The 2022 Ecotopian Toolkit Project

The Penn Program in Environmental Humanities presents the 2022 Ecotopian Toolkit Project in Partnership with Independence Seaport Museum.

What tools can communities make, and utilize, to endure and meet present-day ecological challenges?

Industry and ongoing human activities that rely on fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas, are contributing to global warming and, in the process, threatening our supply of water and the environment as a whole. However, as a community, we can lead discussions and create solutions to address these ecological challenges.

The 2022 Ecotopian Toolkit Project will share the importance of our waterways, empower communities to work for water justice, and help them take steps toward a more sustainable future. This year the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH), which started the Ecotopian Toolkit Project in 2017, joins forces with Independence Seaport Museum (ISM) and local high schoolers currently enrolled in ISM’s River Ambassadors program.

2022 Ecotopian Toolmakers:

Ecotopian Toolkit Gallery on a white background with calling cards to write changes at ISM

Toolmakers will be awarded micro-grants of $1000 to allow for the proposed Ecotopian Tool to be explored, prototyped, and possibly built, distributed, and used in the watershed and on the River. They will hold public workshops and explore the uses of their proposed tools with the help of River Ambassadors and community members. At the end of this project, these “ecotopian” tools will be made available for us all to use in the global fight for climate and water justice.

The Ecotopian Toolkit Project is a collaborative effort between creators and the general public to develop and provide access to shared sustainable tools and knowledge to endure current and future ecological challenges. Over the following months, a jury of diverse experts will work with PPEH and ISM to select and fund toolmakers. They will hold public workshops and explore the uses of their proposed tools with the help of River Ambassadors and community members.

This evolving process will be explored and documented in an exhibit hosted at ISM. It will occur in three distinct phases, each intended to engage our wider community in reflection, participation, and action.

Phase One: Join the Conversation! (On Display Now through April 2022)

  • We already have many “ecotopian” tools at our disposal. These include picking up trash off the street, turning off the faucet when brushing our teeth, and ISM’s very own exhibit, River Alive!. These are just the top of the “tool” iceberg. Museum guests are asked to share tools they already use and to ask for tools they may need. All the tools and knowledge shared will be compiled into a resource library available to the public.

Phase Two: Join the Exchange! (May – August 2022)

  • The community will see how the selected toolmakers respond to the call and propose to protect life in our watershed. The community and River Ambassadors are then invited to help explore these tools with the toolmakers through public workshops and programming.

Phase Three: Tools for a Healthy Watershed (September – December 2022)

  • Toolmakers will showcase their developed concepts and completed tools for water justice. In addition, their process and evolution through all phases will be documented in a print catalog and public online resource. By creating access to these tools and ideas, communities can use them in their own inquiry, conversation, and actions.

For more information, click here.

Independence Seaport Museum’s River Ambassadors program is a WorkReady provider.

Independence Seaport Museum’s River Ambassadors program is also supported by the William Penn Foundation and Riverways.

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