Earlier this month, Zilkha Center EcoAdvisor Diya Pandey sat down with ZC Community Engagement intern Micaela Foreman to learn more about her passion for sustainability, current internship work, and advice for future environmentalists. Continue reading to learn more!
Micaela Foreman ‘23 (she/their) currently works as the Zilkha Center’s Community Engagement Intern. Her work revolves around strengthening college-community ties, particularly around sustainability. Foreman, who has worked with the Zilkha Center since 2019, grounds every initiative in her key principles: ensuring the safety, joy, and longevity of the community. Tasked with forming and maintaining healthy relationships with sustainability-focused groups outside of Williams, Foreman is acutely aware of her approach while extending a welcoming space beyond the Purple Bubble. When it comes to fostering a dynamic that allows for effective collaboration, she states, “I try to always start with what can the College do for you, never ever starting with a paternalistic plan where we will tell you what you need” (emphasis added).
In her role as Community Engagement Intern, Foreman is connecting Williams to the local community in the form of two exciting upcoming projects. The first is a partnership with the North Adams-based Growing Healthy Garden program. Growing Healthy Garden has supported over a dozen underserved communities in the Berkshires for fifteen years. The program provides fresh produce, teaches and hones cultivation skills across schools and community gardens, and engages neighbors in recreational activities. At present, Foreman is recruiting Williams students to volunteer in time for planting season next month. Be on the lookout for concrete dates after Spring Break!
Foreman is also organizing an Earth Week Fair to take place Saturday, April 23rd on Paresky Lawn. This community-wide event will invite local partners to share about their work to educate others on sustainability issues and practices, and hopefully build connections that lead to future collaborations. Foreman hopes the fair will act as a fun and accessible physical space to ultimately strengthen a broader sense of community and foster genuine connections between students and local members. “I think once we can establish these relationships, the community itself becomes more sustainable. In all honesty, there will be tough times ahead in the face of a shifting nation trying to cope with climate catastrophe, and social sustainability is just as important as solar panels, carbon neutrality, and composting. We are social creatures. We need one another to survive and I hope that I am able to connect people with the insanely well-resourced college to ensure their health, life, and joy.”
Micaela concluded the interview with advice for budding eco-activists: “Move with love. Environmentalism can be quite nebulous and daunting when you don’t ground yourself in a group or topic you care about. But if you move through love, you will continue to be reinvigorated by why you work so hard to imagine and create sustainable, just worlds.”
Interested in getting involved with the Growing Healthy Garden and/or the Earth Week Fair? Email Foreman (msf4) to find out how!
–Written by Diya Pandey, Zilkha Center EcoAdvisor