Sustainability for the Future

In February, Executive Director Arianna Murphy traveled to Arizona as a fellow invited to attend ASU’s Sustainability in Science Museums workshop. She joined approximately 20 other international fellows from all around the globe, including Egypt, Brazil, the Netherlands, and a handful from around the United States. These representatives come from a variety of backgrounds–science museums, nature centers, and zoos–but all have the same vision to incorporate sustainability efforts in their work.

Sustainability can be defined as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the future.

ASU’s Sustainability in Science Museums Fellows 2018

Before attending the workshop, Arianna and the other attendees were tasked with some homework. They were tasked with going on a modified “Futurescape City Tour,” which encouraged them to walk around their cities and take photographs which reflected sustainability emerging, breaking down, or areas of opportunity.

Madison has a reputation as a relatively “green” city. Each summer, the Farmer’s Market turns the Capitol square into a microcosm of sustainability in action. The bike paths offer easy transportation access for many biking commuters.


Dane County Farmers’ Market. Photo by Ron Wiecki via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

But our city has areas where we see sustainability breaking down, too. Too many cars contribute to a clogged up Beltline and parking woes. And construction around the Square seems never-ending.

During ASU’s workshop, organizers helped attendees develop ideas that can be implemented in their respective organizations. Arianna was able to reflect on how the Museum is a part of our city’s culture, and therefore we have a great opportunity to help educate and empower the community to take action and use our resources wisely.

Locally in Madison, we’re situated between two beautiful lakes, and the entire state of Wisconsin is nestled in the treasured Great Lakes region. So it makes sense for the Museum to help increase public understanding and interest in sustainability action through the exploration of water.

Madison skyline across Lake Mendota

Arianna is leading the Museum in developing a new Pop-up exhibit focusing on the exploration of groundwater, drinking water, and the science of aquifers. Long-term goals also include continued networking with the Water Council, Madison’ local water utility, and researchers like the Clean Lakes Alliance, River Alliance, and Nelson Institute. The goal is to establish a network of awareness that will filter out into the public to bring about change in the community.

The Arizona landscape is vastly different from Wisconsin. Arianna mentioned her awe at the cactuses everywhere, and the fact that it can take 10 years for a cactus to grow a couple of inches. Whether you look for beauty in the Arizona desert, the lush rainforests of Brazil, or Wisconsin’s glacial lakes, it’s clear that we need to be doing a better job at preserving the unique resources that are around us.

How do you incorporate sustainability in your daily life?

Arianna Murphy, WSM executive director

Posted by wiscimuseum

homegrown discoveries.

1 comment

Zack Robbins

Nice piece! Way to go Ari and Mariel. -z

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