Education Center in Asheville NC

Blue Ridge Mountains

“Helping Hands and Healing Lands”

OM Sanctuary is excited to introduce our new Sustainability Intern, Evan Novell. He will be with us for six weeks from the University of South Florida, helping us further our Holistic Management Plan started in 2014 by intern Rachel Newcomb from William Smith College in Geneva, NY. In our quest to be better stewards for the planet, Evan will be helping to educate the public on the sustainable initiatives the organization has taken up to this point and how they lay the foundation for a more sustainable community in the future. Our intern’s roll will be to help determine the organization’s carbon footprint and the carbon offset supplied by the carbon sequestration potential provided by the conservation easement. This easement, which is held by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, was placed on OM Sanctuary’s 41 acres of urban forest on January 30, 2015. Below is the first of his blogs to allow our followers to keep up with his internship as it unfolds:

Hello everyone,

It’s great to be working with such a talented group of people and I would like to offer a little background on who I am and what my plans are while at OM Sanctuary.evanlowell-blog-pic

Until recently, the idea that wellness expands beyond the realm of physical and mental well-being is a concept that I had yet to embrace. Having been a guest at the OM Sanctuary in January of this year, I quickly realized that a complete picture of a healthy lifestyle required so much more than what I previously thought. OM Sanctuary’s definition for “holistic” is: body, mind, spirit and connection to nature. What I initially thought was going to be a relaxing weekend in the beautiful city of Asheville instead became an experience that would inevitably shape the future of my academic and professional life. When the time came to choose an internship in the tourism industry in order to fulfill the requirements for an M.A. in sustainability, I knew that the Oshun Mountain Sanctuary would be the first place I would apply to. Seven months later, and after several informative conversations with Executive Director, Jonathan Frappier, I can say that I am beyond fortunate to have been given the opportunity to intern here for the next 6 weeks. This affords me the opportunity to enrich my professional background, pursue new sustainability-oriented endeavors and explore the mutually beneficial relationship between wellness and sustainability. All of this while making new friends and colleagues along the way.

If my first week is any indication of what the next 5 will be like, I have certainly chosen wisely. My first day began on what I took as a typical early Fall day in Asheville; partly cloudy and cool but with a touch of what’s left of the Summer’s humidity. After being welcomed by OM Sanctuary’s Program Coordinator, Sue Ann Leavy, I was quickly introduced to some of the staff including groundskeepers, culinary experts, housekeepers and handy folk! Titles and billets aside, it quickly became apparent that every employee here is multi-talented and able to contribute in multiple ways. This includes Shelli Stanback, the Sanctuary’s founder whom I got to know through an eye opening and inspirational conversation where ideas were exchanged and plans set into action. Shelli also revealed to me the extent of the partnership between OM Sanctuary, Mountain True, and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, which was also made clear in some of the documents I reviewed, such as, the Conservation Easement Deed. The introduction concluded with a tour of the grounds and an overview of what’s in store for the future development of the Sanctuary. After having been acquainted with both the property, staff and vision, it was time to dig into my work and the reason for being heevan2re.

Over the course of the next six weeks, the majority of my efforts will focus on creating infographics and other educational tools which accurately illustrate the sustainability efforts being made by OM Sanctuary. More precisely, I will be collaborating with local sustainability experts in an effort to calculate the answer to a very important question for OM Sanctuary; “What is the organization’s carbon standing?” I respect them for wanting to do this in a way that allows for transparency and engagement with the local community. In addition to this, I will be absorbing as much information as possible when it comes to learning how both a hospitality facility and a non-profit organization operate. Exposure to policy, planning and management, in addition to the fundamentals of guest services, is an experience I look forward to in the days to come.

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments you may have concerning the project or my research at [email protected]

Until next week…