The Cottonwood Institute put together an incredible Environmental Leadership Summit for Johnson & Wales University Community Leadership Institute students on February 4th, 2011 at the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado in downtown Denver. Facilitated by Ford Church and Paige Doughty and students from New Vista High School’s environmental club called the Earth Task Force, the day was packed with open, engaging, and fun activities that raised awareness about environmental leadership.
To get everyone energized, the group participated in a hilarious hokey pokey game name game. Following this, the group went on a tour of the Alliance Center’s LEED certified building to learn about the amazing eco-friendly construction of the building. After the tour, everyone watched the powerful “Story of Stuff” video, which discusses the life cycle of material goods in the United States.
Small group discussion about environmentally-themed readings followed. After a short break, the Johnson & Wales students heard the inspiring environmental leadership stories of members from the wonderful Earth Task Force, and co-leaders Ford and Paige.
Then it was time for the unbelievably creative, fun, and solution-oriented presentation by the Alliance for Climate Education (A.C.E.). The presenter, Bridget Jankovsky, did an awesome job of narrating this inspiring presentation about climate change and small things we can all do to address it.
To ease everyone’s grumbling stomachs, we went to lunch at the SAME Café (So All May Eat), which allows people to pay whatever they can for their food. We heard the inspiring story about how Libby and Brad Birkys, started the café and how they operate it as environmentally sustainable as possible. Their story truly had a profound impact on everyone.
The final guest speaker of the day was Ryan Ferrero, Founder and Chief Carhugger from the Green Garage. His humor, sensible ideas about greening vehicles and motivating statistics about what we can do to change right now were the perfect end to the day.
During the final reflection of the day, Johnson & Wales students commented over and over again about the positive impact the day’s events had on them. This remarkable event showcased how a summit that covers topics, which can be depressing and overwhelming, can instead be a powerful, enjoyable experience for all.
A special thanks goes out to Rena Dulberg from Johnson & Wales University, Janna Six from the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, Bridget Jankovsky from the Alliance for Climate Education, Libby and Brad Birkys from the Same Café, Ryan Ferrero from the Green Garage, and students from the Earth Task Force who made this day possible.
This article was written by Aaron Fox, student journalist, and edited by Ford Church.