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Students Organize Second Sustainability Summit

This past April, Dartmouth hosted its second Sustainability Summit. The event brought together student leaders from colleges and universities throughout the region, including Dartmouth, University of Vermont, MIT, McGill, Concordia, and Bowdoin.

Around thirty five students participated in conference. The full day of programming included workshops, guided reflections, group visioning, opportunities for student networking, and a panel discussion about sustainability careers. This year’s panel included Jenna Musco ‘11, Assistant Director of Sustainability at Dartmouth, Dr. Tyler Pavlowich, who studies the health of fisheries in the North East at NOAA, and Sara Cavin ‘04, Program Coordinator for the non-profit Willing Hands. Maria Smith Lopez ‘21, who worked on the Summit Steering Committee, says the panel was meant to show students a range of opportunities to act on sustainability issues. “We heard from people doing work in non-profits, in government, and in higher-education. They are all very different ways to get at the same issues and it was cool to see those different ways.”

Programming also included student presentations, where students shared sustainability projects and initiatives taking place their respective schools. These workshops included discussions about “living” buildings, sustainability policy, fossil fuel divestment and student activism, and waste reduction through reusable dishware initiatives. Belinda Chiu ‘98, a consultant, teacher and social change strategist lead a visioning workshop for the event called “Finding your Why”.

Students from Bowdoin present on their waste reduction intiative (Photo by Sophia Linkas)

Sophia Linkas, another member of the Summit Steering Committee says hearing from other students was her favorite part of the day. “It wasn't something we did last year and it was so incredibly cool and inspirational to see all the awesome things our peers at other institutions have been up to. Two students from Bowdoin taught us about their eco-reps' initiative to get rid of cup waste from beer pong at social houses by using reusable cups and I'm actually in the process now of using the same company and clean up process they did as Director of Sustainability of my sorority.”

The day concluded with a community dinner at the Dartmouth Organic Farm. After Dinner, Freweyni Asress, a zero waste and environmental justice community organizer, and solar grassroots organizer for Windsor County gave a keynote address. “Freweyni was my favorite part of the day,” says Smith-Lopez. “She pushes against traditional definitions of sustainability, and tries to make the movement more inclusive of everyone who wants to be mindful of sustainability and isn’t always included in the conversation. I thought it was an interesting way to end the summit. We spent the day talking about what we’re doing at our schools, and it was interesting to end the day with a discussion of what we can do better. Yes all of our work is great, but we can’t forget to put it in context. We still have a lot of work to do!”

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