OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Anthropocene Dialogues

a "performed journalism" event series that showcases some of the most innovative sustainability entrepreneurs and thinkers in the world.

Photo of Kathy Kohm
8 11

Written by

Anthropocene is a digital, print, and live magazine in which the world’s most creative writers, designers, scientists, and entrepreneurs explore how we can create a sustainable human age we actually want to live in.

The magazine is now launched. We have published our first print issue with world-renowned journalists; we have launched a dynamic website and begun building a paying member base; and we’ve established “Anthropocene Science Dispatches,” a weekly e-newsletter that goes out to over 13,000 sustainability professionals around the globe.  

The missing piece is a "live" component. We're seeking funding to take our stories from page to stage humanizing and personalizing sustainability innovations. From a Nepalese engineer who has created artificial glaciers to provide a reliable water supply for rural farmers to designers turning ocean trash into athletic shoes, our mission is to craft an overarching narrative about what a more positive Anthropocene could look like.

Our theory of change is all about creating stories to amplify and scale the promising and innovative solutions to our most difficult environmental and social challenges.

Explain your idea

The people pushing the boundaries of sustainability thinking and science don’t easily fit in traditional molds. They come from diverse disciplines, locations, and sectors of society; they are inherently optimistic, and they tend to be more pragmatic than ideological. One might be a young engineer who has devised a new formula for cement that is carbon negative; another might be a fisher designing self-guiding mobile fish farms that dramatically reduce aquaculture pollution; and still another might be a designer creating public art that provides a city with clean water.

This is the kind of eclectic group that we will recognize and profile in an annual special issue and event series entitled Anthropocene Dialogues—presented by Future Earth Media Lab’s flagship publication, Anthropocene Magazine.

Events will blend the latest sustainability science and technology with video, art, and music to nudge audiences to think about and respond to global environmental challenges in novel ways. It’s part of a new genre, dubbed “performed journalism,” which has consistently drawn sellout crowds for pioneers such as PopUp Magazine in California and Zetland Live in Europe. Producing the stories will look a lot like science journalism—rigorous reporting, fact checking, and professional editing; delivering them will look more like theater—creating an immersive experience that is equal parts emotional and intellectual.

The challenge of the Anthropocene is to find a way to negotiate change sustainably. Anthropocene Dialogues sits squarely at the intersection of Prosperity and Planet. We curate ingenuity—providing a stage and magnifying the impact of the best environmental and social and solutions around the world.

Who Benefits?

The impact of a good idea depends on who hears it.

The first beneficiaries of Anthropocene Dialogues are the immediate audience—highly networked individuals in government, NGOs, and academia with the capacity to turn ideas into action.

The second beneficiaries are the innovators we highlight. The people with the best ideas need a global stage. By becoming the premier gathering place for sustainability thinking, we can amplify the tremendous creativity in the field—and, if we do our job well, connect ideas bubbling up on the frontiers to mainstream public and private investment.

The ultimate beneficiaries however are communities around the world that need innovations and technologies to forge a sustainable and prosperous future. From fishermen to farmers to urban dwellers, people are looking to better their lives and their communities through greater yields, cleaner water, energy access, and better health.

How is your idea unique?

There are thought leader publications in other fields - Foreign Policy for the diplomatic world, Harvard Business Review for the Financial World, MIT Technology Review for Silicon Valley. But there has been nothing to date for sustainability. Anthropocene, and Anthropocene Dialogues fill that space.

Our world-class partnerships will make this tick: Anthropocene Magazine, working with Future Earth, Future Earth Media Lab and Globaïa, has access to top journalists and data visualization experts to produce the stories. Veteran journalist Flora Lichtman will act as host; and the documentary team BDSJS.com will produce video distillations to extend the experience through time. Together, we can build and produce stories that reach millions of curious people—online, in print, on stage. Our long game is to create a working model that we can scale globally through the Future Earth Media Lab—amplifying the message and impact of the GHR Foundation investment.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

Anthropocene is an initiative of Future Earth, the largest sustainability science consortium in the world; and it is being built in partnership with the Future Earth Media Lab based at the Stockholm Resilience Center.

Our advisory board includes veterans such as Andrew Revkin of NYT and now ProPublica, Frances Cairncross, former editor of the Economist, James Fahn, director of Earth Journalism Network, and David Biello, science curator for TED talks.

Our funding strategy is a three-legged stool. First, Anthropocene is reader-supported journalism. 30% of our operating costs comes from people who believe that it is time to start talking about environmental solutions, not just problems. Second, organizations and businesses also support Anthropocene through sponsorships. Third, Anthropocene’s initial launch was made possible with the support from the US National Science Foundation, John D. and the Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

8 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Kristin Powell
Team

This is great. People are hungry for good journalism, and this program seems to be coming in strong with a lot of credibility and a fresh idea. Reminds me of a more curated, journalistic version of something like Bright Club in the UK (and maybe Guy Raz could host (: ). Kathy, excited to see this manifest.

Photo of Daniel Evans
Team

I like it! I'm thinking TED Talks but with greater variety of art form. TED talks have pretty nerdy information content but have been remarkably successful largely because of outstanding, stylized communications. I think the Anthropocene Dialogues will also be successful at reaching people who are hungry to learn, be entertained, and discover hopeful solutions. As a pragmatic sustainability professional, I'd especially like to see the Anthropocene Dialogues emphasize next steps, action items, what-can-I-do.

Photo of Doug Levey
Team

I very much like the vision. It seems to me that the missing piece is how to turn the "performance journalism" into true conversations -- back-and-forth communication that takes ideas and people to new and unexpected places.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Kathy!

Interesting project! Am I right in thinking that Future Earth was established in 2015?

What would this project look like over 1,2 and 3 years?

Photo of Kathy Kohm
Team

Yes, you're correct. Future Earth was established in 2015--and Anthropocene magazine was launched in October 2016.
In 2-3 years, I hope we will have established a sound footing for the Anthropocene Diaglogues brand —that is we will be known as the go-to-place for creative, evidence-based solutions to big sustainability problems. And, we'll have the sponsorship (and perhaps ticket sales) to expand it to multiple shows over the course of a year in different locations around the world.

Photo of Kirsten Rowell
Team

This type of personal interaction and live conversation makes solution creation so much more dynamic! I wonder if this could travel with tour themes?

Photo of Wendy
Team

Digital media today requires multiple dimensions: a live component to Anthropocene will enhance its access to new audiences, bringing vibrant stories to busy people.

Photo of Jon
Team

Anthropocene is a fascinating read in the way it pulls in stories of creative solutions to our collective crisis and in challenging conventional 'group' thinking on the big issues we are facing. It would be fantastic to see this magazine become more multi-dimensional in how it communicates-- through a performed journalism approach.