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SYDNEY VANKUREN

LEED Green Associate, EcoDistricts AP

If Sydney were a plant, she’d be a redbud tree. And if she were an animal, she’d be a cheetah. Having grown up with two non-practicing biologists as parents, Sydney was indoctrinated into the environmental movement at a very young age, and has remained involved ever since. “I wrote my college essays on E.O Wilson’s conservation ethics,” she says, going on to explain how the reduction of human impact on the environment was vital for her even as an adolescent.

Urban nature was always of particular interest to Sydney — the coalescence of manmade grit with natural splendor. She recalls a time when a butterfly adhered itself to the facade of her apartment building. “It created a little chrysalis — this fragile insect on a stone building.”

To Sydney, instances like these are a reminder that all of our worlds exist within a larger context — we are ants on a mountain, dots in a desert.

This is of course why she was instrumental in the creation of Sustainable Nation, and went on to become the director of The Pattern Project, as well as Farr’s Sustainable Urbanism Coordinator. During her current role, she ensures that each of the firm’s urban design projects are as respectful and gentle on the environment as they are to the people who are using them.

Sydney is an EcoDistricts Accredited Professional, and is on the Board of the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Young Innovators.