Global Green Room Interview: Keena Miller

interview_keena_miller We began working closely with Keena Miller, the Outreach & Development Specialist at Texas School for the Deaf, this year when the school was named the winner of our Green School Makeover Competition. Below, she answers questions for our Global Green Room Interview.

How did you become environmentally conscious?

Really since a child, I’ve always been fascinated with nature, and am a huge animal lover. I feel closest to my higher power when I'm outdoors, communing with nature and reveling in God's creations.

How did you become a supporter of Global Green?

Since we won the Green Schools Makeover Competition for Texas School for the Deaf, I am now Global Green's biggest fan! I'm just so grateful to Global Green and Pureology [the competition sponsor] for this opportunity for our school. Giving the school a way to launch into what we need to be in the way of a greener campus -- it just wasn't going to happen otherwise. Working to just maintain a campus of our size and keep things operating around the clock -- we're forced to go with the lowest bid on repairs and renovations, which aren't often the best of environmentally-conscious options. So I really hope that these small steps we're making with water and energy conservation impact our overall bottom line, so that investments in greener choices aren't always out of reach for us. If we can look down the road, we know green choices are the better choices.

What would surprise us about your work?

What tends to surprise people about TSD is that it's not actually a quiet place around here. We have students who are both deaf and hard of hearing, so many students use their voices, as well as American Sign Language. And, since low bass levels allow sound to be felt, a school dance or drama here can be a pretty loud event when things get cranked up. The students here have surprised me by really taking the lead on improving our campus recycling, and they have a real understanding about the benefits we'll gain with the recently installed automatic faucets and hand dryers. We see students setting a better example -- often better than some of our staff members -- so it's been a reverse-teaching opportunity for some of us adults, and that's really good to see.

Who is your hero?

My heroes are the strong women in my family: my mother, my grandmother, and my aunts, my sister, and my sister-in-laws -- my mom was one of five sisters. We're a pretty tough bunch. My grandmother is a true, strong, Southern woman, who -- along with my grandfather -- raised their girls on a farm. They raised cattle, ran a dairy at one time, always had horses and chickens and farmed their land. They still do. So I learned a lot from all of that. We all took trips together when I grew up, either spring breaks tent camping at the many Texas lakes or sometimes in a convoy of RVs to Colorado for summer vacation. It was always the women who planned and coordinated our trips, and cooked all of our meals outdoors. I just loved that. I still love camping and we still go together. I do thank my family for being my heroes and exposing me to more of what the great outdoors has to offer. It's made a poignant and lasting impact on me, and instilled in me my appreciation for nature as well as the importance of properly caring our environment so future generations can enjoy these same experiences.

If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?

Sounds like a dream, but I'd want to abolish fear and ignorance, which would help a lot of things and improve our world. I don't mean ignorance as being unaware or uneducated, but ignorance when you ARE aware, educated, and know better. From cigarette butts thrown into the streets to polluted waterways to the absurd denial that climate change is actually happening -- all of these things really get to me. Who doesn't get that it's humankind that is completely responsible? Through our growth, development, and technological advancements, we are also decimating our planet. Why isn't protecting and preserving our environment second nature and common sense to everyone? We're very fortunate in the U.S. to have systems in place that allow us manage our waste, use our resources responsibility, and we're at least now doing more to be conscious of our impact. We take so much for granted, when in so many other countries -- in places where waste dumps are homes and the source of food and livelihood for so many, and manufacturing is poisoning our citizens -- we just have so far still to go.