December 12, 2018

Dr. G’s #AGU18 Spotlight – Thriving Earth Exchange Story Slam

Posted by Laura Guertin

Tuesday evening at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting was an informative and fun evening for the 100+ attendees that came to the Celebrating Community Science with Thriving Earth Exchange event (I’ve blogged previously about the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX)). I’m including the event description here, as putting in to my own words would not do it justice (description taken from meeting website):

From a grand challenge to a highly successful AGU Centennial program, Thriving Earth Exchange will have 100 community science projects completed by 2019. Join Thriving Earth Exchange for a special annual reception celebrating our community leaders, scientists, and all those working to increase access and equity in science. This year’s reception will feature 3-minute pop-up style talks from community leaders and scientists. Stories will share the inspiration, actions, and outcomes of community science collaborations through personal narrative. Attendees can expect engaging tales of community and science, and the opportunity to meet and engage with like-minded individuals and potential new partners. All are welcome. Prepare to be inspired.

AGU’s Executive Director/CEO Chris McEntee opened the event with a few comments, observing on the increase in the number of attendees from prior TEX events, as well as an increase in the variety of TEX partners and communities. TEX started as a grand challenge project for 100 years of AGU, and in a short time it has exceeded its goals in having greater and deeper science that has expanded to a global community of practice.

Five scientists/partners were the presenters during the Story Slam segment of the evening. Not all the story slammers were TEX projects. These five were selected from over 400 applicants who sought to share their stories of community science at the Story Slam. The event description said, “prepare to be inspired,” and the speakers did not disappoint!

  • Carol Lue shared the work of scientists and locals in Jamaica for CaribShareBiogas where she is the founder and Executive Director. This collaboration works to take food and animal waste from hotels to generate biogas and fertilizer.
  • One speaker talked about the Rubbertown Emergency Action (ReACT) group, fighting persistent environmental racism in Louisville from poor air quality.
  • We heard about efforts to keep the lights on if/when a hurricane hits the Hawaiian island of Maui, having scientists and community leaders communicating with each other to achieve resilience over recovery (with the best recovery effort is one that can be avoided).
  • Another environmental justice issue is radon in Denver, Colorado, as so few minority and/or low-income families know about radon and what it is. The organization Taking Neighborhood Health to Heart has worked with University of Colorado scientists on this work.
  • The final speaker addressed measuring air quality Charlotte, North Carolina, involving K-12 teachers and students and the Particle Falls project to make the invisible air particles and data, visible.

It was amazing to hear about these incredible collaborations and impacts by, for, and in local communities. I was disappointed we only heard about five, knowing that there are almost 100 projects part of the TEX portfolio, and many, many more beyond the TEX network!

Raj Pandya, TEX Director, ended the event with a clear call to action. He reminded us that TEX is when scientific knowledge and community wisdom come together, where scientists do not stand for people but stand along side them. In his words, “this is new – this is a movement.”

If you would like to join this movement, I strongly encourage you to visit the AGU Thriving Earth Exchange website and explore how you can contribute to these exciting initiatives –