Sustainability fair raises environmental awareness

Student organizations and Northfield businesses representing varying aspects of sustainable living gathered in Crossroads Tuesday, Oct. 21 for Sustainapalooza: SustainAbilities Fair 2014.

“The goal of the event was to show Oles ways they can be involved in the environmental movement or movements both on campus and off,” said Hannah Gelle ’15, one of this year’s SustainAbilities representatives. “It was also a great chance for environmentally-minded Oles to come together and collaborate on some projects.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity for students to get to know their environmental community better, since it’s often diverse or complex,” said Will Lutterman ’15, this year’s SGA Environmental Senator. “This is a place where we can come together and show students where they’re at.”

The event, a part of SustainAbilities Week, featured both student organizations and Northfield businesses in a festival-like setting that also featured free food and drink and live music. Student organizations worked to educate students about their varied approaches to sustainable living. Organizations included the Wendell Berry House, an honor house whose mission is “to reestablish the link between people, communities and the food that we eat,” according to its Facebook page, and STOGROW, an organic vegetable and herb farm run completely by students.

SustainAbilities is a student organization that “invites all St. Olaf students to learn about sustainability and to practice it together in residence halls,” according to its Facebook page.

The organization was formed after a 2011 survey of St. Olaf students found that 94% of first-years “expect to learn how to live sustainably in the residence halls.” In meeting that expectation, SustainAbilities performs a variety of roles on campus to promote sustainable living; this includes holding sustainability-themed events and encouraging recycling.

SustainAbilites is far from the only environmental group on campus – thus the need for the event in the first place – and the other organizations tabling at the event promoted their own agendas. Lutterman took the opportunity to share his goals for the year with the greater student body.

“I’m the leader of the sustainability subcommittee on the student senate, and I’m here to just talk about what we’re doing,” he said. “We developed a series of recommendations for the President’s Task Force on Sustainability utilizing summer research done on student preferences on sustainability, as well as holding focus groups with student leaders. We’re submitting these recommendations to the Task Force in order that they can better formulate broad goals for sustainability at St. Olaf.”

A few Northfield businesses were also represented at the event, such as Just Food Co-op, which promoted its College Cooperator program. The program entitles college students to member discounts on certain items by showing their student IDs, as well as its new student CARE Cooperative Access to Responsible Eating Package program, which delivers a selection of nutritious foods to students at St. Olaf and Carleton monthly for $35/month.

SustainAbilities Week centered around Campus Sustainability Day, a national effort to celebrate sustainability in higher education.


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