Reflecting on the Better World Series

As 2017 comes to a close, we want to reflect on the good that unraveled with the Better World Series: a project by LoaTree.

What is the Better World Series?

The Better World Series was a year-long project of ours that sought to inspire action, build community, and profile changemakers around relevant issue areas and topics. Over the course of 2017, we hosted events and ran campaigns to inspire our community to build a better world. We now hold fruitful relationships with the speakers and many participants of the Better World Series. The Better World Series followed 5 different themes — or what we called “Waves” — over the course of the year:

1. Environmental Psychology
2. Mujeres y Climate Justice
3. Peace Out, Plastics!
4. Sustainable Agriculture
5. Art as Activism

Wave 1: Environmental Psychology

Event: EcoPsych! The Art of Communicating for Planetary Protection
Location: LoaTree Office
Guest: Dr. Renee Lertzman, PhD
Program: Small group lecture & presentation

Renee Lertzman, PhD — an internationally recognized thought leader and adviser — joined us at LoaTree headquarters to discuss how understanding the psychology behind communicating sustainability can amplify, accelerate, and leverage our efforts to engage far greater numbers of people for a sustainable future. Do our current approaches undermine our efforts? Are we missing opportunities?

Beyond focusing on positive solutions, Dr. Renee Lertzman argued that we need to practice radical empathy with all who we seek to engage. To innovate and be most effective, all aspects of how we communicate, talk about, market and engage with diverse and even polarized communities must be impacted.

Impact: 30 attendees, including professors, members of the private and public sectors, environmental activists, students, and others.

Wave 2: Mujeres y Climate Justice

Event: Mujeres y Climate Justice – A Better World Series Gathering
Location: La Casa de la Raza
Guests: Leila Salazar-Lopez of Amazon Watch, Hazel Davalos of CAUSE, and Osprey Orielle Lake of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network; moderated by Celia Alario
Program: Panel discussion with three nationally and internationally recognized female leaders

We provided our community the opportunity to meet the women on the front lines of climate justice. Participants attended a panel discussion with three nationally and internationally recognized leaders to discuss the unique strategies and tactics that are being used in the escalating fight against climate change, including those being used by indigenous and native communities against multinational corporations.

Impact: Over 40 students, community members, professors, nonprofit workers, environmental activists, and passionate females attended this moderated panel to hear the stories and experiences of 3 influential women in the climate justice movement, addressing:

  • Effective strategies to encourage broad mobilization around climate issues
  • Our roles and responsibilities in light of the global climate movement
  • More

Spanish translation was provided for guests.

Wave 3: Peace Out, Plastics!

Events: Peace Out, Plastics! Presentation & Lecture // Beach Clean-Up // DIY Workshop
Location: Impact Hub SB
Guests: Alison Teal, Adventure Traveler / Filmmaker / Plastic Pollution Advocate; Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, Executive Director of 5 Gyres

We intended to bring to light the devastating effect that plastic has on our oceans, and to provide practical alternatives for single-use plastics in our everyday lives while highlighting the work of local and nonlocal nonprofits and businesses. To do so, we hosted a number of events:

  • First, we were joined by eco-adventurer, film-maker and well-known anti-plastics advocate Alison Teal, also known as “the female Indiana Jones.” Alison was joined by Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, the Executive Director of international nonprofit 5 Gyres, for an intimate 1-on-1 discussion highlighting Alison’s worldwide travels, ongoing plastic reduction efforts, and educational outreach regarding plastic pollution in marine environments. The event showcased the work of a number of business and nonprofits working on plastics reduction through innovation and education. Film and photos were shared to emphasize her presentation and inspire conversation.
  • Two days later, we hosted a beach clean-up and a DIY workshop where participants could make their own plastic-free household items.
  • We also partnered with a local nonprofit organization to run a month-long #PlasticFreeChallenge on social media.

Impact: Over 100 attendees attended the Peace Out, Plastics lecture; 50 participants attended the beach clean-up; 20 participants attended our DIY workshop; 200 people participated in our online #PlasticFreeChallenge. Our social media presence was also greatly magnified during this wave, with 10’s of thousands of interactions across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Wave 4: Sustainable Agriculture

Event: Food & Farming: Front and Center
Location: LoaTree office
Guests: Elizabeth Poett, Rancho San Julian; Jesse Smith, Casitas Valley Farm; Chris Sayer, Petty Ranch; Sarah Nolan, The Abundant Table; Phil McGrath, McGrath Family Farms; Jonathan Reinbold, Organic Valley.
Program: Small panel that included local growers and officials.

We gathered a panel of growers from Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties to discuss organic farming, sustainable agriculture, the rise in regenerative ag. practices, and the future of food production in light of reduced water, changing climate, regulatory concerns and more.

Our objective was to provide local farmers the opportunity to connect with policymakers and elected officials in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties about topics of agricultural sustainability and viability in order to ‘push the needle’ on local food & farming policy.

Impact: This event sold out with 30 participants, sparking an important conversation between farmers & ranchers and a number of policymakers and other influencers working to make a difference in local food systems efforts.

Wave 5: Art as Activism

Events: The Intersection of Art and Social Change for People and Planet // Hands-On Art Workshop: Symbols for the New Resistance
Location: La Casa de la Raza
Guests: Renowned artist & activist Favianna Rodriguez and local artist & educator Gabriel Cárdenas
Program: A public lecture, followed by a hands-on workshop

For our final Better World Series event, we explored art as a powerful medium for positive social and environmental change with internationally renowned artist, cultural advocate, and community organizer Favianna Rodriguez. Through personal stories and historical anecdotes, Favianna explained the crucial role of creative symbolism as a catalyst for creating change in the cultural, economic, and political realms. During the art workshop, participants created their own ‘symbols for a better world’ based off of the findings that were just presented to them by Favianna.

Impact: The digital reach of this event was our highest to date for the Better World Series, reaching nearly 17,000 people just through Facebook. The 40 community members who attended this event were students, teachers, mothers, community influencers, businessmen & women, and others.

In Conclusion…

This year’s Series served as a pilot program to remind our community (and our own team) of the profound impact we can have when we come together. Through our five waves, we brought together community leaders and like-minded individuals to rally support for the issue areas and topics we felt strongly towards.

As we gear up for inevitable challenges that lay ahead, we must all continue to lean on each other for continued support and inspiration.

The Better World Series was honored to have two flagship sponsors. These were Fielding Graduate University and the Santa Barbara Independent, without whom our series would not have been possible. In addition, year-long in-kind support was provided by Explore Ecology, Green Project Consultants, Rincon Brewery, and Welcome Coffee Cart.

A number of additional sponsors supported individual Waves of the series.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of this project!

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