Big Green Gazette, Volume XXIW, Issue II

Curated for you by the Sustainable Dartmouth Interns Sunday, February 14th, 2021

Environmental Changemakers

This term the Sustainable Dartmouth Interns hosted our first ever Environmental Changemakers Speaker Series! We talked to four environmental professionals about what they do, what their path in the environmental sector looked like, what they enjoy about working in such a dynamic field, and more. Find our recap below.

Latria Graham '08

First up on January 13th (wow, Week 2, remember her?) was Latria Graham ‘08. Latria walked us through her very nonlinear career journey, giving sage advice about pursuing what makes you fulfilled and owning your struggles for how they make you stronger. She expressed how some publishers that she’s encountered in her freelance outdoor, environmental, and cultural writing career have only “wanted Black bodies, but they didn’t want Black voices or Black perspectives”; in the face of such blatant tokenism and racism, she’s come into the voice she has now only through lots of trial and error, guidance from mentors in the field, and, most importantly, a resolute assertion of her core identities. Additionally, though the freelance publishing world often revolves around the dollar, in her work Latria centers the question, “What have you done for the community or to make this a more just and equitable world when money is not in the equation?” One of the ways she accomplishes this through her writing is by pushing the boundaries of dominant perceptions of what it looks like to be in relation with the outdoor world. In our conversation, drawing from her background as a South Carolinian farmer whose family has been working the land for five generations, she said, “When you summit a are you caring for the ground that you’re standing on? We’re asking that question now. As a farmer, you always have to be constantly giving back [to the land].”

You can find the full conversation with Latria here!

Alisa White ‘17

On January 20th, Alisa White ‘17 talked to us about what drew her to environmental law and how she hopes to leverage her skills and privileges to aid communities fighting for Indigineous environmental rights. After completing her B.A. in Environmental Studies at Dartmouth, she went on to work in environmental consulting as well as non-profit research before attending Yale. She is now a JD Candidate at Yale School of Law and a Master of Environmental Science Candidate at Yale School of the Environment. When asked about what drew her to public interest law, White shared that “you get to provide support to communities that might otherwise not have access to legal services because of the cost. That’s something that’s very important to me too - expanding access to the law to BIPOC and low-income communities.” Watch the recording of our conversation with Alisa here.

Vivian Lin

For our third Changemakers event, we were privileged to speak with Vivian Lin, founder of Groundcycle, a closed-loop composting org in Brooklyn. Vivian is just about the best spokesperson for compost you’ll ever meet, and we were absolutely wowed by her initiative in identifying a need in her community, responding quickly to that need, and staying nimble as a business to continue addressing needs as they evolve. Being grounded in the community has been crucial to Groundcycle’s model–in spite of starting a compost delivery business, Vivian doesn’t actually have a license, so she had to rely heavily on her personal support network to make Groundcycle a reality. We also got to dig into the inequities baked into New York’s municipal composting system and the ways that Groundcycle provides affordable, accessible options for everyone, regardless of their housing and financial situations. Her one piece of advice to the audience: “just get involved!” Check out Vivian's talk here.

Carter Strickland ‘90

On February 3rd, Carter Strickland ‘90 joined us to share some thoughts about this long career in environmentalism and sustainability. He started in environmental law, then transitioned to working for the city of NY on municipal level sustainability initiatives, and finally he now works as the NY State Director at the Trust for Public Lands. Carter gave some great insight into what it’s like to work in the public sector at the city level. He says, “cities are not recognized [enough] in our governmental system but they have a lot of power on their own. I think that was kind of a realization and something I hope you all take a look at because it’s very satisfying since you’re close to the action. Like, you put in place a composting program and you can see the results right there, and you really feel like, ‘wow, I’m having an impact’" (surely this is how Vivian feels too!).

One of Carter’s most rewarding and impactful experiences was helping NYC transition away from burning #6 residual heating oil. In response to finding out that