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Our new Sustainability Intern

Hi everyone, my name is Cara Prosser and I am the new Sustainability Intern at the Minnesota Historical Society. I will be working with Shengyin over the next few months on the More for the Mission campaign at MHS. I hope to learn how an organization like MHS integrates sustainability into planning and engages staff about sustainability initiatives.

I grew up in a small city in northeastern Wisconsin, called Neenah. Some of you might recognize the manhole covers that are made there. If you cast your eyes downward when you are walking in the Twin Cities, you will notice the all the manhole covers have “Neenah, WIS” on them. I was born and raised to be a Wisconsin Badger and went against my family’s alliance when I decided to attend the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities after high school. I chose the U because of my desire to study architecture and quickly embraced what it meant to be a Gopher.

From the beginning of my studies I knew I wanted to pursue an architecture degree with a minor or second major in environmental practices. I learned that the U offered a sustainable studies minor and I thought that would compliment my architecture studies. The architecture program at the U taught me how to critically assess and strategically approach problems with a creative eye using a process known as design thinking. The design thinking process and my passion for sustainable design helped me explore how to implement sustainability initiatives at several different scales, ranging from households and companies, to cities and countries.

Throughout my four years at the U, I was lucky to be involved with several different boards and committees, along with being a student employee in the Office of Undergraduate Education, but the most influential part of my four years was studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain for a semester. I decided to study in Barcelona knowing that it was home to my favorite architect, Antonio Gaudí. Little did I know that my experience would become more than just a fun opportunity to live and travel around Europe.

Barcelona helped me develop an even bigger appreciation for Gaudí and his architectural works. I became so enthralled by his building, Sagrada Familia, that I dove into my honors thesis headfirst by trying to explain the phenomena of the church. My thesis quickly developed into a philosophical crash course on phenomenology. (If you want to know more about this feel free to stop by the intern workstation and I will talk your ear off about it!) The other passion that was brought forth by my studies in Barcelona was my interest in sustainable urban development. Not only did the comprehensive city plan of Barcelona spark this, but the systematic planning of all European cities, and specifically their transit systems, were quite inspirational.

As I approached graduation I decided to take a year or two off from school to evaluate what my next step in school would be. Although my intent was to step away from higher education, I can’t seem to escape it. Since graduating this past spring with my architecture degree and two minors in sustainable studies and design, I have been working in the Office of Undergraduate Education at the University of Minnesota as a special projects coordinator. I also began my internship search and was excited when I received the news that I would be working as the sustainability intern at MHS for the fall semester. I can’t wait to learn how and why MHS has begun to implement sustainability initiatives throughout their institution. I look forward to taking my interests in design thinking and sustainable studies to help promote, articulate, and explore how to engage staff about sustainability.

I will be posting to the blog several times throughout my internship and would love to hear comments and suggestions from you.