From the desk of OES:
Between summer traveling, the start of the semester, the myriad of projects underway, accruing the largest team of interns in OES history, the Strategic Planning process, and the AASHE Conference, this semester has flown by. It is hard to believe how quickly the semester has moved — there are only six more weeks of the semester before finals!
Last week a crew from Oberlin attended the annual AASHE Conference. In case you forgot, AASHE stands for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. They are the primer organization for sustainability in higher education and aim to “inspire and catalyze higher education to lead the global sustainability transformation.” Sessions span the gamut from sharing best practices around measuring sustainability literacy to bike share programs. Participants engaged in challenging conversations around diversity and social justice, climate change and inadequacy of many educational experiences, and more. Oberlin was represented well in multiple presentations, including a keynote by David Orr.
This was my fourth year attending the AASHE Conference and my fifth year following the work of AASHE and it’s member institutions. Many other folks in the industry recognize Oberlin’s contributions to the movement; they applaud our leadership and ask us about programs, practices, and philosophies. A large part of my job is advising other organizations. In recent years, many organizations have propelled our conversations even further and have shared their wisdom with us. Institutions across the country are dedicated to creatively tackling our ecological footprint while providing opportunities for students and their community. Doing this work can be draining and discouraging. It can also be highly rewarding to engage in work with real impact alongside others with passion, insight, and intentions to make the world a better place for all. I recognize the great privilege I have to work in a field where competition between us drives us closer to our collective goals rather than apart.
While October had much in store, November promises to be beaming with activity, too. We will have our monthly OES Hangout, but this time at the EARRTH House. There are an array of incredible talks from food justice to robotics, including an event with Lisa Sideris, a Religious Studies faculty and environmental ethicist who I worked closely with during my undergraduate experience. November festivities also include local elections (voting is today!), the end of Daylight Savings Time, and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season with Black Friday. We have lots of helpful tips for this mad season. Stay tuned on our website and social medias for news and updates, events, and pointers for staying healthy, saving energy, and conserving money this November.
News & Announcements:
- AASHE 2015: The annual Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference was a succcess! David Orr gave a keynote to more than 2,000 people. Four Oberlin College students were in attendance along with Meghan Riesterer (Assistant Vice President of Energy Management and Sustainability), Sean Hayes (Director, Oberlin Project), John Petersen (Professor, Environmental Studies), Augustus Arthur (Project Manager, Environmental Dashboard), and Bridget Flynn (Sustainability Coordinator).
- Paper Shred: This month’s campus-wide paper shred event collected 2500 lbs of paper! This is quite an improvement in collection over the 1,800 lbs. from last year. The paper was shred to allow for recycling of confidential documents. Thanks to the procurement office for sponsoring this event!
- Metering Expansion: OES is engaged in an expansion of the Environmental Dashboard metering technology, pioneered by Environmental Studies, which will allow the college to track and display electricity and water consumption for non-residential buildings. We are beginning the process of installing meters in buildings such as Phillips Gym, the Science Center, King/Rice, Wilder, and more. The hope is to display the usage of these buildings on digital signage and the web, much as we do with the dorms currently, to further connect students, faculty, staff, and visitors with the energy they require. This would also allow the college to better track and manage our energy use.
- Meghan Presents: Meghan represented higher education on a panel discussing energy efficiency at the Cleveland AE3 (Alliance for Energy, Economic, and Environmental Building Solutions) conference this month. She spoke alongside representatives from city government, health care, heavy industry sectors.
- Tours: Amidst the fall foliage we enjoyed this month, OES gave tours of the large solar array. This included two high school groups: one from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio and one from here in Oberlin. We had a wonderful time talking about Oberlin’s electricity portfolio, the benefits of solar energy, and the College’s efforts towards becoming carbon neutral in a cost-effective and inclusive way.
- Articles: Along with our increased presence on social media, we will also be generating more articles about campus sustainability efforts. In the pipeline is an article about how recycling works on campus and in the city, insights into how the city and college’s electricity is ~90% renewable, and intern blogs about their experiences and progress on campus.
- Campus Sustainability Month: You may have noticed on social media that October was campus sustainability month. We increased our social media presence during this time alongside eight other schools in Ohio. You can see our twitter feed here.
For all environmental-related events on campus – check out the Environmental Events Calendar! If you would like it to be shared with you, email Bridget. If you would like one of your events to be added to eNewsletter, please email us.November 6: Consecrating Science: Wonder, Ethics, and the New Cosmology @ 6PM in the Science Center W201: Dr. Lisa Sideris talk will examine a constellation of movements referred to as the New Story/Universe Story/Epic of Evolution/Big History—forms of science-based ecospirituality that have emerged in recent decades. She will question whether these new scientific myths engender the environmental values and ethics they seek to cultivate. She will critique the way in which these narratives showcase a highly anthropic universe and privilege scientific information and expert knowledge over and above direct, sensory encounters with the natural world. Free and open to the public.November 7: Food Justice 101 Workshop @ 1:30 in AJLC 201: Want to know what food justice actually is? Curious how you can get involved in improving food security and access in Oberlin? Want to know what resources exist for aleviating issues of food waste and food worker’s injustice? Bring your friends and bring your parents! Sponsored by Oberlin Food Justice. [Facebook]
November 8: NEXUS Pipeline: Community Impact Panel @ 2pm at First Church in Oberlin: The NEXUS project is a proposed 250 mile-long natural gas pipeline that would span the entire state of Ohio. Panelists will present an overview of new developments in Nexus’ plans, a summary of lawsuits over the right to survey, and a report on Ohio-wide efforts to restore local control over corporate threats to community health and safety. Landowners and other community members will share their experiences and concerns. [Facebook] [Calendar]
November 9: Laura Legnick: Climate Change, Resilience, and the Future of Food @ 7:30 in Wilder 101: As we enter the Thanksgiving season, our thoughts turn towards the celebration of food shared in the company of family and friends. Fundamental to our identity as a species, crucial to the health and well-being of our communities, the way that we eat fuels the 21st century challenges that threaten our way of life. How is a changing climate affecting our food supply? What can consumers to do to cultivate a climate resilient food future? Laura Lengnick, scientist, educator, policy-maker, and farmer, joins us to share some stories from her new book, “Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate (New Society Publishers 2015). [Facebook]
November 15: Impacted Community Members Panel @ 3pm in Wilder 101: Students for Energy Justice invites you to our Impacted Community Panel. Community members Monica Beasley-Martin, Maria Montanez, and John Williams will be speaking about the effects of pipelines and fracking on their lives and the community as a whole. They will also talk about their involvement with the important work against these unsustainable practices. Come learn, ask questions, and see how you can help!
For more info and to see a full list of events, please the Events tab on the OES website: http://new.oberlin.edu/office/environmental-sustainability/events/
Halloween is a night to celebrate all that’s scary, but what about the frightening amount of waste it creates? Here’s a look at the impact of Halloween, presented in numbers.This year, Americans will carve an estimated 1.5 billion pounds worth of pumpkins, which usually end up in the landfill when the holiday is over. Packaging, like candy wrappers, contributes makes up over 30% of the solid municipal waste generated each year in the USA. In addition, nearly 85% of textile waste from costumes worn only once goes straight to landfills. Make a promise to have a more sustainable Halloween next year–compost your pumpkin and reuse a costume!
- The Western Reserve Land Conservancy, with support from The Green EDGE Fund, just preserved 63-acres of land in Oberlin’s Great South Woods (near Splash Zone), with the intent of creating a nature reserve! The land encompasses forest, wetland, and a sedge meadow ecosystems, and several rare species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians have been sighted on the property.
- Taste, Don’t Waste: The holidays are a special time to share with loved ones, but holiday meals oftentimes end with a lot of wasted food. To help avoid this, be realistic with your portions! If you’re cooking, plan out ahead of time how much food your guests will realistically eat. If you’re a guest, make sure to serve yourself manageable portions, you can always go back for seconds!
- Celebrate at Home: Thanksgiving weekend is one of heaviest for highway travel in the United States. This year, why not reduce global warming and improve air quality by lowering your auto emissions at the same time that you lower your family’s stress level? Skip the holiday travel and celebrate a green Thanksgiving at home or see if you can choose a central location for festivities.
- Gift Early: Finally, get ahead of the last-minute holiday hustle by planning to exchange gifts during Thanksgiving with friends and family you may not see in December. Not only will you save on postage, but thinking ahead could also prevent going overboard on boxes and packaging materials.