#FindYourLab with Katie Madole

Urban Green Lab knows a little change goes a long way when it comes to living sustainably. To help Nashville make that little change, we’re helping everyone in the community find their lab.

“I dream of a Nashville where environmental justice is achieved- everyone has the same protection from environmental and health hazards and diverse voices are present in all decision-making conversations.”

Katie Madole
Student & Livable schools President
Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School
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Katie, where is your lab?

When helping lead the charge with Livable Schools, my lab can be truly wherever! Oftentimes, we have lunch meetings in our awesome teacher sponsor’s room at Hume-Fogg. Other times, my lab might look like a facetime call with group members, a coffee date at a local, favorite coffee shop, or in my bed with my laptop! My lab can be anywhere and everywhere where there is wifi and optimism for positive change.

What has been your biggest challenge or question?

Livable Schools, a student-run group at Hume Fogg, has strived since 2017 to promote sustainability education and action within our school, hoping that our action can inspire others to do the same. For three years now, we’ve tried to address ways we can make our school and student population more sustainable. Obviously, change is hard, especially when students and staff already have so much on their plate and already have their own issues they’re passionate about. That said, we’re extremely lucky to have a student population that’s very open to being more sustainable and the MOST SUPPORTIVE administration and teacher support ever.

How did you get interested in sustainable living?

Livable Schools conducting a food waste audit with UGL and TDEC in 2018.

My friend, Grayson Peters, presented at my school’s freshmen orientation the summer going into my freshman year about his new club, Livable Schools. I was so inspired by his passion and ideas for the club and felt called to join the action and learn more about the environment. I became involved with Livable Schools that year and was continually inspired by the upperclassmen leading action around our school in such a passionate, engaging way. That first year, Rachael Woods (former Urban Green Lab educator) mentored us weekly and opened my eyes to careers in sustainability and the possibility of being a sustainability educator. Rachael inspired me and taught me more than I could ever put in words and deeply inspired me to live more sustainably, which I am forever grateful for.

What keeps you motivated to make sustainable changes?

My peers in Livable Schools keep me motivated to always keep learning and making sustainable changes. The coolest thing about working with such a large, diverse group is that there are so many unique, creative ideas brought to the table each week that I could never think of independently. To me, that’s the power of collaboration. Some of our group’s coolest plans for this year came from one student speaking up about an issue she was passionate about. Hearing my peers’ stories and passions encourages me to continue to keep advocating for sustainable change at school and at home.

What is your sustainable vision for the city of Nashville?

I dream of a Nashville where environmental justice is achieved- everyone has the same protection from environmental and health hazards and diverse voices are present in all decision-making conversations. I dream of a Nashville where our leaders care deeply about the environment and work strenuously to care for it. I hope for walkable and bikeable communities all around Nashville. I hope Nashville continues to support and cherish local businesses and stores, over large corporations. I hope Nashville can improve our transit system and our public school funding. It would be really cool to have city-wide recycling everywhere and even composting! It would also be amazing to have more solar panels and to not have plastic baggies in grocery stores.

Where is your favorite local spot to get in touch with nature?

I love going on walks at Shelby Bottoms in East Nashville. Personally, time in nature is when I feel most grounded and spiritually connected, so I try to find opportunities to be outdoors whenever possible. Recently, I’ve been amazed by the chirping of the birds. Quarantine has reminded me of the importance of stepping outside and being present with nature. Nature is LIFE-GIVING and I personally forget to check in with it when life gets crazy. I’m grateful that quarantine has reconnected me in a way I hope to not lose once this is all over. 

What sustainability-related organization do you wish more people knew about and why?

Livable School leaders & UGL 2019

URBAN GREEN LAB! Cheesy, I know, but truly Urban Green Lab is the best. Urban Green Lab is such an incredible environmental nonprofit and works tirelessly to spread sustainability education throughout Nashville in an innovative and accessible way. The staff at UGL has always been so helpful and supportive of me and Livable Schools. They have been one of our greatest supporters from day one and continue to support us in any way they can. But it’s not just Livable Schools they support- they support all of Nashville! Urban Green Lab serves our city with such an open and generous heart and they inspire me to make a difference every day. Thank you, Urban Green Lab!

What advice do you have for others to make sustainable changes?

Form relationships with people who share an interest in making sustainable changes. Learn with them. Learn from them. Always work to expand your bubble.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask for someone to collaborate with you. Humility and an eagerness to learn can open up many great opportunities for you!

Katie Madole

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