41 min

A Conversation about Leadership and EWN with Colonel Gant, Commander of the USACE South Pacific Division‪.‬ EWN - Engineering With Nature

    • Nature

Leadership and vision are essential to implementing Engineering With Nature to create landscape-scale climate resilience. We’re focusing on leadership and EWN in conversations with two inspirational USACE Division leaders – Colonel (P) Antoinette Gant, Commander, and Division Engineer of the South Pacific Division (SPD), and Brigadier General Jason Kelly, Commander of the South Atlantic Division (SAD). 
 
In Episode 6, Host Sarah Thorne, and Todd Bridges, Senior Research Scientist for Environmental Science with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Lead of the Engineering With Nature® Program are talking with COL Gant about the challenges and opportunities facing the South Pacific Division, and how EWN and leadership are being applied to meet those needs. 
 
COL Gant grew up as the child of two teachers with the dream of being a chemist, until she met Patricia Sullivan, one of her mother’s students and a USACE employee, who introduced her to civil engineering. “It was just mind blowing to me what you could do as a civil engineer, the impacts that you could actually have on your community, and how you could change things. My mother always told me, ‘be the change you want to see.’ So, I decided that I would try my hand at civil engineering.” COL Gant joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as a way to pay for college and has served in the Army for 28 years. She has risen through the ranks and is slated to be promoted to Brigadier General soon. One of the ways she pays it forward is by being a strong advocate for STEM/STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics—and speaking to young people about her journey whenever she has the opportunity. 
 
COL Gant leads the South Pacific Division, which covers a lot of territory—Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Albuquerque Districts—and has a diverse and complex set of missions and projects. As Todd notes: “The challenges—and opportunities—that we face today with respect to climate change are unprecedented and there are few places where this is more evident than in the West, where people have brought significant changes to the landscape (for example see EWN Podcast S3E8 about changes in agriculture and water use in California). COL Gant agrees: “I always say climate change is real. The rate of change is really accelerating. Where we used to see a hurricane every once in a while, we're seeing them almost every year. Wildfires are the same. How do you prepare differently for the same wildfire, the rising tides? These are all things that we are looking to design and implement, adaptive and equitable solutions that will work over time, and work for everyone.” As we learn in our conversation, environmental justice plays a prominent role in COL Gant’s thinking about these challenges and in her decision making about solutions.
 
We discuss how EWN provides solutions that can produce a broader array of benefits than traditional engineering approaches, while supporting opportunities for substantive engagement with communities, including vulnerable populations and under-represented communities. As Todd explains, infrastructure must be a source of service and benefit to our communities: “What we're seeking to do with EWN is to diversify that benefit. So, when we make an investment in infrastructure—say a flood risk management project in a river that runs through a community like the Guadalupe River in San Jose—we are intentional, purposeful, about looking for opportunities to diversify the value that can be created for that community in that project.” He adds, “there's so much evidence emerging in the scientific literature showing how important access to nature is, in particular for marginalized or disadvantaged communities.”
 
COL Gant agrees. Under her command, the South Pacific Division is taking a strong leadership role: “We're making a commitment to be the first Division that i

Leadership and vision are essential to implementing Engineering With Nature to create landscape-scale climate resilience. We’re focusing on leadership and EWN in conversations with two inspirational USACE Division leaders – Colonel (P) Antoinette Gant, Commander, and Division Engineer of the South Pacific Division (SPD), and Brigadier General Jason Kelly, Commander of the South Atlantic Division (SAD). 
 
In Episode 6, Host Sarah Thorne, and Todd Bridges, Senior Research Scientist for Environmental Science with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Lead of the Engineering With Nature® Program are talking with COL Gant about the challenges and opportunities facing the South Pacific Division, and how EWN and leadership are being applied to meet those needs. 
 
COL Gant grew up as the child of two teachers with the dream of being a chemist, until she met Patricia Sullivan, one of her mother’s students and a USACE employee, who introduced her to civil engineering. “It was just mind blowing to me what you could do as a civil engineer, the impacts that you could actually have on your community, and how you could change things. My mother always told me, ‘be the change you want to see.’ So, I decided that I would try my hand at civil engineering.” COL Gant joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as a way to pay for college and has served in the Army for 28 years. She has risen through the ranks and is slated to be promoted to Brigadier General soon. One of the ways she pays it forward is by being a strong advocate for STEM/STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics—and speaking to young people about her journey whenever she has the opportunity. 
 
COL Gant leads the South Pacific Division, which covers a lot of territory—Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Albuquerque Districts—and has a diverse and complex set of missions and projects. As Todd notes: “The challenges—and opportunities—that we face today with respect to climate change are unprecedented and there are few places where this is more evident than in the West, where people have brought significant changes to the landscape (for example see EWN Podcast S3E8 about changes in agriculture and water use in California). COL Gant agrees: “I always say climate change is real. The rate of change is really accelerating. Where we used to see a hurricane every once in a while, we're seeing them almost every year. Wildfires are the same. How do you prepare differently for the same wildfire, the rising tides? These are all things that we are looking to design and implement, adaptive and equitable solutions that will work over time, and work for everyone.” As we learn in our conversation, environmental justice plays a prominent role in COL Gant’s thinking about these challenges and in her decision making about solutions.
 
We discuss how EWN provides solutions that can produce a broader array of benefits than traditional engineering approaches, while supporting opportunities for substantive engagement with communities, including vulnerable populations and under-represented communities. As Todd explains, infrastructure must be a source of service and benefit to our communities: “What we're seeking to do with EWN is to diversify that benefit. So, when we make an investment in infrastructure—say a flood risk management project in a river that runs through a community like the Guadalupe River in San Jose—we are intentional, purposeful, about looking for opportunities to diversify the value that can be created for that community in that project.” He adds, “there's so much evidence emerging in the scientific literature showing how important access to nature is, in particular for marginalized or disadvantaged communities.”
 
COL Gant agrees. Under her command, the South Pacific Division is taking a strong leadership role: “We're making a commitment to be the first Division that i

41 min