UofL helped organize a Car-Free Kentucky Caravan to the AASHE 2013 Conference in Nashville (Oct. 6-9)
A Truly Unique Networking Event on Wheels!
When we learned that the 2013 conference of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) was coming to our neck of the woods October 6-9, Kentucky decided to roll out some good ol' fashioned Southern Hospitality!
To help increase participation and make transportation to Nashville fun, affordable, productive, and sustainable, we organized a Car-Free Kentucky Caravan to AASHE 2013: Resiliency & Adaptation! Our vision was to travel down to Nashville together through both a multi-day bike tour and a day-of bus trip that picks up participants at campuses along the way.
Demand was insufficient for the bus trip, but eight of us pedaled 200 miles together from Louisville to Nashville from October 3-5, 2013. We had riders from Transylvania University, University of Kentucky, and University of Louisville. Many thanks to all who helped organize and for our wonderful hosts along the way!
Justin Mog's Trip Blog
The Adventures of the Car-Free Kentucky Caravan to AASHE 2013 (October 3-5, 2013)
Day One: Louisville to Elizabethtown, KY (45 miles)
And, they're off! Eight hearty Bluegrass souls have rounded the first bend on their "race" to Nashville! The first 10 miles getting out of Louisville's industrial south was the roughest part. Nothing like sucking on truck tailpipes for an hour to convince you that there MUST be a better way to get from point A to B. And we're out to prove that it CAN be done! That those who truly give a damn about sustainability can get themselves to AASHE 2013 without burning fossil fuels...and that we can have one hell of a good time doing it! 200 miles seems like a ridiculously long way to ride a bike...but when you break it down into segments and take it one mile at a time, you learn that anything is possible! I think that's a lesson that we need to learn in the struggle for sustainability. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, there will be some rough road, nasty drivers, and long hills to climb along the way...but when you get to the top, there's always a sweet decent to reward you for your work. And, at the end of the day, even if you haven't reached your final destination, you have the satisfaction of knowing you've made significant progress. What's true for a bike trip is true for the struggle to make our campuses more sustainable. We must keep crankin' and logging miles, even if we know that tomorrow we're going to have to get up and do it all over again!
Day Two: Elizabethtown to Bowling Green, KY (80 miles)
As our skin darkens around our shorts' lines, and our muscles start to get into the punishing rhythm of long days in the saddle, we're building bonds with each other and with the road. It's starting to get into our blood - the need to keep moving and cranking along even if the skies threaten rain, the traffic gets heavy, or the road rises up before us in a long dark ribbon to the sky. No matter what may come, our job is to ride on. More and more signs to Nashville greet us as we ride ever closer to our friends at AASHE. This afternoon we rolled up to the Office of Sustainability at Western Kentucky University, where WKU's Sustainability Coordinator, Christian Ryan-Downing is kindly allowing us to crash for the evening. It is a very impressive place. WKU recently moved their Office of Sustainability into an entire house that Christian is gradually transforming into a model of sustainable renovation. A rain barrel welcomed us on the front porch and the basement is filled with a complete bike shop and plenty of bikes to be checked out on campus. As the Sustainability Coordinators for the University of Louisville and Transylvania University, respectively, I and my riding partner, Angela Poe, are extremely jealous of what Christian has made happen here at WKU and we are inspired to pick it up a notch when we return to our home universities. Can't wait to discover what else inspires me down the road at AASHE 2013!
Day Three: Bowling Green, KY to Nashville, TN (75 miles)
We made it! The Universe must've wanted us to show that it can be done...because not only did we make it here completely under our own power, but we had fantastic weather, never got rained on, no one got hurt, and the only serious mechanical trouble was one easily fixed flat tire today! Unbelievable! All eight of us feel really fantastic. Not only mentally - for having made it! - but physically, too! It is really good for your body to build muscle and push yourself like this. Lots of endorphins, new found strength, and plenty of vitamin D! We are also all experiencing hunger like we've never had before. Yes, hunger for food (which has never tasted so good!)...but also hunger for a more sustainable future. One where we all slow down a bit, get back in touch with the land (and what it feels like to traverse it!), and start figuring out a more sustainable transportation system. For three straight days we got to step out of the daily grind and enjoy just being. Simple tasks, day by day...that's how we will change the world! We look forward to sharing our stories with you in person at AASHE!
Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability Initiatives
University of Louisville
UofL's Justin Mog bikes with Kentucky musician, Ben Sollee, and others
Partner Schools (and distance to Nashville):
- Northern Kentucky University (300 mi)
- University of Kentucky (220 mi)
- Transylvania University (220 mi)
- Eastern Kentucky University (215 mi)
- University of Louisville (180 mi)
- Western Kentucky University (65 mi)
A Networking Event on Wheels!
Those who went on the bike tour had ample opportunity to get to know each other and the land very well - we rode together for about 65-100 miles/day. But even bus riders would have gotten in on the fun as we planned to organize programming on the bus, including a “speed dating” musical chairs activity, an “unconference” with participants in different sections of the bus discussing different self-chosen topics, and breaks at different schools along the way, where people could eat, stretch their legs, and get a quick campus sustainability tour. It didn't happen in 2013, but we're ready to make it work in the future!
Set-up CARPOOLS to/from AASHE 2013 for free with Zimride:
Thanks for joining us in Nashville for
AASHE 2013: Resiliency & Adaptation
Transform your role in higher education at the largest higher education sustainability conference in North America. Be surprised and inspired by different ways of thinking. Leave with tools and strategies to move the higher education sustainability movement forward. From the exploratory phase of sustainability to curriculum transformation, social justice, climate action and behavior change (just to name a few!), AASHE 2013: Resiliency & Adaptation represented and informed the full spectrum of sustainability challenges and best practices in higher education today.