SYSTEMIC SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION AND STRATEGIC PLANNING WORKSHOPS
Margaret redesigned and managed the National Park Service’s Climate Friendly Parks program during an 11 month assignment. The program was established to offer National Park units leadership and staff support to conduct a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, identify greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and then develop an action plan. The redesign focused on using a Whole System’s Approach to Sustainability, as well as integrate existing government initiatives and each park unit’s existing Environmental Management Systems (EMS). In addition, a new baseline sustainability assessment was developed and conducted before the workshop agenda was developed. This allowed each two day educational and planning workshop to be more specifically tailored to the needs of the park staff. In addition, specific technical experts could then be invited to assist the park unit staff. At the completion of the new process, park unit staff had the information and data needed to develop a comprehensive sustainability plan, which integrated Climate Change, EMS and other Sustainability priorities.
DEVELOPING SUSTAINABILITY PRIORITIES
Margaret worked with National Park Service Intermountain regional leadership to organize and host two regional Sustainability workshops for Superintendents, Resource and Facility Managers, regional staff and other NPS employees involved in Sustainability efforts. The goals for the workshop included the following: broad sustainability education, highlight best Sustainability and Climate Change case practices across the National Park Service, brainstorm a new vision, learn each participants’ priorities and identify leverage points to change employee’s daily habits. After these workshops, Margaret was given the task to pass each priority or action item through a multi-criteria assessment including ROI from an economic, social, political and environmental perspective she developed exclusively for NPS. This assessment included an understanding of federal regulations, funding streams and policy implications.
MERGING ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS WITH A STRATEGIC SUSTAINABILITY PLAN
In order to spend more time doing than reporting, Margaret determined that building a robust and systemic Environmental Management System (EMS) rather than a separate Sustainability or Climate Change Action Plan made the most sense. Margaret worked with various National Park Units to create a ‘Robust’ EMS that satisfied various federal and National Park Service regulations for EMS, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and other reduction targets such as waste, energy and water. With the help of engaged staff this new process incorporated all Sustainability and Climate Change plans and goals into one document which could be easily accessed and updated. This enabled park staff to more easier Plan, Do, Check and Act on action items, reduction targets and goals, as well as utilize their time more efficiently.
GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORIES
Margaret developed and implemented a summer internship program with twelve undergraduate and graduate students who conducted greenhouse gas emissions inventories, as well as wrote sustainability reports for 72 Intermountain Regional National Park Units. This involved updating a greenhouse gas emissions inventory excel tool, developing a sustainability assessment checklist for interns to use at parks and training throughout the summer. One element of the report attempted to quantify the amount of waste produced and energy expended when parks chose to sell plastic water bottles rather than supply water filling stations.
ORGANIC FARMING & CERTIFICATION
For three years, Margaret was co-owner of Kolibri Organic Peach Orchard located in Hotchkiss, Colorado. In this position, she attained organic certification through CCOF, received a NRCS grant to improve water efficiency and managed daily orchard activities such as irrigation, improving soil health and harvesting. In addition, she developed partnerships to sell three varieties of peaches with various restaurants and stores from Vail to Denver.
BUILDING SUSTAINABLE URBAN COMMUNITIES: Can a Participatory Space Offer a Solution?
Margaret’s thesis work focused on the strength of people working collectively as a community to bring about sustainable change. The focus was upon whether a common participatory space has the potential to become a community hub. One that is able to foster participatory dialogue, negotiation and decision-making to make grassroots change. The thesis’ outcome highlighted key elements necessary for a space to become a successful hub that is both operated by and beneficial to the community. Research also highlighted traditional and indigenous forms of decision making, international examples of discursive democracy, and micro-finance success stories.
TRANSITIONING A COMMUNITY GROCERY TO A FOOD COOPERATIVE WITH AN EYE TO FOOD JUSTICE
As the Vice Chair of the board of directors for Big Hollow, Alyssa helped oversee the transition of a non-profit community-owned grocery store to a legal food cooperative. This included researching and communicating cooperative values and approaches, rewriting bylaws, and advising on restructuring organization procedures. Throughout the restructuring, she advocated for and advised on practices that would increase patron diversity and access to healthy foods for low-income families.
MANAGING COMMUNITY-BASED PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH IN FOOD SYSTEMS
Since 2013, Alyssa has managed action research programs, also known as community-based participatory research (CBPR), with several approaches to food systems research, including tracing paths communities take to create and maintain sustainable food systems (Food Dignity), assessing home gardens as family health interventions on the Wind River Indian Reservation (Growing Resilience), and assessing how matching Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) coupons at farmers markets may impact food security and fruit and vegetable consumption of low-income families. Her work has included assistance in applying for and managing budgets for multi-million dollar grants, establishing research protocols, planning conferences and large group meetings, managing sub-awards and complex partnerships. The CBPR approach to research is participant and community driven and requires innovative and flexible approaches to promote equity among research partners. In her published piece “Overcoming the Venn diagram,” Alyssa describes her role in CBPR partnerships as a “deep-rooted obligation to find ways around and through oppressive structures.” This sentiment, which she calls “co-passionate navigation,” lies at the heart of all Alyssa’s work.
SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT
Margaret was hired by the school of Business, Economics and Society at Friedrich-Alexander Erlangen-Nürnberg Universität to redesign their English curriculum to incorporate Sustainability and then to teach these courses. The classes focused on International Business and Economics topics ranging from environmental conflict to international financial institutions to Corporate Social Responsibility. One intermediate class focused on each student developing their own company complete with a business plan, after first analyzing various international organizations. An advanced class required students to select a person of their choosing each section from a list of internationally recognized business, economic, social and political players. The student was then required to throughly research this individual in order to represent them in a debate from both the pro and con perspective.
While working at the UNEP and Wuppertal Institute’s Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Margaret served as the point of contact for the both the launch of the EU SCORE! Network and a Policy Task Force conference for the Marrakech Process. SCORE! stands for Sustainable Consumption Research Exchange, and its main goal was to research, analyze, identify and promote successful examples of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) for mobility, agro-food and energy use in order to further the Marrakech Process. The Marrakech Process began as a response to the call of the Johannesburg Plan adopted at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. The goal was to develop a 10-Year Framework of Programs on SCP with UNEP and UNDESA as the leading agencies in this global process.