Johnson and Wales University (JWU) worked with the Cottonwood Institute for the third year in a row to offer another great Environmental Leadership Summit. Eyes were opened, ideas were hatched and questions raised as the day got underway with excellent speakers and hands on activities. By the end of the day, 21 students had participated in the summit and everyone had something to take-away and apply to their own lives and career paths.
The day started and ended at Fluid Coffee Bar. Owner Jeff Aitkens presented their environmentally conscious model for running a business and introduced the group to the “triple bottom line” of sustainable business practices. Ford Church shared the story of the Cottonwood Institute, the Action Project Steps, and the Cycle of Hope and Cynicism. Adam Brock, Director of Operations at the Grow Haus in Denver spoke about urban farming, education, local food sources and the many native alternatives to common cuisine here in Colorado. After a rousing game of Ninja and some time for reflecting, the group headed to Pizza Fusion to partake of another locally owned and socially and environmentally conscious business. One of the highlights of the day was the Sustainability Scavenger hunt which sent participants through the Uptown neighborhood of Denver finding sustainable businesses, bike racks, and bus stops, picking up trash, and answering questions about local shopping opportunities. Back at Fluid the group engaged with Jessie Fischer from Alliance for Climate Education (A.C.E.) and her fantastic presentation on climate change and it’s causes and possible solutions.
The group ended the day thinking about steps they can take to make a difference in their communities and lives. Each student shared a goal they could work on over their next semester at JWU to support a more locally fueled sustainable future for us all. From environmental action clubs, to burgeoning business plans and simple actions to take on an individual level, everyone had something truly unique and beneficial to add to the work we are all doing in creating community-led sustainability initiatives. After the summit, one student had this to say: “Innovative ways to be sustainable are constantly popping up, but we rarely notice them; being educated is only the first step and these community leaders have made it so easy that everyone can take part. It is truly an honor to take part and experience the rush of knowlege again.”
Many thanks to all of our speakers and partners for a fantastic day!
On February 27th, 2012, attendees of the Green Schools National Conference came to visit New Vista High School (NVHS) and the Earth Task Force (ETF) got a chance to show off in a good way. About 50 people from all over the nation participated in the tour. The ETF visit was part of a larger tour of Boulder Valley School District’s sustainability efforts, but the organizers of the tour specifically asked to visit the Earth Task Force!
The work ETF has done at NVHS is significant because the story of their building is the story of many schools across the country. The NVHS school building is old, inefficient, and an energy hog! There’s little money, lots of issues, an old boiler, but lots of enthusiasm. The tour of NVHS, designed and run by students in the ETF, highlighted changes schools can make without large-scale capital improvement. The tour consisted of 5 stations that highlighted the ETF’s fundraising and grassroots efforts: solar panels, low-flow toilets, the school
garden, vending machine misers, and the student-run compost.
At each station, ETF members talked about the projects and then took questions
from attendees. At the solar panel display, people on the tour furiously scribbled
down the names of various energy contests. At the garden station, tour members
read the colorful signs from about the space, by the compost they oohed and aahed! In between stations, ETF members leading the tours pointed out stickers on light switches around the school that say “Turn Me Off. How would you feel if someone turned you on and left?” As one attendee put it, “that might not go over so well at an elementary school.”
The Earth Task Force received lots of positive feedback about the tour attendees
at the larger conference in Denver called it “The highlight of the week.”
Written by Seth Blum, student reporter, edited by Paige Doughty.
The Earth Task Force (ETF) is a Cottonwood Institute-supported program at New Vista High School in Boulder, CO designed to give students an opportunity to take the lead to implement sustainability initiatives at their school.