Inverness Associates
Supporting schools in sustainability, strategic planning, governance, and leadership mentoring.

Inverness Associates News

Saving Anna Head School

As the former Head of Head-Royce School, I have long admired the iconic Anna Head School that was built beginning in 1892 by the founder, Anna Head.  In late 2020 I was distressed to read in the San Francisco Chronicle about the University’s decision to close the significant Institute for the Study of Social Issues (ISSI) program that has done so much to advance diversity in higher education.  And I was especially concerned to read that ISSI “resides in a building that is falling apart,” that the “building that has been a strength for ISSI is now its downfall: the brown-shingled Anna Head building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is falling apart,” and that restoration would “run to the tens of millions of dollars.”

Yale Blue Green

As an undergraduate at Yale in the 1960s, I developed a reverence for nature that helped launch me on a career in education as a teacher, administrator and school principal.  When we celebrated the first Earth Day in April 1970 just before graduation, our nation faced multiple challenges:  the environmental crisis, racial injustice and the Civil Rights movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, a political and generational divide, and a new day for women’s rights.  In my career as an educator, I incorporated environmental history and outdoor education in my teaching.

Why I Serve

While I continue the mission of Inverness  Associates, especially to support green, environmentally sustainable schools, I have also broadened my civic engagement by working with a number of organizations whose causes I support.  This effort stems from my long-held belief that we all should contribute to helping make our society and the world a better place.  Now, more than ever, it seems we should all do our best to be good citizens.

Silent Spring, Again

A little more than half a century ago, the ecologist Rachel Carson publishedSilent Spring about the devastating impact of industrial pesticides on the natural environment and human health. Her book caused a national outcry, changed public awareness of chemicals in our daily lives, and contributed significantly to the modern environmental movement.

Green Schools National Conference, March 2017

In March I had the good fortune to join the seventh annual Green Schools National Conference in Atlanta, the leading gathering of environmental educators focused on school sustainability.  Having attended every one of the Green School conferences since the movement was launched in Minneapolis in October 2010, at the beginning of my new career developing sustainable schools, I was pleased and proud that the conference itself was one of our best.  We were challenged in the early years to run big conferences in cities across the country, from Boulder to Sacramento, from West Palm Beach to Virginia Beach, but this conference was directed by the U.S. Green Building Council and its new, young leader of the Center for Green Schools Anisa Heming. 

People’s Climate March: A Report from the Field

In the new year, I made a pledge to intensify my efforts on behalf of our environment and to fight climate change.  The new administration has made plain its plans to roll back the progress we have made over the past fifty years--in sharp rhetoric, threatening executive orders, and the appointment of anti-environmentalists to lead the EPA, the Departments of Interior and Energy, and in calls to abrogate our commitments to the Paris Climate Accords.  My pledge includes my own continued education, lobbying elected officials, direct action, and support for the church green team I lead.  As someone raised in a Republican household in the Midwest, I find it troubling that all these efforts serve to undermine the significant contributions the environmental movement has made to our economy and now threaten to cede leadership in renewable power to China.

Citizen Science: Real World, Hands On Environmental Education

Last fall I joined my friend Alan Fish, director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory at the Marin Headlands, to watch the annual hawk migration.  Having just read the haunting memoir H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald about raising a goshawk to help deal with the pain of losing her father, I wanted to see some of these magnificent birds up close.  On any given day from August to November, it is possible to see hundreds of raptors--Red-Tailed and Sharp-Shinned Hawks, Peregrin Falcons, Northern Harriers and Turkey Vultures--as they funnel over the narrow Golden Gate on their way south.   Since founding GGRO in 1985, Alan Fish, who has a background as an evolutionary and conservation biologist trained at UC Davis, has been the ambassador for one of the country’s most successful programs to engage citizens as volunteers to count, band and track hawks.

Discovering Energy Star Portfolio Manager

For years I have recommended that schools use the EPA Portfolio Manager to establish baseline data on energy and water use and to benchmark their performance.  This spring I conducted the analysis for a church in Berkeley CA in order to learn the details of how to use this instrument.  The article below provides a snapshot of the findings and the impact.  For more information on Energy Star, visit https://www.energystar.gov/buildings/facility-owners-and-managers/existing-buildings/use-portfolio-manager.

 

First Church Awarded an Energy Star

Building the Environmental Education Movement: The National Green Schools Network

In the fall of 2010 just after I retired as principal of Head-Royce School in Oakland, California, I began a journey to help grow greener, more environmentally sustainable schools.  That fall I joined the first gathering of the newly-formed Green Schools National Network (GSNN, https://greenschoolsnationalnetwork.org/), a collaboration of public, private and parochial schools from around the country working to promote environmental education and sustainability.  The meeting attracted some 800 participants from across the country in four different areas: formal school-based educators, environmental educators from the non-profit world, corporate representatives, and higher education.

The conference created a vision for our nation’s 132,000 schools to reduce their footprint, develop healthy operations, and adopt an ecological curriculum.

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