The Charge: A sense of place is becoming ever more important to the current and next generation of students as they balance virtual mobility with a deeper, more enduring awareness rooted in community and the immediate physical environment. As part of CC’s identity and responsibility as the only liberal arts college in the Rocky Mountain West, the college is committed to working toward becoming a model of environmental stewardship and innovation by advancing both the study and the practice of sustainability.
What’s Happening: Colorado College’s first Environmental Action Summit occurred on Tuesday, March 5, from 6-8 p.m. in Gaylord Hall. The summit was initiated by Mark Scaggs ’18, paraprofessional in the Department of Sociology, and supported by two interns in the Office of Sustainability — Westly Joseph ’21 and Benjamin Swift ’21. The summit brought together organizations and individuals working on environmental action in order to coalesce a more effective environmental movement. Members and leaders from over 50 organizations, including University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, U. S. Air Force Academy, local chapters of the Sierra Club, 350.org, and Empowerment Solidarity Network were in attendance.
As noted in a recent Catalyst article on the summit, “Scaggs took note of the passion among CC students for environmentalism. Yet, Scaggs also noticed a large problem: the student body’s passion for environmentalism did not extend outside of the “CC bubble.” That is, while students themselves are progressive in improving the environment and combatting climate change, the local Springs community does not appear to embody similar values from students’ perspectives. Scaggs hoped to create a means through which students would be able to engage in environmentalism with the Colorado Springs community.”
Kevin Mitchell of Empowerment Solidarity Network provided the keynote address for the summit, which was followed by a panel that included Ian Johnson, director of the Office of Sustainability; Bryna Coyle ‘19, zero waste intern at the Office of Sustainability; Amy Gray, volunteer coordinator for 350 Colorado; Eli Fahrenkrug, assistant professor of chemistry; and Sabrina Cotta, innovation and sustainability analyst at the Colorado Springs Innovation and Sustainability Department.
After the keynote address and panel discussion, attendees worked on developing mutual accountability in roundtable discussions. Each table featured an organization that was represented at the event, along with a discussion facilitator. At the tables, attendees were encouraged to pledge themselves to take action toward a specific environmental issue. Then, attendees were instructed to pair themselves with a buddy, with whom they exchanged pledges. Each pair of buddies were urged to follow up on their respective pledges in order to keep one another accountable.
It is unclear if the Environmental Action Summit will become an annual event for Colorado College, but the attendees left with bridges built between organizations and hope for future collaborations on combatting climate change in Colorado Springs and beyond.
Listen to a podcast of the summit at http://studio809radio.com/peak-environment-18-env-summit/