My last week at work brought the program full circle. During orientation at the beginning of the summer, Betsy and Joe took us to Asheville for various activities and learning experiences. We learned about coal ash, and the challenges of safely disposing it. The struggle lies in the harmful and even fatal effects of coal ash, as well as the rules and monetary aspects of disposing it that make it such a complicated issue. Another takeaway from our Asheville trip was that everyone we met somehow knew the people we had already or were going to meet.
These two impressions were largely present again in my final week with the City. The past two years, the City’s Sustainability Scholar has flown in the CMPD helicopter to take pictures of the Duke Energy Riverbend Steam Station in order to see their progress removing coal ash. Erika and I did a fly-over of the station to provide updated pictures for the City. There was no evidence that the coal ash was leaking into the nearby water stream, and there were trucks wetting the coal ash so it would not blow away. Everything is going as planned!
During my last week, I also realized how connected the efforts are to make Charlotte more livable. Similar to our visit in Asheville, many people in the government, non-profits, and corporations work together to implement policies and advocate for change. It is encouraging to know that people from all sectors and entities are invested in helping Charlotte become more environmentally friendly. All of the people I met were enthusiastic about their jobs. It is comforting to see how passionate these people are about their work and making Charlotte better for coming generations.
My experience this summer opened my eyes to all the work being done to make Charlotte more environmentally friendly, but also the amount of work that still needs to happen. I enjoyed meeting people at work and getting to know the other scholars in the house. I’m sad for the summer to draw to a close, but I can’t wait for senior year!