Covid-19 and the Humble Bike

As the world continues to work through the covid-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of discussion about implementing aspects of sustainability into the recovery efforts and the long-term effects of the changes to how we live. Personally, as I sat at home during the lockdown months, I made a lot of eye contact with my bike sitting unused on my patio. Like many people with a bike on their patio or garage, I had always meant to fix it and start riding but just never did.

The long story short of why I don’t already bike in the city- Dallas is really into biking as leisure and not at all into biking as a form of transportation. When I looked into riding my bike downtown to my old workplace, I quickly scrapped the idea. Driving downtown was nerve-wracking enough; I couldn’t imagine trying to wiggle my way through car lanes safely without a designated lane. The Dallas Observer put out an article on the state of biking in Dallas earlier this year for anyone interested. It’s not looking too pretty.

Then entered the covid-19 pandemic. Come mid-April, bikes were flying off the shelves. During lockdown, people were looking for new ways to spend their time and biking was an easy and immediate (if you had the money) way to do this. The vast majority of people bought bikes just to get out of the house. While many people will just ride around White Rock or down Katy Trail, the sudden surge in interest toward biking has me hoping the pro-bike mentality will stick in other, long-term ways. People who live close enough might start to rethink their daily commute to include a bike and give the city a push for more bike facilities.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things for a lot of people. One of those is public transportation and the risks now associated with it. When the Texas Medical Association released their Risk Chart for specific activities, riding public transportation wasn’t included on it. Traveling by plane is a moderate-high risk; presumably, traveling by bus, train, or tram would be a moderate risk since you spend less time on those modes of transit. When I imagined taking the bus I usually take to SMU’s campus I immediately shook my head. The 25 minute ride was usually packed tight with other students and no amount of social distancing would make me comfortable enough to ride in the near future.

So, with the new covid-19 world making me second guess my preferred choice of public transportation, I am working on shifting gears to cycling. I’m cautiously optimistic that others may do the same,  though their bikes may just end up on the patio like mine did. But I’m certain it will be worth it for my own personal enjoyment, for non-reliance on my fuel car, for my health, and for exercise. All that to say . . .

Catch me riding (carefully) down Greenville Ave. this fall.

Emily Roberts |

Come talk to me about public transit and housing!

Nonprofit Technology Resources: Tech Soup

The nonprofit sector is a rewarding industry to dedicate one’s time and talent. Notable on many levels, these organizations strive to address areas of social need at diverse scales of size. Whether an organization’s programming affects targets on an international, domestic, state, city, or neighborhood scope, all work and efforts will require technological systems to properly maintain and grow the agency’s impact. 

Unrestricted funding sources fuel the innovation ventures for nonprofits. Many times, grant dollars are tied to particular budgetary line-items such as staffing, professional contractors, insurance, utilities, travel, printing etc., leaving very few dollars left for the technologies necessary to build out communication platforms, budgetary monitorization systems, purchase computers/ routers / mobile hotspots, data warehouse softwares, visualization tools and much more. Despite their social entrepreneurship, nonprofits may not have the expanded budgets to purchase these top dollar technology tools, furthering the digital divide that leads to ongoing inequities. Rest assured, there are solutions. is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to build a dynamic bridge that enables civil society organizations and social change agents around the world to gain effective access to the resources they need to design and implement technology solutions for a more equitable planet. These services are provided exclusively for nonprofit and civil society organizations.

Upon submission and approval of your organization’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Employer Identification Number (EIN) or (equivalent information depending on the country your organization resides) to, your agency will gain access to hundreds of discounted technology products and services offered by today’s most cutting edge providers. An example of these providers include: Zoom, Box, Intuit (Quickbooks), Mobile Beacon (Mobile Hotspots), Tableau, DocuSign, Microsoft, Cisco, Wix, Amazon Web Services and many more.  

As a nonprofit owner, this resource is a game changer. Where a for-profit customer would pay $840 annually for Quickbook Online Pro (Accounting Software needed for IRS-990 filings and annual fiscal monitorization), our organization pays $75 annually. Where a for-profit customer would pay $900 annually for Tableau (A powerful data visualization tool used on the output end of the extract, transfer, load process), our organization acquires this software at $55 for a 2-year subscription.

Now, isn’t that useful and economically feasible? I think so.

If you’re working in the nonprofit / civil society sector or considering developing your own organization to address a need within the community, please do look at or any similar agencies offering the same type of service. Your work is critical to the success of people. Let organizations like TechSoup remove a costly technology barrier, progressing your mission forward.

Here is the link below:

For more information, feel free to reach out to Dominic Dominguez, MA Sustainability & Development Candidate at

Becoming Envision Sustainability Professional ( ENV SP)!

Hello everyone!

I am Nehal, an architect and a graduate student at SMU, MA of Sustainability and Developments. I recently passed an online exam at the Institute for sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), through which I became ENV SP.

So today, I will be writing about the Envision system, What is Envision, why it’s different from any other sustainability rating system?  why I chose to pursue ENV SP.

Envision is a rating system like LEED system but for infrastructure and all areas surrounding and leading to a building. I learned about Envision during a spring class “Methods and Technology for Sustainability”. The class instructor/ Mikel Wilkins, explained different methods of green infrastructure, mitigation of current troubled areas, enhancement and remediation of brownfield and restoration of ecology and how the Envision integrates these methods and rate them.

The Envision system rates infrastructure projects through 5 categories: Quality of life, Leadership, Resource allocation, Natural world and Climate& Resiliency. as you notice, categories start with quality of life, which is in my opinion what differs Envision from other rating systems.

This system adapt a holistic approach to projects, where you are not establishing a green development only, but also designing and constructing the right development that fits the on hand environment you are working with and surrounding community. and that’s what really interest me in studying this system. it’s not only about providing a green infrastructure, but also providing the right development for the community in this environment and responding to their needs, restoring and enhancing their surrounding. reconnecting natural systems and allowing for community participation which leads to a sustainable community.

So, the way Envision works, is that it allows for connecting community with environment, enhancing quality of life for people, while not compromising future generation opportunities. I found Envision applying the triple bottom line in developments in a successful way.

How to become ENV SP? you first register on the website of the Institute for sustainable infrastructure. Students get a 50% discount. There are 6 modules of videos that become available once you register to take the exam. These videos are really helpful on explaining the whole system and how it works. After you finish watching these interactive videos, the exam will be available to take. Once you start the exam, it stays available for 72 hours. so you basically can take it on your own pace.

My first graduate class at SMU, our instructor was talking about sustainability and Green buildings. He asked a question” can you build a functional LEED building if the surrounding environment is not sustainable?” Now while i finished my first year and working towards my second year, I found my answer to this question through the holistic approach of designing a community, where People, Planet& Profit are integrated.

Sustainability in the city: an intro

Throughout the M.A. in Sustainability and Development program, a central question that we have continuously discussed is: how can cities be designed in a way that benefits both the environment and the health of residents? The pandemic has magnified this issue and has created specific problems for sustainability within cities, while also illuminating the need for equitable green space access.

COVID-19 has drastically impacted human behavior and many have been theorizing that it will change how cities function for years to come. Researchers have suggested that certain aspects of the pandemic, such as reduction of commute times due to an increase in working from home, may have a long-lasting positive impact on sustainability and air quality. Other aspects of the pandemic have produced new challenges for resource use within cities, such as an increase in single-use plastics.

Access to quality outdoor spaces has seemed more important than ever during this time: many states saw dramatic increases in visitation to parks and trails as people flocked to green spaces for mental and physical health benefits and socially distant gatherings. In addition to being beneficial to human health, green spaces help reduce urban heat, mitigate pollution, and maintain biodiversity.

As a DFW resident, I have been grateful for the myriad parks and trails peppered throughout the city. I hope that this time has shed light on the importance of green spaces within our metroplex, and that building new parks and trails can be prioritized particularly in ‘Park Deserts’—defined by Trust for Public Land as neighborhoods that don’t have a park within 10 minutes walking distance away.

If you’re looking to explore green spaces in the DFW metroplex, Richardson may be a good place to start. In a recent example of local connectivity made possible through technology, The City of Richardson recently released a “Parks Story Map” that allows folks to explore the 45 parks within the city, including details such as size, amenities, and accessibility.

Connectivity has never seemed simultaneously more important and more logistically difficult as it is during this bizarre time. I hope that this MASD blog can be a place where we are all able to connect as a cohort and share ideas about sustainability: from something as small as a photo of what’s growing in a community garden near you, to as large as global sustainability trends and news.

x Meredith Perot |


Welcome to the MASD Stewards website! We hope that this site inspires connection within our cohort and is visited by others who are interested in sustainability both locally and globally. Each week, we aim to post new content that discusses sustainability and development issues. No idea is too large or too specific for this forum!

To submit an article, please email

-MASD Stewards