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International co-op boosts student’s interest in sustainability

A photo of Marley Kimelman on co-op in Cape Town

Marley Kimelman, S/SSH’18, visited a community garden in the Philippi, a township of Cape Town, South Africa, where he interviewed workers there and blogged about his visit to help increase visibility for the city's green map initiative.

Marley Kimelman, S/SSH’18, spent his first co-​​op expe­ri­ence at North­eastern immersed in one inter­na­tional city’s green ini­tia­tives and envi­ron­mental projects. He learned them, walked them, pitched them, and blogged them.

Kimelman, a rising third-​​year stu­dent and com­bined major in envi­ron­mental studies and inter­na­tional affairs, was on co-​​op from Jan­uary to July in Cape Town, South Africa, in the city’s Envi­ron­mental Resource Man­age­ment Depart­ment. He said his proudest achieve­ment was helping to rein­vig­o­rate a stag­nant water her­itage project. The city wanted to show­case water appre­ci­a­tion and its impor­tance to the city’s his­tory, and Kimelman’s boss tapped him and a col­league to design an ini­tia­tive that would accom­plish this objective.

Ulti­mately, they devel­oped a walking tour across the city fea­turing stops at water tun­nels, dams, treat­ment plants, reser­voirs, and a yet-​​to-​​be-​​built museum. Kimelman con­ducted exten­sive research and wrote a fea­si­bility report out­lining the project, including the route, the budget, and the eco­nomic impact, as well as his own recommendations.

The goals of the project, he said, are two-​​fold: to explore the city’s rich water his­tory and to raise aware­ness for pro­tecting and con­serving water resources.

That was the coolest part of the co-​​op, working on this project every day from start to finish,” said Kimelman, who passed the project along to another city employee upon com­pleting his co-​​op. “It’s been given the go-​​ahead, and it was very rewarding to be a part of it.”

Public out­reach
Beyond this project, Kimelman was involved in the city’s green ini­tia­tives in many other ways. He attended city meet­ings on sus­tain­ability issues and did out­reach to pro­mote these efforts to busi­ness and com­mu­nity stake­holders as well as to the public at large.

Kimelman noted that his co-​​op in Cape Town came as the city pushed to rein­vest in and attract more people to its green spaces, one of which is Trafalgar Park. He said this park, located in the Cape Town suburb of Wood­stock, has been under­uti­lized and was fenced off from local busi­nesses. Part of his job was going door-​​to-​​door pitching busi­ness owners on the ben­e­fits of investing in the park, some tips for which he sought from other thriving city park man­agers. He also worked on a pro­gram to bring a day­long out­door class­room in the park for teachers and stu­dents from nearby schools.

Marley Kimelman vis­ited Spier Wine Farm’s bird of prey rehab center, and he blogged about the center’s work. The wine farm also uses bio­dy­namic agri­cul­tural prac­tices. Photo cour­tesy of Marley Kimelman Marley Kimelman vis­ited Spier Wine Farm’s bird of prey rehab center, and he blogged about the center’s work. The wine farm also uses bio­dy­namic agri­cul­tural prac­tices. Photo cour­tesy of Marley Kimelman

Green blog
During Kimelman’s co-​​op, another unex­pected oppor­tu­nity arose: bringing increased atten­tion to the Cape Town Green Map, which high­lights the city’s many green spaces and sus­tain­ability projects. To help pro­mote the map, he started a blog that fea­tured his first-​​person accounts of vis­iting loca­tions such as a recy­cling facility, an organic com­posting farm, and a wine farm that uses bio­dy­namic agri­cul­tural prac­tices. The blog, he said, helped “bring a voice” to these inter­esting places, and his posts were pro­moted via social media.

Kimelman explained that he gained invalu­able expe­ri­ence on this co-​​op, par­tic­u­larly with regard to learning how a city’s sus­tain­ability pro­grams go from incep­tion to imple­men­ta­tion. He’s looking for­ward to applying his new knowl­edge in the class­room this fall and in his role as director of mar­keting and public rela­tions for the Husky Envi­ron­mental Action Team, the stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion also known as HEAT.

I learned more than I ever thought I could,” Kimelman said of his co-​​op, adding that the expe­ri­ence opened his eyes to other work oppor­tu­ni­ties in the envi­ron­mental sector beyond city gov­ern­ment. He pointed in par­tic­ular to a poten­tial career with an envi­ron­mental law firm, a social enter­prise, or a non­govern­mental organization.

-By Greg St. Martin

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