Sustainability is a huge umbrella of interconnected ideas and behaviors. It’s also a word that gets used quite a bit in many different contexts, and it’s something that you’ll hear in class, in speeches around campus, and at all kinds of events throughout your college experience. Something else you’ll hear pretty frequently is “it’s happening here.” That phrase represents, in so many ways, both what we’re about in the present, and how we work toward our future, so it’s an awesome jumping-off point when talking about sustainability here at UofL, and how students are involved in making it happen.
As you walk around campus, you’ll undoubtedly see our Garden Commons, where anyone can go to experiment with urban gardening. Many of our students are passionate about food, and making sure that we’re mindful of what we eat, and how it’s grown. To that end, student organizations like GRASS and Eco Reps plant, maintain, and harvest produce for anyone in the community to enjoy, with the organic waste going back into compost bins. Those same students then take the compost, once it’s ready, and help spread it all over campus, into flower gardens and horticulture zones that their groups got to help design, plant, and expand over time. Urban gardening: it’s happening here.
While you’re walking, keep an eye out for bicycles – each year, UofL gives away hundreds of vouchers to help make cycling more affordable, through our Earn-A-Bike program, where you can trade your ability to get a parking permit for 2 years for a $400 credit at a local bike shop. If you’re worried about those times when you need to travel a bit farther than you can pedal, UofL has hourly car-rental options, and TARC, our metro bus system, is free with your UofL ID. Tires running low, or can’t quite figure out how to fix something? Just hit up the members of the Student Cycling Coalition! They’re extremely helpful, and organize everything from bike repair stations to group rides for cyclists of all skill levels. Many of these students also compete in cycling events across the country, for anyone looking to pedal a little more heavily. Cycling: it’s happening here.
Woven throughout the fabric of sustainability is a theme of social justice and equity, and students address this in so many different ways. For example, GRASS operates a Free Store, where people can “shop” for clothing, books, and housewares donated by others, which helps students to not have to go without basic necessities, while also keeping useful items out of landfills. Another group, Cards United Against Sweatshops endeavors to ensure UofL apparel is manufactured under humane conditions, so that workers at all income levels can benefit from safe work environments. Finally, the students who run the Engage Lead Serve Board, and the Student Activities Board regularly program events that allow the campus community to engage with a wide range of social justice issues within safe spaces, so that students can find their own voices. Social justice: it’s happening here.
Sustainability at UofL is everywhere, and there are tons of ways to get involved with existing initiatives. The best part, though, is that if you don’t see an existing group for what you’re passionate about, it’s super-easy to create one. Across UofL, students are a driving force behind sustainability initiatives, and are supported in so many ways by our faculty and staff. Sustainability: it’s happening here, because students are so passionate about making a difference. Welcome to UofL, and Go Cards!
- Benjamin Leamon , MSSW ’12,
PhD in Urban & Public Affairs, projected ’17
Organizations, Places, and Groups:
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