In June, Interface announced the bold next phase of our sustainability journey. It’s a commitment to reversing global warming; we call it “Climate Take Back.” As we engage the world in this mission, we recognize that to make progress, everything, no matter how big or small, counts. Micaiah Jones, our 2016 Interface Scholar, emerging change agent and Foresight Prep participant understands this and is an embodiment of what our mission is about.
Foresight Prep @ Oberlin College is an enriching program that provides high school students with an opportunity to explore their interests in social and environmental sustainability while cultivating the tools needed to excel scholastically and professionally. I had the opportunity to chat with Micaiah about her growing passions and experience at Foresight.
As an aspiring entrepreneur and developing change agent, Micaiah was attracted to the Foresight Prep program due to her desire to better understand the integration of sustainability into business. But her journey didn’t begin there.
In 8th grade Micaiah enrolled in Earth Science, a course that exposed her to the array of environmental issues that our world faces. She remembers the day her instructor showed her pictures of garbage patches in the ocean and communities ravaged by pollution. These images “struck a chord” with Micaiah, completely altering her worldview and inspiring her search for solutions. Initially, Micaiah was overwhelmed by the weight of the issues. She often asked herself, “What could a young high school student do to address these dire issues?”
Instead of growing passive, Micaiah embarked on a quest to change the world. She immediately began performing independent research on the remedying of issues caused by increasing ocean acidity, the destruction and rebuilding of the ozone layer and innovations in renewable energy. To continue investing in her personal education and to begin putting her passion into motion, Micaiah joined her high school’s Environmental Club. Through this experience Micaiah spread awareness about the importance of recycling by creating and posting informative signs and emphasizing the locations of designated recycling bins around her school. Micaiah also came in 2nd place in her school’s science fair. Her project was centered on developing social strategies to increase bike ridership, reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are derived from automobiles. Active in her community, Micaiah also participates in several annual food and clothing drives that support Syrian refugees and Washington D.C.’s homeless.
When I asked Micaiah what her first step is in changing the world, she answered, “Big change begins with little actions. Most people can’t define sustainability. The first step is to bridge the gap and help society understand what sustainability is and then show them the small behaviors they can adopt in order to get involved in the movement.”
Micaiah valued her experience at Foresight Prep because it went beyond the classroom and afforded her and her fellow students, valuable, hands-on experiences that helped her understand “the different shapes sustainability can take.” Additionally, she was able to work toward developing skills such as project management and team leadership. Micaiah also appreciated the instructors’ passion and commitment to her success. Hearing Micaiah enthusiastically elaborate about how much she enjoyed her time at Foresight Prep, I asked her to share what she thought current professionals need to know about the sustainability leaders of tomorrow.
She answered that today’s professionals need to know that the sustainability leaders of the future are invested and have a long-term commitment to ensuring that future generations experience a better world than present and past generations. She also encouraged today’s sustainability professionals to create and connect with programs like Foresight Prep and offer internship opportunities, all contributing to the education, growth, and development of students who seek to, as Ray Anderson once said, “brighten their corner of the world.”
As Interface embarks on its new journey from negative to positive via Climate Take Back, we believe that everyone can contribute. The problems we face were not created overnight or by just one person. Their solutions will likewise require time and a team effort. From the designer who asks, “How can I transform this space for the better?” to tomorrow’s change-agents like Micaiah Jones, every one of us can be a part of the movement.