Environmental Center 2015 Spring Staff Retreat at Heartwood Cohousing

Environmental Center 2015 Spring Staff Retreat at Heartwood Cohousing

By: Lexis Loeb, FLC Art Major and EC Real Food Challenge Team Member

EC Staff Retreat_Spring 2015

This past weekend the passionate students and staffers here at the Environmental Center gathered for their Bi-annual staff retreat at Heartwood Co-housing located in the beautiful town of Bayfield. Heartwood is an intentional, off-grid, co-housing community that strives to live in harmony not only with their environment but with their fellow neighbors and community members. The community centers around the organic farm known as Grace Gardens. The diversified vegetable, chicken, and llama farm is located on Heartwood’s communally owned 250 acre property.

The four student teams at the EC (Local Food Security, Zero-Waste, Campus Sustainability and Real Food Challenge) strategized, collaborated and celebrated their current projects and events for the year ahead. Ideas were shared, delicious local food was consumed and boots were stuck as we helped Rachel, the Grace Gardens’ manager, prep for the upcoming spring season.

As a third-year, returning EC staff member, it was my observation that this spring’s staff retreat was extremely pro-active and focused.  There was a spirit of collaboration amongst the teams this year that is going to make for some awesome campus events and pro-active action toward sustainability and social-justice at FLC. With the help and guidance of EC Coordinator, Rachel Landis, and Assistant Coordinator, Erin Murphy we were charged to take up the Spring Semester’s Program Goals:

  • Do less, and do it well
  • Increase/diversify student engagement “beyond the choir”
  • Collaborate and Integrate all EC projetcs

Overall, the Retreat was a nice escape from the chaos of college life and an excellent team-building opportunity to inspire the hard-working, dedicated students at the Environmental Center who are constantly working toward a more environmentally-conscious and socially-just FLC community.

Keep your eyes peeled for some awesome EC events and volunteer opportunities this spring and if you would like to learn more about Heartwood Cohousing visit the link below. A special thanks to Dick Grossman and the Heartwood community for hosting us and showing us around their home!!


An FLC Environmental Center Student’s Fight Against Fracking

This post is by Michaela Steiner, a student and divestment organizer at Fort Lewis College in Colorado:Michaela Steinter with beet at the Old Fort

I decided to attend college in Colorado because of its pristine beauty and great hiking opportunities. I’m a native Coloradan and have always enjoyed taking walks through the mountains; the natural scenery here provides a landscape for so many amazing outdoors activities—from mountain biking to backpacking to ice climbing and beyond. I first learned about fracking in an environmental biology course and became disgusted when I realized what it prescribes for our collective future.


Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a high-pressure process of injecting millions of gallons of water and toxic, radioactive, and carcinogenic chemicals into the ground to release natural gas. Since this process is federally unregulated, methane and toxic chemicals contaminate groundwater and drinking water.


I was so disturbed seeing this destruction of Colorado cities and landscapes that I devoted my summer to working with Colorado communities to ban fracking. To do this, we’ve been advocating for a ballot initiative that gives power back to the people, by granting citizens the right to ban fracking and other dangerous corporate projects in their local town and city governments.


Over and over, I’ve observed that the solution is simple: we need to put power back into the hands of regular citizens and ensure their right to local self-government. If we successfully achieve this, we can create a unified movement that works to transition our society to a renewable energy future. That’s why I’m really excited to attend the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21st. I’m going to join together with hundreds of thousands of people from across the country to unify for climate justice and build power that can overcome the fossil fuel industry. We are taking to the streets to challenge this industry that expects us to stay home, and we are going to show the world the power of people.


With all the work that’s been put in place, you’d expect Colorado to already be fully solar powered; with our 300 days of sunshine, it’s a wonder why we haven’t transitioned to a renewable energy future yet. It’s because the the oil and gas industry, the main opposition, has a stranglehold on our local and state government. When Colorado counties like Longmont passed a democratic vote to ban fracking, they were sued by the oil and gas industry. Soon, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper sided with the fossil fuel companies and filed a lawsuit against Longmont. This shows the immense power that these corporations have in government. Such power dynamics prevent Colorado citizens from their right to make decisions about their own health and safety. On a larger scale, the power that the oil and gas industry holds in federal and global decisions about the environment prevents the climate crisis from being addressed in a way that ensures a livable future.


The People’s Climate March is being organized by the people and it is for the people, to redefine our ability to claim power in government. It’s time for frontline communities, from Colorado to Appalachia to the Gulf Coast, to centralize their community power before it’s too late. This march comes at a historic and influential time as global leaders, including President Obama, are in New York to attend the Climate Summit. It’s the perfect opportunity to create the largest mobilization on climate change in history and to bring power back into the hands of the people. It’s the best chance we’ve got for Colorado and the rest of the United States to come together as a unified movement of people power and claim our own voice. Though the march is in NYC, I will be joining from Colorado in solidarity—wherever in the world you are you can take part in the March and demand climate justice.