Meet Christine Esposito
Christine is chief connection officer of Terracom, which she founded in 1990 to advance the missions of green organizations through strategic communications. Today, she accomplishes this by convening innovators to collaborate on developing new ways to engage people in critical environmental issues. Art is chief among those paths to engagement. She also uses this approach to create unique marketing opportunities for forward-thinking businesses. When not trying to save the world, Christine creates her zii designs, one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry ~ with a twist.
What inspires you?
Bird migration. It fills me with awe that a tiny creature weighing only a few grams can fly from South America to Canada’s boreal forest, and back again. To see these avian wonders as they pass through the Chicago area each spring and fall gives their seemingly impossible journey an immediacy that is utterly energizing.
“When you know your own capacity, when you get rid of your distractions, the power of your mind is immense.” Munishri Ajitchandrasagarji
“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement … get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” Abraham Joshua Heschel
What do you geek out about?
Most recently it was the recovery of phosphorus from Chicago-area wastewater, an innovation taking place right here in Chicago. I first learned about it from Commissioner Debra Shore, of the Metropolitan Reclamation District of Great Chicago, who has been an ardent ambassador for phosphorus recovery.
So you have phosphorus, this critical, life-giving nutrient, getting into our waterways and wreaking havoc, such as creation of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, the world’s available supply of phosphorus is dwindling. Enter a technology that uses natural processes, thanks to what I like to call “superhero microbes,” to take up phosphorus from area wastewater. Then turn that phosphorus into fertilizer that is not water soluble, so it stays in the soil, where plants need it, instead of polluting our waterways again. It’s beautiful.
I was so inspired by the magic of phosphorus recovery that I gathered a team of artists to create an art installation for Chicago Artists Month to explore and celebrate the innovation. The project, called Cycle P15, was both artwork and a game for which the players were the game pieces – a mashup of Twister, without the twists, and Trivial Pursuit, without being trivial. It all worked together to tell the story and science of phosphorus recovery.
What gets you through the day?
My garden, which is our entire front yard. Just gazing out at it helps, even in winter. Better is getting out into it, seeing what’s coming up, what’s changed, watching the bees at work. It clears my head. In fact, it was while I was sitting in my garden, weeding, that I had the epiphany that it was time for my business to evolve.
If you had to change careers, what would you want to do?
All things being equal, I would teach. I have always been drawn to teaching and have taught one-on-one. But these days I am particularly moved by the potential impact of good classroom teachers. I see them in action when my greyhound, Bobby, and I go into Chicago Public Schools as volunteers for a nonprofit organization called SitStayRead, which uses certified reading-assistance dogs to help at-risk students improve their literacy skills. The passion of some of the teachers for giving their students the tools for success is palpable – and invigorating.
Photo Credit: Jamie Kelter Davis Photography