As a child, I absolutely loved the National Geographic. From the television channel to the magazine, I wanted to work for National Geographic. It is actually the only thing that has matched my drive to work for NASA.
This year, I am lucky enough to live near Washington D.C., which is where Nat Geo (short for National Geographic) is headquartered. I discovered the #NatGeoFest trending on Twitter and learned that the festival took place from June 11-17th. I checked out their website immediately and bought tickets for the festival later that evening.
Friday, “Party for the Planet”
On Friday, Nat Geo hosted a “Party for the Planet” ($25/ticket). Attendees made a “Plastic or Planet” pledge, which we had to post on Twitter, and in return received a reusable goody bag containing a Swell water bottle, glass straws, and a little note on Nat Geo’s “Party for the Planet” event. There were drinks for purchase, with specialty cocktails for the event, including this yummy blue vodka cocktail (Yay to finally being 21!). They also provided free snacks and there were sustainable food trucks to purchase dinner.
In the evening, the Houston-based band “The Suffers” played for an hour and a half and… This band was amazing! They pride themselves on being an eclectic group by playing their “Gulf coast sound,” which features genres like reggae, R&B soul, hip hop, and jazz. Their band includes a trumpet, trombone, percussion, keyboard, bass, guitar, drums, and vocals. I absolutely loved their sound! It was so unique and, to me, was the highlight of the party.
After “The Suffers” finished their lineup, I ended up leaving the party early and walked around downtown D.C. at night – I wanted to see the monuments lit up at night.
Saturday, “Saving Ourselves From Ourselves: Solutions for Creating a Planet in Balance”
Saturday was the main event that I was excited for. Tickets for this event were $50, but I received a student discount so that it was only $25. Throughout the day, Nat Geo hosted several panel discussions that covered specific topics. It was hosted by NBC News correspondent Stephanie Ruhle and Nat Geo Explorer Kenny Broad; they were very personable hosts.
The day began with a discussion about “What Tipped the Scale?” It included panelists Victoria Herrmann, Emma Marris, Leland Melvin, Andrew Revkin, and Iain Stewart. These panelists discussed the tipping point for climate change, where some argued that we had already passed the tipping point and others argued that we are in the tipping point right now. Many of the panelists referred to a specific region of the planet that is already experiencing the brunt of climate change, such as places like Greenland and the Amazon rainforests. It was an interesting discussion that ultimately lead into the next panel, which discussed “What Does Balance Look Like?”
The panelists in the second discussion “What Does Balance Look Like?” included Mustafa Ali, Jonathan Baillie, Jessica Cramp, Natalie Kofler, and Ian Urbina. This discussion analyzed how humans are reaching an overpopulation of the planet Earth and that many of the people on this planet are experiencing environmental injustice. Mustafa Ali discussed how many Houstonians are living in areas where they cannot breathe because the air is so polluted from the oil refineries, and he analyzed the fact that many environmental injustices happen to those who don’t have a voice and need more representation on how to battle climate change.
In between panels the attendees had lunch, which was provided to us by Nat Geo with our ticket. During lunch we sat at tables while Nat Geo employees lead a table discussion. We discussed how climate change was impacting where we lived, which was interesting to hear because there were individuals from California, Canada, Arizona (myself), Virginia, and Washington D.C. We also discussed how we can live more sustainable lives and reduce our plastic, particularly single-use plastic (like water bottles and straws).
The third panel discussed “How Far Can Tech Get Us?” with panelists Cory Doctorow, David Gruber, Arthur Huang, Laura Sydell, and Jessika Trancik. One of the panelists in this discussion was from SolarCity, who distributes solar panels to homeowners. He argued that solar energy, along with wind, could sustain our entire planet and make fossil fuels obsolete. Another panelist made products, like jackets and tables, from old single-use plastic items (ie, plastic bottles). It was also discussed that technology cannot solve all of our problems. At some point, humanity has to let nature be natural.
Finally, the last panel was about “Ignite Change,” with panelists Vicki Arroyo, Dekila Chungyalpa, Susan Goldberg, Heather Koldewey, and Lyndon Rive. This panel discussed how humans must come together to create a plan for saving our planet. Of course, there is no real consensus on how this should be done, which is our main challenge.
Overall, I quite enjoyed the day of panels and listening to what others are thinking about as possible solutions to climate change and what I can do in my life to help curb this phenomena.
I had planned to go to Nat Geo Fest on Sunday, which was the “FURTHER Film Festival,” but I had neglected all of my responsibilities all weekend and my homework and housework piled up, so I ended up not being able to go.
Even after all these year, I still have a passion for science and environmental journalism and communications, which is why I have always loved the National Geographic. I am so lucky to have been able to attend the festival this year and I hope that, someday, I will be able to work for this amazing organization.
Thank you for reading! Do you like National Geographic as much as I do? Have you ever been to Nat Geo Fest? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!
That’s a really interesting concept… “let nature be natural”. At what point did they suggest we need to stop relying on technology to solve our problems so this can happen?? I try to do everything I can to reduce my plastic footprint – glass straws, reusable bottles and tupperware, no plastic bags, etc.. But I’m always looking for ways to get better at that, I never considered doing “recyclable” things that aren’t made possible by technology in the first place…
The discussion about “let nature be natural” was about stopping the use of technology in regards to controlling National Parks, both on land and in water, as well as to not rely on technology to solve all of our problems. As humans, we think that we can develop something that will solve all of our problems. However, we easily forget the benefits of nature and its ability to take care of itself. It’s a concept that doesn’t rely on humans to recycle or develop new technology but instead turns to nature to thrive in its “natural” state of being. Fish, dolphins, sharks, and all aquatic flora and fauna can take care of themselves without technology (and if humans don’t interfere with them and their ecosystem), so the concept it to just let them be — “let nature be natural.” It may or may not work since humans have touched or impacted nearly every corner of this planet, but taking humans out of the equation, it’s an interesting concept.
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