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Posts Tagged ‘Kresge’

By Jairo Garcia, Kresge Implementation Fellow, Second Nature (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerMy name is Jairo Garcia and I am thrilled to be part of the Second Nature team as the ACUPCC Implementation Fellow. My primary responsibilities are to assist and support Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Under-Resourced Institutions (URIs) signatories of the ACUPCC to advance your institution’s commitment to carbon neutrality, implement sustainability practices in curricular initiatives and support your community partnerships. Also joining the Second Nature team is Axum Teferra. Axum is the ACUPCC Recruitment Fellow, and will be sharing responsibilities in providing implementation support. Our positions were made possible by The Kresge Foundation through Second Nature’s “Sustainability Leadership, Capacity Building and Diversity Initiative”.

I would like to share my journey that has led to my passion for education for sustainability. I grew up in an garciaeconomically challenged neighborhood in Bogota, Colombia, surrounded by drug dealers and violence. I vividly remember the sole tree almost a mile from my house and the Bogota River, infamously recognized for being one of the most polluted rivers in the world. These were my only two contacts with nature in the middle of Bogota’s ever-expanding urban metropolis. To escape from the glooms of my reality, I submerged myself in books and dreamed about a better world where we all could live and prosper with dignity and in harmony with nature. 

My family had little opportunity to finish high school, much less college, and perhaps this was the reason for not being supportive when I told them about my desire to study physics after being accepted at the National University in Colombia. They believed that physics was a futile profession and our economic situation was too precarious to pursue years of study. My only option at that time was to enroll in a technical institute. After obtaining a technical degree, I was able to find a full-time job and make enough money to help my family and to enroll in a big university to further my education in engineering.

My graduation thesis at the technical institute received prestigious recognitions and after completing my engineering degree, I was offered the opportunity to work for a Colombian company in New York City. To obtain USA professional credentials, I pursued in evenings a Telecommunications Certification program at La Guardia Community College. This program allowed me to find a job with a multinational organization in the heart of Manhattan. A few years later, I completed a Master’s in Network Management from Syracuse University. In 2000, I moved to Atlanta, GA for a consulting position with a Fortune 100 company. For almost a decade, I worked as an engineering consultant, managing projects in more than 25 countries.

It was through these numerous travels that I came to the realization that environmental degradation is not limited to Bogota or New York, but it is evident across the globe; polluted air, rivers, and oceans, species pushed to extinction, thousands of acres of land turned into deserts, and noticeable extreme poverty even in the wealthiest countries. The breaking point occurred while visiting a beverage plant in Lima, Peru. Their installation, protected by guards in military uniforms with machine guns, was located next to a waterless river packed with garbage. The closeness of that beverage plant to a dry river was a surreal image that brought flashbacks from my childhood and changed my mind forever. I decided to become part of the solution by dedicating my professional efforts to making contributions for the construction of a just and sustainable society.

During this time I was pursuing a doctorate in technology, but after my trip to Peru, I switched my topic to sustainability in higher education. My focus was on universities in Costa Rica because of their leading role in sustainability education in developing countries. As a byproduct of my research, I was able to create awareness at many universities in Costa Rica about the critical need to prioritize resources for sustainability in education. I was able to present the results of my research at the AASHE Annual Conference in 2010.

Although sustainability should be taught at all levels of education, the critical condition of our planet requires immediate action. Higher education institutions are in a privileged position because of their intrinsic function to form our next generation of scientists, educators, and decision makers. As such, these institutions play a fundamental role in changing our path from degradation to a sustainable future, in which all humans should be able to live and prosper in harmony with each other and with the rest of the natural world; however, this education must be carefully designed. David Orr, distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College, stated that without significant precaution, “education can equip people merely to be more effective vandals of the earth”. This education, according to Orr, must include principles of social-economic and environmental values and ethics, “a commitment for the preservation of life and an attachment to health, harmony, balance, diversity, peace, participation, and justice”.

My passion for sustainability in education lead me to the Earth Institute at Columbia University as a Research Intern Associate. One of my functions was to assist the Institute in the development of curricula in the areas of sustainability metrics and climate change adaptation. I also completed a Masters of Science degree in Sustainability Management, served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs for the Student Association, was employed as a teaching assistant for two Earth Institute graduate classes, was co-founder and special advisor for the Columbia University Coalition for Sustainable Development, collaborated in the organization of the New York+20 conference, and worked closely with Earth Charter International, for which I presented a webinar about sustainability education and the ethics of sustainability.

Last year, I was the recipient of the Columbia University Innovation Scholarship Award, which is awarded only to those who have demonstrated a commitment “to transform knowledge and understanding in service of the greater good, defined as a just, sustainable, and compassionate global society”.

It is clear to me, that this professional journey could not have been possible without the support of those small and under-resourced institutions that helped me in the moments when I needed them the most. I truly feel a moral obligation to give back to them. Thanks to the Kresge Foundation grant, the Recruitment Fellow and I will be able to fully dedicate our time in providing capacity building opportunities and implementation guidance to these institutions in their efforts to achieve carbon neutrality. We will also be able to assist these institutions with implementing programs in sustainability in order to provide their students with the tools, knowledge, and ethics necessary to construct a just and sustainable future for all.

Please feel free to contact me at any time at jgarcia@secondnature.org.

 

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By Barbara Koneval, Program Associate, Education & Training

Over 35 representatives from minority serving institutions including faculty, administration, facilities managers, students and deans gathered in Atlanta for a 2-day training presented by Second Nature and Clean Air Cool Planet, as part of the UNCF Building Green Initiative training Series, funded by the Kresge Foundation.

Photo Credit: Donnie Hunter Photography

The goal of the initiative is to build both the sustainability knowledge and capacity of minority serving college and universities and help them overcome barriers to building green and planning for carbon reductions on their campuses.

The first day of the workshop started with an introduction to greenhouse gas management. Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP) led the training on the Campus Carbon Calculator™, a tool that’s been used by students, faculty and sustainability managers on over 1,000 campuses to measure their emissions on campus.

Jennifer Andrews and Claire Roby from CA-CP reviewed the basics of what a greenhouse gas inventory is, the

Photo Credit: Donnie Hunter Photography

steps in the process, how to collect data, what to expect and how to engage stakeholders on your campus in addition to providing cases studies from two schools that have used the calculator.   Participants ended the day by crunching real numbers and working with a set of data entering the information into the excel based tool. CA-CP reviewed the Projections and Solutions module of the calculator on the second day of the workshop including how to use these modules as a strategic planning tool to prioritize and understand the impacts of potential projects.

Day 2 of the workshop transitioned from the details of GHG Management to a review of the overall process of climate action planning.   Matt Williams from Auburn University and Bowen Close from Pomona College were the peer trainers for this portion of the workshop.  Matt and Bowen focused on the climate action planning process and case studies from their respective schools, the similarities and differences between Auburn as a large public institution and Pomona a smaller private college, and the common lessons learned from their experiences.

Photo Credit: Donnie Hunter Photography

The goals for the day were to have participants understand the key elements of a climate action plan and learn best practices from their peers on other campuses.  In addition, participants worked in teams to create a strategy and to-do list to take back to their campus.   Participants broke out into groups and discussed challenges, supports that are currently in place at their institution, objectives and next steps.

Participants walked away with new ideas and a clearer understanding of both GHG management and climate action planning. The workshop was an opportunity to learn new information, but to also connect with their peers, share ideas and build a network to provide each other with support as they begin this process.

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“Let us put our minds together and see what life we will make for our children”

– Sitting Bull

The second of three Green Building Learning Institutes is being held in Minneapolis, MN with strong representation from tribal colleges in the region.

The highlight of the opening reception last night was an incredible dance performance from Larry Yazzie of Native Pride Dancers and his eleven-year-old son and three-year-old daughter.  Learning about their work of preserving these cultural traditions and passing them on to the next generation was a powerful reminder of the importance preserving a suitable habitat for humans on this planet and a global society that fosters, not destroys, a diversity of human cultures.

We also heard from Dr. Karl Reid who head Academic Programs and Strategic Initiatives for UNCF and Minneapolis City Councillor, Robert Lilligren, who talked about a host of exciting sustainability initiatives, including installing the largest green roof in the state and being recognized as the country’s number one biking city last year.

So far the event promises to be an excellent venue for networking and accelerating the great work that is being done in tribal communities and communities of color – and particularly the institutions of higher education that serve those communities – to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society.

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by Georges Dyer, Second Nature

Georges Dyer

On Thursday, April 7th, 2010, an historic event took place in Atlanta, GA – Spelman College, on their Founders Day, unveiled the first LEED certified building for new construction on an historically black college, achieving a LEED Silver rating.

Dr. Beverly Tatum (President), Art Fraiser (Director of Facilities Management), and David Freidman (US Green Building Council representative) spoke about the efficient features of the building, such as non-toxic and repurposed materials, efficient HVAC systems, a white roof (to reduce heat gain), and efficient lighting.

The Spelman ceremony (and student-guided tours of the building) also served as the kick-off for first of three Building Green Learning Institutes in 2010 developed by the UNCF Institute for Capacity Building and made possible by the Kresge Foundation.

This program demonstrated what a ground-swell of activity there is around sustainability on HBCU campuses. Despite disproportion barriers, they are ahead of the curve in many ways, and poised to lead the way forward towards a sustainable society.  It also set the stage for the next two Building Green Learning Institutes in Minneapolis, MN from May 6-8, 2010 and in San Antonio, TX from June 10-12, 2010.  The Minneapolis event will focus on tribal colleges, many of which are also out in front in terms of sustainability.  More details are available at www.campusgreenbuilder.org/BldgGreenMSIs

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