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Beyond Green Week

In Minnesota, this part of winter gets unpredictable. As the weather shifts daily from cold to warm to incomprehensibly frigid and back again, even the most staunch of cold-weather lovers begin to think of greener times.

It was in this spirit that I realized how much I miss the farmers market on campus in the fall. Even if I wasn’t able to buy a lot, I appreciated having local businesses and families come in for two reasons. The first – the simple enjoyment of having those businesspeople there with items available for purchase. The second – they represented the spirit Concordia has embodied in progressing forward to a sustainable future.

Obviously, during Green Week there were plenty of examples and opportunities to join the party, but look at some others. Trashcans are outnumbered nearly 3 to 1 by recycling containers. There sits a framed poster above the coffee machine in DS declaring the exclusive use of organic, fair trade coffee (and whatever the result of the recent coffee taste tests, I hope these principles remain).

In fact, DS seems to play a major part in keeping Concordia green. Look at the much bemoaned removal of trays last year – it dramatically reduced the amount of waste produced in Anderson, and we’re rapidly forgetting the change as we get used to plates. Their “local days” are also something to get behind – showcasing all the locally produced goods that are put into our food. I was more than happy to learn all the honey came from a hometown grower just a couple miles away.

Looking ahead, I’m also hopeful about the new builds for the Offutt School of Business and the rejuvenated science complex. St. Olaf and Ithaca College are both in the midst of finalizing a new science center and school of business, respectively. Both are qualified with LEED Platinum certification (the highest sustainability mark). Imagine the draw of taking home that prize for both buildings – an opportunity that we currently have at Concordia. It would be a tremendous asset to Concordia as both a college of the future and one geared to meet student and community needs.

There is great potential here, depending on how much compromise the school is willing to make. Luckily, the college has been working with Student Environmental Alliance (SEA) in developing such plans. If you’re really interested in finding more, you can hunt down the 2008 Concordia College Roadmap to a Sustainable Campus, 44 pages of thorough examination of the college’s plans and goals for maintaining the future, complete with comparisons to other similar colleges (go to the Concordia Web site and search “sustainability”).

One of the challenges that the college faces is trying to implement some of these expansive ideas in a limited space. So, while I’m glad to see the installation of a Cobber garden and would love to see a windmill go up, it is likely that such a dream will not be realized soon. Yet the accomplishment of a garden on our limited turf is quite a feat, and hopefully it will continue to grow in the coming years as more students devote time to the project. It’s also exciting to see the garden selling its produce to students and the college alike, in turn slowly growing the prospects of real sustainability (environmentally and financially). Speaking of gardens, there are also plans for a rain garden under the bridge between Fjelstad and Park Region.

As grass slowly begins to peek out from under the snow, think about how much you love to see green. Even though Green Week is over, get involved, and work along with SEA to further our goals – those of the students and the college. And then look forward to Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 29)!

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