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MOCA Climate Conversations: Urban Ecologies

Tom Wudl, Verde (detail), 1972. Acrylic and gold leaf on perforated rice paper, 92 1/2 x 52 in. (234.95 x 132.08 cm) The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Gift of Beatrice and Philip Gersh © Tom Wudl. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA. Photo by Jeff McLane

MOCA Climate Conversations: Urban Ecologies

Environmental Council

Open to all, the MOCA Climate Conversations series seeks to create a space for collective learning and dialogue, providing a platform for engaging with pressing topics, fostering awareness, and inspiring action around the diverse facets of climate, culture, and environmental justice. Events are free with advance registration.

Attendees of Urban Ecologies will engage in two thought-provoking sessions. Session One: Beyond Awareness: Mobilizing Cities for Climate Change looks at the role that urban areas play in the magnification and mitigation of the climate crisis. Session Two: Resilience and Resistance: Developing Communities of Care focuses on systems of support and dialogue through activism, environmental justice, and artistic practice.

Session 1: Beyond Awareness: Mobilizing Cities for Climate Change    12–2:15 pm

When home is next to an oil refinery
Sitting 15 miles South of Downtown, Los Angeles' Wilmington neighborhood is invisible by design. The community, which is 96% non-white, is home to the largest concentration of oil production west of Texas. While the neighborhood, the oil beneath it, and the port that butts against it keep the nation's second-largest city running, Wilmington residents receive cancer diagnoses at a rate three times higher than the U.S. average. In this presentation, environmental justice reporter Adam Mahoney, who moved to the community when he was six, explains how U.S. cities survive by sacrificing their most marginalized. A short Q&A with Wilmington-based environmental organizer Alicia Rivera will follow.
Speakers: Adam Mahoney, Alicia Rivera

How can cities be solutions to climate change?
Cities are at the frontlines of climate change impacts such as heatwaves, flash floods, and power outages. Today, 1.6 billion people are exposed to extreme urban heat. By 2100, this number is expected to increase to 7.6 billion. Within cities, heat exposure is unequally distributed and most severely impacts the urban poor, historically redlined neighborhoods, and communities of color. Not only are cities vulnerable to climate change, but they are also major drivers of climate change. Cities generate approximately 75% of global greenhouse emissions and their share of global emissions will increase due to trends in urban population and infrastructure growth. Between now and 2050, the world will add another 2.5 billion people to cities. If we are to limit global warming, cities must play a critical role in mitigating climate change. In this talk, Karen Seto discusses how cities can build resilience and be part of the solution to climate change.
Speakers: Karen Seto

Lunch 2:15–3:15
A plant-based food truck will be parked on Grand Avenue with food available for purchase, as well as at the museum cafe Lemonade and nearby Cal Marketplace and Grand Central Market.

Session 2: Resilience and Resistance: Developing Communities of Care 3:15–5:15 pm

MOCA Teens Activation
The MOCA Teens will share about two artist-led workshops this Fall that centered on environmental justice, ecology, and sustainability including zine-making with comic artist Aidan Koch and participation in Procession, a walking performance initiated by artists Debra Scacco and Joel Garcia. The MOCA Teen Program brings high school juniors and seniors behind the scenes to learn about the museum, contemporary art, artists, and other creative careers. The program is an academic-year-long, paid position teaching teens about the work of the museum by directly involving them in it.

Being Kuuyam
How do kuuyam, or “guests” in the Tongva language, engage in practices of land acknowledgment, reciprocity, and care? What are the protocols for being a visitor and guest in unceded Tongva land? Embracing resistance and solidarity with native land protectors and stewards, this conversation will explore creativity and the connection to the land through the lens of what it means to be kuuyam. Artist Carolina Caycedo will be in conversation with curator Daniela Lieja Quintanar, exploring the link between art, environment, community, and belonging.
Speakers: Carolina Caycedo, Daniela Lieja Quintanar

Creating Communities: A Black Girl Environmentalist Roundtable
Women experience climate change with disproportionate severity because enforced gender inequality makes them more susceptible to escalating environmental stresses. Countless studies demonstrate that Black girls, women, and gender-expansive people are among the last to recover during times of environmental crisis and the least supported in the green workforce. Members of the national capacity-building organization Black Girl Environmentalist will discuss building communities of care and a more diverse climate movement.
Speakers: Wawa Gatheru, Nicole Steele, Ki’Amber Thompson

Part of MOCA’s environmental programming, MOCA Climate Conversations are organized by Kelsey Shell, Environmental and Sustainability Strategist, with Alitzah Oros, Public Programming Associate, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Highlighting the museum’s work around climate, conservation, and environmental justice, MOCA’s environmental programs are guided by the work of the MOCA Environmental Council, the first sustainability council at a major arts museum in the United States. The environmental programs present artists, activists, and scholars committed to critical ecological issues in Los Angeles and globally.

The 2023 MOCA Climate Conversations are made possible by Nora McNeely Hurley and Manitou Fund.

About the Speakers:

Carolina Caycedo is a Colombian multidisciplinary artist living in Los Angeles. Through her studio practice and fieldwork with communities impacted by large-scale infrastructure and other extraction projects, she invites viewers to consider the unsustainable pace of growth under capitalism and how we might embrace resistance and solidarity. Caycedo is a 2023 United States Artists fellow, a 2023 Soros Art fellow, and the 2023–24 Getty Research Institute Artist in Residence.

Wawa Gatheru is the founder and Executive Director of Black Girl Environmentalist, the largest national organization dedicated to empowering Black girls and women in the climate sector. BGE has been recognized in Vogue, the New York Times, NPR, LA Times, Forbes, Fast Company, Essence, Teen Vogue, Axios, and more.

A Rhodes Scholar, Wawa is also a Public Voices Fellow on the Climate Crisis with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication & The OpEd Project. She sits on boards and advisory councils for Earth Justice, Climate Power, the Environmental Media Association, the National Parks Conservation Association, Sound Future, Good Energy, and Earth Percent.

Wawa has been recognized as a Glamour College Woman of the Year, a Grist 50 Fixer, a Young Futurist by The Root, a Gucci Changemaker, named a Climate Creator to Watch by Pique Action and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and has given keynotes around the world. In January 2023, musician Billie Eilish personally invited Wawa to join her on the first ever digital cover of Vogue alongside 7 other youth climate activists.

Adam Mahoney is the national climate and environment reporter at Capital B News. He was a 2022 national finalist for best community-centered journalism from the Online News Association for his project about the impact of oil production on the community where he grew up. He has reported from a dozen U.S. states, and in Uganda, Vietnam, and Palestine.

Daniela Lieja Quintanar is a curator and researcher originally from Mexico City. Her curatorial practice takes inspiration from everyday life, spaces of political struggle, and communal forms of knowledge production. She is the Chief Curator and Deputy Director, Programs at REDCAT Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater. Recently, she curated Lisa Alvarado: Pulse Meridian Foliation for REDCAT. From 2016-2022, Lieja Quintanar served as the Chief Curator and Director of Programming at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE). Some of her exhibitions at LACE included Intergalactix: against isolation/contra el aislamiento (2021), CAVERNOUS: Young Joon Kwak & Mutant Salon (2018) and Emory Douglas: Bold Visual Language (2018, co-curated with Essence Harden). In 2016, she coordinated Teresa Margolles’s La Sombra project for the Public Art Biennial CURRENT: LA Water. Lieja Quintanar was part of the curatorial team of the MexiCali Biennial (2018-19) and curatorial contributor to the PST: LA/LA exhibition, Below the Underground: Renegade Art and Action in 1990s Mexico at the Armory Center for the Arts (2017-18). In 2018, she was awarded the Andy Warhol Foundation Curatorial Research Grant. Lieja Quintanar has been part of the Los Angeles Tenants Union since its foundation, collaborating with the East Side local/Union de Vecinos.

Alicia Rivera is the Wilmington community organizer for the California environmental justice collective Communities for a Better Environment. Alicia has spearheaded efforts to make refineries in the area accountable for their pollution and has led campaigns to phase out oil drilling, support port truck drivers, and encourage the most impacted by pollution to raise their voices.

Karen Seto is the Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science at Yale University. A geographer and urbanization scientist, she is one of the world’s leading experts on how urbanization will affect the planet. She is an expert in satellite remote sensing analysis, cities and climate change, and has more than twenty-five years of research experience in Asia. Her research has made discoveries on how urbanization will affect climate change, food systems, and biodiversity.

Professor Seto was a Coordinating Lead Author for two United Nations Climate Change Reports, and led the chapters on how cities can mitigate climate change for the 5 th and 6 th Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2014 and 2022, respectively. She is currently co-chair of the National Academies’ Climate Security Roundtable, established by the direction of Congress to help better understand and anticipate the ways climate change affects U.S. national security interests.

The recipient of numerous awards, Professor Seto has been one of the world’s most highly cited researchers every year since 2018. She is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, the Council on Foreign Relations, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is the author of City Unseen (Yale Press) and Executive Producer of the documentary, “10,000 Shovels: Urbanization in China.” Prior to joining Yale, she was faculty at Stanford from 2000 to 2008. Professor Seto holds a PhD in Geography from Boston University.

Nicole Steele is the Health Equity Program Director at the Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI) where she creates and directs programming addressing what's needed for folks to have equitable access to healthy food and climate resilient environments. She helped expand SJLI’s Health Equity Programming to include nutrition education with a focus on advocacy, establishing Inglewood’s first community-supported agriculture and farmers market, and free produce distribution programs with rescued produce. Her dedication to this work began as a Baltimore transplant and Inglewood resident who has experienced firsthand the frustrations of living in an area that lacked access to healthy food. Nicole’s work with SJLI began with the creation of the 100 Seeds of Change Initiative, which helped build over 100 gardens in Inglewood and the surrounding areas.

Ki’Amber Thompson is a creator, abolitionist environmental justice educator, healing justice practitioner, and Sociology doctoral student at the University of California Santa Cruz. Their work is invested in how we might heal our relationships with ourselves, each other, and the more-than-human world through abolitionist praxis. Ki’Amber is the founder and director of the Charles Roundtree Bloom Project, an outdoor healing justice program for youth impacted by policing and incarceration in her hometown, Yanguana/San Antonio, Texas. The Bloom Project identifies the prison industrial complex and climate change as two of the most significant issues of our time, and the Bloom Projects addresses these issues by creating spaces of communal healing for youth to connect with the land, with themselves, and with each other, and imagining and practicing toward a more just and sustainable world.

Ki’Amber previously co-led a youth water education and testing program with Fresh Water Future and the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Michigan, which ultimately led to the first community lab in Flint, Michigan. She also worked at the Ocean Conservation through the RAY Fellowship, where she contributed to environmental justice storytelling and policy initiatives. Ki’Amber has been recognized through several awards including Grist 50 Fixers and EE 30 Under 30.