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Shiva at the Forest: In Review

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
Busby

Molly Dutmers/Old Gold & Black

I was introduced to the work of Vandana Shiva only a year ago.  It was a hot, spring day in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Pro Humanitate Institute’s Shelley Sizemore and I were unwinding with other Wake Alternative Break participants after a day on an urban farm.  Needless to say, food justice and food security were already on the brain, making the introduction of Shiva’s work impeccably timed.  The introduction, and resulting insatiable intrigue, were facilitated by none other than Shelley herself.  She was reading Shiva’s “Staying Alive” at the time, and shared several quotes from the book’s opening pages.  Each quote was poignant, unapologetic, and pointed to the various ways in which some human practices have corroded balance, both ecological and otherwise. For me, the handful of quotes demonstrated Shiva’s deep understanding of nuanced need, and prompted my interest in her work.  Additionally, and importantly, I desired to better understand my own role in contributing to the sustainable, conscious agricultural and ecological practices our world so desperately needs.

When I learned that Shiva was visiting Wake Forest, I was overjoyed.  The opportunity to attend her keynote, and engage further with her writing through book clubs hosted on Wake’s campus, was immensely appealing.  In truth, neither engagement disappointed.  At the “Staying Alive” book club, I was surrounded by members of the Wake Forest community and of the broader, all-encompassing Winston-Salem community.  My book club co-host was a former member of Forsyth Local Food, a local consortium that works to further program development and food policy within the existing Forsyth community food system.  Another group participant was a student like myself, whose work developing local food related entrepreneurial ventures opened his eyes to matters of accessibility and convenience in the world of local food.  Yet another participant was the owner of a local composting center, and thus provided interesting insights with regard to waste, costs, and sustainability.  Surrounded by a myriad of rich perspectives, my understanding of Shiva’s text, and of the needs of our community, deepened. Each book club participant hailed from a different place and had experienced different things where food and agriculture were concerned.  Despite these differences, we all agreed on the importance of looking to the future, and prioritizing the various facets of food justice and food security.

Like the book club, Shiva’s keynote was enriching.  Her fiery support of local, diverse, sustainable agriculture, and equally fiery denouncement of genetically modified foods and destructive industrial practices, probed me.  As an audience member, I was forced to, again, reexamine my own practices in honest ways, and think holistically about the impacts I create, both long and short term.  I found myself agreeing with Shiva’s words in some areas, and pushing back in others.  I  thought about the ways in which her proposed policies would impact those whose hunger needs were satiated by  industrially produced aid, and what support these communities might require during transitions from larger scale production to smaller scale, sustainable practices.   My ruminations were many, but importantly, my gratitude and appreciation for Vandana Shiva were reinforced. Her work is renowned for its emphasis on sustainability, consciousness, and demonstrated appreciation of local knowledge—a practice all but forgotten in many corners of the world.  As a student, I am encouraged and inspired to do my part, daily.  As a community, we should all be inspired.

Contributed by Elizabeth Busby (’15)

New Academic Year Brings New Opportunities for the Sustainability House

Thursday, November 13th, 2014
A few members of the Sust'y House dress up for their "First Day of School" photo, that also hangs in the house.

A few members of the Sust’y House dress up for a funny “First Day of School” photo.

The sustainability house, most commonly referred to as the “Sust’y House,” has experienced a revival this year and it is truly better than ever. This eclectic community of environmentally conscious students once called 1141 Polo Road “home,” but sadly had to part ways with the beautiful house due to structural damage in the basement. Last year, the Sust’y Community experienced a bit of a diaspora, spread out between a tiny four-person house, a north campus apartment, and a room in the Ahuva house.

This year, however, Sust’y is officially back, with everyone under one roof. Equipped with two porches and ample room for 10 students, the Sustainability House has found a gracious new home at 1157 Polo Road. Over the years, this theme living community has become an integral part of life at Wake Forest, most prominently known for its delicious spaghetti dinner nights and its always-welcoming environment. Alyshah Aziz, a junior living in the house, says “It’s a place where students from all different pockets of campus come together.” It is one of the few communities at Wake Forest where you can find true diversity of interests and social circles; membership ranges from the Cycling Club, to Gender Equality Allies, computer science, Office of Sustainability interns, and even members of Greek life.

Despite the diversity among the members, there is a palpable feeling of unity within the house. “This house has gone beyond a residential area, it has become a place where we find family,” says Ann Nguyen, a new house member this year.  The Sustainability House is a reminder of the importance of exploring life outside the comfortable realms of our small social circles, and of finding common ground and friendship as Demon Deacons.  As theme program assistant David Hughes reflects, “For me, Sust’y means making the world a more habitable place, both ecologically and socially.  It is a place that strives to be a welcoming sanctuary, and a hub to promote sustainability through engaging the community.”

This year, the Sust’y House is rich with old and new faces, as well as old and new traditions. In addition to the regular homemade spaghetti dinner nights, residents and friends are also enjoying Quesadilla Nights on Thursdays.  Both house members and regular visitors are very excited for this academic year and renewed community at the Sustainability House.

By Andrea Becker (’16)

True Value Meals

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
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Dr. Angela King, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry

My family and I live on a 22-acre farm in Stokes County.  We are serious gardeners. I can’t remember the last time I bought a tomato at the store and I have saved my own okra and basil seeds each year for over a decade.  Now late October, we have over 60 garlic heads up in the garden and have put the cold frame in place.  We also raise Shetland sheep, a very hardy heritage wool breed.  For a few years we raised heritage turkeys (Bourbon Reds) and maintain a flock of about 30 free-range laying hens and sell their eggs to wonderful people on campus.  Sometimes I go to meetings and people say, “Oh, you are the egg lady.”  All of this effort supplies fabulous, fresh and taste-laden ingredients to cook with.  At my house, we eat very well.

But all of these farming endeavors do not pay the mortgage.  My husband and I are both faculty in the Department of Chemistry, and Bruce currently serves as Associate Provost of Research.  In the Chemistry Department, teaching slots are a common topic of discussion.  We never have enough faculty members to meet demand for all the courses required for our majors and pre-med students.  We run out of faculty teaching slots every semester and work hard to fill the needs of our students.  Because of this, we are truly limited in the number of First Year Seminars (FYS) we can offer each year.  Faculty who have developed FYS offerings offer them on a rotating basis.

I have taught the FYS True Value Meals several times in the past.  According to the syllabus, True Value Meals “has been designed to develop the analytical and critical thinking skills of students, and their ability to express in writing and aloud their opinions and ideas, in a setting that focuses on the production, processing distribution and eating of food.”  It is an ideal topic for the FYS, and a topic that I am passionate about.  Luckily, my turn in the rotation came during the fall 2014 semester.

By coincidence, the semester I was offering a food-centered FYS class, the Office of Sustainability organized Make Every Bite Count, a speaker series about the food we grow and eat that challenges us to imagine how we can sustainably feed the world.  Students are required to attend the events and we sit together as a group. In the following class meeting, the discussion is centered on frank analysis of each event and how it compares with other course material.  In twenty years of teaching at Wake, I have never seen students as fired up as they were the day after viewing the documentary GMO OMG.  I have no doubt that the talk by Vandana Shiva on the challenges of feeding a growing world population will be just as powerful, if not more so.

Since I taught True Value Meals last, the sustainability movement on campus has blossomed.  I was able to participate in the Magnolias Project, which strives to integrate sustainability across the curriculum.  The campus garden has grown both in size and organization. Campus Kitchen now has dedicated space on campus and has expanded its programming. All of these have combined for wonderful service-learning opportunities for my students.  Each student is required to complete 18 hours of food-related service with community partners to enhance their readings for the course and aid class discussion.  What have they been doing? The mid-term logs of service hours showed that they have been gleaning food from the Cobblestone Farmers Market for redistribution to food-insecure families; repackaging food from the on-campus dining hall for delivery to persons in need; making sandwiches for homeless individuals on Saturday mornings; turning plots, compost and planting fall crops.  All of this effort has helped the partner agencies AND the students’ learning.  Our class discussions are livelier because they are all experiencing different aspects of food culture in their work outside of class. And the students actually enjoy their service learning hours.  It’s a nice break from reading and writing and gives them time to reflect on course material and try to integrate all the different pieces. Some students have found a “niche” at the university through their service learning partners. I am astounded by the number of students who want to become shift leaders for Campus Kitchen or interns with the campus garden. It’s helped me realize how important extra-curricular activities are to students’ overall wellness.

I can say with confidence that this semester students are the most engaged in my FYS material, thinking more deeply and broadly.  I encourage all faculty to find a topic they are passionate about and use the plentiful teaching resources here at Wake to develop a class that will impact students.  From teaching workshops on community engagement and sustainability to on-campus service learning opportunities, our university has a bounty of support for engaged learning.

By Dr. Angela King, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry

Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Lisa-BleeIn the spring of 2012 I had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural Magnolias Curriculum Project. The readings and discussions in the workshop quickly revealed the big questions of sustainability: How does personal behavior and choice relate to global phenomenon? What do we hope to sustain, and who benefits? These issues are not only about the earth’s future, but also prompt deeper reflection about our history, relationships to places, capacity for self-awareness and change, and sense of responsibility to others.

I wanted to further explore these big questions in a First Year Seminar that I offered in spring 2014 titled Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought. My intention was to introduce students to traditions of environmental thought and help them explore their relationships to places, nature and social action. The class was organized as a journey from inner reflection to public outreach, culminating in a web exhibit. After reading classic and contemporary nature writing pieces, the students first created group photo essays that visually tell a story and make an interpretive point about human relationships to nature. Some groups chose to investigate personal relationships to significant places, while others depicted Wake Forest’s efforts to promote sustainability.

Meanwhile, the class visited Old Salem’s heritage gardens, Reynolda House Museum of Art, and Reynolda Village to make connections to scholarly arguments about landscape design, cultural values, and sustainability featured in the readings. Each student then chose one place in Winston-Salem to research in-depth, endeavoring to interpret the environmental and social histories of familiar and everyday places – a trail, lake, neighborhood, park – in novel ways. The final project was to create a podcast based on an interview with an environmental actor. The groups traveled around the Piedmont to visit organic farms, a prayer center, and the site of the Dan River coal ash spill to conduct interviews. Throughout the semester the students worked with Digital Initiatives Librarian Chelcie Rowell to build a digital exhibit featuring text, images, audiovisual presentations, and a map of place studies. In doing so, students had the opportunity to reflect on the power and limitations of technology to represent nature and educate and inspire others. Most crucially, the course allowed students to both think through their personal relationship to environments within the context of intellectual traditions, and to link these ideas to cooperative action and collective responsibility.

View the students’ web exhibit at: http://cloud.lib.wfu.edu/fys100fff

By Lisa Blee, Assistant Professor of History

Congratulations Class of 2014 Interns

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Intern_PhotoOn May 19th, the Office of Sustainability proudly graduated five sustainability interns. We are grateful for the numerous contributions they have made to our office and to the Wake Forest community.

Karleigh Ash graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. Karleigh worked for the Office of Sustainability as the Photography intern in the spring of 2012 as well as this past year.

Her reflection on the internship: My internship with the Office of Sustainability has really shaped my college experience for the better. I was lucky enough to start interning in the spring of my sophomore year and I have been connected in various ways ever since. I have learned things about how to live a sustainable lifestyle that will stick with me for the rest of my life. My fellow interns and our mentors Dedee and Hannah have been such an inspiration to never let the problems we face get too overwhelming. There is always something that we can do, no matter how small.

Glenn Bergesen graduated with a BA in Psychology and a double minor in Environmental Studies and Biology. Glenn joined the sustainability team as the Earth Day Planning Intern in the spring of 2014.

His reflection on his internship: I could not have asked for a more rewarding and challenging experience. It allowed me to learn from and work with some of the best and most wonderful faculty and staff members at Wake. The work was fun, engaging, and the Office of Sustainability knows how to get things done!  Thank you for all that you do and I know that my experience here will forever shape how I pursue a future in sustainability.

Patrick Doran graduated with a BS in Business and Enterprise Management. This year he served as the Sustainability in Dining intern for Aramark.

His reflection on his internship: My internship exposed me to a wonderful field that works to leave a legacy and benefit others, namely posterity. I especially value my experience as sustainability is becoming increasingly prevalent in business, with companies becoming attuned to consumer demand for sustainable practice. Above all else, my internship gave me the opportunity to work with a group of people who are endlessly friendly, considerate, and passionate about what they do.

Dominik Haja graduated Cum Laude and earned departmental honors with a BS in Chemistry with a Biochemistry concentration. Claire Nagy-Kato graduated with a BA in Chemistry and a minor in Environmental Studies.

Dominik and Claire both served as Energy interns for the Office of Energy Management.

Fourth Annual Arbor Day Celebration

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

022Students and staff circled around a vibrant Japanese Maple tree at Student Apartments on April 24th to celebrate Arbor Day. Landscaping Services, Residence Life and Housing, and the Office of Sustainability co-hosted the ceremony in conjunction with a Campus Beautification Day celebration that was organized by Greeks Go Green interns.

University Arborist Jim Mussetter,  presented the ceremonial tree, a cultivar known as Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ or “Lion’s Head.” Mussetter described that this specific cultivar was chosen for its slow growth and striking fall foliage of gold and crimson tones. As the first ‘shishigashira’ introduced to campus, the tree will be a seasonal focal point in the housing courtyard for decades to come.  University Chaplain Tim Auman led a poetry reading before guests in attendance planted the tree.

Immediately following the ceremony, students divided into groups, led by Greeks Go Green representatives, to pick up litter across campus as part of the Campus Beautification Day celebration. From small tools to cigarette butts, students collected litter of all shapes and sizes in an effort to Keep the Forest Green. Participants were recognized for their contributions: the first-year class turned out in the highest numbers as did brothers from Alpha Sigma Phi. After the clean-up, students were rewarded with at a cookout, including grass-fed burgers made from Grayson Natural beef, which was generously co-sponsored by Residence Life and Housing, Outdoor Programs, and Landscaping Services.

The fourth annual Arbor Day ceremony and the inaugural Campus Beautification Day service event exemplify Wake Forest University’s commitment to our Tree Campus USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Sharing Perspectives across Disciplines

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Eleven faculty members from across the disciplinary spectrum came together on May 13-14, 2014 for the 3rd annual Magnolias Curriculum Project. This year’s workshop was co-facilitated by communications professor Ron Von Burg, an alumnus of last year’s cohort, and Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, the university’s director of sustainability.

The aims of the workshop are to build a transdisciplinary community of scholars committed to addressing issues of sustainability and to empower faculty to consider themselves the experts at infusing sustainability into their courses.

Participants in the two-day workshop discussed provocative literature, considered and developed student learning outcomes, and shared resources with their colleagues. The deliverable for each participant is a syllabus into which they have infused sustainability-related outcomes. The course may be one they have been teaching and plan to teach again or a completely new course they are developing. The revised and new syllabi are posted online and serve as examples for future cohorts.

Wake Forest currently offers a minor in environmental studies and is launching a new Master’s in sustainability this fall. The result of the annual curriculum workshop is an increased number of courses being offered that support a variety of sustainability-related learning outcomes. This opens up possibilities for students pursuing these tracks of study to access electives that match up with a diverse array of disciplinary and professional interests.

The workshop model also aligns with the teaching and engagement goals of the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (CEES), as it is designed to cultivate a broad community of scholars addressing sustainability issues. This year’s cohort illustrates the breadth of that community with participant scholars from art, management, sociology, history, classical languages, economics, dance, business, documentary film, and writing.

Closing words of appreciation from participants in the 2014 workshop reinforced the value of the collaborative model:

What a treat to meet colleagues from other parts of the university.  It’s very easy to hole away and neither learn about nor appreciate what they are doing.

Meeting people from other departments. Hearing things from a different perspective.

Opportunity to learn about sustainability as a field, here on campus and amongst colleagues. Loved outside time…on schedule.

So glad I participated in the workshop!

By Dedee DeLongpre Johnston, Director of Sustainability

Inaugural Champions of Change Awards

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Wake Forest’s celebration of Earth Day this year included the announcement of Champions of Change award winners. This was the first year of the program, which recognizes the creativity and innovation of individuals and teams who work to integrate principles of sustainability across campus. Provost Rogan Kersh and Sr. VP/CFO Hof Milam presented the awards.

Click to view more photos from the ceremony.

Winners were recognized in four categories: Resource Conservation, Service and Social Action, Teaching Research and Engagement, and Bright Ideas.

  • Residence Life & Housing and Financial Services were jointly named champions of change in Resource Conservation. Residence Life and Housing dramatically reduced solid waste and conserved water through renovation and retrofit programs this past year; Financial Services supported the conversion to electronic business processes campus-wide.
  • Campus Kitchen was named as a winner in the Service and Social Action category. Campus Kitchen repurposes prepared, but not served, food from our campus dining facilities into balanced meals for members of the broader Winston-Salem community.
  • For Teaching, Research and Engagement, Lynn Book and her faculty colleagues Angela Kocze and Wanda Balzano were recognized for their work in the new course, “Women, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability.” Students collaborated with community partners Margaret Norfleet-Neff and Salem Neff, the mother-daughter team who founded the Old Salem Cobblestone Farmers Market.
  • Abby McNeal was recognized for her Bright Idea in turf management and the installation of the UgMo Wireless Soil Sensor System at Spry Soccer Field. UgMo is an underground monitoring system that measures soil moisture at the root level and determines when and how much to water on a zone-to-zone basis.

Thirty nominations were received for the four awards. A committee evaluated the nominations based on:

  • The level of participation by colleagues within the department or unit
  • The measurable impact among constituents across campus or in the community served

Additionally, Green Team captains Peter Romanov, Darlene Starnes and Carol Lavis were named champions of change for their departmental leadership. 65% of our departments and units across campus are now led by Green Team captains – they support their colleagues with the resources and encouragement to integrate sustainability into everyday workplace decisions.

Deacs Donate: Reduce Move-out Waste

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

waste_reductionThose big green dumpsters in front of the residence halls should be the containers of last choice at move-out. A number of programs are available to make it easy for students to donate or recycle unwanted possessions to prevent these items from ending up in the landfill. Read on for a summary of the move-out programs planned for this year.

Deacs Donate

What? Reusable house wares, clothing, small appliances, school supplies, canned/dried food and furniture

When? May 2 – May 9

How? Smaller items can be placed in blue Goodwill donation boxes in the lobby of every residence hall. Bulky items (futons, shelving units, bookshelves, rugs, etc.) can be taken out in front of each residence hall and placed next to the Deacs Donate sign. Deacs Donate donations are collected by the Resident Student Association, in collaboration with Goodwill.

In 2012, Residence Life and Housing’s Deacs Donate program helped students put 5,225 pounds of clothing and dorm room essentials into the hands of those in need in the Winston-Salem community.

Residents of the Polo Rd. and Rosedale Circle RL&H Theme Houses should contact their resident advisers for information about the location of the donation bins in their areas.

Questions? Contact Ashley Jones ( ) or Cherise James ( ), RSA advisors

Recycling Tote Collection

What? Small green recycling totes with white handles

When? May 2 – May 9

How? If you received a green personal recycling tote on move-in dayand do not wish to keep it over summer, place it next to the GREEN recycling bin signs outside residence halls. Unwanted totes will be cleaned and redistributed in the fall.

Questions? Contact the Office of Sustainability ( )

Better World Books

What? Textbooks

When? April 30 – May 19

How? All books can be deposited in collection boxes located conveniently near the registers in the school textbook department.

Students always seem to end up with textbooks that the bookstore just cannot buy back at the end of the semester. Better World Books collects and resells these volumes to fund literacy initiatives at home and abroad. Those books that cannot be resold are donated directly to partner programs around the world.

Questions? Contact the Office of Sustainability ( )

Recycle Your Notes

What? Class notes and all recyclable paper

When? May 2 – May 9

How? Recycle loose-leaf notes, class handouts, fliers and other paper and small pieces of cardboard by depositing them in the blue paper recycling bags given to all residents. Full bags can be placed next to the BLUE paper recycling signs outside residence halls.

Questions? Contact Megan Anderson ( )

Box Bonanza

What? Reusable to-go containers

When? April 22 – May 9

How? Return any green reusable to-go containers to the Fresh Food Company to receive your initial $5 deposit back. For the week of finals, bio-compostable disposable to-go containers will be used in all dining establishments.

 

Love the World You’re With – Earth Day 2014

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

14006395201_4010fa791b_zCare for self, care for community, and care for all life on the planet: this year’s WFU Earth Day Fair offered opportunities to explore connections and find inspiration to make a difference.

Before the fair officially began, we celebrated a unique group of change agents. At the inaugural Champions of Change award ceremony, Provost Rogan Kersh and Sr. VP/CFO Hof Milam presented campus sustainability leadership awards in four categories: resource conservation; service and social action; teaching, research, and engagement; and bright ideas.

Wake Forest’s own Hobbs Sisters led the crowd that gathered for the awards program down to Manchester Plaza, where fair attendees were lined up to receive their participation passports and ready to begin the fun.

Over 400 students, faculty, staff, and friends attended the celebration. In addition to food and entertainment, fairgoers learned about the ways that caring for one’s self, caring for one’s community and, ultimately, caring for life on the planet are related and interdependent.  We would like to thank all of the entertainers, exhibitors, and vendors who provided the inspiration to love the world we’re with.

Check out our Facebook and Flickr pages for photos from the Champions of Change awards ceremony and the WFU Earth Day Fair.