It all comes down to achieving balance.
That multi-faceted principle guided SUNY Fredonia’s Sustainability Committee in crafting a series of speakers, each set to convey a vital message throughout the spring semester, and arranging the event-filled Earth Week in April. It seemed only natural, then, that “Finding Balance” should be the theme of Fredonia’s fourth annual Earth Week.
“The earth works in cycles, and within life you have to find balance. If you take out more than you put back in, that’s not sustainable,” said Chemistry Professor Sherri Mason, the coordinator of Earth Week. The earth, she said, works by finding these balance points.
“Environmental issues are often put in opposition to economic issues; that is, doing something environmentally friendly can’t be good for business,” Mason explained.
“However, we’re reaching a new point in our socio-economic system where, because of the costs of energy, that way of thinking has changed,” Mason said. Now, companies that are green follow environmentally sensitive practices not just to be earth-friendly, but because it saves them money. An economy, she contends, can be prosperous and environmentally friendly.
- The series begins before classes resume. Jaimie Cloud, a pioneer in the field of education for sustainability, will lead campus and community leaders in a two-day General Education review in mid-January. The founder and president of the Cloud Institute, she provides professional development programs that incorporate a sustainable perspective into learning and teaching across multiple disciplines.
- Also in January, SUNY Fredonia will submit its first Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System report. The STARS program is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges to gauge their own progress toward sustainability. Bronze, silver or gold ratings are assigned based on performance.
- Insight into one of the more emotionally charged impacts of climate change will be offered Feb. 9 by Tiffany Vanderwerf, the Buffalo Zoo’s curator of education. A witness to devastating effects that climate change has on polar bear habitats in northern Canada, Vanderwerf will explain how human activity has damaged fragile ecosystems and also suggest changes each of us can make that can help alleviate the problem.
- Annie Leonard, creator of the revealing “Story of Stuff” series of documentaries (www.storyofstuff.com) that scrutinizes cosmetics, electronics, bottled water, and cap and trade legislation, will speak March 8 on how consumer culture negatively affects the environment.
- Dr. Debra Rowe, a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, will speak March 29 in large and small settings to outline the role higher education can have to advance sustainability.
- Dr. Elizabeth Dodd, a poet of national prominence, delivers the final program April 21. A professor of English and director of Creative Writing at Kansas State University, her published commentaries address ecological issues.
- Lastly, Earth Week returns once again, beginning April 15. This year includes an electronics recycling day, a green expo boasting 50 local or green vendors, a duathalon (a biking and running race throughout the Dunkirk/Fredonia community), an eco-fair featuring vendors which have green initiatives, a presentation on environmental writing, and the second annual “Shake the Habit” plastic bag-free retail initiative which last year drew roughly 60 area business participants.
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