Interviewee biographies

Below you will find biographical details for each person that was interviewed as part of the Embodying Degrowth project, along with relevant links to their work and projects. For further information about the Fellows behind the project, please see the 2022 Movement Fellows page.

Tracy Assing, Trinidad

My indigeneity is an important part of my identity and I felt like I needed to write against my community’s invisibility. I have committed a lot of my work to writing us back into history.

I was raised on the banks of the Arima River and I have always had a very close relationship with nature. As part of my process, I take every story on a walk through the forest, to a waterfall or to the sea. Everything comes together in the forest. We are a reflection of our environment and Nature is the greatest teacher.

During my career I have edited annual reports, business, entertainment and travel magazines; written on a variety of subjects for every media format and conducted numerous interviews with politicians, business leaders, activists, artists and everyday people unearthing authenticity and hidden narratives.

Through my stories, I make connections.

For more: on Instagram, or @bonesnthegarden on Twitter.

Choi Chatterjee, and Omer Sayeed, California, United States
Living Backyard to Table

Omer grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and Choi in Kolkata, India. We started our experiments in homemaking, gardening, and keeping pets while finishing our graduate degrees at Indiana University, Bloomington. We brought memories of home cooked meals, chickens running around the backyard, and productive gardens to our new home. We were delighted to find similar traditions in the United States where the home has also been the site of production for many millennia. Our Living Backyard to Table team includes Auri Jackson (friend, and Lead Video Producer at Buzzfeed, BA in Film Production, NYU), Andrew Thieme (son in law and Phd candidate in Pharmaceutical Science and Cheminformatics at UNC, Chapel Hill), Shaheen (daughter, Electrical Engineer, B.S. EE from Purdue University), Damini (daughter, architecture student at UT, Austin), Omer (Phd in Biology, Indiana University Bloomington, Postdoctoral Fellowship in Behavior-Genetics, Caltech, and executive at a healthcare company), and Choi (Phd in History, Indiana University, Bloomington, and Professor of History), and many, many other animals (with gratitude to Gerald Durrell). Our home in Altadena, California, represents the confluence of many cultures, but it is rooted in the reality of our home, the garden, and our neighborhood.

Find Living Backyard to Table at @livingbackyardtotable on Facebook and Instagram. Choi and Omer also mention Cal State LA’s Urban Food Garden Project, which focuses on research and education that seeks to provide interdisciplinary methods in order to solve 21st century issues.

Jeremy Chittenden, Louisiana, United States
Commercial diver

Jeremy Chittenden is a 15 year commercial diver in Louisiana. He has worked for offshore oil and gas companies, done salvage work on shipwrecks, and worked on infrastructure jobs on dams and power plants inland. Jeremy has seen the effects and attitude of offshore oil and gas companies, from the smallest to the largest, noting that profit has always been their driver for everything from their safety cultures to their care for the environment. Jeremy also works with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, a grassroots disaster relief network that supports people and communities following hurricanes and severe weather events, many of which are exacerbated by the Louisiana region’s extractive economy. After witnessing the inefficiency of Federal aid delivery following Hurricane Katrina, he came to see that community mutual aid brings faster and better care to people affected by storms. “There’s a better future for us all” says Jeremy, “but we are going to have to build it for ourselves”.

Jim D’Aloisio, New York, United States

Jim D’Aloisio is a Principal with Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt, a structural engineering, landscape architecture, and building envelope services firm in Syracuse, NY. He is a member of ASCE-SEI Committee 32, Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations. He has over 30 years’ experience as a consulting structural engineer, responsible for the design of new buildings and additions, structural assessment and renovation design, and special inspections and other construction phase services. Jim is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Registered Professional Engineer (NY and MA), and a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP). He is a member of the Order of the Engineer, through Syracuse University. He has written over 20 articles on the relationship between building structures and sustainability.

Nicole De Feo, New York City, United States
Director of Design and Construction, Trust for Governors Island

Nicole De Feo travels by ferry everyday to Governors Island, a former military base that was sold to New York in 2003 for $1. Not only does the island hold hundreds of years of history but its contents range from the melancholic patina of old building structures to new, exciting landscapes and entertainment. As the Director of Design and Construction for the Trust for Governors Island, Nicole oversees the island’s future developments, working with real estate developers, maintaining infrastructure, and deciding the fate of existing buildings, all while juggling stakeholders’ needs.

Gesiye, Trinidad

Gesiye is a Nigerian-Trinidadian multidisciplinary artist. She works with individuals and communities using performance, tattooing, installation and image-making to explore embodiment and storytelling as forms of liberation. Her intuitive practice is rooted in themes of connection and belonging, and examines the sociocultural symbols and power dynamics that impact our relationships with self, state and land. Find her on Instagram at @gesiye

Tahereh Holmes, Munich, Germany
Architect, Building Stories

Tahereh Holmes works in preservation for the municipality of Munich, Germany. Her job calls for diligence, flexibility, vision, and honoring a building’s history and its surroundings. It is a layered process, both literally and figuratively – as layers of plaster and interiors of walls are exposed, so is the building’s story. And that extends into Tah’s thought process and keen observations. She must sensitively navigate how the building came to be, its role today, and what it can become.  These investigations shed light on the intricate effects of material intentions, our history as makers, and our relationship with patina.

Minireh K., New York City, United States
Superintendent of Washington Heights apartment building

Minireh K. has been taking care of a 56-unit building in NYC’s Washington Heights for the past 18 years. She is a pivotal force in the building as well as in the neighborhood. Not only is she one of a few female supers, but her building is known for being clean, orderly, and in pristine condition. She upholds the conditions in the building through a clear, consistent routine, a firm, but friendly style, rooted in empathy for the tenants in her building. She cares both for the building, as well as those who call it home.

Megan Milliken Biven
Founder, True Transition

Megan Milliken Biven is the Founder of True Transition, an organization dedicated to improving the working conditions of energy workers and making sure they have a say in the energy transition. Biven used to plan offshore oil and gas lease sales for the United States federal government. She began her federal career as a Presidential Management Fellow for the then Marine Minerals Service, and now Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the week of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Follow Megan at @bayouterrier.

Maleah Rahaman-Noronha & Kenneth Mora, Trinidad
Founders, Stay Woke Sustainability

Meet Maleah & Kenneth, the faces behind Stay Woke Sustainability. Maleah, a Farm-to-Table Chef, Earth Builder, Lollie Maker & Permaculture Practitioner. Growing up between a 33-acre farm & town life, she has always been drawn to the natural world. In 2018, Maleah went to New York City to complete a Diploma in Culinary Arts with Farm-to-Table at the international Culinary Center…while she was there she did an internship at Dirt Candy & Blue Hill at Stone Barns. She then returned to Trinidad & back to her home at Wa Samaki. Maleah has been living at Wa Samaki for the last 3 years now doing Permaculture Syntropy, running farm-to-table events, building an earthen house & running their small business, Loud Lollies Limited. Kenneth, lover of all things green, Waste Upcycler, Earth Builder, Beekeeper & Permaculturist. He was introduced to Permaculture when he did his Permaculture Design Course at Wa Samaki in 2016. He already had an interest in Earthships & using “waste” as a resource. Together they make the perfect Farm-to-Table duo! Ken grows the food, Maleah cooks it! They hope to one day have a small Earthen Cafe at Wa Samaki. Find them at @staywokesustainability on Instagram, along with @loudlolliestt, @wasamakipermaculture, and @eatlocaltt.

David Whiteside
Founder, Tennessee Riverkeeper

Chili Yazzie
Farmer, Earth Defender

Chili’s Diné clans are Ashiihi’ (salt), Toh aheleeni` (confluence of waters), Kinyaani (towering house), Tacheeni (red across the forehead) and his children are Taabahe’ (water edge people). He touts his credentials as grandpa, farmer and Earth Defender. It has been his lifelong work advocating for Indigenous human rights and fighting the greedy exploitation of our Earth Mother. Chili is concerned with the health of the Earth and the condition of world we leave our grandchildren.