Letter on Sustainability

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A fresh movement for sustainability at Reed is building momentum, but students are the only soldiers in the fight. While the Sustainability Committee and Environmental Studies program are supported by staff and faculty, the burden of moving sustainability forward as Reed policy rests entirely on students. For many years, student activists campaigned the administration to hire a full time staff member to oversee and direct sustainability projects on campus. Doing so would be in accordance with realistic commitments to environmental stewardship upheld by many of Reed’s peer institutions, including Allegheny College, Wesleyan University, Pomona College, Middlebury, and Bowdoin. Reed’s administrative indifference to sustainability tarnishes Reed’s image and cultivates an indifference to Reed in brilliant prospies who are dedicated to environmental values. In the face of this administrative failure, Reed’s student body took the cause into its own hands in creating and hiring a Student Sustainability Coordinator. Dove Henry has inaugurated the first term of the SSC by unlocking the defunct $10,000 Sustainability Fund and reconvening the Sustainability Committee. The committee functions to solicit, vet, and fund project proposals for improving our environmental footprint and creating a culture of sustainability on campus. Funding helps, but sustainability needs a lot more than capital. Sustainability requires a reconsideration of values that we are heir to (courtesy of a capitalism that refuses to value life, or “natural capital”). I invite you to consider for yourself how the management of our campus privileges aesthetics inappropriate to our biome, and how these do violence to the environment. Becoming sustainable is a transformation without clear guidelines. It is crucial for Reed students, staff, and faculty to be critical of our practices and actively change not just what we do but how we think and see our world. On November 1st, Greenboard will be hosting a Sustainability Soiree. We’ll be kicking off a killer series of workshops. We invite you to come and meet involved folk and learn about ongoing projects. And if you’re feeling up to it, we would love for you to share your own projects or knowledge. We meet at 5 p.m. on Mondays in the Infoshop.