Elisabeth Farrell, Profile in Sustainability

Elisabeth Farrell, Profile in Sustainability

Friday, May 10, 2013

Farrell

 Elisabeth Farrell

What do you do at the Sustainability Institute at UNH (UNHSI)?

I'm a project manager at UNHSI, where I oversee a range of projects and initiatives across curriculum, operations, research, and engagement at UNH. I'm involved in many different areas, from our Food Solutions New England and Climate Solutions New England initiatives, which are engaging the entire region, to the campus-based work of our four task forces.

I see my role as straddling the visionary and the practical. To be an effective project manager, you need to be able to envision what you want to see, but you also need to be able to design a concrete path for achieving that vision. For me, this is a great combination that satisfies my urge to "think big" with an understanding of what it takes to realize good ideas.

You're celebrating 10 years with UNHSI. What lessons have you learned?

I've really come to appreciate the values of patience and tenacity. Sustainability issues are complex by nature and many times require a lot of people at the table and a lot of time to sort out how best to advance our work. Change frequently happens slowly, so you have to find satisfaction in the small things along the way. Having the patience to see projects through over the course of many years, and the tenacity to make sure they continue to develop and grow, have been most valuable lessons in my career in sustainability. They have also, at times, been the most challenging lessons to learn!

What motivates you personally to be involved in sustainability?

I'm personally fascinated by how things connect, the relationships among things, especially when those relationships are not immediately visible. A Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, has said: "If we look deeply into a flower, what do we see? We also see sunshine, a cloud, the earth, minerals, the gardener, the complete cosmos." This notion of seeing the whole, or seeing things whole, is what sustainability is all about. Working from this perspective opens up all kinds of new questions and connections and ideas. It's a continual source of inspiration and motivation for me.

First published in the Sustainability Newsletter