We had our first Sustainability Commission meeting on September 11th. It was great to finally get (almost) everyone at the table together to see what we can accomplish this year. Each member of the Commission brings a unique perspective and a passion for Geneseo and sustainability. Since accepting my role as co-chair of the Commission in the spring, I had two conflicting feelings that battled back and forth: First, an incredible sense of hope, possibility, and excitement thinking about the impacts we can and will have on this campus and the broader community. This feeling was quickly followed by the realization that I didn't know enough about sustainability on campus to know where to start and the sense of hopelessness that goes along with that. I am an analytical person: I defer to those who have more knowledge and I am hesitant to weigh in on decisions unless I have a lot of information and data. I knew I needed to obtain more information to help guide the Commission, but how could I get it and disseminate it to the group?
Luckily for me, the anxiety around gathering the information and data about campus sustainability initiatives was greatly alleviated in mid-July, when Barb and I met with Geneseo's new President, Dr. Denise Battles, and we were given a new direction for the fall semester: Help gather data for the AASHE STARS Report.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) runs a global program for documenting sustainability on college and university campuses called the "Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System" (STARS) Report. Geneseo received a Silver Rating in 2013 and we are up for re-evaluation this spring. Our results from 2013 and the new format for 2016 can be found in the "Important Links" tab on the blog.
I find it incredibly serendipitous that our first meeting and the need to collect data coincided this semester. The 13 of us will have a clear picture of what is happening on campus, we will know Geneseo's sustainability strengths and weaknesses, and we will learn who the leverage points are across campus to enact and sustain change. There may be some radio silence regarding Commission activities as we delve into collecting this data, but our individual efforts in promoting sustainability on campus will continue and we will post about those as often as we can.