By Grey Lee
Sustainability Coordinator at A Better City's Challenge for the Environment
Market Sector: Non-Profit Organization
LinkedIn profile: Megan Ramey, LEED Green Associate
Personal Blog: pugvelo.com
That would be in 2006 approximately. I was working on my MBA at the University of Wisconsin. As part of that program we had to take a course on “Ethics and Sustainability.” That was my big light bulb moment. No one had talked to me about sustainably in terms of businesses and market transformation. Around the same time, I remember seeing an interview of Joni Mitchell and her writing Big Yellow Taxi and suddenly my career future became clear.
I tell people that my gateway drug to sustainability is transportation and this comes from a series of dramatic shifts in lifestyle from an early age. As a child, I grew up in rural Wisconsin where I learned to bike after taking a Safety School class in kindergarten. My bike symbolized freedom and I used it for riding to school, playing in the woods or for soccer practice. When I was 14, we moved to the suburbs of Atlanta in a planned community called Peachtree City that is designed around a series of paths for golf carts. Even with this great system, it was still very uncool to bike, walk or take the bus. As soon as I turned 16, I started driving to high school. The car is definitely king in Atlanta and my life revolved around driving. In college, I did a work abroad in London for a summer and took the Tube everywhere I needed to go. When I returned home to Atlanta, I remember being skinnier and my mom commenting on how great my legs looked. Driving felt really weird and disconnected me from society. After graduating from college, I moved back to my birth city of Madison, WI where I began to design my life around walking, biking and taking the bus. Over the course of two years, I gradually lost 15 pounds without trying. This lifestyle has remained a core value since and I can no longer live anywhere with a walk score less than 80 or where I am required to own a car.
How are you an environmental steward?
Personally, I spend a lot of my time in advocacy. I serve on Livable Streets and the Boston Bikes advisory board. Most of my personal volunteering time goes into complete streets and livable communities advocacy.
In my immediate life, I made the conscious choice to not have a car in 2008 when we moved to Boston. We were spending more time moving our car from parking space to parking space than spending with each other. With Zipcar being here, it was an easy choice to make. We also get most of our groceries from Boston Organics, so no car was necessary.
I am continually trying to improve. This year my goal is to install container gardens in my yard.
Why are you a member of the chapter?
Architecture has always been something I've always been passionate about. When I was forced to make a decision between fashion and interiors, I did fashion. Though looking back, it seems that was the wrong choice. I’ve always had a huge appreciation of the built environment, in terms of facilitating community interactions.
LEED and the USGBC was the first framework for sustainability that I came across. At one point I started a business called MoCo Market, an organic convenience store. My friend designed MoCo to LEED-Gold standards, so the USGBC has been there at the front of my head. When I moved to Boston, I went to Greenbuild and volunteered as a young professional. It was like church for me, helping to inspire me and connect me to other young professionals. Now there are other organizations more specific to the work I do, but I still need to have a working knowledge of Green building 101 for my job.
If I wanted to find you on a Saturday afternoon, where would you be?
Most likely on some sort of multi-modal adventure. Say it was snowing: I will take the Fitchburg commuter rail ski train and ski right off the train onto the trail system in Lincoln. The weekend is filled with finding local places we have never been, whether they are cities, buildings, museums or public space. It’s fun to do something different by bike or train. We chronicle all the family adventures we have on a blog called pugvelo.com. Our pug, Gordo, narrates it like a comic strip and it was inspired by Curious George. Most recently we exposed the fun that is the traffic in Central Square.
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