Keynote Interview | Laura Clise, Founder and CEO of Intentionalist

Your social enterprise, Intentionalist, helps individuals connect with local businesses and the people behind them. Tell us more about how this organization came to be.

I would like the ability, wherever I am in the world, to know and to choose who benefits from the money I spend. The idea for Intentionalist was initially sparked by my experience as a tourist traveling in Southeast Asia. At the time, I was leading sustainable development for a multinational corporation, and thinking a lot about how to harness market forces in support of sustainable growth. While exploring Northern Thailand, I wanted the money I spent to benefit the local economy, and more importantly, people who were a part of the communities I was visiting.

A couple of years later, I developed the supplier diversity program for the corporation I was working for and was struck by the resources and strategies that other companies and government entities had developed to increase sourcing from small, women, minority, and veteran-owned suppliers. I noted that supplier diversity programs were rooted in the recognition that when diverse small businesses thrive, it benefits communities and the country as a whole.

Last year, as I thought through the challenge currently confronting Seattle and other cities throughout the country when it comes to inclusive growth, it occurred to me that while consumer spending is tied to our understanding of the health of our economy, it is under-leveraged when it comes to the health of our communities.

Intentionalist is about making it easy for consumers to find local small businesses and learn about the diverse people behind them. We do that through an online guide that emphasizes not only the product or service offered by brick and mortar small businesses, but also connects consumers to the business owners – we make "small" and "local", "personal." With Intentionalist, transactional purchases become purposeful support for people and communities that matter, and it all begins with everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop.

Put another way, Intentionalist is about harnessing consumer spending in support of a more inclusive economy. Yes, government and non-profit organizations have a role to play when it comes to a thriving, diverse small business community, but it's also important to recognize the opportunity for all of us, as consumers, to make a difference and support our communities through the money we spend.

What role would you say equity and environmental justice play in our higher education system? How can we create space for diversity within these institutions?

Institutions across all sectors need to integrate a deep understanding of equity and environmental justice into their strategies and programs. Higher education has an important role to play when it comes to both the research that substantiates the need for an equity lens and also regarding the education and development of the leaders who shape our institutions.

Climate change is something that is best understood and modeled through science, but its impacts demand a more nuanced examination of the communities impacted and cannot be mitigated through technology alone. With tremendous technology available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, the challenge we face is rooted in human behavior.

An examination of our history teaches us that communities of color and poorer communities often bear the brunt of environmental consequences. As the demographics in the U.S. continue to shift, and as we grapple with the tremendous economic inequality in this country, higher education institutions can help inform and guide our path forward.

We create space for equity and inclusion within institutions of higher education, not only by holding ourselves to account when it comes to measuring our progress according to diversity metrics but also by helping to shape new frameworks and tools for organizations across all sectors to measure their equity impact. In time, organizations will be called to substantiate whether they contribute to or detract from a more equitable society – high education can help us to better understand how to approach the measurement thereof.

What would you say is the role of small businesses in helping to reduce climate change?

As the majority of businesses in the U.S., small businesses absolutely have a role to play when it comes to climate change. However, effectively engaging them should reflect an understanding of how they differ from larger companies and other organizations.

What do you hope attendees take away from your presentation?

At times, the challenges we face can feel insurmountable. We're committed to doing our part toward a more sustainable, equitable future, but at times, it can feel like a Sisyphean endeavor.

I hope that I will leave attendees with:
-A sense of agency and efficacy that the work we're all doing at and beyond the level of our individual department and institutions matters and is making a difference.
-A reminder that the problem and solutions are people, which means that to effect change, in many ways, we are building a movement.
-A call to action when it comes to the decisions we make on a daily basis – to periodically pause and take a moment to #BeIntentional consider how we are personally contributing to a more equitable society through the money we spend every day.

The UW was founded in 1861 and is recognized as a national leader for its deep commitment to sustainability on our campuses and in the community. The UW also recognizes that diversity - one of UW's six core values - is integral to excellence, and we strive to create welcoming and respectful learning environments, and promote access, opportunity and justice for all.


EcoReps is a student-run organization that works with our peers, faculty, and staff to make the University of Washington a more sustainable place by implementing green ideas.

Sustainability in the Arts (SITA)

The Sustainability in the Arts (SITA) initiative will explore current and potential sustainability operations or 'behind the scenes' efforts in the arts, as well as explore how sustainability themes can be incorporated into the content of creative works.

Green Dawgs Certification

The Green Dawgs Program at the University of Washington encourages RSO's to make their meetings, events, and member practices more sustainable. The program provides a framework for self-evaluation as well as resources to help student groups implement sustainable practices within their clubs.

Sustainability and Medicine (SAM)

Sustainability and Medicine (SAM) is a facility-by-facility effort to coordinate and optimize sustainability practices that improve patient outcomes, reduce expenses through resource and process efficiency, and strengthen stakeholder relationships.

Interview with Justin Masi, WOHESC Graphic Facilitator

Tell us a little about yourself, and how you got involved with WOHESC?

My name is Justin Masi and I am currently a student studying Sustainable Practices at Cascadia College in Bothell, WA - a tiny school about ten miles north of Seattle.

For as long as I can remember I have used visual art to express the way I feel. I can remember drawing pages upon pages of invented characters when I was a child. I have always used my artwork to tell stories, usually silly ones that may sometimes be funny or may at other times make no sense at all. Last year at WAHESC I brought along my trusty notebook as I always do, and spent the entirety of the conference sketching the main ideas of the lessons I was learning, or ideas that I had while listening to the various speakers. The pages of my notebook filled out with caricatures, logos, graphs, and illustrations that either had to do directly with something occurring at the conference or something that was happening in the lives of the people I was sitting near whom I overheard talking about themselves, inspiring me to record what they were saying in illustration form.

Near the end of the conference I was approached by Sierra, one of the conference organizers, who asked to see what I was working on. She seemed to like it, so I asked her to contact me if I could ever help out with any conferences in the future. A few months before WOHESC, I received the email inviting me to participate as a graphic facilitator during the 2018 gathering in Portland. I was overjoyed. I said yes.

How would you describe your artistic style? What were you trying to communicate through your design at the event?

I would describe my artwork as cartoony (is that a word?), with an amount of whimsy that serves to make the pictures fun to look at, but hopefully not so much that they become too sickeningly sweet to be enjoyable. Since this was the first time I had ever tried to turn my skills from the private form of illustration which I normally create into a larger scale expression that others can witness while it is being created, I wasn't sure exactly how to go about designing this project. I knew how something like this worked on a small scale in a tiny notebook where I know nobody else but me will most likely ever see it. Making something, though, that others will be looking at and possibly using to bring to mind something a speaker had just talked about, added another level to the design process that I was not exactly sure how to confidently go about doing.

Instead of approaching this project with any sort of preconceived idea about how it was going to look or what I was going to draw, I just allowed myself to be open to the moment in which each speaker was sharing, and trusted my artistic sensibilities to focus on the things that mattered the most-- or at least those things that my particular brand of self expression can best recreate in marker, pen or pencil. I sat down that first day and began to sketch the outline of the great state of Oregon and it all just flowed seamlessly from there.

Were there any parts of WOHESC that you found inspiring? What is something that you took away from your experience?

I found the entire conference inspiring. Being reminded of how social equity is inextricably linked to environmental sustainability and the long-term viability of life on our planet was satisfying, invigorating, and enlightening. I will carry with me always the concept that without justice and equality we cannot have true sustainability. This was a concept that had never been a flesh and blood reality for me until I heard it spoken of at great length in the keynote speeches given at WOHESC.

To see more of artwork by Justin Masi check out www.sixcicadas.com. Or digitally reach out to mustinjasi@gmail.com if you just want to say hi.

Keynote Speaker Interview with Jessica Finn Coven, Chief Resilience Officer & Director of the Office of Sustainability and Environment, City of Seattle

Our final Keynote speaker, Jessica Finn Coven, was recently appointed to the newly created position of Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Seattle, where she also serves as Director of the Office of Sustainability and Environment. She gave us a sneak peek at her upcoming address to WOHESC attendees about the role of higher education in advancing equity and sustainability on a legislative level. Register today to hear her speak on Thursday, February 8.

Your bio lists one of your titles as Chief Resilience Officer. Tell us more about this unique role, and what the impetus was behind the creation of this position.

In 2016 Seattle was chosen to participate in the 100 Resilient Cities network, a program pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation and designed to advanced urban resilience in 100 cities across the world. As part of that grant, Seattle was given the resources to hire a new position for the City, the Chief Resilience Officer, and I was honored to be appointed to this position.

The CRO is really a multifunctional position, designed to work across city departments and with diverse stakeholders outside of city government. My focus is on understanding what Seattle's greatest resilience challenges are, and then bringing people together to design and implement strategies to address them. For Seattle's resilience efforts, we are leading all of our work with a racial equity focus, recognizing that we will never be able to achieve resilience in our city when there are institutional barriers that unduly burden some communities more than others. We are bringing this focus to advance solutions to things like climate change and the need for more community cohesion that also work to advance racial equity.

What is the role that higher education institutions play in fostering equitable, vibrant communities and shared prosperity in the Pacific Northwest?

Higher education institutions are critical partners in all our work as important researchers, thought partners, and as training grounds for the leaders of tomorrow. Academia is a place where innovation thrives and where people are given the resources needed to come up with the next great ideas that will help society. In Seattle, working institutions of higher ed have been a key part of our resilience strategy, recognizing that city government and our research institutions need to be more connected in order to make change happen.

How do you think that sustainability aligns with equity? Tell us about the various programs and environmental solutions your department is working on.

We view equity and sustainability as one and the same: a city is not sustainable if it is not equitable and to truly advance equity we need to have healthy, sustainable communities. For too long, communities of color have disproportionately experienced environmental burdens from poor air quality to proximality to polluted lands to a lack of access to healthy foods. Until we address that and ensure that the most impacted communities are the ones leading on the development of solutions, we'll never truly be a resilient or sustainable city.

One of our office's major functions is advancing environmental equity. We house Seattle's Equity and Environment Initiative, a program designed to ensure that all communities in Seattle benefit from our environmental progress. The initiative released Seattle's Equity and Environment Agenda in 2016, which serves as the road map for our city to advance environmental justice. We also coordinate place-based environmental justice programs, starting with Seattle's Duwamish Valley.

What are a few takeaways you hope the WOHESC attendees will gain from your Keynote address?

I hope attendees will see the importance of increased partnerships between municipal government and higher education institutions and will feel inspired by the work we're doing in Seattle so that they want to get involved!

Speaker Interview with Portland State University President, Rahmat Shoureshi

We are excited to welcome PSU's ninth president, Rahmat Shoureshi, as he delivers opening remarks at WOHESC on Wednesday, February 7.

Shoureshi brings to PSU nearly four decades of academic experience, a record of expanding research opportunities, and a history of inspiring faculty collaboration. Shoureshi sat down for an interview to discuss PSU's commitment to diversity, civic engagement and innovation and how it persuaded him to join the university.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability means taking responsibility for the condition of our planet so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the same or a better quality of life, with clean air, clean water and healthy natural systems that are the foundations for our economy and society.

Sustainability has many competing definitions. Portland State's Institute for Sustainable Solutions describes sustainability as a way of organizing our society and economy so that the world's population can use our planet's natural resources to meet their needs in ways that do not compromise the ability of the next generation to meet its own needs. This definition has imbedded within it principles of social justice and a recognition of the need for a strong economy. I am comfortable with that definition.

Why should it be a priority for universities?

Sustainability includes issues of tremendous global significance, including the threats to our economy, our safety, even our food and water supplies posed by climate change and the degradation of other parts of the environment. Here in the Northwest the impacts of climate change are becoming evident in increased flooding, high-heat events, fires, changes in weather that affect farming, ranching and forestry.

Faculty research is needed to understand the consequences of unsustainable uses of our natural systems and resources and to find solutions. For students, understanding principles of sustainability and how to realize them will become an important part of almost all fields of study.

As a practical matter, it's a priority for universities because it's already a priority for many faculty and students. That is certainly true at Portland State where there are more than 130 Faculty Fellows at the Institute for Sustainable Solutions and many courses with a sustainability theme or element have been offered, and which is part of our university's national reputation.

What is PSU doing now to promote sustainability on campus?

For many years PSU has worked hard to practice what it preaches on sustainability.

Since 2004, PSU has implemented a green building policy requiring all new construction and major renovations to meet the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification through the U.S. Green Building Council, and now commits to achieving at least LEED Gold. We just opened a LEED Platinum new School of Business, our third LEED Platinum Building. We are partners with OHSU and Oregon State in a third LEED Platinum Building, the Collaborative Life Sciences Building. We have four LEED Gold buildings and thee LEED Silver buildings on campus, and we are about to begin the renovation of Neuberger Hall which we expect to achieve LEED Gold.

We were pioneers in using green infrastructure to treat our stormwater, including both green roofs and rain gardens.

We have co-invested with public agencies and private companies to help pay for, and to integrate into our campus, streetcars, light rail, bike sharing, bicycle repair and service, carpooling and parking pricing systems. As a result, the share of our students, faculty and staff who get to PSU by driving alone has dropped dramatically.

Of course, as suggested by the prior answer, perhaps the most important way we promote sustainability on campus is by making it an important part of our research, education and community partnerships.

When creating a Five-year Strategic Plan for PSU, was sustainability taken into consideration and if so, how does it fit within the strategic plan?

Sustainability is very prominent in our Strategic Plan. Consider these excerpts:

Our Vision: Portland State University leads the way to an equitable and sustainable future through academic excellence, urban engagement and expanding opportunity for all.

Our Mission

  • We serve and sustain a vibrant urban region through our creativity, collective knowledge and expertise.
  • We are dedicated to collaborative learning, innovative research, sustainability and community engagement.
  • We educate a diverse community of lifelong learners.
  • Our research and teaching have global impact.

Our Values

  • We promote access, inclusion and equity as pillars of excellence.
  • We commit to curiosity, collaboration, stewardship and sustainability.
  • We strive for excellence and innovation that solves problems.
  • We believe everyone should be treated with integrity and respect.

Our Reputation: Portland State University pursues excellence through: Accessibility; innovation; collaboration; engagement; sustainability; transformation.

You've created an Equity Lens Panel at PSU that will review and make recommendations on the strategic planning process. How does equity and diversity fit into sustainability, and why is it important?

Climate change is a good illustration of the close relationship between equity (social justice) and sustainability. For example, sea level rise and coastal flooding pose the greatest risk to people in Bangladesh, Vietnam (Mekong delta) and small and poor Pacific Island nations, and desertification is hitting poor sub-Saharan African nations the hardest.

Here in the Portland region, encouraging the locating of new affordable and multifamily infill housing near jobs, services and schools would serve both an equity agenda (access to good schools, jobs and services) and reduce greenhouse gases because of greater access to transit and shorter distance for trips, which would also help reduce greenhouse gases.

Another example can be found in transportation. Focusing on widening freeways to shave a few minutes off the travel time for the most distant commuters is expensive and provides a large share of benefits to higher-income residents. Conversely, reducing transit travel times for a much wider group of people for the same or lower cost, will benefit a wider spectrum of household incomes while also resulting in less greenhouse gases.

There is some obvious overlap between diversity and equity issues and thus overlap with sustainability. However, respecting and welcoming diversity among our students is important in its own right, aside from some relationships with sustainability.

WOHESC Celebrates Campus Sustainability Month

October is Campus Sustainability Month! An international celebration of sustainability in higher education, October is a time to show off sustainability efforts on our campuses and inspire action within our communities.

WOHESC celebrates all of the amazing work Washington & Oregon higher education institutions do around sustainability, thank you. WOHESC host partners are hosting events, workshops, and campaigns across Washington and Oregon.

Willamette University
As an annual participant of Campus Sustainability Month, Willamette University Sustainability Institute has several events sprinkled throughout October. A Sustainability Month Film Screening is planned for the 19th and a Green Fund Mixer on Oct. 25th. Find all details & full schedule here.

University of Washington
The 2017 Sustainable UW Festival takes place October 23-28 as part of the national Campus Sustainability Month. The festival highlights the amount and breadth of contributions and leadership efforts across campus as well as providing opportunities for students, faculty and staff to get involved. Find out more here.

Call for Student Ambassadors
We are seeking sustainably-minded college students from Washington and Oregon schools to become WOHESC Campus Ambassadors. As an ambassador you will organize, recruit and champion student support for the sustainability departments to help activate greening programs in higher education. Campus Ambassadors will receive complimentary admission to the conference. Please share the Campus Ambassador Program Overview with students in your network or email Caroline@wohesc.org to become involved.

New Campus Sustainability Hub Resources
The Campus Sustainability Hub is a one-stop shop for AASHE members to access toolkits and resource collections in all aspects of sustainability in higher education. With advanced search filtering, this key member benefit is designed to facilitate information sharing between campuses and organizations.

Nothing planned yet? Find out how your campus can get involved here.

Host Highlight | Portland State University
"Sustainability - it's what we do!"

Sustainability permeates every aspect of PSU and is deeply integrated into their institutional mission, community partnerships, learning outcomes for students, as well as campus operations and planning. PSU models sustainable practices, constructs high performance buildings, implements a vibrant living laboratory for applied learning, and leads climate action research and initiatives throughout the region.

While attending WOHESC 2018 in beautiful downtown Portland, Oregon, you'll get a first-hand look at PSU's sustainability efforts, including:

You can take a virtual campus sustainability tour of PSU here!

We look forward to seeing you at WOHESC 2018!