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October 14, 2013

South by Southwest Eco

SXSW-Eco-2013Photo by Rebecca Silver/Sierra Club

By Rebecca Silver, Sierra Club Publicist

Austin is known for many things, among them good barbeque, good music, and good times. And for the past three years in October, Austin has also been known as the gathering place for thought-leaders from around the country who are committed to finding positive solutions to the challenges facing the environment, economy and civil society.

South by Southwest (SXSW) Eco brings together professionals in business, government, non-profits, and academia to listen to innovative speakers, participate in three days of provocative panel discussions, and network with thought-provoking people. The Sierra Club has been a sponsor at this conference since its inception in 2011.

Bright-Leaf-PreservePhoto by Timothy Lauzon

This year, the Club led the first-ever official conference hike to Bright Leaf Preserve, a 200-acre natural area within the Austin city limits (above and below).

Bright-Leaf-PreservePhoto by Timothy Lauzon

On the second day of the conference, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, at center below, came to town for a session on adaptation, climate policy and solutions. This panel was part of the Bloomberg BNA's Policy Action Series, a collection of sessions whose themes were taken from the National Climate Assessment.

SXSW-Eco-2013Photo by Dan Byrnes/Sierra Club

According to Brune, we need to focus on solutions that tackle multiple problems. The good news is that we're making progress with clean energy globally. As we move beyond coal, we're decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting our water supply.

Plenty of other Sierra Club folks were in town, too, among them Jesse Prentice-Dunn (at right, below)of the Club's Beyond Oil campaign, who was a panelist on a session about bicycle systems and how Austin is modeling its programs around successful Dutch projects.

SXSW-Eco-2013Photo by Dan Byrnes/Sierra Club

Austin-based Jennifer Walker, clean water coordinator for the Club's Lone Star Chapter, participated in a session about the cutting-edge strategies used to keep our rivers flowing in the face of drought, climate change, and increased competition for limited water resources.

During the exhibition, we asked attendees to join the national conversation about climate and tell us how they #ActOnClimate. We heard from one person who doesn't own a car and another who supports sustainable agriculture. Lots of people told us how they get outdoors -- and bring others with them! Whether folks shared big actions or small, concrete or abstract (one board just said EMPOWER YOUNG PEOPLE), it's clear that acting on climate and affecting change is a critical issue that's top of mind for everyone. And it will take all of us acting together to make an impact.

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