Green Summit Proposes Campus Initiatives

About 65 people gathered on the evening of Monday, No-vember 12 for Colgate’s annual Green Summit. Free dinner in hand, students clustered around tables in the atrium of the Robert H.N. Ho science building to put their heads together over campus environmental initiatives.

As participants entered the atrium, they were greeted by vol-unteers at an initial table dedi-cated to descriptions of this year’s initiatives. They were invited to select a topic of interest and sit at the corresponding conference table, where a group leader was waiting to guide the discussion. Then each table worked for close to two hours to formulate a spe-cific action plan for their initia-tive. Though many people came and went, individual conversa-tions seemed to remain on track. This haphazard think tank proved fruitful: the final ideas, presented conference-style to the summit as a whole, were creative and unique.

Green Living Intern and this year’s Green Summit coordinator senior Jenna Taylor, was thrilled with how it came together.

“I was nervous about the numbers, because we didn’t get a campus distributions email this year since they are getting more strict about it,” Taylor said. “But we got on the calendar and used our campus connections to spread the word. We also reached out to specific depart-ments and administrative assis-tants … It’s great to have a mix of students, faculty and commu-nity members working together on these issues.”

Despite her initial nerves, Tay-lor’s opening speech was a testament to the strong student-led tradition of Colgate’s Green Summit.

“This is the twelfth year that we have held the summit at Col-gate, truly emphasizing our deep commitment to making the campus more and more sustain-able,” Taylor said. “Each year the Green Summit is an event where simple ideas transform into campus-wide efforts. For instance, the Colgate Compost initiative was officially born at the summit. It is now a full-fledged club that has achieved remarkable goals, such as getting Frank and the Coop to compost all post-consumer waste.”

Taylor was grateful to have ju-nior Sarah Baranes on board this year to help her make the event a success. Baranes, like Taylor, is deeply invested in sustainabil-ity initiatives at Colgate, and recognizes the importance of communicating across the differ-ent environmen-tal groups on campus as well as reaching out to the broader campus.

“There are a lot of green groups on cam-pus, but cur-rently there’s not a great way for us all to communicate with one another,” Baranes said. “We have a unique advantage over other clubs though in that we all share the same goal, we all want to make Colgate a ‘greener’ place. This event provides a great op-portunity to come together and educate one another. It also pro-vides a great opportunity for stu-dents who are not in any particu-lar group to see what their peers are doing and get involved.”

Though Taylor has volunteered to run the summit for multiple years now, she will need to pass the torch when she graduates. Baranes expects to take on the brunt of the responsibility but hopes she will find other invested volunteers as she anticipates the summit’s crucial thirteenth anniversary.

“Each year focuses on differ-ent initiatives; we try to vary it a little,” Taylor said. “Last year, our main goal was to increase account-ability with the groups, so we had an awards ceremony recognizing successful initiatives that were born out of the Green Summit. This year our focus was on existing green groups, most of which were either looking to garner new mem-bers or develop new ideas.”

The groups involved this year were Green Earth Gang, Compost-ing Club, Green Thumbs, Shapna Coffee, Recy-cleMania, Green Bikes, Good Food Forum and Students for En-vironmental Ac-tion. As the event drew to a close, the individuals at the table asso-ciated with each group were asked to give a creative presentation on their initiative; these varied from a Dr. Seuss reading, to a cheer, to an interpretive version of the well known children’s song “Wheels on the Bus.” The presentations, and the event overall, kept the evening light and interesting, though the initiatives were able to garner some serious support.

“The Green Summit last night demonstrated creative ways to get involved with Col-gate’s sustainability program,” senior Kate Jeffers said. “It was great to see so many students taking the green initiative!”

Jeffers was able to learn about a new project over the course of the evening, even while contributing to the event’s success.

“It was really impressive to see how dedicated and passionate Col-gate students-and faculty-are about Colgate’s sustainability ef-forts,” participating senior Dave Esber said. “The Green Summit, and the action plans that resulted, made it clear to me that our com-mitment to a carbon-neutral cam-pus and passion for developing a more environmentally-conscious campus is not some top-down ef-fort. There is a large community behind this and that’s exciting to be a part of and to see in practice.”

The Green Summit embodied Taylor’s vision for sustainability at Colgate, one based on individual accountability and responsibility.

“It’s fun,” Taylor said of the Summit. “It’s cool to see how many people actually care and want to do their part. As stress-ful as it is to plan it, it’s always worth it. Each person can truly help make a difference. When you see 65 people from all dif-ferent areas of campus come here to voice their opinion, it’s a good sign for the outlook of Colgate’s sustainability.”

Contact Rebekah Ward at [email protected].