Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lunch & Learn: Student Led Sustainable Initiatives

Representatives from UPPSA, OS, the Students Centers Board, Green Youth Revolution presented their progress in implementing sustainability initiatives on the UIC Campus today at the third Lunch & Learn hosted by the Office of Sustainability.

Lauren Smith from the Urban Planning Program and Office of Sustainability spoke to the group today about "Parking Day," hosted at UIC for the first time this year on September 17, 2010 on the last day of Sustainability Week. Parking Day is a global event started in San Francisco by a design firm wanting more open, healthy spaces in cities. When looking throughout cities, "public spaces" consist mainly of parking lots, streets, sidewalks, and parking spaces. The design firm fed a meter all day, laid out sod, and created a small park in San Fransisco. Now the movement has spread all over the United States!

At UIC, the colleges of Urban Planning and Public Health, and the Office of Sustainability reserved two spaces in parking lots on the West and East sides of campus. They donated sod, plants, and lawn chairs, turning asphalt into an oasis for the community to enjoy and engage in conversation about the benefits of healthy public space.

The Student Centers Sustainability Committee Chair was next to speak to the group. Created only this January, the sustainability committee acts as a go-to committee and makes suggestions to UIC Directors about ideas to implement for the Student Centers on the East and West sides of UIC's campus.

The sustainability committee has assisted with green initiatives at Friday Night Live at the Student Centers, the Great Stuff Exchange during Sustainability Week, and Earth Month 2010. They look for ways to further educate and create awareness on sustainability in the events and operations of the centers-like the upcoming push on composting in the dining halls.

General Meetings for the Student Centers Board are on the last Wednesday of every month, alternating between East and West Campus. Anyone is welcome to sit in on a meeting and share their ideas and questions. The next meeting is scheduled for December 1, 2010 from 4:30pm-6:30pm in SCE 613. Dinner is provided too!

Jose Valencia from Green Youth Revolution explained the progression and benefits of the hopefully soon in effect green fee. The estimated 20,120 students enrolled at UIC would be charged $3 per semester to total $75,000 used strictly for sustainability operations. This money would give UIC an easier opportunity to acquire more solar panels, increase the recycling program, more bike racks and routes, green roofs, additional space for the Urban Garden, and native landscaping.

Each of these representatives are from a group where students have a big voice and each group is completely open to an outsider's view and questions. UIC has created a great platform for sustainability to blossom and as we can see it is beginning to do just that! As the leadership is transitioning in the Green Youth Revolution and will be transitioning in the other groups in the future, it provides a opportunity for students to really become involved, spread the word, and learn how to create a better, healthier, and more enjoyable environment that everyone will soon realize.

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