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Learning from nature, native peoples

first_imgThis is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.Search the whole world over, and you would be hard pressed to find one person who could do each of these: run 100 meters in 11.84 seconds, design a public park, identify the native plants of North America, chat in Ukrainian, pole vault, bake a cake that looks like a watering can, recite plot lines from both “Downton Abbey” and “The Walking Dead,” and win $20,000 on the game show “Wheel of Fortune.”But there is such a person: Natalia Gaerlan, a daughter of immigrants from Ukraine, who is graduating from Harvard with a master’s degree in urban planning from the Graduate School of Design (GSD). Married and the mother of 9-year-old Malaya, she is a landscape architect whose early enjoyment of small-scale community spaces blossomed into an interest in planning at the scale of cities. “We can shape these places,” said Gaerlan of a realization she had. “Someone has created all this.”Her first dream was to be a physical therapist, inspired by an athletic girlhood in suburban Detroit. (She left Regina High School with nine school records in track and field.) But while training for sprints as an independent runner in Michigan, she met James Gaerlan, a molecular biologist who coaches elite and Olympic athletes. Away from the track, he helped her see what her true interests were, she said: plants, gardens, and designed landscapes. Gaerlan moved west and earned a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture at University of California, Davis, in 2002, the year she married James.He encouraged Gaerlan in track and field, a sport that gave her desire, discipline, and perspective. (She likes to say “Push past comfort zones.”) In 2008, during the International Association for Ultra Multievents competition in Germany, she became women’s world champion in the tetra decathlon: 14 events over two days, starting with the 100-meter hurdles and ending with a 3-kilometer run. Gaerlan still works out, she said, twice every day. She never competed for Harvard, but her personal bests in the 200 meters (23.86 seconds) and the long jump (20 feet and one-half inches) top the University records.At the GSD, Gaerlan became intrigued by coastal cities in developing countries that will be hardest hit in an era of rising seas, stronger storm surges, fiercer floods, and other consequences of climate change. She arrived at Harvard in the fall of 2012, and three dramatic events marked her first year: Hurricane Sandy (October), winter storm Nemo (February), and the Boston Marathon bombings (April). “It made me think more about disasters,” natural and otherwise, she said. As for climate change concerns internationally, Gaerlan asked, “How do you protect these large coastal cities that continue to grow and expand?”To help answer such questions, at the GSD she has studied risk and resilience, including green infrastructure mitigations such as wetland buffers, barrier islands, and sand dune restorations.The idea, said Gaerlan, is to design cities with “resilient, adaptive architecture” that works in concert with traditional infrastructure like seawalls. “A little bit of both is probably best,” she said. “It’s not just going to take a landscape architect or a planner or an engineer to fix a problem. If you only look through the eyes of one discipline, you miss a lot of issues.”Gaerlan did fieldwork in the Philippines and Thailand both before and during her time at Harvard. These “awakening” trips offered another lesson, she said: Look for solutions through the eyes of the people affected. During three months in Bangkok last summer, working for the United Nations, Gaerlan was impressed with how poor residents in unprotected parts of the city had gotten themselves ready for a catastrophic flood in 2011.“They prepared on their own,” she said, building footbridges to the highlands, stockpiling food, setting up cooking stations, moving household electrical outlets higher, making sure key players had boats, and knowing who was elderly or sick.After Harvard, Gaerlan hopes to earn a Fulbright scholarship to spend nine months surveying how the poor perceive housing materials in the disaster-prone Philippines. The goal fits her life motto of pushing past comfort zones. Lovingly, she wishes the same for Malaya, who has already skipped two grades, swims, dives, plays soccer, and studies piano and guitar.“I want to teach her,” said Gaerlan, “to always dream big.”last_img read more

A Q & A with Blue Ridge Adventure Vehicles Founder Thomas Coffee

first_imgBlue Ridge Adventure Vehicles builds custom adventure vehicles to designed to enhance the outdoor lifestyle. The BRAV team is led by Thomas Coffee. An avid outdoor adventurist, Thomas has lived most of his life in Asheville where he enjoys mountain biking, camping, paddle boarding and snowboarding. We recently caught up with Thomas to learn more about his mission with Blue Ridge Adventure Vehicles.BRO: Tell us a little bit about your company.BRAV: We customize vehicles for adventurous people enabling them to take their gear with them and having the comforts of home.dsc_0103BRO: Where are you located?BRAV: We are based in Asheville North Carolina, a giant outdoor mecca.BRO: How do you like being based there? BRAV: We like being surrounded by an outdoor community, also having an airport close by helps because a lot of our customers are out of state. We try to buy most of  products from local businesses.dsc_0166BRO: How did it get started? BRAV: From a very young age I loved being adventurous and outdoorsy.  Campers have always intrigued me, so we brought the two together. We got started making a personal camper. People on the road really liked our craftsmanship  and design, so they wanted to know how they could get one. The first one sold, then we built another, sold it and, so on.image4BRO: Tell us about your design process. BRAV: Our design process starts with helping the customer find the right vehicle, so size, make, model, and cost are important. We like to know what options customers are most interested in, and what recreational  gear they plan on hauling. From there the interior and exterior designs are formed based on specifications from the appliances, options, and sports equipment.BRO: What sort of outdoor activities do your customers love?BRAV: Most of our customers are greatly influenced by the outdoors. They range from hikers, cyclists, boaters, surfers motorcyclists, and people who just want to  hit the road.dsc_0097BRO: What advice would you give someone who looking to outfit an adventure vehicle for the road? BRAV: Here is some advice for someone looking  to outfit an adventure vehicle.Try to figure out what options you would like and the ones you need like A/C, water, and a fridge ect. Once you have an idea, now it’s important to find a vehicle that is sized accordingly. A lot of car manufactures make models in different heights, lengths, and options for making a camper conversion easier. Remember bolt on items are always easy to add after a conversion is complete. The important things to do first are insulating, options that are mounted to or require cutting the body of the vehicle, electrical, plumbing, and then interior finishes.image6BRO: How can people get in touch with you?  BRAV: You can give us a call or we can be reached by email. (828) 338-9405blueridgeadventurevehicles.comRelated:last_img read more

Benchmark shrugs off value drop

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

Approval of ELTIF framework ‘essential for sustained recovery’

first_img“The investment gap and financial crisis present us with the challenge of solving the tricky equation of maximising economic growth, increasing financial stability, removing barriers to cross-border investment, ensuring consumer protection and enhancing competition all at the same time,” Lamassoure said.For her part, Linklaters’ senior lawyer Silke Bernard flagged up the opportunities in responsible investing for the “exciting” vehicle.She predicted there would be a lot of interest from investors for infrastructure projects considering social and responsible investment matters – such as schools and hospitals.Monica Gogna, partner at Ropes & Gray, said the ELTIF’s approval by Parliament showed Europe was keen to remain “at the forefront of innovation” in the investment management sector.“The development of this regulation and the implementing rules surrounding it will definitely be ‘one to watch’ as the industry starts to map out opportunities where this new structure may be used,” she said. The ELTIF, aimed at both institutional and retail clients, was highlighted by Hill as the first step towards the CMU during the commissioner’s confirmation hearings.Proponents of the ELTIF have long spoken out in favour of its long-term capital being deployed with socially responsible investment (SRI) in mind.Natixis Asset Management previously told IPE it was in favour of enshrining SRI within the fund’s framework, requiring asset managers to comply with certain ESG principles or disclose that they had opted against such an approach. The European Parliament’s approval of the European Long-Term Investment Fund (ELTIF) framework has been welcomed by the industry and parliamentarians as the first step towards building the Capital Markets Union (CMU).The ELTIF, meant as a conduit for patient capital, was first mooted in 2012 when the European Commission considered how it could better channel long-term capital into the economy.Jonathan Hill, commissioner for financial stability, said the vehicle would help fund infrastructure projects “essential for a sustained recovery”.Alain Lamassoure, the French MEP overseeing the framework’s passage, said it would boost both long-term investment and help bring about the launch of the CMU, one of Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s cornerstone policies.last_img read more