My approach to environmental advocacy and communication has been greatly influenced by my artistic endeavors, especially my time in Talisman. Talisman is a semi-professional, student-led music group at Stanford University that aims to share stories through song. I served as Director of the group in 2016 - 2017 and began singing with the group in 2013.
Singing and directing have informed and embodied my advocacy and communication in two ways: by developing my strong horizontal skills of public speaking, teaching and group facilitation that I have applied to my environmental engineering work, and by teaching me the value of building cross-cultural connections. As Director of the group, I prepared a learning plan for each quarter and led a music and service learning tour over Spring Break to the American Southwest. Working on a team and teaching music has helped me find more effective ways to communicate my sustainable development efforts.
Music is one of the few precious things that can span all boundaries, whether cultural, religious or generational. In a field with a strong international component, it is vital that I develop good cross-cultural communication skills to be able to speak about environmental issues and sustainable development with stakeholders from different disciplines, different cultures and different lived experiences. Singing has allowed me to find a way to break the ice with those who I have worked with be that in Nicaragua, India or France. My art makes me a better and more empathetic environmental communicator. As I begin working internationally on sustainable development through environmental advocacy and communication, music will be right by my side.
Image courtesy of Chris Sackes © 2017