The Natural History Museum is pleased to announce that co-founder and Director, Beka Economopoulos, has been named an inaugural Roddenberry Fellow. She is one of 20 recipients chosen “based on their commitment to their community, the boldness of their ideas, and the potential for immediate and sustainable impact in their work.”
The 2018 Roddenberry Fellows are an exceptional group of activists, leaders and disrupters whose work is making our country more inclusive and equitable for all.
Newly created by the Roddenberry Foundation, the Roddenberry Fellowship provides monetary support and tailored, professionalized training to individuals who are pursuing or commencing projects that “protect the most vulnerable and to make the US a more inclusive and equitable place to live.” Innovation is important, leading them to prioritize projects that “push boundaries, are cross-sectoral, challenge tradition, seek new ways of approaching systemic and entrenched problems, or leverage specific (timely) opportunities in unconventional ways.”
We are deeply honored by this award and look forward to the work ahead — as our project description outlines below:
To expand the consensus for ecological and equitable development, and inspire a new generation of solutions and leaders, The Natural History Museum (NHM) is unleashing the power of museums. NHM is a mobile exhibition and event producer that supports community-led land and water defense and spurs scientists and museums to respond to environmental challenges, including climate change and fossil fuel extraction.
In a time marked by a discrediting of journalists, professors, scientists, and other public voices, museums remain highly trusted sources of knowledge and perspectives. The Natural History Museum functions as an independent “skunkworks” for the museum sector— enabling museums to try new forms of collaborations and public engagement programming, use their influence, and increase their relevance. In partnership with the Lummi Nation and Native Organizers Alliance, we have launched a multi-year program featuring Indigenous-led environmental justice struggles in exhibits, events, and online. We research, publish and present; organize workshops, symposia, and coalitions; and provide consulting to museum professionals on strategies for developing exhibitions and programs.
Beka Economopoulos has been an environmental justice activist for nearly 20 years. She is a co-founder of The Natural History Museum, a traveling museum and museum transformation project, a founding member of the social justice arts collective Not An Alternative, and co-organizer and Board Member of the 2017 March for Science. Beka’s experience in sustainability advocacy includes serving as the Director of Online Organizing at Greenpeace, and as the Director of Strategy at Fission Strategy, where clients included the United Nations Foundation and the Global Climate Change Alliance.
Beka co-created the museum in 2014 as a project of Not An Alternative, a non-profit organization that has worked at the intersection of art, activism, and pedagogy since 2004. Not An Alternative was recently named in the NY Times and ArtNet’s “Best in Art in 2015” round-ups. The group’s installations, performances, and presentations have been featured within art institutions such as Guggenheim, PS1/MOMA, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Queens Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert Museum, MOCAD, and Museo del Arte Moderno, and in the public sphere, where they collaborate with community groups and activist mobilizations.
Launched in 2010, The Roddenberry Foundation is committed to finding and supporting remarkable people and organizations that can disrupt existing dynamics, challenge old patterns of thought, and discover new ways to help us move towards a better future.
We provide grants to accelerate the development of great, untested ideas and invest in models that are challenging the status quo and improving the human condition. Together, our interconnected initiatives offer opportunities for original thinkers and innovators from all walks of life to pursue significant, lasting change.
For more information about the Roddenberry Foundation, visit www.roddenberryfoundation.org.