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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Cultivation of Community

Dani Allen, Mckenzie Skyberg, and Brooke Boeger wanted to do their creative final project on bringing back ideas of community. Since they were all in the Ecovillage, they all valued having a sense of togetherness and agreed that harnessing that power is the only way to create the transformative future they want to see. The images used a seed, a germinated plant, and a fruit tree as a metaphor speaking to the cultivation of community, which is also what it's titled. The growing seed, plant, and tree are all made from words and phrases that they believed to be meaningful to community; like, "we turn to eachother, not on eachother," "celebrate unity," and "togetherness". The increase in hands as the pieces progress is meant to illuminate how as community grows so does the power it holds. With that they wanted to make the point that this is a true collaboration, each one of them worked on each part of each board. The pieces would not be anything like they are without the each of their contributions. They worked together to accomplish something greater and that's important in the individually driven society we live in today. Dani said, "collectively we created something better than what any of us could have individually made."

UCSC’s Cold Water Wash Campaign Pilot

By: Kristiahn Alvarado

To reach the PowerSave Campus goal of 600 therms of natural gas saved, UCSC PowerSave thought of a fun and creative project to save the necessary amount of natural gas! We came up with a Cold Water Wash competition in which residents of College Eight were asked to switch their laundry wash to cold water for a chance to individually win $5.00 gift cards and a chance to win a doughnut party for their entire quad by reducing their quad’s natural gas usage the most. Meetings were held with all of the residents of the College Eight dorms to educate the students about why we wanted them to switch to cold water and the importance of reducing natural gas. We also posted signs to remind the students to change their wash temperature!

Every week, one of UCSC’s PowerSave interns went to read the gas meters at each building in the College Eight Residential Dorms. We compiled all of the data into an excel sheet that would show us the weekly changes (increases and decreases) of natural gas usage of each of the four quads (A, B, C, & D quads). We also had random walkthroughs in which we placed tickets redeemable for gift cards on the washing machines that were turned to the cold setting.

At the end of the eight-week competition, “A quad” had reduced their natural gas usage by 12%! We threw the winning quad a donut party as requested by the students themselves in a pre-survey. Overall, the entire eight-week campaign ended up saving UC Santa Cruz’s campus 14,301.20 therms of natural gas. This amount is equivalent to 75.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the emissions from 10.4 average homes' electricity use for one year (according to the Environmental Protection Agency)!

We hope to continue this campaign at other colleges here at UCSC in the future!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

February 2014: Contests & Funding

Call for Submissions: Innovative, Sustainable Projects - Due February 17
The Campus Consciousness Challenge, hosted by REVERB Inc., is accepting U.S. undergraduate proposals that aim to have a direct or indirect positive effect on the environment. The winner will receive $10,000 for development of the proposal. Entries are due by 9 AM Pacific time on February 17.

Earthzine Seeks Student Juror for Science Competition
The online scientific journal seeks a university or college student as a juror to assist in scoring entries for NASA 2013 Earth Science Technology Showcase, an online presentation of technology developments for the earth science community.

Call for Papers for "Just Sustainability: Hope for the Commons" - Due Feb 24
Seattle University's Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability invites papers and proposals for talks, workshops and panel presentations for its inaugural conference “Just Sustainability: Hope for the Commons” to be held August 7-9, 2014. They invite papers related to environmental justice and sustainability from all fields of discourse, including but not limited to environmental studies, theology, business, philosophy, engineering, education, law, the arts, international development, anthropology, religious studies, geography and the natural sciences. For more information, visit the website.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

February 2014 Green Tip: Purchasing Electronics

As members of the university system in the 21st century, our lives are dominated by electronics like phones and laptops. These products are increasingly smaller, faster, and more advanced in their capabilities, allowing us to interact and share more efficiently than with older technologies; however, the process of putting these products together is much more socially and environmentally destructive than is often evident to the average consumer.

Conflict minerals (like gold and tantalum) are present in most of our commonly used electronics. These minerals are generally attained through intense social exploitation (i.e. child labor) in disastrous mines that cause extreme environmental degradation for their surrounding areas. Countries like the Congo that are rich in natural resources but are politically unstable are ravaged by war and violence because of this mineral trade that is fueled by western consumer demand for electronics.

Organizations like Raise Hope for Congo are working to raise awareness about these issues and are urging electronics companies to take responsibility for their mining practices.

Next time you consider purchasing a new phone or laptop, consider first if you really need a new one. If you determine that what you have isn't sufficient, consider buying a refurbished one instead You can also refer to the Enough Project's company rankings, a rating system that evaluates corporations on their efforts to be "Conflict Free."

There is currently an initiative at UC Santa Cruz to become a conflict-free campus. For more information about this effort, please contact Leeza Arbatman, President of STAND, a student anti-genocide coalition that is currently focusing on these issues. Email her at earbatma [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

Read more about the ways that conflict minerals affect people living in the Congo in this National Geographic piece.

Over 120 students collaborate at the Sustainability Inter-Org Retreat

The 4th Annual Inter-Organizational Retreat on January 10-11 brought together campus sustainability organizations for a collaborative, fun, and inspirational adventure. This year's theme was "Beyond the Campus and Ourselves: Creating Impact Through Collaboration." There were over 120 attendees at the retreat stemming from all sorts of organizations, including, for the first time, the Brain, Mind, and Consciousness Society and Sea Slugs.

On Friday, January 10th, we enjoyed a dinner that was made by a team of students led by Tim Galarneau, Food Systems Education & Research Program Specialist for the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS). After we stuffed our stomachs with delicious food, we imitated animals in a team building activity designed to have fun and get to know each other better and played other teambuilding games. Finally, at the end of the night, we were all inspired by Brock Dolman's keynote presentation entitled "Basins of Relations: Restoring Our Watershed!"

After a great night, bright and early the next morning, we all packed our belongings and headed to Camp Campbell, a YMCA camp a half hour up Empire Grade, to enjoy the rest of the weekend. There was hiking, workshops, an Open Space Technology, and even a campfire talent show, where we were intelligently told that everything that happens at the campfire, stays at the campfire - but, let's just say it was truly magical. Who knew that so many people could bond and become a family in such a short amount of time?

To those that came to the retreat, thank you so much for contributing to the sustainability movement and UCSC and for sharing your ideas and accomplishments at the retreat.

And thank you so much to all of the students, staff, and faculty that helped plan the best Inter-Org Retreat thus far!
Pictures by Lily Urmann (Student Environmental Center)

To read a student perspective that mentions the retreat and discusses UC Santa Cruz sustainability work in general, read this post on the Civinomics blog by Melanie Fornes, a UCSC Campus Sustainability Council member. 

New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Core West

Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) is pleased to announce that four new electric vehicle charging
spaces are now available to all UCSC employees, students and visitors at the Core West Parking Structure. These chargers, available first-come, first-served, are provided as a convenience for electric vehicle drivers and are not intended to be the primary charging location for anyone that does not reside on campus. Both Level 1 and Level 2 chargers are available. These chargers have been funded in part by the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District.

All chargers are part of the Chargepoint network and a fee of $1 per hour will be collected for active charging and while plugged in. Please see to register to use the network or for more information.

During parking enforcement hours in the Core West Parking Structure (7:00 AM–8:30 PM weekdays), users who are actively charging or plugged in at an EV Charging Station must display a UCSC parking permit (e.g., A, B, C, O, R) valid for the date and time they are charging. Once charging has been completed, vehicles should be moved to an appropriate parking lot and/or parking space, depending on the type of permit displayed on the vehicle. Please note: the EV Charging Station spaces are reserved for that purpose at all times; UCSC permits are required only during enforcement hours.

Additional charging stations have been installed in the same area and will be activated for use as demand warrants.

For more information on these electric vehicle charging stations, please click here, email taps [at] ucsc [dot] edu, or call 831-459-2190.

Viridis Aquaponics Begins Supplying Produce to UCSC Dining

The UCSC Dining Halls are now serving produce--in particular, lettuce--that is grown using aquaponics. A company in Watsonville called Vidris Aquaponics is partnering with UCSC Dining to provide sustainably grown food for all 5 dining halls. A recent Santa Cruz Sentinel article on the new partnership explains that "Aquaponics combines hydroponics -- growing plants in water -- and aquaculture, or fish farming, in a symbiotic relationship that strengthens both practices. Instead of massive amounts of fertilizer generally required by hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables, fish waste provides the nutrients. In turn, the plants act as the final step in a series of biofilters that makes it possible to recycle the water back to the fish tanks, where the process begins anew." For more information about how aquaponics works and why it's a sustainable practice, read the full article here, and look out for delicious-looking, aquaponics-grown lettuce in your nearest dining hall!

UCSC Campus Natural Reserve Academic Plan

Provost's Sustainability Internship intern Molly Nagle is working with UCSC Campus Natural Reserve (CNR) staff to develop an Academic Plan that will help bridge the gap between course concepts and hands-on experiences in a variety of disciplines here at UCSC. Our goal is to develop a curriculum of field activities that will be offered to the increasing number of undergraduate students accessing the UCSC CNR's outdoor classrooms and living laboratories. By collaborating with faculty, the CNR will strengthen and build this curriculum to offer a wide variety of field experiences to a greater number of courses, within and beyond the natural sciences. The CNR is also a place where students can implement projects of their own and gain hands-on experiences doing science while gaining important skills that better prepare them for graduate school and/or future careers. Be on the look-out for a field trip coming to a class near you, and seek us out for internship opportunities! Contact UCSC CNR steward Alex Jones at asjones [at] ucsc [dot] edu for more information.

UC President Napalitano's UC sustainability initiatives

President Napalitano has announced two new UC-wide sustainability goals of net zero energy by 2025 and a 20% cut in water use by 2020.

Napalitano has announced an energy and climate initiative for the University of California system to become carbon neutral by 2025.

The initiative outlines four efforts to achieve this goal: wholesale electricity, campus energy efficiency and renewable energy, natural gas and biogas procurement, and management of environmental attributes.

One highlight of this initiative is the creation of a shared service center to manage the supply of wholesale electricity to the five campuses currently eligible for direct access. This center will also own generation resources, provide the University the flexibility to invest in and develop alternative energy sources or to purchase such power through long-term contracts.

In addition, there will be increased efforts to expand funding sources available to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Regarding procurement of natural gas, the University will develop renewable natural gas, commonly referred to as biogas, through both direct development of biogas projects as well as the purchase of biogas contracts through outside producers.

A final highlight is that as environmental attribute programs like California's cap and trade program generate funds to be used for projects resulting in the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the University will actively solicit funds to support our initiatives.

To learn more about the carbon neutrality initiative, please read the full document here.

In addition to energy goals, President Napalitano also announced on January 16 a goal of reducing per capita water use by 20 percent throughout the UC system by the year 2020.

As California experiences some of its driest weather on record, Napolitano said the university must step up and contribute to the preservation of the state's most precious resource.

"The University of California has long been a leader in conservation efforts," she said. "This new 2020 goal complements the university's Carbon Neutrality Initiative and its broader award-winning sustainability efforts. UC is prepared to play a leadership role in response to California's current water crisis by demonstrating water sustainability solutions to the rest of the state."

Every UC campus already has established its water usage baseline against a three-year average, and the 20 percent reduction goal will be pegged to each campus's baseline. UC Santa Cruz has been effective at reducing water consumption in recent years. The UCSC Campus Sustainability Plan for 2013-16 states that "Water use on the main campus has steadily declined by 21% since 2005, despite an overall increase in student enrollment" (p. 20). As a campus community, we'll need to find innovative ways to continue to reduce water consumption, such as behavior change campaigns and wider awareness of our local water concerns.

"The 2020 goal builds on the groundbreaking water-related research that takes place on our campuses every day," Napolitano said. "These efforts are critical to addressing the formidable water, energy and climate challenges facing California, the nation and the world."

The policy was discussed at a recent UC Board of Regents in San Francisco as part of the presentation of the Annual Report on Sustainable Practices. The report may be accessed here. If you'd like to watch a video of the presentation and Q&A from this Board of Regents meeting, click here and begin at 02:35:00.

This post is an updated version of the UC News Room press release here.

February 2014: Classes, Training, and Community

Sustainable Transportation Lectures & Activities Every Friday
People Power: Engaging Sustainable Transportation Solutions meets every Friday from 8 - 10:40 AM in the Kresge Seminar Room. This 2-unit course is being co-taught by two undergrad students and is open to all, even if you aren't enrolled or can only attend one meeting. Each week features a different theme, ranging from the local community to bicycles to walking to feminism & social justice to public transportation, and much more! Speakers are lined up throughout the quarter, including Paul Lee of the Homeless Garden Project, Mark Lakeman of the City Repair Project, a representative from Tesla Motors, TAPS Director, a representative from the Regional Transportation Commission, and many more! The class blog can be found here, and the syllabus with week-by-week details and speaker information is available for viewing here. For more information email Melissa at mott [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

Earth Summit 2014: March 6
The Student Environmental Center is excited to announce the 13th Annual Earth Summit on Thursday, March 6, 2014! The Earth Summit is a space for students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members to come together and celebrate the history and current actions in campus sustainability, plan for future projects, and strengthen student involvement. There will be empowering speakers, exciting workshops, and delicious local food! If you would like to be involved in the planning of this great event, lead a workshop, or volunteer, please email Lily Urmann at lurmann [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

"The Story of Stuff" Creator Annie Leonard Speaking at UCSC February 12
Join Annie Leonard, creator of "The Story of Stuff," for a panel discussion about consumption and waste and how we can be more conscious about waste on our campus. Her original video, which is only the first of many, "is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns.” What considerations go into purchasing decisions on campus? What are our biggest waste issues? And what initiatives can students take to reduce consumption and waste? From problems to solutions, Annie, along with faculty, staff, and alumni panelists, will connect the “stuff” that enters and leaves our campus with issues of social and environmental justice. February 12, 5-7 PM in the College 9/10 Multipurpose Room, with a reception and book signing following.

Blueprint Breakout
Want to have a direct impact on future sustainability projects on campus? Have visions of UCSC sustainability that you'd like to share? Or are you just interested in learning more about campus sustainability initiatives? Then come to the Student Environmental Center's last Blueprint Breakout of the year! The topic for Wednesday, February 19 is Water Conservation & Energy, from 5:30 to 8:30 PM in the College 8 Red Room. Free vegetarian dinner included!

Civinomics Workshop on Illegal Mountain Biking in Upper Campus
On Wednesday, January 29, a panel discussion hosted by Stevenson Residential Life, Hilltromper, and Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz brought together 5 panelists to discuss the illegal mountain biking trail network in upper campus at UCSC to share information and perspectives on what the issues are. Now it's your turn to weigh in on the issue through this Civinomics workshop. Vote on ideas, share your perspectives, and ask questions--engage your civic citizen muscles! Read more about the January 29 panel at Hilltromper, Santa Cruz Sentinel, and the Civinomics blog.

Demeter Seed Library Now Hosting Garden Parties
Demeter Seed Library wants to help you get dirty! A garden party is a novel way to learn more about backyard gardening, utilize community labor, and make new friends. If you have any land that should be growing veggies or flowers, contact them and they will see if they can rally the troops to turn your yard into a beautiful garden! They are also looking for a core group (about 2-4 people) of individuals to join the garden party team--this core group would join in leading the party of brave volunteers in the transformation from dirt to soil. If you think you have what it takes, contact Conner at cspears [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

U.S.-Denmark Summer Workshop on Renewable Energy
The four-week workshop takes place annually, in California and Denmark, with the 2014 edition in California. It starts with one week of online preparation and continues with three weeks of lectures, seminars and field trips in California. Participants will learn about the economics, politics, science, and technology behind renewable energy implementation from leading experts, while exploring communities and relevant energy sites where such technology is in place or currently being implemented. The faculty is composed of U.S. and Danish professors, as well as, external professionals and researchers with proven experience in their field. Students will work on team-based projects related to renewable energy solutions to specific problems. The interdisciplinary approach and holistic perspective allows students with various academic backgrounds to interact and develop concrete final project ideas, while targeting today’s energy problems from different angles. For more information click here.

IDEASS Student Project Presentations at New Tech MeetUp: March 4
Interested in sustainable enterprise? Don't miss the IDEASS presentations at the New Tech MeetUp downtown at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, March 4. Come support your fellow slugs and take advantage of this amazing networking opportunity and connect with some of the top talent from the growing green economy. A lot of top talent from Silicon Valley attend these events and are looking to support creativity on this side of the hill. More information about new Tech MeetUp is here.

The Community Agroecology Network (CAN) and the Social Development Organization of Nicaragua (ASDENIC), along with an interdisciplinary coordinating committee, announce the XV International Agroecology Shortcourse, which will be held in the Parque de las Ciencias Estelimar, located near the city of EstelĂ­ in the north of Nicaragua from July 6-18, 2014. The main topic of the course is Agroecology and Social Transformation: transdisciplinarity, health, and human development. Applications are due April 15, 2014. See the announcement and event poster for full information.

Learn more about exciting marine research behind the scenes and experience the spectacular surroundings of the Seymour Center at one of the tours offered each week, including Marine Mammal Research Tours, Younger Lagoon Reserve Tours, and Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf Tours. For details, please visit the website.
Interested in learning more about electric vehicle charging developments planned for UCSC? Want to know of potential electrical shutdowns at Core West? Transportation and Parking Services is wanting to be in better touch with our electric vehicle user community at UCSC – please send an email to Teresa at tabuika [at] ucsc [dot] edu to be added to the list of current electric vehicle users. Learn more about UCSC's current EV accomodations on the TAPS website.

Garden Workdays with the Program in Community and Agroecology (PICA)
Join PICA to help with planting veggies, digging garden beds, building compost, and sowing seeds! A free garden grown lunch will be served. Meet in A-Quad in The Village every Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM (Winter Quarter: January 18th to March 8th). For more info check out:

Marine Conservation Class Studies Water Conservation in Dorms

Students in Professor Don Croll's Marine Conservation class don't just learn about water conservation issues by reading studies--they design and implement their own studies. This fall, the focus of one team project in the course was Santa Cruz's local watershed and the relationship between students in the dorms and the water in our community. One student working on the project, Travis Trinh, shared with us what the project was about.

The purpose of the study was to support more sustainable use of freshwater on campus. He explains: "The reason we decided to focus on this subject was because Santa Cruz has been historically a very dry county. These past few years have had a marked decrease in average annual rainfall," he said. "This year alone has been one of the driest we've had in 5 years. Since the majority of our water comes from local watersheds, our water consumption is highly dependent on rainfall." The Campus Sustainability Plan for 2013-16 states that "Water delivered to the campus from the City of Santa Cruz comes entirely from local sources that are vulnerable to drought periods... UCSC uses about 6% of the total area water demand and serves as the largest single water customer in the city's water service area" (p. 20). According to a Santa Cruz Sentinel article from the end of 2013, Santa Cruz has a new low rainfall record of only around 5 inches of rainfall for the entire year--60 percent less than the previous record from 1929. No doubt we're in a serious drought.

With very little rain, conserving water becomes even more important than most years. At UCSC, that means evaluating how to effectively reduce the amount of freshwater used in the residential dorms, which currently accounts for 49% of all UCSC main campus freshwater use (Campus Sustainability Plan 2013-16). To do so, the Marine Conversation class set up an experiment in the Crown and Stevenson dorms. Two buildings in each college had passive approaches, like flyers and posters, explaining how much water we consume each day and tips for reducing our water use. Two other buildings had a more active approach, shower timers that allowed students to time themselves in the shower voluntarily. Two other buildings had no passive or active treatments applied. Representatives from the project met with each college's residential advisers to explain the project and encourage them to talk to residents about it.

A poster in a Stevenson residential dorm from the Marine Conservation class project.

Travis explains: "Our hypothesis was that more direct approaches of sustainability (giving them shower timers) would influence a more positive behavioral change concerning freshwater sustainability. By measuring residential water consumption from month to month we discovered that there is evidence that when students are given tools to accomplish sustainable actions, there are more likely to do so. However, because we were working in such a short time frame (2 and a half weeks) we could not gather more substantial data."

Though the project was cut short by the length of the quarter system, Travis and other students in the class will be continuing the project in a more robust form in spring quarter 2014, partnering with other campus sustainability efforts. Drop Your Own Drip (DYOD) is another water conservation program on campus through the Student Environmental Center that uses mock water bills to demonstrate to students how much water they're using. Travis says he and his teammates are open to a partnership with DYOD if it makes sense logistically to combine efforts, and they are hoping to move ahead with planning this quarter.

Travis acknowledges that at UCSC, "water use has been reduced over the years to great effect, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying. Water is a valuable resource that is not infinite. This should be clear to everyone in California since Governor Brown just declared California to be in a state of drought emergency." We each have control over how much water we consume each day, and with projects like this and others on campus, we collectively have the power to encourage others to be more mindful of water use.

To learn more about the project, please email Travis at ttrinh2 [at]

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Innovative Approaches to Sustainability at Other Campuses

Here are a few selections of the innovative approaches to sustainability taking place on other college campuses. Each of these examples was chosen because they represent ideas that UCSC could potentially implement in some form, or in some cases, already has begun to. If you see something here that you want to make a reality at UCSC, contact the Sustainability Office and we will help you direct your ideas toward fruition!

UC Davis Biodigester to Power Campus
Leftover pasta and other unfinished food from the dining commons will be put to use as the newly established UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester (UC Davis READ), which converts organic waste into campus electricity. During the digestion process, a mix of microbes are used to quickly break down the organic waste, which is converted into biogas that mainly consists of methane and carbon dioxide. Once the electricity is produced from the biogas, it will be directly fed into the UC Davis microgrid where it will provide power for the campus.

Sculptural Bike Racks
Students at the University of New Hampshire are welding sculptures that function as bike racks. They did all stages of fabrication: cutting, welding, bending, forging, and grinding of the metals. The University will be utilizing a U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration grant to add these artwork bike racks to the campus. We should get the Art Department and the Bike Coop to work together on something like this at Santa Cruz!

University of Oregon Operations Makes Good Use of Fallen Leaves
To cut down on the fuel consumption and the noise pollution caused by leaf blowers, University of Oregon facilities services decided to let nature take its course and not gather fallen leaves. They are experimenting with the areas where they might be able to leave the leaves in the landscape rather than hauling them away. For example, areas on campus where there is a big shade tree during the summer, they are letting the leaves sit so as to kill the grass. They'll eventually plant more shade loving trees beneath rather than having the grass turn brown every summer. What a more natural approach to landscaping!

Bike Safety Launches Boston University Bike Accident Toolkit
UCSC needs to make an app like this for our bike riding community! Bike Safety has launched the BU Bike Accident Toolkit, which helps users report a bike accident. The phone’s built-in global positioning system (GPS) can automatically record the location, date and time of the accident. The app also allows the user to create an accident report that captures the driver’s name, license plate number, insurance policy and contact information in addition to photos of any damage incurred and audio witness testimony. The user can even contact police or medical emergency services directly from the app. As bicycle ridership increases, it is important to educate people on bikes, drivers in cars, and people walking about their rights and responsibilities on the road and this app will serve as a great educational resource.

Campus Tracks Cycling With First Digital Bike Counter at a University
UCLA Transportation’s bike counter uses magnetic detection embedded in the roadway to count people on bikes as they glide by in the bike lane. A new digital sign flashes the total number of people on bikes who have ridden by in the past day and a bar measures the year's total. By automating the count at one of UCLA’s busiest bike entrances, the campus can better show the need for things like new bike lanes on campus and on city streets leading to campus. UCSC students in the IDEASS internship program are working to install automated bike counters from the same company as UCLA's counter, though the counters they're hoping to purchase will not have a digital display like at UCLA... to get a digitalized counter like that costs nearly $20,000!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

February 2014 Sustainability Profile: Darlene Khalafi

Each month, our newsletter features a person or group on campus that is working toward a more sustainable world. This month features Darlene Khalafi, the newest member of the Sustainability Office Staff and a UCSC alumna who was involved in sustainability work as an undergraduate.

Name & Job Title: Darlene Khalafi - Sustainability Office Manager/Events Coordinator

Academic Background: Graduated from UCSC with a major in Environmental Studies combined with Biology, class of 2011

Previous Student Organizations: Stevenson Reslife (Residential Advisor); Path to a Greener Stevenson & Stevenson Garden; Student Environmental Center intern for Gardener's Alliance Gatherings (GAG); Climate Organization, Outreach, & Leadership (COOL); Site Stewardship Intern; and Seymour Center Volunteer

Photo by Adam Ghahate

We asked Darlene what she thinks about sustainability and how it relates to her work at UCSC.

What does "sustainability" mean to you? Sustainability is an interesting word because it means so much and it's so big that it's actually kind of difficult to grasp. It's an evolving definition; but the way I utilize the word today is to live my life in a way that takes action with respect toward natural systems, the environment, and all living beings. As someone who promotes sustainability, I am an advocate for life, fairness, and the well-being of things.

Favorite Green Tip: Always look for new ways to be resourceful. Being "green" is all about adaptability and getting creative! I love to repurpose things, so looking on my desk right now, I've reused a bread bag to hold my lunch, put my pencils in an old spaghetti jar, and have a notebook made from single-printed sheets and a cereal box cover.

What are you up to when you aren't at the Sustainability Office? Volunteering at the UCSC-USGS Sea Otter Research Cooperative, gardening at the Live Oak Grange, promoting alternative transportation with Ecology Action, or selling bread at farmer's markets for Beckmann's Old World Bakery

How does sustainability relate to your role at UCSC? What is one cool thing you've done to make UCSC a more sustainable place?
Sustainability was a big part of my undergraduate education. I incorporated it into all aspects of my life. As an RA, I helped start an accredited sustainable living co-curricular residential life program in Stevenson. While leading Path to a Greener Stevenson, I was one of the initial groundbreakers of the Stevenson Community Garden. I also held an internship every quarter with places like the Student Environmental Center, Site Stewardship, and the Seymour Discovery Center. I graduated an Environmental Studies/Biology major in 2011.

As a newly added member to the Sustainability Office staff, my job is to empower students and UCSC affiliates to lead their own projects promoting sustainable practices on our campus to make UCSC a brighter, greener place. I also want to help make sustainability "cultural" by doing my part to create a positive mindset founded in environmental awareness and the interconnectedness of all things.

This year, UCSC's Chancellor Blumenthal has implemented the Chancellor’s Sustainability Challenge to push the campus to reduce our waste, helping us in the long run to reach our Zero Waste by 2020 Goal. How do you practice sustainability and reduce waste in your own life? 
I try to throw away as little as possible. We compost and recycle at my house, so now we're at this point where we are trying to reduce what's ending up in our garbage bin. It's sad when I have to throw something away because there really is no other option for it. To solve this, I have to be more conscious of the types of packaging products come in and make sure that the products themselves are made to last and are repairable rather than made to be replaced.

Have you had a favorite sustainability moment at UCSC?
This year, my favorite 'sustainability moment' happened at the Inter-Organizational Retreat. Realizing how many people on campus are working everyday toward the same goals and aspirations, is definitely empowering. There are literally hundreds of us. I connected to a strong sense of community while watching everyone interact so closely with all these people they've never even met before. It's truly inspiring.

Find me at the Sustainability Office in Kerr 118, call me at 831-459-2182, or email dkhalafi [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

February 2014: Internships, Employment, & Volunteering

Chancellor's Undergraduate Internship Program - $8200!
The CUIP program is now accepting applications for the 2014-2015 academic year! CUIP provides on-campus internships in programs and departments throughout the campus, and there are many sustainability CUIP positions with offices on campus like Dining, the Student Environmental Center, and the Sustainability Office. Interns work with a mentor to develop personal and professional skills and take a leading role in a project. A two-unit leadership seminar class is required for fall, winter and spring quarters, and a stipend of $8,200 is paid towards the intern’s registration fees for the academic year. CUIP is a unique opportunity to learn, earn, and serve. For details on the list of internships and to apply please visit this website. The application deadline is Thursday, February 13. If you have questions email cuip [at] ucsc [dot] edu or call 459-3973.

Early Bird Applications for IDEASS Internship Program Open February 15
Impact Designs: Engineering and Sustainability through Student Service (IDEASS) will be accepting early bird applications for 2014/2015 on February 15. If you have a novel green-tech solution in mind, please fill out the application here and submit your idea. IDEASS can fulfill senior exit credit for some majors--including ENVS--and many alumni have been offered jobs related to their projects when they graduate. Project topics compatible with the IDEASS model must: A) Include a build/design track leading to some kind of deliverable; B) Be relevant to community stakeholders; C) Be attractive to off-campus / professional talent so that we can recruit a mentor; D) Be appropriate for a fall-planning winter/spring-implementation cycle. For more information, please email ideass [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

Volunteer to Help Plan and Table at Earth Summit
The Student Environmental Center is excited to announce the 13th Annual Earth Summit on March 6th, 2014! The Earth Summit is a space for students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members to come together and celebrate the history and current actions in campus sustainability, plan for future projects, and strengthen student involvement. There will be empowering speakers, exciting workshops, delicious local food, and opportunities to table! If you would like to be involved in the planning, host a workshop, table, or volunteer at this great event, email Lily Urmann at lurmann [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

ESLP 2-Unit Internship Opportunity
The Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP) is looking for 2-unit interns for winter quarter. ESLP is a student organized and facilitated class that is put on in the spring at UCSC based on the Blueprint for Sustainable Campus. Interns will take part in planning and organizing the class. Tasks will include attending meetings, assisting with student outreach, going to conferences, and deepening the understanding of student involvement in campus sustainability efforts. If you are interested or have any questions about this opportunity, please email eslp [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

Santa Cruz METRO Seeks Volunteers for Advisory Committee - Cycling Bus Riders Needed
Santa Cruz METRO is seeking volunteers to serve on the METRO Advisory Committee (MAC). The Santa Cruz Metro Board of Directors looks to this citizen advisory board for policy and operational issues that impact Metro riders. Meetings are the third Wednesday of every month at 6 PM at Pacific Station in downtown Santa Cruz. MAC members are nominated by each Santa Cruz METRO Director and appointed by the Santa Cruz METRO Board of Directors. Santa Cruz METRO strives to balance the membership to reflect the ethnic, gender and geographic diversity of the County of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz METRO’s service area. At this time, residents of Capitola, Scotts Valley, and Aptos are encouraged to apply for open positions on MAC. People who combine bikes with transit should be represented on this board because there are currently no cyclists who also use buses serving on MAC, according to Richard Masoner here. If you are interested, please apply for MAC.

IDEASS Seeks Waste Team Member
Do you want professional experience or an opportunity to fulfill senior exit credit through an innovative sustainable design project? Impact Designs: Engineering and Sustainability through Student Service (IDEASS) is looking for a few more passionate and hardworking student leaders to join a project team working on a waste reduction project with the Kresge Owl's Nest! Winter admissions to IDEASS requires a winter - spring (2 quarter) commitment. Students can expect to work in interdisciplinary teams with a professional mentor. For more information, or to apply email ideass [at] ucsc [dot] edu and check out the IDEASS homepage on the sustainability office website.

Gain Volunteer Experience Sorting Waste 
The IDEASS team project working on waste reduction at the Owl's Nest (described above) is seeking volunteers for a waste audit on Thursday, February 13. They need all the help they can get to sort through the different waste streams to measure and assess levels of cross-contamination in the different waste streams. Snacks will be provided, and they'll be listening to groovy tunes! To sign up, email Kelsey Smith at khsmith [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

Volunteer with Take Back the Tap
Are you interested in water justice? Do you appreciate every drop that flows out of the tap? Then you might be interested in joining the Take Back the Tap team, a social and environmental justice campaign aimed to end the sale of single use plastic water bottles on our campus. They meet every Thursday evening, 6:15 to 7:15 PM at the Common Ground Center, Kresge 166. Email takebackthetapucsc [at] gmail [dot] com for more information.

Alliance to Save Energy Seeks Program Associate
The Alliance to Save Energy is seeking a full-time Program Associate to assist with implementation of its PowerSave Campus Program. The program employs and manages paid student interns to develop and implement projects that promote careers in the sustainability field, generate energy savings on campus, increase awareness of the importance of energy efficiency, and encourage the infusion of sustainability concepts into academic curricula. The Program Associate will work in the Alliance's Oakland, CA office. For more information about the position and about the PowerSave Campus Program, check out their website here. Please apply via the following link, uploading your resume and cover letter in one single pdf when prompted. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis through February 5. The position is open until filled.

ZipCar Paid Internship
ZipCar is offering a paid internship to students at UCSC.  Some responsibilities will include: Communicating and working with campus-wide contacts to grow awareness on campus, Location management, Vehicle auditing, and Writing and executing a marketing plan.  To apply, and for more information check out this website here for more information.

Apply to Volunteer with Sprout Up
Sprout Up is a non-profit program that looks for undergraduate volunteers to help bring lessons of environmental science and sustainability to local elementary school classrooms. They are college student founded and operated non-profit that is always seeking new instructors. For more information about potential volunteering opportunities with them check out their website.

The WaterLab Research Facility studies wastewater recycling and how to use recycled water to conserve unused water reserves. Though still in progress of becoming a full-fledged research facility, internship opportunities exist and will be expanding as the facility grows. UCSC students can learn more about WaterLab and internships by contacting Eli Weintraub at etweintr [at] ucsc [dot] edu and via the Center for Integrated Water Research website.

Find or Upload Projects to Sustainability Project Clearinghouse
Interested in getting involved in a campus sustainability project, but don't know how? Are you looking for partners for your current project? Have you completed a project that you would like others to learn from? Visit the Sustainability Project Clearinghouse, a centralized database of UCSC sustainability projects, today! You can view published projects or upload your own projects and ideas. For training on how to upload a project, please contact Shauna Casey at scasey [at] ucsc [dot] edu.