The Sustainability Center came out of the work of the Climate Justice League (CJL) and the student participants in the Student Sustainability Coalition. The CJL’s Green Plan Campaign recognized the lack of cohesion between environmental groups on campus. It also recognized the need for a professional facilitator for a coalition of students to implement large-scale projects. After countless emails, presentations, planning revisions, and long meetings, the Student Sustainability Coalition was granted funding for a Sustainability Coordinator position, and Louisa de Heer joined UO staff in December of 2010, chosen by the students themselves.
The Sustainability Center began operations in March of 2011, focusing on planning the Earth Day 2011 celebration. Earth Day marked the grand opening, the beginning of outreach to students and community members, and heightened the dialogue to connect campus sustainable initiatives. The Board of Directors was created to organize and bring cohesion to these dialogues within different realms of sustainability. The purviews, each with its own Board Chair, are:
- Buildings and Zero Waste
- Business and Policy
- Climate and Preservation
- Equity, Justice, and Health
- Food and Landscapes
- Transportation and Energy
The Sustainability Center already has a list of accomplishments: progress on a local food awareness project in the residence halls, increased collaboration and communication on and off campus, a successful energy challenge, a proposal report for a Sustainability undergraduate major, administration of a $35,000 Student Sustainability Fund and a number of contributions to other initiatives on campus to promote sustainable practices. Within the Sustainability Center there are defined goals and expectations, though new ideas and revisions to practices are inevitable for any organization in the business of change. Flexibility is an important part of a sustainable lifestyle.
What We Do
The mission of the UO Sustainability Center is “to serve as the hub of student-led sustainability initiatives that foster and support the transition to sustainability through collaboration, education, and activism.” Staff of the Sustainability Center want to build friendships. A community where people care about each other and their environment is sure to be sustained into the future. Therefore, the most crucial part of the Sustainability Center work is to networking. Working together to see all viewpoints creates healthy atmospheres. Even when individuals may have different ideas, the process of each explaining their side allows for understanding and consideration.
This is where the Center comes into play. Our humble, earth-plastered, plant-filled office space serves as an epicenter for seismic conversations, intellectual explorations, and helpful recommendations. Hosting fundraisers, organizing events, and raising awareness are just some of the ways Sustainability Center staff can contribute. But perhaps the most important of all is individual motivation. Every person found here has a passion for some aspect of sustainability. Whatever it may be, take that sensation and push forward to make a difference. Start a garden to eat food local, cook fresh food, compost and teach others, help a neighbor, take a friend on a new hike. Remember, your mouth is your most powerful tool… live your ethics and tell people what you’re doing! Use the resources, use your voice, use the Sustainability Center to make your choice!