UW Focus the Nation-January 31, 2008

Start Date/Time: Thursday, January 31, 2008, 10:00 AM
Ending Date/Time: Thursday, January 31, 2008, 9:00 PM
Location: Husky Union Building, Kane Hall

“The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”
--Winston Churchill (1936) as applied by Tom Ackerman to the climate change problem.


Graduate students Brian Smoliak and Mark Zelinka explain the Earth's hydrological cycle at the Atmospheric Sciences exhibit in the HUB auditorium on January 31. Photo credit: UW News.

UW Focus the Nation featured a Climate Café, seven panel discussions, two plenary lectures and exhibitions that covered a broad range of the types of solutions that are needed to reduce the climate change problem. The evening focus at Kane Hall was on the role that government plays in climate solutions, introduced by President Mark Emmert, attended in person by State Senator Phil Rockefeller, Mayor Greg Nickels, and King County Executive Ron Sims, with taped comments of Representative Jay Inslee. Representative Fred Jarrett was also to join us, but was ill and could not attend.

Event notes, audio/visual of the townhall, seminars and panel discussions are being processed. We hope to have these available through the PCC office or on-line soon. See side bar for links to plenary session (Ackerman and Domke) slide presentations.

Approximately 125 individuals came together as volunteers, exhibitors, panelists, note takers, and more, to give the day great depth and breadth.

Who were some of the key players who gave much time and energy?

LuAnne Thompson, Associate Professor of Oceanography and Interim Director of the Program on Climate Change, who led the effort, organized the speakers and panels, and inspired all with her dedication to the event.

Rehana Lanewala, a graduate research assistant from the School of Marine Affairs, started working with Luanne Thompson on the project in late August, and whose enthusiasm and energy continues.

Brian Smoliak went to the original organizing meetings in Portland, Oregon and Las Vegas, and whose name surfaces in just about every event and volunteer opportunity associated with the UW Focus event.

Stephanie Harrington, Executive Director of UW Earth Initiative, created bridges to the UW central administration.

Carl Sander, Public Programs Manager at the Burke Museum, took charge of organizing the exhibitors and the exhibition space.

JR Fulton, Project Manager of UW Capital Projects, stepped up from the very start of the organization of this event, bringing his experience and efforts to bear on the project, posting 100+ Focus the Nation posters in the dorms.

Linda Maxson, Director of Development & Community Relations, College of Ocean & Fishery Sciences who provided her advice and assistance in developing relationships with external organizations.

Kate Stoll, graduate student in Biochemistry was always ready to step up and help with details for planning and implimenting UW Focus. She also interfaced with FOSEP and organized note taking in all of the panels.

Michelle Townsend, student advisor/coordinator in the School of Oceanography, connected the project to student advisors across campus, and represented the project at campus events. Michelle also took the day to participate as an exhibitor.

Pamela Emerson, Eli Levitt and Eden Trenor from City of Seattle Climate Action Now (CAN) Campaign who engaged community and student groups in providing actions that individuals can take to combat global warming in the Climate Action Café.

Miriam Bertram, Program Manager for the UW Program on Climate Change, who stood by to assist and provide support where needed.

There were panelists, note takers, mediators, ushers, 22 groups represented in the exhibition space, 26 groups participating in the Climate Action Café, and more, who cannot all be listed, but without whom this event could not have happened. Thank you all.

A final note: The January 31, 2008 Focus the Nation activities at the University of Washington were a “top down” effort, created largely by faculty and community panelists and speakers, staff and faculty organizers, and volunteers from all parts of campus. The next step lies in the hands of the students to build upon this event. Follow-up at Earth Day, create a Climate Day, use your energy and imagination to work towards solutions. The university community is here to support you.

Additional comments from participants:

“…(David Domke) was very inspirational and funny. His main focus was that students need to get involved like they were in the 60's-70's with protests and demonstrations to create an image for the movement by taking specific actions rather than remain apathetic. This struck a chord with me because the green movement is still largely undefined in terms of who is going to really push for change and this speaker made the point that college students, when united, have had and can have a very large impact and combined leadership ability. The exhibition was also very informative for me because it gave me many ideas on how I could make small changes in my life to reduce my impact, such as only buying from companies who are environmentally conscious. I also attended the panel discussion which I thought was really great as well. Having local leaders tell you face to face that they are working towards this solving this issue was comforting. It was also really informative to hear them talk about the specifics of what they are doing and plan to do.

Overall, I think the conference was informative, inspiring and brought together a community of people working towards a common goal. This helped me realize that I am not alone, and gave me a renewed sense of hope that we can win the battle against climate change.”

-Alan Wright
UW undergraduate and student coordinator for UW WASHpirg

“Thanks for the invite, LuAnne! I watched the town hall meeting last night from home. It was wonderful to see President Emmert acknowledge you. You really did a wonderful job. I'm so proud to work in Oceanography, because of people like you.”
-Michelle Townsend, Student Services Coordinator for the School of Oceanography.

"I .. wanted to .. congratulate you on the results of all your hard work regarding the UW Focus the Nation event. It was well-organized, came off without a hitch, and offered a true diversity of opinions on many subjects. I learned some important things from the morning lectures and afternoon panels, and I know my students did as well."
-Scott Montgomery
Lecturer, Jackson School of International Studies