Author Archives: blakefac

Who wants to talk about the Green Movement? I do!

A person reading this article, or any of the numerous other articles on here, probably have at least a passing interest in trying to live in a way that is Sustainable, or as it is commonly called, living “Green.” We at the Sustainability House on Albright Campus use the term “Sustainability” because it is more descriptive of the overall goal of the lifestyle we try to lead at our house – the goal of consuming as few resources as we can and cause as little environmental harm as possible, while also keeping up the pretense of a normal 21st century American life. Sustainability is a more useful term for House members to use amongst ourselves, but it’s a term that most of the students (and faculty) on campus are unfamiliar with. Sometimes people will take a blind guess and come quite close to the definition, but often when I explain what we do at the house, I find it more helpful to say “we are living Green,” which always elicits understanding in the friend I am talking to at the time. It was the word green, more than sustainability or conservation or ecological or any other word relating to a lifestyle geared towards preserving the environment, that became inextricably linked as the definition of the movement that it was describing.

When one thinks about it, it almost seems nonsensical – why would a color, more than any word which actually described the intention of the movement, become the most popular way to refer to that movement? And why Green, over every other color of the rainbow? Why not the blue movement? Or the red movement? Or the chartreuse for that matter? A few moments of reflection plus a quick search on Wikipedia to confirm reveals that the reason that Green is so associated with environmental movements is because it relates to the color that dominates nature (at least in this corner of the world) most – the color of chlorophyll and so plants and so the very basis of the food chain and so ecosystems. But more than that, I think that the reason Green, more than any other definition of environmental movements, has become a household phrase, is because it was chosen to be symbolic. It is better than any specific term because in handily refers a great deal of related issues without excluding any one, and it ties them all to the idea of a healthy planet – it is a shorthand for everything environmentalists strive for. That said, a few years back, when environmentalism was getting widespread media attention and became something at center stage in popular culture, initiatives to win over people to the cause coined the phrase “Go Green!” Alliteration and symbolism -a match made in heaven if there ever was one.

The point of this ramble is that “Green” became the shorthand for environmentalism because it was a moniker that could resonate with people on a deeper level and appeal to them in a way that more academic terminology couldn’t, and because of that for a time, just as nature is good in the popular mindset, the Green movement was too. Unless you were specifically against it, you were with it, it was taken as writ that it was something to get behind, and really I don’t think anyone could possibly say that nature is bad in this day and age, unless they are really paranoid about getting eaten by a tiger. I remember that things then felt like a real movement, like finally society was going to tackle the problems we had inflicted on the world. Turns out that was fad. In a few years, the Green movement ran its course and people went back to indifference. After that, people like us at the House and just about anyone reading this article, became something less than activists in the public eye – we became fans. Just like every other fad that came and went, from disco to video arcades to those weird rubber bands that look like animals, there were a few left behind who really liked what was said at the time and didn’t move on. We don’t deserve to be looked at like that, but more than that, humanity doesn’t deserve to look at sustainability like that. Conservation isn’t a fad, it’s a lifestyle, an ambition we hold for society, and the path that everyone on Earth is going to have to walk because, more than anything, it is the solution to human failure to plan ahead and realize the importance of restraint.

Playing Devil's Advocate to Win

The Green movement got people excited, but failed to follow through, and even worse, it marginalized Sustainability. We at the House have been fighting all semester against this disinterest, because we aren’t just fans, we the experts, the people who not only want to live sustainably, but that realize that the whole world will benefit from living sustainably, and the ones in a position to actually foster that belief in others. For anyone who wants to live sustainably, it is going to have to be a part of that lifestyle to also be a missionary – to convince people not only of the validity of this lifestyle, but the need for it. Ultimately, today, living Green is looked at as something like any other interest – he likes videogames, she likes sports, he likes living green. It’s not disdained, but it’s not in the mainstream. To anyone reading this, I say congratulations -congratulations on maintaining the will to live this lifestyle even as culture dismisses its relevancy exactly when it becomes a necessity in reality. Living sustainably, or ecologically, or “green” is not a hobby, it’s practice that society needs to adopt to survive the amount of damage that has already been done to the world, and if we really, really want, as members of this movement, to help the world (and that’s what we’re all here for, right?) then more than anything, we have to be convinced that we know what we are doing is right, and to convince everyone else too. So have a conversation today (or tomorrow if you are reading this as late as I am typing this) about Green with someone you respect and who respects you, because the best way to make a movement larger, is to trust people enough, as intelligent people, to see the same reasons we have for living how we do, if we get intelligent people to think about it. After all, if we could see enough reason to read Sustainability blogs on the internet, then something must be compelling enough about Going Green for anyone to get involved.

And thanks to anyone for getting this far. I really could have been more eloquent, but I really just hope you take home the conviction to start reaching out to folks, and start seeing things from their point of view.

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A Chance for YOU to Learn about Green Living at Albright (Also, Free Punch!)

We’re making plans at the Sustainability House! We recently had a house meeting to decide what we want to accomplish this year. The overarching house goal for this semester is to increase our presence on campus.

As members of the House, we are obligated (I think privileged, but I really like the Affinity House) to work on a project to improve Albright in a way that makes the campus more sustainable (so a way that makes the campus more improved, if you ask us). But we’ve been running up against the reality that there just aren’t a lot of outlets for people who want to make Albright more sustainable to make an impact because there aren’t many programs that encourage sustainability on campus. It sucks being given the opportunity to do something for the school and then having no one care about your cause. So, this semester, we want to host a series of events to actually inform people about the Sustainability House and living sustainably at college.

The event I am going to be hosting is what I’m calling the Green Living Round Table. You might have seen advertisements that I put up for it last year. That was a mess. I decided to host these events way too late in the semester to make an impact. But, I still believe in the necessity of it so I’m going to try again this year. The Round Table is going to be a discussion group that meets weekly at the Sustainability House where the topic of discussion will center around a living sustainably, with a new topic each week, to give people a chance to share methods to live sustainably, what makes sustainably interesting, and what makes it difficult. I think it is going to be a real gift to allow people who are already interested in green living a way to support, talk to, and learn from each other. It’s been a real boon for us who live in the Sustainability house to be able to live with peers who actually care about preserving the environment, because the Green Movement has really died out from the mainstream in recent years. It was really hard keeping up the drive to live sustainably when no one else we knew saw the point in doing so. I can’t overstate how important it is to find people who believe in what you do if you want to make a difference for the better, and we at the House want to give that same sense of purpose to every closeted ecophile who wants to share in it with us.

If you are interested in talking with people who want to live green and sharing  your experiences or just listening to what other people have to say, join us at the Sustainability House next Thursday, February 6, at 7 pm. We’ll save you some punch (no, really, I make a mean snack-spread) Keep an eye out for more events from the Sustainability House, and don’t relent if you want to live the way your supposed to! -Blake F. A. C.

You Owe it to Yourself

In this, my first post for this blog, I should like to speak on duty. For myself, and what I would assume are the majority of people, the reason to pursue sustainability in life is because of a keen sense of duty to the greater world. Not that it makes me more honorable than others who do not feel this sense of duty, but for me it stems from a conviction that it is right to act as a caretaker for the world, no matter how little I can actually care for with my actions alone. The group that maintains this blog is a group of students at Albright College who live in a school-owned house created for people who want to develop a sustainable lifestyle. As students living in this house, we all are assigned to work together on a project that will in some way leave the school in a better state than when we found it. Together we decided that the best way to do so would be to shift the focus of the house from being primarily a data station which measured how much its residents consumed resources, to creating programs that would educate people about sustainability. We all feel a sense of duty to the world, but we also feel a duty to our peers at school, to serve them, and to our school, to serve it. Unanimously we decided that as students in a position to help our school emulate the values that brought us together, the best way to achieve that is to unite everyone who feels the sense of duty we feel, but don’t have the means we do to make an impact with them beyond themselves. By bringing like-minded sorts together, and trying to foster a like-mindedness in students outside of our particular interest range, we are going to make an impact greater than the sum of its parts, for the betterment of everyone we work with and the college as a whole – we hope. Admittedly, our ambitions are lofty for a group of five working out of a little cottage behind the dormitories, but I believe that they need to be. Duty to a cause is impotent without ambition, because ambition puts a duty in the center of the crosshairs and serves as a driving force for service. We are ambitious because that is what we need to do more, and we want to do as much as we can for our peers, our school, and the world, even just our slice of it. For those of you who also feel that duty to the world, and do so in spite of the culture of the time which puts little value on our cause, I salute you for nurturing in yourselves a purpose that others would call pointless. In the world we live in, it’s hard to hold yourself to standards that your neighbors don’t and have no desire to. We at the Sustainability House have had to do so a while, but since finding each other, it has rekindled our duty and our ambition, and together, we are going to make an impact, for the betterment of our world, our school, our fellow students, and ourselves. We’re going to do so because we have each other, and together we are have more capability to do so than we ever had before. If your cause is just, odds are good you are not the only one who follows it. Search out the people in slice of the world who want to be caretakers, and get to know them. Duty isn’t something that you hold to yourself, but something meant to be shared with others, because when you look beyond yourself, you find ways to attain your loftiest ambitions. -BFAC