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Julie Says

Sep 01, 2018 10:54AM ● By Julie Ross

Julie Ross


We are drowning in alarming and depressing news of climate change. There are massive islands of trash in the ocean. We continually hear of bills and legislative maneuvers being introduced to erode or strip away environmental protections.


The relentless negative messaging in the media has been criticized as having paralyzing effects, thus rendering it counterproductive. But does that mean we shouldn’t have the facts?


The lead sidebar of an article appearing last year in the not-for-profit academic media outlet The Conversation reads: “Climate Gloom and Doom? Bring it on. But we need stories about taking action, too.”


The article was written by Jon Christiansen, an assistant adjunct professor and a founder of the Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. Christiansen praised the brilliance of the approach in California of “linking dystopian vision to what needs to be done to prevent it from becoming real.” Christiansen calls this “the California way: sunny with a chance of apocalypse” (which I liked so much I stole it for the headline of this column).


I encourage you to read Christiansen’s article, which you can find online by going to and typing “Jon Christiansen” in the search bar. I found it uplifting to read about the significant work being done to develop powerful and positive conservation stories -- stories that can pull us up from the depths of pessimism and despondency.


In the spirit of looking on the sunny side, I am sharing information here about an inspirational speaker series called “Conservation Icons,” launched in November 2017 that continues to reawaken hope and optimism for the future of our environment. “Conservation Icons” is the brainchild of Cheryl McCormick, Ph.D., the executive director of Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek. Cheryl invited colleagues, old and new, who are personal conservation heroes and longtime friends to share their work in wildlife conservation as a reminder of why the human connection to wildlife is so vitally connected to our own survival as a species and to provide examples of how individually and collectively we can take steps toward long-lasting positive change. As Cheryl says, “You will leave these presentations with your brain engaged, your spirit rejuvenated, and your mind inspired.”


I have been to see most of the “Conservation Icons” speakers and had the wonderful experience of learning from leading conservation experts about everything from woodpeckers to wolves and from eagles to orcas -- I can assure you Cheryl speaks the truth about the power of these speakers to educate, entertain and to motivate.


The majority of the events are held in the large Manzanita Room on the ground floor of Lindsay Wildlife in Walnut Creek. Premiere speakers commanding larger audiences appear at the Lesher Center. You can check out the schedule of upcoming speakers and purchase tickets ($10 for Lindsay members and $15 general admission; more for premiere events) at Money raised supports the care of the live animal ambassadors who reside at Lindsay.


There are some really great presentations coming up. Take a look at the schedule and reserve your tickets soon – these events tend to sell out quickly!


You can reach Julie at [email protected]