Chautauqua Climate Change Initiative Winter 2023 Update
Welcome to the winter 2023 update of the Chautauqua Climate Change Initiative. In this edition, you’ll get a sneak peek into one of the most exciting programs we have in store for you during the 2023 season. A full climate program list will appear in our Spring 2023 update along with some unique adventures coming up through Chautauqua Travels. You’ll also learn about the ongoing work of our Chautauqua Lake Initiative and our efforts to advance a greener, more sustainable Chautauqua.
As of February 2022, we have more than 200 members on our Facebook group, Chautauquans for Sustainability. If you’re not already a member, we invite you to join.
Please feel free to reach out any time with questions, comments and ideas. Thank you for being part of our community.
Washed Ashore — Art to Save the Sea
June–October 2023 | Chautauqua Institution
We are beyond excited to have secured a spectacular sculpture exhibition at Chautauqua starting in June. “Washed Ashore — Art to Save the Sea” is centered on plastic pollution and its impact on sea life. The exhibit will consist of 14 elaborate sculptures that represent marine life affected by plastic pollution. They are made by artisans who use debris found washed up on beaches. Mixing art and science, the exhibit aims to promote awareness of plastic’s environmental impact and encourage plastics reduction and recycling.
Chautauqua Institution will use the exhibit’s education curriculum with local students during our Explore Chautauqua Field Trips in June and other school engagements in the fall. We will also have programs throughout the 2023 summer season that highlight the environmental impacts of plastics and possible solutions. Stay tuned for more details about Washed Ashore!
Climate Lectures & Community Collaboration
The Chautauqua Lecture Series and Interfaith Lecture Series will feature speakers during the 2023 season who focus on various climate and environmental issues, especially during Week Five’s focus on infrastructure and Week Seven’s focus on national parks. Please check the lecture schedule online for the most up-to-date information.
In addition, the Chautauqua Climate Change Initiative is deepening our collaborative programming with Chautauqua community groups for the 2023 season. We’d like to highlight two of those here, with the Chautauqua Bird, Tree & Garden Club (BTG), and the Chautauqua Science Group (CSG).
June–August | Bird, Tree & Garden Club Brown Bags | Smith Wilkes Hall | 12:15 p.m.
Every Tuesday of the season at 12:15 p.m. the Chautauqua Bird, Tree & Garden Club hosts Brown Bag lectures on various topics, ranging from gardens and natural history to birds and environmental issues. Last season we collaborated on a popular program on sustainable landscapes, featuring the chief sustainability officer at Glenstone Museum, Paul Tukey, and a panel discussion including Betsy Burgeson, Chautauqua’s supervisor of gardens and landscapes, and Jennifer Francois, BTG’s vice president.
For the 2023 season, the CCI and BTG are collaborating on four programs, including: how botanic gardens can lead on sustainability, “living buildings” as climate-friendly infrastructure, the birds of our national parks, and the Chautauqua forest and how it is impacted by climate change. Stay tuned for more details about these programs in our Spring 2023 update.
June–August | Chautauqua Science Group Presentations | Hurlbut Sanctuary | 9:15 a.m.
Every Wednesday morning of the season, the Chautauqua Science Group hosts science talks on a wide range of topics. Last season we collaborated on a program featuring Washington, D.C., meteorologist Caitlyn McGrath talking about the role television meteorologists play in advancing understanding of climate change.
For the 2023 season, CCI and CSG are collaborating on five programs, including: Chautauqua Lake science, climate resilient building infrastructure, national park science, the latest discoveries of the Webb Space Telescope, and the science of lake effect snow. Stay tuned for details in our Spring 2023 update.
Chautauqua Travels is a one-of-a-kind group travel program offering unmatched curated experiences in the United States and abroad. We leverage Chautauqua’s distinctive mix of interdisciplinary and intergenerational explorations with an untiring commitment to discovery. Our first two departures in 2022 — Iceland in July and New Orleans in November — focused on how each of these places has unique vulnerabilities to climate change, and how each is leading the world in solutions — Iceland in clean energy and New Orleans in climate resiliency.
Upcoming departures include Literary Ireland (Sept. 11–18, 2023), Santa Fe’s Art Scene (Oct. 25–29, 2023), and Cuba’s Kaleidoscope (Dec. 5–10, 2023 & Feb. 6–11, 2024). Upcoming climate change-focused departures include a return to Iceland this October, revisiting some favorites from our July 2022 departure and adding some exciting new destinations: Clean Energy and a Changing Climate in Iceland (Oct. 7–13, 2023). Soon to be announced for 2024 is a spectacular national park adventure. Stay tuned for more details.
Thanks to Chautauqua Lake Project Manager Toby Shepherd for the following updates.
Lake Research and Jefferson Project
The Institution hosted 27 researchers from IBM, RPI, SUNY Fredonia and Bowling Green State University at the Hultquist Center in January 2023 for a data coordination workshop. The researchers gathered for two days of meetings to review their research operations from the 2022 season and coordinate on planned research for Chautauqua Lake in 2023. The Institution was thrilled to host this opportunity to increase coordination between researchers.
We are also working with The Jefferson Project to identify when key components of the research system, such as the vertical profilers, will return to Chautauqua Lake. We are making progress with our engineering consultant on tributary monitoring stations to be built on several important creeks in the lake’s watershed. These monitoring stations will help researchers understand each creek’s contribution to water quality issues in the lake. Having stations on these creeks will allow measurements of key indicators such as chloride and total algae, especially during storm events when water flow peaks in tributaries.
2023 Chautauqua Lake Conference
We have begun planning for the 2023 Chautauqua Lake Conference, set for Saturday, June 17, 2023, at the Institution. This will be an opportunity to receive an update from the experts on the water quality research happening on Chautauqua Lake, as well as the latest plans to address harmful algae blooms and other issues. More information will be shared as details develop.
County Funding for Chautauqua Lake
The Institution has been a member of the Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency (CLPRA) for the past several years. The agency was formed to consider the creation of a dedicated taxing district and various other funding mechanisms for long-term lake conservation efforts. On Jan. 19, 2023, the Agency met to vote on its preferred funding mechanism that would be recommended to the county legislature. Unfortunately, many members of the public and elected officials in the county incorrectly understood that the agency would be voting to impose new taxes rather than voting on a set of recommendations to the legislature. This misunderstanding generated opposition that led to dissolution of the agency. While we are disappointed in this outcome, Chautauqua Institution remains committed to working with our partners in the county to advance long-term solutions for the funding of Chautauqua Lake restoration.
Electric Vehicle Chargers
As noted in the Climate Change Initiative Fall 2022 Update, the Institution has been gifted six electric vehicle chargers. We are planning to install a ChargePoint charger in the South Lot as well as four in the North Lot, two of which have Tesla plugs, and two of which have j1772 universal plugs. We are exploring a process to organize fair use of and payment for these chargers. Stay tuned for more details in the spring.
Chautauqua has signed a new contract with our electricity provider that provides us with renewable energy credits to cover 100% of the Institution’s electricity use for the next two years.
Last year Chautauqua Institution entered into a community solar energy subscription agreement. The subscription gives us a share of electricity generated from a solar farm to be constructed in Lafayette, New York. The subscription will initially cover around 10% of our electricity needs, but our allocation may expand in the future to cover up to 100% of our electricity. This community solar project will commence construction once it has a target minimum number of subscriptions.
Solar Panels on Private Homes
On Feb. 4, 2023, the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees approved revisions to the Architectural and Land Use (ALU) Regulations that create greater clarity for private homeowners interested in adding solar panels to their homes. The new regulations “encourage the use of environmentally sustainable building systems and practices in all building projects,” including solar panels, but acknowledge that these systems and practices must be “balanced within the historic characteristics of our National Historic Landmark and the specifics of each project and location.” The new revisions to the Architectural and Land Use regulations no longer automatically prohibit solar panels that are visible from the street, walkways, or other public spaces, but instead provide a review process with Campus Planning and the Architectural Review Board tailored to the unique circumstances present within each neighborhood. Understanding that rooftop solar may not be the best option for many homes, for reasons ranging from insufficient sunlight to historic preservation concerns to structural limitations, the Chautauqua Climate Change Initiative is collaborating with the Chautauqua Property Owners Association sustainability committee to identify opportunities for individual property owners to subscribe to a community solar project, as the Institution has done. Community Solar is a wonderful option because it allows individual homeowners and businesses to get 100% of their electricity from solar energy while supporting the development of solar farms that benefit the entire region — a win-win.
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