Overthrowing the System, Sustainably with Alumna Tessa Holmes

Introducing Tessa Holmes, a Minerva graduate from the Class of 2020 | Nov 19, 2020

After graduation, Tessa Holmes moved to Fairbanks, Alaska through the AmeriCorps program to create sustainable and year-round food solutions for the community. There, she works with the Soil and Water Conservation District to manage a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant initiative that aims to create a community-based food project, which will encourage local self-sufficiency and independence from unreliable food transportation chains.

The environment has been a prominent focus throughout Tessa’s four years at Minerva, where she explored the intersection of sustainability science and its social implications. Her schoolwork often took on practical and material manifestations to complement her research-based investigations. For example, in her Capstone project, Minerva’s version of a final year thesis, she focused on how craftsmanship and ownership of a van might ultimately lead to financial independence and environmental stewardship. Titled “Exploring Sustainability through Van Life,” she used aspects of sociology, design cognition, media and technology studies, and consumption studies, and levied an interdisciplinary approach to develop her very own livable van. Her personal, yet socially relevant conclusion: craftsmanship, like designing and building a van, could give many the financial and emotional freedom that has been lost in our society.

“With poverty in America…people are living paycheck to paycheck,” notes Tessa, who believes that workers are underpaid, overcharged, and unsupported, leading to dependence on a system that is inequitable and unempowering. By analyzing how craftsmanship can connect people to material objects and provide financial and emotional autonomy, Tessa has approached her work in Alaska with similar conclusions in mind.

Aiming to create “local-level intervention” Tessa spends her days working with experts on the development of an indoor hydroponics farm that will provide the city with year-round produce, create jobs centered around food sovereignty, and decouple the community from the current, inadequate delivery systems that can leave grocery shelves empty for weeks at a time.

Currently, Tessa lives with two classmates who also graduated from Minerva in May and feels grateful for the natural continuation of support and community that she developed while a student. Additionally, she has also made a significant effort to connect with her new community, seeking the same kind of inspiration that her cohort used to bring her every day. After this project is completed, she hopes to continue pursuing her goal of altering poverty’s psychological effects by “supporting and catalyzing autonomy,” in whatever shape that takes on.

If you were inspired by Tessa’s story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.