What is Sustain Champlain?

Sustain Champlain is a campus-wide initiative strives to infuse sustainability concepts and practices across Champlain College by coordinating and promoting best practices within four areas: our institution, academics, operations, and culture.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Organic Garden!

Champlain College Community Garden!

When I was a little girl I had a knack for growing things. For example, one summer morning I woke up and decided to plant squash. I plodded out to a random patch of soil on our property and went straight to work weeding and planting; the motivation of an eight year old always astounds me. Now some might look at me and say that my parents were secretly helping me behind my back, but I definitely remember waking up each day to water and tend to my yellow beauties

I’m not sure why I didn’t continue planting as I got older, I suppose it was more hip to lay out by the pool with my friends, but lately I’ve been getting the growing bug. I blame my increasing interest in wanting to become closer to the environment and my fast realization that buying something I can create myself is just plain silly.

Luckily for me, this spring Champlain College will be starting up an organic community garden! Students staying over the summer are allowed to apply for a plot. Each plot will be 4’ X 8’ and will cost $10 for students and $20 for faculty. Those interested in growing food to be donated will have their fee waived.

Does it seem a bit daunting? Team up with a friend to split the cost and space! People with no experience gardening are encouraged to apply, as there will seasoned vets on hand willing to share their gardening tips, stories, and manual labor battle scars. Registration is on a first come first serve basis. All we ask is that you follow the rules outline. Some are: keep the garden organic, make sure the plot doesn’t become overrun with weeds, and commit to attending at least two garden help sessions. Plus you get to be creative and name your plot; I’m partial to The Beet Grows On.

E-mail Christian Erickson, director of Sustain Champlain, with any further questions. What isn’t awesome about having organic produce (without the organic costs) and really knowing where your food is coming from?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Upcoming Events

The next two months on campus are jammed packed with sustainability related events. Here's a taste of what's to come... Click on the Calendar of Events link (on the right side menu) for more details.

Invisible Children Film Screening and Discussion of “TONY”, March 22
Environmental Club Film Series: The Cove, March 22
Environmental Policy Speaker Series: State Representative Kesha Ram, March 24
Iraqi Ambassador to Speak at Champlain, March 29
Environmental Club Film Series: Crude, April 6
Earth Month Keynote Speaker: Brian Tokar, April 13
Environmental Club Film Series: The 11th Hour, April 19

WTF? Styrofoam back in use in Congress

Ok, so the compostable cutlery melted in the hot soup but not enough in the compost pile (issues we had here in Vermont), but to go back to plastic knives and STYROFOAM?? Really?? How about this novel idea... washable plates, cups, and silverware? Create a job or two, cut down on waste, and in the end you'll save money and face.

Here at Champlain a senior graphic design student, Melissa Kennedy, is designing a new campaign called "Sort it Out". The idea is to raise awareness about taking the few seconds to sort your waste into compost, recycling, and trash. Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I first heard this acryonym last Thursday in my Environmental Issues class and again at the speaker series that same night. It was coined in the 80’s by a British politician Nicholas Ridley, meaning: Not In My Back Yard. NIMBY-ism is an interesting breed of anti-advocacy. It doesn’t only have to remain in environmental policies, roads and transportation infrastructure is greatly affected by NIMBY-ism, but it has slowed down some development on projects that could really save energy and aid the planet. A conversation with a NIMBY-ist might go something like this.

Advocate: So these solar panels will be really good for the communities.
NIMBY-ist: That’s great. I’ve heard so much about them, but I’m not really sure they’re for me
Advocate: Well, why not?
NIMBY-ist: Hmm…They’re kind of eye sores. I’m not really sure I want to see them all over the neighborhood.

Okay, so that over simplified it a bit, but a lot of environmental NIMBY-ism has to deal with aesthetic appreciation. This is happening off the coast of Cape Sound, a location wind power advocates are hoping will become home to an offshore wind field. The location is good because of the strong and constant wind, but many of the town’s people aren’t too keen on the idea because they believe it will spoil their views. Apparently, the whole operation was working on an uphill battle from the beginning when the areas richest man decided it’s not what he wanted to look at in the morning when drinking coffee.

I can totally understand the importance of a good view and that many of these people move to the area for that reason. But I’m not sure how sympathetic I am. I think I’d be more so if they didn’t want them at all. It seems weird to completely support something except when you have to sacrifice. Offshore wind farms are highly popular in the UK and Denmark, and they show how technology and nature can come together. I find them to be much more beautiful and awe-inspiring than the buzzing lines of electric towers, which, ironically, are doing the same job. No one really seems to complain about those.

I’m hoping that when I get older my views on such things don’t change when money is involved, but I totally think we’ll be a more understanding generation because we’ve gone through high school and part of college with environmental issues being a hot bed of interest. I think the most important idea to take away from NIMBY-ism is the idea of how much am I willing? How much am I willing to cut back, to take the time out to do, to sacrifice? It’s not entirely realistic to give into everything and reduce yourself completely, but there will be a time when people have to start stepping up to the plate and realize we all have a stake in environmental issues.