Carla Riggs: Developing Sustainable Communities
Foresight Immersion 2008 Fellow
Currently: Project Manager for Student Operations, Kaplan University
Career Path: Taylor University (B.S., Psychology)>Various administrative jobs in human resources, healthcare, and student services>Kaplan, Inc. (Associate Editor; Project Management)>Certificated Project Management Professional>St. Mary-of-the-Woods (M.A., Earth Literacy)
Next Step: On the career front, I want to expand and deepen my project management knowledge and skills into new types of projects. On the personal front, I am focused on connecting with other Chicagoans that share my commitment to developing sustainable communities. I am making time to get to know my neighborhood and being more engaged at the local level.
Personal Sustainability: I choose to live car-free and depend on public transit, I-GO, and my own feet for transportation. I promote re-use by shopping thrift stores and Craigslist for clothing and household goods, and at local businesses whenever possible. My food dollars go to support local food systems, and eating low on the food chain.
Recommends: GreenBiz is a great resource for news about innovations in business. Also, AASHE is the website for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The AASHE newsletter reports on schools incorporating sustainable practices in their campus operations and facilities, as well as integrating sustainable principles into the curriculum – which is very inspiring.
Foresight Memories: Immersion was a terrific deep dive into sustainability in Chicago. The program taught me that government, business, nonprofit, and individual citizens are all necessary in the move toward sustainable practices. The problems with humanity’s relationship to the earth’s resources are complex, and we need all of society involved to solve them. My favorite field trip was touring the Stickney water treatment plant operated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD). The volume of wastewater from homes, businesses and storm sewers in the Chicago area is incomprehensible. Their task of processing and reclaiming it is enormous. Touring the facility was a rare privilege, and the scope of the operation and the enthusiasm of the engineers for their work were amazing.
Next Gen Advice: Begin anywhere. I learned this from Peter Nicholson, who credited Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto. Problems relating to sustainability are complex and may seem intractable. The good news is that the solutions are also complex. This means that beginning anywhere is apt to have some effect, and efforts across multiple sectors will add up. Resist the temptation to get stuck in analysis of the problem, and begin – somewhere.
Dream project/job: Any project relating to urban infrastructure or urban planning. I am inspired by the opportunities in urban settings to share resources, minimize waste, and improve quality of life. I’m interested in the infrastructure and systems that support our urban living, and want to work with teams that are tackling these problems and working to improve these systems.