Green Summit Inspires Students and Faculty to Take Action

Brandy Bones

At the third annual Green Summit held this past Friday, a poster hung that read, “Knowing but not doing means not knowing.” No statement better captures the spirit of the event. Over 80 students, faculty, staff and administrators came together in the Parker Commons to chart the future course of Green Strides, a University-wide effort to decrease Colgate’s environmental impact. By the conclusion of the three-hour summit, a Green Print, composed of 10 initiatives, was complete. Working groups are now charged with keeping the momentum going with the goal of completing all 10 initiatives by Earth Day on April 22.Seniors Bob Filbin, Ellen Frank, Doug Park and Avery Woods, junior Jessie McGowen-Vanderbeck, sophomores Sarah Caban, Becky Greaves and Heidi Johnson and Co-Director of the Outdoor Education Program Molly Baker served as the host crew for the summit. Baker has been the driving force behind Green Strides since its inception three years ago. This year, the focus shifted from constructing a broad vision – which after the first summit resulted in 33 separate goals – to creating a smaller set of feasible initiatives that can be completed by the Earth Day deadline. The Green Summit successfully brought together environmentally-minded individuals to discuss the issues facing the Colgate community. Administrative Assistant in the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics Cindy Sherwood thought, “The Green Summit was a great way to get me thinking about the environment around me and what I could do to keep it green.” Those who attended found the summit to be productive and worthwhile. Everyone seemed excited to move ahead. “I’m confident that with strong student participation the initiatives taken at Green Summit ’05 will be extremely successful,” junior Sarah MacFarlane said. Initiatives include a composting program for all Broad Street houses, introducing biodegradable “greenware” on campus, a campus-wide survey of cruiser use, installing more bike racks on campus and a project to replace all incandescent light bulbs on campus with florescent bulbs. Attendees were divided into working groups centered around different topics including air, energy, education and marketing, water, transportation, food and dining, resources, facilities and land. Each working group was charged with formulating initiatives, creating action plans and future meetings and designating a group leader to ensure that progress is made over the next three months. The Green Summit embodies students becoming “leaders in the world and in their lives,” President Rebecca Chopp noted in her opening remarks at the summit. Park provides an excellent example of how the summit brought together individuals who are environmental leaders in their own lives and committed to making Colgate an environmental leader in its own right. He has been using the same florescent light bulb since 1997 traveling back and forth with it between Colgate and his other home. Now, along with staff and students, he is working on Project Green Light, an initiative to change all University incandescent light bulbs to the more energy efficient florescent light bulbs. Green Strides and its accompanying Green Print elaborate a written pledge to make Colgate University a greener, more environmentally friendly place to liveWhat matters most about the pledge are the students, staff, faculty and administrators who have committed themselves to take active, concrete steps towards improving Colgate’s environmental future. By Earth Day 2005, Baker hopes that these 10 new initiatives will be added to the list of the previously completed projects, which include such successes as fair trade coffee on campus, a Green Fund for Alumni donations and the purchase of wind energy to offset Colgate’s energy use. Many who attended the Summit found it to be a great way of uniting the Colgate Community and utilizing all of its human resources to achieve a common vision. Assistant Professor of Biology Frank Frey thought it was an “excellent example of what can be achieved when students, staff and faculty work together.” Colgate Staff Member Samanthi Martinez echoed his sentiments. “It was great to include staff members because they can help get things done,” he said.Baker intends to form an Environmental Council that will unite the Campus Ecology Club and Green Strides to oversee and provide a forum for formulating an approach to the environmental issues facing Colgate. As Woods stated, “I only hope that the atmosphere the Green Summit foments will continue into the future and Colgate as a unit will begin to change people’s practices into greener practices, not only because they are told to but because they believe that it will make the community a better place.” The third annual Green Summit took one more step forward in creating a community of environmental citizens. With sustained effort and energy by those who share the Green Strides vision, the Colgate community will be a better place for it.