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Julia Jackson – Creating a New Kind of Climate Solutions Movement

Feb 26, 2020

  1. Julia Jackson is from a family of vintners, well known for their Jackson Family Wines. In 2017, Julia turned her full attention towards climate change and founded Grounded, a nonprofit committed to accelerating scalable solutions to climate change.

Grounded hosts its annual summit each year, catalyzing climate conversations lead by cutting edge innovators, world leaders, climate-progressive corporations and more. The event will be on March 19th & 20th this year– you can access the details here.

This week in Agriculture Adapts:

– How Grounded is desiloeing climate solutions and helping drive financing towards high impact projects

– The role of agriculture in helping to draw down carbon: 7.6% emission reductions needed per year to meet the 1.5°C Paris target

– What it was like to speak at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) weeks after climate change showed up at her doorstep


References mentioned in the episode:

Grounded Summit

Project Drawdown

– Uninhabitable Earth

00:00 / 00:00

Borna (ClimateAi) 0:04
This is Agriculture Adapts by ClimateAi. Every week we speak with industry leading executives, farmers and academics to get a 360 view of how the agriculture sector is innovating to stay ahead of a changing climate. I’m your host Borna Poursheikhani.

Himanshu (ClimateAi) 0:18
And I am your co host Himanshu Gupta.

Borna (ClimateAi) 0:20
We’re a team of climate scientists and agriculture entrepreneurs trying to make farming more resilient, profitable and equitable as we transition to a new age of agriculture. This podcast is our journey as we explore the hurdles and opportunities that lie ahead for the industry that feed the world. With us, we have climate activist and visionary Julia Jackson. Julia is the founder of grounded a nonprofit focused on accelerating scalable solutions to climate change and increasing awareness to various avenues. One of the main ones being the ground at summit, which we’ll talk about a little bit soon here. Julia also comes from a family of farmers and vintners well known for their Jackson family wines, Julia, thank you for joining us.

Julia Jackson 1:00
Thank you so much for having me.

Borna (ClimateAi) 1:01
So it always seems like you’re kind of racing around. I think the first time we were trying to get a hold of you, you were at COP 25. Are you? Are you local right now? Are you at home? Are you on the road?

Julia Jackson 1:10
I’m local. I’m local for the next month and a half, because we have a big climate Solutions Summit coming up March 19, and 20th. So I’m in the final stretch prepping for that summit.

Borna (ClimateAi) 1:22
Awesome. Yeah, very exciting. We’ll definitely link to the grounded summit in the show notes. You are kind of a perfect candidate for the podcast because you straddle both the agriculture as well as the climate change components. So we’d love to hear your background as it relates to both of those things.

Julia Jackson 1:36
Absolutely. So I believe all of us are deeply intertwined with our environment. And we’re connected to our biosphere and each other in a way that transcends just caring about the planet. It’s caring about ourselves, essentially, because we are the planet. So I really think that all of us should be cultivating this deeper. stewardship with the earth and a sense of gratitude for what sustains our very existence as a species. So my background is the wine industry, my family founded Kendall Jackson, Jackson family wine. So we have wineries all across the globe, and a stable climate and our terroir, or the land and the environment, really, is what enables us to produce a crop. So without a stable climate, and without this reciprocity and mutual exchange between taking from the land but giving back to the land, we wouldn’t have the wine that we also love. So my background was growing up in my family business, learning about wine and learning about all the different nuances of microclimates, meso climates and what adds to complexities of wine as an agricultural product. I guess you could say I’ve always been passionate about the environment and I’ve been an environmental philanthropist. And there was a moment at which I decided that my philanthropic dollars were best served if I focused on one area versus wanting to donate to cancer wanting to donate to, like heart health and children’s charities, I was like, okay, the most important thing that I could be putting my money behind is the planet. Because the statistic is that less than 3% of all philanthropic giving goes to the environment, and even lesser amount goes to conservation efforts. So I consciously decided about five years ago that I wanted to contribute to increasing that pie and helping him environmental organizations. And then in 2017, I was working in my family business at the time and helping run creative strategy for our Italian winery and one of our Santa Barbara wines. When the wildfires devastated my community here in Santa Rosa, so I don’t know if you remember seeing all the devastation, I was about $9 billion worth of damage to our local community, and we actually had to evacuate our home. So I felt like all the causes rebuilding communities were really Noble. But I was simultaneously feeling this huge sense of urgency around the climate crisis, and felt like there was this disconnect, and lack of education around the urgency that we’re all up against. And I felt pretty helpless. And I actually, to be honest, went through a moment of climate despair and eco anxiety during those 2017 fires. And instead of wanting to really help rebuild my community, I took a step back and I asked myself, What can I do to really address the systemic root of what’s contributing To these mega fires, versus just rebuilding because it’s great to build resilient communities and adapt, but what are we doing to actually shift the trajectory of global greenhouse gas emissions? So I was reading a bunch of books on the climate crisis and being inundated with a lot of like doom and gloom. So I balanced that out by reading a book called drawdown by Paul Hawken. And that book gave me a lot of hope and optimism because it’s a book on 100 different solutions to the climate crisis. And it made me realize the possibility of what the world could look like if we actually supported these solutions and sustain life on Earth versus just talking about the problem. So Paul Hawken became a hero of mine and, and then I met him and had him sign my book. And, and he told me, my drawdown book was so well loved that he wanted to frame it so I actually sent him my my original copy. And he sent me a bunch of new drawdowns in exchange. And he ended up for framing my raggedy drawdown.

Which was kind of embarrassing for me because I had like coffee stains on it. And like, it was really not like the most gentle with my books. But I developed this friendship with him. And he really helped me in the beginning and inspired me. And I think sometimes it just takes meaning someone or reading a book to really plant a seed and what’s possible, and I love that his book focuses on, okay, these are the solutions and this is what we can do to actually survive as a species if we actually support these solutions. So I left my family business didn’t leave completely. But I guess you could say I took a sabbatical because I feel like in a way I’m I’m working for the family business from afar because to sustain wine as a crop we need to sustain a stable climate. So I launched my own organization and had the crazy The idea to get all these solutionist together under one roof and get policymakers in the room, get funders, and get first scientists and all talk about what’s possible and get more support for these climate solutions so that they can be successful. So I decided in 10 months, which I’ll never do again, because that’s a very short window to start a summit with the help of a guy named JJ Aspen, who’s on my team and helped me build it. We started with a blank sheet of paper and we started writing down, okay, who are people with solutions to the climate crisis? We did a lot of research we did a lot of work and so I came out of that moment of climate despair. And I was like, that’s it. I’m getting to work. I’m researching let’s find some solutions.

Borna (ClimateAi) 7:47
Yeah, to have the peaks you need the valleys right? Yeah. I like two things that you really said one is like the the way that I view a lot of the problems in the world is very similar, I think to how you do it and in that, like I try to say, Okay, what is the main problem because I always think That effort is better spent on trying to solve the root cause as opposed to trying to pay for us to like the curing of a symptom or the band aiding of us of exists. So that totally resonates with me. And also the point about Paul Hawkins book. It is tough like when you’re in the the climate world, a lot of stuff is just doom and gloom. And people I don’t think respond very well to that, you know, like, your average consumer doesn’t want to be inundated with sadness every day, like some people don’t even read the news anymore, because because it’s just all negative, all negativity. So I think framing the discussion is really important. I think later on, it’ll be really interesting to get your view because I think something you’re really good at is kind of communicating this and a non only depressing route but like kind of kind of lay out solutions and try to frame it as an opportunity which it which it is as well, but I would be really curious to dig more into the grounded summit. So you mentioned kind of like, what was going on, but what what is the overall goal of the grounded summit? And what kind of like tangible results are Trying to see from this.

Julia Jackson 9:01
The overall goal of grounded summit is really to de silo the environmental solutions movement. So there’s already like a groundswell of solutionist. And individuals with solutions that could reverse our trajectory as a species and where we’re heading. If we continue business as usual, they just need more funding, they need more eyeballs, they need more policy support, they need more legal work. So our my goal I’m not a scientist, I’m just a passionate entrepreneur and philanthropist and and very passionate about the environment is to be a conduit and connect people and cross pollinate people to build an ecosystem of connectivity, where these solutions can get way more support, and we can scale them faster, essentially, grounded mission is to accelerate the already existing movement of climate crisis solutions, and then bring some of these NGOs that are super siloed and individuals that are siloed together and have them collaborate. Maybe it’s this naive sort of objective perspective coming into the climate movement two years ago of why aren’t these people working together? Like why can’t we get like a coalition of regenerative agriculture people to get together and, and band together and actually implement and scale regenerative agriculture globally? And so, I guess it’s this, you said, you brought up fear being a motivator. For me fear actually was a very powerful emotion in the beginning because it really lit a fire under my butt and got me to sound grounded. But now I actually feel more grounded and optimistic. There are moments of fear, but I, I believe that if we get people together and decide will the environmental community D silo our efforts as a globe on climate solutions that will be in a good place?

Borna (ClimateAi) 10:49
Yeah, totally. And you mentioned you mentioned like, maybe it’s naive, but I actually think like people who you have always been environmentalist, and you’ve always been a philanthropist, but you got deep into climate change in 2017 you said And I think that’s one of the most important perspectives is people who don’t have previous frameworks in their head that can jump in, do a ton of learning, see what has happened, see where the future is going and have an unbiased view on it. So I think it’s, I would be curious to hear like, from your perspective, what do you think are the main paths forward? What do you think are the most important tools that we have today that we can kind of use to our advantage given that you don’t have this, like previous framework of what’s possible and what’s not in your head that I think can really hold people back?

Julia Jackson 11:27
There is no silver bullet climate solution. It will be the deployment of solutions across all sectors of society, whether they’re policy solutions, whether they’re environmental, regulatory solutions, whether it’s technological, innovative solutions, or conservation efforts, it needs to be like a symphony and concert of deploying these solutions. So what’s possible there’s so much that’s possible. I think we need to realize what’s important And feel the sense of urgency. I think that until we really fully understand that we’re trying to bail ourselves out of a tsunami with a paper cut, and that we’re not moving fast enough that we’re not going to get out of this crisis. There’s a book called uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace wells, and it paints the picture of what the earth will look like, and people call him an alarmist. But actually, he’s really just speaking to the science and the IPCC report on what the world would look like if we continue business as usual. So we do understand that between 2020 and 2030, we have to curb global greenhouse gas emissions 7.6% per year to reach our 1.5 degree target. And so it’s a little crazy to me to be honest, it’s like we’re kind of that analogy of frogs boiling ourselves to death, because you know, when there’s a boiling pot of water and a frog jumps in and immediately jumps out, but then if you like, slowly warm up the frog It boils to death. So that’s a an analogy that I feel like resonates with me because there’s way too much apathy and stagnation and not enough action. We need people to like actually feel the urgency not in to like scare people. But we, we do need to get people to wake up and actually support climate solutions because we’ll become that frog that boils itself to death. So we’re actually a debt. When I because I followed the news cycle and climate and writers on climate and I read a lot. It just seems like we’re norm. We’re starting to develop this sense of nohr new normal, where we’re adapting to these freak weather events and warming temperatures in a way that’s not normal. And we need to realize that these freak events like these hundred year floods and fires and the scientific community really need to be taken very seriously as indicators for The acceleration of the climate crisis and something that will contribute to runaway climate scenario and uninhabitable Earth. So, there is this bit of not doom and gloom in me. But this realistic perspective I’ve developed just by learning about climate science. And why I’m optimistic is that there are so many solutions out there that we could be supporting. And one of them that I’m excited about is regenerative agriculture, because if scaled globally, we could sequester a trillion tons of co2, which would be humongous for the climate crisis. So even if as a global community we got behind regenerative agriculture, that would really help us sequester atmospheric carbon and draw down atmospheric carbon. So even if we converted to like all electric and renewable energy tomorrow, there’s we’ve already exceeded 415 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. sphere. And that will just continue to warm up the atmosphere even if we like converted everything tomorrow. So we need to realize that we can’t just focus on renewable energy as part of the conversation and divesting from fossil fuel industries. That’s one component. But we actually need to implement solutions that can draw down hints about drawdown atmospheric carbon so that we can store it underground, so that our oceans won’t continue absorbing it and our Earth won’t continue being burdened. So there’s many solutions we could be implementing.

Borna (ClimateAi) 15:34
Yeah, I think that’s totally right. And I think I mean, we were we were talking to Tim Hamrick, who has a podcast called the future of agriculture podcast a few weeks back. And we were kind of talking about the issue of like, how do you bring it out in practice, like regenerative agriculture can be a huge tool, how do you bring it out in practice, and it is crazy that like we have the tools that we need to accomplish our goals, were simply just not making it a priority. Like we have the tools to decarbonize the electricity sector, we can draw down a ton of carbon through farming, but it’s like, we can’t just go to the farmers and say, you know, start start doing this start doing that, like they’ve been on their land for 30 years. They know how their land works. And yeah, there’s certain things that might sequester carbon, but what benefit are they getting? They’re already operating on the margins. So I think a lot of it’s like, for policymakers and for food companies, how can we incentivize this behavior, if it’s something we care about, you know, putting it on the farmers back can be difficult, which, which oftentimes happens, but I think it’s the policymakers who need to say, okay, we need to give these farmers a credit, we need to give them an amount of money that they’re going to get if they’re sequestering X amount of carbon. And then farmers are the best entrepreneurs, they can, they can build business models around anything. So it’s just a matter of setting up the right structures. And it is a shame that it’s just not being viewed as a priority for us right now.

Julia Jackson 16:48
Well, technological, innovative solutions are key. They’re not the only solutions. We are part of the solution. As a human species, we need to realize that by honoring the planet and each other more like that’s actually a climate solution and empowering women, that’s a climate solution. So there are a lot of social solutions out there as well and supporting youth activism supporting more indigenous wisdom and communities and cultural preservation. That will be the key to our survival

Borna (ClimateAi) 17:18
is very sad that the issue has become polarized in the US at least. And I’d be curious to get your view on. Like, there’s one segment of people that you think you refer to as eco anxiety, which I think it’s a pretty cool term. There’s one segment of people that have eco anxiety, or you know, they’re very passionate about climate change. And they’re, they’re doing their hardest to solve, and they understand that we have the solutions, we could push it forward, but basically the side that understands what’s happening and is either scared or is doing something or a little bit of both. And then there’s the other half of people who seem to just not really care. And they seem to be a pretty large portion. Like I don’t I don’t know who’s in the majority, but a weird amount of people just like don’t don’t care or don’t believe it. So I’d be curious. To get your view given that, like, one of your strong suits, in my mind is that you’re really good at communicating is how do we convince people that don’t care to care? Like, I don’t think doom and gloom is the best way. But so what is the right way to communicate it to them? Or to start a conversation? Maybe a better way to say like, What? How do we start a conversation with them?

Julia Jackson 18:17
Yeah, I mean, I think, unfortunately, in this country, climate is seen as a partisan issue, but I do believe and have faith in the younger generations that like, they’re these youth activists out there that are saying, hey, like, this is not a partisan issue. This is a human issue. This is our very survival as a species depends on this. So I think in terms of starting a conversation, I think that there’s a lot of talking, like you even just, I’m a pretty observant individual. I’d say that. I like to listen to people and really hear their perspectives and better understand I think that we tend to, if someone doesn’t like it with politics you see in this country if someone doesn’t agree with someone’s personal spective though like to have a fight or get into an intense heated debate, I think that we could actually learn to take a pause, listen to where someone’s coming from, and approach it without attacking their perspective, better understand where they’re coming from, and trying to encourage a new, a new way to approach the conversation, which is enlightening versus defensive. So I think that there’s different sort of emotional intelligence ways you could go about discussing this conversation with people, which is actually listening a little bit more to their perspective and diving deeper and understanding, okay, why do they have that perspective? Like, what information have they been learning from, and just present them with an alternative and empower them to want to learn more about the climate crisis and see a different perspective? So that’s how I approach it. I’ve had some interesting conversations with clients. So you could call them climate deniers. But I think that, like, for instance, for grimson, the previous president of Iceland came to my summit last year. And Iceland is one of the first countries to become 100%, renewable energy, a lot of its geothermal energy. And he said, Arctic ice isn’t Republican or Democrat, it’s simply melts. So like our planet doesn’t care about these debates we’re having as a species. I think the indicators are there. And I unfortunately, even for climate deniers, because the pace of climate change is going to occur so rapidly, it’s going to be in people’s backyards. I think, this mentality of not in my backyard, like, we’re not thinking I’m like, it’s beautiful and sunny here, right now in Sonoma County, California. I doubt people are looking out the window and thinking, wow, we’re about to lose one of the biggest glaciers in Antarctica right now. What does this mean to my backyard? means everything to your backyard because you can’t tinker with one facet of our biosphere and expect that your backyard will be okay. Because it’s an interconnected web of life that sustains global temperatures. So any little tinkering, like the Amazon, for instance, sequesters 5% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, that’s huge. And that’s more than any carbon capturing technology. So just losing the Amazon is massive for our, I guess you could call it fight against climate change. I don’t like to use these like war terminology, descriptors for it, but the Amazon is a massive solution. So understanding that we need to be conserving these vital carbon sinks is vital. And once you frame it in that context, it’s hard for people to really fight your perspective, but I do think we need to do more listening to each other. And I’ve just been talking at you. So I’d like to listen. I totally

Borna (ClimateAi) 22:03
agree. I think I think listening is the most important part of dealing with any issue or solving any sort of problem. And I think it, it happens on both sides of the aisle on the climate change discussion. You know, like, you’ll see, for example, people who say like, beef is bad, we don’t want beef. And to say that it’s kind of a blanket statement like you can have regenerative Li grown beef that can be carbon negative, or the same individual who’s not eating beef might be like driving their car to work every day. And so, like listening and really viewing things as a holistic problem, and as a systemic problem, I think is important. Otherwise, we’re kind of lying to ourselves. And I have a lot of friends who are environmentalists that kind of like pick their battles, and I’m saying, You can’t demonize people for eating meat. You can’t demonize people for drinking milk. If you’re picking and choosing what’s convenient for you. You know, like, you either are or you’re not. And I think that a big part of that is listening. I don’t think people actively do these things. I think they just don’t know and a lot Have it as information and a lot of it is being willing to listen to the other person and not instantly putting up your guard when you start a discussion. And this is kind of exactly like why I think grounded is super useful and is the structure of the event that it’s mostly about solutions. Or we also bring in people who are part of like the current industry that are potentially viewed as the problem but are trying to move in the right in the right direction. Are those people being incorporated into the conversation? Or will they be in the future? How do you guys look at that?

Julia Jackson 23:28
Yeah, so that’s been an interesting discussion amongst my team, I’d say that we’re really championing solutions but in terms of your audience, because the audience is just as key as the people on stage. We want to we will have various people from these massive corporations in the audience listening to the solutions, but I’d rather hear from say Bank of the West than another bank, about their leadership on the environment because they are the first bank to divest from the fossil fuel. industry. So yeah, I think that by championing individuals that aren’t greenwashing, but actually walking the walk, that’s big for me because I noticed that a lot of these conferences, what drove me crazy was that a lot of corporations and policy makers were patting themselves on the back and saying, we’re doing such a great job. Meanwhile, we’re heading off a cliff. And like these greenwashing campaigns where they’re spending all their, like, marketing dollars, because probably the executive team is like, we need to be seen as sustainable to get younger generations to want to support our initiatives in our company. I didn’t want to go down that route. And I come from a for profit background. I wanted to really champion draw individual solutions that need more funding, and also not have too many corporations in the conversation but have them in the audience, but for whatever. Whenever there are corporations doing something that’s Really great in terms of transparency and leadership, and in a non green washing sense of the term, I wanted to support and highlight those individuals. So I don’t know if it’s the right or wrong thing to do. But that’s just my ethos. I really want to bring the actual solutionist to the conversation versus the greenwashing solutionist. Because I can see through that I like to dive really deep on on everyone. And so we were super choosy about who we’re bringing to the conversation.

Borna (ClimateAi) 25:32
Yeah, totally. That makes a ton of sense to me. And then, so if the goal of the conference or how are you how are you as a friend as a conference or as a summit or what, what’s the right terminology?

Julia Jackson 25:44
And we’re calling it a summit? I guess I intuitively feel like it’s more of a convening and cross pollinating. Okay, that because we want it to transcend a once a year event, and we’re going to have pop ups around the world. We’re still strategically roadmapping where those activations will be, but a lot of the magic actually happens beyond the summit, whether it’s a solution getting more funding or connecting with an individual or being inspired to completely change their career, like I had a woman messaged me on instagram saying she’d attended the summit last year and started her own Orca Conservation Foundation. And that’s awesome. And then someone else I got a message saying they left their career to go work in climate at Google because of a talk. They heard it grounded and a lot of great things came out of the first summit. But I think there’s a lot of shared learnings in that. We didn’t actually measure impact last year. It was our first year. So a lot of learnings for us while there was a lot of magic that happened at the summit and beyond the summit this year. We’re actually like measuring impact so we could quantify it. And so we’re developing that

Borna (ClimateAi) 26:58
that’s really cool. How are you doing? doing that as like, there’s a number of like, interesting things that happen that are positive as a result of the event.

Julia Jackson 27:06
So we’re still fine tuning that, and the event is five weeks away. But we’ll probably have a survey that we’ll send out to all attendees and speakers and three months post event, like six months post event, we’re still working that out. But we will have an actual impact measurement tool out of this summit, which we didn’t last year, which we learned that people, especially sponsors want to see. Okay, they asked, What’s your impact? So we individually know what our impact is, but this year, we’ll actually be able to quantify it.

Borna (ClimateAi) 27:39
And it seems like what you guys are doing is is driving a lot of impact. Is this going to be like live streamed in any way? Or like are some of the lectures going to be like pushed out? In my head? It seems like the biggest way to make the impact would be to make like the information public.

Julia Jackson 27:55
Absolutely. We’re actually just now talking about doing well. stream? Or do we actually just push our content out like a few days later. So we’re developing that as we speak, we actually have a decision in the next few days whether or not we livestream but people will have access to our content no matter what. So it will be distributed. And people will be able to watch these panels. And of course from last year, it took us too long to get them up on our website this year will be way faster, we’ll get the content up immediately. So that was also shared learning from last year, we want people to access this information. Even if you can’t attend the summit. I want people to feel inspired and see the content.

Borna (ClimateAi) 28:39
And I think that speaks a lot to the altruism of the event itself. So it’s really cool of you guys. And you were also in December. We mentioned this earlier, but you were at COP 25. Right? Yes. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re talking about there and your overall takeaway from the summit?

Julia Jackson 28:54
Yeah, so it’s a weird time for me to be honest because I’m Ironically, the wildfires in 2017 were what inspired me to launch grounded. But I actually just lost my home to the kincade fires three months ago. And so I almost lost my life. So I’ve literally lived the climate crisis, I lived out of a suitcase for two months, I just moved into this house actually. So I have a location and I’m fortunate enough to be able to relocate, but many, many, many individuals impacted by the climate crisis will not be able to afford to relocate. So I have a lot of empathy for people that will be impacted because I’ve personally been impacted. So that happened three months ago. So it was really, it was an intense time. I’m very grateful to be alive. And I believe in synchronicities. I believe things happen for a reason. And right after the wildfires, I realized like stuff doesn’t mean anything. It’s meaningless. What matters is like, really being grateful for every single day. being alive. And so I developed this like, deeper level of gratitude for my life. Yeah, totally. And also a deeper understanding and commitment to dedicating my entire life to the climate crisis and supporting solutions to it because I’ve literally lived it now. So then right after that, I went to cop 25. And so, I would say that because I meditate, I was able to stay grounded. But there were moments of feeling pretty deeply sad, just about the negotiations taking place, and it was my first cop. So yeah, COP is really for those of you listening and aren’t aware. I bet most people know what it is. But it’s basically the convening of all world leaders, except for our own last year, to negotiate, to negotiate on global temperatures and come to an agreement to keep their country to the 1.5 degree target. So I watched the Negotiations take place. And they’re way far away from the science based targets. So,

Borna (ClimateAi) 31:07
you mean we’re gonna miss the mark as well? You mean,

Julia Jackson 31:09
I believe we are? Yeah, yeah, I believe the only way to it’s unrealistic to assume that countries will actually curb their global greenhouse gas emissions 7.6% per year, I think we’re more on track to hit two to three degrees Celsius in all honesty, which is going to massive devastating consequences for all of us as a species. So it was really weird for me to be at COP 25, so soon after losing my house, but, um, I spoke on a panel with one of my heroes, Bill McDonough, who’s become a dear friend of mine, and he is known as he’s studied in a lot of sustainability classes as the father of circular economy. And really, our global economic framework is one that is linear and extractive and detrimental to our climate. In our planet. So I spoke on a panel with him about how really a big solution to the climate crisis is a circular regenerative economy that’s equitable for everyone. So we need to change our global economy. And that’s not easy. I think we can but the fact is that only 9% of our global economy currently is circular. Meaning that the goods produced are circular and can be reused and recycled. And not like plastics for

Borna (ClimateAi) 32:36
91% is just going to like landfill or something.

Julia Jackson 32:39
Exactly. Yeah. landfill are out into our oceans. And there’s a lot we could be doing to support and create materials that are actually not harmful to the environment. Like we featured last year at our summit, plastics made out of algae that are bio benign materials that are Non endocrine disruptors and can biodegrade. So there’s a lot of innovators out there. And that’s what keeps me optimistic. But yeah, it was really weird to lose my house and then go to cop 25 and watch these negotiations taking place. And there was a moment actually, to be honest, I was crying, watching the negotiations take place on stage. That was a really overwhelming experience for me. But then I walked out to watch credit tunberg speak in person. And I’m like, Yes. And unlike our president, or unlike how our President was talking about her being doom and gloom, I thought she was very cool, calm and collected and grounded. When she delivered her talk. It was really just, hey, listen to the science. She was not emotional at all. And but in her cop, 25 talk. So that was great to see.

Borna (ClimateAi) 33:55
Ya. Thank you for sharing that. And I do think that it’s like yours. situation was different, like you got you got involved deeply in climate change, and then you had this terrible event happened to you. But I think for a lot of people, it’s kind of like, they don’t think about it until something really bad happens to them. And the unfortunate thing is a lot of times the more affluent countries, and then within those, the more affluent regions are the ones that are least affected. And those are likely the ones that are most empowered. But I mean, if you look at like island nations, when the sea levels rise, like, are they gonna have a voice in, in the US industrial economy? Like Probably not, I think we’re expecting 50 million refugees, but by 2040 as a result of the climate crisis, so it is the issue of like, we need people to consider and like you said to empathize before the biggest impacts come along. And I think events like grounded and things that are kind of bringing people together and you know, stitching together ideas and and listening to each other. I think that’s the right way forward. And I think you’re right, I think social engineering and social capital Lucian is equally as important, if not more important than the technological and policy innovations that we’re seeing.

Julia Jackson 35:07
Yeah, a lot of indigenous communities think we’re in a spiritual crisis at the moment where we’ve lost our identity.

Borna (ClimateAi) 35:13
We’re all on our phones all the time.

Julia Jackson 35:15
I know and you know, people get a dopamine fix from getting a text message and to be on your phone. But you can get a dopamine rush or serotonin rush by just simply walking outside and earthing and being more connected with the health benefits of nature. So I think it’s important for people to realize that in your day to day life, you need balance. So you need to take care of yourself and not be so addicted to technology. And then I think being outside helps people really fall in love with nature and realize it’s important for your health, to sustain nature and to be in nature. So we don’t do enough of that. And this is a reminder to myself, too. I’ve been spending a lot more time in nature and appreciating it too.

Borna (ClimateAi) 36:00
Sam, I’ve I’ve always really enjoyed being in nature and being in the wilderness. But I’ve also recently found that allowing myself time to reflect and think and not do anything, and, and meditate has been helpful for me to sort of like, zoom out of the race of every day, you know, because it’s like, for me, specifically, we’re a very small startup and things can start to move very fast. And we invest a lot of our personal time and energy to it. And I think it’s really important to be able to pull yourself out and to remind yourself that, that you are a living being and that you need to enjoy the steps that you’re taking in life. And I think a lot of problems would be solved if people were more inclined to to give themselves an opportunity to reflect, to think and to connect with the world and with the people around them.

Julia Jackson 36:46
Absolutely. My whole team actually meditates. I got everyone on my team. We take we take breaks throughout today, the day to meditate, but it’s really like that analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first because We are wanting to really help the world to the extent we can. So we need to take care of ourselves because we’re in a really intense line of work with the climate crisis. So self care on my team is a vital facet of us taking a step back breathing. And there’s this analogy, my transcendental meditation teacher taught me about how Lincoln was really effective at chopping wood because he would spend like two thirds of his time sharpening his axe Yeah, and then he would go and chop wood. So my team, maybe it’s not two thirds of our time. But we do take that 20 minutes a day to meditate, which is really not that much time in the grand scheme of things. And there are all these health benefits for your brain and level of coherence and decision making and empathy levels go up. When you meditate. There’s a lot of blood flow that goes to your prefrontal cortex and helps you just make better decisions and be a better human being. So I like my whole team to meditate. I don’t of course, force them to But I think they like it. I think that we’ve all seen a shift as a start up ourselves. And we’ve actually been able to scale more effectively when we’re more coherent and grounded.

Borna (ClimateAi) 38:11
Yeah, totally. And I think meditation is not climate related, but something that I care about. It also like, dude, the act of doing nothing has been proven to help with creativity, I always thought that it was important to do nothing because you’re giving your your brain a chance to turn off. But what the science shows is that when you give yourself a moment to not be on your phone to not do anything, the part of your brain that’s actually lighting up is the part that controls your creativity, which makes sense because like, your best ideas come when you’re like in the shower or like walking somewhere, you know? Yeah. I was reading about this. And I think that makes a ton of sense.

Julia Jackson 38:47
Well, you know, you say it’s not a climate solution. I actually, every single individual I’ve met takes that time to themselves to reflect and be out in nature or meditate like people that are making innovators in the space and to solve the climate crisis, we have to be creative. So I actually think, and I encourage people to meditate or do whatever really gets you in that like headspace, whether it’s taking a walk or like playing a sport, whatever your is your form of meditation, I think it leads to better decision making. And we need to make better decisions on behalf of our planet, we just do. So I actually do. Meditation in the esoteric sense of the meaning of it is a solution to the climate crisis, because it just makes you a better decision maker and more creative, like you said, like we need to creatively get ourselves out of this crisis.

Borna (ClimateAi) 39:38
Agreed. One more thing before I let you go here is you like very successfully launched this summit, and you went from like zero to 100 really quickly. So how, for other people who have an idea that they want to start, a lot of our listeners are entrepreneurs and they may have ideas that they want to pursue. How did you go about laying down the groundwork for that Building the confidence and the motivation and then seeing it through.

Julia Jackson 40:04
That’s a really good question. I look back and I’m like, Oh my gosh, we went from zero to 100. We start with a blank sheet of paper. I think that I encourage anyone listening, if you have an idea, and you’re super passionate about it, share it with a few key individuals you trust, like don’t get too many chefs in the kitchen. Because if you get way too much input, like people have their own opinions and whatnot, step into your own personal power and, and really channel that grit. I have a lot of grit and a lot of dedication. So I found a few individuals that really believed in what I wanted to envision for the planet. And I really just shared it with those, that group and then I got a group together and it really was my team. In the beginning that in my amazing advisory board that I trusted that helped me launch the And make this dream a reality. So I think surrounding yourself with a core group of people and get mentors, like I had a few great mentors that I could confide in and pick their brains and ask them for input.

Borna (ClimateAi) 41:16
What do you see as the future of grounded in the in the next few years here? You mentioned kind of having these pop ups and these satellite events. But yeah, what else are you looking at?

Julia Jackson 41:25
So I actually just brought on an amazing Interim Executive Director. We’re testing each other out and and she has way more experience than me. She’s been working in climate for a long time. So developing this roadmap and strategy for what do we want to achieve it grounded is key. And so we want to be matchmaking climate solutions to funders, the right funders. We also want to get way more youth involved somehow so potentially pilot like a youth academy for climate solutions. So we’re still in like the very public Honest beginning stages of our strategy roadmap and she’s come on board to help me map that out even more. But she’s a rock star. And I’m feeling like a huge sense of relief to bring on someone that’s an expert. And my whole team is just super passionate, and I think she’s a good. I think being a good leader and people manager is key. And I’ve definitely learned how to be a better leader. And it’s my first time really leading but I think that having someone that can kind of step into my shoes and I can trust is key, and she’ll take this to the next level beyond me. There’s only so much I can do when and with my age and whatnot, but I think she has her own visions and they’re very aligned with mine. And yeah, so what’s next for grounded? We’re roadmapping that out at the moment.

Borna (ClimateAi) 42:50
And how can people go about supporting you, supporting grounded in your guys’s endeavors moving forward?

Julia Jackson 42:57
Thank you for asking and go to grounded dot org. And we’ll link in the show notes as well. Great. And then follow us on social. I mean, we’re just developing a social media strategy and being for us, we haven’t really had a focus on social media. So we’re going to be we have an amazing writer and core team member, Leah Rudolph, who are Richmond now, if she writes all of our content, and but we’re actually putting together a social media strategy to get it out to a larger audience at the moment, but follow us on social so it’s grounded summit, and grounded we I actually contacted this younger guy, a teenager who was sitting on the ground main grounded Instagram handle and hey, you bought you bought it off of him?

Yeah, it was actually he was actually it was pretty cheap and it was really honorable of him to realize our mission and give away and over His grounded Instagram. So we’re the main grounded Instagram and grounded summit and then can follow us on Facebook and yeah, and then you can of course, see the content Well, I promise we’ll get it up faster this year if you can’t make it to grounded summit Awesome. Well,

Borna (ClimateAi) 44:17
this was an amazing episode. It was insightful. It was heartfelt. I was like, I don’t think I’ve ever gone back and forth between like laughing and tearing up. But really enjoyed this conversation. Joanna, thank you for joining us.

Julia Jackson 44:29
Thank you so much Borna.

Borna (ClimateAi) 44:32
Hey, everybody, thanks for listening. If you have any feedback, or you’d like to add your own two cents on the topic discussed today, or if you’ve just got your own ideas about something that we should discuss in the future, please feel free to shoot me an email at At its core, this podcast is just a way for us to learn and we want to share our learnings as we go. So we’re always open to building on these conversations and hearing new perspectives. Thanks for your support and see you next time.


Julia Jackson



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