Konosioni Hosts Environmental Bash

Holly Rothbard

On Tuesday night the Konosioni Senior Honor Society held an Environmental Action Forum, as a way to bring the Colgate and Hamilton communities together.

“At the beginning of the semester we realized we wanted to create a forum that would bring diverse people around a common cause, and the environment was the obvious cause to choose,” Konosioni member senior Mike Wenger said.

The forum was meant to be interactive and encourage the sharing of ideas. To expand the collaboration, Konosioni invited delegates from Madison country, Hamilton College and Colgate to speak about their environmental action initiatives.

Director of Southern Madison Heritage Trust Harvey Killman was the representative invited from the Hamilton area. The Southern Madison Heritage Trust is a non-profit organization that works to protect and conserve lands throughout six towns in Madison County. They also do biannual roadside cleanups along a two-mile stretch of Route 12B. Killman explained the limitations and difficulties involved in protecting lands in the central New York area, and how the community is involved in doing so. For example, the 5th grade ecology classes from Hamilton Central School come out to the Trust’s reserves several times a year for learning-based field trips.

The next speaker was Catie Ferrara, co-president of the Hamilton Environmental Action Group (HEAG) at Hamilton College. Ferrara spoke about the environmental groups on the Hamilton campus and their continuing work to expand and collaborate with the faculty from the school and surrounding community. She explained how HEAG is vigorously working towards getting outside people interested in the environmental action clubs and making sure they understand the clubs goals. A current event that Hamilton College is putting on is a Dorm Energy Battle in which seven of the dorms on campus are having their per-resident energy use measured and compared for two weeks.

“Students are really getting into the event and we are so happy with the turnout,” Ferrara said. In addition to the Dorm Battle, the environmental groups are also working for the establishment of a composting system at Hamilton.

“Students want to compost; the challenge is in acquiring the money to support a system and prioritization for the school. Hamilton College is working to decrease its carbon footprint and since composting only makes up three percent of that footprint, some people don’t think it’s worth the time and effort to expand upon this project,” Ferrara said.

Regardless of the current composting obstacle, Ferrara’s presentation conveyed the large strides Hamilton College has taken to implement a strong environmental awareness on campus and in the and surrounding town.

The last speaker at the Forum was liason to Student Government junior Shae Frydenlund. Frydenlund enumerated all of the environmental action groups and coalitions that exist on campus and the work they’ve done, noting the inspiration they have taken from Hamilton College’s environmental work. Colgate looked to Hamilton for an example of a Community Garden. Hamilton created a Community Farm Garden on previously unused lawn space that is available to and frequently used by students, staff, and the community. It is even incorporated into the school’s curriculum; a class called Food for Thought is offered both semesters that uses the garden to experiment with and learn about different farming techniques.

Frydenlund explained how the environmental groups at Colgate really want to increase their collaboration with the town community and believe that a Community Garden would be a great way to do so.

An idea that has grown out of the Community Garden plan has been to create an entirely student run organic farm on campus, but that has been halted by problems in location and monetary resources. Despite this, Frydendlund was confident and enthusiastic about the steps Colgate has taken to increase its environmental sustainability as a campus.

The current student government has made huge leaps towards creating a “Carbon Neutral Colgate” and President of the University and Professor of Philosophy and Religion Rebecca Chopp recently signed the President’s Climate Agreement saying the school would work to reduce its carbon footprint in a set amount of years. The Environmental Action Forum helped to inspire and raise awareness about the commitment and contribution that Colgate, Hamilton and Madison County have given to preserving their communities and their world.