Engaging the Community

25 01 2010

Question:

How can we engage the community of Colwood in moving towards being a carbon neutral city . . . with NO budget or current sustainability committee?

The Capital Regional District (CRD) does have a Climate Action Program, which is based around 4 major (and attainable goals), encompassing the broad initiative of “engage-reduce-repair”.  A climate action, or sustainability plan, may look good on paper; however, there will always be an area of stagnancy separating what we would like to do versus the multiple barriers preventing this action from proceeding.  In many cases these barriers involve . . . wait for it . . .  money! The economics of sustainability really raises the question: will the costs on inaction outweigh the costs of action?  What are the paybacks in the short term, and long term?  So if there is no budget for creating a sustainable community (at least not at the moment), what is our largest resource? People!

“Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information… and the opportunity to participate in decision making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available.” – United Nations Rio Declaration,
Principle 10, 1992

There can be many difficulties in the implementation of community engagement including: land and business ownership, funding, heterogeneity (makes consensus difficult), community “wants” and environmental concerns, etc.   However, all the negative pieces aside, local people are always the best source of knowledge and wisdom about their surroundings.   Smaller municipalities rarely have the skill bank needed to solve all the problems in an area, but local people can bring additional resources. Design solutions are more likely to be in tune with what is needed and wanted if a diverse range of community stakeholders come together to agree/disagree on policies.  Development of new policies and initiatives may gain momentum as people gain a better understanding of the options they are likely to start thinking positively rather than negatively; thus, time-wasting conflicts can be avoided.  Looking ahead to a sustainable future, people feel more attached to an environment they have helped create; therefore, they will have help manage and maintain it better.  Maeve Lydon from the Office of Community Research at Uvic illustrated the importance of creating relationships amongst community umbrella groups, businesses, and universities.  The idea of mobilizing assets and knowledge, and facilitating learning and policy initiatives are all key to communities moving forward to a more sustainable (and informed!) future. In my opinion, Colwood should be eyeing Royal Roads University as a major resource- offering a large sink of knowledge, innovative ideas, people resources (faculty and students), and for its leading example of ecological preservation.

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TransitionTowns and Cittaslow

17 01 2010

                The Transition Towns Model and CittaSlow Movement were introduced to the class today, in two very casual and interactive, yet compelling presentations. It seems only appropriate that the CittaSlow Movement would find its roots in small European towns, and most appropriately in Italy.  My impression of the slow movement translates to living with passion and taking the time to enjoy the natural rhythm of life, food, people, and the landscape.  Slow food may take the centre of this movement due to its strong connection to people’s culture and heritage, but also because it is a common thread—for life, for enjoyment—that connects all people. Slow Food encompasses the root of sustainable living and engagement in the CittaSlow movement.  The art of working the land, growing local foods, processing and harvesting the food, preparing and cooking the food, and enjoying the taste and texture with friends and family—is a process that takes time, planning, teamwork, and passion.  This process is the basis of community engagement, spirit, enjoyment, health, and environmental preservation.  The process of slow food is representative of the cycle of life, cradle to grave, and provides a snapshot of sustainability: a cyclic way of processing resources, minimizing waste, and recognition that hard work is necessary for this process to take place.  We rush about life, scheduling as much into our day as possible, counting our accomplishments by how much money we earn, time we spend working, people we meet, and items we check off on our to-do lists.  Convenience is valued more than hard work and process.  The CittaSlow movement has intrigued me to learn more about CittaSlow Cowichan, the requirements for a CittaSlow town, and the process of transitioning into this way of life.  This will be a very creative and challenging process for most North American towns due to a major disconnection to place and culture, opposing values, and urbanization of land.

“While many cities focus on creating bigger, faster, newer, shinier and sexier infrastructure..a CittaSlow community focuses on quality of life for its neighbourhoods, people and environment” –The Slow Cowichan website

To become an accredited Slow City, the town must pass 55 criteria inlcluding: environmental policy, infrastructure, quality of urban fabric, encouragement of local produce and products, hospitality and community and Citta Slow awareness (Slow Movement Website)

                The Transition Town model may be more easily implemented into many municipalities, towns, and cities due to its soft backdoor approach.  I understand this model to be more of a “social experiment” — an opportunity for discussion and exploration, because there is no one right answer to many of our concerns and challenges revolving around peak oil and climate change.  A key to this model may be finding creative ways to motivate engage the community—and meeting them at whatever level they are at.  A Transition Initiative is a community working together to address this BIG question: “for all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?” (Transition Towns Wiki).  I feel that the Transition Town approach may be more appropriate for the city of Colwood: creating a community awareness of climate change, create a carbon decline framework, connect with the existing community groups, connect with the municipal government, and form special interest groups/advisory teams for different interest groups.  Some community member may want to be involved in food, energy, transport, health, wellness, economics, recreation etc.  I like the idea of the Transition Town model because it does not give a prescription to a problem, instead it promotes motivated individuals to engage the entire community in to creating solutions unique to the individual community, and provides the framework on how these ideas might be generated and implemented.

Websites referenced:

http://www.slowcowichan.com/

http://www.slowfood.ca/

http://www.transitiontowns.org/





HOPE OR DESPAIR?

9 12 2009

I choose HOPE.  Why? Despair means that you have given up the fight, or haven’t even bothered to enter the ring.  If we choose despair, aren’t we as useless as our leaders promoting the exploitation of people, finances, and the earth’s resources?  There is no solution to the problem of climate change, and the challenges that we are going to face as the earth’s population increases, and time moves on.  Resources are being exploited at a rate much faster than the earth can resupply them, and this has been going on for many years.  When I think about despair, I think about war, death and destruction.  People who lived through World War II and the nuclear weapon crisis probably felt that the world was coming to an end, watching in horror as millions upon millions of people killed each other . . . and here we are sixty years later.  Social conflict is still as big of an issue as it was 3000 years ago; people continually fight over resources and land claims.  We do not want to give up what is rightfully ours; we do not want to give up our free will.

 I choose hope, because hope means mini steps.  Hope means a light at the end of the tunnel, something feasible to walk towards.  Perhaps the “Natural Step” best describes this notion.  The Natural Steps’ four main components: basic science, a resource funnel, system conditions, and implementation strategies each offer a clinical solution when it comes to the question: what do we do now? 

First, we need to take an inventory of the earth: what resources do we need to protect, what do we have in short supply or plentiful supply, and how do we use these resources in a way that ensures they are not wasted from the cycle.  Secondly, the people!  We are responsible for this mess, our consumption habits and irresponsibility in planning and design has created a bankruptcy of resources on the planet.  The value placed on goods and technologies needs to shift to a greater value placed on people and community development.  Small steps might include establishing community discussion committees, and advisory committees for everything from bicycle transportation to local farming practices, art, and music.  Perhaps small-scale trading of goods (food, household items, clothing, etc) may be a successful way to recycle items that we do not want, yet are not ready for the land fill.   I believe that when we take more responsibility for the way things are run, we feel a greater sense of pride for the place in which we live, and a greater respect for those who share the same location.

 The third and forth steps in the Natural Step go hand in hand.  OK we messed up.  How do we learn from our mistakes and design a plan for future development which is unique to our community’s resources, culture, landscape, and given economic condition?  I think it is important that we decide what needs to become a law in order to protect the security of the planet—we can’t take away free will, but isn’t exploitation of resources murder to the planet?  Social and moral obligation to the planet, implemented over time through education, a sense of connectedness to nature, and the development of new habits will most likely have a greater impact in the long run than will new legislation.  If we learn how to revert back to a lifestyle less dependent on twitter, blackberries, personal entertainment systems, etc.  I am certain that human will remember how good it feels to spend time with people.  Laughter, a feeling of safety, being loved—these are feeling that no consumer good can ever instill in us.  So small steps . . . put people together who want to work towards a positive goal.  Next step? Spread this light beyond municipal borders.  I believe that international collaboration is just as crucial in order to implement international carbon standards, and standardizing price to reflect social costs.  Implementing renewable energy technologies, reducing consumerism, improving adaptation to climate change, improving social systems . . .are also major factors on the national and international list, But for the sake of HOPE, perhaps it is more advisable that focus on the things that are part of our daily lives.

It is Day 1 of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.  I do not have hope for our leaders at this point in time; it appear to be a lot of talk in a room full of many stubborn individuals.  I don’t buy Hedegaard’s message for a minute, but this isn’t because I am in despair, it is because I have a greater hope for people and communities facilitating positive change before the head honchos ever do:

“There are moments in history where the world can choose to go down different paths. The COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen is one of those defining moments: We can choose to go down the road towards green prosperity and a more sustainable future. Or we can choose a pathway to stalemate and do nothing about climate change leaving an enormous bill for our kids and grand-kids to pay. It really isn’t that hard a choice” – Connie Hedegaard, Minister for the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen 2009

References

Copenhagen 2009: http://en.cop15.dk/blogs/climate+thinkers+blog 

 

Chris Ling (2009). PowerPoint Presentation.  What Need to Change.  Royal Roads University, Victoria, ENSC 301

 

Turner, C. (2007). The Geography of Hope. pp. 305-351. Toronto, ON: Vintage Canada.

 

Aoife O’Grady, I. (2008). Fighting Climate Change: Human solidarity in a divided world.  A young people’s summary of the United Nations Human Development Report 2007/2008. Retrieved in December 2009 from: http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/Two_Degrees_En.pdf

 





“BYCYKLEN” SUSTAINABILTY AND THE BICYCLE

8 12 2009

There are many faces of sustainability around the globe.  Each case will have its own advantages and disadvantages, and each case will be unique to it given social, economical and environmental framework.  Flipping through the National Geographic Changing Climate Special Report (2008), I notice that even the large Norwegian oil company, Statoil, is trying to put on the “environmentally responsible” face with the implementation of carbon dioxide capture and storage technology.  One has to be vigilant when judging the long-term sustainability of a project, idea, invention, action etc.

When we look at the urgent need to eliminate our carbon emissions, plus the end of cheap oil and the benefits of being healthy and fit, cycling has to be one of the most important transport initiatives we should be investing in. Energy and time efficient transit, light rail, electric vehicles, ride-sharing, walking – these are all part of the answer. But when it comes to those that are physically capable: when such a simple technology already exists with so many benefits, how foolish could we be not to make the most of it?

“Do you find it normal that in the middle of a snow storm a lady rides home with her groceries and a baby on her bike? Or watching a child alone in the fury of the city safely finding his way to his friend’s place? Danes do… Freedom to be liberated from the gloomy prospect of having to choose a form of motorized transport for lack of a better option… In Denmark, the cycling culture was revived in the 1960s and 1970s after a period of car dominion in the post-war era led to ever more American lifestyles” (Dreams on Wheel, 2008).

Perhaps it the Dane in me, here I go talking about Denmark again— in addition to nation’s success with using renewable wind energy as their main power source,  they also have a strong sense sustainability seen in their prominent bicycling culture.  Cycling, in addition to it carbon benefit, brings so many health benefits and increased social capital by connecting people with their community and other cyclists.  In Copenhagen, where 36% of the population commutes to work by bike, cycling has become such a style that they have invented a verb, “Copenhagenize”, to capture what’s happening.  In Copenhagen there are over 2000 city bikes, all government owned and maintained by 1 repair shop, in addition to 4 mobile city bike-repair shops.  A very positive social initiate is born from this service, improving quality of life for citizens who are struggling to find work, and overcome personal boundaries:

“Bycykelservice” is a department in the rehabilitation agency of Copenhagen. It trains around 30 rehabilitees. During a 6 month-training program the rehabilitee qualifies for a job on normal conditions. The program is a success. Around 80% of the rehabilitees get a job afterwards (Bicyklen, 2009).

Copenhagen has a 36% rate of bicycle-commuting, while Victoria has a 6% rate – and Victoria is the cycling capital of Canada. Copenhagen gets 71 cm a year; Victoria gets 66.5 cm.  So what would it take for Victoria – and other North American cities – to reach a 36% level of cycling, with all the multiple benefits it brings? To encourage even more citizens to use their bicycle for transportation, The City of Copenhagen systematically expands the net of bicycle lanes and routes. Hence, you can get faster around in City by bicycle than by car or bus.  Most North American cities are not structure for any type of transportation other than motor vehicles.  As infrastructure begins to fall apart due to improper maintenance and aging, now is the time to start replacing the old landscape design with a new one.  Many European cities and towns are designed in a radial formation, with many alleyways, side streets and walkways interconnecting the urban centre.  How can we convince the government that investing in well designed and planned bike lanes and walking routes is a good idea?  Here are some projected figures, money talks:

  • If Copenhageners cycled 10% more kilometers each year, their health system would save $12 million a year, and their economy would benefit from $32 million a year of production not lost to illness. Multiply this by 5 to obtain an estimated “savings” for Canada’s population  (Dauncy, 2009).
  • Denmark’s government knows that each additional kilometer of bike lane built = 170,000 more cycle-kilometers a year = 19% more bikes on that stretch of road, = a 9-10% drop in the number of cars = less accidents and injuries = $51,000 in saved health care costs and $134,000 in saved production costs. For every dollar they invest in the bike lane, they save 5 dollars (Dauncy, 2009).

A city with a strong bicycle culture usually has a well-developed infrastructure favoring bicycles, in­cluding segregated bike lanes and extensive facilities catering to a large amount of bicycles.   Several countries have estab­lished bicycle cultures, including Denmark, the Neth­erlands, Germany, China and Japan.  In Europe, bicycle culture is generally regarded as meaning citizens using their bikes for commuting, running errands and dropping off children at school or kindergarten.  How can we encourage bicycling within our communities? BC’s cycling advocates need to be far more pro-active and involved in promoting cycling as a solution to global warming. Every community should have bicycle advisors, and urban planners catering to human-mode transportation when planning new infrastructure and replacing old vehicle-centered systems.

References

European Cycling Federation: http://www.ecf.com/

Copenhagen “city bikes” web site:  http://www.bycyklen.dk/english/newsandfacts.aspx

Major pro-cycling culture traveling exhibit: http://dreamsonwheels.dk/bikes

http://dreamsonwheels.dk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/dreams-on-wheels.pdf

Cycling culture in Copenhagen, Denmark:  www.copenhagenize.com

Guy Dauncey: Local Author, Speaker and Organizer for Positive Sustainability Action:

http://www.earthfuture.com/





SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPEMENT TEAM PRESENTATIONS

8 12 2009

Today was our jam-packed Team Topic Presentations, for 301 Sustainable Development Series at Royal Roads University.  9 teams each presented two case studies: one taken from Chris Turner’s The Geography of Hope (2007), and the latter taken from examples across the globe encompassing the themes: energy, transport, urban planning, green buildings, international development, smart design, making change, economics, and sustainable communities. The case studies each were explored in their relationship to sustainable development as a whole.

The presentation topics show a good indication that sustainable development needs to encompass the three imperatives of being socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.  Sustainable development must emerge on the micro-scale as well as the macro-scale.  For example, international development may be considered on the global scale: nations collaborating to implement carbon regulations, technology trading and aid for developing nations in implementing green initiatives.  On the micro-scale, this may translate to a woman obtaining a small loan from the Grameen Bank, using this money to buy a grinder so that she can grind grain, sell the flour, and feed her family.  These micro-scale actions are the basis of sustainable development, and can create many positive-feedback loops.  This woman would most likely be a part of a larger group of women supporting each other financially, and collaborating to improve their communities and standard of life, so that their children may have the opportunity for proper health care and education.  Sustainable development success is dependent on the factor of social capital.  These small groups of people and communities develop strong social and working relationships with each other, which increases a feeling of security and well being: they increase their chance of success as they work together towards a common goal.  Success on the small scale radiates back to the international, or macro-scale. The Grameen Bank may obtain more funding for its success, and the positive recognition may seed other international initiatives. 

The presentations had a large infrastructure component, addressing the need for major change in the ways that we move about and the transportation of goods; the structures in which we live, work, and play; and how these components make up the landscape in which we live.  Sustainable development begins with smart product and building design, and an acceleration of these technologies in order to make them economically feasible.  A major damper revolving around LEED buildings is that they are incredibly expensive to build.  It appears that variability will be a key factor in sustainable infrastructure: a wide range of energy production such as wood incinerators (e.g. Dockside Green), geothermal, solar, wind, and other alternatives depending on the scale of the operation, the climate, and the resources available.  Again, variability will be a key factor when it comes to transportation: public transit may consist of light-rail, buses (hybrid, electric, and bio-diesel), cycling, and ride-sharing.  The transportation of goods is going to become a major hurdle to overcome, due to the amount of energy it takes to transport items by diesel train, ships, and cargo planes.  The “buy local” and 100 mile diet initiatives are important stepping stones in reducing the need for mass movement of goods. The restructuring of communities (urban design) will become crucial in order that cycling and public transit become the main means of travel, in addition to moving to a more radial community design, versus the grid system which makes us dependent on cars to go about our daily lives. 

The presentations illustrated positive cases of sustainability, which, unfortunately are struggling to gain momentum beneath the pile of negative initiatives; however, these cases of “success” may gave us a good indication of the right direction to take on the road to sustainable development. There will need to be a major readjustment on the political scale, and the implementation of a carbon tax, the encouragement of green technology through government subsidies, and re-prioritization when it comes to local initiatives such as small organic farms, cycling, community social groups, and the list goes on.  As discussed earlier, international collaboration provides the massive blanket under which all of these positive actions happen.  The strongest indicator of sustainability that I saw throughout the presentations was the idea of social sustainability: the importance of preserving culture, increasing interactions within communities, and increasing respect for each other and the environments in which we reside.  Ultimately, it comes down to the individuals wanting to change.  If enough people came together to propose the implementation of improved transit and bicycle routes within the community, they very well may be able to get the government to listen: at least on the municipal level, and the chain of power moves up from there.

We can develop the perfect plan for a sustainable society, provide all the resources to make it happen, and people may decide that they don’t want to take part.  Change is a hard item to market, which may be the reason that many of the cases presented today revealed situations in which people were forced to change, due to a lack of resources, therefore, producing a sustainable solution in its wake.

References

  • Team 1-8 PowerPoint presentations November 17, 2009: Royal Roads University, ENSC 301

 Turner, C. (2007). The Geography of Hope. pp. 305-351. Toronto, ON: Vintage Canada.

 Dockside Green. (2009). Retrieved from Dockside Green Community: http://docksidegreen.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

Grameen Foundation. Combining the power of microfinance and technology to defeat world poverty. Retrieved from: http://www.grameenfoundation.org/?gclid=CMjomvevxp4CFRlcagodCz3ppg





MY SOCIAL CAPITAL

6 12 2009

As I visual learner I often understand concepts better if they are depicted in pictures and visual represantations, in addition to text.  I see my social capital, as it stands in my life right now (November, 2009) as a circular relationship between many factors.  The grey oval on the right indicated that these four themes interconnect throughout the circle.

My family: A grounding in my heritage, emotional support network, helped define my morals, passing of information (history, stories, learning), trust and security, and a sense of belonging

My school: Royal Roads University.   My education: Bachelor of Environmental Science: encompassing a team-based learning cohort, faculty advisors, and university network of diverse learners.  Provides resources (knowledge, support, facilities), encourges the participation in sustainability initiatives and working together to achieve common goals.

My Community: Victoria, BC, and previously Canmore, AB. Volunteer for Parks Canada, involvement in recreational activities, and social clubs (rock climbing, yoga, Alpine Club Canada).  Security, resources and serviced provided by the local municipality and federal government.  Feeling of connection and safety in smaller community of Sidney growing up: involved in multiple sports  and clubs.  Feeling of closeness to my old neighbours, some of which I have known for 20 years.

My Friends: My support network, social connections in my community, personal enjoyment, positivity, engagement.  I have the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends and connections on a daily basis at school, at the climbing gym,  in coffee shops, at volunteer activities.

What Affects my Social Capital?

  • vested interests: a “we” community mentality
  • Shared meaning: feelings of equality, and respect for the value of every individual
  • Trust: security, understanding, equality
  • Connection: participation, linking ideas, sharing resources, sharing cultural differences
  • Access to resources: healthcare, education, security, financial support, food, water, shelter
  • A sense of belonging: feeling of importance in community, feeling connected to the land and people, joining clubs
  • A voice: participation in informed decision making, freedom to seek information and voice concerns
  • Participation in the community: actively making changes, volunteer, clubs, cooperation
  • Participation in recreation: connection to nature, health, sense of belonging to the land, team building, enjoying beauty of the landscape

References

Connect With Others, Build Trust, Get Involved: http://www.bettertogether.org/

Chris Ling: Royal Roads University, ENSC 301 Sustainable Development Series, In-class Lectures

Dauncey, G.  The Glorious Neighbourhood.  Posted March 7, 2009.  Retrieved November 2009 from: http://www.blog.earthfuture.com/search/label/community

Grootaert, C. 1998. Social Capital: The Missing Link? Social Capital. Initiative Working Paper No. 3. Washington, DC: World Bank. 34 pp.





RRU SUSTAINABILITY ON CAMPUS

6 12 2009

Millions of people study and work in universities around the world, and yet there seems to be disappointingly little done in respect of the practical implementation of sustainable principles into university life.  Universities play such an important role in society as they provide an opportunity for life-long learning, the sharing of ideas and innovative solutions, team work, research—the major foundation of society and growth.  Universities are often breeding grounds for liberal speech and activism.  Universities in Canada, such as Royal Roads University or the University of Victoria, encompass energy for change.  Thousands of individuals come together every day to enrich their education.  It should be the University’s rightful place in the forefront of innovation for sustainability, honoring both our generation’s needs and placing a commitment on the needs of future generations.

In a recent Sustainable Development class, two representatives from the university’s sustainable management presented to our class the Royal Roads University Sustainability Plan.  The plan, a 33 page document published less than a year ago, outlines the main goals and initiatives undertaken by the university.   Action plans and dates are also set for each initiative.  The goals outlined include:

  • Teaching sustainable leadership
  • Responsibility as environmental/social stewards
  • Eco-centric perspective and collaborative approach to sustainable solutions
  • Green Innovation: (linking education and research into practice and policy)
  • Carbon neutrality by 2010
  • Going “off-grid” by 2018

The key sustainability initiatives that match these goals are: GHG management, Going “Grid Positive”, Transportation Demand Management, Ecological-Sensitive Siting and Heritage Conservation, and University Stewardship.  Representatives from the Habitat café, and custodial management both illustrated their part in active stewardship on campus.  One of the largest challenges that Royal Roads faces is its constantly changing and fragmented student body.  Involvement in campus sustainability initiates are usually practiced and witnessed on the surface level: using the proper waste bins to separate compostable paper towel and food from paper, garbage and other recyclables; recognizing the importance of chemical free cleaning; riding a bike or carpooling to campus.  Royal Roads is taking the initiative to go off-Grid, and do their part to green their infrastructure and business practices.  They are harmonizing technology and expansion within the delicate ecology of the campus by incorporating a LEED platinum learning centre, and actively campaigning for the Robert Bateman Centre.  Solutions are being explored and debated, such as building a waste and energy resource centre.   The positive: there are affirmative results from current initiatives, such as diverting 10 tonnes of compostable paper towel from the landfill, discussions for ways to extend stewardship, and future goals that looks achievable; however, how can we as students, and the local community be better involved?

Students are gathering from around the world to RRU to enrich their education and achieve their goals.  I think that the major hole in the sustainability plan is an answer to how students can take a larger active role in university’s sustainability initiatives beyond the stewardship practices.  The biggest challenge: how can these roles fit the short life-span of a RRU student with a crammed schedule, and how can the University merry its initiatives with community involvement. 

“Against this backdrop, we believe that Royal roads University has a unique role to play based on its innovative history, unparalleled physical location, and strategic direction.  The university may be only one of many Canadian post-secondary institutions with programs and research focused on environmental science and stewardship, but a pledge to lead in sustainability is not a new path for RRU.  It is a re-awakening” (RRU Sustainability Plan)

  • As a student in the Bachelor of Environmental Science Program, I desire to have a greater involvement in the sustainability initiatives at RRU; however, I have struggled to find a tangible project or club I can be involved with.  I am interested in learning more about the Robert Bateman Centre, and the new (to be LEED certified)  L.I.C building.  I would like to see more publicized information outlining what defines a LEED certified building, so that myself and other students can see for themselves the importance of these features in a green building construction, design, and infrastructure.  We see the construction evolve everyday- but I feel disconnected from the initiative because I don’t have the tangible or visual information about what is going on (unless I am willing to spend the time researching it).  RRU may want to consider promoting a “Green Challenge” initiative.  Perhaps as a handbook (simple-to read, with lots of visuals, clear lists, creative format), or posters promoting tangible activities students can be involved in when they are on campus.  Maybe even categorize these activities according to time (a residency challenge, vs. a yearlong challenge), and also define these activities by the positive impact they can provide for the student, the school, the community and the environment.  Some ideas:
  • A native vegetation garden challenge, either at RRU’s garden plots, or people’s own personal gardens.  Encouragement to plant and care for a native plot and maybe have a year-end competition (pictures or visits) to determine who had the ‘greenest thumb’
  •  A carpool challenge for residences, faculty members, and year-long programs. 
  •  An elementary and secondary school educational program on the RRU grounds.  Taking school age children on walks through the wooded areas, lagoon, Colwood Creek watershed, restored fish ladders and wetland and explain the importance of the key aspects of these areas, in order to help children feel a greater connection to nature and understanding of why habitat protection is so important.
  •  A bring your own coffee mug challenge.  Perhaps a punch card can be negotiated: Every 20 cups saved from the garbage = 1 free coffee.

References

 Royal Roads University.  Sustainability Plan, 2008.  Retrieved from: http://www.royalroads.ca/NR/rdonlyres/E50DE048-206F-433A-AD1D-9EAEF6B4F4A7/0/SUSTAINABILITYPLAN4.pd

UBC’s green campus web site.  Initiatives are similar to Royal Roads University (waste reduction, ride-share, green buildings. . .) but as university capacity would dictate: much more developed than RRU.  Great comprehensive web site: http://www.sustain.ubc.ca/.  There appears to be more concrete projects and leadership roles that students can be involved in; however this can’t be directly related to RRU due to the nature of long tern student residence at UBC, whereas most students at RRU are in and out in less than a year.

Van Weenen, H.  Towards a vision of a sustainable university. (2000). Retrieved November 2009, from:  International Journal of Sustainability in Higher…, 2000http://studentenvoormorgen.nl/upload/git/Hans_Van_Weenen.PDF