When people discover I was born in Japan, lived in South Africa, and traveled to every continent (other than Antarctica) by the age of twenty, their initial reactions are usually along the lines of “So, you’re a military brat?” or “Wow! Your parents must be missionaries!” Most tend to be shocked when they find out this isn’t true. Though my family has great respect for both lifestyles, my parents participated in neither. Instead, they simply loved to travel.
I was the only red-headed newborn in the hospital
On paper, that sounds great, but for a young girl, it was often challenging. Contrary to what one may assume, and though I’ve always loved to travel, I was not born with an intrinsic draw towards adventure. Some may call it cautious; others may see it as lazy. I remember many hiking trips where my mom used M&Ms to “bribe” me to take a few more steps towards the top of the mountain. When we lived in Wyoming, our treks through Vedauwoo National Forest were celebrated at the end with a chicken dinner and cream soda from Sam’s Club. Maybe the connection of yummy food to these expeditions turned me in to one of Pavlov’s dogs. Either way, slowly but surely, I began to look forward to our family outings. I didn’t know then, but the memories we were making would follow me through to adulthood.
When my parents, brother, and I moved to Kentucky, we still made our way out west relatively frequently to visit extended family. A few years after leaving, we were devastated to discover the ash beetle had swept through our beloved Vedauwoo, taking many of the trees that had been the backdrop of those family adventures. I finally started to see what I had taken for granted. Many summers afterward were spent outside, moseying through my grandparent’s ranch and bicycling through the evergreen trails of the Rocky Mountains; I had to be sure to take full advantage of what was in front of me.
By the beginning of high school, I also became hooked on what was now my home: the Appalachian Mountains. Maybe it was living in what locals called the “boondocks” or being minutes away from what has been voted the best hiking spot in Kentucky; it could’ve been living in a college town that valued environmental responsibility or the fact that I was finally in a place long enough to form an attachment. Either way, the nine-year home base in the bluegrass state was formative to my understanding of, and appreciation for, adventure.
Hiking the Pinnacles of Berea, KY
My college years provided the transition from following my parent’s footsteps through trails to following their figurative footsteps in young adult life by going to a school hours from home with an intended major in Global Leadership Studies. Living in Nashville gave me the new challenge of living in a city; going to Belmont University opened the opportunity to interact with people from all over the country.
Near the end of my first year at Belmont, I felt compelled to learn about the earth itself in order to properly advocate for it. I realized helping to promote environmental sustainability would best combine my passions and talents; thus, I switched to the Environmental Science program. Through this major, I would learn about sustainability in the sense of social equity, economics, and the environment. Not only was I learning the important data behind my interests, but I was also learning how to reason through my time in the honors program: I learned about great thinkers, had great discussion with other critical thinkers, and was always encouraged to develop my own opinions. Finally, as the crown to my college experience, my time studying abroad (in Australia, Costa Rica, and Spain) aligned with my passion for travel, challenge, helping others, and learning about sustainable practices. These three components of my college experiences have constituted the most exciting, yet challenging, adventure of my life thus far.
Studying abroad in Costa Rica
Now, as I am nearing the end of my undergraduate career, I look back with much appreciation and forward with great anticipation. I am not yet sure of my next steps; I could pursue a law degree, apply to a master’s program, or take a couple of years to experience the world for what it is. Regardless of where I end up, I know I want to help ensure a sustainable future for all so they, too, can enjoy a lifetime of adventure.
By Claire Sandberg, Intern with the Division of Sustainability, Summer 2019
Throughout my childhood and adolescent years, I never considered myself an environmentalist, scientist, or even a nature fanatic. Growing up in rural Tennessee, my neighbors were cows and tractor jams that made you late for school. Our weekend activities often consisted of driving down dirt roads, swimming in the creek, or joining friends for a bonfire on a crisp summer night. Our childhood games involved squishing, stomping, and splashing mud. We chased lightning bugs and swatted mosquitos; we basked in the sun on porch swings; and we ran barefoot in freshly cut green grass. However, despite the hours of my life spent outside climbing trees and playing in the dirt, I always felt science and environmentalism never applied to me. Science was for lab coats and microscopes, not for butterflies and trees and birds. Likewise, the term “environmentalist” was reserved for vegetarians, community gardeners, and people who chained themselves to trees.
Enjoying watermelon in Montgomery Bell State Park
During my teenage years, I grew tired of the quiet lifestyle typical of small town Tennessee. Our frequent day trips to Nashville dazzled me with bustling traffic, eclectic clothing stores, and whatever type of food my heart desired. I craved the opportunity and diversity available in the city, and I dreamed of days where there was more to do than simply play outside. As the end of high school approached, I vowed to inject myself into city life and never look back.
Searching for "crawdaddies" in the creek
Like many upcoming college students, I lacked a clear direction for my approaching future. My only definite goal was to leave my hometown and experience the more “cultured” city life. Consequently, I began Belmont University as an Undeclared major, struggling to define myself. I spent my first year at Belmont considering a variety of pathways, taking courses in English, French, Business, Math, and even Religion. With nothing igniting significant interest, I enrolled in entry level science and environmental policy courses. Here I learned that science does include trees, butterflies, birds, clouds, and everything you see when you step outside. Instead of long days in the classroom, I could now spend my days outside learning the intricate details of everything I loved from my childhood. While I never before considered myself an environmentalist, I finally realized these values and passions had shaped the majority of my life. Unfortunately, the return to my roots and newfound career path did not stop me from doubting my status as an “environmentalist,” as I continued to question what it really meant to be green.
Birdwatching in Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica
In the environmental movement, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, or that nothing you are doing is enough. You are constantly bombarded with ways to “go green,” and you can beat yourself up if you forget your reusable shopping bags or opt for a hamburger instead of a veggie burger. I study Environmental Science, and I still hesitate to refer to myself as an environmentalist, often questioning if I truly fit the mold. While I cherish time in nature, I still prefer to call a city home. While I reduced my red meat consumption, I still occasionally spoil myself with hamburgers, steak, or a delicious plate of BBQ. While I purchase clothes second hand and avoid fast fashion, I still enjoy a trip to the mall. While I walk to class and work every day, I still dream about travelling across the country and abroad. While I carry a reusable water bottle and shopping bags, I still treat myself to fast food. While I aspire to shape a sustainable world for future generations, I still sometimes fail at living sustainably myself.
Hiking in Durnstein, Austria
Here is where the term “environmentalist” can be intimidating. Like me, regardless of the steps you are taking to reduce your carbon footprint, you may also hesitate to refer to yourself as an environmentalist. Your mistakes seem to outweigh your victories, and you feel your trek towards a greener future will never be fast enough, radical enough, or good enough to make a difference. Fortunately, this is where we are all wrong. No matter what, we will always have an impact on the world around us. True success in the environmental movement can only result from cultivating the love and respect for the natural world that is often lost in the chaos of modern life. Progress requires action, but action begins with purpose and passion. As I have learned in my time in Environmental Science, the term “environmentalist” encompasses anyone who cherishes the planet and the future of the people on it. Therefore, an environmentalist may be a teacher who recycles old papers in the classroom, a businessman who takes the bus to work, a child whose favorite pastime is climbing trees, a family that buys local produce for dinner, or a college student who shops thrift. Environmentalists can be doctors, firefighters, CEOs, musicians, students, lawyers, teachers, farmers, moms, and dads. Environmentalists can be anyone... including me.
Hiking at Jackson Falls, TN
By Faith Martin, Intern with the Division of Sustainability, Summer 2019
One of Socket's favorite annual events, Celebrate Nashville provides an opportunity for intercultural dialogue and features a variety of dance and musical performances on different stages, food vendors offering authentic and exotic tastes from around the world, hands-on children’s activities, an area just for teens, a marketplace, and more!
Saturday, October 5, 2019, 10am-6pm
Centennial Park, Nashville, TN
Learn more: http://celebratenashville.org/
Socket will be at the Dragon Boat Festival this year! Join us in raising awareness and funds to keep the Cumberland River and its tributaries clean and healthy for future generations.
Saturday, September 7th, 10am-5pm
Cumberland River East Bank Landing (2 Victory Ave. Nashville, TN)
Learn more: https://www.dragonboatnashville.com/
Come see Socket cheer on runners and walkers alike at the annual Urban Runoff 5K. This event is meant to raise awareness and funds for water quality and conservation.
Saturday, August 3, 2019 at 7:30am
Shelby Bottoms Park, Nashville, TN
More information: https://runsignup.com/Race/TN/Nashville/NashvilleUrbanRunoff5K
Join us Sunday, July 14, 2019 for Waterfest, a free, one-day family festival all about celebrating and connecting children to our local waters. Visit Socket's booth where you can color, play trivia, and maybe even meet Socket the Dog!
Cumberland Park (592 S 1st St, Nashville, TN 37213)
April 4, 2019
Percy Priest Elementary Playground
1700 Otter Creek Road
Nashville, TN 37215
Over 20 environmental groups and food trucks will gather for the inaugural Big Green Fair at Percy Priest Elementary on Thursday, April 4 from 5-7 p.m.
The family-friendly fair is free and open to the public, featuring playground tree planting, seed exchanges, science demonstrations and art activities using found objects. Attendees will explore booths from community partners and enjoy picnic fare from Kona Ice Cream, Doxie's Pizza, That's My Dawg, The Love Bus food trucks and music from DJ Louie.
The Big Green Fair, designed to grow a more sustainable community through hands-on education, is the brainchild of a Percy Priest School environmental club, Kids for a Clean Environment (Kids F.A.C.E.) and its founder, environmental activist Melissa Poe Hood.
Participants include 12 South Market, Adventure Science Center, Clean Water Nashville, Cumberland River Compact, Franklin eWaste, Eternal Returns, Friends of Radnor Lake, Harpeth Conservancy, Lightwave Solar, Nashville Public Library, Nashville Tree Foundation, Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary, Socket-Nashville's Sustainability Outlet, Tennessee Environmental Council, Tenn. Green, Turnip Green Creative Reuse, Unicycle, Urban Green Lab and Warner Park Nature Center.
Attendees are encouraged to donate discarded electronics such as phones, laptops, computers and printers, as well as any size of used school uniforms for recycling.
The Fair will be held on the Percy Priest school playground at 1700 Otter Creek Road (inside if raining) on Thursday, April 4 from 5-7 p.m. Free parking is available in front or rear of school.
Love biking? So does Socket! Join us at the annual Tour de Nash, to promote biking in Nashville.
Saturday, May 11, 2019
It's Socket's favorite day of the year -- Earth Day! Join us at the Nashville Earth Day Festival.
Saturday, April 20, 2019