The EcoGrrl Interview: Chantel



Chantel works in marketing & communications, and loves to blog about shifting the work paradigm – always a topic I’m a big fan of!!  She has a lot to say and a lot to offer – I’m so excited to introduce you to her!

What or who inspires you most? The concept of Biomimicry and the institute that promotes it in education and business. Biomimicry is an innovation method that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.

What do you turn to when you need strength? I go outside, not just walk out the door, but find a place where the city and human structures fall away, and nature overtakes me. It helps me feel a part of the whole, though small and temporal.

How can women best support and/or empower other women? Speak up for change. Stop perpetuating the system. In the book “Privilege, Power, and Difference”, the author Allen Johnson makes the point that the way to shift paradigms to stop being passive. Too often people believe that by not engaging, they are then not taking a side, not actually making a stand, not stating their opinion, but actually the opposite is true. When you don’t speak up you are essentially saying that what is happening is ok.

So to support and empower women, other women must be willing to take part in the conversation about uneven wages, negative social stereotypes which degrade women, and to simply stop perpetuating the inequality. Women need to change what they are saying and who they say it to. We can change the collective mindset one conversation at a time, but only if we are willing to say something different, to step away from social norms. Women need to stop being passive when they see other women being diminished, and more importantly, recognize when this is happening to their selves, and speak out, making change one comment at a time.

What do you love to grow? What would you like to try growing someday? I have a lot of house plants. They have accumulated over the years, and now the inside looks more like the outside. I love to have big veggie gardens too though, and hope to have space again soon to grow more than just a few pots on my deck.

What are your creative outlets?  Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try but you haven’t? I create in many ways. I try to balance all sides of my brain in every activity. Something as simple as dinner becomes instead a culinary opportunity to me. Cooking is really such a science– food pairing, timing of dishes, etc. The same goes for other activities I love to engage in. Knitting is about the math behind the measurements as much as it is about creating a fashionable new pair of mitts. I love throwing ceramics because of the meditative sensation, and the beauty of the pieces all the way from their wet, freshly formed stage to the surprise that is pulling them from the final kiln fire. There is also the science behind the correct consistency of the clay, mixing glazes, kiln temperatures and timing.   Playing the guitar (or just learning music in general) is another activity that balances creativity and science. I have always wanted to play music, and truly hope to learn soon.

In what environment(s) do you feel most in your element? On a long hike, backpacking trip, or cycle-tour when I am deep in the woods with only what I am carrying and my own know-how. It is the comfort of being in nature and the challenge of it all at the same time.

Who are your top three nonprofits you support and/or volunteer with and why?

  1. CNRG – a resource network that connects people, communities and organizations to help individuals gain skills to act as agents of change in collaboration with others.I love this, it feeds my desire to create platforms and structures to enable others to do good. I hope to join their board in the new year.

  2. Biomimicry – I will name them again here since the institute and their work is simply amazing.

  3. BALLE– a great organization. They envision a global system of human-scale, interconnected local economies that function in harmony with local ecosystems to meet the basic needs of all people, support just and democratic societies, and foster joyful community life.

What recent “green” change have you made in your own life?  What’s next? I have been looking for ways to support upcycling, because it is a more extreme form of waste. Unlike reusing or recycling, the waste that is used in upcycling is prime material that is just considered waste. Looptworks is a great company in Portland, OR that focuses on this.

Where in the world do you consider a sanctuary?  Why? Always out in nature. Far enough removed that everything falls away, and all I have to think about are basic functions like eating and sleeping. It really brings me back to truly being human.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t should on yourself, and don’t let anyone else should on you either. I spent too much time wandering down too many of the wrong paths because I thought I should, that society dictated, and that things were expected of me.

How can we as a society be more radical in supporting a healthy planet? See everything as part of a system. Think: when you turn on the tap, where does the water come from, and is that really a good source, will it last, shouldn’t you know? When you throw something away, where is away, and how long until away becomes closer?  In everything we do, in every aspect of modern life, all people need to be asking these questions. Everything is connected, we are all connected.

What sparked your interest in environmental issues?   What’s the first “eco” thing you ever did? Mostly it was a natural thought pattern for me. Because I am always looking for efficiencies, I was naturally led towards a smaller overall footprint. How to conserve, consume less, etc. were always things I thought about.

How do you live simply? I cut out the excess. I don’t deny myself, but I also do not have more than I need, and I constantly question if I even really need it.

Could you leave us with a favorite quote of yours? “Be the change you wish to see in the world” ~ Mahatma Gandhi


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