Practitioners

Peter Forbes joins us this summer

I’m pleased to say that Peter Forbes will join the Middlebury School of the Environment this summer as guest practitioner.

Peter ForbesPeter describes himself this way: “I am a life-long student and advocate for the relationship between people and place. I’ve worked with many different people in very different geography from remote Nepal to the Rocky Mountains to central Harlen, New York. My life as emergency medical technician, photographer, author, father, farmer, and facilitator combine unusual aspect of the practical and visionary to produce work that has been helpful to a variety of sectors: conservation, leadership development, sustainability, philanthropy, and social ventures.

The list of his specific projects and writings is long and diverse:

  • Negotiating Generational Change
  • A Man Apart (2015)
  • Making Allies: Western Maine
  • Making Allies between Conservationists and Rural Native Communities
  • Coming to Land in a Troubled World (2004)
  • Integrating Conservation and Human Wellbeing
  • The Great Remembering: Further thoughts on land, soul and society (2001)
  • Connecting Native and Contemporary Land Trust Leaders
  • Strengthening Conservation by Connecting with Community
  • Making a National Case for Community Conservation

Through his work with the Center for Whole Communities, the Trust for Public Land, and currently Knoll Farm (with his wife, Helen Whybrow), Peter will bring to his conversation with the MSoE students a wealth of experience in integrating the voices of the people and the needs of the land. And we greatly look forward to his time with us!

Environmental practitioners at the School of the Environment

As I’ve written about before, one of the most important elements of our leadership training program is the opportunity for the MSoE students to interact with environmental leaders from across a wide spectrum of pathways and experiences in life.  These leaders are real practitioners — people who are actually working on real projects and in real settings to bring about a positive change in the world.  Rather than simply have these practitioners tell their life stories, we ask them to share with the students some of the lessons they have learned about how to be effective — things that they are glad they did and things they wish that they hadn’t.  From hearing the stories of what others had to learn through trial-and-error, the MSoE students gain a leg up on developing a professional skill set earlier in their efforts to make their own mark on the world.

The roster of practitioners who will be joining us this summer is shaping up and looks to be our most exciting yet.

  • Bill McKibben, noted author, climate activist, and founder of 350.org
  • Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power, Vermont’s largest energy utility and a leader in the implementation of renewable energy systems
  • Peter Forbes, founder of the Center for Whole Communities and co-owner of Knoll Farm, an organic farm dedicated to promoting resiliency, transparency, and the health of the land.
  • Kim Stone, city councilwoman for Highland Park, Illinois, and environmental advocate for alternative transportation.
  • Alden Woodrow, financial manager for the Makani Project (part of GoogleX), a company developing alternative strategies for harvesting wind power.
  • Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development for the Trust for Public Land, as well as former New York City Park Commissioner.

And we’re working to finalize arrangements with a number of others, hopefully representing professional fields such as state government, the military, and community development.

We’re excited about our guest for the summer, and we know that the students who join us will benefit in untold ways from the conversations that will unfold.

Gregory Rosenthal (SoE faculty ’14) Wins National Dissertation Prize

Gregory RosenthalGregory Rosenthal, who was a member of the inaugural faculty of the Middlebury School of the Environment in 2014 and who earned his PhD in History from Stony Brook University in 2015, has been awarded the Rachel Carson Prize for Best Dissertation from the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH).

As noted by the Rachel Carson Prize committee, Rosenthal’s dissertation, “Hawaiians who Left Hawai’i: Work, Body, and Environment in the Pacific World, 1786-1876,” is a “very compelling narrative, which brings a new insight into the meanings of circulation and the making of economies and environments. It excels across the categories used in our evaluation: writing, research and documentation, analysis, and contribution to the field.”

In 2014, Gregory taught “Environmentalism and the Poor,” a seminar that explored the diverse “environmentalisms” that are practiced by both “first worlders” and “third worlders,” by both rich and poor, both workers and capitalists, between the global north and the global south as well as within small-town communities, villages, and cities across the world.”  In addition, he co-taught “Understanding Place: Lake Champlain” with Steve Trombulak, and together they guided the students through the interplay between cultural and natural narratives of place.  Gregory returned to the MSoE in 2015 to present a workshop on environmentalism and the poor, emphasizing the key themes in his previous summer’s elective course.

Gregory is now an assistant professor of public history at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. His winning dissertation is a history of Native Hawaiian migrant labor in the 19th-century trans-Pacific economy. He has published in Environmental History, World History Bulletin, and Perspectives on History, and is the recipient of awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Historical Association, the Huntington Library, the Bancroft Library, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

He is also the co-author of “Many Environmentalisms, From New York to Kabul, From the Past to the Present,” published in Solutions (May-June 2015: 72-76), written with Marjeela Basij-Rasik (MSoE ’14) and based on work that emerged from the MSoE elective.

(Reference: Portions of this text were adapted from a press release published in Stony Brook Matters: news for alumni and friends.)

Environmental Art: Exploration and Collaboration

Martin_Clark_BridgeLast summer, Martin Clark Bridge joined us as the School of the Environment’s first artist-in-residence.  Not only did he create “Vanishing Nautilus,” the acrylic on wood painting to inaugurate the School, but he delivered a riveting lecture called “Environmental Art: Exploration and Collaboration.” In this lecture he reviewed his own path to becoming one of the most promising young artists at the vanguard of the field’s modern movement, but he situates that narrative within the broader history of the field’s evolution over time.

But you don’t have to settle for my description of his presentation.  You can view it here in it’s entirety.  So please join me in welcoming Mr. Martin Clark Bridge, who is speaking to us about Environmental Art: Exploration and Collaboration.

Getting your message out

Today’s blog post comes from Eliot Neal, one of the students in this summer’s program.

Week 1 269“The School for the Environment was honored to have Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and popular environmentalist, join us on Tuesday evening for a workshop on writing op-ed pieces. McKibben is something of a media wizard, and can often be seen on television or gracing the pages of well-known newspapers and magazines. Needless to say, he knows how to get his message across. One of his best tools is the op-ed piece. His talk outlined some of the basic guidelines for writing an op-ed piece, and revealed what helps to make an op-ed successful and widely read. Critiquing examples of op-eds that both he and others had written, McKibben taught us how to avoid some of the common pitfalls that plague op-ed pieces. We will be working with McKibben later in the program when we write our own op-eds in our elective classes.

“One of the major focuses here at the School for the Environment is the power of communication. It is not enough to simply measure, say, levels of pollutants in Lake Champlain. You must then be able to translate that hard data into language that everyone can understand. Additionally, if you wish to enact any change, you must be able to get the attention of people who can make that change happen. As we learned from McKibben, one of the most effective ways to do this is to write an op-ed. By acquiring the necessary skills to communicate information and ideas, we will be much more prepared to tackle the environmental issues that we have explored in the SoE.

Week 1 274

Kenny Williams — GreenThumb Program

Kenny Williams 2Last week, Kenny Williams, of the GreenThumb Program in New York City, came and talked to students about his experiences as a someone working to make a difference promoting the development of community gardens.  Kenny brought an important perspective to our exploration of what it takes to be an effective leader.  He is a recent college graduate (Class of 2012), yet despite that, he has tried a lot and learned a lot about what it takes to design, implement, and manage a project meant to make the world (or, at least, a part of it) a better place.

Kenny WilliamsKenny currently works as an Outreach Coordinator for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation GreenThumb Program. GreenThumb supports community efforts to create and maintain over 500 community gardens throughout the city. He joined GreenThumb shortly after graduating from Middlebury College in the spring of 2012. During his undergraduate career he and a group of fellow alumni created a school garden summer program at the Bronx Academy of Letters Charter School. The experience directed him towards further exploring the city’s approaches to gardening, particularly regarding conservation and community engagement.

One of our students, Joseph Interligi, summarized their conversation like this: ” Kenny Williams lecture fell right in line with our course curriculum by expressing how the lessons we are learning now in regards to the environment and implementing change are employed in the working world. Knowing the knowledge is important but you have to be willing to put that knowledge to work. The “sweat equity” you must dedicate into a project or idea, as Mr. Williams most eloquently stated, is one of the most important aspects of executing change. You cannot just talk the talk you must be willing to walk the walk as well.”

Word.

Gus Speth at the School of the Environment

Gus_SpethI’m very pleased to be announce that Gus Speth will join the School of the Environment as a Fellow this summer, both talking informally to the students about his life as an environmental leader and giving a formal lecture, which will be open to the public.  Throughout his career, James Gustave “Gus” Speth has provided leadership and entrepreneurial initiatives to many task forces and committees whose roles have been to combat environmental degradation and promote sustainable development, including the President’s Task Force on Global Resources and Environment; the Western Hemisphere Dialogue on Environment and Development; and the National Commission on the Environment. Among his awards are the National Wildlife Federation’s Resources Defense Award, the Natural Resources Council of America’s Barbara Swain Award of Honor, a 1997 Special Recognition Award from the Society for International Development, Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Environmental Law Institute and the League of Conservation Voters, the Blue Planet Prize, and the Thomas Berry Great Work Award of the Environmental Consortium of Colleges and Universities.

In short, there are few people who can speak more authoritatively or with more breadth of experience about what it will take for students to become effective agents of environmental change than Gus Speth.

He is the author, co-author or editor of seven books including the award-winning The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability and Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment. His latest book is America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, published by Yale Press in September 2012.

He is currently on the faculty of the Vermont Law School as Professor of Law. He serves also as Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, Senior Fellow at The Democracy Collaborative, and Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute. In 2009 he completed his decade-long tenure as Dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. From 1993 to 1999, Gus Speth was Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of the UN Development Group. Prior to his service at the UN, he was founder and president of the World Resources Institute; professor of law at Georgetown University; chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (Carter Administration); and senior attorney and cofounder, Natural Resources Defense Council.

Stay tuned for more information about the title, timing, and location of his public lecture.  If you are in the area, it will be well worth attending!

Bill McKibben Joins Us This Summer

McKibbenWe are pleased to announce that noted author and environmentalist Bill McKibben will join us as a Fellow of the Middlebury School of the Environment this summer.  Bill has worked tirelessly – and successfully – on behalf of the environment for over 25 years.  His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He is founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities; Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.” A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone.

This summer, Bill will bring to the students at the School of the Environment his expertise as a journalist on how to craft Op-ed pieces for promoting environmental issues and narratives, as well as his expertise as a practitioner in organizational strategy and creative ideation.  We are pleased and excited that he is joining us, and I know that students who attend the School this summer will benefit tremendously from his experience, insight, and passion.

Welcoming New Leadership Fellows

As I have noted in several previous posts, the curriculum for the Middlebury School of the Environment will include workshops offered by a wide variety of professionals who have expertise in one or more tools critical for achieving success in effecting environmental change.  I am pleased to be able to announce the addition of two more Fellows for the School of the Environment, Dr. Helen Riess and Dr. Michael Kiernan.

Portraits of Middlebury College's Board of TrusteesHelen Riess, M.D., is the Chief Technology Officer of Empathetics, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. She conducts translational research using the neuroscience of emotions in educational curricula to improve empathy and relational skills in physicians and other health care providers.  Dr. Riess will join the School of the Environment this summer as a Fellow to lead a workshop on “Empathy and the Environment,” building upon her innovative work on the power of empathy as both a leadership skill and a means to develop positive relationships with people in virtually any setting.

 

MiddCORE Winter Term (j-term) class at VPR with Jane LindholmMike Kiernan is a physician, actor, public speaker – and one today’s most energetic and engaging voices for creative leadership and communication.  He will be joining the School of the Environment as a Fellow to engage with the students on persuasive communication skills.  He has been an instructor in Middlebury College’s leadership and innovation training program, MiddCORE, since 2008 in all areas related to leadership and communication: crisis management, networking, story-making, and both strategic presentation design and delivery. He has also worked as a communications consultant with political candidates, physicians, business executives, and teams on leadership retreats. Mike is an actor and member of the local professional theater company, the Middlebury Actors Workshop. He is also a physician and recently was President of the Medical Staff at Porter Hospital. Mike serves on the Technical Advisory Group for the Green Mountain Care Board and the Executive Counsel of Vermont Medical Society. He is also an advisor to the State of Vermont Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee.

 

 

Leadership in Alternative Energy

Alden WoodrowThis summer, Alden Woodrow will join the School as a practitioner-in-residence, bringing to the students his experience in leading teams that develop alternative energy strategies as well as a background in economics and business.

Alden Woodrow leads the business team for the Makani project at Google [x] (formerly Makani Power), which has developed a novel approach to generating wind power.  The Makani Airborne Wind Turbine is a tethered wing that generates power by flying in large circles where the wind is stronger and more consistent. It eliminates 90% of the material used in conventional wind turbines, and can access winds both at higher altitudes and above deep waters offshore — resources that are currently untapped. Their goal is the utility-scale deployment of airborne turbines in offshore wind farms.

MakaniAlden directs Makani’s strategy, business development, communications, policy, and partnership efforts. He previously worked for a power project developer financing utility-scale wind farms, and as an economic and environmental consultant on topics ranging from climate policy to dog house manufacturing. Alden holds an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business with a focus on energy finance.

We’re very much looking forward to him joining us this summer, as can offer a fresh perspective not only on the future trends in alternative energy generation but how innovative thinking can be manifest in a business environment.

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