Kris Spaulding has always had a passion for the environment and social justice. Once she earned her MBA from Grand Valley in 2006, she wanted to do more for her community. While she was helping the environment through her career at Herman Miller Inc., when she graduated she had more free time that she could use to promote sustainability outside of her work as well.
Spaulding is the founder of the grassroots group called the 3Es Initiative. The 3 Es stand for environment, economy, and social equity. The group is focused on making the Holland and Zeeland community more sustainable through keeping a balance between the 3 Es when making decisions. The main goal is to bring the community together to promote sustainability in the Holland and Zeeland area.
Spaulding began talking with others in the community in January 2007 about starting a grassroots movement. These conversations led to the 3 E's Initiative that became actively involved with the community in fall 2007. The group holds a public collaboration every month featuring a different speaker from the community to discuss a topic related to sustainability. In addition the group meets once a month to determine methods of educating the community about sustainability. Currently the group has approximately twelve active members, although all events are open to the public.
“The people who choose to be a part of 3E's Initiative are called sustainability stewards. They make a resolution that they are going to be more sustainable in their life,” she said.
Currently the group is focusing on education. It has partnered with Herrick District Library to offer a monthly film series on sustainability. It is also working with Lakewood Elementary School to incorporate sustainability into the curriculum school. Additionally, the group is beginning a project to measure progress towards economic, environmental, and social equity goals.
“We all agreed that in order to work towards a sustainable community, it is important to educate people on what sustainability is. West Michigan has a lot of potential to do amazing things, but we struggle with attracting people to the area which is why community involvement in big picture thinking is so important,” she said.
In addition to being active with 3 E's initiative, Spaulding is an environmental project manager on Herman Miller's Design for Environment team. Her role is to ensure that products are safe for human health and the environment. She is also working on ways to increase environmental literacy among employees.