How do we inspire and change our society? How do we blend the silos of education, civic, non-profit, and business? Higher Education is going through eco-revolution pains with the cost and the relevance to today’s world being questioned. On top of it, open-source and free education such as Kahn Academy are creating alternate ways to learn. Then there’s that sustainability thing…
If you want to see who is doing it right, go to Chico, CA which is where you’ll find CSU Chico. Chico State mainstreams sustainability thinking into over 200 classes and once a year hosts the largest, student run sustainability conference in the US. Just in case students forget why they chose Chico State, banners citing the campus values of sustainability, diversity, engagement… line the walkways. Cool. It was nice to see values that promote community instead of a leader-take-all notion.
What’s really impressive is that Chico State is starting to measure the impact of their sustainability training – post graduation – are the values and skills learned during class sticking? Kudos to them for taking this step.
Last week’s 9th “This Way to Sustainability” conference had over 1500 attending with nearly 100 speakers. But the TWTS homepage is more than a once a year thing, you’ll also find all the sustainable actions which the campus tracks. Check out what is being done in conjunction with the City of Chico.
And it’s not just the eco side of things you’ll notice. Chico and Chico State embrace the arts providing travelers with an unexpected aesthetic experience that extends from campus onto the store shelves.
Once in Chico, a trip to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is required even if it wasn’t sponsoring the conference. Its owner, Ken Grossman, grew up in the area and works to intersect his business with other local companies. The beef on their menu, for example, comes from Niman Ranch which also supplied their grass fed meat for the conference lunch and that’s just the beginning… SNB’s Sustainability Coordinator, Cheri Chastain has been part of many improvements:
- Solar Panels over the parking lot
- Permeable pavement to let the rain soak in
- The installation of HotRot and in-vessel composter that turns 400-600 pounds of food waste into compost.
- SNB Placed #32 out of 3000 companies to have employees bike to work for five months.
- SNB was the only company ever to receive the Platinum Zero Waste Certification from the US Zero Waste Business Council (Whole Foods has a bronze)
- This year it’s working for a 6% water reduction across the company
- Cisterns collect rain water for landscape and toilets.
- Re-establishing a forest and using local timber for a new facility near Mills River, SC
- and much more…*
It’s incredible to hear all the innovations that Chico State and others are doing to co-create a culture of sustainability, and it doesn’t stop there – just south of town Butte College is grid positive with 10,000 solar panels producing more energy than they can use.
For the students and the townies, being sustainable isn’t weird, it’s just another Monday.
Cheers to you all for showing us the way to sustainability.
*Fun Facts taken from Upgraded Living