Earth Day Celebrations
Think Green Thursday
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to explore sustainability through interactive, educational, and fun events every Thursday when regular classes are in session. Read more here and check our calendar to see what’s coming up.
Films and Lectures
Wake Forest regularly hosts nationally and internationally recognized speakers and award-winning films on themes relevant to sustainability. Read about past films and lectures and check our calendar for upcoming events.
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On the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, change agents for sustainability across the Wake Forest campus gathered for the Champions of Change campus sustainability awards. The awards program recognizes the creativity and innovation of individuals and teams who work to integrate principles of sustainability into operations, teaching, and engagement. Dean of the School of Divinity, Gail O’Day, and Chief of Staff for the Office of the President, Mary Pugel, presented the awards.
Winners were recognized in four categories: Resource Conservation, Service and Social Action, Teaching Research and Engagement, and Bright Ideas.
- The Office of the Registrar and the Surplus Property Program won in the Resource Conservation category. This year, the Office of the University Registrar completed four projects that saved over 13,000 pieces of paper, as well as printing and mailing costs for the university. Since its start in 2011, the Surplus Property Program has diverted nearly 250,000 lbs. of waste from the landfill, repurposed over 3,000 pieces of furniture and other items for use on campus, captured close to 30,000 lbs of residential electronic waste through a free pickup program, and helped the university avoid over $1 million dollars of new purchase costs.
- Department of Religion faculty member Steve Boyd was named as a winner in the Service and Social Action category. Steve was recognized for his leadership of the Religion and Public Engagement Program and his statewide organizing of Scholars for North Carolina’s Future. Since its approval in 2011, 17 students have graduated with the Religion and Public Engagement concentration, and a record 12 more are set to graduate this year.
- Ron Von Burg was recognized for Teaching, Research and Engagement. Ron teaches the popular interdisciplinary undergraduate course Humanity & Nature; taught the communications workshop and led a graduate research course on Coasts and Climate Change in Belize this year for the new MA in Sustainability; and directs undergraduate students in writing and performing plays for school-aged children and “moot court”-style debates on sustainability issues annually. He is also an alumnus of Wake Forest’s own sustainability-across-the curriculum workshop, the Magnolias Project, and is co-facilitating that workshop for the second time this year.
- JL Bolt and the construction team of Facilities and Campus Services and Frank Shelton with Residence Life and Housing were recognized for a Bright Idea partnership. The construction team upcycled discarded bed frames from residence halls into white boards, bulletin board frames, safety bed rails, storage racks, benches, tables, mirror replacements, and mail boxes.
Additionally, Green Team captains Barbara Macri and Kate Ruley were named champions of change for their departmental leadership. As the Green Team captain for Human Resources, Barbara facilitated a department-wide sustainability goal-setting pilot, working collaboratively to develop a range of goals to meet the varying needs of her colleagues.
Kate coordinates the tracking of our institutional food purchases, identifying and calculating what we spend on regionally-grown, organic, and fair-trade-certified items. She mentors the team’s sustainability intern, and advocates for sustainable choices in menu development and procurement.
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.
Have you facilitated a change to a sustainable practice on campus? Are you teaching a sustainability-focused course or leading a research effort with sustainability-centered outcomes? We want to hear about it!
On April 22, 2015 Wake Forest will host our second annual Champions of Change award ceremony.
We will accept nominations for awards that honor sustainability through:
- resource conservation (energy, water, or waste reduction),
- academics (teaching, research, engaged learning),
- service and social action, and
- bright ideas (innovative ideas that have been or could be implemented).
For a conservation event with potentially apocalyptic connotations, Thursday’s “Pledging Responsibility for Oceans and Environmental Change Today” in Brendle Recital Hall was frank, optimistic and self-aware: panelist and scientist Nancy Knowlton even pledged to keep audience members “not utterly depressed,” to noticeable titters.
The panel, an effort to engage the public on the importance of oceans and their nascent fragility as a result of climate change, garnered a sizable crowd, perhaps partially due to the celebrity of the panelists speaking: Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic oceanographer; Knowlton, Sant Chair for Marine Science at Smithsonian’s Natural Museum of Natural History; and Amanda Leland, vice president for Oceans at the Environmental Defense Fund.
Despite the preliminary call for optimism, the scientists made the audience aware of the current dire state of the world’s oceans. Overfishing and pollution have ravaged our oceans to noticeable decline: species are becoming extinct, including New England’s famed Atlantic cod. Forty percent of fisheries are in jeopardy.
The implications, Leland stated, are as environmental as they are economic: Somali pirates originated as fisherman who ran out of fish to extract. In addition, three million of the world’s population depends on the oceans as its only source of protein.
Knowlton and Leland revealed that the solution to ocean deterioration lies largely in policy, and that increased management of fishing policies can improve fish quantities in the ocean and decrease overall waste.
However, in a visit to an undergraduate and graduate lab classroom earlier that day, Earle argued that extracting any organisms from the ocean would be problematic to the structure of the food chain, according to Wake Forest professor Dr. Katie Lotterhos, who attended the earlier session and whose area of research is marine biology.
Hope for ocean renewal is within reach, the scientists said, with policy and attitude change: “Fish are not just clumps of meat waiting for us to extract them,” said Earle.
Instead, proper fishing and ocean regulations have the capacity to revitalize communities, ecosystems, and expose the “ocean’s natural resilience.”
Lotterhos, who invited the three scientists to campus, hoped the event left people “feeling cautiously optimistic.”
“We will have to take responsibility soon if we want to have sustainable ocean ecosystems, but it is not too late yet,” she said.
By Elena Dolman (’15), Staff Writer
Forty-five students and guests enjoyed a heritage & heirloom foods dinner hosted by Wake Forest Dining on October 30 as part of the series of themed Thursday evening dinners in the Magnolia Room. The dinner was the brainchild of the sustainability team at Wake Forest in an effort to expose our campus community to heirloom and heritage foods native to and available in and around the North Carolina region. The evening’s menu featured the following local fare: pawpaws, sweet potatoes, apple butter, Joyce Farms poultry – chicken breasts, chicken sausage and chicken wings, persimmons, butternut squash ravioli, pink eyed peas, figs, and lima beans.
Joyce Farms donated the poultry served as part of an ongoing effort to bring awareness of their farm’s local quality products. The butternut squash ravioli, pink eyed peas, lima beans, sweet potatoes, and apple butter were all procured from farms and vendors from whom Wake Forest University regularly purchases local items. Procurement of both the pawpaws and persimmons was the trickiest task in rounding out the menu as pawpaw season tends to fall in late summer and both fruits are grown locally in limited quantities. Fortunately, several farmers in North Carolina have taken a particular interest in the pawpaw and have begun establishing orchards that grow up to 30 varieties of the fruit, and Wake Forest Dining was able to procure a large enough supply of whole frozen pawpaws, persimmons and figs from one of these farmers (Parker’s Pawpaw Patch) to include in a variety of menu items. Serving a meal such as our Heritage Dinner, which is done on a significantly smaller scale than meals typically served in our dining halls, allows for flexibility and creativity in expanding our menus to incorporate a wider variety of local foods.
Local sourcing is one element of Wake Forest Dining’s responsible purchasing program. It supports local farmers and economies, benefits the environment by reducing the amount of transportation fuel and emissions required to deliver foods, and in the case of seafood, supports the health of local fisheries.
Every day, we look for ways to incorporate responsibly purchased items into the mix of menu offerings, and by using environmentally friendly items in our operations. We have also established a variety of unique partnerships, so that we can offer clients and customers fresh, safe, whole foods that are raised, grown, harvested, and produced locally and in a sustainable manner whenever possible.
Contributed by Kate Ruley, Nutrition Director at Wake Forest Dining
“Ugly” is not the first word that comes to mind when considering which apple to eat. It does, however, describe the appearance of many heirloom apple varieties that have been lost since the standardization of the modern food system. The wild or “ugly” apple is known to have originated in Kazakhstan, and was brought to North America soon after the English settled in 1607. As cider became popular in the United States, apple seeds and grafted seedlings were planted throughout the country. This brought great biodiversity to the South with as many as 1,800 different heirloom varieties. Only 500 of those varieties, however, are still known to be in existence. This decline led Creighton Lee Calhoun, Jr. to serve as one of the foremost leaders in apple conservation in North America. He has dedicated his life to researching, growing and celebrating this ancient fruit, and has published his work in Old Southern Apples. Today, many of these old southern heirloom varieties are at risk of disappearing forever.
Inspired by Lee Calhoun’s love for apples, Salem Neff is working with her mother, Margaret Norfleet Neff, to continue the tradition of planting and growing out old southern heirloom apples. They are initiating the Southern Heirloom Apple Tree Project to revive cultural heritage and regional biodiversity. As a part of this project, the southern heirloom apple varieties, Sparger (origins in Mount Airy, NC) and Dula’s Beauty (origins in Caldwell County, NC) were planted in the historic Reynolda Gardens earlier this month. This mother-daughter team would like to encourage universities, organizations, and members of the community also to plant and grow heirloom apple trees of their own to protect and celebrate geographic heritage, agricultural biodiversity, and to promote good stewardship of the land.
The Southern heirloom apple project and initial planting coincided with Wake Forest’s fall speaker series, Make Every Bite Count . During the kick-off panel event, orchardist Eliza Greenman challenged the audience to eat ugly apples in order to preserve our bio-cultural heritage and to diversify our regional food economy. The final series’ keynote speaker, Dr. Vandana Shiva, supported the call and challenged us further to consider the connections between our conceptions of beauty and standardization. Shiva, whose non-profit Navdanya includes a 50-acre working farm, joined the apple planting ceremony, skillfully transferring the trees and soil into their new homes. The apple trees complement Pawpaw and American Persimmon trees on the main campus.
Lee Calhoun reminds us to encourage our elders to pass down their stories of growing, cooking, eating and drinking the juice of these fruits. By identifying, nurturing, and choosing to eat these heirloom varieties, you can help preserve a heritage that once defined the region. For those interested in being part of the Southern Heirloom Apple Tree Project, please contact Salem and Margaret at .
Wake Forest University also invites other colleges and universities to join us in celebrating agricultural biodiversity by propagating, cooking, studying, and celebrating foods with regional biocultural significance. Click here for more information.
Contributed by Jennifer Miller (’14), Special Campaign Coordinator
“Rejuvenating the earth should be the outcome of the food system.” Vandana Shiva made this call for awareness and action last week during her visit to Wake Forest University. On Tuesday, Nov. 4, Shiva lectured as a part of the “Make Every Bite Count” speaker series, organized by multiple partners. On Wednesday, Nov. 5, Shiva led a community forum with students, faculty, and staff at the School of Divinity.
The “Make Every Bite Count” series featured other events including a panel discussion and film screening of GMO OMG with filmmaker Jeremy Seifert. The series aimed to investigate the role of agricultural biodiversity in our local, regional, and global food systems. The final keynote lecture by Shiva highlighted the challenges and opportunities of feeding the world with sustainable agriculture.
Shiva is the author of Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development and the founder of Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – especially native seed – and to promote sustainable farming and fair trade. Her newest book, Who Really Feeds the World?, will be available next year.
During her lecture and in the community forum, Shiva consistently referred to the “patenting of life,” in relation to the patents held on seeds by industrial food producers. “Ecosystems produce food, not companies,” she said. “Destroying seeds destroys life. Saving seeds is an ethical duty.” The world is at a point where the diversity of creation needs to be reclaimed and valued for that diversity. Saving seeds is one way to preserve and continue the variety of life forms around us.
“We are not masters of the earth, we are a part of the earth family,” Shiva said during Tuesday’s lecture. “The process of commercial agriculture displaces diversity and people. There is a division in labor and knowledge.”
Shiva has concerns not only for the production methods of agriculture, but also the impact of food on health and wellbeing. “How we grow food is related to disease,” she said. She gave examples on how malnutrition occurs because food lacks essential minerals and the ways toxins from the chemicals used impact bodies in negative and life-threatening ways.
“Rejuvenating the earth should be the outcome of the food system.” This call echoed as Shiva gave glimpses of hope about the work that is being done and the work religious leaders are called to do on food issues. She recalled the abolition movements in the U.S. and India as a historical framework of resistance movements that changed social practices. She encouraged faith communities to plant “gardens of hope” as a beginning point of resistance. “Faith communities throughout the world already are responsible for feeding communities through soup kitchens and food pantries,” Shiva said. “Let’s link the feeding and outreach to the growing of food.”
Shiva’s call to action resounded with many. Fred Bahnson, director of the School of Divinity’s Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, said it was encouraging to have her on campus. “She inspired us, challenged us, and made us laugh. To hear this global food leader talk about the importance of faith communities working to create food justice and ecological healing was especially encouraging, because it means we’re on the right track.”
Second-year divinity student Pia Diggs is interested in learning more about holistic health and how the food industry is impacting the food she consumes. “After hearing Shiva speak, I have an increased awareness to be more cognizant about my intake of food and a greater concern for how it is being produced,” she said. Diggs worked in a community health center last summer in a low-income area of Greensboro, NC that has been designated as a food desert. “What you eat effects your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional states, so if you are not eating well-prepared food, it will directly affect your entire being.”
Links of Interest
Focus on food in the forest – WFU News Center
Make Every Bite Count Fall Speaker Series
Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative)
Thrive: Well-Being at Wake Forest University
About Wake Forest University School of Divinity
The Wake Forest University School of Divinity is a growing, dynamic and ecumenical theological institution that prepares men and women to be religious leaders in a changing world. The School currently offers the Master of Divinity degree and several dual degrees in law, bioethics, counseling, education, and sustainability offered jointly with other schools of the University. Through imaginative courses and diverse programs of community engagement, students are equipped to be agents of justice, reconciliation, and compassion in Christian churches and other ministries.
By Mark Batten, School of Divinity
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)
“Be skeptical and curious. Go beyond reading labels…really know your producer.” This final piece of advice from panelist April McGreger was just one response to the overarching question: if every dollar we spend is a vote for the world we want, how can we make every bite count?
During September 10th’s panel, Make Every Bite Count, heritage and heirloom food experts Eric Hallman, Executive Director of the Livestock Conservancy; Eliza Greenman, orchardist at Foggy Ridge Cider; April McGreger, founder of Farmer’s Daughter Brand; and Janette Wesley, Slow Food USA Regional Governor, provided insights into the importance of biodiversity and sustainable land and water use to a resilient food system.
Orchardist and charismatic agri-entrepreneur Eliza Greenman left a lasting impression with her parting advice: eat ugly apples. Our tendency to buy fruits and vegetables that are perfectly symmetrical, with no creases or pimples, discourages markets from carrying heirloom varieties, many of which are as unique on the outside as they are uniquely delicious on the inside. Following the panel, Greenman was mobbed by requests to visit her orchards; several Wake Forest families and groups have since made the trek and have returned energized by the possibility of expanding their relationship with new and interesting foods.
Members of the audience stayed to talk more with the speakers and one another about the opportunities we have to think differently about the impacts of our food choices:
“A big take away is that there’s this tremendous variety of food, and it’s sustenance but it’s also beautiful, and it’s beautiful in the way that it preserves diversity; it’s beautiful in how it shows how we’ve done agriculture through the years. I hope that it becomes perpetuated and expanded in the future.” –Dr. Miles Silman, Professor of Biology and Director of CEES
“I was fascinated by the orchardist, she was incredible. But I also appreciated the comments by the panelists in their respective fields: what they have to contribute to sustainability and the need of diversity and the role that that plays. I’ve never thought about the diversity in meat and the importance of that; I have heard about the importance of diversity in apples; I’ve been to some markets in Virginia and there have been several varieties but I have not heard about the variety of meats. I heard my parents and their generation talk about how the meat tasted different, and I never really thought about it. But tonight it really made sense. I come away challenged to explore more of the local markets and to modify my eating habits.” – Staci Kyle (‘15), Master of Arts in Sustainability Graduate Student
“I really appreciated Eliza’s perspective, especially her combining the idea of preserving history and using story as a powerful way to change the way we eat, and, thus, change the way we look and take care of the environment. I think that’s one of the most powerful things to connect people to how we’re living.” – Sarah Millsaps (‘16), Anthropology Major
“Pro Humanitiate” is in action on the sustainability front at Wake Forest through a partnership with UpcycleLife. The Charlotte-based, not-for-profit produces one-of-a-kind bags and accessories by upcycling things like billboards or banners. It isn’t just that UpcycleLife is keeping vinyl out of our landfills, it’s the way they do it. The mission is to help protect the environment, and at the same time transform lives by creating jobs for individuals in under-served communities.
The environmental problem is that vinyl billboard and banner material takes hundreds of years to break down in landfills. UpcycleLife diverts this material from the landfill by giving it a new use, and at the same time teaching folks in impoverished communities valuable job skills such as sewing, shipping, and receiving. UpcycleLife feels they have developed a method to impact a waste stream and create a steady employment model. Ideally, the model could be scaled in such a way that UpcycleLife could make a huge impact on the waste stream in the broader US.
The results of the partnership with Wake Forest so far are 3 banners from the university being upcycled for the cause. By recycling these 3 banners UpcycleLife was able to employ 4 individuals from the local community for a total of 32 hours of paid work. On the flip-side, the upcycled products tell a unique story and provide users with a little piece of Wake Forest history.
According to Emma Kate Hosey, with the Charlotte-based organization: “UpcycleLife creates jobs for disadvantaged citizens by creating a product that reduces our impact on the environment. Our products are one-of-a-kind, hand-made, and made of reclaimed vinyl. We love taking a dirty banner and making it into a piece of art.”
Key Statistics about UpcycleLife:
- Employed, trained and graduated over 12 refugee men and women in the Charlotte NC area in 3 years
- Upcycled over 40,000 different products
- Rescued over 10,000 lbs of vinyl from entering landfills
- Provided free weekly English training and financial advising
Students 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.