Engaging with Real Food

By Aolani Peiper, Real Food Challenge Coordinator

The last time I wrote for the Environmental Center was during my freshman year and my first semester at the EC. Now I am nearing the end of my sophomore year, and I am the coordinator of the Real Food Challenge Team. I never would have thought I would be leading this special team of intelligent and hardworking individuals into the realm of food justice and security.

In my time here, the Real Food Challenge has been more than a national campaign for socially just food. It has also been a chance to empower the students and community at Fort Lewis and beyond! Only 2% of Fort Lewis foods were “real” in my first semester here. With the help of my wonderful team, the EC coordinator, and Sodexo staff, we have increased our percentage to 7% in just one year – well on our way to our first major goal of 20%.

It’s an honor to be a part an eclectic community that cares so much about food and the environment. Fort Lewis, the EC, and the Durango community are working towards an ecologically sound, humane, fair trade, and local food system right at home. I thought “real food” was important because it meant a healthier lifestyle for the body and the environment, but it has become something much larger than that.

My perspective has changed a lot since I became involved with the EC. I became turned on to food systems and the social justice side of this work. The fact is, “real food” requires a movement, and I want to make a difference. There isn’t a better way to start than in my own community and at my school. Becoming more involved as an FLC student through the EC has been eye opening. I may not be your typical Environmental Studies major, but I see a difference in what I can do through the Real Food Challenge.

I think its best with a movement like this to hear from the people: the students who live on campus and eat the food here. I love educating people on “real food” and the impacts it can have socially, economically, physically and environmentally. I am especially proud of the Vote Real campaigns my team and I hold as well as the presentations we give. I see the voice of community shining through my team, and I see pressure being put on corporate powers. The Vote Real campaigns give a voice to those who need to be heard. It is food democracy.

Ripples in the Water: The Experience of an Environmental Artist

By Hayley Kirkman, EC Artist & Graphic Designer

Taking on a graphic design internship with the Environmental Center was one of the most important decisions of my college career. Not only am I growing personally and professionally in the design realm, but I am learning how to contribute to society and protect our planet.

When you walk into the EC, you instantly feel a vibrant motility from our atmosphere. That vibrancy is attributed to the plants distributed throughout the office, the chipper-ness of the students and staff, and the sunbeams filtering through the neon cube-people I painted on the windows. The energy is always undeniably positive in this space.

Every person that works or volunteers in the EC is passionate and caring. This is not an overstatement. I have yet to meet anyone here who doesn’t possess a genuine eagerness to help the world. We are a diverse team culminating together to bring social and environmental change. Some of us are gardeners. Some are advocates for real and healthy food. Some are energy-savers. Some are recyclers. And some are artists.

I have recently come to the realization that I want to use art to fight for what’s right. I have the ability to convey important messages through imagery, and with that comes a huge responsibility. Through the EC I am learning what it takes to become a thoughtful, environmentally-conscious citizen, and I am relaying those teachings to others. Although my part as a designer here is small, the action is large in scope.

Last semester, I worked on branding the 15th Annual Reel Film Experience and the EC’s 25th Birthday Celebration. I had never branded an event that huge before – it was attended by hundreds of people. The big, green and black Reel collateral I had fussed with for months were suddenly strewn about all over the town in the forms of posters, advertisements and digital media icons; I was elated.

Towards the end of the semester, I decided to hop off the computer and get my hands on some paint. In response to the situation at Standing Rock, I decided to paint people of all different “colors” uniting together in a body of water on the EC windows. From the outside looking in, you are faced with the question, “What do you stand for?” The EC community doesn’t stand for injustice or the destruction of Earth’s valuable resources, and I’m grateful to have been chosen to reflect that in a public space.

This semester, there are a few upcoming events requiring inspiring posters/promotional materials from me. I am also excited to say that the EC may be in the works of getting a “brand rejuvenation”. I can’t divulge any more information, but I can promise that our organization will only continue to grow stronger and more prevalent in the eyes of our community.

There you have it. I am just an ordinary person trying enrich the community and protect the environment in the ways I am able. And you have this ability, too. As Jane Goodall once said, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”