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We invite you to get to know our faculty better as our teachers share their experiences working with PK-12 students at Shady Side Academy on the Faculty Blog. Each post is written by a different member of our faculty throughout the school year, spanning different campuses, grades and disciplines.

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Al Gore’s Climate Reality Training: A Moment in the History of Sustainability

by Gianna Fazioli, Director of SSA Farms  

Gianna FazioliLast week at Al Gore’s 36th Climate Reality Project training I stood amongst many other professionals who are concerned about our changing climate. This three-day training took place in Pittsburgh and was his largest training in the last ten years. Gore started these project trainings in an effort to create a global solution to the climate crisis through collective actions across various levels of society. Choosing Pittsburgh as the destination for this momentous training was also very intentional. Pittsburgh was chosen as the city to come together in and discuss our changing climate because of its historical significance in building our country through the industrial revolution and through commitment to providing products like steel and aluminum. After the collapse of many of these industries, Pittsburgh was resilient and re-built itself with a new and innovative economy. Mayor Peduto resonated these ideas in his opening talk. He spoke largely about his commitment to creating a city that is incredibly livable, healthy and resilient. He also spoke about his commitment to creating sustainable systems within the city. This, along with a panel representative of many community leaders working to better the social, environmental and economic sustainability. 

Surrounded by nearly 1,500 people from all around the world, it was amazing to witness the David L. Lawrence Convention Center full of the energy and motivation that this group of people brought around creating a more sustainable world. I felt admiration and hope when I looked around the room. I believe that designing our culture around sustaining future generations is incredibly important and that as leaders and educators we can provide a space to communicate about how to adapt to changes in our climate and in our environment. We were assigned tables based on what region of the world we are from. At our tables, we brainstormed collaborative regional projects and the mission behind starting a Pittsburgh chapter of this larger global project. We then listened to panelists from different fields, including the leading climate scientists and academics. The opportunity to hear from them as well as network with local colleagues provided a strong foundation for us to become leaders in talking about climate related issues and topics.

The overall experience was very meaningful to me as a professional who has studied sustainability for the last seven years. Al Gore’s first Climate Reality Project film, “The Inconvenient Truth” came out right before I graduated from high school. Ten years later, I watched the sequel to this film, but this time I watched it as a sustainability professional, with several years of on the ground work under my belt. Climate change as a concept and sustainability are what brought me to Pittsburgh and to Chatham, the alma mater of the famous Rachel Carson. Carson’s quote, “If a child is to keep alive their inborn sense of wonder...they need the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with them the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” I think about this concept every time a student has an “ah-ha” moment in the garden or when a group of inspired third graders come to me with their idea of starting a garden club at the Junior School. It is my responsibility, and my honor, to be that adult for them. I hope to take what I learned from this training and be a supportive mentor for students who will be our leaders in sustainability in the future.

I am excited to be able to be a leader in sustainability at our academy. I look forward to sharing the communication tools I learned at this training with our students, faculty, staff and the larger SSA community!

 

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Al Gore’s Climate Reality Training: A Moment in the History of Sustainability
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SSA's Seventh Annual MLK Day of Service

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