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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence & impact

On December 17, 2013 Elemental Impact founder Holly Elmore was inducted into Lambda Alpha International, the Honorary Society for the Advancement of Land Economics. Holly's election to the LAI Atlanta Chapter membership was in recognition of a successful career in the foodservice industry and her work to implement sustainable best practices in the food industry.

Along with Holly, Atlanta LAI Chapter president Joan Herron, Herron Consulting president, initiated the following distinguished Atlanta land economics professionals into the local chapter:
Professor Richard Ely
Inspired by Professor Richard T. Ely - the "Father of Land Economics," Lambda Alpha was established in 1930 at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. From the original Ely Chicago Chapter, LAI grew to its current twenty plus chapters expanding the globe to include several Canadian chapters along with a Madrid chapter.

Membership includes outstanding individuals who distinguished themselves in disciplines and action related to land use and reuse. The membership diversity in professions ranging from architects, engineers, government officials, professors, bankers to non-profit organizations (to name a few) is key to LAI longevity and effectiveness.

LAI designated five major purposes:
  1. To recognize and honor men and women whose achievements contribute to the advancement of land economics and the development or better utilization of the world's land resources.
  2. To encourage and support the study of land economics and highest ideals of scholarship of all fields that impact land economics.
  3. To expand the world's knowledge of land economics principles and encourage application in public and private endeavors.
  4. To take action and give support to ideas which contribute to enrichment of our urban and rural environments and benefit the quality of human life.
  5. To advance the working relationships of those engaged in land economics disciplines and activities
Note the above is an abbreviated version of the stated LAI purposes. The "official purposes" are detailed on the LAI About page.

LAI Atlanta Chapter president, Joan Herron was initiated into the Ely Chicago Chapter in 1989. Following her move to Atlanta, Joan facilitated launching a Chapter in her new home city. The LAI Atlanta Chapter Charter was received on October 22, 2009 at the Board of Governor’s Meeting during the Lambda Alpha Weekend Experience in Chicago. Fifteen (15) members founded the chapter with Joan in the leadership role as president.

Atlanta Streetcar
Monthly Atlanta Chapter meetings are hosted at Skanska's Downtown offices featuring strong programs on local land economics successes and challenges. At the October meeting, Central Atlanta Progress presented on the Atlanta Streetcar system with an overview and construction update. For December, the program was the new member initiation along with an end-of-year lunch at Baraonda. In January, Tedra Cheatham, Clean Air Campaign executive director, presents on how their programs are intertwined with land economics.

Twice per year local chapters sponsor "Weekend Experiences" giving members an opportunity to meet and learn about land economic issues in other cities throughout the world. Open to LAI members and their guests, these meetings address wider international, national and regional issues and include project tours within the host city. 

Recent gatherings were hosted in Vancouver, Dublin, Toronto, Baltimore, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Glasgow, Sacramento and Phoenix. The Atlanta LAI Chapter hosts the spring Weekend Experience in April 2014 followed by the fall weekend in Madrid, Spain.

Ron Thomas - HGOR director of planning, Oconee River Greenway Commission chair, and University of Georgia, College of Environment & Design senior academic professional - sponsored Holly's LAI membership. In 2012 Holly met Ron during his tenure at the City of Chattanooga Department of Sustainability when the city hosted a Zero Waste Workshop orchestrated by Ei Advisor Neil Seldman with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. The ZWA Blog post, Chattanooga Building a Green Brick Road, chronicles the conference where Holly presented on the Zero Waste Zones and the Sustainable Food Court Initiative.

Along with Joan, Ron joined the LAI Ely Chicago Chapter and later relocated to Atlanta. From the chapter launch, Ron worked closely with Joan and other founding members to create a strong, young chapter. One of the chapter milestones was co-hosting The Value of Green in Real Estate program with the Urban Land Institute - Atlanta District Council in April 2013. With over 100 attendees, the stellar program was impressive and a success.

The invitation from the LAI Executive Committee (international officers and committee
chairs) to host the Spring 2014 Weekend Experience in Atlanta is a major achievement for a young, smaller chapter.

Compost, The Quiet Hero
panel @ the 2011 NRA Show
As the self-appointed spokesperson for Compost, The Quiet Hero, Holly is enthusiastic to educate fellow LAI members on the important role food waste collection for compost plays in land economics. Within Ei's Platforms - Recycling Refinement, Product Stewardship and Water Use | Toxicity, developing initiatives in plastic film recovery, wax-free corrugated cardboard and airborne kitchen grease directly impact land economics.

With its strong leadership and expanding membership, the Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter is growing in influence and impact. Stay tuned ...

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