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Arrowstreet developed an event, held May 16, 2018, which highlighted how visual media is being utilized to engage the public in climate change conversations. From in-person exhibitions, to installation art, to augmented reality – there are many platforms being used to inform, demonstrate, and educate the public about the impact of climate change on the natural and built environments. The public plays an important role in climate change planning and management. Their participation is essential to make sure implemented plans and designs are successful. Our panelists, John Anderson, Resa Blatman, and Kate Bubriski, presented their work and then attendees were able to experience interactive demonstrations of the work.

John Anderson, New England Aquarium

The New England Aquarium is a catalyst for global change through

  • Public engagement
  • Commitment to marine animal conservation
  • Leadership in education
  • Innovative scientific research
  • Effective advocacy for vital and vibrant oceans

John Anderson, the Aquarium’s Director of Education, talked about the global issues affecting our natural environment; the current issues and the future threats especially related to oceans. Effective climate action requires productive public discourse and civic engagement. The New England Aquarium works with the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI) to help engage aquarium visitors and beyond. NNOCCI is a national interdisciplinary partnership of aquariums, zoos, and science organizations. Their goal is to train enough trusted communicators in proven communication techniques to shift the national conversation about climate change to be more productive, creative, and focused on solutions. The focus is on Strategic Framing, a research-based approach shown to bridge gaps in understanding (scientist-public), increase public understanding of CC mechanisms, show how public can be ‘heroes’ in CC story, and leave visitors and interpreters with hope. A portal containing educational resources including presentations, support materials and learning modules can be accessed online and used to share the mission and spread the word. All of these resources are available NNOCCI.org

Resa Blatman, Visual Artist

Resa Blatman is local visual artist who specializes in contemporary projects inspired by nature and climate change. Her work offers the viewer a multi-faceted experience via the undulations and movement of the paint and the three-dimensional form, creating an opportunity for contemplation and a deeper look at the overwhelming changes to our planet. Rather than take photos or create artwork that would be depressing and turn people off, she finds the beauty in the ruins and creates beautiful pieces of art to engage interest and concern She uses her gift to enlighten others and bring them into the conversation about how we can help to save our earth.

Resa shared her captivating work including installations, delicate yet ominous drawings, and lush paintings inspired by occurrences such as melting glaciers and rising tides, bird migration, coral bleaching, oil spills, fracking, and plastic ocean pollution and their effect on our landscape and natural resources.

Kate Bubriski, Arrowstreet

Kate Bubriski, Director of Sustainability and Building Performance, moderated the event and discussed how Virtual (VR), Augmented (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) are important tools in visualizing climate change impacts, planning, and design. These can be difficult to understand, especially using traditional 2D drawings. The interactive visualization tools of VR/AR/MR allow viewers to engage and understand what the environment will be in the future. These tools can work on multiple platforms and appeal to all ages. They also allow for updates based on actual events and real-time feedback from users.

In order to demonstrate the capabilities, Kate presented some of the firm’s recent work including the first net zero emissions school in the state, King Open/Cambridge St Upper Schools & Community Complex, and Parcel K, a mixed-use residential/hotel community in Boston’s Seaport District with many resilient features and systems.

Kate’s presentation included demonstrations of ways to visualize municipal-scale predicted impacts of flooding and how to plan for the impacts through the use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experiences. Viewers were able to immerse themselves in a 360 rendering to see the sustainable systems and features being implemented through the VR goggles. They could also experience seal level and precipitation impacts on a building-scale at Parcel K. This Augmented Reality (AR) experience allows the viewer to make a more personal connection with the effects as they see the water rise up on the building at different levels of storm activity. They then experience the design solutions which will mitigate the effects.

In the ever changing world we live in, it is critical that we continue to raise awareness of the issues that threaten our planet and to keep the conversation alive on ways in which we can help as a unified society that wants a better, cleaner and brighter future.

Topics: Speaking Engagements, Technology, Sustainability, Financial District, Events