Elsi has been a member of SSDN since March of 2017. She joined the network because she saw that the cities involved with SSDN had been successful with their sustainability efforts and it came highly recommended by her colleagues. After attending the annual meeting, she has been able to become more involved and looks forward to collaborating with other members. After 13 years as a city planner, Elsi became the Sustainability Director five years ago. She has since helped to write a resolution with USDN signed by her mayor among others and works to continue this action plan alongside her two coworkers in planning. Elsi is dedicated to updating codes, food systems for smart growth, lighting, and more, in order to make their area more sustainable.
Through SSDN, Elsi has been able to meet different people and learn from their experiences. She uses the network as a resource to find answers to specific questions, collaborate with others, as well as share advice from her own experience in Miramar. She feels empowered by being a part of the network. Recently, Elsi was able to connect with USDN members to come up with a way to navigate the President’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement. They came up with a resolution that pledged to look for ways to reduce carbon emissions in cities. This gives Miramar and other areas a plan to keep sustainability efforts on track. This resolution has been signed by mayors throughout Florida including that of Miami Beach. The network is invigorating and inspiring and she hopes to learn from others and eventually be able to give back.
What makes sustainability in your area unique?
The Miramar area is susceptible to flooding even though it is a non-coastal community. There has been a lot of great work in the county to be more conscious of this but there is still a need to be more involved and empowered with knowledge about climate change. The majority of the emergency management budget goes to police and fire which don’t have a future plan for flooding. Everglades and levees that haven’t been updated or checked in years are the only preventative measures currently in place.
Why do you do what you do?
Because I really love it. I want to be a part of making the city more green. That’s how I got here, it’s the right thing to do. I don’t know how people consciously destroy the environment.
What are you most proud of?
Building and growing food systems because you can see it affecting people first hand. Building cottage industries and urban farms makes money and has a huge impact in the community. It’s one of the best parts of the job. Our community garden is a sort of light, a model for sustainable food and what is possible. One dream I have is to look at at risk youth and teach them skills that can be used to make a living and the city more sustainable.
What is one thing people should know about you?
I believe people should know the value of their habitats. All too often they are not appreciated because people just don’t know what effect they have.