Meet Weston’s New Sustainability Coordinator Kortni Wroten
In March, Weston welcomed Kortni Wroten, its first-ever Sustainability Coordinator, who is responsible for implementing and monitoring the Town’s energy-use programs and environmental strategies. Kortni will be helping community members think about how they can reduce their carbon footprint individually and as guardians for future generations.
The Owl first met Kortni this month (by zoom) as an introduction between Kortni and the Weston Forest & Trail Association. Attendees of the Weston Forest & Trail Association Annual Meeting this Sunday, May 2, will also get to meet Kortni live, if not in person. For information on the WFTA Annual Meeting, please see http://www.westonforesttrail.org.
Kortni took some time out of her busy day to answer some questions.
What is your background and where did you come from before Weston?
I’m a recent graduate of Clark University, where I achieved two Master’s degrees, one in Business Administration and the other in Environmental Science & Policy. Before that, I graduated from Worcester State University with a double Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Biology. I’ve had numerous internship, fellowship, and volunteer experiences, including an internship at National Grid’s Sustainability Hub and Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission, completed a fellowship with the University of New Hampshire’s Sustainability Institute where I worked with the Town of Concord, and even volunteered for the EcoTarium in Worcester. At Clark, I led two class trips to the United Nations’ Conference of Parties (COP), where I spoke at a side event about the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Sustainability Coordinator role is new for Weston. What are your primary responsibilities?
My main responsibility is to take care of Weston. And I don’t just mean its environment. Sustainability is a relatively new term and it’s tough to define. But, my version of sustainability includes environmental health, economic vitality, and healthy, resilient communities. I hope to use state and federal funding to help complete projects that help Weston thrive now and for coming generations. I also plan to work with the community through education and programming to encourage others to join the cause.
To be specific, much of this revolves around empowering others to become stewards of sustainability. That means reducing energy, using water efficiently, and thinking more holistically about our consumption habits. It also means taking care of one another in a rapidly changing climate and economy. So, in short, I’m here to help!
How do you plan to get the word out about what you do? Is there a blog?
For now, I will be using established Town media accounts to announce events or messages. The Town Website is a great place to find information about our Weston Ahead Climate Action and Resilience Plan. I’ve considered the idea of a blog or newsletter, and I’d be open to it. If this is something people would like to see, I’d be more than happy to send something out on a regular basis. Before I go ahead and launch anything like a blog or newsletter, I want to make sure it’s something people would really look at.
Which other groups do you work most with in town?
So far, I’ve been interacting with the Sustainability Committee, Sustainable Weston Action Group (SWAG), Weston Plant Pollinator Alliance, the Tree Advisory Group, Weston Forest & Trail, and the Schools’ parent/teacher organizations.
How do you think each Weston resident can make things better in terms of environment and sustainability?
I think every one of us, myself included, could be more mindful. When I say mindfulness, I mean cultivating an appreciation for everything around you. Look at the computer or phone you are reading this on and take a moment to think about the labor that went into it, where the parts came from, how they were made, where they will go when you no longer need it. While you water your plants, think about where that water really goes. Think about where your electricity really comes from. Think about what companies you support when you buy things. Take a walk through your backyard and just sit. Take in the sights and sounds and appreciate how much of what you see has been here before you and will be here after you, too. What will you contribute? What will you leave behind?
Taking a mindfulness approach is radical. Why? Because it calls into question elements of our society that hurt our people and planet: individualism, convenience, and ignorance. It challenges those habits and reconnects us to the fact that we are all a huge part of a very large, intricate system. Understanding our impact is absolutely imperative, and there are so many ways to do this. But, my first recommendation is to practice mindfulness.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I read a lot. I also love to garden and spend time with my cats. In the spring and summer, I work with local organizations to capture stray cats to have them spayed/neutered and rehomed or returned to the neighborhood.
What’s your favorite tree?
Ginkgo trees are my favorite.