Monday, June 23, 2008

Big Belly, Victoria, BC

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting lovely Victoria, BC (Canada). The two things that caught my eye: 1) really cute tugboats in the harbor, and 2) photovoltaic trash cans called BigBelly.

The Big Belly website touts that "BigBelly Solar is changing the concept of solid waste management with the world's first and only on-site solar compaction systems." They continue how BigBellies "reduce waste collection frequency and lower costs." Curious.

I know I haven't yet technically started on my fellowship yet, but this (taking pictures of the trash can and blogging about it) seemed like good practice.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Personal Statement

When I applied for the Stevens Fellowship in November 2007, I had to write a Personal Statement demonstrating why I was such a great fit for this opportunity. This is what I wrote:

PERSONAL STATEMENT (2008-2009 Mary Elvira Stevens Traveling Fellowship)

I am a waste management consultant for Portland International Airport (PDX). I am a graduate student earning my Masters in Public Administration at the Mark Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. I am a trail-runner, biker, and weekend adventurer. My professors and colleagues know me as The Girl Who Works With Trash (And Loves It).

Since I last applied for the Stevens Traveling Fellowship Application to study waste management practices in Germany in 2005-2006 (and was denied), I moved to Portland, Oregon to establish a formal foundation of knowledge about waste management. Earning my master’s degree and working in the field has acquainted me with:
  • Waste Management Vocabulary: Waste streams, waste audits, commingled, construction and demolition waste, life cycle analysis, tipping fees, etc.
  • Waste Management Professionals: Haulers, processors, the public, custodial staff, policymakers, residences, businesses, stakeholders.
  • Waste Management Processes: product design, source separation, rebate, disposal, outreach and education.
Two years of hands-on professional experience and a graduate degree have prepared me to venture into foreign countries as a trash-ambassador. I believe that proper waste management is integral to a sustainable future in the United States. I want to spread my wings and see the world through the eyes of a waste-stream watcher, and bring that perspective back to the U.S. to share with our communities.

Temper? One of my nicknames is “Sunny”.

Sense? Yes. See my experience, listed above.

Travel Desire? By visiting familiar (Germany, the Netherlands, and Costa Rica) and unknown (Norway, Sweden, and Argentina) countries, I can gain deeper insight into places I’ve been while also discovering unexpected insights and unearthing new paths.

Love of beauty? Increasing the sustainability of waste management has a profound effect on our global environment, economy, and attitude. For that reason, I think waste is beautiful.

You Got What? To Go Where?

I am a 2008-2009 recipient of the Mary Elvira Stevens Traveling Fellowship. It's this brilliant pocket of money that allows Wellesley College alums to essentially follow their dream for a year. Here are the details:

The Mary Elvira Stevens Traveling Fellowship, established by the will of Alice Alvira Stevens, Class of 1891, carries a stipend of up to $20,000 (taxable according to law) for up to a full year of travel or study outside the United States. It is available to a Wellesley graduate who is at least 25 years of age in the year of application, 2007. There is no limitation as to field of interest, but the applicant's detailed plan must be approved in advance by the Fellowship Committee. Candidates seeking to explore either academic or non-academic fields are encouraged to apply.

The will states that "preference shall be given to persons with good temper and a natural generosity of view when confronted with alien conditions, common sense in observing and comprehending social, economic, and political situations, a strong desire to travel, and a deep love of beauty."

It also expresses the expectation that the Fellowship will provide for Wellesley alumnae and the United States "well-balanced young women who may or may not teach, write, or lecture, but who in any event will live in a spirit of knowledge and understanding that will assure a reasonable degree of wisdom."

Sign me up.

Getting Ready

I head to Europe on September 7, 2008. I am currently in Portland, OR, busy getting ready for the trip. Whenever I get a spare moment, I look into buying plane tickets, research locations to visit, arrange tours and internships, not to mention ponder what luggage I should bring and how light I can travel.

Blogging is relatively new for me. Please, be patient.