Milano Spotlight On: New School Club for Sustainable Cities

With: Student Organizers Anna Marandi (EPSM) and Taylor Drake (BAFA)

Interviewer: Milano Communications Assistant Diari Dieye (GPIA)




I’m here with two members of the New School’s Sustainable Cities Club. Do you guys want to go ahead and introduce yourself?


Anna: I’m Anna Marandi, I’m a second year graduate student in the EPSM program.


Taylor: I’m Taylor Drake, I’m a 5th year BAFA undergrad student, I finished product design last year and am finishing Environmental Studies at Lang right now.


How did you become part of the Sustainable Cities Club?


T: I’m a newer member, I started two, three weeks ago. I’ve always been interested in sustainability myself but, over the past year or two, I’ve become more exposed to what The New School was doing for sustainability, so I wanted to be part of that. I met with Ana Baptista and kind of just asked, “what can I do and how can I get involved?” and she said, “Well, there’s the Sustainable Cities Club! You should go to their first meeting!”- and I was clearly one of the more excited people there so she said, “why don’t you just become one of the organizers?”


A: I think I got an email from Ana Baptista that was …


T: She was like, “WARNING!” [laughs]


A: [laughs] It was like, “I have have a student who is very keen,” and I was like “Yes!”…


When I started, there was a board with a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and communications person. They held elections across the club and EPSM to elect board members and I ran for communications- and I think I was the only one, so I won- WOOHOO! And then we tried that last year, but people were getting busy so we decided to get rid of the hierarchy and just have people who were interested in being present and active; people who had interesting project ideas that they wanted to bring to the table- and we wanted to help facilitate that. I said, let’s just break the rules and be organizers, all of us. I really like this format better. I got the idea from Change Forum and I proposed it to the other board members and they were like, yeah that sounds great, let’s do it!


So it’s open to anyone who is interested?


A: Totally! Whoever’s active and present is in. Come to meetings, send us emails, exchange ideas. Like he and I [points to Tyler] are constantly talking about stuff…


T: I think we had…two consecutive meetings today! [laughs]


A:  And we’ll loop people in. Like, I know someone who’s interested in the club who’s a design student, he knows so-and-so who’s interested in the club and is an undergrad… Like sustainapalooza!


What is sustainapalooza?


T: I became a part of it last year as a participant. One of my close friends Lena Greenberg was a planner for it, as was Lee Brown. It’s basically an undergraduate, student-led sustainability event based around student work. But, this year, I wanted to extend that to the Sustainable Cities Club and make it more of of something student-led across the New School. I felt like there were a lot of people who agreed in the same room, and it’s nice to get together and pat each other on the back, but I wanted to get people who are not always exposed to that to take part. We want to get more people at the New School involved and want to make it part of the New School conversation.


A: It would be cool if we could get it together this year!


So it’s a collaborative project awesome! What other projects do you have going on?


A: Well, Chelsea Webber from Change Forum approached us with an idea she had- it’s modular and involves 30 people and it’s sort of a mock climate change negotiation scenario.We’re broken into different groups of 5 like China, the United States, the EU, Oil and Gas…


T: -It’s basically like model UN!


A: Exactly. Then you have to take on that role- you’re a leader and you have to negotiate what your country is willing to sacrifice in terms of how to contribute to climate talks. There’s a meter on a screen that actually gauges the changing degrees of temperature. So, say, if you agree to cut 30% worldwide emissions by 2050, you’ll see the temperature go down by a certain number of degrees! And you realize how much work actually needs to get done just to change it a quarter of a degree. This is a huge undertaking that the world has taken on. To see how each country can negotiate, compromise and makes sacrifices was a great exercise!


T: We’re going to launch this for the first time at The New School!


A: We’ll probably hold it in November leading up to the climate talks.


So what would you say is your overall mission? It sounds like you have so many awesome ideas and collaborators, how would you summarize all of that in a nutshell?


A: I think collaboration across different platforms is the main thing.


T: Yeah, getting people involved. I mean, especially around the New School you can’t really talk about the environment or sustainability without people being like, oh yeah have you heard about this or what do you think about that? We just want to facilitate that. A lot of times people are interested in something but they don’t really have the resources to get it done.


So people should get in touch and look out for your announcements:


A: Yeah! People should definitely reach out and email the club email- and then I can add you to the list and it sort of serves as… a hub for sustainability.


T: That’s it! That’s perfect!


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