SEA Makes Green Strides

Jessica Winans

As an active member of Students for Environmental Action (SEA) and a student-coordinator of the Environmental Studies program, sophomore Gemina Garland-Lewis is always on the lookout for ways to be involved in the environmental effort on Colgate’s campus. On Friday, October 21 she found the perfect opportunity to increase her involvement in the environmental effort at the fourth annual Green Summit. Garland-Lewis was among 66 members of the Colgate community that spent Friday afternoon brainstorming ideas for ways to improve Colgate’s environmental impact.

The Green Summit is an organic think-tank that is part of the grassroots Green Strides movement. The goal of the summit was to produce action plans for environmental initiatives on campus.

“There are no predetermined outcomes,” Co-director of Outdoor Education and an organizer of the summit Molly Baker said. The participants determine the outcome of the summit.

Participants were divided into seven working groups: Air, Water, Food/Dining, Resources/Materials, Transportation, Land, and Education/Marketing. Potential Green Strides were chosen among each group and then presented to the rest of the participants. Two-dozen initiatives were selected as important and feasible, and action plans were developed for 14 of these initiatives. Once an action plan is completed, the initiative becomes a Green Stride.

The initiatives with action plans include preserving Colgate properties, making organic and locally grown food available in dining halls, purchasing bicycles for campus-wide use, reducing paper distribution on campus, launching a Green Facts campaign to raise environmental awareness and continuing the “Energy Olympics,” a competition among Broad Street houses and residence halls to reduce energy use.

Junior Beth Weick is working within the food and dining category in an effort to introduce more local and organic foods into the dining halls.

“Our goal is to have one local/organic meal per week in Frank Dining Hall beginning next semester, if not the end of this current semester,” Weick said.

Weick has been involved in the Green Strides effort for three years; she has worked on the summit host crew for two years and has attended two summits. She feels that each summit has become progressively more successful.

“Each year they are better organized and more focused, and the outcome seems to point to that,” she said. “The Green Summit puts the agency for change into the hands of individuals. It is an important aspect of environmental consciousness at Colgate, as it appeals directly to anyone concerned – prior involvement, experience and/or knowledge is not important, solely an impetus to be involved and make a change.”

First-year Erin Sinnot enjoyed the think-tank nature of the summit.

“The energy at the summit was amazing; everyone was so motivated to make a real and tangible difference in the community. Ideas were transformed into realistic plans of action and hopefully we’ll see changes on campus in the next few months,” Sinnot said.

The Green Summit provides a unique opportunity for students, faculty, staff and administrators to work together.

“It’s great to see how many members of the community, not just students, have an interest in Green Strides and the drive to make a positive change,” Garland-Lewis said.

The first Green Summit was held in 2003. The summit started as a two-day gathering and has evolved into the three-hour event that was held last week. This year there will be two Green Summits, with the hope that holding a second summit will increase motivation and accountability.

“The summit was a success in that the Green Strides community was expanded to include more students and staff as well as people from the Hamilton community,” Baker said. “It is hoped that more action plans will be implemented with the follow-up summit scheduled.”