Love it or hate it, winter is here. This time of year compels me to dream and plan, to meet with others, and to focus on what I can help grow into reality when the seasons shift. Literally and metaphorically, we are in a time of great potential.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Initially, this event was promoted as a series of teach-ins about environmental issues that prompted response and action. It led, a few short years later, to sweeping national policy changes and the formation of the EPA. This year, the community is invited to collaborate and promote a collective message of response to the issues facing us today. Soon, an online registration and promotion page will be live for all organizations working on social, environmental, economic justice issues to post events that will educate and engage the community. Working together, we can bring our dreams into reality.
As we prepare for the interactions of spring, our big glamour task is evaluating our own baseline data. This includes energy use, water use, sustainability courses offered, campus greenhouse gas emissions, bike racks available, bee habitat protected, support for all people’s ability to have their needs met, and assessing our tree canopy cover.
The Center for a Sustainable Future has outlined four goals to work on over the next few years. I feel that they will allow us to address items of concerns facing us today, and to address future issues that may be unknown to us now.
- Grow a Campus Culture of Sustainability
- Provide students, faculty, staff, and community members with a sense of understanding and fulfillment
- Develop more community connections to strengthen sustainability initiatives on and off campus
- Expand Role, Capacity, and Impact of the Center
This year, we are actively working on objectives to help us meet the potential outlined in these goals. We know we can’t do it alone, and we hope that by sharing them here they will resonate with you and inspire to learn more, do more, and grow a more sustainable future.
To grow a culture of sustainability, we are promoting waste reduction efforts. These are primarily education initiatives: how to recycle properly, how to compost on campus, and reminders to turn off the lights are simple and powerful actions we can all take every day. Our “Tops Off” program collects plastic bottle lids which we donate to the Elkhart County 4H Fair so they can send them to a company in southern Indiana to turn into recycled plastic benches for use at the fair. We love that this small effort has grown in popularity and that our efforts contribute to the greater good environmentally, socially, and economically.
Our spring Beekeeping 101 and Planting for Pollinators programs will help to foster a sense of understanding and fulfillment. The “Transforming South Bend: A TEDish Evening of Talks” event in early April is an evolution of our popular Sustainability & Innovation Series that will feature local sustainability practitioners speaking about how their work is transforming our community into one that is socially just, ecologically restorative, and fiscally responsible.
Our Sustainability Fellows are working to restore urban landscapes into ecologically rich and culturally significant spaces for all, and our work with the city Office of Sustainability continues to foster collaboration, connection, and support for sustainability initiatives.
Thankfully, many campus leaders support our programs and seek financial means to ensure their continuation and expansion support our work. If you are also dreaming of a better world, and ready to grow and support this important work, keep in touch.
“The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.”
– Greta Thunberg, TEDx Stockholm, December 2018