It is our pleasure to introduce Alice Sparks, the most recent addition to LFE’s team for this winter! Alice is a scholarship student of the MSc Urban Studies programme at ULB/VUB in Brussels. She is researching and writing her thesis on urban food insecurity for marginalised populations in Brussels. Check out our latest new article about Alice’s background and her experience with LFE.

What drew you to work with Living Future Europe?

After working in urban social inequality for a number of years, I landed a position at Farm Urban in Liverpool. This was the city’s first vertical farm spearheading the mission to provide sustainably sourced, local, and nutritious food to the community. Here, my eyes were opened to the world of sustainability, ecology, circular economy and of course, the ins and outs of growing food in urban environments. I left this role in September 2021, when I was offered a scholarship to study on the Master of Urban Studies programme at ULB and VUB in Brussels.

Since arriving in Brussels, the heart of the EU, I grew eager to engage with the institutions whilst championing a cause I care about. My career background and the Master’s course, compelled me to become increasingly fascinated by the built environment; ideas of greening the city, urban ecology and regenerative design. When searching for opportunities within this sector to expand my knowledge, I came across the work of Living Future Europe and was immediately excited to learn more about the ambitious zero-carbon certificates and the Living Building Challenge.

What are your main tasks and responsibilities within the LFE team?

My main responsibility is to champion the work of LFE and expand our network in Brussels. This is achieved by attending in-person events and initiatives addressing sustainability and monitoring EU policy developments to ensure that LFE is in line with progress.

Additionally, I was tasked to lead on LFE’s youth engagement mandate. It was noted that the organisation lacked involvement or connection with young people. In order to address this gap, I helped establish a partnership with Force of Nature, a company that helps young people turn eco-anxiety into action, and work with leaders to drive intergenerational solutions. Inspired by their ‘Climate Cafe’ format, we hosted our very own in Brussels. The event was a tremendous success and assembled an intergenerational audience to converse and exchange ideas on climate anxiety.

Life requires a good balance between study, work, and free time! What do you usually do in your free time?

Juggling a master’s course, an internship, a part-time job at a restaurant and a French language class can be a little bit hectic. But, in my free time I am training for a marathon set to take place at the end of April in Vienna. Big, long runs out of the city and into Bois de la Cambre is a fantastic way to reconnect with nature mid-week. Of course, outside of this I have a social life sometimes conducted in poor French. Importantly, I made a pact to no longer drink Stella Artois or Hoegaarden (my go-to Belgian beer), and now marvel in indecision at the array of beers offered in Belgium.

How has your experience been at LFE so far?

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to prosper and learn at LFE amongst such knowledgeable and kind colleagues. So far, I have been preoccupied with getting to grips with relevant EU policy developments on topics such as climate, nature, zero-carbon and built environment.

I really appreciate the level of engagement and responsibility trusted in me at LFE, for example attending New European Bauhaus events in Brussels, speaking to the UN Climate Champions about our work or taking part in the Technical Advisory Group (TAG). So far, during this internship I have found myself connecting the dots, linking policy and network in greater detail to understand more about the sector and its ambitions. It is inspiring to work for an organisation delivering such important solutions in our urban environment and it is exciting to see the possibilities unfold in Brussels.