In the past couple of weeks I’ve heard a lot of talk in the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) offices about an infamous group called The SAM Goes Green Team. The more email notices the Green Team sent out about daily “green” tips or “green” contests between staff members, the more I became curious about who takes part in this coalition, and what it takes to initiate “green” practices at SAM.
To investigate further, I decided to interview the head of the Green Team, Liz Stone. Liz holds the title of Operations Assistant/ Digital Media Support Specialist at SAM. Liz is a spirited, young woman who brings a lot of light to the busy offices here at SAM. When I asked to interview her, she was very excited for the opportunity to represent SAM’s “green” roots and sustainability concerns.
I asked Liz, “When did the Green Team start at SAM?” She provided the following information:
The Green Team was started in 2006, shortly before the Olympic Sculpture Park opened in January 2007. It began with a handful of staff representing different departments who were interested in making a difference. The excitement around Olympic Sculpture Park gave the museum the momentum it needed to develop an environmental face for SAM. Examples of how SAM conducts green operations in many different capacities include:
- Reduced the museum’s carbon footprint, including cuts in energy use, paper conservation, and waste reduction
- Switched to 100% recycled copy paper
- Earned Salmon-Safe certification of land management practices at the Olympic Sculpture Park.
- Supported SAM’s museum educators in designing art activities that use repurposed, recycled and non-toxic supplies
- Created a culture of sustainability within SAM, including meeting with departments to identify barriers to “going green”
“There have been a few different Green Team leaders at SAM, but I was approached in 2011 and asked if I would take the reins of the Green Team to keep it moving forward,” Liz says.
In overseeing the Green Team, Liz presents green tips and activities in media posts and helps maintain sustainability around the offices. Each division at SAM—from IT to Exhibition Design to Engineering—has a representative on the Green Team.
SAM is also a Presenting Partner with Seattle Center Foundation and Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas in presenting the performance, red, black, GREEN: a blues. This performance is coming to Seattle Center’s Intiman Theater May 30–June 2 for the Next 50 Festival and brings artists Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Theaster Gates back to Seattle once again! Both artists, as educators and social activists, strive through their work to ignite our collective responsibility towards social and environmental sustainability for every community. This performance shares SAM’s values in combining community engagement with art to work towards a greener, more sustainable community. The Green Team and Liz Stone are working hard to activate everyone’s involvement in “going green”.
You can also find more details about SAM’s environmental commitment and the SAM Goes Green initiative, as well as a list of partners joined in this initiative when you visit the SAM website. Some commitments involve joining the City of Seattle’s Seattle Climate Partnership and Seattle Climate Action Now to reduce SAM’s carbon footprint. You can also read more about the SAM Goes Green Team history on previous SAMblog posts, including SAM’s recent participation in the worldwide Earth Hour event.