How Climate Research, Tech, and Community Collide at The Collider

December 4, 2019

Asheville’s state-of-the-art climate research center may have started local, but they’re coming for the big leagues. In addition to creating dynamic community for people, businesses, and academic institutions, The Collider has quickly become one of the top five hubs in the country where climate services and technology are birthed. We sat down with The Collider’s Communications Liason, Mickey Snowdon, to learn more.

Hi Mickey! Thanks for joining us. Tell us about your business and the role you play in it.
The Collider is a nonprofit network of member businesses, organizations, academic institutions, and individuals advancing climate solutions so that all can mitigate, adapt, and thrive in a changing world. Our top priority is supporting the innovative work that our members do right here in Asheville and the rest of the world. As Communications Liaison, my job is to share the work that Collider members do within our network and the greater Asheville community, which translates into telling our members’ stories, promoting events, and engaging the public in our climate mission. The Collider has been a force in Asheville since opening its doors on the 4th floor of the Wells Fargo Building in March 2016

What made the Collider team choose the Asheville area?
Located right in the heart of downtown Asheville and just steps from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, North Carolina State’s Institute for Climate Studies, and the National Centers for Environmental Information, The Collider’s location is integral to our identity. We think of The Collider as a hub for the climate tech market that is emerging right here in Asheville. Also, coexisting and collaborating with all of the other amazing organizations and businesses is one of the main reasons we’re proud to call Asheville home.

Who are your key partners?
At The Collider, our members are known for their creations and services. The Collider partners with countless businesses, academic institutions, and nonprofits throughout Asheville and beyond. Our anchor tenant is UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC), an Applied Research Center who has been a member in our offices since our inception. We have members who develop innovative technologies such as climate and health applications (DailyBreath) and wetland delineation applications (EcoBot), interactive climate modelling tools used by leading policymakers (Climate Interactive), and crop yield prediction products which examine global climate impacts on crop yields (CropProphet). Other members specialize in providing essential services like ecological consulting (BlueEarth, Ecosystem Services, Ecosystem Services and Markets) and climate-smart real estate training (EcoReal Academy).

What has been The Collider’s greatest challenge (and victory)?
Our greatest challenge is that we are working in a sector (climate services) that is in its infancy nationwide. That means that we are not only trying to grow local business, but we are also trying to grow the national market.

Our greatest victories happen every day that we are able to collaborate as a network. We are providing climate services and products to our customers, helping our community and nation become more resilient to a changing climate, and leading a movement toward mitigating and adapting to the causes of climate change

What is a little known fact about The Collider?
We are member-driven and network-led, meaning that we are learning by doing and making a difference one step at a time. Instead of managing our members from a “top down” approach, we encourage our members to run our network. A fun fact we like to share is that we are viewed as one of five national “hubs” where climate services and technology are created and provided.

If you had to give one piece of advice to someone just starting out in the nonprofit realm, what would it be?
Go into the nonprofit realm with eyes wide open and figure out how to support your passion while still earning a living. Existing as a nonprofit doesn’t mean losing money, but rather earning enough to further the vision and mission of your organization. It’s a hard balance, but nonprofits can be places where everyone involved thrives.

What does the word “community” mean to you?
Community covers a broad range of meaning for us. Our community is the place where we live and work, and we rely on its services to give us the quality of life we expect. But the word community goes beyond the physical place and its associated services; more importantly, our community is the people we work with, support, and are supported by. Through working together, we build intentional and resilient communities.

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