Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lewis and Clark is a place where people have great ideas, tragically it is also a place where great ideas suffer the neglect of their creators who either eventually graduate or have an even better idea. Bicycling at Lewis and Clark is a great idea, and many people have attempted to do things that make it easier for everyone to enjoy this means of transportation. The bike room is a great idea, as was the bike library, but they have all suffered from the difficulties of any other idea at LC. 

Earlier this year the LC Sustainability Council voted to create a bike coordinator position. The goal was to hire someone to organize all these ideas to promote a bicycling culture at LC. After a difficult search the Sustainability Council picked a freshman named Daniel Boyes for the job. For Daniel the decision to promote bicycling is an easy one, he said that, “because of the need for alternate means of transportation, cycling will inevitably become a much more prolific activity in the future. Because of this need for cycling, as well as the health benefits associated with it, I think that it is our responsibility to invest a lot of time and effort into forming a friendly environment at Lewis and Clark where students will be encouraged to cycle, and will experience the benefits immediately.”

Some of Daniel's immediate goals are to create consistent hours for the bike room. When the school rebuilt Howard they included a room for a bike room. Currently this room is just used to store old bike parts. Daniel wants to turn this space into a working bike room. From February 21st to the 22nd the bike room will be open for people to get their bikes tuned up and ready for the spring as part of the Eco-Olympics. There will also be an all campus bike ride on February 23rd. Having a bike coordinator at Lewis and Clark will help turn the great ideas on campus surrounding bicycling into more than just ideas. The question is whether people will get on their bikes and join Daniel.   

Friday, January 30, 2009

everyone is having energy competitions

New York Times endorses the eco-olympics here

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Refusing To Let The Journey End

It is rare that the mention of a single name can fill a person with so much excitement and hope for the future. Barack Obama is our leader and for the first time since I can remember I am proud to be an American. During his inauguration speech, which was shown to a packed Council Chambers last week, Obama asked us to take responsibility for our future. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter.Obama asked us to make a moral obligation to protect the future.

After his speech and inauguration the mode of Council Chambers was different. People felt changed. Everyone who watched that speech at some point questioned what the words they were hearing meant. After the poet began speaking, and on que everyone started leaving, what had really changed? I doubt anyone left Council Chambers and immediately decided to volunteer at a food bank. I certainly did not. We still all took actions which diminish the chances of our future generations to succeed. We drove our cars, ate bananas grown in distant countries by people who have no future, and made a lot of waste. Hearing about the need for change is easy, actually doing it is much harder.

While Obama's speech instilled the desire take take responsibility it did very little to show how we can do this. Obama started us on a journey, the rest is now up to us. We must learn about how our decisions effect the future and change to protect this future. We know that driving cars is warming the globe. We know that the coal used to power our light bulbs and computers (50% of all electricity in Oregon is from coal plants) is having the same effect. We know that our consumption is wasteful and unsustainable. That seeking profits for the sake of profits creates a careless society which only values the individual. We can no longer place the blame on government or something larger than ourselves for our future. Barack Obama makes it clear that the future is ours. We must all change if we are going to protect this future.

On February 5th we will all have an opportunity to participate in this change. Lewis and Clark will be holding it's first ever Eco-Olympics. The Eco-Olympics are a competition among dorms to find ways to reduce electricity and get people to attend events throughout the month that empower us to make these changes. There will be sewing and bike workshops, and chances to volunteer in the community. Our problems can no longer be blamed on other people, their decisions, or their idleness. Barack Obama shows us that we have the power to make change ourselves, all it requires is action. We now all share responsibility for our future. 

Sustainable Capitalism

here is an interesting article about Wal-Mart becoming "sustainable". At the end the CEO of Wal-Mart says, "There is no conflict between delivering value to shareholders, and helping solve bigger societal problems.” What do people think? Do you buy it?

Friday, January 23, 2009

A letter about responsibility

This is a letter I wrote to the head of facilities, groundskeeping, and IT.

As a school and a society we are pushing ourselves further and further into debt. Each year Lewis and Clark is asking it's community to find more ways to save money. As we all know some of the ways the school is looking at doing this is by limiting bus service, reducing sabbaticals, and reduce energy use by 10%. Tuition has also been raised every year since I've been going here.

However, by shifting the focus of our financial problems on shuttle service and reducing energy no one is taking responsibility for our financial troubles. These troubles are everyone's and we all need to talk about what we can do to solve them. They will not be solved by the executive council holding lots of meetings among its inner circle. They can only be solved when everyone on campus starts talking about them. The students, the cleaning service, the groundskeepers, the facility, and the administrators. A perfect example of this is the President's letter in which he told the school the Sustainability Council was going to find ways to reduce energy by 10% yet he never asked the Sustainability Council to do this.

There is a lot of waste at this college. Today I returned to campus and found that all the computers in the library and templeton are still on. There are only two people on computers right now in the library yet around 70 computers are being left on 24 hours a day to serve those two or so students every hour. As a student it is easy for me to blame the administrators for this waste, they are the ones who are supposed to be "administrating" the campus and should take responsibility. However the administrators blame the students, since the students are the ones who use the computers. They blame it on a communication problem. Students would simply just turn the computers back and so it would be too difficult to monitor. In the end we are both working against each other and blaming the other for our problems. All the while the computers have been left on and nothing is getting done.

One of my favorite symbols of waste are the leaf blowers. Today I saw two leaf blowers blowing a sidewalk that has only a few leaves. In my head I was trying to calculate how much the school was paying these two people to clear a pathway that was already perfectly clear. Again I am troubled as to how to solve this problem. Why don't the leaf blowers take responsibility and only blow leaves when there are leaves and work on other projects in between? My guess is that they are told to just go out and blow leaves. They get paid either way, but in the end we all lose out. Since we spend money on powering computers that aren't in use or paying people to blow leaves that don't exist we aren't able to afford to run a shuttle service that a lot of people at this school rely on, we aren't able to hire as good teachers because they can't get good sabbaticals, and admissions drop, all because no one wanted to take responsibility. The administration is not to blame and neither are the students, we as a entire community all share responsibility. Our problems will only be solved when we all get together and take responsibility through action. Turning off computers and not paying leaf blowers when there are no leaves are not going to bring the college out of financial trouble but it is a start.