October 20, 2015                                                  Fall 2015 : Issue 29

That was one of my favorite quotes of all times, made last year by an EC student staff member. Right now, it also happens to be my truth. Here I sit plugging away at my ever-growing-never-stopping pile of emails. One part of my mind is intent on the task at hand; the other is completely enthralled by my rather intentional eavesdropping on a group of student staff members situated in the room next door to me. In this portion of the EC, three student staff members are in the midst of their work for the week-Sydney Morris, a member of our Local Food Security Initiative team, is researching how to winterize our orchard. Two members of our Campus Sustainability Initiative, Zach Bauer and Dylan Malewska, are researching best practices in water management strategies, so as to better inform their efforts to reduce water consumption on campus. At the moment, however, the three appear to have paused their project-related tasks and, of their own free volition, are taking turns reading each other passages from the Tao Te Ching. Their poetic orations are broken by bursts of discussion, each student in turn discussing the finer points of stress,  how to engage  with this world, and ultimately, how to live a meaningful balanced life. Their insights on deeper ethics and philosophies weave in seamlessly with dialogue over why they are here at the Environmental Center and the specific end goals of the various projects that they are working on.

Earlier this week I had a similar encounter. It was
late in the evening and I sat perched at a high lab bench in a room littered with equipment and chalkboards and some huge machine called a spectrometer. Gathered around the table with me were seven senior Engineering students, 
Dr. Laurie Williams and the EC's garden and compost managers. Collectively, these students were attempting to put their classroom learning into practice and design a 'green' garden and compost storage facility. In the truest litmus of  effective education, my role that evening became one of an observer---engineering students were firing questions about humidity requirements for compost storage and climate-related constraints on food production. EC staff were firing back inquiries about how to re-purpose materials and keep the carbon footprint of the structure low...and I, I just sat back and smiled.
And it just keeps going: the meeting that our Aesthetic Activists (successfully!) led to pitch a permanent art installation that would bring sustainability to the visual forefront of this campus; the way that a Freshman member of the EC respectfully challenged a room of faculty and staff to think about how to use empirical evidence to support actions and strategy to advance a more sustainable campus; the moment that our Garden Manager, who prior to beginning his post back in April had never managed another person, successfully rallied his team and delegated a plan to winterize our garden.
This is what the EC does - Yes, we tackle projects that advance sustainability and resilience within our campus and our region; yes, we pair academic learning with hands-on experience to deepen intellectual growth; yes, we strive to amplify the efforts of our community partners through collaboration and strategic partnerships....and, where I think our impact and contribution to the world is greatest is in the subtle, but incredibly potent stories of these students. The Environmental Center, through the creation of community, a bunch of training, and the sheer act of creating small change which creates hope, is growing young, ethically-motivated, skillful leaders. These youth hold the tools for effectively driving change forward and will do so, both here at the EC and in their lives to come. Now that is a thought, at least for me, that truly emits a perpetual deluge of smiles.

      Rachel Landis
      EC Coordinator

A Haunted Durango Green Drinks hosted by the Environmental Center

The Environmental Center (EC) at Fort Lewis College will be hosting a ghoulishly fun Green Drinks in October. The EC believes that our college youth hold the vision, values, and courage to build a more socially-just, ecologically-responsible world. Our work is to cultivate this latent social leadership by engaging students in high-impact sustainability initiatives that create positive change on campus and within our community. 

Join us (in costume, of course) at this October's Green Drinks to learn how our efforts are aiding our region's green efforts...and how you can help us to cultivate tomorrow's environmental leaders. 

When:  Thursday, October 29th from 5-6:30
Where: Carvers Brewing Company
Cost: Absolutely Free!
For more information: Contact durangogreendrinks@gmail.com or rllandis@fortlewis.edu

Events + Activities
Campus Garden Workdays

Join our Local Food Fellow, FLC Student Duke Jackson, for an hour of garden goodness. Depending on the season and the garden's needs, you may be helping to harvest tomorrow's dining hall dinner, planting up next year's garlic or plucking hops for our beer brewing class. All are welcome and no experience necessary---just show up at the EC Campus Garden (located just north of the Center for SW Studies and across from the new soccer fields).
When: Tuesdays from 4-5
For more information: contact Duke Jackson at dvjackson1@fortlewis.edu  

Free Store

Stop by the Student Union every Tuesday to shop at the free store. The FreeStore is a place where reusable items are given a new life and where students and community members can participate in creating a gift economy, reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill and find the clothes, accessories, electronics, and a variety of other things you might need, all for free. 

Want to donate? Bring your re-usable items by the EC in the Student Union or drop your items off at the free store table on Tuesdays.

When: Tuesdays from 11:30-1
For more information: contact Amaya McKenna at akmckenna@fortlewis.edu

Zero Waste, Here We Come!
Have you ever thrown away a perfectly good t-shirt, pair of jeans, old electronic, CD, or book?  Chances are you aren't the only one, most of us have.  In the Story of Stuff (a wonderful short documentary I encourage everyone to watch), the cycle of the American consumerist lifestyle is examined and discussed.  The end solution they realize is, "what we really need to chuck is this old-school throw-away mindset. There's a new school of thinking on this stuff and it's based on sustainability and equity: Green Chemistry and Zero Waste."  Here at the Environmental Center, we are working towards a zero waste mindset; by means of both a more sustainable campus, and an environmentally-conscious student body.  

The purpose of the Zero Waste team is to work towards a zero waste campus by reducing consumption through education and by turning waste products into resources.  The Environmental Center at Fort Lewis College is working on some ambitious projects this year; one of which is the campus Free Store through the Zero Waste Team.  To help contribute to a zero waste lifestyle, the Free Store has been a critical project for our team for the last few years.  The Free Store is a place to find great recycled items, drop off things no longer needed/wanted, and learn about the environmental impact of many products.  As the "manager" of the Free Store this year, I have been amazed at how many products have been given a second life and at the support and excitement of the entire student body.  Many changes have been implemented at the Free Store this year to focus on education of "virtual water and energy" waste.  We are also keeping an inventory to see how many items have been through our store throughout the year. 

Working at the Environmental Center has been very exciting so far and has taught me a lot about individual leadership, responsibility, and teamwork.  I know there are many more great projects coming your way from the Environmental Center, so stay tuned!

Other projects the Zero Waste Team is working on include recycling, composting, and recycling audits.  Our recycling coordinator, Josey, has been busy working on recycling education and on ways to make it easier to recycle on campus.  We are planning to hold a recycling audit and campus-wide survey in November to see what we need to do to increase recycling efforts and success for students living on campus.  Another important aspect of our team is maintaining and improving the composting of the food waste coming out of the San Juan Dining hall.  Evan and Zac have been working with Sodexo and the Student Union to run the composter, which produces a rich soil amendment that is used to help grow food in the Environmental Center's campus garden.  

Amaya McKenna
EC Volunteer, Free Store Coordinator - Zero Waste Team

Job Opening - Conservation Colorado seeks a Community Organizer

Conservation Colorado is seeking a full-time community organizer to spearhead Prot├ęgete: Our Air, Our Health, Conservation Colorado's Latino organizing program, in southwest Colorado. This position presents an opportunity to connect Latinos and communities of color to strategic opportunities to advocate for, and take action on, environmental issues that are impacting the Western Slope. This position is based in Durango.

How to Apply:  Please send a cover letter and resume to jobs@conservationco.org with the subject line "Protegete Organizer, Durango." Applications will be accepted through Monday, November 2nd.

Contact: Michal Rosenoer, SW Field Organizer for Conservation Colorado, at michal@conservationco.org

Lobby Congress - Workshop Training + Lobby Meeting

- Make a difference on Climate Change
- Influence your member of congress
- Full workshop training prior to lobby meeting

Training Workshop and Info. Session
Wednesday Oct. 21, 5:00pm
Senate Chambers, FLC Student Union

Lobby Scott Tipton's Office in Durango about climate change (H.R. 424)
Thursday Oct. 22, 4:00pm
West Building (next to Steamworks)

Advocacy to support 21st Century Conservation and Service Corps Act

S end a support letter for the 21st Century Conservation and Service Corps Act currently in Congress. This is the act that will allow the 21st CSC to transcend the current Obama administration policy. There is NO MONEY attached to it, (so no tax payers will be harmed in this effort . This act would continue support for programs such as the Southwest Conservation Corps' Ancestral Lands program, which just this year has engaged over 240 youth.  The Ancestral Lands program has partnered with federal and state agencies, other non-profits, and Tribes to positively impact more than 3000 acres and 400 miles of public land. Corps across the country are working hard to empower youth and young adults to make similar impacts in their communities.  

How: Follow this link to send your letter of support: http://21csc.org/support/
Contact: Chas Robles, Southwest Conservation Corps, Program Director, Ancestral Lands at chas@conservationlegacy.org   

Indie Lens Pop-up kicks off the season this Wednesday

The Durango Community Cinema is now Indie Lens Pop-up bringing our community award winning documentaries before they air nationally on PBS. Come with a friend or make new friends as we discuss the most important issues of the day. Join us this Wednesday at 6pm to kick off the 2015-16 season - we are back at our original venue, The Durango Public Library. Pick up a calendar of coming screenings or visit our Durango Community Cinema Facebook page

What: Stray Dog from Oscar nominated director Debra Granik
When: Oct. 21 at 6pm
Cost: FREE as always  

Stay for the after the film conversation led by Durango panelists and speakers, Chris Meyer and Renee Adam.

Black Mesa Support Caravan

This service project aims to create a caravan of 15-20 motivated students and community members. They will work and help indigenous families on Black Mesa with a number of tasks. The Navajo and Hopi families we will support are resisting relocation from the Peabody coal mining operation, and they have asked for volunteers. In need of volunteers for herding sheep, elder care, chopping wood, delivering water, winterizing homes, and digging watersheds.

When: November 22 - November 28
Where:  Black Mesa, Arizona
For more Info. Contact: Lexi Demos or vist the Black Mesa Support Caravan Facbook page or website
Take Action Guest Column

I am thoroughly caffeinated , short on time , and space constraints impose . In other words, my scattered mind will be evident as I share these thoughts with you. Ready?

James Cameron, film maker, has focused some of his philanthropic efforts toward creating the FOOD CHOICE TASKFORCE. This just recently made its way to me so I am just now wading through it myself. At a glance, I was encouraged by his efforts so I will be digging deeper. Check it out.

Then there is this, a number of organizations have been throwing around this opportunity to support Wind Power without having to change anything. OFFSETS! Arcadia Power makes it easy to use wind power to offset the carbon based electricity that is generated by your current provider. Those are the encouraging things I want to offer you. 

A darker veil has been cast by those whose efforts are to hinder the conversion toward cleaner energy. CREDOaction has put out this petition in response to efforts to gut the economic incentives for rooftop solar installations. TAKE ACTION!

How can empathetic listening help communities heal and overcome the divisive nature of man-made disasters? 

A group of community members - teachers, social workers, geologists, youth and family advocates - have come together to address the above question. Last month we formed The Animas Listening and Empowerment Project to discuss how to provide a forum for people to communicate about the Animas River spill in a respectful and empowering way.  For our first event, we collaborated with Animas High School students who were conducting Story Corps interviews with people affected in different ways by the spill.  
The public event - "Voices from the Animas" - attracted around 200 people, offering their unique responses to various questions and prompts around the room in both English and Spanish.  As folks wandered around the room listening to Story Corps interviews on laptops, many side conversations developed that brought people together in comfortable and spontaneous ways.  This event was an important lesson in realizing how important it is to "set the table", and let the dialogue flow.  We are hoping to bring this forum to other communities impacted by the spill. Please share your perspective, students are still collecting interviews!

Contact Jessica McCallum to get involved.

StoryCorps' mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives. We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone's story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations.