Bringing sustainability to the University (Part 2)
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

May 11, 2014

Last fall I wrote a brief piece about bringing sustainability to the University. It discussed the small actions that have the ability to go farther than one might initially think. In getting a week-long campaign off the ground and try to bring the discussion of sustainability out from the closet into the hallways, it blossomed into something bigger than the initial thought. Besides meeting countless individuals excited to get involved in making the University of Amsterdam more efficient, we were able to submit a petition with over a thousand signatures and an application for a student led sustainability office. This office would be charged with the task of conducting cost benefit analysis on various conversions that could be made, such as switching light bulbs and mapping out associated economic returns for each endeavor. The aim would be to both fund the office as well as generate overall reductions in energy and spending for the university.

I’m happy to report that after the petition was submitted, the university set aside 5,000 Euros towards a feasibility study for a green office to be conducted by members of Rootability, a start-up designed to conduct these feasibility studies. I recently received the following e-mail in regards to the progress on that study.

Hey Chris,
Thanks for your Email. We submitted the feasibility study last year to Facility Services and I had the last meeting with them this February. They’ve lobbied for the GO within higher management and most people were enthusiastic about it. Now they just need to get the final formalities right and then they hopefully can submit it. A bit annoying that it takes so long, but they claimed that they were very busy with other projects. Guess it’s a matter of priorities in the end. In January 2015 we will have 7 green offices: 3 in the UK and 4 in NL. Rotterdam will start something as well.
Will let you know as soon as I hear more.

And so what began with writing in chalk on the sidewalk, has potential to become so much more. With that, I’ll leave you with a fairly large but most worthy short piece from Robert C. Solomon, that seems to sum it up better than I could myself, found in one of my favorite movies “Waking Life.” What we do matters.

“I’m afraid we’re losing the real virtues of living life passionately in the sense of taking responsibility for who you are, the ability to make something of yourself and feel good about life. Existentialism is often discussed as if it’s, a philosophy of despair, but I think the truth is just the opposite. Sartre, once interviewed, said he never really felt a day of despair in his life. One thing that comes out from reading these guys is not a sense of anguish about life so much as, a real kind of exuberance, of feeling on top of it, it’s like your life is yours to create. I’ve read the post modernists with some interest, even admiration, but when I read them I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more you talk about a person as a social construction or as a confluence of forces or as fragmented of marginalised, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when Sartre talks about responsibility, he’s not talking about something abstract. He’s not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about. It’s something very concrete, it’s you and me talking, making decisions, doing things, and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six billion people in this world, and counting, but nevertheless, what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms, it makes a difference to other people, and it sets an example. In short, I think the message here is that we should never simply write ourselves off or see each other as a victim of various forces. It’s always our decision who we are.” – Robert C. Solomonin Waking Life

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