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Big Love from the Big Apple

Photo: Lori Baptista

Department of Environment, Culture, and Conservation (ECCo) Anthropologist Ryan Lugalia-Hollon recently presented the Urban Anthropology Team's work at a conference in New York City. Highlighting the team's culturally-based approach to climate change initiatives, Ryan shared ECCo's dynamic methods for effectively moving from participatory neighborhood research to community action. Afterwards, many in the audience spoke about how impressed they were with the good work happening in Chicago.  In particular, people took note of the ways that ECCo's Urban Anthropology Team is able to engage community residents in the research process, enabling them to directly shape the research narratives that can influence their neighborhood's future. Our model of community climate action projects - which draw from key research findings - also served as a model for leaders in attendance at the conference. Expressing their appreciation for E CCo's model, conference organizers presented Ryan with an environmental justice award to recognize the critical importance of our work.

This conference, entitled "Cultures of Climate Change," was hosted by the Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY). It was a gathering of scholars, artists, and community leaders of all stripes. The conference, hosted by CUNY's environmental psychology program, was a powerful space for exchanging thoughts about how to engage city dwellers in climate action efforts. Ideas ranged from the extremely practical (like reducing food waste) to the seemingly absurd (like building biospheres).  Binding all the presentations together was the recognition that the destabilization of Earth's climate is intricately tied to issues of human culture, to the ways we navigate our daily lives and attempt to make meaning in the world.