Society draws a thick line between nature and humans, separating two entities that are one and the same. This line should be erased.
Sustainability, which by many people is understood as conserving natural resources, is far more than reducing, reusing and recycling. Sustainability is just as vital to culture and community as it is to the air we breathe and the water we drink. Humans seem to forget that they, too, are made of carbon and that the culture, languages and beliefs that make up society are equivalent to the atoms and molecules that constitute the world around us.
That being said, this Sustainability Week at the College is going to be different. The week will be about reaching into the depths of the true meaning of sustainability. Thanks to the Office of Sustainability and students like Colleen Sullivan, assistant internship coordinator, and Ashlyn Spilis Hochschild, internship and student coordinator, genuine passion will be the fuel for this week. Sullivan and Hochschild provided heartfelt insight as to why the office planned this year’s Sustainability Week the way they did and what brought about the need for this shift in viewpoint.
Inspired by the tragic AME shooting and society’s tendency to skim over topics that need to be addressed, the week will include lectures and discussions covering a wide array of subjects: institutional racism at the Greenbag Lunch Series (4/6), indigenous rights at the Social Justice Coffee Hour (4/5), contraception at The Social Side of Contraception (4/6). This week’s keynote speaker will be Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (4/4). Sullivan and Hochschild emphasized the importance of having students not only address these controversial topics but to do it in an atmosphere where these conversations, and more importantly, the students’ voices, are invited and welcomed.
Some lighter activities will take place with the Office of Sustainability’s annual Campus Waste Audit (4/5), Bike Maintenance Workday (4/7), Storytelling Through Food: Make Your Own Noodle-Bowl*(4/8) and Campus Garden Workday (4/8). These activities bring self-sufficiency, stewardship and pure fun to the week’s table. Students will also have the chance to attend a Farmers Market & Pop Up Restaurant (4/4) the beginning Monday on George Street and help the College’s Keep Charleston Beautiful club with their Spring Into Service* hours that Saturday. Words Unspoken (4/7) will be the physical embodiment of storytelling as students grace the stage to orate their stories through poem, song, narrative and essay.
Throughout the whole week, in Addlestone Library’s Rotunda, the Office’s Share Your Story (4/4-4/9) exhibit will be proudly displayed; hours of interviewing, transcribing and editing have gone into this profound and raw exposition.
“I really wanted it to be so people have the power to say what they want to say and feel how they want to feel without anyone…changing that,” Hochschild said about the Share Your Story process.
This exhibit is the piece-de-resistance to epitomize how social issues are entangled with environmental issues; everyone has a story and telling that story helps to reveal the true framework and health of a community.
“There is a social aspect to [sustainability], that is so important. I think it gets blurred in the academic realm,” Sullivan said.
One does not go without the other—issues with our Earth and environment do not just appear on their own, and that is because humans are the root of it all. To pretend that sustaining the human race does not involve being mindful of the physical world around us is the equivalent to thinking that the health of our minds has nothing to do with the health of the rest of our body. This week is a plethora of events and topics that have been waiting to be discussed at the College, all of which have to do with empowering individuals and using their stories to not only change the community, but the world.
Find a calendar of this week’s events at: http://sustainability.cofc.edu.
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