You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

Welcoming Our New Executive Director

Jennifer Westerholm (Outgoing Executive Director) & Todd Lawrence (Incoming Executive Director)

Jennifer Westerholm (Outgoing Executive Director) & Todd Lawrence (Incoming Executive Director)

Jennifer Bids Farewell

Serving as Urban Green Lab's Executive Director for the past 3 years has been such an honor! I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to grow the organization and help make Nashville a cleaner, greener, and healthier city. Each of you, our enthusiastic supporters, has made my job a joy. Your dedication of time, talent, and wealth has sustained and buoyed us. 

As I make the transition to full time mom (our son is due in 9 days!), I take with me many fond memories of my time at Urban Green Lab, a continued commitment to serving the organization however I can, and a deep appreciation for each of you and the wonderful city we call home!

We Welcome Todd Lawrence as New Executive Director

A Nashville native, Todd spent 15 years on the frontlines of global health and community well-being.  Prior to Urban Green Lab, Todd managed community education for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and taught International Leadership at Peabody’s College of Education & Human Development.  He served two years in South Sudan with the Carter Center’s Guinea Worm Eradication program, five years leading a global AIDS campaign with the Global Health Council in Washington, DC, and two years with the Peace Corps training community health workers on rural farms in Zambia.  He has a masters in International Development from American University and a bachelors in Political Science from Furman University. 

a Night of Pervious Pavement & NetZero Building

Last night Urban Green Lab teamed up with Lightning 100's Team Green Adventures for our monthly Engage Green event at the beautiful campus of Tennessee Concrete Association. Between their wonderful landscape and gracious hosting, guests were in for a real treat! 

Guests were first given an introduction by Matt, from Lightning 100 and Jennifer from Urban Green Lab. It was each of their LAST Engage Green events before moving on to the next stage of their lives. (Thanks Jennifer and Matt for all your hard work with these monthly Engage Green events!).

From there, Alan Sparkman took the mic and dove in to the world of pervious concrete. Where normal concrete is impervious and causes there to be harmful run-off, pervious concrete mimics that of a more natural ground cover where water can absorb into the ground. This sustainable concrete is exponentially growing here in Tennessee. Questions? Alan is your guy! Contact him at

Up next was Holly Baird, the Director of USCGBC's Mid TN chapter then talked to us about the NetZero building on the property and how important green design is. She explained how we spend 90% percent of our lives indoors ... so we better make the most sustainable, healthy decisions for those spaces. Questions? Interest in green building here in TN? She is your expert! Contact her at 

Last was Donna and her concrete magic of creating bird baths formed around leaves. One lucky winner was able to take one home as a raffle prize!

Thank you for hosting us TCA and USGBC Mid TN!

Americorps VISTA Positions Now Open!

Urban Green Lab is now accepting applications for four new AmeriCorps VISTAs to start this fall. Are you interested in nonprofit Development, Communications, Program Evaluation & Grants, or Volunteer Engagement? Then check out these opportunities to serve your community and gain great experience in sustainability education! Positions start early November. Applications due September 1st. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis! Questions? Contact

Not familiar with the Americorps VISTA program? Learn more here.




Salute to Excellence Finalist

Urban Green Lab has been named a finalist for CNM's Salute to Excellence awardS in the category of "Sustainable Practices".  We couldn't be more excited! 

Each fall, CNM honors Middle Tennessee nonprofits with the Salute to Excellence awards dinner - the largest nonprofit awards event in the country. As a part of CNM's 30th anniversary year, the 2016 Salute to Excellence event is building up to be the largest event yet. Save the date - this year's Salute will take place on October 18, 2016 at the Omni Nashville Hotel.

Congratulations to Turnip Green Creative Reuse and Hands on Nashville for being the other two finalists in our category.

Nashville Scholars: Summer Zone

Nashville Scholars is an incredible program offered every summer to Nashville students. The program is for rising 8th grade - rising 11th grade students. They are given meals, transportation, field trips and enhanced knowledge of core subjects, for FREE!

We have been invited to bring the Mobile Lab to each of the four sites of the program at Cane Ridge, Hunters Lane, McGavock, and Whites Creek High Schools. 

It's nice to see students keeping engaged throughout the summer months, and even better that we can help!

Welcome Cara and Kelsey!

We are so excited to welcome Cara and Kelsey as our summer interns! We've had fun getting to know them in the short time that we have been working together, and can't wait to see what they learn throughout their summer ... and teach us, as well!

"Hi! My name is Cara Miller and I am a Marketing & Communications intern for UGL this summer!   I grew up in Philadelphia, PA and I am a rising senior at Vanderbilt University, pursuing a major in the Communication of Science and Technology, as well as minors in Environmental Science and Engineering Management.

I spent the last semester studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I took courses focusing on environmental science and sustainability.  My interests including running, photography, and traveling!  I’m looking forward to spending time in Nashville this summer while exploring everything Urban Green Lab has to offer!"

"My name is Kelsey Driscoll, and I am excited to join Urban Green Lab this May and June as a summer intern. I am originally from Nashville, a graduate of Hume-Fogg High School and the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt, and have just completed my first year at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. I am a Geology major with a passion for environmental education and community engagement, and I enjoy working with youth to inspire community change. This summer at Urban Green Lab, I am developing an interactive activity for the Mobile Lab and creating GIS graphics for the UGL Annual Report. Following my time with UGL, I will be working for a month in Akko, Israel, with a team of students and archaeologists at the Tel Akko excavation site. Other plans I have for the summer include hiking, reading, and exploring this constantly-evolving city. I look forward to an exciting summer with Urban Green Lab!"


Jennifer's Announcement


A Letter from our Executive Director, Jennifer Tlumak Westerholm:

Dear friends, 

My husband and I are expecting a little boy this fall! We're thrilled! 

Considering the rigors of directing Urban Green Lab and of motherhood, I’ve decided to step down after three amazing years with Urban Green Lab. I'll be departing in late August/early September.

I wanted you – our best supporters and friends – to be among the first to know. 

It has been a privilege to work with incredible Board members, volunteers, partner organizations, and donors to build something very exciting for our city. I’m proud of what we’ve done so far.

Our Board of Directors has just launched a formal search, and we hope that you each will help us spread the word and find the perfect candidate to take the reins of this growing organization and – with the firm foundation of great staff, volunteer, and Board support – take it to the next level! The job opportunity is posted here, so please share.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve. Even after September, I will remain closely engaged with Urban Green Lab and very involved in the work that we all carry on together … that of making our city greener and healthier!

All my best,


Click Here to View the Job Posting

You can help Urban Green Lab by telling your friends and family about the available position!  

If you have any questions or recommendations, do not hesitate to reach out.

Green Garden Party: Urban Edition

Thanks to an incredibly supportive community, this year's "Green Garden Party: Urban Edition" was a rousing success. With nearly 200 people in attendance in an incredibly unique space, delicious food and drinks, a silent auction with over 40 items, an inspiring program, Mobile Lab tours, and terrific music, the event was a hit! 

We owe many thanks for the success of this event. First, thank you to Elizabeth Suzann for the incredible space. Thank you to Michael Samis, former cellist of the Nashville symphony, for his cello performance and DJ Rutherford Beat Hayes for his crowd-pleasing vinyl spinning. Mitchell Deli, Alexander's Catering, and Blackstone Brewery were kind enough to donate delicious local food and beer. Thank you to our event sponsors, Piedmont Natural Gas and NASBA for their generous donations. 

Last but certainly not least, thanks to the committee who pulled the event together, led by Americorps VISTA, Charlotte McGoldrick.



a POWER(ful) Engage Green Event

While the rest of Nashville was most likely ducking into the nearest building during this past Wednesday's torrential downpour, Urban Green Lab and Lightning 100's Team Green Adventure's were just beginning to led a group on the adventure of a ... Wednesday night.

The adventure began with a walk across Vanderbilt University's campus, led by the Vanderbilt architect responsible for pushing LEED certifications early on around campus. We were then lead to the library to see how the effective use of natural lighting through windows, site position and floor plan changes the entire necessity of lighting.

Until this point, we were walking the walk and talking the talk of your average Vanderbilt tour (well, one with a slightly nerdy twist for sustainability lovers!). Then it starts to get adventurous ... 

We arrive at this ominous building:

The ominous-ness however only lasted as long as it took for smiley facilities operation manager to come and take us off into the depths of the plant. He was incredibly passionate about how the plant operated and the amazing transitions it has gone through over time. The power plant stopped burning coal last November and has since turned into a natural gas plant. The plant creates electricity, steam, and chilled water for not only Vanderbilt University's campus but the Medical Center, as well. 

With high temperatures, loud noises and huge machinery unidentifiable to the average person it felt like we were going into the depth of another world. A world that Vanderbilt uses to cut down on energy costs and supply back up energy to the Medical Center in case of a blackout. 

Thank you to Vanderbilt's construction and planning department, Plant Operations and Sustain VU for the incredible experience and knowledge! 

Aaand that's a wrap!

The time that felt so distant back in February when we launched our Mobile Lab has finally come! At the end of this week we will have officially finished up our first semester with the Mobile Lab! Thanks to the hundreds of volunteer hours, dedicated staff and excited MNPS schools, our first semester was a busy success!

By the end of this week, we will have made 33 visits to 27 different schools and have reached over 1500 students with the Mobile Lab!

In our semester-long journey we were in communication with 30+ educators to plan logistics, worked with with an average of 10 volunteers a week, and ate approximately 30 avocados. Oh wait, that was just our Educator, Catherine : )

Thanks to everyone who made our first semester on the road such an exciting growth period for Urban Green Lab!

MLK students signing out for the semester with a little extra sustainability knowledge and some dance moves in tow!

MLK students signing out for the semester with a little extra sustainability knowledge and some dance moves in tow!




A Picnic of Appreciation

We are SO lucky to have the volunteers we do. Without our volunteers we would literally not be able to do what we are doing. We so heavily depend on our volunteers for supplementing the staff at the Mobile Lab, as well as helping with technology, the mechanics of the Lab, data entry ... and the list goes on. 

Over the past six months we've had volunteers that have originally lived everywhere from here in Nashville, to Maine, London, California, Florida and everywhere in between. Each has come with a unique background, perspective, and reason for getting involved.

We've all enjoyed not only working with each volunteer, but have truly loved getting to know each of them and their unique stories and paths in life. Congratulations to those graduating, relocating across the country, moving home to London, starting new jobs and finishing another year of high school. We will miss those of you that are moving on to your next journey in life and are thankful we got to celebrate you last night at our Picnic of Appreciation! 



Apply for Funds to Make Your School and Community Greener

Urban Green Lab Scholars is a new initiative by Urban Green Lab to expand sustainability education in Davidson County. We're offering small grants, funded by the U.S. EPA, to schools and organizations looking to implement student-led environmental education projects. For details on the initiative, eligibility requirements and application instructions, please see the attached request for proposal. Applications are due August 30th, 2016.

Urban Green Scholars - Request for Proposal

A Stack of Thanks

Last Wednesday the Mobile Lab paid a visit to Hunters Lane High School, located in northern Davidson county. Of all the grades we work with, keeping high school upperclassmen engaged proves to be the most challenging. this made it all the more rewarding when we received thank you notes from the 11th graders at Hunters Lane. Given to us by their teacher after the visit concluded, the notes thanked us for coming, underscored what they learned and encouraged us to return to Hunters Lane in the future. :)

Examples below:

Michael Green: “I appreciate you guys for taking some time out of your day to come and meet with us. We never really thought about electricity and water, like the way that we should. When it comes to things like food and water, we’re pretty selfish about it. It’s just that we dont think about what’s happening on the other side of the world. Most people in America dont realize how lucky they are. So, thank you for teaching us about something so precious to everyday life.”

Marquis Honserd: “Thank you for coming to our school. You guys taught me new things that I didnt know about the environment. You guys should come back and teach the younger kids about it too. And the salsa was good.”


Engage Green: Bucket Gardening

Impatiens, seed vaults in Norway, mosquitoes, organic fertilizers and so much more were discussed at this past Thursday's Engage Green event with Lightning 100's Team Green Adventures. (You may be wondering if Bucket Gardening was discussed. Yes, it was. At the very end - after everyone was wow-ed for the first hour with knowledge of all things plants, seeds and soils!)

For the third year in a row, we have been able to put on this treat of a workshop with the help of not only Gardens of Babylon's generous donations of plants, soil and containers, but also offered up one of their expert Gardeners, Judith, to teach the workshop. Judith is a wealth of knowledge about all things plants. Her passion is evident from the moment she begins speaking to the very last question answered. Her energy, humor and excitement had everyone from the most beginner to the Master Gardeners inspired to look around them and delve into the world of gardening.

Thank you to everyone who enjoyed this workshop with us!