New Writer - Aateka Shashank

Photo from Aateka Shashank.

Photo from Aateka Shashank.

Aateka is an undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University pursuing a Bachelor in International Environmental Studies. Although her studies are focused in the international arena, she is interested in discovering the effects of the international affairs as they play out on the ground in cities. She questions how people shape the cities they live in. Aateka can be found checking items off her ‘List of Things to Do to Become a Pro-Urban-Interventionist and a Sustainability-Know-It-All’.

When did you realize that you had a passion for the environment? What made you realize it?

I was sitting on my dad’s shoulders staring out through the fog at the still river. The green fields were yet quiet and the traffic hadn’t become deafening. It was this morning by the Ganga River in New Delhi that I felt extremely fulfilled. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I realized that the environment was precious and I needed to stay connected to it throughout my life.

Do you have a favorite Starfish article? What makes it so special to you?

I really like ‘The Happy Planet Index’ article because its bringing to attention alternative ways of creating metrics to measure success. What makes it so special to me is that a brief historical introduction to the grounding of the GDP was provided. When we consider alternatives, we never consider the history of the thing that is being used currently. And if we want to adopt alternatives, then we must allow society’s to let go of the past and breathe in the future in healthy ways too! Isn’t that success itself?

If you could focus your energy on one issue facing the environment today, what would it be? How would you do it?

I would focus on communities and how involved they are in shaping their neighborhood and their future. The environment and the people that are affected by it and that affect it need to be in constant collaboration. For me, that collaboration is on the smallest scale of how people organize themselves: a community. I would increase the livability of a community by making it walkable, safe and a hub for creative collaboration.

Do you have any green new year resolutions for 2013?

I recently talked to my dad about our house and how we live. We decided to implement Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 Action Plan within the small 1,400 sq ft confines of our townhome. It shall be an uphill battle, but I hope that in the long run we inspire our neighbors and our entire townhouse strata to join us!

What would you like to see the Starfish accomplish this year?

I would like to see the Starfish become THE magazine that people refer to for their inspiration and news. I have heard of The Starfish for the past year or so, and I’m waiting for high school students, colleges and universities to catch wind of it and get excited about the opinions expressed on it.

Tom Wiercioch