Join an array of experts who discuss inspiring actions across many sectors and locations around the world. Whether they are artists or entrepreneurs, CEOs or grassroots community organizers, rocket scientists or farmers, speakers share their projects in lively, moderated sessions in front of a live audience in the Folklife Studio and a virtual global audience on YouTube.
American Sign Language interpretation and live, real-time captioning are provided for all sessions, both in person and online.
Journey to Zero Waste: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Thursday, June 23, 1 p.m. ET
Kick off the Earth Optimism × Folklife Studio sessions with a discussion about the creative ways we are changing waste. One leader has written a book on zero waste, while another designs models for how festivals like the Folklife Festival recover resources and reduce waste. We hear from a creative designer working with the global maker movement, which encourages the recycling of all types of materials and a changemaker in the fabrics and fashion sector, working to extend the life cycle of our apparel. This conversation also visits the issues of urban trash and how U.S. college campuses are mobilizing themselves to lead us toward zero waste.
- Gavin Shire, associate director, Office of Communications and Publishing, United States Geological Survey
- Ciara Williams, co-executive director, Post-Landfill Action Network; founder, Trash Academy, Philadelphia
- Eric Hollinger, archaeologist and plastics activist, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
- Stephanie Miller, author, Zero Waste Living, the 80/20 Way: A Busy Person’s Guide to a Lighter Footprint
- Diana N’Diaye, senior curator and cultural heritage specialist, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
- Laura Tufariello, president and founder, Design & Source Productions
Corridors and Connectivity: Animals and Humans in Harmony
Thursday, June 23, 3 p.m. ET
Animals need space to move while human communities need the landscape to live. This discussion connects community leaders and technology experts working in Africa and the Great Plains of North America to set aside corridors so animals, including endangered species, and humans can thrive side by side.
- Susan Holmes, U.S. federal policy director, Wildlands Network
- Irene Amoke, executive director, Kenya Wildlife Trust
- Katy Beattie, Wild Sky specialist, American Prairie Reserve
- Deb K. Davidson, vice president, Center for Large Landscape Conservation
- Amy Scarpignato, research ecologist, Migratory Bird Center, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
Planes, Trains, and Bikes: How We Get Around
Thursday, June 23, 4 p.m. ET
Transportation forms a web around our work, our communities, and our world. This dialogue connects entrepreneurs and leaders from railroads, airlines, and bikeshare operations across the United States, Europe, and South America to discuss ideas about how transportation brings our past and future together while lowering our carbon footprint.
- Will Handsfield, transportation planner, District Department of Transportation
- Chaitan Jain, director of global public policy, United Airlines
- Mariah Morales, government affairs and corporate communications, Amtrak
- Jaime Ortiz Mariño, architect and founder, Ciclovía
- Theodore Rolfvondenbaumen, communications manager, Neste USA
Money vs. Nature: Sustainable Finance Solutions
Friday, June 24, 1 p.m. ET
Economy = nature? Realizing the consequential role the environment plays in the economy, financial institutions are now putting value on enhancing nature, rather than polluting it. Join financial pioneers and entrepreneurs from Europe and the United States, who discuss how sustainable finance can promote climate solutions.
- Kristin Rechberger, founder and CEO, Dynamic Planet
- Steve Case, chairman and CEO, Revolution
- Mathias Wikström, CEO, Doconomy
- Jad Daley, president and CEO, American Forests
Changing the Narrative: Doom & Gloom Yields to Creativity & Possibility
Friday, June 24, 3 p.m.
With so much fear and negativity in our daily news about climate, nature, and our communities, how do we stay focused on what we can do? Join Smithsonian Under Secretary for Science and Research Ellen Stofan, and head of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios Sean B. Carroll for a wide-ranging discussion about how we can change the narrative across science, communications, storytelling, and science education.
What is the role of storytelling in science education? How can we inspire and engage the next generation to see themselves as part of the solution? What is the role of media in shifting perceptions? How can scientists, educators and storytellers help? This future-focused dialogue is followed by a conversation about what’s happening on the ground now with the next generation: Ellen Stofan and Sean Carroll are joined by Irene Amoke, Eisenhower Fellow and executive director of the Kenya Wildlife Trust, who discusses her programs that are changing the narrative for the next generation of African conservation leaders.
Sponsored by Re:wild
- Ellen Stofan, Under Secretary for Science and Research, Smithsonian Institution
- Sean Carroll, head, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
- Irene Amoke, executive director, Kenya Wildlife Trust
It’s Electric! What’s Working in Transportation
Saturday, June 25, 1 p.m. ET
Kyle Stock, senior correspondent for Bloomberg Green, moderates a conversation about the growing E-transportation movement. How soon will we have more accessible electric infrastructure for cars and trucks? How soon can urban and rural communities truly rely on E-transport? Hear it from the experts!
Sponsored by Ford Motor Company
- Kyle Stock, senior correspondent, Bloomberg Green
- Jonathan Levy, chief commercial officer, EVgo
- Nick Nigro, founder, Atlas Public Policy
- Kameale Terry, CEO, ChargerHelp
- Karen Wiener, co-owner, The New Wheel
Fiber and Fashion: Green Is the New Black
Saturday, June 25, 3 p.m. ET
Curatorial director Matilda McQuaid from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, leads designers, marketers, and futuristic fashion powerhouses through a discussion about traditional and modern clothing materials and practices that are reshaping what we wear to be in harmony with the planet.
- Matilda McQuaid, acting director of Curatorial, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
- Joelle Firzli, fashion researcher, Fashion Revolution
- Daniel Grushkin, founder and executive director, Biodesign Challenge
- Tierney Thys, co-creator, Around the World in 80 Fabrics
Ways of Knowing, Ways of Living: Exploring Faith and Conservation
Sunday, June 26, 11 a.m. ET
Many faith practices and tribal traditions command respect for nature and teach life lessons from the natural world. Join this conversation with faith leaders across different traditions to explore common ideas around protecting our shared natural heritage and successful conservation practices.
Sponsored by Shared Earth Foundation
- Lavinia Currier, film director, screenwriter, producer, environmentalist, and director, Sacharuna Foundation
- Imam Saffet Abid Catovic, head, ISNA’s Office for Interfaith, Community Alliances, and Government Relations
- Rachel Lamb, chair of the board, A Rocha USA
- Jakir Manela, chief executive officer, Hazon and Pearlstone
- Michael Nephew, vice president, American Indian Society, DC
Sunday, June 26, 1 p.m. ET
Bloomberg Green executive reporter Zahra Hirji leads a dynamic dialogue on the latest developments in solar power across urban and rural communities. She is joined by Nancy Bechtol, who leads the greening of the Smithsonian’s twenty-one museums—many right here on the National Mall!—along with other experts and community leaders championing solar-power infrastructure.
- Zahra Hirja, reporter, Bloomberg Green
- Nancy Bechtol, director, Smithsonian Facilities
- Kristal Hansley, founder and CEO, WeSolar
- Alexandra Wyatt, policy director and counsel, GRID Alternatives
Livelihoods and Landscapes
Sunday, June 26, 3 p.m. ET
People around the world are restoring animals, plants, and trees in their landscapes and seascapes for future generations, and, in doing so, are finding creative ways to make a living. Hear from visionaries and changemakers from the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, Africa, and the United States.
Sponsored by HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
- Julie Robinson, Belize program director, The Nature Conservancy
- Michael Judd, founder, Ecologia; SilvoCulture
- Philip Karp, citizen scientist and ocean advocate
- Semi Lotawa, co-founder and operations manager, Rise Beyond the Reef
- Delphin Mukira, chief program officer, The Maa Trust
- Alison Sant, co-founder and partner, Studio for Urban Projects
Rural Renaissance: Revitalizing America’s Hometowns through Clean Power
Monday, June 27, 1 p.m. ET
Imagine thriving rural communities in the United States. Ones where local, renewable energy sparks investment, vitality, and equity. Join panelists as they discuss the pathways to clean power in rural America and strategies for achieving them. Join speakers from Island Press and Groundswell. This session is presented in partnership with Island Press. It will not be livestreamed.
- Michelle Moore, CEO, Groundswell
- Luis Bernal, deputy general counsel, Appalachian Regional Commission
The Ambitious Oyster: Coastal Restorations for Communities and Nature
Thursday, June 30, 1 p.m. ET
Join CNN climate correspondent Bill Weir and a host of people restoring oyster colonies, fisheries, and recreation areas along our coastlines. MacArthur prizewinner Kate Orff will discuss her Living Breakwaters project in New York Harbor, while leaders rejoice in the revival of oysters and fisheries in the nearby Chesapeake Bay.
Sponsored by Amtrak
- Bill Weir, chief climate correspondent, CNN
- Kate Orff, founding principal, SCAPE
- Imani Black, founder and CEO, Minorities in Aquaculture
- Tanner Council, Chesapeake Oyster Alliance manager, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
- Sean Corson, director, Chesapeake Bay Office, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Matt Ogburn, principal investigator and senior scientist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Partnering for Solutions
Thursday, June 30, 3 p.m. ET
What do winegrowers, electric trucks, soil carbon, cow poop, and artificial intelligence have in common? Find out from thinkers and doers in sustainability who are working on projects to build a better future for crops and communities.
- Bill Weir, chief climate correspondent, CNN
- Peter Byck, professor of practice, Arizona State University; director, Carbon Nation
- Steve Dutton, Sonoma County farmer
- Karissa Kruse, president, Sonoma County Winegrowers
- Juan Lavista Ferres, chief scientist and lab director, Microsoft AI for Good Research Lab
- Deborah Mielewski, technical fellow of sustainability, Ford Motor Company
Food for All: Equity, Access, and Justice
Friday, July 1, 1 p.m. ET
Join in a discussion of ways chefs, food marketers, and philanthropists are overcoming food deserts, improving access to nutritious foods, and running food programs for people experiencing food insecurity, including wars and natural disasters.
- Kate Urbank, site director, Food Rescue US-DC
- Mary Culler, president, Ford Motor Company Fund
- Alexandra S. Garcia, chief program officer, World Central Kitchen
- Herb Holden, chef, UDC Center for Nutrition Diet and Health
- Hugo Mogollon, executive director, FRESHFARM
Tech Breakthroughs for Animals and Communities
Friday, July 1, 3 p.m. ET
CBS correspondent Rita Braver interviews Smithsonian movement ecologist Jared Stabach on tech breakthroughs for monitoring animals and ecosystems. Panelists discuss how satellite technology is being reimagined to better understand the planet, and how local communities are applying technology in their everyday lives.
- Jared Stabach, ecologist, Conservation Ecology Center, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
- Rita Braver, correspondent, CBS Sunday Morning
- Gustavo de Lucio, director of the Americas region, Iridium
- Tanya Harrison, director of strategic science initiatives, Planet Labs, PBC
- Jason Holmberg, executive director, Wildme.org
- Jes Lefcourt, director, EarthRanger
Creativity for the Planet
Saturday, July 2, 1 p.m. ET
Earth Optimism × Folklife features artists, artisans, and creators who are helping transform perceptions of nature and how to conserve it. Hear from people who are using their art to inspire conservation of marine life, rainforests, and even spiders!
- Josh Tewksbury, director, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
- Brian Masuga, creative conservationist, Peppermint Narwhal
- Peggy Oki, environmental artist
- Tyler Thrasher, artist
- Robin D. Moore, vice president, communications and marketing, Re:wild
What Is Sustainable Food Production?
Saturday, July 2, 3 p.m. ET
In this final session of EO × Folklife Studio, look into the dramatic process of food production with Honest Tea’s Seth Goldman, American Farmland Trust’s John Piotti featured in the recent BBC Follow the Food series, Stone Barns Center’s Jack Algiere, and Forever Oceans chef Mark Allison in a discussion moderated by NASA Earth Science director Karen St. Germain.
- Dr. Karen St. Germain, director, Earth Science Division, NASA
- Jack Algiere, director of agroecology, Stone Barns Center
- Mark William Allison, corporate executive chef, Forever Oceans
- Seth Goldman, co-founder and CEO, Eat the Change; co-founder, PLNT Burger; chair of the board, Beyond Meat
- John Piotti, president and CEO, American Farmland Trust