Main Street Project


“To get the most good out of our collective strengths and interests” – An interview with Liz Wilson, Carleton College

Liz Wilson is a senior majoring in Environment Studies at Carleton College in Northfield. She completed a baseline soil study for Main Street Project last summer – gathering soil samples sent to the University of Minnesota to measure nutrients as well as nitrates within the chicken coop area. We’ll share more about the study results in the future.

Liz Wilson

Liz Wilson

I recently sat down with Liz learn more about her interests in sustainability.

What got you interested in working on the soil sampling for Main Street Project [MSP]?
This past summer I realized I had a couple of free extra hours per week. I emailed Regi [Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, Chief Operating Officer] and asked about available volunteer work. Regi actually came to Carleton to talk about the work happening at MSP and I further researched MSP and decided that I really, really would love to help out with anything that needs to be done.

How will soil testing help out Main Street Project?
It seems like MSP’s whole approach and whole system is founded on the principle of ecological sustainability as one of many approaches to sustainability. It’s really important that actual scientific data are demonstrating that the system implemented by MSP is actually beneficial to the soil. The soil sampling is one of many pieces of the puzzle of these various systems that need to work together so that MSP’s overall goal can continue, and be sustainable and beneficial for people as long as possible.

What are your academic and career interests?
I’m really interested in how human and nonhuman communities can be resilient to human-instigated environmental challenges, especially to climate change and the effects. I was drawn into MSP because of their practical way to address these issues in a collaborative manner that encompassed in its design a lot of foresight for resilience into the future. I’m interested in something practically minded so that everyone can have the opportunity to be a human being together.

I am also interested in scaled thinking. This is another thing that MSP does a really good job of. Being able to think in different scales of communities, such as spatial and temporal scales.

Where did you grow up?
I am from the mountains of Western North Carolina in a town called Highlands. I am really interested in understanding our relationships with the Earth, and how we actually are the Earth just different permutations of it. It’s really neat to have a visceral awareness of being a part of the land that you come from. That can manifest through agriculture where you literally grow the food that makes the cells of your body what they are.

What is your academic background?
I am a senior at Carleton majoring in Environmental Studies. Through my undergraduate career I have worked on a variety of projects. The summer after freshman year I worked was an intern for the Bureau of Land Management in Montana in their visitor center on the historical part of the upper Missouri Center. Last summer I interned for the Forest Service in Idaho doing trail work at the Frank Church River of No Return. This past summer I worked for Little Hill Berry Farm, SEEDS farm and MSP here in Northfield. I also co-managed the student farm at Carleton.

How can Carleton students connect with community members in Northfield?
We have to have open and deliberate communication. One way that is happening in Carleton is through the Carleton Food Alliance. MSP is welcome to come to the group meetings. It is a group that consists of all of the major food groups on campus like the Campus Cooking Club, the Farm Club, the Food Activism group, and also includes the chefs of Bon Appetit and managers, people from the Just Food Coop, and farmers. This is space created for dialogues among the leaders of our groups as to how we can integrate our respective efforts and complement each other’s initiatives so that everyone gets the most benefit out of it. It is an excellent practical avenue to explore these issues in depth together.

Do you have a message for our audience at Main Street Project?
First of all, thank you for all of your work. It’s really an example of how we can converge and integrate our various strengths and interests in a way that is harmonious and functional to get the most good out of our collective strengths and interests.