“Free food — no strings attached!”
Armed with this offer, two members of the Student Environmental Center (SEC) brought students into this year’s annual Earth Summit, which was held at the College Nine and Ten Multipurpose Room last Friday.
Capping off Earth Week at UCSC, the 2011 Earth Summit drew together students, faculty and campus and community organizations.
Those who entered found themselves flung into a nexus of vegan food, sustainability, performance and education. Besides the food, tables, slides and lectures, Earth Summit featured several booths that allowed participants to offer input for “the blueprint” — a long-term plan designed by the Campus Sustainability Council (CSC) to create a more-sustainable future at UC Santa Cruz.
The blueprint has 11 different topic groups, including Food, Energy and Transportation. CSC will use ideas and suggestions pitched at the event to use in the blueprint, and will put them into practice throughout the campus.
Sophie Garret, a second-year Crown representative of the CSC, explains the different types of ideas that could be implemented by the blueprint.
“There are goals set for 10 years in the future, and there are those that are more concrete,” she said, “but any can be funded if they are sustainable.”
Members of the 2011 Earth Summit drew in people from all over. Linda Furuto, an associate math professor at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu, said that her school sent her to UCSC to learn and share ideas.
“I’m really fascinated with the intersections of sustainability, environmental conservation and mathematics,” she said. “UH-West Oahu is here to bring back some of the knowledge and wisdom to our students in terms of math.”
She said that math is crucial to a more sustainable future.
“I think what you guys have here is really special,” she said. “And I think math can be a tool to preserve the culture and backgrounds that we come from.”
Co-chair of SEC Gabi Kirk said that community is a large factor in SEC’s mission.
“A lot of environmental issues are deeply ingrained into community issues,” she said. “It’s not just the culture on campus, it’s the culture of Santa Cruz. This open forum is for anyone to walk in and participate.”
Though the attendance matched the projected estimates set out by SEC’s event advertisement, Kirk admits that she hoped more would come.
SEC publicity intern Goldie Mitton said that it can be difficult to gather a large amount of campus and community members.
“Some don’t think we do as much as we say,” she said, providing a reason for the disparity between the 300–350 that showed up and the potential attendance of an event lasting for six hours.
Joyce Rice, program manager for both SEC and CSC, pointed to a traditional level of non-interaction between those inside and outside campus.
“There’s a lot of people in town that don’t work up here,” she said. “So they don’t understand some of the issues [that have been around] since UCSC was built. Water, energy and transportation [to name a few].”
Not in the least affected by this perceived division, Gary Harrold made his way from Soquel to be a part of the campus sustainability endeavor. Harrold went to College Nine and Ten to participate in Earth Summit, enjoying the food and discussing the aims of the event.
“It’s so enriching to see all these young people organizing and being so creative — the cooperation and the lack of dissent are so impressive,” he said.
“As a faculty,” Furuto said. “being able to learn from students is like reaping the fruits of your labor.”
Goldie has an optimistic view of the relationship’s future.
“They’re one of our biggest strengths — they’ve been around since long before us,” she said. “Sustainability is something we can all come together for.”