Meet The Curators

Janelle Orsi

Janelle Orsi, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Sustainable Economies Law Center

Janelle has produced essential research in the area of sharing law and the legalities of urban agriculture. Her work appears all throughout as do her publications like her article “In My Backyard: A Guide to Legal Issues Related to Yard-Sharing for Urban Agriculture” (2007.) Janelle is author of the book Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy (ABA Books 2012), and co-author of The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community (Nolo 2009), a practical and legal guide to cooperating and sharing resources of all kinds. Outside of her work with the Sustainable Economies Law Center, Janelle Orsi is an attorney and mediator focused on helping individuals and organizations share resources and create more sustainable communities. Through the Law Office of Janelle Orsi, she works with cooperatives, community gardens, cohousing communities, ecovillages, and others doing innovative work to change the world. She attended UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. In 2010, Janelle was profiled by the American Bar Association as a Legal Rebel, an attorney who is “remaking the legal profession through the power of innovation.” In 2012, Janelle was one of 100 people listed on The (En)Rich List, which names individuals “whose contributions enrich paths to sustainable futures.”

Yassi Eskandari-Qaja

Yassi Eskandari-Qajar, Policy Director, Sustainable Economies Law Center

Yassi directs the City Policies and Community Currencies programs at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, identifying the legal barriers to the grassroots sharing economy, including shared transportation, shared housing, urban farming, local currencies, barter networks, and time banks. These programs also produce essential legal resources and timely policy solutions that foster localized production, ownership, and exchange. Yassi holds a B.S. in Conservation & Resource Studies and minor in City & Regional Planning from U.C. Berkeley (’11). While a student, she received numerous leadership awards and co-founded and served on the board of Berkeley’s first student-run food collective. Today, Yassi is enrolled in the California State Bar’s Law Office Study Program, which will enable her to become a lawyer without going to law school. Once a licensed attorney, Yassi intends to practice in the areas of land, farming, renewable energy, and community currencies, and continue to strengthen the grassroots sharing economy through local and regional policy change.

Juli Chamberlin

Juli Chamberlin, Planning & Zoning Section Curator

Juli’s interest in urban agriculture grew out of her studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she earned Bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies with a focus on agroecology, and Anthropology with a focus on the cultural history of the environmental movement. She has since worked in various supporting roles at nonprofits and social enterprise companies including the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz, the Organic Farming Research Foundation, and World of Good, Inc. Beginning in early 2011, Juli set out to depart from the well-worn arena of administration and accounting, and toward research, writing, and data analysis for social and environmental change. She has conducted research and developed written materials for advocacy organization Pesticide Action Network, and environmental consulting firm Pesticide Research Institute. Juli was delighted to harness her experience and interests for the development of, which she hopes will inform and support urban farmers and gardeners. When she’s not working to advance the transition to a sustainable economy, you will likely find her tending to her urban garden, or outside looking and listening for birds with her husband, Bob.

Amy Laura Cahn

Amy Laura Cahn, Land Access Section Curator

As a Skadden Fellow and Staff Attorney at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, Amy Laura runs the Garden Justice Legal Initiative, providing legal and advocacy support to community gardeners and urban farms working to create new sources for healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate food; promote community land and food sovereignty; engage in leadership and economic development, and reclaim land from blight. Amy Laura graduated magna cum laude from University of Pennsylvania Law School, during which time she was a Toll Public Interest Scholar, and interned at Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, Delaware Riverkeeper, the Penn Law Transnational Clinic, and the Environmental Justice Project of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Prior to law school, Amy Laura worked at the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Pratt Area Community Council in Brooklyn, and was a founding collective member of the Bluestockings Women’s Bookstore. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Hunter College in urban studies.

Phil Heiselmann

Phil Heiselmann, Food, Agriculture, and Health Regulations Section Curator

Phil is a solo practice attorney at Sustainable Food Law, a Berkeley law firm providing legal support to “conscious” food businesses, e.g., farmers and food entrepreneurs who intend to operate in a way that benefits the community, the workers, and the environment. Not surprisingly, Phil is particularly fond of the new “benefit corporation” form that became available in California in January of 2012. Originally, Phil wanted to practice integrative medicine, and he pursued an undergraduate degree in cell & molecular biology and a master’s degree in nutrition as a foundation to that end. However, when he began to study issues related to genetically engineered foods, he experienced an epiphany: legal advocacy, rather than patient care, would be his avenue toward promoting health through access to safe, nutritious food. Phil has had the pleasure of working with a number of excellent Bay Area organizations over the past few years, and he is especially grateful for the wonderful volunteer and career-enrichment opportunities he has encountered through his association with Janelle Orsi and the Sustainable Economies Law Center.

Patti Mielziner

Patti Mielziner, Soil Section Curator

Patti was an attorney in Arizona for 14 years having her own practice in civil and criminal litigation before moving to Hawaii in 2005. For four years while living in Hawaii, Patti helped a residential development project move toward more sustainable practices both in running the company and in development decisions. A five acre organic farm was designed for the residents to grow vegetables, fruit, coffee and lei flowers. After leaving Hawaii in 2009, Patti traveled the United States and Europe researching and working on sustainable projects and organic farms to gain a better understanding of the movement. In Hopland, California, she worked at the Solar Living Institute managing the organic farm and learning about alternative energy and sustainable practices. She then spent a year at the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas to manage the organic farm and improve the soil and composting system. Patti has studied and implemented the Organic Principles and Permaculture toward farming. Patti is currently the Marin Volunteer Leader for Prop 37-GMO Labeling Initiative in California and volunteers for MALT, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust.