Sunday, February 23, 2014

UCSC Alumna Kirsten Williams on re-purposed community art in Detroit

UCSC alumna Kirsten Williams learned to see trash in the street in a whole new way this past fall through an internship with the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, Michigan. Kirsten is a former student employee of the Sustainability Office, and she graduated in 2013 with a degree in Sociology.


Kirsten shared with us how she heard about the Heildelberg Project and how the work she did with the organization relates to sustainability.

She writes, "When I was about six or seven my mother took me to a neighborhood [in Detroit] that was filled with the most outrageously decorated houses. Each house was painted in a bright color and all types of materials were used as adornments. I was fascinated by how something so different existed in a neighborhood that was so plain."

Kirsten later visited Detroit again after graduating from UC Santa Cruz, where her mother passed away only a couple weeks into her visit. She says that after her mother's passing, she was encouraged by her sister to look into the Heidelberg Project, the organization that creates these decorated homes. Kirsten did, and she ended up getting an internship with the organization's Site Development Team. Kirsten writes that the "team works on collecting materials to re-utilize them to create art pieces" and that her job "was to find used, old, and recycled materials that would be used for art installations for various events as well as our site designs."

"Since the city of Detroit is experiencing economic downfall and environmental abuse from neighboring cities such as dumping waste in public parks around the city, my goal was to collect these 'wasted' items and use them to create art pieces that would show the public that city is not infested with trash but beautiful artifacts to be used to create artwork that gets the public questioning the world around us. Why should an old house be destroyed? How can an old tire still have purpose? How can you turn plastic into beauty? The organization seeks not to lengthen the environmental impact but start creating change by reusing what so many leave behind. Sort of like giving purpose back to something everyone thinks is purposeless, including the city of Detroit itself," she describes.

When asked about how her experiences at UCSC have influenced her work, she writes, "UCSC was my enlightenment to the events, happenings, and order of our planet, sustainability being the first! It amazes me how far humankind has disassociated itself from the natural occurrences of this world. Especially when they are so important to our creation but more importantly our livelihood."

Regarding her Sociology degree from UC Santa Cruz, Kirsten writes, "I feel like UCSC is the BEST university to attend for this discipline because it's honestly one of the most forward thinking socially active campuses left in the nation. The major touches on multiple areas of concern and even has several courses dedicated specifically to sustainability and its social impact."

The exposure to environmental issues through Sociology classes helped Kirsten better understand "the seriousness of the issue," and she was able to bring that awareness to her work with the Heidelberg Project.

"My goal is not only to live a life that is more sustainable and environmentally aware of my behavior in a space but to also lead by example and teach others too. I also feel more connected to the planet, like I am taking care of a loved one."

In her work, Kirsten not only was able to care for the planet, but she was also able to "give something back to the community that helped nurture [her] growth."


"The work that the Heidelberg Project does is extremely crucial to the rebirth of the city of Detroit," she says. "I cannot express enough how my city needs love, tender care, and individuals who want to make an effective change. This will all start by focusing on several crucial pillars which will support the city and one being that of sustainable development. It is important to usher in a new generation of people equipped with the knowledge needed to give birth to the city again and in turn lead the world by example. Detroit has done it in the past and I know it will happen again."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

March 2014: Contests & Funding

CHESC Award Nominations Due March 7
The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC), hosted by the Associated Students of San Diego State University invites students, faculty, staff and administrators from campuses throughout California to submit a proposal to speak; present a poster; or receive an award at this year's conference.

The Higher Education Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practice Awards aim to:
  1. Highlight the achievements that California campuses have made through innovative and effective energy efficiency projects and sustainable operations;
  2. Showcase specific projects as models to be used by other campuses to achieve energy efficiency and sustainability goals; and
  3. Provide campus staff with a compendium of Best Practice projects that could be transferable to their campus. 
Award Nominations are due March 7. For more information about the different nominating categories and to fill out a nomination form, check out their website.

Walk to Class Challenge Day
Save the date! Walk to Class Challenge Day is taking place on April 22. Help reach campus sustainability goals and promote healthy choices. Sign up April 1st-22nd to challenge yourself to walk while on campus rather than use transit. Contact Jessica Pearson, jrpearso [at] ucsc [dot] edu for more information and if you're interested in volunteering on the day of the event!


Call for Papers! Ecomusicologies 2014
The Ecomusicologies 2014: Dialogues is a multi-day conference on the topic of music, culture and the environment. Students and faculty may submit proposals on topics such as musical collaboration with the environment, the sound of green, acoustic ecology, race, class, gender, and academic-as-activist. Proposals are due April 30. For more information and for submissions, contact ecomusicologies [at] gmail [dot] com. You can also check out their website here for a more extensive list of possible topics for the proposals and guidelines.




March 2014: Internships, Employment, & Volunteering

Provost's Sustainability Internship - $1500 Scholarship!
Are you interested in working to make our campus operations, infrastructure, and physical environment more sustainable? The Provost's Sustainability Internship (PSI) program is a great way to get involved! We pair students with staff mentors to plan and implement a year-long campus sustainability project. Students receive internship credit for the fall, winter, and spring quarters and a $1500 scholarship upon completion of the program in spring quarter. Student applications are due by 5pm on April 25th.


Generation Waking Up
If you are creative, motivated, and inspired to make a difference in the world, please consider joining the GenUp team! There are numerous internship opportunities and summer fellowships programs offered. If interested, apply here and send your resume to following email address: apply [at] generationwakingup [dot ]org.  If you have any questions, or would like more information about Generation Waking Up check out their website.

Become a Student Sustainability Advisor
Do you plan to live in University housing next year and want to become a leader in your community? Apply to become a Student Sustainability Adviser (SSA) by March 21 (applications accepted until position filled). The SSA’s primary role is to raise awareness and offer educational opportunities within their communities about the many ways campus residents can positively affect and contribute to UCSC’s sustainability goals. The position requires 15 hours per week and receives a quarterly stipend of $1,500. You will be required to move in early for training and assist with move out waste diversion at the end of Finals in June. Apply on the Employee Request system with the position # 7056.

IDEASS Program Accepting Applications
Impact Designs: Engineering and Sustainability through Student Service (IDEASS) is now accepting early bird applications for next year! If you have an idea for a green-tech project or want to get involved, 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. Students that apply earlier have the opportunity to be a part of the planning process for projects next year. For more info, see this link.

Stevenson Garden Accepting Applications for Spring
Stevenson Garden is accepting applications for prospective interns for next quarter. To find out more and apply, email Blake at bredding [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

Real Food for CSU's Campaign: Sign the petition in California solidarity!
The CSU system's (largest state school system in the world) sustainability policy is being updated, but the current draft does not have any mention of sustainable food practices. We are asking the board of trustees to get real by purchasing food that is ecologically sound, fair trade, humane, and local through this petition, and as the CSUs joined the UC system during their own real food campaign in 2009, we need to do the same to create a just and sustainable food system! The Board of Trustees meeting will be on March 26 in Long Beach, CA. Email nattran [at] ucsc [dot] edu for more information.


Arboretum Volunteer Gardening Opportunities
Have an interest in gardening? The Arboretum has volunteer gardening hours throughout the week! Visit their website for details.

Volunteer with Take Back the Tap
Are you interested in water justice? Do you appreciate every drop that flows out of your 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 7:15pm at the Common Ground Center, Kresge 166. Email takebackthetapucsc [at] gmail [dot] com for more information.


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, and delicious local food! If your organization would like to table, contact the Volunteer/Tabling Coordinators Lucia Calderon at lecalder [at] ucsc [dot] edu and Cheslea Pack at cpack [at] ucsc [dot] edu for more information. All tables will be educational and opportunity-based. And, if you would like to help setting up the day of and cleaning up that evening, email Lily Urmann, the Earth Summit and Blueprint Coordinator, at lurmann [at] ucsc [dot] edu.  All volunteers are welcome!

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 their website for more information.

Volunteers Needed for Waste Assessment in April
The Zero Waste Team,Grounds Services, and Physical Plant are conducting a campus-wide waste assessment of the contents of our campus's waste stream in mid-to-late April. They need your help! Volunteers would essentially be helping with"dumpster diving," sorting through and weighing campus dumpster trash into different categories, as well as helping to conduct visual estimates of our waste composition. There will be an informational meeting and training session closer to the time of the assessment. This is an opportunity for community service and to learn about the waste streams on our campus and the campus-wide efforts in moving towards sustainability. Please contact Chris Kane at chkane [at] ucsc [dot] edu if you have any questions or would like to sign up!

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 check out their website.


Internships with WaterLab Research Facility
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.

Santa Cruz State Parks - hiring now $11.52/hr!
Santa Cruz State Parks is hiring seasonal interpreters. Applications are due very soon with interviews on March 3 and 4.  There are several positions available at the following locations: Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Butano State Park, New Brighton State Beach and Sunset and Manresa State Beaches.  To apply, send your resume and completed standard state application to: Elizabeth Hammack/Linda Hitchcock, Santa Cruz District State Parks 303 Big Trees Park Rd. Felton, CA 95018. For more information, call 831-335-6391 and check out this job description.

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.

http://projectclearinghouse.ucsc.edu/
There are projects in sustainability topics like Energy, Transportation, Water, Waste, Social Justice, and so much more!

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 susted@ucsc.edu and we will help you direct your ideas toward fruition!

Trash Goalie
Davidson College has launched The Next Play, an initiative that uses the influence of sports to advance Zero Waste sustainability-related goals. The primary responsibility of trash goalies is to help people sort waste properly. Even though recycling and composting are becoming more commonplace, the challenge now is encouraging people to consciously think about sorting trash in places where throwing it away has always been a very passive experience. Athletic events create a great stage as method for advancing sustainability-related goals, and spreading awareness plays a key role in promoting the zero-waste effort. Our campus has a Zero Waste Goal as well. We could use some "trash goalie" volunteers at sporting events here too.

Waste Watchers Make Trash Monster and Inspire a Recyclemania Competition

Attempting to raise awareness of how much is thrown away, a campus recycling group at Oregon State University collected and sorted residence hall waste to create a monster, and labeled the visual display with how much waste an average person produces over a certain amount of time. 'Slightly more than a dozen volunteers shed their squeamishness and donned plastic gloves to dig through bags of trash pulled from residence halls on campus.' The team rifled through each trash bag, pulling out recyclable items and replacing non-recyclable (trash) items back into clear plastic bags. They forged a trash monster to be on display during their annual RecycleMania competition.
The competition included several universities. The winner was based on which school collected the most pounds of recycling and compost per person. We could set up a competition here between the colleges to win an actual trophy made of all scrap materials; painted gold.


Campus Recycling Program Converts Grease to Biofuel
A recent partnership between University Housing and the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling resulted in Cease the Grease, an effort to collect used cooking oil from two residential areas, which would then be converted into biodiesel fuel.
After cooking, residents can cooled their kitchen grease, poured it into the container and emptied the grease into a collection bin. The grease was be picked up by a plant specialized in converting grease and oil into useful biofuel. In addition to creating renewable fuel, Cease the Grease will help prevent clogged drains, pests and odors in campus apartments.

Waste Not: Consumption and Waste at UCSC with Annie Leonard

On the morning of Wednesday, February 12, the Permaculture and Whole Systems Design class in Kresge College welcomed Annie Leonard, the creator of The Story of Stuff, to campus for a lively class period, including tales from her travels to waste sites around the world, information about impactful environmental work being done to solve waste issues, and some inspiring advice to students on making change. Students engaged in asking questions and discussion and left feeling entertained, informed, and inspired.

That afternoon, Annie Leonard and students, faculty, and staff attended a zero waste luncheon hosted by the Program in Community & Agroecology. There, they filled themselves with delicious homegrown and homemade spring rolls and salads as they casually conversed about various topics such as composting and renewable energy.



That evening, Annie's Story of Stuff video was shown, and following this, Annie Leonard spoke with panelists from the UCSC sustainability community about the "stuff" that enters and leaves our campus and how we can be more conscious about consumption and waste. Panelists included Ben Crow (Sociology Professor), Kathryn Cunningham (a Buyer with Procurement Services), Brad Angell (Planned Maintenance Coordinator with Physical Plant), and Gabi Kirk (Alumna, Environmental Studies 2012, Former student sustainability organizer).


More than 120 people attended this discussion and gained insight on global inequality, sustainable procurement, and grounds services. Attendees were encouraged to ask questions and get involved with an interactive Q&A.

At the end of the day, there was a reception and book signing, where people socialized and connected over appetizing hors d'oeuvres.


Thank you to all who came to the event. And thank you to the UCSC Sustainability Office, Common Ground Center, Education for Sustainable Living Program, and the Student Environmental Center for hosting this event!

March 2014 Green Tip: Saving Water

As you you've probably heard, California is in a state of emergency over an extended drought. How bad is it? California faces water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history. Governor Brown has urged conservation in the state saying, “The more water we use, the less water we have. The more water we save, the more water we have.” 

In the spirit of conservation this month we wanted to share some tips on how to save water. We've organized our tips by the "basic," "progressive," and "hard core" things you can do to make significant reduction in your water use footprint. Can these individual actions add up to enough savings? Shortening showers by 5 minutes can save 12 gallons or more, and turning off the faucet while washing your hands can save 1/2 gallon. If everyone saved a gallon of water a day at UCSC, weekly campus use could be reduced by around 24,000 gallons!

Basic 
  • Turn off the faucet while washing hands and brushing teeth (rinse, turn off water, soap up, turn water back on to rinse).
  • If it's yellow, let it mellow! Depending upon the flow rate of your toilet, you could save nearly 2 gallons of water each time you let it mellow.
  • Reduce your shower length to 5 minutes or less. For an average showerhead with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute, a 5 minute shower only uses 12.5 gallons of water. Compare that to a 15 minute shower, which uses a whopping 37.5 gallons. 
Progressive 
  • If you live off campus consider getting a low-flow shower head and an aerator for your sink to reduce the amount of water that comes out of the tap. These are reversible changes, so even if you rent you can make these alterations. The Santa Cruz Water Conservation office can provide you with these for free! Learn more here.
  • Turn the water off in the shower when you shampoo, lather up, and shave. Sometimes called a "Navy Shower," you can conserve additional water with this method during your five-minute-or-less shower.
Hard Core
  • One thing you might not have thought about is the amount of water that goes into producing the food for your diet. According to an article in the LA Times, "It takes more than 1,000 gallons of water a day per person to produce the food (and drinks) in the average U.S. diet." The food we eat requires a lot of water to produce, especially the meat we eat. In order to save water, think about skipping the meat once a week or look into alternatives to the meat option at the dining halls. If you're not willing to give up the meat, any amount of reduction can help. Skip dessert one night a week, cut back on the coffee, anything can help!
  • You can also use the same dishes twice. Unless you just ate something really messy and smelly you can most likely use the plate you used to eat lunch on, for dinner as well! No need to wash in between!


More information can be found on the National Geographic website here. How do you conserve?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

College Eight/Oakes Dining Hall Reduces Food Waste by 14 Pounds

Congratulations to the College Eight/Oakes Dining Hall and residents for reducing their food waste to 49 pounds total during dinner service on January 24th! Since students decreased their food waste from 63 pounds during a dinner service waste audit last quarter, Dining celebrated with a delicious ice cream party.

When we reduce the amount of food waste, we reduce the amount of waste that needs to be hauled to a composting facility, thus saving money and reducing transportation carbon emissions. In addition to reducing our impact on the climate, this money in turn can be used to purchase more interesting and delicious food in the dining halls!

"Bring Your Hand Towel to Work Week" at UCSC Financial Affairs Office

By Lori Van Briggle, Data Entry Supervisor for UCSC Payroll

The Financial Affairs Green Team's second annual "Bring Your Hand Towel To Work Week" wrapped up on February 7. This year we set up a table in the mezzanine of 2300 Delaware for the week of February 3-7 with a whiteboard asking Financial Affairs staff to pledge to take the Chancellor's survey and to use a hand towel for one week. If you took the pledge, your name and unit were written on a leaf and the unit with the highest percentage of participants won treats from Kelly's Bakery.

The participation was amazing! Not only did we have volunteers manning the table (sacrificing half hour of their lunchtime) for 2 hours each day, but we also had 82% of our staff take the pledge! Our hope is that after using a cloth towel for a week, staff would realize it is not a difficult change to make in order to save resources and put fewer paper towels into the landfill.

Awesome work, Financial Affairs Office! To learn more about what the Financial Affairs Green Team is doing to make UCSC a more sustainable place, email Kirk Lew at kllew [at] ucsc [dot] edu to join their newsletter list!

Carbon Fund Receives Highest Number of Applicants Yet, Funds Over 20 Projects

The UC Santa Cruz Carbon Fund has had a successful and record-breaking funding round this year. In the fall quarter, the Carbon Fund Committee was pleased to receive a total of 40 project applications, the most the Committee has ever received in its four years of existence. The Carbon Fund, which is funded through student fee measure 44, is a valuable resource for students, staff, and faculty to receive funding for their projects that work to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions either on campus or in the Santa Cruz community.

This school year, the Carbon Fund has allocated over $200,000 in funds to over 20 new projects that work for reduce the carbon footprint both on campus and in the Santa Cruz community. Here are just three of the projects that received funding for the 2013-14 funding round:

Green Labs Certification Program
Allocated Funds: $1,500.00
The Green Labs Program strives to reduce energy use and waste from laboratories at UC Santa Cruz. They will be monitoring the energy use in labs and laboratory buildings that are part of their certification program in order to assess the efficacy of the energy conservation efforts they are encouraging. By monitoring, analyzing, and acting upon the electricity usage data gathered, they will be able to share actual energy consumption of the labs with personnel and improve their strategies for reducing energy consumption. Such efforts toward energy conservation will directly decrease the amounts of greenhouse gasses emitted at UC Santa Cruz.

UCSC Transit System Electric Vehicle Conversation Feasibility Study
Allocated Funds: $3,600.00
This project will conduct a feasibility study of a phased conversion of the current campus shuttle and vanpool system from gasoline and diesel to electric vehicles recharged by a campus solar PV system. Because the fleet vehicles must be replaced at the end of their useful lifetimes, an analysis of the costs, benefits and possibilities of purchasing smaller EV or hybrid vehicles--20 person vehicles and 6-8 person commuter vans--could show significant emission reductions. In combination with (a) a destination-demand system and (b) autonomous vehicles, the fuel use and operating costs of the system might also be significantly reduced. The present carbon footprint of UCSC's existing transportation shuttle system (buses and vans) is considerable. If properly designed and incentivized, a solar-powered EV shuttle and carpool system would offer an alternative to the current transportation fleet. The success of this new transit plan will cut down on independent car emissions as well as road congestion.

Compost Heated Water System

Allocated Funds: $5,000.00
The purpose of this project, taking place through the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UCSC, is to investigate the possibility of energy production and waste mitigation through compost, as repurposing waste is crucial to fulfilling campus commitments to goals of zero waste by 2020. This project explores the possibility of composting woody biomass and other plant debris or “green-waste” in aerobic conditions at high heat, which is then used to heat water for cleaning and washing. The hot water produced by the composting process will reduce the campus carbon footprint by offsetting fuel or energy traditionally used to heat water. In addition to energy use reductions, this project will support other campus goals. The production of compost will improve the water-retention properties of soil, thereby reducing the demand for irrigation and helping the campus towards its goal of water-neutrality. The compost will be applied to PICA garden beds, increasing yield of the PICA garden beds by boosting soil fertility. This will help the campus achieve its 40 percent “Real Food” by 2020 goal.

To see a full list of the 2013-14 Carbon Fund Awards, visit project descriptions page on the Carbon Fund website.

March 2014 Sustainability Profile: Stacy Philpott

Each month, our newsletter features a person or group on campus that is working toward a more sustainable world. This month features Stacy Philpott, an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and the Alfred & Ruth Heller Chair in Agroecology at UC Santa Cruz. Stacy and a team of other researchers recently received a $730,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to direct a three-year program that will increase opportunities for high school and community college students to study sustainable agriculture at UC Santa Cruz.


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

Name & Job Title
Stacy Philpott, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and the Alfred & Ruth Heller Chair in Agroecology

Academic Background
B.S. in Zoology and minor in music from U. of Washington 1995. Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from U. of Michigan 2004.

Roles & Areas of Focus
I have a 25% appointment with the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS). My work at CASFS involves work to enhance and encourage research and educational activities on the farm and Chadwick garden, acting as a liaison between Environmental Studies Department and CASFS. I am also currently the Faculty Director of the PICA program (Program in Community and Agroecology) and the SLC (Sustainable Living Center).

My research touches on agroecology, insect ecology, tropical ecology and conservation biology -- and the connections of all of these things to human livelihoods. Basically, I'm really interested in learning how agricultural management and the landscapes surrounding agroecosystems influence on-farm biodiversity and ecological interactions. I've worked for 15+ years in coffee agroecosystems to understand how alterations in the shade tree canopy that grows over the coffee shrubs affects insect and bird communities, interactions between birds, insects, and coffee plants. I've worked most closely to study ant communities, understanding the role of ants as predators (consume coffee pests), ant competition, ant nesting requirements, and other ecological interactions involving ants. In temperate areas, I have a strong current interest in the ecology of urban gardens, and in understanding more about how garden management affects biodiversity in gardens, as well as the ecosystem services that biodiversity provides (e.g. pest control, pollination services, climate regulation). I also am interested in looking at questions of food security, certification, and in general techniques that both promote biodiversity as well as farmer livelihoods.

What does "sustainability" mean to you?
I tend to go with the text book definition -- maintaining ecosystems and the environment so that we can provide for our generation without compromising the ability of the ecosystems and the environment to provide for future generations. I tend to think the most about agricultural sustainability -- and thinking about ecological, economic and social sustainability and where and how those things overlap or coincide.

Favorite Green Tip
Think about where your food comes and the resources (natural, human) that went into creating your food.

How does sustainability relate to your role at UCSC? 
A big part of my role at UCSC is to teach about sustainable agriculture, and to facilitate learning for students about research in promoting sustainable agriculture/agroecology and sustainable food systems. My work with CASFS and PICA is all related to developing ecological sustainability within agricultural systems, and learning how to do that, and how to teach about that. Activities at the farm and on all of the campus gardens are teaching students about growing their own food, and learning more about where their food comes from.

Can you describe the agroecology grant you received and how that will support the community and sustainability work? 
Our current USDA grant is working on three things: a) improving and enhancing the agroecology and sustainable food systems related curriculum at UCSC, b) working on recruitment of students to study agriculture-related degree programs at UCSC, and c) working on improving transfer articulation between community colleges in the region with agriculture programs and UCSC. We are primarily focusing on recruitment of traditionally under-represented students in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, and have fantastic partners both at UCSC and beyond. We're working in the Environmental Studies department and CASFS to encourage students to do internships at the farm, to take courses in agroecology and sustainable food systems, to offer more internship on the farm, and to have more hands-on activities during coursework.

For recruitment, we're working with UCSC's Educational Partnership Center that works with K-12 students to educate them about STEM opportunities in college and in careers, and to provide non-traditional students with the training and skills necessary to apply to and succeed in college. We are also working with the Transfer Preparation Program at UCSC that works with transfer students to ensure smooth and successful transitions from community college to UCSC. Off campus, we are partnering with Cabrillo and Hartnell Community Colleges and with Greenaction (an environmental justice NGO) and Life Lab's FoodWhat program. All of these organizations have programming or courses related to agriculture, and we are utilizing their knowledge, expertise, and programming to reach out to students, get them to visit UCSC to think about options for college.

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 recycle, I compost all my food waste. Carry around my water bottle, and my coffee cups...I participate in a community supported agriculture program, I shop at the farmers markets in Santa Cruz, I try to eat local (and organic!), and spend most of my waking hours thinking about how to promote ecological sustainability. I avoid buying junk that I really don't need. Most of all, I try to teach students about all of these things that they can do.

Have you had a favorite sustainability moment at UCSC? 
A favorite? Too many to count. Loved the Annie Leonard talk!? Seeing the appreciative faces of the CASFS intern crew?! Attending my first PICA workday?! Realizing how much my students already know about sustainability?!

March 2014: Classes, Training, and Community

Earth Summit 2014
Earth Summit is an opportunity for students, staff, faculty, and the community to unite over passion for environmental sustainability, social justice, education and food. Join us to engage in learning and get involved! This event will feature inspiring keynote speakers, educational workshops, interactive tabling, delicious local food and spoken word entertainment! Earth Summit will be on March 6th, from 10am-4pm in the College 9/10 Multipurpose Room.



Education for Sustainable Living Program Seeks Interns
ESLP is looking for 2 and 5 unit Interns for next quarter! They need: 
  • General interns to help with the organizing process of producing a successful student led class and lecture series
  • Food Sourcing Interns who are responsible for the sustainable shopping and cooking of meals for our honored guest speakers next quarter
  • Media Interns to take part in filming and editing a creative ESLP informational video.
Email eslp [at] ucsc [dot] edu if you are interested in setting up an interview or have any questions.

People Power Bike Commuting Workshops Every 3rd Monday
People Power of Santa Cruz County is partnering with two interns from the UC Santa Cruz Impact Designs: Engineering and Sustainability through Student Service (IDEASS) program to create and host bicycle commuting workshops throughout Santa Cruz County. They seek ten local businesses that would like to provide lunchtime workshops to their employees, available between March and July of 2014. There will also be free community workshops offered monthly, starting March 17th from 6-7 PM at the People Power office, 703 Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. The workshops will include rules of the road, basic skills and maintenance and how to choose the best route. To learn more, click here.

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 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 Ott at mott [at] ucsc [dot] edu.


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.
Do you want to work in the green economy? Don't miss the Impact Designs: Engineering and Sustainability through Student Service (IDEASS) presentations at the New Tech MeetUp downtown at 6 PM on Wednesday, March 5. Come support your fellow slugs and take advantage of this amazing networking opportunity and connect with some of the leading entrepreneurs of CA. A lot of top talent from Silicon Valley attend these events and are looking to support creativity on this side of the hill. Make sure to be on time to get a spot! 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.
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: ucscpica.org

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

California's water crisis, from Chancellor Blumenthal

February 4, 2014

To: UCSC Community
From: Chancellor George Blumenthal
Re: California's water crisis

As I'm sure you know, California is in the throes of a serious drought.

Representatives from every local water agency gathered last week, collectively calling attention to a situation that becomes more worrisome with each passing sunny day (see Santa Cruz Sentinel story). In support of Gov. Brown's recent designation of a statewide drought, members of the Santa Cruz City Council have asked residents to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 20 percent.

As members of the Santa Cruz community, it's critical that we participate in the city's call for this reduction.
Many of you may have already taken steps in recent weeks or months to reduce your water intake. Whether you live on campus or off, there are a number of ways you can do so; tips are available online at this campus web site. Imagine the collective impact if we all step up to this challenge. It would make a real difference.
Institutionally, the campus has integrated water conservation into our campus planning efforts and sustainability goals, and we are committed to meeting UC's systemwide goals for water use.

Water is precious, and this drought serves to remind us of the necessity to use it wisely. With no relief in sight, please do your part to immediately reduce demand on the city's water system. Thank you.

UC Santa Cruz sustainability recognized in UC President keynote address

UC Santa Cruz sustainability initiatives were recognized a number of times last Monday, January 27, during UC President Janet Napalitano's keynote address at a high-level climate conference, VerdeXchange, in Los Angeles.

Here are the highlights of her presentation, as they relate to UCSC sustainability work.

She began by explaining: "I’m here today to talk to you about what we at the University of California have done, are doing, and what we can do in the future, to advance the cause of protecting the planet in a way that ensures a robust future for generations to come. [...]

"A dozen or so years ago, UC students wanted to make a big change. They were energized with a sense of purpose and public service. The 2001 California energy crisis, and its fallout, loomed large in the media. Decisions about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Kyoto Protocol were playing major parts in the national conversation on climate change and the environment.

"UC students looked at the world around them. They decided that now was time to heed that old mantra—'think global, act local.' First came the campaign known as “UC Go Solar”. It was time, the students demanded, for UC 'to practice what it teaches.' Student governments on every UC campus passed resolutions. They called on the Board of Regents to establish a clean energy and green building policy. In 2003, the regents—unanimously—did just that.

"Next, at seven UC campuses, the students charged themselves extra fees to fund sustainability efforts. Some of those campuses used that funding to establish competitive grants for sustainability programs. Others used the money for different efforts. Solar photovoltaic installations at UC Riverside. A Carbon Fund at UC Santa Cruz."

Later, she mentioned the Provost's Sustainability Program, which was created by the Sustainability Office a few years ago.

"At UC Santa Cruz, the Provost sponsors sustainability interns. They research everything from food, to landscaping, to purchasing, all to help the campus achieve its own sustainability goals."

She also spoke about LEED buildings and real food goals. UCSC is at 28% real food, with a new goal of
40% real food by 2020!

UCSC Chancellor Blumenthal with CUIP intern for Dining Alexandra Villegas after signing the UCSC Real Food Campus Commitment in 2012.

"UC has 143 LEED building certifications. Twenty-three of them were awarded in 2013. Our medical centers save millions of dollars a year through waste reduction and energy efficiency. Zero emissions buses drive across our campuses. Five campuses and two medical centers have already surpassed the 2020 goal of procuring at least 20% of their food sustainably."

She ended her speech with the following note about the future of sustainability at the UC.

"In my experience, these sorts of movements are built from the bottom up. That’s how UC students built this movement at the beginning. In the end, however, state and university leaders, together, have to take the baton and run the final lap.

"So let me say loud and clear that the University of California is at the track, warmed up and ready to run.

"Fiat Lux, or 'Let There be Light,' is the motto of the University of California. It offers a suitable grace note for ending speeches like this one. To you, today, however, let me amend it to this:

"Fiat Viridis, Or, 'Let There be Green.'"

To learn more about the sustainability initiatives President Napalitano has announced in recent months, please click here.