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Grounded Summit:
A Platform for Climate Solutions in California’s Wine Country

"Conversations around climate change are constantly looking at how we’re impacting the future, but there’s more we need to be doing now to preserve today for this generation.” — Julia Jackson, Grounded Foundation

People in the wine industry have an acute awareness of climate change and how it affects their industry. This awareness, coupled with the devastating wildfires across northern California in 2017, motivated Julia Jackson, the youngest Jackson behind northern California-based Jackson Family Wines, to take action.

Forced to evacuate her home during a fire that killed 44 people and destroyed hundreds of homes, Julia decided to use her fear to fuel the search for climate change solutions. The winemaker-turned-activist launched the Grounded Foundation, which is hosting its inaugural event, a climate summit taking place in Sonoma County, CA on March 20-21, to bring a fresh angle to climate action.

We recently caught up with Julia Jackson to learn more about the foundation and the event.

What is Grounded, and what is the goal of the event?

The Grounded Summit will unite environmental pioneers, world leaders and artists to initiate action around climate change solutions. Participants will engage in discussions designed to reshape how we all think about the current state of our environment.

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I’ve attended quite a few climate change summits and while they all brought amazing people together, my question was always: What next? What are they doing to do about it? Knowing that we really need to take aggressive action, per the latest IPCC report, I wanted Grounded to focus on solutions and help attendees recognize that climate change is not an issue for the next generation, but today.

What are some of the topics the event will focus on?

We will focus on innovative solutions, such as a solution to protect Artic icecaps from melting, resolutions to reverse permafrost thawing, and the latest technology saving our oceans and forests. For year one, we are focusing heavily on the Arctic and permafrost, as we recognize how critical they are to protecting our planet.

We also hope to bring inspiration from work being done around the world to showcase what is working in other countries and ecosystems. For example, we’ll have an amazing non-profit, Amazon Frontlines, which is working with the Ecuadorian Huaorani tribe to protect over 7 million acres of Amazon and expand their solutions to other countries. Their work will not only open attendees’ eyes to what is possible, but will also invite them to explore a connection to the environment that a lot of people in Western society do not have.

Who can we expect to hear from during the summit?

Over the course of two days, Grounded attendees will hear from an array of trailblazers leading the climate change innovation space. These pioneers include speakers such as Paul Hawken, author of Project Drawdown, who is delivering the keynote address; the former president of Iceland, Ólafur R Grimsson, who oversaw the country’s shift to 85 percent renewable power; and David Festa, Senior Vice President at the Environmental Defense Fund.

What makes Grounded different from other climate change conferences?

Grounded’s main goal is to reshape the way people think about our planet. We are trying to make climate change, and the environment, very personal so that everyone is encouraged and empowered to initiate change.

Our team has worked diligently to create an immersive and engaging experience for all — from original works by climate change artist Zaria Forman to a giant geodesic dome that people can walk into as if they are entering the earth.

Food is a key part of the experience, as well. We are very excited to be featuring Søren Westh, the former sous chef of Denmark’s critically acclaimed NOMA. Søren has curated a menu that reflects how climate change is impacting our food systems. For this year, two major themes include food waste and invasive species.

Who should attend and why?

Because every individual plays a critical role in saving our planet, we hope that Grounded will attract a diverse audience. This would include everyone from investors and corporations, passionate climate change activists, environmental scientists and students.

What will be the outcome?

Our primary goal is for summit attendees to walk away with actionable steps that they can incorporate into their day-to-day lives and take back to their businesses. I would love for people to feel so impacted and moved that they will see that A) we are running out of time and B) they are part of the solution. We want this to be a movement.

We are also looking to raise money to go towards our non-profit, the Grounded Foundation, which identifies and accelerates solutions to climate change. With less than 3 percent of philanthropic giving worldwide going to the environment, we want to make sure that innovative solutions receive the funding they need to make a real impact. Our goal is not to compete with other non-profits, but to champion them, connect them within the space, support them by taking inefficiencies off their shoulders and catapulting their solutions.

Do you have any insights as a female founder?

I see women as healers and collaborators. In that way, I think women are key to solving climate change. I also think women bring critical skills to the table — like empathy, relationship-building and analytical capability — all of which are key to initiating action around climate change.

Ultimately, what’s the ask?

Wake up and realize that healing the planet is something we need to do today, by helping transform conversation into action. Register for Grounded today.