Zero Waste Is a Challenge Faced

I am a member of the Zero Waste Team here at the Environmental Center and I am very excited about the project I’m working on this year! Emma Kurfis, another Zero Waste Team member, and I are working on a Zero Waste Event Service Guide specific to Fort Lewis College. This guide will be available to everyone on campus and hopefully used by all of the event coordinators. We can also directly get involved with event coordinators to tailor the service to their specific event. To gain experience in the event planning process, we are working on several pilot events in which we partner with event coordinators to reduce the amount of waste produced at event. Skyfest is our next big pilot event, taking place on April 7th.

Skyfest music festival at Fort Lewis College

Skyfest is the highlight of the spring semester for many students, with bands from all over the country visiting FLC campus. Skyfest was outdoors in previous years. Photo courtesy of www.fortlewis.edu.

Skyfest is a big music festival put on by Student Union Productions at Fort Lewis each year, with headliner bands Gramatik and Radical Something making appearances at this year’s festival. Local bands will also play at the event. As part of the EC’s zero waste event service, Emma and I are working with the coordinators of Skyfest to reduce waste in as many aspects of the event as possible. This event is our first large pilot event to test out the service and in the organizing we have learned how challenging it can be to make an event less wasteful. There are so many areas to consider when planning a zero waste event, some of which are not in our control, as we are not the coordinators of the event. However, the coordinators are very open to our suggestions, which is awesome! Members of SUP have been supportive of our ideas and came up with a few ideas themselves. One of the main goals of our event servicing is to provide zero waste ideas and ingrain zero waste concepts in the minds of the coordinators, so that eventually event planners may attempt to make events less wasteful on their own.

There are several major aspects of Skyfest where we are working on to reduce the amount of waste produced. The first is trash. Ideally, we would like to have no trash produced at the event but this is highly unrealistic being that we can’t regulate what food or disposable items people bring into the event. However, we will be providing several recycling stations in the event to divert as as many recyclable items from landfills as possible. We are recruiting volunteers to help watch over the stations to ensure everything is recycled properly, as contamination is a huge problem with recycling here at Fort Lewis. This will also be a chance for us to spread some education on recycling to the campus community.

The second aspect of the event we are working with is water. When we first talked to the coordinators, they were going to provide bottled water for guests and the bands. We decided to set up water refilling stations instead. With the help of the Athletic Department, we secured several large water jugs for the event that we will refill throughout the event. Students are not allowed to bring full water bottles into the event but if they bring empty drink containers, they can fill them at the stations. There will also be a jug backstage for the bands. The coordinators of Skyfest are purchasing reusable plastic cups that they will hand out to anyone who does not have a water bottle. The cups can be taken home by guests and used or given back to the Skyfest coordinators to be washed and reused at different events.

At Skyfest, we will have an Environmental Center interactive table to teach people about zero waste, specifically recycling. There will be a game called the “Wheel of Recycling” that guests can take part in. After the event, we plan to measure our results by weighing how much trash and recycling were generated at the event. We can potentially take these statistics every year and compare results, aiming to reduce the amounts annually.

As you can imagine, the process of planning zero waste events can take a lot of time and can be very difficult. This process also involves lots of collaboration with other campus and sometimes community partners, and can also build great connections.

If you would like to volunteer to help with the waste reduction practices at Skyfest, please email one of us (below) or drop by the Environmental Center and sign up. The event is on Sunday, April 7th from noon to 9:30 p.m. in the Whalen Gymnasium. The event is free for students and $15 for community members, with tickets available in the SUP office in the Student Union. Come support Fort Lewis College and the environment!

For more information about the zero waste aspects of the event or the Zero Waste Event Servicing, you can email me (jmsmyke@fortlewis.edu) or Emma Kurfis (emkurfis@fortlewis.edu) or stop by the Environmental Center! For more information about Skyfest, you can visit the SUP office in the Student Union.

By Jessica Smyke

Deep Democracy With Riki Ott

Riki Ott lecturing at FLC in March 2012

Riki Ott lecturing at FLC in March 2012

At the end of March, I had the privilege of attending the Deep Democracy Workshop with Riki Ott. The workshop was an incredibly valuable opportunity to learn more about community organizing and social, political and environmental activism. Riki has a lot of experience organizing communities, and played an integral role in organizing communities to help deal with the vast environmental devastation caused by both the Exxon Valdez and BP Gulf Coast Oil Spills. She is both inspiringly motivated and full of energy, and works hard to bring about positive change.

During the workshop, many different issues and movements were discussed, as well as tactics and models of social movements that could be utilized to affect change. Among the topics discussed were the Occupy Wall Street and corresponding Occupy movements within the states and around the globe. Riki was highly enthusiastic about the revolutionary potential of the Occupy movement, as well as its peaceful, decentralized and diverse nature.

Riki also talked about the Transition Town Movement, which has also been spreading quite widely lately. Transition Towns are taking initiative and rebuilding their local economies, focusing on sustainability, interdependence and autonomy. Some Transition Towns have even gone so far as to draft their own Bill of Rights, oftentimes rejecting corporate personhood and proclaiming that sovereignty is for human beings, not corporate social constructs.

In terms of tactics, Riki was very adamant that peaceful coordination and nonviolence were key to creating movements with significant impacts. She argued that nonviolence gives movements a moral advantage and also brings new people into the movement. Nevertheless, she was equally adamant that civil disobedience is necessary to bringing about change, so long as it stays nonviolent. When injustice is law, it becomes a moral imperative that we disobey it. She gave the example of the Civil Rights movement, and tactics such as the sit-ins at lunch counters, even students peacefully getting attacked by police and dogs. By allowing themselves to be attacked and victimized by these unjust laws, people brought attention to the shockingly cruel nature of laws perpetuated by the state and civil authorities. Even the Transition Towns drafting their own Bill of Rights were a form of civil disobedience, as they are technically illegal and not recognized by the state.

Along with stressing nonviolent action, Riki also emphasized the importance of not only revolution but evolution. In other words, rather than just tearing down or reacting to systems and structures that perpetuate injustice, we need to have a vision of what we hope to replace them with. In other words, movements shouldn’t get too caught up in what they want to fight against, but what kinds of positive goals they hope to accomplish. She explained her opinion that times of great crisis, such as we seem to be experiencing now, also bring about the most potential for positive change and creative opportunity. Over all, one of the most powerful and encouraging messages she had to offer was the revolutionary power of creative and constructive thinking.

At the end of the day, we organized ourselves into two groups and created new teams to tackle issues in our community. We formed a committee to create a Free Health Care Clinic for LaPlata County Citizens in need, as well as a campaign to help bring more local foods into Fort Lewis and other schools in the area. We came up with a coherent action plan to help us solidify our goals and obstacles and to get these projects rolling. Hopefully these new initiatives will blossom into full-scale community programs, and we can implement our positive visions for the community.

Overall, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to attend this workshop. I took a lot from it, especially a new sense of enthusiasm for evolution and revolution, and it gave me hope to see so many other people passionate about creating change in the community.

~ Randy Newkirk

Growing Partners Presents Home Grown: Cultivating Your Role in the Local Food System

Mark WInne

Friday, February 25th marks the start of an eye opening weekend about the role we all play in our local food system. The event is kicked off with keynote Speaker Mark Winne discussing “Food, Freedom, and Authority: Who Controls the Food We Eat”, and everyone who cares about their food or community should be in attendance. This is taking place in Noble Hall room 130 on the Fort Lewis College campus. The following day, Saturday the 26th, will be a full day retreat with workshops and conversations centered on local food and bringing out your inner food advocate. The skills gained through this event are applicable at home, with friends, and in the community.

This event is a huge landmark for the local food crusade for many reasons, one of the main ones being that if we as a people ever hope to control our food resources then we need to start at home, today. This event is dedicated to educating the public on how much power they have and how much of an affect they have in the grand scheme of things; it’s a big one.

Every person plays a huge part in the food system as not just a consumer but as a producer also. Its important that we all realize this and cultivate the inner food advocate inside. Attendance on Friday is encouraged to everyone! To attend the retreat Saturday you must RSVP. For more information contact Stacey Carlson, head of the Local Food team at smcarlson@fortlewis.edu.

9th Annual REEL Environmental Film Festival/ Fundraiser

9th Annual Reel Environmental Film Festival/ Fundraiser

This week we hosted our 9th Annual REEL ENVIRONMENTAL Film Festival as our annual fundraiser.

This year our feature films were Generations and Swift.Silent.Deep, two ski films that, together, explore the consequences of climate change on our winters and the history of the pioneers of big mountain skiing.

In addition to these films, attendance included:

  • Appetizers from Raider Ridge & Zia Taqueria
  • Cash bar with beer and wine from Carver Brewing Company
  • Winners of the innagural sustainability film competition
  • Silent auction with great holiday gifts

See pictures of this year’s film festival and fundraiser:

Costumed Mass of Bikers in Durango

The beginning of the bike ride at Buckley Park. Photo by Oliver Luneau

The beginning of the bike ride at Buckley Park. Photo by Oliver Luneau

Critical mass (CM) biking is a worldwide event occurring on the last Friday of every month in over 300 cities around the world including Durango. The Friday before Halloween, October 30, a large group of costumed bikers left Buckley Park with their mind set on stopping traffic and having fun. Critical Mass biking began in San Francisco 1992 to bring attention to the unfriendliness of cities towards bikers but it now has no single clearly defined goal.

The only universal trait of every Critical Mass ride is the group of bikers riding through town. There are no assigned leaders and no strict organization which is part of what allows the monthly event to remain unhindered by the authorities. The rides around the world vary by size greatly. Durango has one of the smallest rides because of the amount of people living here, although it would be great to change that. It’s important to realize that CM is about riding, having fun, and asserting bikers right to the road, and not about making trouble or law breaking. The ride starts at Main and Twelfth Street, Buckley Park, every last Friday of the month, assuming the weather allows it.

There is no set route for the ride and often times the leader is the person in the front. Participation is extremely important because without a “Critical Mass” that can stop motorized vehicles there is no ride.

Photo by Ashlee Robinson

Photo by Ashlee Robinson

Durango loves to celebrate Halloween and nothing gets people in the spirit like a crazy bike ride through town. Winter has started there will be no more Critical Mass rides this year. There were around thirty five participants in the Halloween ride and I hope to see large numbers of bikers there in the future. To learn more about the history of Critical Mass biking visit the Wikipedia page.

Photo by Ashlee Robinson

Photo by Ashlee Robinson

– Oliver Luneau