Your NameZoe Voss Lee
Cohort AssignmentEurope Summer-Fall 2023, Cohort 2
1. What do you see as your primary work at this stage of your life?

I graduated from university a year ago and have been working as a sustainability consultant for the past year. My primary work involves advising city governments as well as private clients (real estate developers, large companies) on how to achieve decarbonization. I feel most connected to my work when I am using data to tell stories about how the climate crisis is impacting communities -- and playing a part in centering underserved communities needs in these narratives.

2. What role do you see as yours to play?

I am primarily an interdisciplinary thinker, and I find my strengths lie in connecting data with policy and design -- in order to advance sustainability imperatives. As someone interested in biomimetic systems thinking from a young age, I seek to bring awareness to the interconnection within and between various scales of entities, from an individual's health to a community's resiliency, and a society's ethos.

3. What goals or aims do you have in regard to the above?

I aspire to communicate complexity with ease -- and learn how I can turn abstract biomimetic principals into concrete actions. How can I make real the transformative potential of regenerative design as a practice? How can I expand the notion of sustainability in my work and life to encompass not only environmental needs, but the needs of communities and individuals?

4. Where do you feel your next arenas for personal growth are?

I hope to turn away from goal-oriented conceptions of success and turn towards a self-defined notion of growth that allows me to connect with my values. The sustainability field is vast, and some of it is not aligned with an ideology required to truly transform our systems.

5. And for professional growth?

I see this course as helping ground me in my own value system as I navigate early career decisions. I am influenced by bell hooks idea of a love ethic when it comes to how we approach work, especially work related to the health of our planet and communities. In my current role, I often feel burnt out due to the demands placed on me by project managers, but also the high expectations I set for myself. I hope to learn over time how to approach sustainability work in a way that is sustainable and grounded in a sense of mission and love.

6. What have you invested in to get you where you are?

Travel has played a crucial role in shaping my interests -- opening my eyes to forms of urbanism, relationships to nature, and community that I would not know otherwise. This has meant investing my time in working to afford solo travels, as well as my energy in being open to new experiences that are at times challenging.

7. What fields of learning and which thinkers have been important in your life?

The writing of Albert Camus, specifically his essay on the Myth of Sisyphos has helped me reckon with the inherent paradox of existence -- how our lives are so short within the context of deep time, yet vastly large and important at the same time depending on where you situate your perspective (from within or beyond yourself). This line of thinking has led me to Eastern spirituality. Today, I practice yoga as a means of strengthening my mind body connection and integrating meditative practices into my routine.

Intersectionality as a means of viewing environmental challenges is very important to me, and I try to expand my knowledge through reading books by BIPOC authors including Mikki Kendall, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. The ways in which climate change impacts women -- and the role women play in fostering community resilience is an area I am drawn to. I love storytelling and thoughtful investigative reporting as a means of situating people at the heart of environmental challenges. The work of Naomi Klein, Andrea Elliott, and Jeff Goodell are some authors whose writing has inspired me.

8. Can you frame your philosophy or cosmology of life? What role(s) do humans play in it?

I like the Buddhist imagery of life as the ocean, which each person or living entity existing as a wave -- distinct, ephemeral, and intrinsically linked to the ocean as a whole. I also like an idea, the origins of which I am unsure of, but is something I play with in my head that thinks of humans as the universe's way of understanding itself. I suppose the connection between these two ideas is that we are intrinsically of the world, with that comes a responsibility to the world.

Date CreatedAugust 31, 2023