Big Ben, Big Ideas, and Big Finale

Less than 24 hours left. After almost 3 months of traveling, interviews and hundreds of inspiring tales of sustainable development, I am down to a less than a day. It is still hard for me to wrap my head around this idea but I will enjoy my last night in London and head back to Chicago to begin Senior year. But enough with the sappy tale of my journey’s end, I am sure you would all much more enjoy hearing about my time here in London.

I arrived in London Saturday morning and my friend, Tom, who graciously has allowed me to stay at his flat, picked me up at the airport and we headed to his place. In the afternoon we walked around central London and I got my first view of the London Eye, Big Ben and the House of Parliament. We got a kick out of all the fellow tourists that kept asking us to take their pictures in front of Big Ben. We spent the rest of the night catching up as we had not seen each other in almost two years.

Sunday, I got a chance to spend time with some of Tom’s University friends at his place for a barbeque. Having finished college last year, they all were finishing up their first year in the real world. Monday, England had a bank holiday, so the city was in 3 day weekend mode. I got the chance to experience the Nottingham Carnival, the second largest carnival in the world. We walked among the thousands of peope in the streets, admiring the paraders showing off a variety of different carribean outfits and music. It was a great experience and I am thankful to have happened upon such a great festival.

The rest of the week was spent on my seventh and final research trip. My first stop was the BedZED development. A model community, BedZED was intended to rethink the way we build developments and build a new sense of community surrounding a live-work environment. After touring BedZed, I then had a meeting with a representative from the Greater London Authority and the London Sustainable Development Commission. In the interview, I learned about the policies and strategies being used in London to address climate change and environmental degradation. I have since met with a couple of NGOs that work on improving the London environment. Each NGO tackles sustainable development in different ways and addresses community building through a variety of tactics. One organization, Get More Local, focuses on capacity building and youth training through a social enterprise model.

Now with my interviews finished, it is now time to begin the lengthy process of organizing my conclusions and writing up my thesis. I can’t begin to express my excitement with everything I have learned and what the future holds. I can’t thank the Circumnavigator’s Club and the rest of my sponsors enough for this amazing and inspiring once in a life time experience.