Yearly Archives: 2019

Climate Week NYC Convened Policymakers, Celebrities and Activists

Author: Arthur Zaczkiewicz
Publication: MSN
Published: September 27, 2019
Article Link:

This past week’s Climate Week New York City convened citizens, activists and politicians — and also served as a moment for brands and businesses to tout sustainability initiatives. Even Hello Kitty had something to say about the need to address climate change. And while President Trump’s pending political woes and related headlines followed him from Washington to New York, Climate Week NYC aimed to oxygenate environmental issues via more than 100 city-wide programs and events. At the U.N., where Trump spoke earlier this week, policymakers and experts gathered for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, which served as a more “official” base for the week’s activities.

But events were spread out across the city and focused on a variety of topics and themes such as transportation alternatives, the benefits of wind farms, installing green roofs and indoor farming. The week’s business sponsors included heavyweights such as Bank of America, Salesforce, Unilever, Ikea and the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., among others. At the New York Public Library, HSBC held a “Financing a Sustainable Future” conference, where trending topics such as blockchain, scaling up green finance and sustainable development came into focus. Its “Blockchain as a sustainability solution” discussion examined how the technology is revolutionizing industries worldwide through unadulterated transparency and traceability for each party involved in a single transaction.

Zoe Knight, managing director, group head at HSBC Centre of Sustainable Finance, said she sought out speaker Sofie Blaksted, lead researcher at the Sustainable Digital Finance Alliance, to help unlock the mysteries of blockchain. “We wanted to find out how blockchain could help facilitate the acceleration of investment across the globe, particularly in emerging markets,” she noted in her introduction of Blaksted. “Corporations and consumers both recognize the need to finance green,” Blaksted said. “But to get from where we are today is an exponential change, and to go from incremental to exponential requires a revolutionary approach. Luckily, the tools are now available.”

She then dove into the basics of blockchain, explaining that the technology “has many policies we can use to transform the green market,” due to its reliable and transparent nature. When describing the technology, Blaksted said, “Copies of transactions are copied to ledgers on every node in a network” — which means that digital ledgers record transactions in a series of “blocks” that multiply and spread to many computers within a network.

“[Blockchain] is really useful for recording transactions,” she added, as blockchain absorbs new transactions and simultaneously stores past data in the chain, resulting in a lengthy list of every transaction that took place for a single commodity. “Everyone is a witness to the transaction. And that means that every copy has a true and valid record of that transaction happening. And what’s more, in a blockchain, each block transaction is cryptographically signed and linked to a previous block, so you can’t historically transform it.”

Blaksted also emphasized that issuing green bonds — which fund projects related to environmental or climate initiatives — and using them in tandem with blockchain can help enable full traceability, as well as present investment and distribution opportunities to swiftly increase development in the green sector. At the U.N., the Sustainable Development Goals program hosted a “media zone” with boldface names and climate activists such as 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.

One thing quickly emerged during the week: the youth activism movement is unprecedented, especially toward sustainability and climate change. At the media zone program, Aidan Gallagher, singer, actor and the youngest-ever U.N. Environment goodwill ambassador, discussed his motivation to help with climate change.

A California native, Gallagher noticed an impact on the oceans where he surfed regularly at a young age and started using his platform on social media to educate his generation on the environmental crisis. Social media, he said, is the largest and easiest way to share information today. His advice to his followers wanting to contribute is to start by committing to one impactful action to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Gallagher suggests trying “meatless Mondays,” saying a meatless diet is one of the most effective ways you can fight climate change. Gallagher says he started with a meatless day once a week and has now become vegan.

“One of the first things that I tried doing in terms of taking action on a personal level was trying this campaign called ‘meatless Mondays’ so one day a week I would try to adopt a plant-based diet,” said Gallagher. During a separate presentation, Sanrio Co. Ltd. launched a collaboration with the U.N. to promote the Sustainable Development Goals through a global video series on Hello Kitty’s YouTube channel.

“Hello Kitty is bringing her enormous fan base to our global efforts to educate young people, in every part of our world, about the Sustainable Development Goals, and why they should be involved in achieving them,” said Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for global communications, United Nations. The monthly series, #HelloGlobalGoals, was presented by Hello Kitty herself who said, “we need compassion to achieve the 17 goals.”

The YouTube series has already seen popularity in Japan, and through this partnership for global expansion, the series will share stories of what is happening as people implement the Sustainable Development Goals in every country. The series is set to release one video a month for the next year. Climate Action NYC runs through Sunday, and closes with an art installation on Governors Island. “Cartographies of the Mind” is described by organizers as “a participatory installation which visualizes the brain waves of viewers as they contemplate climate change, pollution and their relationship to planet Earth.”

“As the viewer’s brain waves reflect thought patterns over a changing aesthetic spectrum, they become the agent for the creation of the art experience, revealing the multilayered internal compositions of the landscape of the mind,” the organizers said of the installation, which is created by artist Judith Modrak (with research support from Julia Buntaine Hoel).

Cartographies of the Mind – House of Solutions

Dates: Saturday September 28 and Sunday September 29, 2019, exhibition runs through October 31st.
Time: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekends in September and October
Location: House of Solutions, Nolan Park House 4B, Governors Island
Event information: Event is free and open to the public
Made possible by the generous support of: Emotiv and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

Cartographies of the Mind_House of Solutions_Event_Judith Modrak“Cartographies of the Mind” is a participatory installation which visualizes the brain waves of viewers as they contemplate climate change, pollution, and their relationship to planet Earth. As the viewer’s brain waves reflect thought patterns over a changing aesthetic spectrum, they become the agent for the creation of the art experience, revealing the multi-layered internal compositions of the landscape of the mind.

“Cartographies of the Mind” is created by artist Judith Modrak with research support from Julia Buntaine Hoel. This project is made possible by the generous support of Emotiv, and in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by LMCC. LMCC empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Manhattan and beyond.

The House of Solutions is a collaboration between the Human Impacts Institute and Climate Reality Project NYC Metro Chapter. The House is a place where climate solutions come to life through workshops, events, exhibits, and experimentation.

Memories Recored, Memories Stored Wins Best Director of a Short Documentary at South Europe International Film Festival

Movie Title: Memories Recorded, Memories Stored
Director: Jake Alexander McAfee
Festival website: South Europe International Film Festival
Trailer link on Youtube: Memories Recorded, Memories Stored
Award: Best Director of a Short Documentary

“Memories Recorded, Memories Stored” is a documentary which chronicles the creation of Our Memories“, a participatory artwork which weaves people’s lives and experiences into a collective memory. It was awarded for Best Director of a Short Documentary at the South Europe International Film Festival in Valencia. It was screened on Friday, May 10, 2019, at 1:20 PM at the Melia Valencia Hotel in Screening Room 1. “Memories Recorded, Memories Stored” was named “Best Documentary Short for Science and Education 2017” at the 6th Annual Madrid International Film Festival, and awarded “Best Short Documentary” at the Amsterdam Film Festival in August 2018.

Our Memories in Thomas Paine Park, 2018, New York, NY

The film follows sculptor Judith Modrak as she creates her first interactive art installation, Our Memories, on New York’s Governors Island. Modrak invites the public to complete the sculpture, sharing memories, represented by colored stones, to create a unique, transformative work of art.

Judith Modrak pictured with Our Memories in Central Park, 2018, New York, NY

“The public really seemed to enjoy participating in the installation and creating a collective memorial piece,” Modrak says, “and now it looks like the audience appreciates the film as well. It’s been an electrifying experience all around!”

This is the fourth short film for director Jake Alexander McAfee, and his first documentary. McAfee’s previous films include “The Commute” for Goodwill Industries in 2014, and “2nd Life,” which won the HBO Best Short Film Award for 2015, and qualified for Academy Award Consideration for Best Live Action Short Film. “2nd Life” caught the attention of Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard, who is now a mentor to Jake and his blossoming career.  “My vision for the film was to highlight Judith’s style and artistic aesthetic.” McAfee says, “more importantly, I wanted to capture Judith’s drive and spirit as an artist, and her journey to create Our Memories. At the same time I wanted the film to reflect the impact the sculptures had on the public,” says McAfee, ” its effect on them, both their interaction with and reaction to the work.”

After many successful years as a Vice President of technology firms, Mark Lobene is now a full-time actor, producer and founder of Gramercy Empire Productions LLC. He met McAfee while co-starring in “2nd Life.” “Working with Jake once again was a real pleasure. I knew his sensitivity and strong narrative sense would come through on this project. We were honored in Madrid and we’re very thankful for this vote of confidence in our story.” Lobene says,”making this documentary fulfilled a long-held desire of mine. We were able to capture the creation of a sculptor’s work and capture the audience reaction and appreciation in one film. This, to me, was a complete feedback loop of the artistic process.”
“Often we see the completed work in a gallery, or we see it being created, but rarely do we see the start to finish which, in my opinion, should always include the viewer’s interaction. Having sculpture that was designed to be interactive, made this story that much more compelling.” The film was screened at the Queens World Film Festival and won an award in Madrid. “We appreciate the recognition from the Madrid International Film Festival, “ Lobene says, “and we hope to continue showing this documentary around the world and we appreciate all the interest in it.”Our Memories in Central Park, 2018, New York, NY