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Sustainability at Wake Forest

Posts Tagged ‘SEAC’

180 Degrees South: Conquerors of the Useless

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Join Greeks Go Green, Student Environmental Action Coalition, Outdoor Pursuits, and Great Outdoor Provision Company for the showing of “180 Degrees South: Conquerors of the Useless.”

The film follows Jeff Johnson as he retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia. To learn more about the film visit http://www.180south.com/

 

Where are they now: Emily Bachman

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Emily Bachman (’13) was a prominent contributor to Wake Forest’s sustainability efforts throughout her four years as a student. She served as the president of the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), a shift leader and summer intern for Campus Kitchen, a regular volunteer in the Campus Garden, an intern with ARAMARK, where she worked to support sustainability in dining, and a semester-long intern with the Winston-Salem Sustainability Resource Center. In addition to her ambitious extracurricular activities, she completed a major in history with a double minor in environmental studies and anthropology.

After graduating last spring, Bachman took some time to travel. She spent two weeks in Israel with Birthright (accompanied by former fellow sustainability intern Sanders McNair) and six weeks driving across the country exploring several cities and national parks along the way.

Post-excursion, Bachman landed in Brooklyn where she is serving as the AmeriCorps Volunteer & Special Projects Coordinator for Rebuilding Together NYC. Rebuilding Together NYC is the New York City affiliate of a national nonprofit that is located in over 200 cities across the country. They are a “safe and healthy housing” organization, serving low income, elderly, handicapped, and veteran homeowners. They focus on critical home repairs including accessibility modifications for the physically disabled, and rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. Additionally, Rebuilding Together NYC focuses on energy efficiency upgrades and weatherization to lower energy consumption in homes. She is also working on an independent project incorporating sustainable landscape design, including rain barrels and native plantings, into the organization’s future projects to support stormwater retention.

In the coming years Bachman plans to attend graduate school for a degree in Sustainable Urban Design and Policy and to find a career that allows her to pursue “city planning through a sustainable lens.” She says that being able to see different cities and compare the strengths and weaknesses of their designs while traveling has helped further develop and affirm her aspirations.

She says that her liberal arts education fostered her passion for sustainability and prepared her for post-collegiate life. “It taught me to think critically and holistically. My liberal arts education allowed me to explore my interests from a variety of perspectives and to understand the many different causes and potential solutions to the social and environmental issues we face today.”

What inspires you to be sustainable?

For as long as I can remember, sustainability has mattered to me. I value human life and I do not like the idea of people suffering, now or in the future. I understand that the way human beings, especially in the western world, are living today will cause suffering in the future. Rather than wait for the consequences and begin to react when it is too late, we should work immediately and proactively to develop sustainable lifestyles.

What is the biggest issue facing our generation?

Apathy. It is so obvious that we are doing things so wrong and that we need to change, but because most people are not confronted with the impacts of their unsustainable lifestyles directly on a daily basis, they are apathetic. They don’t care and they continue with the status quo. Not enough people are passionate enough.

What is your number one tip for living sustainably?

Don’t buy what you don’t need – I try to remind myself of this constantly, especially now that I am on an AmeriCorps stipend.

By Andrea Becker (’16), Staff Writer

Forward on Climate:There is No Plan[et] B

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

climateObscenely early on Sunday morning I joined eleven sleepy Deacons in a van headed to the Forward on Climate rally in Washington, DC.

Five and a half hours later we arrived at a DC Metro station and boarded a train bound for the National Mall where our meager dozen joined the nearly 40,000 people gathered in the shadow of the Washington Monument. It wasn’t until we were on the train that I began to get a sense of what we were about to experience. Each stop added more to our number. At our final stop, amidst a train-car full of folks undoubtedly headed to the rally, I heard a woman explain to her six year old, “This is where all the tree-huggers get off.” For this comment, I felt both sharp resentment and heartfelt pride.

It wasn’t long after our small stream of supporters meandered out of the station towards Constitution Avenue that we were swept up in a river of ralliers headed to the National Mall. It was more than I could have imagined – costumes, huge signs, hand-held wind turbines, and clever chants. The crowds began to fill the space between the Washington Monument and Constitution Ave.

The march was preceded by a number of speakers. These speakers shared not volumes of data, charts, mathematical models for current and projected carbon emissions, but stories. Caleb Pusey, another divinity student present remarked, “For the first time, I recognized that the environmental movement in our country has finally stopped beating people over the head with scientific evidence and learned to tell stories of suffering and hope.”

For too long we have believed that if people would only hear the numbers, if they understood the science, then they would not only be convinced, but they would change their lives and the world. I think the environmental movement is beginning to see that this is not necessarily the case. Sometimes we need to be reminded that people are suffering. Climate change it is not simply a concept to be explored, but a reality that has actual consequences in our everyday lives and some people are dying for it. But, we also need to hear and learn to tell stories of hope, courage, bravery, and redemption.

The march began slowly as we crept down Constitution Ave. But, with each step the energy grew. Chanting and singing energized the crowd. I was particularly intent on reading every sign I could get my eyes on. They were funny, witty, grave, and thoughtful. The signs portrayed a wide spectrum of issues from fracking, to mountaintop removal, solar and wind energy advocacy, the Keystone pipeline, human rights, and many more. Holding these signs were amazingly diverse people – black, red, rich, young, yellow, dreadlocked, gay, white, brown, old, handicapped, bearded, straight, and poor. It was a powerful reminder that this is an issue that affects everyone, though some are more harshly affected. The health of our air, water, and soil is something that no one can outrun.

I was also reminded that everyone has a part to play. This was obvious not only in the 40,000 people marching around the White House, but also in our little group from Wake Forest University. Some were content with simply being present. Some couldn’t imagine passing up the opportunity to dance in the mobile drum circle while others took a wide birth around it. For some it was not enough to participate in the chants − they were moved to lead them. We each found our different niche. Reflecting on these distinct means of involvement leads us to larger questions of ideology, reform or revolt, cooperation or insurrection, grassroots or top-down.

And so it is for the entirety of the environmental movement. Everyone has his or her favorite issue and we bring a unique set of skills, desires, and experiences with us. While this movement has leaders and voices that draw a larger audience than others, no one owns this movement, no one at Sierra Club, 350.org, or Wake Forest. Movements that create lasting change employ a wide range of tactics, strategies, and approaches. They articulate scientific, economic, sociological, and political points of view. They have conversations with co-workers at lunch, email members of congress, and march in the streets. They embody a diversity of ideas, opinions, and people.

On the train ride back to the van, I couldn’t help but think of the woman who identified the tree-huggers for her six year old. Neither she nor I realized that there were way more people on our train headed to the rally than we would have ever guessed. So, whether you are a quiet marcher avoiding the drum circles or a costume-wearing-sign-hoisting-chant-leading-enthusiast, there is a place for you in this movement. Bring your skills, bring your passion, bring your story, bring your voice, and save the Earth.

 By Jamie Sims,   Wake Forest Divinity School, Class of 2013

Lights out for Earth Hour 2011

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

More than 100 students huddled together in the Reynolda Hall lobby on March 26 to count down the seconds until the spotlights on Wait Chapel were extinguished in celebration of Earth Hour 2011. The Demon Deacon was on-hand to flip the giant light switch on the quad as the countdown reached zero. The event, sponsored by the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), was moved inside from Hearn Plaza in a last-minute response to the unseasonably cold weather.

Earth Hour, a World Wildlife Fund campaign, began in 2007 in Sydney Australia and has grown to include events in 134 countries worldwide. Efforts large and small promote climate change awareness and activism by cutting off the lights for one hour. This year’s event encouraged participants to go beyond the hour by thinking about what else they could do to make a difference. Participants worldwide can share their stories of activism beyond the hour on the Earth Hour web site.

The university joined this global effort in 2009 when University President Nathan Hatch agreed to turn off the Wait Chapel spotlight for an hour. Last year, 320 students signed the pledge to do their part by turning off unnecessary lights and contemplating the impacts of their energy usage.

Eighty students signed the pledge this year and though the turnout was smaller than anticipated because of the weather, the impact felt by attendees was great.

“The Demon Deacon mascot was there to flip the switch and all the students were chanting the countdown,” Anna Donze, president of SEAC said. “To have the lights turn off right as we reached ‘zero’ was really powerful. It felt like the students caused the lights to go out.”

Donze hopes that students will take the message of this year’s event and contemplate it often throughout the coming year. In addition to signing the pledge, students were able to trade in an incandescent light bulb for a more energy efficient CFL bulb. They also received magnets to remind them of their pledge commitment.

“Hopefully, they will remember to turn off their lights as often as possible and if their friends ask them why, they can reflect on Earth Hour and spread the awareness to those who could not attend,” Donze said.

Missed the party? Enjoy WFMY News 2 coverage of the university’s participation in Earth Hour 2011:

Wake Forest students in the dark for Earth Hour.

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

Faces of Sustainability: Jim Coffey

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Though his daily duties change with the seasons, one element remains constant for Director of Landscaping Services, Jim Coffey – he’s always busy. Coffey, who celebrates his 25th year with the university this year, has assembled a stellar team of landscaping gurus over the years. Together, they’ve guided the university’s evolution into the park-like landscape so frequently cited by prospective students as a selling point for Wake Forest.

“Each spring I walk around campus and get goose bumps because I can see how the landscape has changed,” Coffey said.

Coffey’s appreciation for the natural environment was instilled in him at a young age by grandparents who loved gardening. As he grew, so did his love of landscaping. Twenty-five years ago, just three years after graduating with a bachelor of science in agriculture, Coffey joined the university’s landscaping team in their former offices – an old barn with a wood stove and no bathrooms.

He stuck with the rugged conditions and early hours (during the summers, the crews may arrive before 6 a.m. to beat the Carolina heat) and became instrumental not only in the continuing growth of the university’s landscape, but in the fledgling sustainability movement as well.

When the university began its recycling efforts in 1990, Coffey worked with students to manage the new program. Two decades later, the university diverts over 30 percent of its waste from landfills and has hired a Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager to work on the program full-time.

In addition to serving as the long-standing staff advisor for SEAC, the student environmental action group on campus, Coffey takes great pride in the Adopt an Area program on campus. Coffey worked with leaders of various Greek organizations on campus to arrange a campus adoption and clean-up program. Each spring and fall, members of these organizations turn out to beautify the campus, alongside landscaping staff.

When he’s not actively working toward a more sustainable future with the university’s students, Coffey dons different caps to perform a dizzying array of administrative and managerial tasks including administrating intra-campus moves and many aspects of special events on campus. His work may also take him to Graylyn, a university rental property, or even the President’s House.

Though Coffey cites variety as one of his favorite aspects of his job, the joy of planting remains close to his heart. Many of his most cherished accomplishments have involved national media attention for the university’s meticulously cared for grounds. In addition to high-profile exposure during the Presidential debates in 1988 and 2000, the team received the Professional Grounds Management Society and Landscape Management Magazine’s 2004 “Grand Award.”

Summarizing Coffey’s approach to working with the natural beauty that makes the Wake Forest campus so unique, he said “We see ourselves as artists — we add a little more paint to the canvas each year.”

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern