientists and artists. It's a great conversation. I think more success could be planned in ways. We're setting up conferences or symposiums having these conversations. And John Ross. Why are you participating in it. So. Yeah it's just. You know it's just making me think about all these different places and conferences. Like. What you're doing.
Rob Davies: [00:45:15] And we just poured so much more, or less dystopia. What does it actually look like an author on Star Trek. Well Star Trek policy. Yeah. Especially the next generation. Yes.
Rob Davies: [00:45:27] It kind of ruins life. Real life. Like man he's gone to these horrible. You know. Like there is a third world war. Mass starvation. Warfare and we solve all of our problems and everything. And now they're living in the great future. Not only do we have a vision of where we want to be. Because you know plot of course. You gotta have the destination. But OK. That's actually not so hard to imagine where you might be requires more effort than we put into it. But once you've got it the real trick is to imagine a vision. Why does the pathway look like and how do we get on? That's a big one. How do we evolve our culture into that? Actually that is part of the idea of systems, when you're dealing with systems theory. Systems changing. Things like in this process there is a whole different system. That you could possibly imagine. Which is very interesting. Yeah.
Sarah Mincey: [00:46:29] I know it's a good conversation right now. But we're gonna.
Description of the video:
Sarah Mincey: [00:00:00] Let's get you started because so I just wanted to ask how many people were able to go to the performance last night. OK so at least half the room wasn't. So I think.
[00:00:14] (music plays).
Video: [00:00:33] It's performance art but also performance science. Human civilization is done by the Earth. Systems of food energy economy immersed in soil, water, climate, life. Life and environments interacting, interdependent, inseparable. Tt's a theater piece that has a bit of science, that it has a lot of music in it, and has a whole lot of humanity.
[00:01:23] Whole ecosystems can be driven to collapse.
[00:01:28] Five times the fossils tell us. Each time triggered by rapid environmental change. These things we know about our planet and ourselves, through physics, chemistry, biology, ecology... And the time has come for us to believe what we know.
Video Speaker #2: [00:01:55] Even if you have people in the audience who are skeptical about climate change it's presented here in such a way that it doesn't put people on the defensive.
Video: [00:02:05] First bios envelops and sustains us. Carbon dioxide I examine take it up on my findings.
Video Speaker #3: [00:02:19] Involving the audience is incredibly powerful. It's that interaction with the audience that is that the seminal part of this performance that makes me want to keep coming back.
Video: [00:02:29] Rising from system is system us. If everyone consumed the way we do, we would need four planets to sustain us. Right now is the time for transforming. Believe what we know. Embrace what we know.
Video Speaker #4: [00:02:50] I felt uplifted I felt like you know even the small things I can do or choose to do. I actually make a difference.
Video: [00:02:57] Living with a mindset of applied hope. Pick something and make it ours with genuine commitment that won't be alone. Exponential growth in action. Everything is small until it's not. Pick something and make it yours.
Sarah Mincey: [00:03:24] Well if you look at the performance you can tell that it's intense and it's moving. And something to talk about. So let's start with introductions. We can just go down the line and then you'll know how everybody's involved in this wonderful performance.
Bradley Otteson: [00:03:46] Well, my name is Brad Otteson. So I was playing the viola.
Robert Waters: [00:03:52] Robert Waters violin.
Rebecca McFaul: [00:03:55] Rebecca McFaul violin and writing.
Rebecca Allen: [00:03:58] Rebecca Allen visual artist.
Laura Kaminsky: [00:04:00] Laura Kaminsky composer.
Ann Francis: [00:04:02] Ann Francis cellist.
Rob Davies: [00:04:04] Rob Davies a physicist. And I want to clarify too that -.
Sarah Mincey: [00:04:11] Was I wrong?
Rob Davies: [00:04:12] No one knows but it's certainly true that the germ of the idea of this was mine and I originally brought it to the quartet but from the time that I brought it to the quartet they're not just hired guns playing their fiddles. These are full partner fiddles, partners, co-creators of the project and the structure that you have, the social structure of the performance, this has all been co-created by all of us and refined over a number of years and taking part in that refinement in no small way have been Laura and Rebecca as well. So it's it's really quite a genuine collaboration.
Sarah Mincey: [00:04:51] So this is a panel discussion and I really just want mostly your questions to the group. But clearly they are from different worlds right there. There are musicians and artists and phyicists and scientists working together and so this gets right at the heart of the matter in terms of the question that we're addressing. So that kind of set this up for I think any kind of questions not necessarily just about the performance. So let's start with the basic question of what motivated you to begin working together. I asked that question last night. And everybody had great comment. So I think is that OK? We'll start there. And that way you get the context.
Rob Davies: [00:05:38] So the very start of it is, twelve years ago I decided to take a year. Sort of sabbatical from my world of something called quantum optics and do climate change communication. I just thought I could help, you know, pretty typical physicist, very arrogant. "Oh they don't understand. I will explain it to them. And they will understand and we will fix this." But after so after about a year of giving these presentations I felt like I was giving good presentations and people audiences were connecting the dots. Intellectually it's not as detailed as the scientific story. Climate change is really complex but distilled to its essence it is very straightforward. And so you can you can make it plausible for people to understand what's happening but it's an audience like you. So I would be here telling people that we're on the hairy edge and you get it. Because I would explain it to you. But you'd walk out into your regular life and it doesn't feel like you're on a very hairy edge. I mean we have nice lives. Most of us have very comfortable lives. I love my life. I have vibrant work. I have a great place to live. It's safe. I have food all of that right. So I was looking for a way to connect people more busy, including myself, more viscerally to this information and this is what the arts do for us films and theater and for me, chamber music is a powerful experience. I would walk into chamber music concerts back in my physics days and just be scrambling for paper because it's unlocking my brain and all kinds of things that are puzzling around. So I came back to Utah State University. We had this amazing resident string quartet and I and I had been going to their concerts and I thought well what if we brought in an audience and pushed out all the little things that they bring in with them, with some pretty compelling information and some imagery to reinforce it. So now I'm making you think about this stuff. Now let's unleash the music on it and sit with it and see what happens. So that was my idea. I approached the quartet and in particular I approached, and this is like I think 2010 maybe it sounds about right. And and I only knew the quartet very casually socially. Logan is a small town so I - Full disclosure I am now married to the second violinist, so this is like the best thing that's ever.
Ann Francis: [00:08:09] Climate change.
Rob Davies: [00:08:16] And so I'll let Ann take it from there.
Ann Francis: [00:08:18] So so when Rob first approached me you know his as you said you know he had this incredible idea but I'm not really sure how to actually make it happen and I immediately said yes I'm pretty sure this is something that we're gonna want to do because it was something I knew all the members of the quartet felt strongly about. But without really knowing what that was going to look like we just sort of jumped in feet first which turned out to be kind of the case with everybody we approached about being involved in the project. The immediate like yes. And then we'll figure out the rest later. But I loved the idea not only obviously of trying to trying to help because I and the members of the quartet had actually gone to Rob's talks and so we knew what he was trying to do and had a sense for that but also I think the idea sort of a little bit selfishly is like wow you know we we have an opportunity to say something about this. We have an opportunity as artists to make some sort of an impact. You know I believe we all believe really strongly in the power of what we do. The way that we can communicate through our art form and it's incredibly of course satisfying to do that just with music for its own sake. But the thought of applying that towards something like this I think was was very exciting and inspiring and so we sort of said OK well let's do this. And then we started talking about how and we had a lot of early stage sort of trying things there's a lot of trial and error trying to figure out well what how. What would the format look like? What music would we use? We first tried using existing music that we thought could could suit the project early stage versions of it were so incredibly long because it was so difficult to figure out what information to to try to include and what information to leave out. It was very hard to cut it down. I think the first version was about two hours long and so trying to whittle it down from there was was really challenging but pretty early on we knew that one thing we needed for sure from the music standpoint was original music trying to use music that was written previously didn't really feel like it was working. And so at that point we approached Laura who was, we had a lot of mutual friends we knew she had written on environmental themes and this was something that she felt strongly about and so we contacted her. And I think as the story goes it was actually Becky who emailed her and within about half an hour, they were on the phone together. And Laura, like everyone else we approached about the project, also immediately said yes. I mean we had no idea how we were going to pay her for this string quartet. We asked her to write -.
Rebecca McFaul: [00:11:00] In a really short period of time -
Ann Francis: [00:11:08] And and you were in.
Laura Kaminsky: [00:11:11] So if I can just pick up, I think that what made me really say yes of course as I write some of you heard this last night. But every composer wants to get an email inviting them to write music. So that was easy, but it was it was the idea of this project. Because I have been involved in civic activities around environment and human rights issues and so this would speak to me as a citizen. But I think the thing that made me really get what you were striving for when we had that first conversation was something that Rob has talked about. Which is giving the lectures that you would do two rooms generally of scientists and at the end of the talk somebody would raise their hand and say "Dr. Davies, I don't agree. It was .0642 to not .0673 in my research." And that was not the point because that's a scientific conversation about you know what's going to go in the paper with the charts. But that's not what people need to take in. And what I realized, for me, is that what I do is, I'm a storyteller. I tell stories by moving sound waves around in time that have some coherence to them even though they're abstract. So for me it would be to allow the story not to be about the facts and the science specificity but the bigger human question around what we're dealing with in this era. And so that was the excitement for me was that I was getting to move sound waves around with the most amazing people who have the ability to do that on their instruments with such commitment to help get to the emotional core of the story that's underneath the factual reality of the story because that's where the change comes from. You have to own it emotionally and in the further bits of full disclosure. There was the desire to bring the visuals in and this is my wife. So we're a very happy family. So Rebecca was then auditioned by guess by Rob to talk about the visual component of it. And we've been telling this story together ever since.
Rob Davies: [00:13:26] Well the audition was here's some of my work. Wow this is great. Will you do something for our project? I mean it really is wonderful.
Rebecca Allen: [00:13:37] No, for me it was. It was really about - I think that adulthood is the biggest phase of learning in life. And and I knew that again selfishly that this would be an education for me to work with these other people from music and science and it just really turned me on.
Sarah Mincey: [00:14:00] Well thanks for that description. I will open it up for questions to this group of people who produced something amazing.
Question: [00:14:06] So are you saying that you guys are trying to raise awareness about all these environmental issues and bring dialogue to it. I was wondering if you guys - are you doing anything to measure the impact of the outcomes of performance.
Rebecca McFaul: [00:14:35] We are making some efforts. We've we've got a social scientist on board actually. And Maggie and I can't think of her last name - Clifford who's also a singer songwriter interestingly.
Rob Davies: [00:14:50] Like a really great one.
Rebecca McFaul: [00:14:51] She's wonderful. But she created a survey which is available to take on the Web site. It's on the on the menu bar. There's a little round piece that that has a very very quick survey to get some feedback. Most of it's a tricky thing getting getting a rate of response. It's just enough kind of you know steps removed from attending and and then leaving the performance and being in your head. But we we did have a captive audience in our hometown that we thought we were, we made a pretty strict push for it so we we do have responses from from her efforts but most of it honestly is anecdotal. It's an audience responses. Or again, in our hometown where we've done it over time a number of times it's easier to see the way that it's had impact on kind of our community's consciousness.
Rob Davies: [00:15:52] It's maybe. We're seeing too, I mean, that the King College of the Arts has made a number of efforts and contributed to a number of efforts in terms of pushing this notion further into the university curriculum that Rebecca has been involved in. In particular with a sustainability fellow that the college funded. The faculty workshop destinations workshop even they even fund part of my position and I would say that that has largely arisen out of this effort.
Rebecca McFaul: [00:16:27] Yeah that wouldn't have happened without him.
Bradley Otteson: [00:16:30] You can say that the projects become sort of a part of the identity of the college.
Question: [00:16:40] There is the real-world question. How did you get funding so that a composer could write a string quartet for you?
Rebecca McFaul: [00:16:48] You know I for one - The dean of our college likes to likes to look at us and say with his big deep baritone, "relationships relationships relationships." And you know it really was that. We had the confidence of our development director for the college and and it was a really great meeting. Robyn I went. I was so nervous, and she knew me and not really Rob. So I was making this pitch to her and she also happened to be the president of the university's wife. So she she had kind of access to - she had access on a pretty high level for our institution. And I went in and pitched the idea and said well you know we can start a Kickstarter campaign and we can you know, and I was talking too fast. And she looked at him and she said OK. Well I think we can get this from the president's office. We can do this we can do it you can forget about your little campaign. Yes. So that actually it really did come from her knowing our work as a as a quartet and our involvement in the community at large and her wanting to also be a part of this message getting disseminated in a way that she felt like was nonpartisan. And you know but it's kind of as simple as that. It was there was enough sort of in the bank with that relationship that she trusted it.
Rob Davies: [00:18:34] It's worth mentioning that the the heft was sort of the gravitas that the quartet brought to this project because they have a very strong reputation. Not just at our university but nationally. And so if I'd been sitting there talking to you. What is this. But because she knew them and not just her. We went to the deans of six different colleges maybe there were eight colleges in the U.S. you know they all kicked in money and I'm pretty sure it's because these guys were involved um initially and they said oh this isn't just some squirrelly thing. These guys, they are professional musicians and they do things professionally. And there was some confidence I think would I just add to that. And fundraising in general for experimental big kinds of ideas projects like this that it does. It does take boldness but in the early phases of thinking about how to fund some of these workshop ideas that we're going to talk about later. I always try to think about who. Who do I know that really cares about this idea in my own personal circle? Who could I go and talk to and try and have coffee with that person or call that person or whatever to just begin to to build these relationships that Becky is talking about because it's hard to think about. I don't have my own personal string quartet that I could take into the president's office I'm an adjunct at a small college and I work three jobs to support myself as an artist. Where would I start. So again it's still relationships relationships but it's on this more person to person scale of who would who would pay attention to this who cares about this.
Laura Kaminsky: [00:20:27] And also I think to just pick up on something that Rebecca said. I mean clearly when you go into a development office you're asking for money but when you're building your network of people who want to help you realize your dream. Don't talk about the money they need to believe in your dream. They have and I think you said think about the people you know who care about the issue you care about and ask them for their opinions. Say I'm thinking about this weird project I want to do, and these are the things I've thought about what you think. Who do you know. And then you start to build a group of people who are your champions. They believe in that idea because it's something they care about. And then they start to think about it and they'll say, "Oh you've got to meet so-and-so because someone so does this." And all of a sudden you have a team of people out there and maybe at some point the money will arise from someplace you never expected it. And at some point, you may ask specifically for that team to provide money but it's that that network of support that provides a community within which you can make your you can realize your your concept.
Rebecca McFaul: [00:21:39] I think it can't be underestimated the value in dreaming together envisioning this. Whatever it whatever the idea is and and that that's fun actually and and kind of sharing in that and bringing those people together some of the dreams start to start to feel possible. And that's also fun.
Rob Davies: [00:22:02] Maybe also just to tie up the story. So that was the seed money. Came from mainly the King College of the Arts and then a few other colleges to get that premiere performance down and get the quartet paid for. Mostly I think it maybe took us a little while but then that project itself stirred interest and we've had a number of private donors, some of them pretty substantial, just come to a performance and say this was great. You know we want to keep it going now. I think it's. And so it's paid for things like the website development, which was pretty expensive. And the trailer was also a good chunk to do that but largely I think in breadth the number guy but it's largely self-sustaining at this point self-sustaining.
Bradley Otteson: [00:22:47] I would say that every organization that desires to do that has presented the crossroads project has also been a really important part of sustaining the project itself. So in that way the community just keeps keeps growing. Both sort of outward and forward in time. It's kept us really sustained.
[00:23:19] University environment where all of the audience is really pretty one of the things that Rob always talks about is is that the the purpose of the performance on some level is to take to the folks who are already convinced. But how do you get it to the people who need to be convinced?
Rebecca McFaul: [00:23:53] But to go further and and in many ways I think is probably most effective there. But we have we have given it to a range of audiences and actually maybe I'll ask Robert to talk about that in early performance where there were quite a few people who walked out you know, and it didn't feel friendly like like it did last night. I'll hand it to you.
Robert Waters: [00:24:20] Uh we within the first year of the development of the iteration that you all saw last night. There were a couple of early versions that were had a different form altogether. But um rather early on in the project we were asked to invite him to come and perform this for a youth orchestra in Salt Lake City uh by a friend of ours who also plays the Utah Symphony Orchestra. And she does great work with these high school kids and training them. And uh so we were delighted to go and do that, and we did it for his high school kids and many of their parents. In a pretty red state. Uh where um what we had to say about that particular topic was not uniformly warmly received. And so. And then. And we had I don't know between 20 and 30 people probably walked out in the middle of the performance and took their kids and we didn't actually hear anything that they had to say but that was at some stage -.
[00:25:24] Barbara did. She got emails from these parents.
Robert Waters: [00:25:28] And it's certainly from the from the standpoint of us of a musician and a string quartet. It felt really uncomfortable in a way that no no other thing that we had done or could imagine really doing musically would. I mean no one really sort of says to you, "How dare you play that Beethoven string quartet?"
Robert Waters: [00:25:48] They do say that about Bartok so maybe a little bit of grumbling if somebody doesn't agree with it or like the particular piece of music.
Robert Waters: [00:25:57] But this is this is altogether different league. And and that's actually it that's one of the few times I can think of where we sort of, we snuck up on an audience because most of the time when we do this with rather it's a conference or an academic setting or something that's a little bit more community oriented than we've done. I suppose probably the academic setting of the one that we've done it the most, but we have done in other settings as well. The audience also selects if they if they have even just a whiff of what it's about. They already know how we feel about that.
Laura Kaminsky: [00:26:36] I mean I think one of the things that's complicated for people who are trying to create projects that cross these disciplines that have subject matter and then disciplinary concerns is, there are multiple audiences so there's the audience who's coming because they want to be involved in the discussion around the Anthropocene and all the challenges to the climate. There are people who love string quartet music. They're people who like seeing multimedia work and they may be entering for very different reasons. And you know the challenges. Can a project like this and some of your other projects satisfy all of those audience members? I mean if somebody walked in last night who thought, oh there's going to be a visual display at the cinema of artwork and photography. They might have really been annoyed that there was this guy talking. You know, somebody came in thinking they were going to a string quartet concert and then there was this guy talking with images. There was like, well where's the rest of the music. So that issue of how you can bring together different kinds of audiences for the shared experience and have them all let go of the thing they entered with and accept this other form that they've been given that that's kind of. But it's not a bad challenge but that's a challenge to confront to add to that too especially early on.
Robert Waters: [00:28:00] I'm not sure that we've experienced this as much the project for five years goes from rather darker that was last night. Uh. And the whole notion was to really kind of rattle people and to shape them into into action. And so some of the some of the content especially towards the end was quite a bit darker and we struggle with that. We've struggled with really how severe to make that particular part of the performance because we didn't want something. Rob often talks about the the typical documentary on some disturbing talk topics that two thirds of the documentary which is all the bad news and all the terrible things that are happening in this particular subject. And then there's that having music comes on and near the people who are doing the really great things to help solve this and you sort of end like, oh wow well we're moving in the right direction that's really great. I'm going to go have a drink now and it sort of lets you off the hook. And that's something that we really didn't want to have happen in the concerts project and so earlier on. We didn't let anyone off the hook. And it was quite dark, and it felt I think the argument for doing that especially at that time was we felt it was really necessary and some people in the audience depending on where we were reading really took that to heart and felt incredibly positively motivated by that sort that shaking and other people were just horrified. And we kept sort of what we wanted to kind of figure out what's the right answer what should we do. What should we do, to be more dark? Let's try again. We kept asking people and we just got a lot of different responses. And the sort of takeaway was that for something like this which is so diverse as you were saying and said attracts lots of different kinds of people to be interested in it. There was no right answer and we sort of had to do our best to kind of thread the needle as best we could. It has changed over time. It has lightened over time and I think that probably has more to do with our sense of where the community as a whole is on this topic now versus six years ago.
Bradley Otteson: [00:30:08] It's very interesting to think about how things have changed in the last six years. For instance when we were making the first initial asks for support there was no guarantee that that in some ways the university but more particular the College of the Arts would want to be associated with this message. We weren't sure - does the College of the Arts have a place in talking about climate change in a red state? At a time where it felt very tricky to do so it even felt tricky for us. Too risky. I would say to to broach this topic with our students who trusted us and I think things really have evolved in the last six years since we began.
Rebecca McFaul: [00:30:53] Um something that related relate to that that connected to what Jason and um Rob were talking about earlier today in terms of what s the role of the art piece. The art part and and the the question of of how how does the art illustrate or depict some of these concerns. And I really great against that whole notion as is as visual art or music being in the service of of of illustrating another idea. But setting that aside, I think what we're talking about now is that the visual imagery and the music really have a much more important role in terms of bringing us back from a state of being numb in a state of despair. I mean I'm speaking personally that the events of the last year and a half and you know deeper into the past in my experience have had an impact of of of deep numbing. And so I think that what the visual art piece does for me is to provide an opportunity to draw people out of that and give them a a sensory experience so that they can reconnect with feeling you know. I think the goes back even to the early conversations that we had what is feeling what is emotion what is the role in terms of transforming us inside so that we can be receptive to the data the information the the other pieces. I think you know there's this whole notion of all you know all of this is a communication project is the way you talk about it.
Laura Kaminsky: [00:32:48] And as as the creative artists in the endeavor. It was important that the music stood alone as music, and then the art stood alone as art. That they weren't an underscoring or background because because exactly for what Rebecca just said. That when art or music any artistic expression is successful, one hopes it allows the the viewer the apprehend or to take in that message that that artist made with their craft and to have an emotional and intellectual experience that they own. And so that's a different kind of processing than the processing you have when you absorb facts. And the idea that that I think sparked Rob wanting to do this was that he wanted this kind of learning and thinking to be at all of those levels. And so it was really important as you were as we were all when we met that first retreat in Connecticut designing the project was to no fact have their pride of place. The music has its pride of place. The photography has its pride of place. The paintings have their pride of place but there needs to be thoughtful careful transitioning from one to the next so that it didn't feel like a bunch of blocks that were stuck next to each other but that there was a fluid narrative so that the audience was was pulled through from beginning to end. And having all of those kinds of experiences and I think that was the challenge of making that is the challenge of making these kinds of works.
Rob Davies: [00:34:28] Well that was great.
[00:34:31] Judy had a comment.
[00:34:33] I was just going to make the comment. Thank you Jason for giving us this vocabulary. But this project is methodological.
[00:34:46] Let's all say I actually started doing. I started creating a round that we can all yes because it's so rhythmic. Methodological.
Rob Davies: [00:34:58] You give me give me a great opportunity to say this. I only recently kind of came across this term's going to a few months maybe but I've always I've always actually not liked calling it a communication project. I just didn't have another word a term for it. Yeah. And that concept always helped us because when it became time to make decisions the question was even to what Robert to get it what Robert was talking about how dark it was. And we had these discussions about we want to keep it there. The answer to the question was never about what's the artistic content. It was about what's the goal of the project and is it serving that goal. So that was a very useful even. It's a clumsy way to talk about it as a communication project but I don't call it communication project anymore. It's a cultural evolution project.
[00:35:45] It's, no, it's a methodological policy.
[00:35:51] Questions Do people have comments. Yes.
Question: [00:35:54] So I'm just hearing them talk about performance. So it made me think about the film that Philip Glass worked on. What do you think of that as far as that was no language, just visuals. That was awesome. Very effective. What's your response to that please?
[00:36:22] OK. So there was a film out of Scott that came out last year. It's a visual language right. Have you seen it? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I'm just so it fits this genre.
Laura Kaminsky: [00:36:41] They these two should be on some on a on a festival together. Both programmed and Philip should come and there should be panel discussions.
Question: [00:36:49] Why. Why. Why did it impact you in. Yeah. Why does when it came out. I think when that film came out and seen that cross pollination of music and glasses. Participation in this piece and then the time lapse in the cinematography of it. It really affected me. Yes, I have had a lot of impact and it made me think a lot about the world that I was a part of. So it's just interesting because it's what you were doing as well. But yeah there's another component to it, which is what you are doing.
Rob Davies: [00:37:32] You know along that very line and mentioned that we had we had we had. We did two nascent performances of this project where it was just. And even before the two hour version of the current project we had this thing where it was like me talking for 15 or 20 minutes and the Quartet played some Shostakovich and we had a little bit a little bit with the dog where we were talking about quartet as a as a metaphor for collaboration as I think. But between me talking in the bit with the quartet we had eight full minutes of silent imagery. So no music. Just so last night. For those of you who went to the performance there are a number of periods of silent imagery most of them are quite short maybe 30 seconds or less even 20 seconds. But there's one that's over two minutes. That's juxtaposing are the developed world and the damage that it's built on. And you have to sit there for two or two and a half minutes and it's the squirm factor is pretty substantial. Right. You see little kid on a bicycle in suburban America next to a nine-year-old Chinese coal miner but that those first two performances had like eight or nine minutes of that where you just had to sit with it. And it was very much inspired by this. Just you just sort of forced to sit with it. And not have anyone tell you anything. And ultimately, we decided that was too long and too much. And we came to where we're at. But that was I would say I was. These guys will all attest highly resistant to making it shorter. No. That sit with it. Um ultimately when we restructured it it wasn't right. And how it is now is much better. But it was inspired by that kind of notion.
Rebecca McFaul: [00:39:36] I would also just love to add I loved that film. And there's there's so much wonderful work being done on so many fronts with with all just a little different cocktail. I'm thinking of James Bay's work with Chasing Ice. And there is a whole lot of science in that film with it. For those of you don't know the film. He set up - he's a photographer, but setup time lapse cameras in really remote glacial areas in the world and just creating the technology to do that was a big deal in getting it to these remote areas. And so we take a photo I forget what the intervals of time were and six months later they go back in and you can see these glaciers dying and and so ultimately it's this incredible film which is is this I need ice and water is beautiful right. It's just it's so stunning to look at. Photography is stunning but it's also this other experience of it too. Actually see what making it possible for us to see what's not possible for us to see in these. That's just one example. But all I think there is a whole cadre of of of creative people out there working in film and in theater and with music certainly become ocean. JOHN LUTHER ADAMS piece of a few years ago was embraced by the Seattle Symphony and played beautifully. Gives this visceral experience and it's just sound it's just music but an incredible thing to sift through. It makes you feel like you're in the ocean and you also feel how elemental and important it is to your survival somehow without any words at all. And I just I think there's a place for all of it.
Bradley Otteson: [00:41:33] Another great example was February 13 kids' film Watermark, and his art is in the Crossroads project as well. But huge swaths of just film and music and yet imparting very hard information. There is clearly information being given just just imagine just to do just some he has a new piece and then I do keep raising your hands.
Rob Davies: [00:42:00] I think we should go to her in a second. But he he has it. I think it's Potensky who's doing this. There's a new film called Anthropocene and maybe or maybe it's the honor of this merger. I can't remember who we quote believe but we know but it's I've seen the trailer like 100 hundred times because the movie keeps not coming out. I could look at the trailer and it's just it's just gonna be amazing and it's gonna be mostly music and visuals and it's just gonna be amazing.
Question: [00:42:44] You're probably doing that the most directly Rob.
Rob Davies: [00:42:48] I give quite a few quite a few public lectures on everything from climate change to the full sort of human sustainability Anthropocene planetary boundaries. And I I get invited to meet with policy makers sort of in a one on one basis and take them through things in Utah. Both some of our national policymakers and our state legislators and all the way down to county and city councils I've given presentations to city councils county councils, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, Presbyterians, Quakers, Unitarians, the policymakers. So I interact with them mainly as giving them just sort of one on one presentations often. And then serving as a resource. they'll send me emails and say you know why I was talking to this other representative and he said this this and this what can I say to that. And so I helped with that. So it's not very artistic it's just a very straight science. We've had there have been rumblings uh.
Robert Waters: [00:43:57] One point or another of having the crossroads project actually performed in front of policymakers but um never quite have gotten it to happen. No no. And certainly in our state one can easily imagine that there would be a lot of resistance to somebody will get really excited by it and try and make inroads into their connections and then I think we should just show up at the doors of the EPA.
[00:44:30] They're beleaguered to roll over. I mean there's no staff left. There's so much of an audience.
Robert Waters: [00:44:35] We need a presence. We have electric van. That'll be a show.
Rebecca McFaul: [00:44:40] We have. I mean we have advocates who've seen the performance. Like there's like our our token city council member, Herb Molson, who who is seen as a number of times and he's out there fighting the fight. I mean in Utah it's just we're trying to arm the minority. But there was Rob gave a talk add at a town hall that Mia Love hosted and Mia Love is a Republican representative from Utah and she's she's pretty far right. And it was held at a for profit college and I went because there was a series called years and years of living dangerously. I don't know if some of you know this series there were a couple of seasons and the crew is there to film this because it was an episode on citizens climate lobby and citizens climate lobby is trying to to create an equal number of Republicans and Democrats committed to basically passing a carbon tax and so they were really courting me a love hard and eventually prevailed and Rob gave a talk there and and she was she was very very careful and in and everything that she she said she kept her cards really close to the vest but ultimately they they didn't get her on the Citizens Climate Lobby. And we as a quartet performed for the Rotary Club and it was all it was essentially a distilled Crossroads performance that did not - it was not a receptive bunch. It was a pretty. That was rough. You know like one of the guys in the Rotary Club was my dentist.
[00:46:32] You have to change that.
Rebecca McFaul: [00:46:34] I'm thinking about it.
Rob Davies: [00:46:38] We will get, particularly, when we do the performances in Utah. We did one we'd probably done seven performances in Utah. We did we did one in Ogden last year as part of us to Intermountain Sustainability Conference at another university and a number they made a big push to invite legislators and three or four showed up. There were sort of already on the team as we've discussed. But Joel. What's his name. Anyway. So we don't make pushes per say but we've had presenters who have tried to bring in policy makers to sit them down. I know it seems like with this production especially uh and you've mentioned a couple of times when he was just starting and it was in its darker stages and embryonic in some ways.
Rob Davies: [00:47:35] How people walked out. How politicians at the Rotary threw away the - sometimes that I feel like that that's the people I want to hear. That's the people I want to hear what they have to say when. When. When they walk out. I just just started get some kind of feedback rather than a walk away. Yes.
[00:47:57] Well you've certainly heard from those people, Rob. Yeah.
Rob Davies: [00:48:03] Well not how that impacts the growth of your work as you evolve. No it hasn't. I haven't really heard from people who walked out of the performance. I hear from people who I mean when I'm giving a talk I give a talk in southern Utah which is very rural. Utah by the way is the most urban state in the nation we had the highest percentage of our population lives in cities. I mean if you look at Utah you just can't hardly live anywhere. But like most places, the rural parts are more conservative. And um I'll give a presentation to a whole group of county commissioners all right. 30 of them. From five different counties and they got uh. They got pretty aggressive. Usually I'm pretty good at saying you know where you're getting your information. That day I was I was kind of low on sleep and low on patience. I got pretty warm behind the eyebrows myself. So that's not always useful. The performance itself though I'll just emphasize again, as Robert brought out that it was designed to have a squirm factor. It was designed to have a squirm factor not for people who don't understand that we have these problems but for people who do understand which is I'm going to include all of us but are not yet behaving to the level that we need to in response. And so it's meant to move us to response and we got to you know be uncomfortable enough to get pushed and there's a combination being uncomfortable and inspired right. And it's always been trying to reach that I've not heard anything from anyone who walked out of. I think the only walkouts we've ever really had that I would call walk out because oh my God. I'm not going to sit through this. This is I don't agree with these things. Was that performance. Yeah.
Rob Davies: [00:50:12] Other than that - and I would even argue that the people who walked out that was a pulse we don't know how it affected them. I'd like to know like you said Malcolm but you know they they left but they didn't leave into a void left into a world where this is gonna keep coming at them. Well we have to make sure it keeps coming out into a world where the rest of their youth orchestra stayed home.
Question: [00:50:50] I'm a librarian, so full disclosure. I am put in this position, this talent artistically too often. What do you guys see as what you would want preserved out of your outputs and present for future access or discovery. When your time here is passed and you want to look back at the twenty first century and see what we were all what would you want in the archive, in the library. That's a common response and I would love to hear. Yeah I mean if I may.
Laura Kaminsky: [00:51:30] I mean I think on a certain level it goes back to the the multidisciplinary construct of this. Which is on some level we could distill it to all its component parts. So a beautiful hard bound, thousand page catalog of all of Rebecca's paintings. Some of which are in this project. There is a recording of both rising tide and literary Larsen's quartet which is the second quartet that was commissioned for another component of this set. Those recordings as concert pieces that people just listened to for the music. Rob's lectures as lectures and then the beautifully produced video archival video that's perfect. Which is not that which doesn't exist yet that people can watch of the performance. I mean conceivably there could be study guides there could be you know audience feedback session. I mean there could be materials but I think as the where we enter into it for the players of a quartet they want their performances to be remembered for the writer of the music that they perform. I want the music for the visual artists.
[00:52:50] I mean libraries don't have original artwork but they have books of art where you'd want your art. And you would probably want your talks your lectures and any publications and then the piece. But maybe your other writings like the work of Rob Davies who's talked and written about the subject matter. But then the piece as it's integrated whole so that I know of until I library that you project.
Question: [00:53:21] So are you working with your library?
[00:53:27] Increasingly. Yes we are.
[00:53:32] She's been really great at reaching out.
Rob Davies: [00:53:34] And actually since you know I'm guessing you know Randy Williams. Yeah. So Randy is doing an oral history sort of project with a class on climate change for which I'm giving a talk next week and she's very interested in this. And so I hadn't even occurred to me to talk to her on this. So I'm totally gonna talk to her about this.
Sarah Mincey: [00:54:00] Time for one more question. In the back.
Question: [00:54:02] Yeah. One thing I would find interesting is, You could get psychologists, behavioral scientists on board. I'm wondering if you're actually reinforcing that view like those that. That's something that I work out a little bit. Yeah I do visual behavior and so I look at it from this perspective of how we do that. I'll say three times this year. We don't really say ???. But that would be really interesting to know if any time you place these people so they could be very officials look at that look and see if you're actually on either side it sounds like you want this to be nonpartisan but it seems like it is bring that to your attention. I know that your intent is to unite people but I don't know if that's actually -.
Robert Waters: [00:54:55] A couple of things to say. I think first of all because as we mentioned earlier our sense is that most of the people who come to this particular performance are already kind of believing in that at least on some level that the science is true and that we are that we contribute to and so kind of pushing them away from that is a little bit hard to imagine. And I had another thought and I completely lost my mind.
Rob Davies: [00:55:23] I agree I would agree with Robert. This was our 38th performance we've had one performance where we had to do the thing with the walkouts. So it's really I agree. I think you worded a perfect it's hard to imagine that we're pushing people away and that certainly we've not never gotten any feedback and I can't think of in from performances in the talk backs. We do have to the performances which we do for most of them and then afterwards people come up and want to talk. I've never had anyone suggest that they they were thinking maybe this was a thing but now no whether they're leaving or not they're going to be more reinforced because they are.
Question: [00:56:11] So it can go either way. So the walkout is a small example. B Which is good. Whether or not that's what I was if we're going to have to change the speed climate change. I don't think climate change. Personally I a year or so. So there has been an incentive.
Rob Davies: [00:56:37] So the incentive that we try to get at in this performance is very much a moral ethical. And we try to emphasize it at the very end with that bit where I say "Who are we." So there's a work. Were you at the performance? So there's a kid this right at the very end. There's kind of a ramp up. This is the sort of you know it's not everyone's taking care of this is it. We need to take care of it and we can sort of thing. But there's a question. We've had it. It's been in there most of the time. We've been doing the performance in some forum which is an ask of the audience who are we. Who are we. And it's it comes at the end of a piece that's been real powerful showing you who we are not very pretty terms and and saying, Is this consistent with who we see ourselves to be? So that's the motivation that we given that we. I would say that's the carrot in this performance as I see it.
Laura Kaminsky: [00:57:39] Yeah. I think one of the most powerful lines, and I've seen it in an audience reactions, especially when we don't talk back immediately, is when after the "Who are we?" Is to takes one thing and make it yours. And we've had really fascinating conversations with audiences when one. I remember one person stood up and said I drive to this gig I'm going to take the subway. That will reduce my you know. It was like and then people said well I can't do that. And then they would do was that kind of an argument about where you come from privilege and you can do this and you don't. But it began a public debate or dialogue around well OK. We can't fix the big problem but we can make small changes in our lives and well what can I do. I mean you know little things like you know not take buying plastic bottles every day like I never thought about that before. I don't buy bottles of plastic bottles often but now I don't. And you know so it affects change and it allows for dialogue and that dialogue I think has an impact. That is about building community and changing us individually independent individually.
Rob Davies: [00:58:52] And then by the way your, as Rebecca said, we do have a social scientist working with us now. It's a small effort but it's trying to get something we agree with you that it would be great to have it studied. It's been hard to interest people. And then and that's just interesting. It's it's it's a hard thing to do. Yeah because it's the periodic performances every few months.
Bradley Otteson: [00:59:18] You know I might I might also add just that from the very beginning we've been really careful not not to reinforce along party lines.
[00:59:31] Within the performance.
Bradley Otteson: [00:59:32] Yeah it's very much meant to be a universal message. And I think a couple of times we have fallen back on referring to partisan stance. I mean it is sort of a reality but I think everybody is starting to so from the very beginning um the performance has meant to be universal.
Robert Waters: [00:59:55] And in the context of a panel discussion like this where we things might go slightly further down those lines at least in terms of talking about a specific policy or specific. But that's something that we actually pretty consciously avoid in the context of make it as human an issue as possible.
Rob Davies: [01:00:17] If that guy had some really great partisan lines, the quartet axed and rightly so. You know when you're really into it you just you write something that sometimes you don't even realize this is going to raise those hackles and issues. And when other people are looking at it your collaborators and they say you really wanna -
Rebecca McFaul: [01:00:38] If I could add one more thing along those lines. If I for one just I resent that it's a partisan issue because it is a universal issue. And it's this constant question you know. I am a feature of our time kind of how to bust through this. But Rob is reminded me on a number of occasions that actually it is in some ways an issue that should be political because ostensibly our government, in our politics, is the way that we have a mechanism to make systemic changes or big sweeping changes that allow us to address these things. And if we had, you know, an open dialogue and to represent an easier representation of what the numbers tell us. In terms of the population, the number of people who are concerned about this issue, there would you know it's not consistent with them. With the representation. And with with how much we're able to actually use that mechanism. And so it's just this it's this crazy feature of our time right now and I'd love to hear from you guys in the workshops. How do you know how to navigate it effectively. If you have thoughts on that. When ignorance is being weaponized right by a political party it's going to be a political issue. And sometimes we just have to stand up in front of it and say Too bad.
Rob Davies: [01:02:04] Yeah yeah it's gonna be a partisan issue. Yeah. Yeah. It shouldn't be political. That's how we collectively address risk. But it shouldn't be partisan. Right. Yeah. Yeah. That's a weaponized ignorance that's really gonna get done.
Sarah Mincey: [01:02:19] Well guys I've read the end of our panel discussion time so let's thank these guys. Very. Very provocative and thoughtful and your questions and comments as well.