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Julia Jackson Is Bringing Climate Change Initiatives to the Forefront

After a series of wildfires hit her hometown, Julia Jackson decided to take action on climate change with a new summit.

Julia Jackson Grounded Climate Change SummitJulia Jackson Grounded Climate Change Summit Photo: Jenna Alcala

Julia Jackson had an epiphany in Sonoma in 2017; as she stood and watched a series of horrific fires rip through her hometown, she realized first-hand the effects of climate change, and the unwavering need for scalable climate-change solutions. Immediately, she chose to branch out from her focus on the sustainable wine industry, Jackson Family Wines, to invest her time in making an impact in climate change.

Fast forward to this spring, and Jackson will be launching Grounded, a new summit and foundation focused on increasing scalable climate-change solutions by supporting organizations and individuals who are at the forefront of making these changes. Her first course of action has been to focus on restoring ecological balance taken away by the melting ice in the Arctic and permafrost.

The event, taking place March 20th and 21st at a private estate in California’s wine country, will unite environmental pioneers, sustainable business leaders, and musical talent, with a program lineup that includes some of world’s foremost leaders on climate change.

Julia Jackson Grounded Climate Change Summit

Grounded Climate Change Summit, March 20-21, 2019.  Photo: Courtesy of Julia Jackson

Experts from National Geographic, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, SeaLegacy, and more will participate in Grounded Summit; Brandon Boyd, Mike Einziger, and Ben Kenney of Incubus will perform.

We spoke with Jackson about how she took a cause close to her heart and turned it into a global movement.

Tell us about your background.

My mother and father created a global wine company with established roots in the land. My father ensured that from a young age my siblings and I understood the amount of hard work it takes to become successful. Ever since I was old enough to hold a job I have worked for my family’s wineries, from picking and sorting grapes as a kid to working a harvest abroad in Bordeaux so I could learn the ropes of winemaking and be able to appreciate and honor the hard work of JFW’s amazing employees.

For the past eight years at Jackson Family Wines, I helped market and develop strategies for some of our wineries. Jackson Family Wines is one of the most environmentally conscious wine companies in the world, so I grew up not only appreciating the California land—and feeling a deep connection with the environment and nature—but understanding the importance of taking steps to protect it.

How did you come up with the idea for Grounded?

Back in 2017, a series of wildfires ravaged Northern California, including my hometown of Healdsburg. This was my first time witnessing the impact a changing climate will have on not just my family, friends, and neighbors, but communities across the country and world.

Often, we/our society talk about climate change as a problem that will impact future generations. We say that we want to build a better world for our children, but really, we are seeing the negative effects of climate change right now, and the situation needs immediate solutions and mitigation. I came up with Grounded as a way to turn shocking concern into necessary action.

The urgency of climate change requires proactive, ambitious measures. I focus the majority of my time and energy on Grounded, a nonprofit aimed at supporting the organizations and individuals working on scalable climate solutions.

My family and our livelihood depends on the land. Climate change impacts every aspect of wine growing; we are already seeing the effects of unpredictable weather. The inspiration for Grounded is personal as much as it is global, and that’s why we are focused on accelerating tangible solutions within the 10-year timeline laid out by the recent IPCC report.

What can people look forward to at the upcoming summit, and what would you like people to know about it?

Our inaugural summit is taking place March 20th and 21st and will bring together scientists, activists, world leaders, filmmakers, and business leaders to educate and share solutions to our climate crisis, all against the backdrop of California’s wine country near the epicenter of the 2017 Tubbs Fire. Programming will include keynotes, panels, unforgettable culinary experiences, and a special musical performance by Brandon Boyd, Mike Einziger, and Ben Kenney of Incubus, who have made a true impact through the Make Yourself Foundation. I’m really excited to see so many amazing leaders and experts converge, and am hoping this will serve as a springboard for real implementation and change.

What was the moment you realized you had something special with this idea?

Leaders within this space started telling my team that they felt refreshed by our sense of urgency and ambition. I am so honored feeling like these people believed in our vision even though we are the new kids on the block. We have an amazing lineup of scientific leaders, partners, artists, experts, and speakers, and it’s been humbling/invigorating/incredible to see that all of these people are interested in coming together to talk about solutions.

What is one piece of advice you would give younger women about creating a movement that will make a difference in the world?

Never pass up an opportunity to grow and take strategic risks. This piece of advice was instilled in me from a young age by my father, and it continues to guide me through my life decisions. When you are stagnant, you are not growing. I’ve learned so much in the last eight months working on Grounded. I’ve already grown so much as a young leader by implementing this vision and holding myself accountable to it. Always push yourself, especially for something you believe in.

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