“I have learned how difficult grassroots organizing is, it is not like a company where everything is organized to flow. But it is like trying to invest time to bring together the different ideas together and allow them decide to realize what is good for their communities."
She may still be a student, but Kelly is not bogged down by the weight of meeting deadlines for coursework and attending lectures.
Unlike many conventional students who would rather want to be focusing solely on education, Kelly has tried her hands in bringing solutions to many problems in society through participation in activities in her school at the University of California (UC) Berkeley. Currently, Kelly is leading her team in the collaborative ‘Designing for Resilient Communities’ project with the NorCal Resilience Network.
It is one of those brain straining decisive actions that only a few students would volunteer to do while still pursuing college education. “Working with communities is really important in realizing the potential of you as a human being and discover what you have in store for society” she says.
For the last two years, Kelly has been co-president of the ‘Engineers for a Sustainable World.” Through this youth enterprise, she leads a team of her colleagues from the college of engineering to set replicable projects in communities around the campus. “Many people are pretty sure about climate change but they cannot do as much alone” she says.
“They have to come together as a people and as a community to set their own standards that can enable them live a more sustainable and sharable livelihood.
“However, everyone also seems sucked up in their own bubble and it takes another person crack those bubbles to bring the people together.” She says.
Together with her UC Berkeley team, Kelly has been creating projects that desire to use solar energy to power homes. They have also invested time to research and try to set up rainwater harvesting plants. In all this community engagement, Kelly does most of the grunt work.
“I set up most partnerships and a lot of the walking work to connect the interested people in society,” she states.
What inspired Kelly: “I find satisfaction in being of help in society. However it is more satisfactory to bring about change especially when we can see the impact of climate change.
Recently EWS received a coveted grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Fund. The project is a collaboration between UC Berkeley’s Engineers for a Sustainable World and the NorCal Resilience Network, with the goal of leveraging connections with community groups to work on projects related to water conservation, increasing food security by growing food locally, and environmental education. During the Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) will work with community groups (the UC Gill Tract and Ashby Garden) to design appropriate solutions to the community groups’ design challenges, such as building rainwater catchment systems, composting toilets, aquaponics systems, etc. Then, NorCal Community Resilience Network will help to organize work parties where students and members of the Berkeley community can come together to build and implement ESW’s designs.
“It is normal that sometimes in society, people have different views and many may have more conservative ideas about climate change but that is where we have to engage them further to let us work together to bring about the change we desire in community.
“I have learned how difficult grassroots organizing is, it is not like a company where everything is organized to flow. But it is like trying to invest time to bring together the different ideas together and allow them decide to realize what is good for their communities.”