love your life
LoveATX: A community of sustainable, healthy living in Austin
Nov 20, 2011 | 11:00 am
It's a long way from mechanical engineering to starting a nonprofit built around healthy, conscious and sustainable living.
But that's just the journey Jenna Jasso has undertaken. Originally from Corpus Christi, Jenna moved to Austin in 2002 to attend the University of Texas. After earning her degree in mechanical engineering in 2007, she realized a lack of purpose almost immediately upon beginning her long-awaited career.
"I was uncomfortable with corporate arrangements, processes and procedures," Jasso says. "Corruption was apparent, and as a corporate engineer, it was clear that my job was to maintain rather than actually solve fundamental problems." Her a-ha moment came when she clearly understood how our negligence as a society is impacting our ecosystems and habitat. Jenna's first reaction was, "I have to tell the world!"
The only problem was, she wasn't sure how to go about it—or how to translate where she had arrived at in life, to where she now wanted to be. She was frustrated and confused, and felt completely unfulfilled in her "real job" as an engineer. She had entered a waiting game in the corporate world, one in which she was merely biding time until the next raise or vicious yuppie competition, as she puts it.
Even though her real-world job and life left her thinking, "Is this it?" she wondered if that wasn't just the way it was supposed to be in the adult realm. Was it time to just grow up and accept reality?
Fortunately, that is not what Jenna did. Instead, she embarked on a quest which took her to Australia and throughout Western Europe in 2009, then returned home to spend most of 2010 in self-discovery and education. "I spent a lot of time self-educating about the ways of the world, rediscovered world history, human history, and the systems which govern our lives. I also gained insight into non-profit work as a volunteer for a couple of organizations."
She was delighted by her daily discoveries, and soon realized that her passion and drive were to create a much-needed positive impact on the world. "I became most interested in solutions," she says.
In February 2011, Jenna started an educational foundation, LoveUnity Foundation, to empower the people of the world by educating them about the problems we currently face as a global society (environment, water, economy) and guiding them to solutions and resources to make positive changes in their lives. LoveUnity Foundation will also connect with multiple global movements to encourage collaboration.
The first such project is the local effort, LoveATX. As an Austinite, Jenna was aware of the abundance of progressive organizations and amazing grass-roots efforts within the city. LoveATX is a community project, which has hosted two events so far in 2011. The events have brought together local musicians, artists, speakers and organizations into a day of fun and workshops to promote the five LoveATX principles: to live local, healthy, creative, conscious, and sustainable.
"Our events have served multiple purposes raising awareness in the community, connecting the community to local resources, building a network of change-makers and accelerating the societal shift to a holistic culture," Jenna says. "LoveATX.com will soon operate as a guide to living local, healthy, creative, conscious and sustainable." She is currently working on developing a physical community space in East Austin, and also plans to develop a model that is easy to duplicate for other cities.
When Jenna reflects back on her journey, she says, "Two years ago, I set out to put the pieces of the puzzle of life together. I completed as much as I could, but I realize that no one has the ability to complete the puzzle alone. We must work together."
After all, she concludes, "Saving the world is way more fun than engineering!"