The Smithsonian Institution creates and shares knowledge through high-impact research in science, art and design, history, and culture, and provides leadership for navigating today’s rapidly changing world. This weekend, the Smithsonian will hold its first Earth Optimism Summit, a global, pan-institutional gathering  of scientists, thought leaders, philanthropists, conservationists and civic leaders to focus the public’s awareness on effective solutions for the conservation of our species and ecosystems. The Summit will coincide with the world’s celebration of Earth Day and will take place in Washington, DC, New York, and Panama.

Cooper Hewitt will support and celebrate the Earth Optimism Summit in three ways:

  • Cooper Hewitt’s very popular and influential exhibition Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse has been extended and will be on view to the public through the weekend of the Summit. Offering creative, alternative approaches to confronting textile waste, the exhibition highlights the work of three designers—Luisa Cevese, Christina Kim, and Reiko Suko—who adaptively reuse materials that would normally be discarded, turning unwanted by-products into objects of beauty and economic value. To conserve our dwindling natural resources, nothing less than this kind of radical re-envisioning of how we do business is required. The Scraps exhibition inspires us with a vision of a slow-growth economy based on value, not things. When the exhibition closes, cases and platforms will be repurposed for future exhibitions.
  • Cooper Hewitt will also offer an Earth Day family activity focusing on the power of design thinking to enrich lives. More than ever, young people will need design’s creative problem-solving skills to tackle the challenges ahead.
  • Cooper Hewitt has also announced its Paper Project. Staff is measuring the amount of paper, toner, and printer electricity we use daily and setting goals to reduce our use. We are doing our share to avoid deforestation, harm to indigenous communities, and pollution of land, air, and water from the global paper industry, and to improve our bottom line.

Cooper Hewitt’s important work underscores the power of integrated sustainability, which embodies environment, culture, society, and the economy. To truly conserve the beauty of the world  in all its various forms, local, national, and global unity and action are required. It is not the planet we are saving—it is ourselves.

About the author

Jocelyn Groom is Head of Exhibitions and chair of Cooper Hewitt’s Sustainability Task Force, for which she develops, executes, and guides initiatives and policies, as well as secures funding for Task Force projects. She initiated a collaboration with Smithsonian and the GSA to introduce an internal energy metering and digital energy efficiency dashboard across the Smithsonian’s nineteen facilities and complexes. In 2014, she wrote the first triple-bottom-line Sustainability Action Plan for Cooper Hewitt and is a strong advocate for sustainability strategies for museums.

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