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Alumni Profile: Monika Thiele '97
Major: Biology-Environmental Science
Source: Colby Echo, 11/30/2001
After the election President Barack Obama last fall, Monika Thiele '97 recognized that there was movement in the green sector and a new shift toward sustainable energy and a green economy. At the time, she was not working and had some extra time on her hands. "I decided I was going to devote time to building and investing in sustainability [and] green business," she says.Thiele officially founded the DC Green Connection on May 4, 2009. The mission of the Connection is to grow the green economy locally and to promote sustainable living throughout the DC area. The Connection does this through fun and informative networking events and business promotions. It aims to help create a demand for the green market by informing consumers about what is good for the environment and which businesses support green policies.
"We are growing a green community here," Thiele says.
One way in which the Connection attracts members and people to its events is through Meetup.com, a website that connects people to groups that cater toward their interests. Individuals plug in to the website, sign up for free, type in a topic or topics of interest, browse the results and join whichever group or groups address issues or engage in activities that are important to them.
Groups post their events on their home Meetup link so members can truly "meet up" with one another at scheduled gatherings or presentations. The Connection's personal link on Meetup is http://www.meetup.com/The-DC-Green-Connection, and the group currently has over 500 members.
"Meetup turns social media into real-time presence," Thiele says. "It creates human connection."
Thiele organizes about one Meetup event a month for the Connection. Past events include Kickoff to Copenhagen 2009!, Sustainable Tourism: Taking Travel to New Places, Green Building Policy and Design: Best Practices from Switzerland, Making Solar Energy Competitive and Elements of the Earth: An Organic Wine Tasting with Sonoma's Sommelier.
"I love creating events, shaping an environment and developing a space for networking and dialogue," Thiele says.
All of the Connection's events are held at green venues or those in the process of becoming green. The events bring together young people looking to network and connect with others who hold similar green-minded values over a mix of drinks, food and energized conversation.
Thiele firmly believes in what she terms, "the power of partnership." As a result, the Connection works with other environmental groups to host green workshops and neighborhood events.
During her time on the Hill, Thiele studied environmental science. She went on to receive her Master's from the University of Washington in marine and coastal management/policy. She also founded the Best Buddies Program at Colby in the 1995-1996 academic year.
Thiele's advice for students looking to go into environmental fields is that they should focus on "really learning and coming to the table with technical skills."
She upholds the belief that by following their passion, one person can make a huge difference in the world. "You can bring environmental awareness into whatever area you are interested in," she says. "We are all socially responsible for investing in our economy."
Thiele notes that for students going into medicine, hospitals have the largest amount of waste in the country. She says students interested in engineering can look into windmill construction and other alternative energy options. Anyone interested in architecture can invest in green construction, and the list continues.