Chautauqua Climate Change Initiative Fall 2022 Update
Welcome to the Fall 2022 update of the Chautauqua Climate Change Initiative. In this edition we look back at how we did during the 2022 season and highlight some post-summer programs and events.
As a reminder, we have a dedicated page on Chautauqua’s website, climate.chq.org, where you can get updates on current programs and events as well as links to past programs on CHQ Assembly.
We also have a Facebook group, Chautauquans for Sustainability, now with nearly 200 members. For those who are not on Facebook, know that we will continue to send quarterly updates by email so you won’t miss any important news.
Thanks to the Institution’s generous donors, we have an excellent resource available to our community: free copies of a special Chautauqua edition of The World’s Littlest Book on Climate: 10 Facts in 10 Minutes About CO2. You can pick up the book on the grounds at the Chautauqua Bookstore and The Smith Memorial Library. If you have a church or community group that’s interested in climate change and you’d like multiple copies of the book to share (up to 180), please let us know and we will do our best to ship them to you.
Throughout this update several presentations are mentioned. If you would like a PDF copy of any of these, please let me know.
Thank you all for your continued enthusiasm and support for the Chautauqua Climate Change Initiative. I hope everyone enjoys time with friends and family over the holidays. I’m looking forward to seeing you next season, if not sooner. Stay tuned for our Spring 2023 update which will preview the exciting climate programming we have in store for the upcoming Summer Assembly.
2022 Season Report | Institution-wide Climate Initiatives
Create multi-disciplinary climate programs that inspire positive actions
Leverage existing Institution programs to advance climate education and engagement
Six Institution program areas led 17 climate-themed programs, including:
- Five Chautauqua Lecture Series programs (Weeks Two, Six, Seven)
- Five Interfaith Lecture Series programs (Week Two)
- Four Special Studies classes (Weeks Two, Seven, Eight)
- One Heritage Lecture Series program (Week Two)
- One Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle presentation (Week Two)
- One Chautauqua Chamber Music performance and lecture (Week Two)
Collaborate with community partners to advance climate education and engagement
10 programs created in collaboration with community and external partners (Weeks One, Two, Three, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine), engaging:
- 14 partners: Chautauqua Women’s Club; Bird, Tree & Garden Club; Chautauqua Science Group; Chautauqua Property Owners Association; Road Scholar; Alumni Association of the CLSC; Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy; University at Buffalo; SUNY Fredonia; Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy; Western New York Land Conservancy; Buffalo Astronomical Association; Martz-Kohl Observatory; Glenstone Museum
Expand year-round and CHQ Assembly programming
- Three CHQ Assembly programs (Spring 2022)
- Chautauqua Lake Water Quality Conference (June 2022)
- Chautauqua Climate Ride weekend (September 2022)
- Climate lecture (September 2022)
Improve the long-term ecological health and climate resilience of Chautauqua Lake
Lead a science-based strategy to improve the health of Chautauqua Lake
- The Jefferson Project was renewed with a five-year $15 million research plan to form a more accurate picture of how the lake ecosystem works and to inform approaches and implementations of necessary lake management solutions
- Enhanced monitoring of watershed streams and phosphorus in development
Engage the Chautauqua community and beyond in understanding lake ecology and solutions
- CHQ Field Trips and youth STEM activities on grounds focused on water quality and lake ecology
- SUNY Fredonia science education consultancy established to help create and implement lake science education programs
- Chautauqua Lake Water Quality Conference engaged over a dozen researchers and nearly 100 community members
Advance support for lake solutions among key stakeholders
- Hazardous Algal Bloom initiative established by New York State
- Herbicide applications reduced with help of Chautauqua advocacy
- New York State funding secured for freshwater lake protection, harmful algae bloom reduction strategies
Advance sustainable operations and serve as a resource to our community
Increase clean energy and sustainability of Institution operations
- Community solar contract signed for solar electricity supply
- Energy & Carbon Master Plan for buildings and systems in progress.
- Carbon footprint baseline analysis in progress (University of Pennsylvania)
- Sustainability enhancements for new maintenance building
- Electric vehicle charging expansion plans in progress
Collaborate in support of regional climate initiatives
- Climate technology & manufacturing conference in Jamestown (October), engaging Chautauquans as speakers and participants
- WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable, joined as a member and led an engagement session at annual meeting (November)
Chautauqua Institution’s strategic plan, 150 Forward, aims to “expand Chautauqua’s convening authority year-round to broaden its impact beyond the Summer Assembly.” Responding to this call, the Climate Change Initiative has kept things going with a busy schedule of fall programs and events.
Chautauqua Climate Ride: Green Fondo Weekend
Sept. 16–18, 2022 | Chautauqua Institution
In September, Chautauqua hosted nearly 100 cyclists for our first-ever Chautauqua Green Fondo, a weekend-long cycling event that benefited regional and national nonprofits working to advance climate sustainability. Cyclists from across the United States, most of whom had never been to Chautauqua before, enjoyed two days of cycling on our scenic country roads, returning to the grounds after each ride to enjoy good food, drink, dialogue and music. Participants were welcomed with an opening night reception at the Athenaeum Hotel that included remarks from Caeli Quinn, president and CEO of Climate Ride; John Jablonski, president of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy; and Doug Conroe, president of the Chautauqua Lake Association. On Saturday evening, cyclists and Chautauqua community members enjoyed a keynote lecture from Abel Gustafson of the University of Cincinnati and Yale Center on Climate Communications, titled “Polar Bears, Politics, and Apocalypse: How to Solve Three Problems in Our Climate Communication” (send me a message if you’d like his presentation). The Green Fondo was a success, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for organizations working for a healthy environment, and raising Chautauqua’s profile among an enthusiastic new audience.
Retool WNY: Climate Technology & Manufacturing
Oct. 17–19, 2022 | Jamestown, New York
Chautauqua Institution was pleased to partner with the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities in their inaugural climate technology and manufacturing conference in Jamestown, Retool WNY. The conference was geared toward industry leaders, manufacturers, investors and entrepreneurs who seek to advance opportunities in the clean energy and climate technology sectors in the Southern Tier region. Longtime Chautauquan and climate tech author Clint Wilder opened the conference with a keynote address, “Clean Energy and Climate Tech: Building Our Future” (you can find his book The Clean Tech Revolution in the Chautauqua Bookstore). Wilder’s presentation focused on the dramatic decline in the cost of renewable energy, growing public support for wind, solar and electric vehicles, and the enormous opportunities for clean tech investment presented by recent federal legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Moving forward, Chautauqua Institution is exploring with Jamestown BPU a series of educational webinars to educate and engage our region about clean energy infrastructure opportunities.
CHQ Travels: Resilience & Adaptation in New Orleans
Nov. 6–10, 2022 | New Orleans, Louisiana
Chautauqua Travels launched its second departure in November, following our first successful trip to Iceland in July. This four-day adventure was built around the theme “Responding to a Changing Climate: Resilience & Adaptation in New Orleans.” Rising sea levels and extreme weather events are increasing at an alarming rate, making low-lying New Orleans ground zero for climate catastrophe, as the world witnessed with Hurricane Katrina. And yet, because of this existential threat, New Orleans is also leading the world in taking proactive steps to become more climate resilient. The CHQ Travels group saw these efforts firsthand, including massive ecological restoration projects and local efforts to rebuild vibrant communities in places that were decimated by Katrina, like the Lower Ninth Ward. We were inspired by the rich diversity of wildlife we saw on our swamp tour, by the work of the Center for Sustainable Engagement to address and remedy longstanding environmental injustice, and by the young entrepreneurs from Tulane University who started a glass recycling business, Glass Half Full, that is turning old glass into sand for restoration of Louisiana’s coastline. And of course, we did not miss out on some amazing food and live jazz in the French Quarter.
WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable
Nov. 16, 2022 | Buffalo, New York
Earlier this year, Chautauqua Institution joined the WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable, a collaborative of public and private sector organizations working together to demonstrate how WNY businesses can take a lead in integrating sustainability into their operations to benefit staff, the environment, and their bottom line. Chautauqua was asked to lead an engagement session at the Roundtable’s annual summit on Nov. 16 in Buffalo, which focused on “Breaking through Barriers: Resilience in Turbulent Times.” Our session focused on how to influence change and advance sustainability from the bottom up through a process of “Engage, Educate, Empower.”
Thanks to Chautauqua Lake Project Manager Toby Shepherd for the following updates:
The Jefferson Project at Chautauqua Lake
We are excited that the partnership with The Jefferson Project has grown this year. Two vertical profilers returned to the north and south basins of the lake, continuing the water quality research that began in 2020. The Jefferson Project also began regular water sampling at 20 locations around the lake. These samples measure nutrient concentrations, water clarity, pH, temperature and other key water quality variables. These locations were sampled every two weeks from early July to mid-November, which will add key data as researchers continue to study the ecological challenges the lake is facing, particularly Harmful Algal Blooms. A genomic study of these lake samples has been initiated which may help in discovering why some algal blooms become toxic while many do not. Lastly, The Jefferson Project staff continue to work through the design phase of six tributary monitoring stations to be installed around the lake, which will yield important data on the concentration of key nutrients entering the lake from various creeks in the watershed.
Algae Researcher at Chautauqua Lake
This November, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) hired phycologist Allison Hrycik to research algae as part of The Jefferson Project at Chautauqua Lake. Hrycik will split her time between the Institution and SUNY Fredonia, where she’ll have access to their laboratory and the ability to network with other researchers at the university. We’re grateful for our continued and deepening partnerships with RPI and SUNY Fredonia in our efforts to better understand algae and mitigate its impacts on Chautauqua Lake.
Hrycik is originally from Colden, New York, and holds a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from Cornell University, a master’s degree in fisheries and natural resources from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in biology from University of Vermont. While pursuing her Ph.D., she studied how changing winter conditions help set the stage for algae blooms during the open water season. Prior to her position on Chautauqua Lake, Allison was a research scientist at SUNY Buffalo State working on water quality monitoring in the Great Lakes.
Lake Science Programming—SUNY Fredonia
We continue to work closely with SUNY Fredonia and Courtney Wigdahl-Perry, associate professor of biology, on developing and delivering lake-focused educational programming. Wigdahl-Perry will continue her work delivering science-based youth programming at Chautauqua with her “Water Matters” class and a study of strawberry DNA as part of our series of field trips with Chautauqua County schools next spring.
Chautauqua Lake Coalition
The New York State Department of Health is advising a group of local stakeholders on the formation of a Drinking Water Source Protection Plan. Chautauqua Institution is working with the Chautauqua Utility District, Town of Chautauqua, Village of Mayville, Soil and Water District, Chautauqua County and the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance to complete this water protection plan, and we look forward to completing the plan in 2023. Once complete, this plan will establish priorities for proactively protecting surface and ground water sources for the Town of Chautauqua, including the Institution and Mayville.
Electric Vehicle Chargers
The Institution has been gifted six EV charging stations and we have identified multiple potential locations on the grounds for their placement, including the South Lot, North Lot, Main Lot and Turner Community Center. We expect that half will be Tesla-specific chargers that can be used on all vehicles with Tesla’s new universal adapter, and half will be J1772 Level 2 Commercial Charging Stations. Level 2 charging stations provide a charge at a rate of between 12 to 60 miles of range per hour of charge, depending upon variables like weather conditions.
The required power source to run these stations does not currently exist and will, therefore, require us to construct new dedicated service for each unit. We are hopeful we will be able to find enough outside contractor support to assist our Buildings and Grounds staff as they strive to install these prior to the start of the 2023 Summer Assembly. We are also working on a new process to organize fair use of and payment for these chargers. Stay tuned for more details in early 2023.
Bronze-Level Sustainability Award
As part of Chautauqua’s application to the WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable, we were asked to detail what steps the Institution has taken to make our operations more sustainable. Based on our efforts to purchase green renewable energy, improve the efficiency of our operations, reduce vehicle emissions and other measures, we were awarded a Bronze-level sustainability award at the Roundtable’s annual summit on Nov. 16 in Buffalo. We are honored by the award and know that we will move up in the rankings to Gold level as we continue advancing sustainability at the Institution (see item below).
Energy & Carbon Master Plan
The Institution and its consultant, Stark Tech Inc., completed a facility-wide Energy & Carbon Master Plan in October. The plan, containing a carbon reduction analysis, findings and recommendations, is based on an energy audit completed in August. It characterizes baseline energy demand for 10 existing buildings and covers proposed facility improvement measure for mechanical and lighting systems at those buildings. Also included in the plan is a calculation of the energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions associated with each facility improvement measure, as well as a high-level draft proposal for potential solar investment opportunities. Combined with a comprehensive carbon footprint analysis for all major Institution operations that is being developed by the University of Pennsylvania, the Energy & Carbon Master Plan is an important foundation for future sustainability improvements at Chautauqua.
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