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On the Job – Vancouver’s Greenest City Scholars Program

I have officially been “on the job” at my internship with the City of Vancouver for a couple of weeks now.  Thus far, it has been a very positive experience. Having worked at higher levels of government previously, I must say that I am struck by the vibrant sense of energy that seems to be part of the work environment.  People are genuinely excited and motivated towards meeting the city’s “green” goals, and very responsive as well.  I think that this is partly due to some self-selection in terms of the types of people seeking out work in this environmentally progressive city, as well as in part due to the level of government as well.  Being at the local level of government means that it can be much easier to see the fruits of one’s work, be they good or bad. The citizens we serve, rather than being some amorphous group, are in fact the people we see on a day-to-day basis in our lives.

The other interns who are part of the Greenest City Scholars Program have also commented on this fact. In total, there are ten of us, each working on one of the city’s long-term goals, as identified by their Greenest City 2020 Action Plan.  While each of us is part of a different department of the City, we’ve had the opportunity to learn about each other and our individual projects through orientation and a couple of informal get-togethers. It’s great to meet students from other departments who share similar interests, but who are approaching things from different perspectives. As a whole, we “Greenest City Scholars” form a diverse and eclectic group, with academic backgrounds in architecture, engineering, geography, industrial design, and planning, and interests in areas far beyond even that range.

For example, my friend Joshua Welsh is another Greenest City Scholar.  Josh is working on the city’s goal known as ‘Clean Water,” which consists of two parts:  having the cleanest drinking water in the world, and reducing potable water consumption by 33% per capita.  His specific project will be looking at how to account for the 12% reduction in consumption that cannot be readily achieved through such measures as mandating more efficient water fixtures and metering with new developments. In his spare time, he has also been working with UBC’s Faculty of Education on the design for the expansion of the Orchard Garden. The more than 600 square meter Orchard Garden was pioneered by students at the Faculty for Land and Food Systems at UBC and acts as a growing and learning space in the middle of campus.  Josh’s background as an unconventional industrial designer and as a current master’s student in Advanced Studies in Landscape Architecture makes him a capable candidate to help implement sustainable place-making at the garden. Having formerly taught a a member of adjunct faculty in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he says, “Working on this project allows me to practice much of what I have known as both a designer and instructor. This project not only provides opportunities to design modular outdoor furniture and site elements created from found wood and other repurposed materials, it fosters design collaboration amongst departments that are not commonly exposed to such a way of thinking and working. I am excited to continue sharing ideas about making place that aims to be everything flexible, multidisciplinary, and alive with food and flowers and bees and volunteers(!)”

As you can see, this program attracts more than its fair share of engaged and motivated individuals. For more information on the other amazing students, check out our own Greenest City Scholars blog. (And please bear with us, as it is still in construction).

Last but not least of course, I must put a little mention in about the lovely office space in which I work.  This is the view from my fourth floor abode:











Blue sky, city skyline, and mountains – not too shabby at all. (Photo courtesy Joshua Welsh, also a photographer extraordinaire).

Darlene Seto is pursuing her master’s degree at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. A keen student of environment policy and governance, her current graduate work revolves around diversity and engagement in alternative food systems.

Posted on: June 2, 2011, 2:03 pm Category: The Life of an Environmental Studies Student Tagged with: , , , ,

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