2020 Smith Nature Symposium

A More Just and Sustainable Future

Business-as-usual will not suffice. Now is the time to create a stronger and more resilient future. As part of this year’s Smith Nature Symposium, we will be offering a five-part series of live streamed conversations to explore a more just and sustainable future in the aftermath of COVID-19. The series begins in August, and culminates in the Smith Nature Symposium Awards Ceremony on Friday, October 9, with our 2020 honorees: Bill McKibben and Sue Halpern.

“Since we must rebuild our economies, we need to try to engineer out as much ecological havoc and inequality as we can…From a society that has prized growth above all and been willing to play fast and loose with justice and ecology, we need to start emphasizing sturdiness, hardiness, resiliency.”
– Bill McKibben


Smith Nature Symposium Series Live-Streamed Programs

AUGUST 13, 2pm CDT
Our Future Speaks

Featured Speakers: Youth from Cool Learning Experience

The Smith Nature Symposium opens with the most important voices in this series: our future. Young leaders from Cool Learning Experience, a distinguished environmental education program and partner with Brushwood Center, share their vision for a more just and sustainable future using art and poetry. Click here for more information.


AUGUST 27, 2pm CDT
Essential Water

An Artist and Biochemist Explore the Beauty of Water and Danger of Pollutants

Speakers: Arica Hilton, Janet Angel Welch,
and Gail Sturm (Moderator)

From biochemist Janet Angel’s powerful invention to transform oil spills into food for
marine life, to artist Arica Hilton’s art advocacy for the oceans, you will not want to miss their
underwater stories of life’s most critical resource. This panel is moderated by Gail Sturm, Chair
of the Brushwood Center Board of Directors. Click here for more information.


SEPTEMBER 3, 2pm CDT
It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

Reducing Floods, Healing Ecosystems, and Protecting Human Health through Natural Solutions

Speakers: Elena Grossman, Vidya Venkataramanan,
Aaron Feggestad, and Ted Haffner (Moderator)

It’s raining, it’s pouring, there’s no time for snoring. The global implications of climate change reverberate in our homes and communities in the form of floods, impacted ecosystems, and increased public health threats. Join this dynamic conversation to learn how we collectively address these challenges. Click here for more information.


SEPTEMBER 10, 2pm CDT
Renewable Energy Surges

Policies, Practices, and Implications of Renewable Energy in Illinois

Speakers: Craig Sieben, Kelly Shelton, Jen Walling, and John Wasik (Moderator)

During the COVID-19 crisis, the fossil fuel industry crashed while clean energy remained both
economically and environmentally resilient. Transitioning to renewable energy is critical to
solving the climate crisis and addressing environmental injustices linked to fossil fuel pollution.
llinois ranks second in the Midwest for installed renewable power capacity. This roundtable will
explore the future of renewable energy from the private and public sector, current incentives,
and policy needs. Click here for more information.


SEPTEMBER 17, 2pm CDT
Environmental Justice

Advocacy and Education for Clean Power in Lake County

Speakers: Celeste Flores and Dulce Ortiz

Clean Power Lake County organizes within frontline environmental justice communities to shift Lake County to healthy, renewable energy and to achieve the self-determination of immigrant, low-income, and working-class families. This community-driven coalition is committed to local action to secure environmental, economic, and racial justice. Learn about the power of this effort from the leaders of Clean Power Lake County. Click here for more information.


SEPTEMBER 24, 2pm CDT
Healing Spaces

The Power of Nature Inside and Out

Speakers: Bill Sturm, Maria Smithburg, and Martha Twaddle (Moderator)

Nature permeates beyond our forest preserves and parks into our homes, communities and businesses. The elements of natural design create vital conditions for human health and wellbeing. Join this conversation moderated by Martha Twaddle, nationally-renowned palliative care physician, to learn how nature-based design and healing garden elements can manifest in our own lives and communities through the examples and stories of our featured speakers. Click here for more information.


OCTOBER 9, 2PM CDT
Award Ceremony

Smith Nature Symposium live-streamed program with Sue Halpern and Bill McKibben 2020 Environmental Leadership Award Recipients

With Masters of Ceremonies Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra and Surprise Guest Appearances for Q & A. Click here for more information on our 2020 Awardees.


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