Team Q&A – Emily Coleman – QA Engineer
Emily Coleman takes her craft seriously, whether that’s in art, gardening, or as a QA Engineer! Emily manages her climate anxiety by pitching in the fight for environmental equity and the just transition, both at home, professionally, and through her advocacy. Join us in welcoming Emily to the Virtual Peaker team!
How did your previous life prepare you for Virtual Peaker?
My first passion in life was art, and I originally attended college with the intention of becoming a mixed media artist. The throughlines that intrigued me about the arts and continue to hold my interest in tech/sustainability are: I get to be inquisitive, and I can use these mediums as tools to effect change. I really enjoy being curious and creative, especially when the outcome results in positive results for the earth and my community.
Tell us about your role at Virtual Peaker.
I originally applied for the Software Developer Intern position, but after Virtual Peaker reviewed my resume it was suggested I might be a better fit for the Quality Assurance Intern position. At that time I wasn’t very familiar with what exactly a QA role would mean, but I’m so glad this suggestion was made because as it turns out: I really love QA!
After 12 weeks as a QA intern, I was honored to be offered the permanent role of QA Engineer. I spend my days making sure that all of our code integrates as desired, and investigating anything unexpected that comes up. I get to be curious and explore mysterious issues. I also get to code when I build automated tests, which is fun and satisfying. QA tasks include a balance of many workflows which keeps me on my toes and challenges me every day. The cherry on top is knowing that I’m helping our product perform at its best! This translates directly to helping fight the climate crisis and helps everyday people and their utilities easily make earth-friendly choices.
How do you personally engage in sustainability efforts?
Climate anxiety is a heavy burden in my life. I try to do all that I can to avoid adding to the current climate crisis. I know individual actions can be a drop in the bucket, but I feel that every action counts because I am not an island! My habits and choices have ripple effects on my community. I can say with confidence that my individual actions have been noticed and incorporated by many people and institutions I interact with. I have found that one sustainable action often leads to another whether that’s in my own life or in the lives of those around me. It’s super fun, satisfying, and frankly kind of addictive!
All that being said, the list of personal sustainability efforts I engage in is long but here are some examples:
- Number 1 is I work at Virtual Peaker!
- I don’t own a car, I am involved with Falls City Community Bikeworks and Streets For People, and I try to provide support for reducing car dependency however I can.
- I compost all of my own organic waste including what I produce myself using a composting toilet, I compost for Virtual Peaker, and I compost for neighbors through an app called Share Waste. I also volunteer with the Louisville Compost Co-Op and UofL Composting Site.
- I love permaculture! I have a no-mow yard full of native pollinator plants and edible fruits and veggies. I recently registered my yard as a Certified Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation and Kentucky Waterways Alliance. I am active in my neighborhood community garden, and I love to guerilla garden too.
- I volunteer! I am a Know Waste ambassador for Louisville Metro, I plant trees every year with various groups, I volunteer with and am a member of the Louisville Community Grocery Co-Op, and I help organize events with my neighborhood Buy Nothing group.
- I do my best to avoid disposable items. I use reusable toilet paper/paper towels, a safety razor, and other reusable toiletries. I try to either DIY toiletries/cleaning products, get them at refilleries, or buy them in compostable packaging to reduce plastic demand/waste.
- I am part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where I get fresh veggies and eggs from local farmers. I also buy JD’s milk which comes in glass bottles that they reuse when I bring them back, and I get a cash deposit back which makes the price comparable to the non-local plastic jug milk.
- I try to invest/bank responsibly, and I regularly donate to various non-profits that further sustainable actions, climate justice, and community support.
Things I’m working on: Meat production has a huge impact on the climate, but the switch to vegetarianism has been a hard one for me! After slowly eating more and more vegetarian over the last several years (it’s all about the baby steps, personal sustainability is important too!) I have decided to officially go full veg next year. I’m giving my family and friends (and let’s face it myself too) some lead time to process and prepare. I have a lot of meat lovers in my life, and up to this point, there haven’t been a lot of vegetarian options at get-togethers!
I’m also trying to be better at being more civically involved. I’ve always been a diligent voter, but I’m trying to work on calling and writing to my representatives directly as well. I’ve been told by several sources that this makes a huge impact on climate crisis-related decisions being made within the government.
What can you tell us about yourself?
My biggest hobby right now is gardening. I have a small property close to the city center of Louisville, but I try to make use of every inch of dirt that I can. I even garden in the little strip of earth between the street and the sidewalk! Our total lot size is 3049 square feet or 0.07 acres, but I have a hummingbird garden in my backyard, a native pollinator garden in my front yard, and a vegetable garden in my side yard. I have a backyard compost bin made of old wooden pallets, and I also keep a bin of worms in my cellar for vermicomposting.
Creating my own compost makes my plants grow wild! Recently my neighbors on either side of me have started to let me garden in their yards too, so my square footage of gardening space is increasing. I find so much joy in watching plants grow, seeing all the creatures that thrive off of them, enjoying the literal fruits of my labor (I have four fruit trees and several berry bushes!), and seeing the joy my garden brings to my neighbors too.