While 2020 may be winding to a close, the issues and opportunities we have encountered this year are not going away. We have learned a lot about our own capacities to manage change, and have gotten better at it even though it has felt torturous at times. At the same time, we have developed clearer, more refined visions for the future we want. Health, prosperity, good will towards all, opportunities to learn and grow, and a healthy planet to support us top my list – what is on yours?
Fear about our day-to-day life, and about our future, have been our norm for far too long. I propose that as we move ahead, we recognize our addictions to a “normal” way of life and things we think we “need” and adopt our own sustainability serenity prayer: to accept the things we cannot change, have the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
The author Natalie Goldberg offers some useful advice. She writes, “We have to look at our own inertia, insecurities, self-hate, fear that, in truth, we have nothing valuable to say….If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.” Let’s be brave!
At the Center this year, we have adapted each week to changing stress and pressures and new realities and expectations. We have kept a strong focus on encouraging waste reduction, as this is something we can do anywhere and everywhere and at any time. We have also worked to raise awareness about the close connection between health and sustainability by publishing posts about How We Can Enjoy a Healthy and Sustainable Lifestyle and how Our lives depend on a healthy planet along with a few new videos on our YouTube channel.
We have looked inward and assessed our own campus activities. We are sending in our first Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Ratings System report to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). It would not have been possible without data and input from people working across campus in academics, purchasing, student affairs, facilities, and governance. We look forward to sharing our results – and corresponding next steps – in the next e-newsletter!
As a Tree Campus and a Bee Campus, we have plans in place for spring to continue to educate and engage campus and community in these crucial ecosystem service providers. Watch for workshops and service opportunities coming in the spring.
Remote work and sharing has been a theme for us, as it has for many of you. While students came to campus to work one shift a week, I met with them throughout the week on Zoom, phone calls, and emails. I presented remotely, along with my counterpart at the University of Notre Dame, at the annual AASHE conference, and one of our graduate students led a session as well. This was a new experience for all of us, and an interesting way to learn and interact with our peers across the planet.
Since we were not able to host our Transforming South Bend speakers in the spring, we will be continuing to host the speakers, one at a time, for First Friday Innovation Conversations that take place at noon the first Friday of the month. Take a look at the schedule, and join us for one or more. They have been really interesting and inspiring!
As we move together into a brave new year, consider making a New Year’s resolution that will improve your life, the life of other people, and the life of our planet. Here are a few ideas:
- Reduce food waste to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Finish leftovers before making fresh food.
- Compost waste and send recyclables for recycling.
- Plant/nurture trees and plants.
- Limit mobile phone usage by two hours a day and tune into people and the planet.
- Switch on lights only when absolutely necessary.
- Give time, money, or food to local food banks and pantries.
- Advocate for equity
- Practice antiracism by becoming actively conscious about race and racism and take actions to end racial inequities in your daily life
As we emerge together, stronger, from 2020, what will we keep? What will we compost? I’d love to hear your ideas!
“Information is like compost; it does no good unless you spread it around.”
~ Eliot Coleman