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Claire Barnes (’19)

Name: Claire Barnes

Year: Junior

Major: Religion and Philosophy, with a minor in Sustainability

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Extracurricular Activities: Slow Food Emory, IDEAS Fellowship, Residence Life and Housing, American Mock World Health Organization, Multicultural Greek Life  


Tameka: What are 5 words you would use to describe yourself?

Claire:  I would say 1) Creative: I love art and have been immersed in painting since a child. My mom used to be a set painter for Hollywood and I continue to paint for fun. 2) Passionate: I am extremely passionate about food sovereignty, social sustainability and interdisciplinary education. When I am passionate about something, I try my best to get genuinely involved. 3) Critical: I try to critically think about my engagement on campus and my future, as well as where I funnel my time and efforts. 4) A laugher: I have inherited my laugher from my mom, and I think it is my favorite part about myself. 5) Scholar: I am deeply committed to the scholarly pursuit of knowledge, as well as learning outside the classroom. I hope to one day teach at a collegiate level.


T: What sparked your interest in sustainability?

C: Since I was a little kid, I have always played in my garden, burying seeds in the rocky soil around my house. I grew up without religion, but always felt connected to the environment and the plants/animals around me. In my junior year of high school, I attended a program at the Candler School of Theology called the Youth Theological Initiative. There, I studied ecotheology and explored food justice in Atlanta. During this program, I began to conceptualize issues of sustainability as social, economic, and intersectional, not only as environmental. 

Once I arrived at Emory, I knew that food played an important role in my sense of community (going to the DUC-ling, attending the Farmers Market), and decided to get involved in the conversation surrounding food on campus. Slow Food Emory is the way in which I have decided to do so (read more about the organization and movement below). I also have been able to explore other issues concerning sustainability, specifically environmental justice and the representation of marginalized groups in international forums for sustainability, as a delegate at the United Nations Conference of the Parties, in Bonn, Germany (2017). As 1 of 12 delegates, I was able to experience the way in which sustainable and communal goals were presented at an international level, and interviewed 8 indigenous peoples regarding their vision for the future of the conference. Visit my website here: https://cop23adventures.wordpress.com/ 

In this way, I have tried to engage with sustainability on multiple fronts.


T: How did you get involved with Slow Food Emory? What is your role?

C: My first year at Emory, I served as the Sustainable Food Intern for the Office of Sustainability (OSI). From my interest in sustainable food, my boss at the time connected me to Hilary Brooks King who helped me restart Slow Food Emory on campus. I am the Re-Founder and President of Slow Food Emory, and have been since my first-year at Emory. 

Slow Food Emory is a local campus of the international Slow Food Movement. The movement began in 1989 in Italy, when founder Carlo Petrini saw an increase in fast food movements and a decrease in local food traditions. At Emory, we promote “good, clean, and fair” food in a way that is adaptable and accessible to all Emory students. Our main initiatives include cooking demos, the Lexicon of Sustainable Food, partnerships with the MARTA Market and other volunteer organizations, and community discussions.

T: What is Project Localize and how does it relate to Slow Food’s Lexicon of Sustainability?

C: Project Localize is a platform created through the Lexicon of Sustainability (http://www.thelexicon.org/), to enable educators and students around the world to create educational images that explore terms and principles that define a sustainable food system. The platform is a database filled with educational videos, manuals, and guidelines set out by the creators of The Lexicon of Sustainability. Emory’s Lexicon of Sustainability was created through this platform, and explores Emory’s sustainable food goals and sourcing practices. They were created through an OSI Incentives Fund Grant, and are now on display on the CLC construction fence near Asbury Circle. 


T: Any advice for students looking to get involved with sustainability initiatives? 

C:Find something that is important to you, that you feel passionate about, and view it through a lens of sustainability. While some may consider sustainability to be a field, I consider it a lens through which you can understand the world. If you are interested in business, politics, law, art–all of these topics, and many more, have a sustainability dialogue surrounding them. Ask those around you how they have connected to others, and never feel afraid to send an email to a peer or faculty to ask how to get involved. Concretely, there are several organizations on Emory’s campus that explore sustainability. You can read about them here: http://sustainability.emory.edu/page/1035/Student-Groups 




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