SPEA and the Indiana Sustainability Alliance

Tonight, I took advantage of a great opportunity in Indianapolis that I learned about through SPEA. A few weeks ago, an email circulated on the Graduate Student email list regarding a meeting of the Indiana Sustainability Alliance (INSA), a new organization meant to bring together various Indiana institutions and individuals working on sustainability initiatives. My advisor, Professor Burney Fischer, as well as a friend and SPEA alumnus, Mike Steinhoff, decided to attend. Unfortunately, Burney couldn’t make it, but Mike and I drove up this evening and I am so happy that we attended.

Dr. Michael Walsh, Executive Vice President of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), and former Mayor of Honolulu, Jeremy Harris, presented. Mayor Harris discussed his city’s sustainable rebirth—a process that involved redesigning the city’s core infrastructure, transportation, and energy utilizing state of the art technologies for planning and implementation. Walsh described CCX, the voluntary greenhouse gas emissions trading market. Their presentations were informative and inspirational, offering real solutions to global climate change and concerns of sustainability–a refreshing message given that we often only here the doom and gloom!

Both speakers are certainly significant players in the sustainability field, and frankly, having never heard of INSA prior to the email announcement, I was surprised they attended. At least I figured that the event organizers must have some pretty good connections! After the presentations, during a networking reception, I had the chance to chat with INSA’s steering committee, Paul Jones and Alex Foreman. I quickly learned that the two men are SPEA graduates! They organized the event, supported by their employer, Ice Miller, because they recognized a lack of collaboration among sustainability initiatives in the state.

Leave it to SPEA grads to make such a great event come together with such significant speakers! Paul, Alex and I exchanged contact information and we plan to get SPEA more involved in the newly formed alliance. Since SPEA has recently developed a new MPA concentration entitled “Sustainable Development,” and given the school’s focus, we believe that building this relationship will be beneficial for both SPEA and the alliance. I can certainly see a future here–a sustainable one!

 

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