College of the Atlantic students lead a workshop at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France, in 2015. These and other environmentally minded students will gather at COA for a roundtable discussion on environmental activism communications as part of COA’s Thoreau Gathering Oct. 28. PHOTO COURTESY OF COA

Thoreau Gathering launches with roundtable

BAR HARBOR — A panel on communications opportunities and challenges within environmental and social justice activism will launch College of the Atlantic’s first Thoreau Gathering on Oct. 28. The gathering is one of three to be held as part of the school’s new Thoreau Environmental Leaders Initiative.

The panel, which is free and open to the public, begins at 4 p.m. in the Thomas S. Gates Jr. Community Center. The roundtable discussion, with environmental media professionals Jane Kochersperger and Anjali Appadurai, will be moderated by Bonnie Tai, COA professor of educational studies.

The theme of the talk will be “working in the field,” with discussion about panelists’ paths to careers in communications, what background and experiences they’ve found helpful, how communications professionals can help address environmental issues, and the challenges, rewards and lessons learned as a media professionals communicating issues of environmental and social justice. In addition, the panelists will offer advice for COA students and other young people who might want to choose a similar career path.

Kochersperger has worked as a campaign and public relations strategist on issues of environmental and social justice for over 20 years, including work on climate and energy issues with the Citizens Coal Council, the Clean Air Task Force and Greenpeace. She currently works as a communications consultant with her own firm, Bodhi Tree Communications.



Anjali is a 2013 graduate of COA, currently working as communications and engagement specialist with West Coast Environmental Law in Vancouver, B.C.

The panel will be followed by a one-day Thoreau Gathering workshop for students at COA and other Maine colleges to learn and practice basic communications skills of framing, messaging and narrative building.

The Thoreau Environmental Leaders Initiative is a new project at COA that will cultivate effective advocates for renewable energy and climate change issues. The initiative combines academic preparation, experiential learning and action in international and local settings, and peer-to-peer learning and mentoring.

A total of three workshops, each on a different topic, are planned for the year ahead as part of the Thoreau Environmental Leaders project. Each workshop will include a public panel discussion with environmental leaders in which they share their experiences and offer advice to those wishing to enter the field. The next panel will occur in early 2017 and will focus on lobbying and political action at the local, state and national levels.

The Thoreau Environmental Leaders Initiative is funded by a grant from the Henry David Thoreau Foundation. Contact David Feldman at 801-5709.

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