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My Summer as a Sustainability Ambassador

My name is Ben Wilkinson, and I am a rising senior at Dunwoody High School and a member of Dunwoody UMC. In June, I became a Sustainability Ambassador for the City of Atlanta. The Sustainability Ambassador program is a series of six classes, each one dedicated to a specific topic related to environmentalism, including food, power, water, waste, and weather. Each session features one or two speakers who work on projects pertaining both to the class theme and sustainability. For example, the speaker at the fourth class was the designer of forty miles of flood tunnels under Atlanta and specially-designed parks that can flood when needed to prevent dangerous sewer overflows. The second class featured representatives of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates some of the largest hydroelectric dams in the US, and an engineer tasked with designing and deploying windmills off the East Coast.

Not all the classes were spent in a conference room, though. The fifth class, dedicated to the relationship between healthy food and income, was a visit to the construction site of the Browns Mill Food Forest. The proprietor described her vision as a future park planted with the seeds and saplings of edible herbs and fruits, built in the center of a string of neighborhoods nearly ten miles from a grocery store offering produce.

For our final task in the program, each student was required to complete a project in his/her community pertaining to concepts learned during the classes. A group of six other students and I decided that rather than go at it alone, we would all join together and pass on some of the things we had learned in the class to young kids as a summer school in the West Side. We are working now to create the curriculum and schedule for those students.

Our guest blogger is Ben Wilkinson. He is the son of GIPL Board Member, Tina Wilkinson.  The Sustainability Ambassador program is an 8-week course that trains and educate City of Atlanta residents and youth on best sustainability practices, and it is hosted through the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Resilience. We look forward to hearing about the final results of Ben’s project.