Does this face look familiar? Her unique point of view is transforming Savannah. Think your city has reached its fullest potential? Look again. Photography by Chia Chong.
Vision: Eco Pragmatism
An Ivy League scholar specializing in natural resource economics, Anita Sundari Akella worked as an environmental consultant in more than 20 countries before drifting into Savannah.
“I thought, after living out of a suitcase for so long, this is the kind of place where I could put down roots,” she recalls.
And putting down roots can be good for the environment, Anita asserts.
“To be good global citizens, we have to be good local citizens,” explains the green guru, who has worked with such prestigious organizations as the Conservation International, the World Bank and the Moore Foundation.
“We need to respect Savannah’s traditional ways of life the same way we respect the way of life of, say, the Kayapó of Brazil. Savannah’s unique flavor, culture and traditions sprang from this natural environment, and there’s something we can learn from that.”
From swimming in Little Ebenezer Creek and shooting guns to knocking back oysters and perfecting her hostess skills, this Northern California native has taken her own advice, jumping into the Savannah lifestyle with both feet. And she’s found a home for her own unique brand of no-nonsense eco-consciousness.
“Thinking like a business helps you to be both efficient and effective,” she explains, advocating the benefits of “social enterprises,” businesses with environmental or social missions.
But for this pragmatist, protecting the earth begins right here in the Coastal Empire.
“Make your own little corner of the world as nice as you can,” she advises her neighbors. Now, that’s advice any Savannahian can get behind.
Name: Anita Akella
Lives in: The Victorian District
Works in: Global markets
Watching: The Southern Environmental Law Center, consumer social enterprises such as Tom’s Shoes and Burt’s Bees, Savannah’s local food movement and area riverkeepers.
The Way She Sees It: “In the beautiful cathedral of the natural world, we are all small and, consequently, we are all the same. This is why we need to protect these treasures of nature—they remind us of our humanity.”
Read about Anita and our entire roster of visionaries below in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Savannah magazine.