This summer, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival returned to the National Mall and featured Earth Optimism as a one of the major festival themes.
The Earth Optimism events focused on the bright ideas, successful solutions, and passionate people working to protect our planet. The exhibits and events explored the possibilities and solutions that address some of our planet’s most significant challenges through new ways of living, learning, and working toward a shared sustainable future. There were exhibits focused on the Chesapeake Watershed and we had the opportunity to chat with Martha Shimkin, Deputy Director of the Chesapeake Bay Program Office (who is also a weaver), as well as with folks from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Virginia Working Landscapes program which promotes the conservation of native biodiversity and sustainable land use through research, education, and community engagement. We also had the pleasure to meet Tierney Thys, a marine biologist by training and a National Geographic Expedition expert who, with anthropologist Carroll Dunham, created Around the World in 80 Fabrics, its name a play on the title of the classic Jules Verne novel. Thys works to “elevate the awareness of the biodiversity of fibers used for textile-making, the makers behind them, and the win-win solutions that can come from supporting those makers.” Their mission, specifically, is to show the biodiversity of traditional fibers. One of the fibers in the exhibit was acadian brown cotton grown by the Acadiana Fibershed in Louisiana. It was great to see fibershed work on display!
There were many other exhibits and much of the information presented is still available on the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival website, Check it out and get inspired!