2017 Planet Forward Summit

Sustainability and science need storytellers now more than ever.

The 2017 Planet Forward Summit on April 6-7 in Washington, D.C., focused on how we as students, scientists, communicators, innovators, policymakers and citizens of the earth, communicate to inspire action. The summit brought everyone together, all in one room, to share inspiring stories, featuring the best storytellers, collaborating to learn what makes an effective environmental story and to celebrate and reward the best environmental storytelling by college students.

The two-day Summit investigated effective sustainability storytelling through the lens of our Storyfest contest categories: character, creativity, science/data, innovation and big ideas. Major topics covered include: food, water, energy, mobility, built environment, and biodiversity. See the welcome video.

Character: James Gilbey, Vice President Creative Solutions at Discovery Agency, showed off the best (and worst) of character-driven storytelling, and revealed how effective characters can compel and inspire change.

Creativity: Dr. Robin Kimmerer, Director for the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at SUNY-ESF, demonstrated how, in a crowded digital world, powerful Native oral traditions of storytelling can capture the heart and soul of stories, and shared why we should incorporate the themes of this tradition into modern storytelling.

Science/Data: Tobin Asher and Elise Ogle, from the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University, revealed the connection between people and immersive virtual reality simulations, and took us on a virtual “field trip” to a degraded ocean ecosystem, exposing the power of VR.

Innovation: Food experts Chris Policinski, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc., Shawn Lightfoot, co-founder of The Fresh Food Factory, and Katie Dotterer-Pyle, a Maryland farmer at Cow Comfort Inn, shared how they use innovation in their work to tell their food stories.

Big ideas: Frank Sesno engaged three African journalists and Mandela Fellows — Olorunfunmi AdebajoNana Boakye-Yiadom, and Rachel Kalera-Mhango — in a conversation about big ideas that move the planet forward.

And Andrew Revkin, a senior reporter for ProPublica covering climate change and former editor of Dot Earth at The New York Times, talked with Frank Sesno about telling the story of our planet.

The grand prize winners of our student storytelling contest, Planet Forward Storyfest 2017, were announced in front of a live audience. These storytellers will be heading to Brazil in June.

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.

Hub Content

Apply now for this opportunity at care.org/expedition!

Founder and Chief Executive, Planet Forward
Students, apply now! As announced as the 2017 Planet Forward Summit, CARE and Planet Forward have partnered to send you around the world to tell stories about global challenges.  
Planet Forward
Mandela Fellows Funmi Adebajo, Nana Boakye-Yiadom, and Rachel Kalera-Mhango shared their big ideas and the innovative ways in which they report and communicate.
Planet Forward
Planet Forward Founder Frank Sesno spoke with Katie Dotterer-Pyle, Shawn Lightfoot, and Chris Policinski about innovation at all levels, from farms to communities to corporations.
Planet Forward
Tobin Asher and Elise Ogle joined us from Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab to explore scientific storytelling through virtual reality.
Planet Forward
Robin Kimmerer, director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment and professor at SUNY-ESF, led our conversation about creative storytelling.
Planet Forward
Discovery Communication's Vice President of Creative Solutions James Gilbey opened the 2017 Summit with a conversation about character.
Planet Forward
Without further ado, the Storyfest 2017 grand prize winners are...
Redefining progress
Redefining progress
University of Montana
This short film captures what progress symbolizes in the Alaskan Brooks Range.

Bald eagle nest along the Chemung River. (Photos by Carrick Palmer)

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
There’s something about bald eagles. Yes, they are our national bird and their symbology pervades our culture in many ways and places. But there’s something more to them. 
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Agricultural management can destroy wildlife habitat, but ecological agriculture, like that practiced by indigenous peoples around the world, can provide both people and wildlife with the resources they need.