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  • Transcriber: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Camille Martínez

  • If you told me five years ago

  • that today I'd be delivering a talk

  • about our individual power to make a difference,

  • I would have cringed.

  • It was my job to study huge global systems.

  • I was a researcher at NASA using satellite data to study the big picture.

  • You can see a lot of things from space,

  • like every ecosystem on Earth

  • being threatened from pretty much every angle

  • and global inequality in air and water safety.

  • These kinds of things would keep me up at night.

  • And then outside of work, I'd use this bird's-eye view

  • while thinking about our huge social structures

  • like education and media and health care,

  • and it looked to me like they were all really struggling, too.

  • So I felt like the world was just trapped in this huge self-amplifying system

  • that was just spiraling towards destruction.

  • And of course I wanted to do something about this,

  • and I felt so small and utterly powerless.

  • But I started to feel a little differently as my perspective shifted

  • from the macro towards the micro.

  • It began with bumblebees.

  • I was using satellite imagery and field research

  • to study these amazing, cute pollinators

  • to see how they were doing in the midst of their own environmental crisis

  • in Southern California.

  • And from the macro view, I saw 22-lane freeways,

  • endless suburban sprawl

  • and water being diverted from parched rivers

  • to grow lawns in the desert.

  • It was pretty grim.

  • But on the ground,

  • there were actually some small opportunities for optimism,

  • these tiny patches of resources

  • known as "habitat fragments."

  • If the right kinds of plants were growing along the edges of a Costco parking lot,

  • and if in the neighborhoods nearby

  • there were native plants in people's gardens,

  • and in the canyons that were too steep for people to put their suburbs in,

  • there were native plants instead of grasses

  • then all of these in-between spaces

  • would actually add up to create a network of habitat fragments.

  • And this network meant that the bees could traverse through the concrete desert

  • feeding from and pollinating the native plants.

  • And these plants that the bees depend on and that the bees sustain are essential.

  • They stabilize our steep hillsides.

  • They provide food and homes to thousands of amazing species of animals,

  • and, critically, they are helping to curb our devastating cycle of wildfires

  • by preventing the growth of those invasive grasses

  • that fuel the vicious flames that we're all too familiar with.

  • It's a really vital and interconnected system,

  • and some people could see how they were a part of it,

  • and so they acted as habitat fragment gardeners.

  • They planted native plants in their yards,

  • and they even were tending to the land in corporate parks

  • and in public canyons.

  • In my research, I could actually see the impact

  • that even one passionate gardener could make.

  • And then, repeated across the region,

  • their habitat fragments were adding up to make a more resilient ecosystem --

  • not a perfect system, not by a long shot,

  • but at least a system that was less likely to totally collapse

  • under impending pressures like further development and drought.

  • So I was looking at the world through this lens

  • when I found myself in the waiting room of a public hospital in Brooklyn

  • with my partner, Charles.

  • We were sitting across from a group of teenagers

  • who were slumped in their chairs

  • and bored out of their minds

  • and just refreshing their phones over and over again.

  • And in a neighborhood

  • with some of the lowest high school graduation rates in the city,

  • this waiting room felt like a social habitat fragment

  • just waiting to happen.

  • So, we did some research to see what kinds of resources could we add

  • to spaces like this one

  • that would make an impact.

  • And we settled on museums.

  • Museums are the most trusted source of public information,

  • more than the media and more than the government,

  • but they also cluster in wealthier neighborhoods.

  • New York has 85 museums in Manhattan,

  • and the Bronx has eight,

  • even though these two boroughs have almost the same size population.

  • And then expensive tickets mean that a lot of people can't go to museums

  • even if they live nearby.

  • And these little injustices, they just go on and on

  • and they add up to create sweeping inequalities

  • in knowledge and empowerment.

  • Across the US,

  • almost 90 percent of visitors to art museums are white,

  • and even at the Smithsonian's network of free museums,

  • almost half of their adult visitors have graduate degrees,

  • which, like, 10 percent of the broader population has.

  • So it became clear to us

  • that even though museums are these amazing educational and social resources,

  • they're not reaching everyone.

  • And a lot of museums are aware of this, and they're trying to change it,

  • but there's all these structural hurdles that are slowing them down.

  • So we set out to create a distributed network

  • of museum habitat fragments.

  • Working from a donated shipping container

  • with the volunteer help of our friends

  • and dozens of very generous scientists

  • from all across the globe,

  • we built our first prototype:

  • the Smallest Mollusk Museum.

  • (Laughter)

  • Mollusks are these tentacled, slimy shape-shifters

  • like oysters and octopuses and the giant squid,

  • and if you've ever seen an alien in a movie,

  • then I'll bet you it was inspired by a mollusk.

  • Their slimy sci-fi vibes

  • make them really fun tour guides for a biology museum,

  • and they can teach us about the systems that we all share,

  • with a wake-up call.

  • Of all the animal extinctions documented since the 1500s,

  • more than 40 percent have been our friends, the mollusks.

  • So we tested this museum across the city

  • to see if it resonated with all kinds of visitors,

  • and it did.

  • People really liked learning from it.

  • So we built a fleet of tiny science museums,

  • each one small enough to fit into preexisting locations

  • with information dense enough that they could still pack a punch.

  • And they're modular, so they can be distributed

  • at a scale that can reach everyone.

  • And then we partnered with libraries

  • and community centers and transit hubs

  • and the public hospitals

  • so that we could transform their in-between spaces

  • into habitat fragments for social learning.

  • And, fittingly, we named our fleet of museums "MICRO."

  • Even though each habitat fragment is small,

  • it provides the essentials.

  • It draws people in so that they can explore

  • and learn together in a social way.

  • And then, distributed across the landscape,

  • we're able to invite people everywhere

  • into conversations around science.

  • When we partnered with a public hospital in the South Bronx,

  • we became the Bronx's first and only science museum.

  • Yeah, that's really weird. (Laughs)

  • (Laughter)

  • And really quickly,

  • families started coming by with their kids

  • and schools started arranging field trips,

  • all to this tiny museum in the front lobby of the public hospital.

  • (Laughter)

  • And the museum became so popular

  • that we started hiring local students to be museum docents,

  • so they could lead tours and activities for all the talented kids.

  • And every spark of curiosity that we're able to fuel

  • and each new fact learned

  • and every new friend made at the museum

  • and every kid who can have a meaningful and important after-school job,

  • it all contributes to a stronger system.

  • So today, I try to keep the MICRO view in mind.

  • I'm always examining how small actions can add up

  • to create shifts

  • at the macro scale of systems.

  • And honestly, I'm seeing a lot of really good things.

  • There are habitat fragments everywhere, nurtured by talented, passionate,

  • strategic individuals in groups of all sizes,

  • who are building towards systems with more equal access to food

  • and employment, health care, housing,

  • political empowerment, education and healthy environments.

  • One by one, together,

  • we're filling gaps,

  • strengthening the systems that we're all a part of.

  • We have to work on the big institutions too, of course.

  • It's just that they're so slow,

  • and we're living in the midst of rapid change.

  • It's a defining feature of our time.

  • So maybe in some cases our small actions

  • can be Band-Aids until the big guys catch up.

  • But without us, what are they going to be catching up to?

  • Am I still scared about the world?

  • Yes. (Laughs)

  • That's why I'm talking to you.

  • The world needs so many more habitat fragments.

  • So, if you've been feeling overwhelmed or powerless lately,

  • then I'm asking you to please try this very small strategy on for size,

  • and let's see how it goes.

  • Step one: zoom in.

  • It's not one huge system

  • that's just barreling unstoppably towards destruction.

  • What we have are many overlapping systems,

  • and the ways that they interact determine everything.

  • Step two: look for the resource gaps,

  • because that's where you can make the biggest difference.

  • And do some research to understand how your ideas are going to interact

  • with the systems that are already on the ground.

  • Step three: find the other habitat fragments.

  • Find out how they can support you and how you can support them,

  • because we're building a network together.

  • And step four: transform your fragment.

  • You might not have the leverage to change multiple systems at once,

  • but there are so many small, meaningful and strategic things

  • that each of us can do.

  • And there are a lot of us,

  • so it will add up.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Transcriber: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Camille Martínez

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マルハナバチが小さな美術館のネットワークにインスピレーションを与えた方法|アマンダ・ショシェ (How bumble bees inspired a network of tiny museums | Amanda Schochet)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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