Students for a Sustainable Campus

MICA Bike Share Launches!

Students sign up to use the MICA Bike Share program.

After a semester and a half of hard work, Students for a Sustainable Campus launched the MICA Bike Share  today! The program will support cycling as a sustainable form of transportation, and as a good source of exercise. Baltimore Bicycle Works, a local worker owned and operated bike shop, generously donated 4 refurbished bikes (along with plenty of advice and support!) to get the program off the ground. The bikes will be available to all full-time undergraduate and graduate students to check out from the MICA Fitness Center for 48 hours free of charge.

At the launch students bought patches designed and screen-printed by SF/SC to support the Bike Share, ate free vegan cookies and got to get a first look at the one of the Bike Share bicycles. The Bike Share’s four student employees also gave  bike safety lessons that certified students for participation in the bike share program.

Patches designed by Olivia Horvath and screenprinted by SF/SC!

Any student who is interested in taking out a Bike Share bike should come to the MICA Fitness Center in the Meyerhoff during one of the following times to take a ten-minute bike safety lesson and sign up for the Bike Share:

Sunday-Friday: 3:15-5:00pm

Saturday: 10:15am-12:00pm

Once students are certified for the program, they can check out a bike from the Fitness Center whenever it is open, and get a 15% discount at BBW! Fitness Center hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 7:30am-10:30am, 3pm-10pm

Wednesday: 7:30am-10am, 3pm-12am

Friday: 3pm-7pm

Bike Share bikes in their new home at the MICA Fitness Center. - photo by Marcello Cunha

Saturday: 9am-3pm

Sunday: 3pm-10pm

Many thanks to all of SF/SC’s members, Megan Miller & the Student Activities Office, and Tommy Nash & BBW for all of their hard work and support!

-Zoe

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Filed under: Uncategorized

Worm Composting Workshop

Miranda Pfeiffer shares her vermiculture expertise.

Miranda Pfeiffer of the MICA Sustainable Food Project & the MICA Sustainable Worm Project gave an amazingly informative indoor composting workshop today! Miranda discussed how to construct a worm bin, what worms eat, what worms shouldn’t be fed and how worms reproduce. At the end of the workshop, Miranda showed how to harvest a worm bin – how to separate worm castings (broken down organic matter, or “worm shit”) from still-to-be-digested food scraps from worms. Students in attendance were given the opportunity to sign a waiting list for free worms; as the worms in the many worm bins that Miranda has distributed throughout the MICA community multiply, they will be harvested and passed on to the students on the free worms waiting list.

Organized by SF/SC vice president Marcello Cunha, this workshop is one of four sustainability-related workshops that will be happening on campus this semester. The next, on March 7th at 2pm in Main 110, will deal with a sustainable diet. In April, look for a workshop on the possibilities of passive solar design! To learn more about the MICA Sustainable Food Project, come to a Garden Interest Meeting this Saturday Feb. 27th at 2p in Cafe Doris, or visit  http://micasustainablefood.wordpress.com/  To learn more about the MICA Sustainable Worm Project, visit http://buddhaworms.wordpress.com/

Miranda shows how to harvest a worm bin.

The worms used are called red wigglers.

Often, worms will be found in clusters like this one.

Still-to-be-digested food scraps separated out during the worm bin harvest. Look at the tiny baby worm on the carrot!

-Zoe

Filed under: Uncategorized

241 Students Demand Answers at Town Hall Meeting

SF/SC prepares petition materials

When a small group of Students for a Sustainable Campus members met with Fred Lazarus, Timothy Millner, Dusty Porter and Mike Molla last year, the administrators asked how many MICA students really care about sustainability. SF/SC seized MICA’s Town Hall Meeting as the perfect opportunity to respond. The MICA Town Hall Meeting is the big meeting between administrators and students that happens once per semester. Spring 2010’s Town Hall took place on Wednesday, February 17th in Main 110. Even with the school closed due to snow for the week leading up to the meeting, SF/SC still managed to gather 241 signatures in a creative petition. Town Hall meetings have, in the past, used an index card system to ask questions; instead of raising your hand and directly asking an administrator about building hours, for example, you filled out your question on an index card and the moderator (the SVA president) sorted through the index cards and read as many as time allowed. SF/SC members wrote out 5 important questions about sustainability on a huge stack of index cards, and students were asked to sign the card with the question they felt most passionately about. Although Wednesday’s Town Hall unexpectedly abandoned the index card system, allowing students to stand up and speak – a big improvement in my opinion – the stack of cards still made an impressive visual. Administrators were read all five questions, and told how many students had signed each question. The questions were (and still are!):

SF/SC officers display 241 signed petition index cards

What are 3 things MICA plans to do in the next year to reduce its carbon footprint?

What are 3 things MICA is going to do reduce sustainability into the curriculum?

How does MICA plan on saving or acquiring funds for solar panels, wind turbines or other forms of green energy?

What are 3 things MICA plans to do in the next year to make sustainability a more visible part of its mission and vision?

When will MICA step up as a green leader and pledge to go carbon neutral?

In response, administrators pointed to upcoming improvements in the school’s HVAC system, climate controls, and a Sustainability Minor that is currently in the works. Administrators also highlighted trash and recycling as a good arena for the school to become greener by reducing waste. It is encouraging to hear that MICA’s administration is moving in the right direction, and are willing to look for more sustainable solutions, but these answers are not sufficient. We need clear, detailed and bold plans to reduce MICA’s carbon footprint and make us an environmental leader. And we’re not going to let Fred Lazarus forget it. At Thursday’s weekly meeting, SF/SC members stuffed over 40 envelopes with index-card-sets of our five questions. One envelope will be sent to Fred Lazarus’s office every business day between now and the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, on April 22nd.

And we’re asking MICA’s students to step up. Two years ago, MICA’s Town Hall meetings took place in Falvey Hall and included members of the larger Baltimore community. The SVA of today simply isn’t as well attended as it should be. Main 110 should be packed to standing room only, and have people spilling out the door. This is our chance to shape our campus. So if you haven’t attended an SVA meeting, do so. If you do attend SVA meetings, talk about them with your friends and classmates and convince them to come. There’s no time to lose.

-Zoe

Filed under: Uncategorized

Screenprinting, Bicycling & Baking: SF/SC Starts a Busy Semester

SF/SC Screenprinting Workshop

SF/SC students are hard at work on numerous projects for Spring 2010. In early February co-vice-president Olivia Horvath led a screen-printing workshop, helping fellow members screenprint sustainability and cycling-themed patches to sell as a fundrasier for the MICA Bike Share. Treasurer Cindy Ames and Bike-Share-Liason Marlo Weekley are spearheading a vegan-recipe-book-zine that will include recipes and illustrations submitted by SF/SC members. The zine will be sold as a fundraiser for the club’s Fall 2010 projects. Co-vice president Marcello Cunha is pulling together four sustainability workhshops for the semester. The first, The Power of the Individual Towards Environmentalism, generated a lively and inspiring conversation among students about integratig sustinability into daily life and best tactics for encouraging other to implement sustainable practices in their lives. Upcoming workshops will deal with worm-composting, eating a sustainable diet and passive solar design. With the MICA Bike Share Launch set for February 24th, and an upcoming lecture about mountaintop removal by MICA alum Daniel Shea coming up on March 2nd, SF/SC looks forward to engaging the wider campus in an ongoing discussion about sustainability.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Parade for Clean Energy

SF/SC members parade to the Constellation Energy Commodities Building in the Inner Harbor to protest CE’s use of dirty fossil fuels & mountaintop removal coal

On Monday, November 30th, SF/SC members joined concerned Baltimore citizens for “From Constellation to Copenhagen,” a parade from MICA’s Cohen Plaza to the Constellation Energy building in the Inner Harbor. Parade members carried a giant mountain puppet, signs, and an 8 foot by 11 foot letter signed by MICA students (pictured below, folded into a giant envelope). They received car-honks and cheers of support from drivers and pedestrians as they paraded down North Charles and Pratt Streets, chanting “No coal is clean coal!” and “Constellation Energy, BGE, we want cleaner energy!”

At the CE Building, protesters chanted and read their letter aloud over a megaphone. The letter presented three demands: that CE immediately cease all purchase of coal from mountaintop removal strip mines, that CE transition from coal to clean, renewable energy sources that do not leave long-lasting toxic wastes (nuclear power and “clean coal” are not acceptable alternatives), and that CE instruct their lobbyists to put the health and safety of the people and the land before corporate self interest. Parade-members cheered at the letter’s closing statement: “The harm you are causing to our city, to our state, to our country and to our planet is unacceptable. You must cease irresponsible business practices, and you must do so NOW.”

SF/SC chose to protest CE’s use of dirty fossil fuels and mountaintop removal coal with a parade, and with large props, because they wanted to harness the creative energy of the MICA community in their non-violent direct action, one of many that occurred around the world on November 30th. This date marks one week before UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen and the 10th anniversary of the WTO protest in Seattle. Read more about other November 30th actions here.

Constellation Energy owns three of the six largest coal fired power plants in Maryland. Two of these plants, Brandon Shores and Herbert A Wagner in Anne Arundel county, are fired with coal mined from seven mountaintop removal strip mines in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia and Kentucky. C. P. Crane in Baltimore County, also owned by Constellation, does not burn mountaintop removal coal, but it supports the practice by purchasing coal from companies that engage in the practice. You can learn more about Baltimore’s connection to mountaintop removal, and more about the process of mountaintop removal, by visiting www.ilovemountains.org

On December 1st, SF/SC president Zoe Keller spoke at the Rally for Maryland’s Clean Energy Future, put on by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Environment Maryland, the MD League of Conservation Voters and other concerned groups. The rally was called to protest MAPP (Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway) and PATH (Potomac -Appalachian Transmission Highline) power lines that would bring more dirty coal and nuclear energy to Maryland. Protesters view these lines as a huge step back for Maryland, following the landmark passage of the Maryland Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act.

Zoe discussed the role of Maryland’s youth in the climate movement. You can watch video of the rally (including some of Zoe’s speech) at 2b4 the World (“Rally for Responsible Energy”).

Thanks for the photos Mike & Miranda!
words – Zoe

Filed under: Direct Actions

Talking Mountaintops

teach-inSF/SC Holds Peer-to-Peer Teach-Ins About Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
Students for a Sustainable Campus members held three informational sessions in the Brown Center on MICA’s campus Thursday to inform MICA students about mountaintop removal coal mining and its connection to electricity in Baltimore. The teach-ins are leading up to two big Baltimore events the week after Thanksgiving: a nonviolent direct action against Constellation Energy led by MICA students, and the Rally for Maryland’s Clean Energy Future on December 1st.

Mountaintop removal coal mining is an especially devastating form of mining that levels entire mountains and fills the surrounding valleys, rivers and streams with rubble. Communities in Central Appalachia, where mountaintop removal coal mining is concentrated, feel the brunt of this mining’s damaging effects. Drinking water is contaminated with carcinogens, flooding increases, and communities are put at constant risk of a disaster like the disaster that occurred in Tennessee in 2008.

The electricity that we use in Baltimore is generated in part by this fuel source: two power plants in Maryland, Brandon Shores and Herbert A. Wagner in Anne Arundel county, burn mountaintop removal coal. Although C. P. Crane in Baltimore County does not burn mountaintop removal coal, it supports the practice by purchasing coal from companies that engage in the practice. If you live in Baltimore, you become responsible for mountaintop removal every time you turn on a light.

On November 30th, SF/SC members will lead a nonviolent direct action against Constellation Energy, the owner of these three power plants. Using costumes, props, and song, students will parade to Constellation to demand that the company cease the purchase of mountaintop removal coal and transition to cleaner energy sources. The following day, on Decemeber 1st, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Environment Maryland, and several other organizations will rally against a power line that would bring more “dirty coal energy” to Maryland. You can register for the event here.

Filed under: On Campus

Obama Save Our Mama!

Protesters form a circle of hope in front of the White House.

On Saturday, October 24th, people in 181 countries gathered to participate in the 350 Day of Action, an international call for strong climate legislation and leadership.

SF/SC members joined hundreds in DC for one of the biggest of the 5,200 climate actions. With ponchos on and umbrellas open, protesters marched nineteen blocks through the driving rain to Lafayette Park in front of the White House. There, participants formed a circle of hope to send a clear message to the Obama administration: the United States must pass strict climate legislation and enter the international climate talks in Copenhagen as leaders.

SF/SC member Nellie Sorenson helps form the circle of hope.

The 350 Campaign was founded by American author Bill McKibben and mobilized by a team of college students. The number 350 stands for 350 parts per million carbon dioxide, the level of CO2 that leading scientists, including NASA’s James Hansen, have identified as the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Currently, we are at 390 ppm. And most governments have set 450 ppm as their target. McKibben explains that at this level, the sea is expected to rise 75 to 120 feet. That would put a whole lot of land – including a little spot of land called Baltimore – deep underwater.

The call for action comes at a vital time. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark (COP15) is just a little over a month away. The UN Climate Conference happens every year, but this one is especially important. This time, representatives from 192 countries will come together to draft a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997 and operative since 2005, is a UN protocol that places limits on greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. (The United States signed, but never ratified, the protocol.) The Kyoto Protocol goes out of effect in 2012. In order to provide a seamless transition from one protocol to another, the leaders at COP15 have to come up with a plan in December. If strong climate action does not come out of this conference, we’re all in trouble.

Protesters gather in front of the White House after a long, wet march from Meridian Hill Park.

When times are this dire, every body and every voice counts. Ted Glick, Policy Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and co-founder of the Climate Crisis Coalition, told DC action organizers that college students (that’s us!) kept spirits up on Saturday. Dancing, waving banners and shouting chants of “350” and “Climate justice now!” the youth of the movement made this action a successful one despite the downpour. As Copenhagen approaches, SF/SC will continue to join college students from across the country in the fight for the climate.

photo & words – zoe

Filed under: Direct Actions

Vegan Bake Sale Success!

At 2:30am this past Tuesday, SF/SC members were still huddled around a flour-covered dining room table wrapping up baked goods for the Vegans Can Bake Sale. Our members made a wide-array of vegan goods: chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin muffins, apple-raisin-oatmeal cookies, banana-cinnamon cupcakes and more. Several recipes, like our apple-pear muffins and sweet-potato muffins used seasonal ingredients purchased locally at the Waverly Farmers Market! And all baked goods were wrapped in recyclable paper packages.

Pulling off an entirely vegan bake sale is a success in itself. But I’m happy to report that all of our late-night vegan antics paid off financially too! We sold out and made $156.54! Although we have to come to a final vote before we decide how to spend the money, we’ll probably be using these funds to buy a complete tool set to maintain our bikes.

Can’t wait until our next bake sale for more vegan sweets? Here are a few of the recipes we used:

Some of these recipes call for dairy products. We used margarine instead of butter, soymilk instead of milk, and 2 Tablespoons cornstarch/egg or 1/4 cup of silken tofu/egg. Here’s some more information about egg replacers.

words – Zoe

Filed under: Fundraising, On Campus, Vegan

Folk Singing & Green Thinking at YSEC Conferencee

Yale students/folk-singers-extraordinaire sing at Dwight Chapel to close out the YSEC conference.

When you are facing a task as daunting as greening an entire college campus, the best thing to do is seek to the advice of those who have fought similar battles. That’s what I was hoping to do this past Friday, when I hopped on a Greyhound bus for an eight-hour ride up to chilly New Haven to attend the Yale Student Environmental Coalition (YSEC) Conference. On Saturday, October 26th college students from across the Northeast gathered at Yale’s Dwight Hall to learn how college campuses can halt climate change. Representatives from Greenpeace, Slow Food USA, the National Wildlife Federation, the Energy Action Coalition and many other environmental organizations led a series of rapid-fire, information-rich panels on subjects ranging from ecovillages to bioregionalism to basic campaign-organizing skills. The expereince was very much like that of Powershift ’09, except the smaller number of attendees (each panel had enough room for about 15 students, as opposed to the hundred or so that attended each Powershift panel) meant that discussions were more intimate, could revolve around real-life examples from students in the room, and allowed plenty of time for each student to voice their opinion or ask questions.

I am still sorting through all of the information from that busy Saturday, but one idea jumped out at me as applying directly to MICA’s SF/SC. A student representative from Wesleyan University introduced me to the idea of a green fee. Similar to the Activities Fee that MICA students already have to pay, a green fee is a small, optional fee – usually $10/semester – that can be used to fund green initiatives on campus. Some schools, like Oberlin in Ohio, divide the green fee into two seperate uses: grants for green projects that are valuable but have no significant economic return (hosting an event like the YSEC conference, for example), and a revolving loan fund. Revolving loan funds, as I understand them, are invested into projects that generate a significant financial saving. Installing wind turbines, for example, would generate huge energy savings over time. The savings from these initial projects are used to fund subsequent green initiatives, and so on.

YSEC attendees gather in Dwight Hall to meet other students from their state. Four students from McDaniel College were also representing MD.

The potential to make change with green fees is enormous; many sustainable projects, like solar panels, require big capitol investments that MICA simply can not shoulder at this time. Our biggest challenges will be convincing students that a green fee is worth paying, and ensuring that every student sees the benefits of green-fee spending.

On the more tactical end of the spectrum, I attended a very informative panel about Powermapping. Powermapping is a method used to formulate a winning campaign strategy by identifying who you have to influence to make change. We are fortunate to attend a school that is small enough that the administration is readily available. Some students I spoke with were baffled by the idea of talking to – or even seeing – their university president. In my experience, MICA’s administration has always been a phone call away and been more than happy to help. But it’s still useful to know how to go about organizing a major campaign.

The model for the discussion was Greenpeace’s successful campaign against Kimberly Clark, a company that, up until recently, was using 100% virgin trees from boreal forests in Canada to make their Kleenex tissues. (I know, wtf.) Here are the steps for making a Powermap, as applied to a university setting:

  1. Who? Identify who you need to influence to win your campaign – the president of the university? the head of purchasing?
  2. What are their characteristics? Research the people you must influence. You should have enough information that you can plot them on a scale from 1 – 8, 1 being the least environmentally-friendly and 8 being the most.
  3. Choose a subject. Of the people you feel you need to influence, who is the most important? (You may need to choose two and make two separate Powermaps.)
  4. Identify their influences. What are the public, fincancers, VIP and personal influences on your subject(s)? Here are examples: public – local newspapers, the Princeton review, the student body; financers – donors, alumni, prospective students; VIPs – board members, deans, faculty; personal – friends, religous leaders
  5. Highlight those influences that are most important.
  6. Star those influences that you can actually contact.
  7. Note those influences that your opposition can contact. Make the decision whether or not those who fall into category 6 and 7 are worth fighting for, or if you should concentrate your time and resources elsewhere. Focus on those who fall into category 5 and 6.
  8. Define your goal. Make sure your goal is SMART: Strategic, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable and Timebound.
  9. Determine a plan for winning over those in categories 5 and 6.
  10. Win!

To close the conference, participants gathered in Dwight Chapel to hear remarks from Billy Parish, the coordinator of the Energy Action Coalition (EAC). Parish urged attendees to recognize that all of the basic structures of our society – food, housing, transportation – are unsustainable. They are also in various stages of failure. In order to reshape our world and put an end to climate change, we have to tackle all of these areas. Flush with ideas from a non-stop day of learning, students were eager to share their plans. One woman had decided to work on an eco-village that summer. Another student hoped to take part in the complete restructuring of our economy and government, moving away from centralization towards smaller, regional systems. Overflowing with ideas, we spilled out onto the lawn in front of Dwight Hall and joined together to spell out the number 350, the parts-per-million carbon dioxide that our atmosphere can hold and still sustain human life. (The photograph of the student created number, taken from the fourth floor of an adjacent building, will be submitted to 350.org’s campaign.)

The YSEC conference has filled me with optimism; every group in attendance – student and national groups alike – had humble beginnings. The EAC was dreamed up by five students. Five. It was pulled together and preserved through various power struggles because of the hard work and tireless determination of 20-22 year olds, and now it is a major force in the national student environmental movement. If a handful of twenty-somethings can form the EAC, then I have no doubt that SF/SC can bring change to MICA.

Photos & Words – Zoe

Filed under: Conference

MEETINGS EVERY THURSDAY 10:15PM JAVA CORNER

UPCOMING EVENTS
Vegan Bake Sale Monday March 1st, 11:00am-4:00pm, Bunting

Daniel Shea Lecture Tuesday, March 2nd 6:30-7:30pm Bunting 110
ABOUT SF/SC Students for a Sustainable Campus is a student organization at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland dedicated to the greening of MICA's campus and curriculum.

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Contact

sustainableMICA@gmail.com
President - Zoe Keller
Co-Vice President - Olivia Horvath
Co-Vice President - Marcello Cunha
Secretary - Adam Dirks
Treasurer - Cindy Ames
Bike Share Liaison - Marlo Weekley