Chief Executive Officer
learn more about Allison
Allison has inspired thousands of people to see themselves, their relationship to others, and their relationship to the planet in a new way. Allison holds degrees in neuroscience from Brown and Harvard.
At the age of three, Allison knew she was meant to be a guide, a teacher who leads. But she was told that this was not an option for her – she had to ‘do something more meaningful with her life’ and was encouraged to become a doctor. Two years into university, on track to apply to medical school, Allison became ill from the stress of trying to fit herself into this mold. She spent the summer abroad, living by herself in Spain, writing about why she had chosen the path of medicine in spite of all evidence that her purpose and her heart were elsewhere. She saw how from a very young age she had been labeled as ‘smart’ and that with that label came social expectations, including a requirement to attend a 'good' school and pursue a 'meaningful' career. She had adhered to those expectations only to find herself dissatisfied and sick.
She knew she wasn’t alone in this experience. We are all labeled when we are young, we are all subject to social expectations, and these experiences limit us from reaching our full potential.
Seeing this, Allison wanted to create a space for young people that was free of expectations and judgement; a place where people were free to truly be themselves, to discover who they really are. She wanted to empower people. She was meant to guide people to reach their potential.
She came back from Spain feeling ready to create The Epicenter. But doubt crept in, and she faltered.
In the meantime she became the founder and former CEO of My Green Lab, a non-profit organization with a mission to build a culture of sustainability through science. Under her leadership, My Green Lab established the first-ever sustainability criteria for laboratory operations and products, transforming an industry half the size of the automotive industry into a paragon of sustainability. My Green Lab was founded on the philosophy of questioning our own behavior and uncovering our habits and routines. This philosophy is at the core of The Epicenter: we cannot be wild and free if we are limited in our thinking and our behavior.
After years of excuses, Allison found the courage to create The Epicenter in 2021.
Allison is a frequent keynote speaker at sustainability events, and in 2019 was invited to give a TED talk about her work.
Chief Creative Officer
learn more about sarah
Insatiably curious, Sarah Buckius always loved two things: engaging in observation and play in the natural world and making things. Her parents thought she might be an entomologist or biologist when she was a child because she spent her time playing with insects and slugs, observing and catching frogs, building tree-forts, digging in the mud, and even building trust with ground squirrels to the point that she was able to pick them up. As a child, she loved acting in plays to be filmed by camera, instigating absurd enactments that always included groups of friends or classmates performing cockamamy shenanigans. Always a math and science lover, she loved solving problems and asking questions about the world. Also an art-lover, she gravitated towards any project that involved creation of any form, from videos to drawings and paintings.
She began her adult career by studying mechanical engineering because of her love of solving problems, making things, math, and science. After finishing her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, she still felt there were problems to be solved that weren’t quite within the scope of traditional engineering realm. She studied Industrial Design at UIUC because the problems she wanted to solve related to helping people and she felt this approach would be closer to her goals. Discovering the interdisciplinary M.F.A. program at The University of Michigan, she discovered that she gravitated toward a place that valued the bridging of disciplines. Here, she made everything from wearable sculpture and installations to photography and video. Rediscovering her love of performance for the camera from her childhood, she finished her thesis by reenacting the roles she played in her past and obtained her M.F.A. from The University of Michigan, Ann-Arbor.
In graduate school, she also discovered that she loved teaching in a way that helps guide students to create artwork and designs that respond to questions that are important to them and helped facilitate a learning space that encouraged problem-solving tailored to each student. Very passionate about teaching art & design, she taught art, photography, digital media, video at various schools, as a Lecturer at The University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and Washtenaw Community College. Her classes encouraged experimentation and problem-solving as a means by which students developed their own voice through their work. She took a one-year position as an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University and taught photography to college students of all levels. She moved to South Carolina for a short time and taught the Art History component of an interdisciplinary class at Augusta State University, as a lecturer. This course further cemented her interest in education in an interdisciplinary context.
While teaching, she continued to make artwork. As part of the collaborative team, The ManosBuckius Cooperative, The MBC, she works with Melanie Manos to make videos of performances that seek to reveal absurdities and contradictions in everyday systems through playful, humorous labor that is very productive, while being simultaneously unproductive. Through their videos, they construct and deconstruct systems of objects with a sense of humor that connects back to her childhood engagement in video creation.
Her own creative work includes performances for the camera that are about the roles she has played in her life and take a playful, absurd perspective. Sometimes she feels trapped inside the digital world of the screen. Sometimes, she notices the absurdity of the everyday actions she performs. She is constantly building and rebuilding with objects. And even building with human bodies to tell stories about how people feel.
After having three daughters, she began examining the role of women in contemporary society through her artwork and education projects. She established a project to create new myths about “Women & Innovation” through making projects for children. The projects incorporate stories of historical women role-models (with an emphasis on American Minorities) using art-making, engineering, and storytelling called “Kids R Feminist Makers”.
Her latest creative work is about “Mothers & Innovation”, specifically how technology impacts women their lives and how mothers CAN innovate to impact technologies with an emphasis on caregiving for people and the world.
Sarah’s creative work, both individual and collaborative, has been exhibited in video and art festivals nationally and internationally. Notable video screenings include: The State of The Art: Accademia di Romania in Roma (Rome, Italy), InsideOut Step2: White Box Museum of Art (Beijing, China), SIMULTAN #6: Past Continuous, Future Perfect | (Timisoara, Romania), Visions in the Nunnery: Nunnery Gallery (London, UK), EXiS 2010 International Film & Video Festival (Seoul, Korea), Images Contre Nature 2011: P'Silo International Experimental Video Festival (Marseille, France), and AC Institute Rotating Video Project (New York, NY).
Prior to having children, Sarah volunteered at Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, (MAH), in downtown Santa Cruz, leading groups of elementary school students in hands-on art and history activities. She also worked at Scotts Valley Recreation Program as a leader of after school programs for elementary school children. In both of these contexts, Sarah learned that she was passionate about education for children in a hands-on, workshop-style space."
As Chief Creative Officer of The Epicenter and Founder of Open Spaces, Open Minds, Sarah works to empower children through development of creative experiences that help children explore themselves and the world. In this role, she gets to be herself ALL DAY, playing in nature with children, asking 1,000,000,000 questions, and building and making things, while sharing in this empowering experience with others, especially children.