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Katherine Gajewski: Q & A for Green Philly Women Week
Philly

Katherine Gajewski: Q & A for Green Philly Women Week

Katherine Gajewski - Women's weekThis week Green Philly Blog is interviewing some of Philadelphia’s women sustainability leaders in honor of closing out March as International Women’s History Month. Some of the women are well-known in our city, and some have yet to break out from under the radar. We kick off our week’s interviews with Katherine Gajewski!  

As Director of Sustainability for Philadelphia, Katherine Gajewski has helped our city become greener since July of 2009. Prior to coming on board to head the sustainability front for Mayor Michael Mayor Nutter, she worked on the smoke-free legislation for Breathe Free Philadelphia Alliance and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Gajweski has lived everywhere from Montana, Vermont, Seattle and Chicago. We asked her a few questions to find out more about Mayor Nutter’s sustainable lady-in-charge.

Green Philly Blog: When did you first understand what ‘sustainability’ really meant?

Katherine Gajewski: The concept for me is always seeming to change and evolve as I learn more and encounter new and different applications of sustainability. I grew up in Southern California, where we were made to be very aware of water scarcity – there’s nothing like living in a desert to get you thinking! Those early impressions left a mark for sure and conservation has been a consistent interest and value for me.

GPB: Philadelphia’s made some amazing green progress over the last few years. What local sustainability accomplishment are you most proud of?

Katherine Gajewski: I’m proud that we put out an ambitious plan, Greenworks Philadelphia, and have really stuck with it. Four years in, 89% of our 167 initiatives are either underway or complete.

GPB: What do you think the biggest impact women have in the green movement?

Katherine Gajewski: Based on my anecdotal evidence, there seem to be a lot of women in the sustainability field. One working theory that I have is that the interdisciplinary nature of sustainability attracts women. It’s also a fairly new and emerging line of work – at least the sustainability management slice of it – and so it has come to life and taken shape in a more contemporary context. Women are having an impact all over the green movement, it’s wonderful.

GPB: Who can you give credit to as the biggest woman influence in your life?

Katherine Gajewski: You know, I’m going to say my maternal grandmother. I’ve probably come to this realization later in life, but she was a real character…in the most positive sense of the term. Like the kind of character who serves you a peach crisp that was in the deep freeze for twenty years without batting an eye, and then shoots you a wink. For a woman who grew up in the Depression era and lived in rural Illinois for most of her life, she had a sense of self that I can relate to as woman in 2013. I have always been in awe of that generation and how resilient they were.

GPB: Let’s talk about a few of our favorite things: eating & traveling. If you could transport yourself anywhere in the world for a ‘local’ dish, where would you go? What would you have?

Katherine Gajewski: India! I would happily eat anything. And hopefully by osmosis I would learn how to make authentic curry.

 

Photo: Flying Kite Media

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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