I am a PhD candidate in Environmental Policy and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT and a researcher with the MIT Science Impact Collaborative, a research group working on environment-related issues at the interface of science and policy.
I am also a part-time Associate at the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), a not-for-profit organization focused on mediation and process facilitation using the mutual gains approach. CBI has long been a leader in helping parties resolve environmental disputes and engage in more effective planning, and is increasingly active on climate change adaptation issues and training.
I currently and the Project Manager and Collaboration Lead for the New England Climate Adaptation Project, a collaborative research effort involving CBI, the MIT Science Impact Collaborative, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), and four partner towns in New England that is testing the use of science-based role-play simulations as a tool for public engagement and catalyzing collective climate change adaptation efforts. For more information about the project, check out our project website.
My research and work focus on effective means for engaging stakeholders in climate change adaptation and building consensus around adaptation strategies, given the significant uncertainty and multiple actors and interests involved. I also specialize in science communication and outreach.
Rev. Marjani Dele believes that the nurture of soil and souls go together. She learned organic gardening at the University of Riverside from 1976-1980 while also studying medicinal herbs and political science. After graduation, she promoted environmental sensitivity through storytelling, coming of age camps and community mural making in Oklahoma and Washington D.C.. "Dele's" permaculture initiation occurred during her ministry's Katrina response work with a bio remediation project. She received her certification in permaculture design in 2010 and began teaching in 2011.
At George Mason University, Dele certified students in permaculture design and continues to monitor the environmental impact of one campus project. She is initiating bio remediation research at Virginia State University to address the toxic soil in many urban environments. She continues her study of herbs as a member of the Southside Virginia Herb Society. Well versed in interfaith leadership, Rev Dele believes all human beings are called to "serve the earth and preserve it."
Nature's Friends began as a social network whose discussions revealed there are opportunities to solve environmental challenges with agricultural solutions. As it became clear that marginalized communities were not receiving information to help mitigate climate change, Dele transitioned Nature's Friends into an organization to fill that void. Nature's Friends is beginning to train environmental stewards versed in policy making and practices to assist all communities adapt to climate change.
Innovation management consultant and experience designer/impresario. Currently working on two portal platforms whose purpose it is to enable visitors to explore alternative futures and thereby evaluate the way they live today -- and change it, if necessary.
Both platforms are tentatively slated for development in Malmö, Sweden, one of the world's most sustainability-oriented cities.
When in the USA, I reside in Tucson, Arizona, one of the world's least sustainability-oriented cities. The desert is a harsh mistress.
Melissa has recently self-published her book Water Walkers: portraits of Ghana's street vendors, a sociological photo essay of 100 water vendors, mostly young and female, on the streets of Ghana. She has been an adjunct faculty member of the DePaul University Dept. of Sociology, has traveled extensively as a member of educational and humanitarian projects in Ghana, Panama and Siberia. In the United States, Melissa has designed applied quantitative research projects to better understand business, transportation and environmental issues for a variety of agencies and organizations. Melissa holds advanced degrees from DePaul University (M.A. in Sociology) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (M.S. in Urban Studies and Planning).