Museum of Life and Science partners with Hayti Heritage Center to drive public engagement on issues of climate change and health
June 9, 2022
For Immediate Release – June 9, 2022 | 1 pm
Matt Pusateri, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
(919) 220-5429 x390
DURHAM, NC – The Museum of Life and Science is pleased to announce a new partnership with Hayti Heritage Center on an innovative approach to public engagement around climate change, health, and local priorities. The project, entitled “Imagine Durham: A Whole-Family Humanities Approach to Climate, Health, and Possible Futures” is funded by a one-year, $50,000 Climate Change and Health Seed Grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. It will be co-led and co-developed by the Museum and the Hayti Heritage Center.
This project aims to address two hurdles in the way of local climate literacy and action: a lack of public, relational, and informal dialogue on climate change, and few opportunities for local, community-driven priorities to be centered on goals to address climate-related issues. The project aims to reflect personal experiences, values, and priorities related to climate change within family units through art and dialogue.
“Our approach centers on the expression of individual experiences at the intersection of climate change and health, through approaches like collaborative mapping, art, writing, and storytelling,” said Max Cawley, the Museum’s Program Manager for Public Engagement with Science. “Rather than focusing on the individual, the priority will be on the health, well-being, and aspirations of the entire family, whose relationships will enable frank sharing of values, perspectives, and knowledge about climate change. We aim to spark Durham residents’ imagination in developing hopeful and creative visions for a sustainable future.”
This co-creation approach leverages the strengths of two trusted cultural institutions, with the potential to sway public education and insight into climate and health. The Museum of Life and Science has years of experience in public engagement with science and the Hayti Heritage Center has served as a cultural anchor for the African American community in Durham since its founding in 1975.
“This collaboration with the Museum of Life and Science is very exciting, and this work furthers the Hayti Heritage Center’s advocacy for environmental justice in our community,” said Angela Lee, Executive Director of Hayti Heritage Center. “Engaging families in this critical conversation through an arts and humanities approach will foster expressions of their individual experiences. Sharing these stories will empower the community to reverse practices and policies that disproportionately impact communities of color and mitigate the devastating effects of the climate crisis on our families’ health and well-being.”
This collaborative multimedia project will capture the community’s stories through visual imagery, inspired by discussions around climate change, equity, justice, and health to be hosted at the Center. The resulting visual imagery will power further community engagement, outreach, and a collaborative exhibition featuring community-created “data artifacts.”
“The Museum is eager to engage in this partnership, focused on reflecting the experiences and values of our community with regard to challenging scientific realities,” said Carrie Heinonen, President and CEO of the Museum. “The more collaborative we can be with Durham communities, the better we are able to serve their needs. Working with the Hayti Heritage Center on this collaborative new approach will lead to exponentially stronger results.
About the Museum of Life and Science
Located less than five miles from downtown Durham, the Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolina’s top family destinations. Our 84-acre campus includes a two-story science center, one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast, and beautifully landscaped outdoor exhibits. Our interactive experiences include Dinosaur Trail, Ellerbe Creek Railway, Hideaway Woods, Into the Mist, Earth Moves, and Aerospace, which features one of the largest collections of Apollo-era NASA artifacts in the state. The Museum is also an AZA-accredited zoo, home to rescued black bears, lemurs, endangered red wolves, and more than 60 species of live animals. This year, the Museum celebrates its 75th anniversary and its ongoing commitment to the communities of Durham, the Triangle, and North Carolina. To learn more, visit lifeandscience.org.
About the Hayti Heritage Center
The Hayti Heritage Center (HHC) was established by St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit managing organization, in 1975 and has remained a community cultural anchor since. Core to its mission is telling the stories of Hayti, a once-thriving African American community in Durham that rose to prominence in the Jim Crow segregation era, and of the Hayti Heritage Center, a historic venue that stands after 130 years. It is the last remaining original structure of the district dubbed “Black Wall Street” by Booker T. Washington. Public performing and visual arts programs are central to services provided in the venue, which is listed on the National Historic Register. These programs keep alive a rich heritage, shape a vibrant past, and inform a bright future. HHC’s humanities-based work examines and interprets history and arts through anchor programs and community collaborations.