Passion is contagious, and it seems everywhere on campus and in the community there’s excitement over sustainability activities. Several very interesting programs are in the works and the dynamism of the folks involved is wonderful to experience.
Let me introduce you to two SUNY Oswego students—Grace M. and James C. Grace and Jim serve on a student led organization called Students for Global Change. They’re helping to organize the Campus Composting Initiative (CCI) -- a working subcommittee of this umbrella organization. The CCI is working with campus administration, staff and faculty to develop a pilot program to begin composting on campus. Previously, SUNY Oswego students have completed theses on best practices in college composting; through an integrated campus workgroup, students are now taking leadership to identify pilot strategies to decrease compostable contributions to area landfills, and to recapture that material for either on-site composting, or sale to a third party for processing. There’s even discussion of a bio-digester—probably beyond the scope of our campus’ capabilities right now--but exciting stuff, just the same.
The second iteration of the College sponsored Citizens Academy on Sustainability is in high gear, meeting weekly on Wednesdays at the Oswego YMCA Armory building. Led by June M., a City of Oswego Tree Steward and community activist, and mentored by me through my role as Assistant Director of the Office of Business and Community Relations, the Citizens Academy has developed into a focal point for community sustainability activity.
At the most recent meeting on food and sustainability, there was ardent discussion of a local vision for a community garden project that would include development of the growing space itself, educational outreach to area elementary schools, a pilot school lunch program utilizing the harvest, a community based agricultural initiative to return produce to needy members of the community, even a proposed Salsa manufacturing enterprise that would integrate teens as the primary entrepreneurs (based on a similar program a group member had seen in Buffalo). A site exists already on college property at Fallbrook, but there has been additional discussion of sites in the City at each of the four corners so all residents could have easy access to a suitable plot to grow their own produce.
June M., mentioned above, has been so energized by the passion of these group members that she’s hoping to implement a third Citizens Academy with support from the college in neighboring Fair Haven in late spring. Our office has pledged support for this program.
Finally, on March 11, the Office of Business and Community Relations will host the next public issues forum on sustainability focused on Environmental Stewardship. Ten local and regional environmental organizations will speak with attendees about current activities and sustainability concerns. Participants will take part in a roundtable program where they’ll have the opportunity to speak with representatives from all ten organzitions. For more info on organizations presenting, and how to register, see the Office of Business and Community Relations website at http://www.oswego.edu/about/centers/cbcd/events.html.
-Thad Mantaro, SUNY Oswego