ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH PLAINS FOOD COLLABORATIVE
The Collaborative is a project managed through the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s Cooperative Center with Stella Sustainability as project manager, and through generous funding received by the Gates Family Foundation. Our team consists of ranchers, farmers, food hubs, food assistance providers, value chain coordinators and service producers from across Colorado, Northern New Mexico, Southern Wyoming, Eastern Utah, and Western Kansas. Our goal is to develop a values based regional food marketing, aggregation and distribution system which is cooperatively owned by producers and aggregators. We intend to make buying local and regenerative products as easy for buyers as purchasing from a broad line distributor, as well as ensuring producers receive a fair price for their product. We are striving to connect buyers and consumers with their producers to build a resilient food system. One in which everyone person understands the work, dedication and elements that go into their daily meals.
CLIMATE CHANGE / GREENHOUSE GAS ACCOUNTING TECHNICAL SUPPORT AND STATE ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ADVISOR
In April 2020, Margaret started working with Good Business Colorado (GBC) to provide technical support and communications to and from small business owners with a focus Colorado State’s efforts to address climate change through the implementation of House Bill 1261 and Senate Bill 96. This included following the Air Quality Control Commission rulemaking process for Regulation 22 to develop greenhouse gas inventory guidelines for the state, as well as hydrofluorocarbon regulations. Information gathered throughout this process was then used to develop a two part webinar to update business owners on the following: basics of greenhouse gas accounting, statewide efforts, policy relevance to small-medium size businesses and a brainstorming component to propose new action times through a return on investment/triple bottom lens perspective. This work included organizing a fabulous team of GBC owners who were interested in commenting and improving the state’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap through op-editorials and public comments.
In December of 2020, Margaret began helping during GBC’s policy director transition by leading their environmental policy work, including technical support, advocacy and communications between and from GBC business owners, especially sustainable environment working group members. This work focused on state legislative and regulatory work ranging from Suncor’s Title 5 re-permitting to Air Quality Control Commission rule makings to analyzing state climate change and environmental bills introduced in both the House and Senate. The goal was to provide informed, substantive comments advocating for climate change mitigation and adaptation from small to medium size businesses across the state. This work continued through the close of the policy season in mid June.
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.
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.