Buffalo Commons

Researcher Directory Library

Elizabeth Walsh

Policy Fellow

Visiting Assistant Professor, Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo

Elizabeth Walsh

Regional Affiliations:
Director, Champions for Change program of One Region Forward's Citizen Planning School
Organizing Team, Frontline Arts Preservation project and Create ANEW

Board Secretary, Western New York Environmental Alliance
Contemplative Community Building Core Team, Mindfulness Alliance of New York

Research and teaching statement: Elizabeth Walsh works to advance regenerative development and environmental justice through her research, teaching, and service. Regenerative development is a place-based process of cultivating the ability in people, communities & ecological systems to renew, evolve & thrive. Renewal includes healing social and ecological harm inflicted by dominant forms of extractive, exploitative, and exclusive economic development. Walsh studies and teaches history, so that we might remember our way forward. Recognizing the importance of strong community-university partnerships for ethical, rigorous and effective research in regenerative development, Walsh leads action-oriented, place-based, transdisciplinary, and community-engaged research to support social and ecological well-being.

Background: In Boston, MA she led a community-based street tree inventory with the Urban Ecology Institute. In Austin, TX, she led green and healthy home repair action research initiatives at the neighborhood and city scale; co-founded the first public food forest project in a public park in Texas; and helped found EcoRise, a school-based program empowering a new generation of leaders to design a sustainable future for all. She is grateful to continue her research on the past, present, and future of regenerative development in the Buffalo Niagara Region. With its legacy of the regional regenerative planning principles and practices of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and influence key social justice movements (e.g., the Niagara Movement and Women's Movement), Western New York is rich in cultural memories to help us remember our way forward. As a national leader in grassroots planning for regenerative development and climate justice in the present, this bioregion is well positioned to lead a just transition to a regenerative economy.

Current work in Buffalo: Collaborators and inquirers are welcome for both initiatives - please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, ideas, or connections. In Spring of 2018, Walsh will lead the fourth Champions for Change program of One Region Forward's Citizen Planning School, in partnership with UB Blackstone Launchpad, It Takes a Village Action Organization, and the Mindfulness Alliance of New York.  The program connects community leaders with an idea for change with UB students so that they may work together to transform the idea into an actionable plan to advance regional social and ecological well-being. Community leaders and students participate in 6 Monday evening workshops related to capacity-building for regional regeneration (including story-telling, generative listening and dialogue, and theories of change for soulfully strategic planning, as well as foundational concepts of regenerative development).  Walsh is also working with Create ANEW and it's Frontline Arts Preservation project. Create ANEW is an alliance of artists, activists, archivists, architects and more working to use artistic practice and creative expression for solutions that lead to a regenerative, livable, and just community for all. The Frontline Arts Pres project will be leading a series of forums through which Buffalo's four legacy arts organizations of color will share their stories of regeneration and resilience in the face of scarce funding and explore soulfully strategic action to support these vital institutions. Regenerative economies require artists who both expose hidden assumptions and inspire vision and action in service of social and ecological well-being. This action research project explores that hypothesis that frontline arts and cultural organizations of color are essential infrastructure for regenerative development.  As the Board Secretary of the Western New York Environmental Alliance, Walsh supports the Alliance's mission to mobilize change through collective action and collaboration in order to ensure sustainable, thriving ecosystems and communities in Western New York. She is particularly committed to Focus Area II of the Alliance's Strategic Plan: Inclusion. A key strategy is to create opportunities for dialogue between Alliance members and partners (with environmental focused missions and with groups engaged in social/economic justice) so that we might create a culture of life with dignity and justice.  Not only is such a culture valuable in its own right, the Alliance recognizes it as a foundation for regenerative economic development required to address to the immediate climate crisis. Walsh also serves on the Contemplative Community Building Core Team of the Mindfulness Alliance, which includes the Contemplative Faculty and Staff Group of Western New York. The Mindfulness Alliance gathered over 400 people together for a Mindfulness & Health conference in 2016.  The Mindfulness Alliance is a cross-sector, inter-institutional network of individuals working to infuse contemplative practices in their personal and professional lives to foster awareness-based social change for health and well-being.