Michael Walton

Michael uses human-centered design and community engagement to help develop communities, businesses, buildings, programs and products that are environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. He grew up in Greeneville, TN, graduated from the College of Architecture and Design at UT Knoxville, attended the ETH Zurich as a guest student and attended Harvard Business School's Young American Leaders Program. 

Michael practiced architecture at Envision Design and Perkins+Will in Washington DC for environmental and social nonprofits and tech companies before returning to Tennessee for the opportunity to run green|spaces, Chattanooga's award-winning sustainability nonprofit. He loves soccer, fly fishing, hiking, and camping with his wife Bailey, and their two sons.

What is one wish you have for Chattanooga?

I wish we could re-imagine our relationships with each other and our environment to realize a vision of a community that is built on positive rather than extractive relationships.

Today, we extract non-renewable materials from the earth, burn them for energy or throw them in landfills after one use and wonder why the climate changes and why we have polluted water, land, and air. Similarly, we extract wealth from communities and wonder why health, social, and economic challenges persist. Often these challenges overlap, with the polluted land, water, and air in communities where wealth has been extracted leading to amplified challenges.

I envision a Chattanooga with a sustainable environment, economy, and society where resources, including capital, are used equitably and efficiently and are reused and recycled. That Chattanooga could set an example in our country and around the world for cooperative coexistence with one another and the natural environment.