More Green Wall Blogging

Thought I would also share some blog entries I wrote during my time at The Living Wall Company. I certainly enjoy writing about green infrastructure and living architecture.  It is very important to return vegetation to urban environments and restore natural communities in natural environments.

Enjoy!!

Green Wall Blogging

Green Wall Blogging

I’ve been a little quiet on here lately.  But I have kept myself busy.Green Wall

After about 2 years of being involved with the start-up living wall company, I am pursuing other opportunities in St. Louis (or KC, or beyond). Entry-level opportunities of interest include: environmental scientist or specialist, sustainability coordinator, program coordinator, product manager, environmental educator, renewable energy sales, consulting, landscape architecture, green roof or wall representative, native landscaping representative, marketing/outreach/social media, etc.

Anyway, with my career search ongoing, I’ve been sharing some thoughts on green walls as a blogger with NewProContainers.com.  Their new blog is focused on informing the interiorscaping and interior design industry.  Green walls are a becoming increasingly popular inside and out.

So, here are the entries I’ve generated so far.  Keep in mind the audience is geared towards interiorscapers.

Enjoy and let me know what you think.  Let me know if you have any questions about green walls.

Have a great week!

Up with Green Roofs! It is time, St. Louis.

I had the pleasure of attending a Green Roof Design and Installation workshop last week in Nashville, Tennessee.  This course is for those interested in the green roof industry and Green Roof Professional accreditation.  It was a real treat to have Steven Peck, Founder and President of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, as our instructor.  We were also lucky enough to tour a 4-acre green roof at the Nashville Music City Center!

Nashville Music City Center Green Roof

Although I’m no architect, landscape architect, or engineer, I have a special interest in the living architecture industry.  In fact, I hope to get involved with green roof and living wall projects in the Midwest, and I can’t wait for cities like St. Louis and Kansas City to adopt living architecture incentive programs.  So many cities in North America already have green roof policiesNashville, Tennessee, offers a $10 per square foot incentive for green roofs, which is EXCELLENT considering green roofs can cost $11-50 per square foot!

Both KC and STL have environmental problems associated with urbanization, including major stormwater control problems, and Kansas City has one of the worst Urban Heat Islands  in the country! (About Urban Heat Islands.)  The impacts of climate change may amplify environmental problems already present in these cities.

A green roof policy would incentivize the implementation of green roofs, living walls, and other sustainable green infrastructure.  Why?  A few reasons:

  • Mitigate urban stormwater problemsNative Green Roof at Shaw Nature Reserve
  • Alleviate urban heat island effect
  • Reduce energy costs
  • Mitigate air, water, and soil pollution
  • Increase urban biodiversity (plants, insects, birds, etc.)
  • Beautify the urban jungle
  • Augment urban food production
  • Create green amenities for private consumers
  • Create park space for the general public

The St. Louis region already has green roofs at places like NGRREC in Alton, the St. Louis Zoo, Shaw Nature Reserve, SIUE, Webster University, Washington University in St Louis, Shaw Nature Reserve, just to name a few.

Now, I believe that many companies, organizations, non-profits, and regional government entities already support the concept of green roofs.  Here is a short list of folks I believe would/could/should support and benefit from a St. Louis Metro Green Roof Policy:

I’m sure there are more!!  Let’s go, St. Louis.  It’s time to make St. Louis a more sustainable, healthy, and verdant city!

Green Roof Tour

About me:  I am a LEED Green Associate, and have an M.S. of Environmental Sciences from SIU Edwardsville.  I’ve conducted research on green roofs and living retaining walls during my graduate work at SIUE.  I have also created artistic plant designs and assisted with installations for living wall projects (Pics in My LinkedIn).  I’m currently looking for career opportunities in the region.

Hitched to Nature, Hitched to the Universe

Hitched to Muir's Ideals

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

~John Muir

One of my favorite quotes…it not only inspires my continued appreciation for the natural world, but it also clarifies my thoughts on Sustainability.

*I took this photo at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, MO this Spring.

Green Career Fairs in the Midwest?

Are you a college student or a recent graduate?  Have you followed the educational path to a shiny new sustainability or environmental degree?  (If so, bless you and your commitment!)  But are you ready to look for work in this field?? Are you looking to network?  As a part of your search, I bet you’re planning to hit up some career fairs.  Should be helpful, right?  Unfortunately, for aspiring sustainability and environmental professionals, this may not be so easy.

Career fairs exist to give potential employees face time with employers.  They give us a opportunity to socialize, make important contacts, and perhaps even make acquaintances in similar fields. 

Career fairs are hosted all the time.  Unfortunately, many career fairs that I have attended (or planned to attend before viewing the exhibitor list) were filled with exhibitors that may not have been there to recruit sustainability and environmental professionals:  financial institutions, insurance companies, major corporations, retailers, grocers, etc.  (It’s certainly true that these companies NEED Environmental Specialists and Sustainability Coordinators, whether they know it yet or not.)

But for us ‘green’ folks out there, opportunities to connect in-person are few and far between: monthly meetings (Sierra Club, Green Drinks, USGBC, etc.), occasional seminars/conferences/fairs, and, of course, annual Earth Day events. (See ‘Getting Sustainably Involved in St. Louis.’)  Now I’m no social butterfly, but I could certainly use more frequent opportunities to mingle with my local tree-huggers.

Currently, however, it seems like many Earth Day and green events are geared toward education and outreach (excellent goals!), not recruiting and hiring.  They may not be expecting you to ask about a job.

But maybe they should.  I believe there is a need for Green Career Fairs in this part of the country (especially in St. Louis and Kansas City metros).  Until that torch is taken up, Green Career Fairs could easily be integrated into Earth Day celebrations!  Many relevant organizations are already in attendance.  Exhibitors could expect job-seekers as well as the general public, with just a little notice.  Event planners could attract job-seekers and job-providers to network table-by-table throughout the event.  Or perhaps a separate mini-networking social could be arranged, eh?  Green Events could give relevant organizations face time with the general public AND with potential employees.

We green folks need the face time to educate one another, lift each other up, connect with each other, and bring about that change we wish to see in the world.

Forest March in February

The truck rumbled and rattled and crackled along the gravel road back to the park office;  I was sitting in the bed, relaxing in the open air.  The cool air  and the speed of the truck felt brisk, though it was fortunately offset by the pleasant warmth and radiance of the sunny day.  The truck and its passengers were all given shadowy, temporary stripes as we drove through acres and acres of beautiful Missouri forest.  The forest seemed to march with pride alongside us.  The still-green pines and cedars were attempting to outshow the leafless deciduans.  Only a few brown and brittle leaves still bravely clung to their oak and hickory homes.  But the eye cannot miss the occasional grand oak, burly and rugged.  Those grand trees seemed to command their offspring and their companions: oaks, hickories, hackberries, honey locusts, persimmons, walnuts…  From our truck bed, all of the trees seemed to be marching.  The trees closest to the road marched swiftly, while the trees several yards from the road trudged at a moderate pace.  The tree ranks closer to the horizon seemed only to saunter across the countryside.  All, however, were marching under the sky flag of blue, white, and light.

This grand and relaxing procession ended one of my first service outings with the Sierra Club EMG at Hawn State Park.  I had joined friends and strangers to help remove some old fencing.  Like many parks in the area, most of the land at Hawn State Park has been purchased from or donated by private landowners.  For one reason or another, old cattle-fields were left to the advances of the forest and many forgotten fences were overtaken.  The wildlife that returns with the forest, however, has to deal with the hazards of barbed wire and the possibility of injury when crossing half-buried, brittle fence.  Thus, our group set out to tear down some of these old fences and open up the back country.

I must admit, I feared the cold would make me slow and useless.  However, I quickly warmed up through activity and sunny exposure. March.  We slowly followed the rusty, dilapidated fence line.  Snip.  We snipped a section of fence.  Pull.  We pulled the fence and flattened any messes.  Fold.  We folded the metal wire fence into neat stacks.  Flag.  Finally, we flagged the fence for finding later;  pulling all of the fence bales from the forest would be another day’s work.  Indeed, I found myself helpful during this outing.

This part of Missouri reminds me of the Black Hills in SD.

This part of Missouri reminds me of the Black Hills (This Photo taken near Sylvan Lake, SD).  Didn’t take any photos this time on the outing.

This is what I need.  This is what anyone stuck in the city, stuck in the office, stuck in suburbia, needs; some sun and some nature to offset the constant exposure to man-made constructs and rat races.  Go outside!! “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”  ~John Muir

Hello Mr. Steward

To be straight forward, I am exploring my career paths right now, so this is more like an open cover letter than a blog post.  This is in light of the 3 million ‘green’ jobs that were available last year.  I’ll have one of those, please.  But what makes a job green?  What qualifies someone to take on a green job?  How can one get experience in a nascent industry?  How can one jump the experience-needed-for-job/job-needed-for-experience hurdle in an exceptionally young and broad industry frontier (and during an economic downturn)??

These are all questions I have asked myself as I pursued an undergraduate degree emphasizing sustainability and a MS in Environmental Sciences. In undergrad, I was immersed in interdisciplinary studies among biology, botany, environmental health, geology, aquatic ecology, economics, and political science.  I even took the capstone sustainability course (team-taught by a geologist, an economist, and a political scientist), which led me to feel that all college students should be exposed to an interdisciplinary, introductory sustainability course.  In graduate school, I took fascinating courses like pollution ecology, plant ecology, GIS, hydrology, and environmental law.  For my thesis project, I delved into the world of living architecture.  I evaluated the stormwater control potential and urban heat island benefits of living retaining wall systems.  As a part of the same laboratory group, I also helped with numerous green roof projects at SIUE.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the academic world.  But for now, aside from studying for and recently obtaining a LEED Green Associate credential, I’m done with academia.   I’m ready to find one of those new-fangled green jobs.  But which job?  I suppose with my broad educational experience, there are a few possibilities.

But based on my interests and education, I’ve got a few paths that may yet be passable.

Consulting

I’ve always been a listener and an observer.  On top of that, graduate school brought with it hours of research experience.  Researching means finding solutions and giving greater advice.  With training or perhaps an apprenticeship, I could consult on topics of green building, living architecture, sustainability, or perhaps even ecological restoration.

Green Building and Living Architecture Advocate

I’m already entrenched in this field with experience researching living walls and green roofs.  I attended and presented at the 2011 Cities Alive Conference in Philadelphia.  I’ve been involved with a new company that markets living wall systems.  I just became a LEED Green Associate, so I’m now more familiar with the rating system and how living architecture enters into the green building equation.

Conservation and Ecological Restoration

I’ve been fascinated with native plants and the restoration of natural areas for years.  I have particular interest in reclaiming old fields, restoring and expanding prairies, and protecting riparian zones.    I’ve had exposure to some plant, fish, and aquatic macroinvertebrate taxonomy.  I’ve enjoyed classes like Ecology of Plants, Taxonomy of Flowering Plants, Aquatic Ecology, Pollution Ecology, and Environmental Biology.  Since last May, I’ve even had the pleasure of volunteering as a horticulturist at a nature reserve.  There I’ve helped collect and clean native plant seeds.

Some days I envision a great paying job with an office; other days, as I wade through restored prairie, I feel as though my office could be outside.

For now, the networking continues.

Speaking of networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.