“Social and environmental responsibility was expected from me by my school and my family at a young age . . . It never felt like a choice; it was always just common sense.” —Lily Scout Kwong
OCCUPATION: I’m a creative director working in landscape and fashion. I studied urbanism at Columbia University and started working at an urban planning firm right out of school. The company had projects in 14 countries. I fell in love with sustainable design and applied my knowledge to the fashion world, working with eco-friendly brands like Amour Vert to plant 100,000 trees in North America through its “Buy a Tee Plant a T(r)ee” program last year.
WAS THERE A FORMATIVE EVENT THAT MADE YOU MORE POLITICALLY ACTIVE? Social and environmental responsibility was expected from me by my school and my family at a young age. At the Urban School of San Francisco, community service was a core part of the curriculum and was weighted the same as calculus. It never felt like a choice; it was always just common sense.
WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES FOR YOUR GENERATION? Climate change. Unchecked emissions threaten to destabilize governments and produce waves of refugees, perhaps ushering in the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals in Earth’s history. It’s terrifying, but it feels like world leaders are finally starting to take the problem seriously. At the UN conference on climate change in Paris, nearly every country committed to some kind of action to battle greenhouse gases.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? The gardens I’ve planted. They’re small in the face of the crushing challenges of global warming, but to me, they represent hope. They grow. They make people happy. They take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and turn it into oxygen. Nature is a miracle, and working with plants has been an extraordinarily rewarding and humbling experience. Working in central west Africa, I got the opportunity to hike through the jungle with land artist Andy Goldsworthy. I saw him approach each element with awe—a leaf, a tree trunk, the rain. I think we all know more and feel more instinctually than we give ourselves credit for. With “Garlands,” my installation for Simon Birch’s The 14th Factory exhibition [the14thfactory.com], which opens this month, I listened harder to the space and to my own curiosity than I ever have before.
The article was published first in interviewmagazine.com.