Alumni Highlights- Lizzy Guthrey

Lizzy Guthrey

Class of 2012
New Zealand

Hello fellow alumni and Soka University students. I’m Elizabeth (Lizzy) Guthrey, 2012 SUA graduating class.

Many of you will have a mixture of different talents and interests, and it can be hard to find a direction when getting out into the workforce. My journey has been like a winding river, so full of micro climates, niches of people, activities, and life experiences. Always better than a straight narrow river with concrete edges. I’ve worked in environmental education, sustainable building, tree planting, and product design, and I’m also part way through architectural studies. I tend to follow what really churns me up inside, and what makes me feel excited every day.

For years in California, I was really bothered by the lack of appreciation and understanding of native plants and habitats (turns out it’s a worldwide issue). So that’s where I started out in the workforce– working with people and native plants in Orange County. This has brought me to my main area of work the past few years back in New Zealand, with a charitable trust called Te Ara Kakariki Greenway Canterbury Trust. Te Ara, means ‘path ways’ in Maori, the indigenous language. And ‘kakariki’ means ‘green’ and also the name of a native parakeet bird that is no longer able to make it’s way from the mountains to the sea, due to massive land use changes in the past 170 years. Take a look at our website: We have been planting thousands of native trees per year with the community, and it’s been awesome. My work has been in restoration planning and event logistics. I’m still highly involved in this group with small contracts, and as a volunteer.

Something else that really struck accord with me in my local environment was the earthquakes that completely changed my birth city, Christchurch. These occurred in the year 2011. Ever since, I’ve wanted to be part of the rebuild of this city, and to be part of urban planning, resource management, and better design in general. Since I love design details, and have a passion for natural building, I realized it was time to properly study architecture. Before launching into another degree, I had the awesome opportunity to apprentice as a designer / researcher with a start-up called Space Craft Systems: The main ideas were derived from the WikiHouse open source movement of sharing development of designs, and building a global network of better building knowledge. The housing system uses intricate pieces of cut plywood that fit together with basic hand tools: mallets. While I was working there, I began designing laptop stands, and other small furniture items. I see that we are now living in more of an adaptable world, and it’s great to be able to change our interior space with items that easily fold away or are portable.

While I’m still an architecture student, I have launched a small product range to support better posture while working on a laptop. Here is my newly launched website: All the products are made with wood, cut with a laser cutter, and my intention is to create a social enterprise in which the material resource cycle is complete: to put a percentage of each sale back into native tree planting!

I hope all of you follow your hearts within this world of protecting the natural environment, and I’m sure you will be protected with shelter, food and all that you need. Cheers, Lizzy.

Planting Trees

Above, That’s one of my friends Eli.