[Series] Humans behind AquaHacking: Catherine van Reenen from IISD

By Laurence Basso July 17, 2020

This time for our Humans behind AquaHacking, we talked with Catherine van Reenen, project Coordinator working at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). Catherine works on the 2020 Lake Winnipeg AquaHacking Challenge.

From right to left: Carolina Restrepo, Anna Warwick Sears, Kariann Arup, Catherine van Reenen, and Aislin Livingstone at the AquaHacking Fest last year. 

Meet Catherine from IISD through those few questions…

> What is your professional background before arriving at AquaHacking?

I’ve worked in post-secondary education administration, communications, and the restaurant industry. I also worked as a research assistant and course marker throughout my undergrad and grad degrees.

> A word or an expression that defines you well?

Verbose.

> What turns you on most in your job (in general)?

Opportunities to think about/research complex sustainability and political issues

> Why do you think we should care about what AquaHacking does?

There’s a pre-Socratic philosopher named Thales who came up perhaps the most succinct metaphysical theory of all time: “Everything is water” – i.e., the originating principle of nature is water. This might sound silly or unsophisticated in light of over two millennia of philosophy and science, but it’s true. We need water to live! It’s our most precious yet taken-for-granted natural resource and we need to be better stewards of it for future generations.

> What is your favorite lake or river?

Lake Winnipeg, of course! I grew up visiting the various lakes and rivers of the Lake Winnipeg Basin so I have a lot of affection for it.

> For you what is a healthy lake or river?

A healthy lake or river is one that isn’t overexploited by the humans who depend on it for their livelihood.

> When you are not working, what do you like to do? (Aka What is your favorite hobby?)

Puzzles, reading, strength training, reality TV… is eating a hobby?

> What is the best advice you have received?

For writer’s block: Invent a solution to the problem blocking your writing – deus-ex-machina-style – and then write around it as if it’s already been solved. I imagine this works for other types of creative blocks, too.

> The person who inspires you the most?

Chuck Klosterman

> What are your pro-environmental gestures or efforts or resolutions?

I walk or take public transportation to work.

> What is your best memory of AquaHacking?

Attending the 2019 Final in Montreal. It was a great time and I got to interact IRL with all my AquaHacking colleagues I typically only see via screens.

> What social media do you use the most?

Unless you count a badly neglected LinkedIn account, I’m not on social media. Technically all communications media are de facto social. How about books?

 

Learn more about the AquaHacking challenge in Winnipeg here and check out the IISD website by clicking here!