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The Oregon State University Sustainability Blog

Green Transportation Summit & Expo

March 19th, 2015

Don’t miss the Green Transportation Summit & Expo, happening April 21st and 22nd at the Portland Expo Center. As the Northwest’s largest alternative fuels and transportation event, this expo focuses on both local and regional issues and trends.
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The Expo offers private and public fleet operators several education tracks from industry experts and government agencies. Attendees will be provided with hands-on real world applications of alternative fuel infrastructure and equipment demonstrations, including a one of a kind vehicle “Ride & Drive” on the Portland International Raceway track.

The Green Transportation Summit & Expo provides:

  • A focus on local & regional issues and trends in green transportation. Bringing in local policymakers, experts with knowledge about the needs of your market, and local vendors to help attendees find real-world solutions for their fleet.
  • Ability for attendees to discuss their questions one-on-one with leading experts in the industry.
  • 40,000 square feet of conference & exhibit space at the Portland Expo Center filled with a vast array of alternative fuel and transportation vendors and agencies.
  • First Ever “Performance Ride & Drive” featuring Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), Electric/Hybrid, Propane Auto Gas and Hydrogen at the Portland International Raceway.
  • Opportunity to explore the latest developments in alternative fuel technologies and what to come.
  • Networking with peers, vendors and experts in the transportation community; sharing their tools, techniques, experiences, and expertise.
  • Several education forums lead by industry experts, fleet managers, and government agencies on: Bio Fuels, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Electric/Hybrid, Propane Auto Gas, Hydrogen and Government Regulations, Tax Incentive Programs and more.

The Portland Expo Center is conveniently located along Interstate 5, between downtown Portland and Vancouver, Washington, and is served directly by TriMet’s MAX light rail Yellow Line. Expo Center maps and directions can be found here.

Are you an Oregon State student or faculty member? You could save $50 on early bird registration! Contact the OSU Sustainability Office here to receive the discount code and find out how to register for the expo on the GTS website.

Economics of Happiness Conference (Emily Boyer)

March 13th, 2015

“What if our journeys truly begin when we do not know where we are going?”
– Bayo Akomolafe

As I approach graduation, without much of a plan as to what I’ll do after that, I exude enthusiasm for my future – even though it’s unknown. That may be terrifying for some, but I’m PUMPED.
When I stumbled into a workshop session on Via Campesina accidentally, I embraced my mistake – having intended to go to the Grassroots Organizing session at the Economics of Happiness conference. I was pulled in by the intriguing and thought provoking content about curriculum that isn’t taught from textbooks regarding food sovereignty for local, rather than globalized, food systems. The role-plays and poster-making brought me back to the simpler days of high school and middle school, but the critical mindset the workshop leaders (themselves high school educators) encouraged excited me! Mostly because it means high school students are being introduced to a type of thinking conducive to social change, reminding me of the importance of my appreciation for access to higher education.
As always, I found the content of the conference thought-provoking and insightful, but the people who I was surrounded by and able to meet were the truly valuable outcome of my attendance. The diversity of perspectives and experiences at this conference included individuals of differences in age and race, but with a common passion. There are always great people at these things: this time I ended up meeting an extremely interesting woman with just a few more years of experience under her belt. Canadian Carmelle, after matching my desire for informed discussion in our group, casually asked me what I studied to which my typical response followed: “Communication and International Studies.” After some brief conversation with Carmelle between the workshop’s group poster presentations, we realized the common bond and serendipitous reason we’d ended up sitting next to each other: she studied in Cuba for two years, the same country I’ll be going to this June through an IE3 Global 2-week study abroad program. When we were able to continue talking after the workshop, inspired discourse came from sharing our mutual excitement for my upcoming trip. I’m even more enthused than ever and can hardly wait to experience the culture and learn about Cuban society from the people who live, eat, dance, and work there. This is bound to be a very different experience than my life in the “WEIRD” (Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic) culture I have grown up in. To learn about how Cuba and its people have sustained themselves will be an Edventure (Educational Adventure!) built on what I’ve learned and experienced throughout my entire life – but especially by my courses, work with the Student Sustainability Initiative, professional development and travel opportunities, as well as so much more I’ve taken advantage of through my university education here at Oregon State University.
Although my future isn’t certain, I’m certainly excited to see what it leads to and develops into. The journey is just beginning.

Emily Boyer graduates in 2015, you can check out her blog This Remarkable Life to see what she’s been up to.

Sustainability Fair and Town Hall 2015

March 11th, 2015

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It’s time again for the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition‘s annual event, the Sustainability Fair and Town hall! This year, the event will be taking place Thursday, March 12th at the CH2MHill Alumni Center (725 SW 26th Street) on OSU campus.

Starting at 5 pm, you’ll be able to visit more than 50 hands-on exhibits that represent various partner organizations and action teams of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition. This year, the Sustainability Fair will be providing a Kid’s activity room, where children can engage in activities relating to the earth and to the community.

Food for the event will be provided by Valley Catering, and the entire event will be waste-free. String Rain, a gypsy-inspired folk group, will be providing musical entertainment throughout the fair. This trio features Rosalie Bienek on violin, Roy “Raven” Crowe on guitar and trombone, and Gabriel Surley playing percussion.11025203_772528356158667_5754232488127336682_n

At 7 pm, after the Fair comes to a close, the interactive Town Hall meeting will commence. The keynote speaker for this year’s meeting is Sean McGuire, a national expert on well-being indicators. McGuire supports alternatives to the GDP that include not only true economic health, but environmental and social health, as well. The focus of Sean’s talk and follow-up discussion will be developing measures of community well-being.

Other items for the Town Hall include:

  • A 2014 Community Scrapbook
  • Highlighting of local initiatives
  • A talk by CHS teacher Julie Williams about Seeds for the Sol
  • “Sharing economy” as described by Christine Dashiell in her creation of the Corvallis Family Clothing Swap and the Corvallis Family Gift Economy.

All are welcome at this year’s Sustainability Fair and Town Hall, but space may be limited for the interactive session at 7 pm.

Primary sponsors of the Town Hall are the OSU Sustainability Office, Block 15, First Alternative Co-op, Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, Les Caves, CrawforDesign, and the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce. Additional financial support is being provided by dozens of Coalition partner organizations and individual “Town Hall Heroes.”

 

Economics of Happiness, a Reflection (Lauren Armony)

March 9th, 2015

Ecologue Post:
Economics of Happiness, a Reflection
Lauren Armony

I spent the weekend of February 27th through March 1st at the Economics of Happiness Conference, in gratitude to receiving a professional development grant through the OSU Student Sustainability Initiative. The conference fruited in the Eliot Center of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Southwest Portland, Oregon. The philosophy behind, and driving, this conference was that there is an intersection between economics and our feeling of well-being, and that amassing more wealth does not necessarily make one happier. The foci were on local economic systems, sustainability, and quality of life. The conference was organized into a series of plenaries, or panels of privileged speakers, with intermittent breaks and specialized workshop periods.

The plenaries were located in the sanctuary, a seemingly apt place to be listening to their stories. I felt open while sitting in the pews, or on the floor, with my pen and notebook. I was unsure of whether it was in irony or coincidence that the first plenary speaker was talking about how contemporary educational institutions were creating a monoculture of the mind, being standardized and singular in its approach. As a gardener I had an instant revulsion to the term monoculture, and as a student well into winter term of college, I felt validated in my struggle in the pursuit of knowledge, experience, and a decent grade point average. This, of course, was just the beginning of an immersion to alternative ways of living and critically analyzing the quality of my life. With even more irony, the exhaustion of hearing so many stories almost made me wish I stayed home and done homework instead. That, of course, was a momentary musing, and I’ll be pondering what I’ve learned from this conference for as long as I think our socioeconomic systems are unstable, unsustainable, and not happy.

Aside from the pedagogical essence of the plenaries, I was able to attend two workshops, one on the subject of food sovereignty and the other on buddhist meditation for activists. During the workshop on food sovereignty I had the opportunity to talk about the Growing Food Security Project, a program I have been honored to be a part of through my position in the Student Sustainability Initiative. Through sharing this project with many people who have been steeped in the food justice sector longer than me, I was able to gain more insight into strategies and resources I can look into to enhance the community capacity-building vision of this project. The buddhist meditation workshop was amazing in that I learned how to hone my skills and be more effective in my work. I felt honored to have so many people share their stories with me.

The largest takeaway I have from the conference, that will affect my work at this university, is the idea of creating a system conducive to intergenerational dialogue, as in, having people of all ages collaborating and learning from each other. This was further exemplified by the very organization of this conference. There were people younger and far older than me who were fellow participants. It’s kind of hard for me to find older people that have done similar things as I am trying to do in the university setting, and it is not because I am doing something novel. It is because people graduate, people move, people don’t leave forwarding addresses, and a lot of elders go into assisted living centers.

People move.
A plenary speaker brought up Gary Snyder’s assertion that to value nature we must have a relationship with it. “To stay put,” he said. It takes, in my experience, a lot of luck to have the privilege of developing a relationship with a more experienced person and to have them share their insights, challenges, and advice about their experiences. To me, trying something on my own is akin to trying to remake the wheel. Why would any of us need to remake any wheels if there were local historians and scientists everywhere? This is rhetorical and I have no inclination to give a response.
So I’ll leave it here. Much else of what I learned I haven’t been able to put into words yet even though I amassed twelve pages of notes over the course of two days. I recommend watching the film and reading about previous conferences that have taken place to glean a bit more about the experience. Of course, you could always contact me, I love talking about my life over tea.

Get Used! 5 WasteHacks to get you buying used

March 4th, 2015

WasteHacks [wāst-haks] pl. noun – any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that reduces waste in all walks of life.

This term, Campus Recycling and the Waste Watchers will share with you easy WasteHacks so you don’t waste time or materials.

WasteHacks for Buying Used

Prices have gone up noticeably for everyday items like clothing and bicycles. Despite this, other methods exist to live an environmentally conscience lifestyle without hurting the bank. Buying used items is an excellent way in which one can reduce their carbon footprint.

Used materials are cheaper and reduce fossil fuel emissions by reducing demand for new products. They are also relatively easy to come by and in some instances are made with more durable materials than can currently be bought on the market.

Here are a few ideas for where to buy used:

image of a thrift store signEven if these used items do get damaged, there are people and places willing to repair them. Repair Fairs are held twice per term at the OSU Surplus Warehouse and are a great way to get your items repaired instead of going out and purchasing new materials. Repairs often include home appliances, clothing, and many other skills.

Wastehacks” is a weekly blog series where we share quick waste reduction tips. Tune in every Monday this term for more.

Now Hiring: Energize Corvallis Project Coordinators

February 25th, 2015

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Energize Corvallis is hiring! Their current open position is a one-year internship for Project Coordinators, who will work to help Energize Corvallis with their mission and help develop, manage, and evaluate community energy efficiency programs and policies.

Energize Corvallis is a local organization dedicated to helping Corvallis become one of the most energy efficient and climate-friendly cities in the United States. They are a collaboration between the City of Corvallis, Corvallis Environmental Center, Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, and Oregon State University Extension Service of Benton County.

Currently, the city of Corvallis is competing in the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition, in which the city needs to significantly reduce residential and municipal energy use during 2015 and 2016 to win the $5 million dollar prize. The Project coordinator will work with Energize Corvallis to help the city reach these goals.

The Project Coordinator will focus on a variety of topics including community outreach, staff writing, energy analysis, and program development. Students are encouraged to register for internship credit at OSU, LBCC, or another institution of higher education if possible. Energize Corvallis is happy to work with internship coordinators. Students can also explore the opportunity of using this project as part of a senior project, thesis, or dissertation research.

For more information about the position requirements and responsibilities contact Carly Lettero at Carly@CorvallisEnvironmentalCenter.org.

Applications are due March 11th, available here.

Are you buying waste? 6 WasteHack secrets to reduce packaging

February 23rd, 2015

WasteHacks [wāst-haks] pl. noun – any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that reduces waste in all walks of life.

This term, Campus Recycling and the Waste Watchers will share with you easy WasteHacks so you don’t waste time or materials.

WasteHacks for Buying Less

Packaging. Found along roadways and snagged in fencing. Dangling from tree branches and caught in the eddies of rivers. Big name suppliers have an obsession with placing everything in cartons, bags, bins and plastic containers. But just because extra packaging is heavily advertised and used for “convenience” does not always mean you have to buy into it. Here are some things to keep in mind when comparing items:

  • Buy drinks that have smaller, thinner caps on them.
  • Purchase items in a bulk department. This doesn’t just include food.
  • Purchase regularly used items in larger containers.
  • Buy used. Used items don’t usually come in containers.
  • Focus on containers that can be recycled or composted.
  • Just buy less. Fewer purchases means fewer packaging items and waste.

Packaging is expensive too: for every $10 Americans pay on food, $1 of that goes to packaging.

Some companies have already switched to producing products that generate less waste. An example would be water bottles which have been slimmed down in order to use less plastic or apple crates made of recycled paperboard. Keeping an eye out for these qualities when purchasing items is an excellent way in which to reduce one’s impact on the environment as well as shift consumerism to a greener direction.

Alternatively, only buy what you need. By reducing purchases, you also reduce the packaging you use. Ask yourself before you buy: Do I really need this?

Got more WasteHacks? Share them below!

Wastehacks” is a weekly blog series where we share quick waste reduction tips. Tune in every Monday this term for more.

Feb. 27th : Lane County Carpool/Vanpool Informational Meeting

February 21st, 2015

Do you commute from the Lane County area to Corvallis? You’re invited to a Lane County Carpool/Vanpool informational meeting Friday, February 27th from 12-1 p.m. in the Memorial Union Journey Room 104 (2501 SW Jefferson Way). Free lunch will be provided!

This meeting is targeted to OSU students, staff, and faculty who live in Eugene / Springfield / the Lane County area and commute to the Corvallis campus. Employees of other Corvallis businesses and organizations who commute from Lane County are also invited. Come learn about how carpooling and vanpooling will help your wallet while helping the environment.

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On average participating in a carpool or vanpool reduces the cost of your commute by half. An average commute to and from the Lane County area uses approximately 4 gallons of gas, so carpooling with only one other person can save approximately 1,000 gallons of gas or 18,000 pounds of CO2, in a single year. Join the OSU Sustainability Office and Cascades West Rideshare(a program of Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments) for lunch and we’ll provide information about how commuter carpools and vanpools work and some current vanpoolers will come to share their perspective. Don’t forget to check out our online carpooling tool Drive Less Connect

Please RSVP to alaina.hawley@oregonstate.edu by noon on February, 25th so we can get a headcount for lunch and please include any dietary restrictions that you may have.. Feel free to spread the word.

If you can’t make the meeting, or are interested in carpool or vanpooling from somewhere besides Lane County, check out the OSU Transportation Options website for more information!

Meet the Menders: Tanya Andersson

February 19th, 2015

For the February Repair Fair, we interviewed Tanya Andersson, a regular sewing volunteer. Tanya began volunteering last winter, and has helped mend clothes at three Repair Fairs.

What do you do outside of the repair fairs?

I work at OSU, I work for Parking Services. Outside of the Repair Fair I sew; I am a quilter. I’ve pretty much been sewing since I was about five, I realized, and I’m much older than five now.

Who taught you how to sew?

My mother and my grandmother together…and when I was growing up you could learn sewing in school, so I took sewing classes in middle school and high school. And I was in girl scouts, and you sew in girl scouts, so I had those opportunities.

What are your thoughts on the Repair Fair?

I think it’s a great opportunity. I’ve been talking to all of my students and all of my coworkers about it, reminding them that it is coming up and telling my students about it, saying “Oh, do you have a pair of pants that need a button replaced?”

What would you like to see with today’s societies or communities involving repair?

I think it’d be awesome if communities did things like the Repair Fair on a bigger level. You could have a Repair Fair at the farmer’s market, or something like that.

This post is a part of the “Meet the Menders” blog series, where we feature the volunteers of the Repair Fairs. Interested in becoming a repair volunteer? Contact Kyle Reed.

The Stand-Up Economist: Economics, Climate Change, and Comedy

February 19th, 2015

On Wednesday, February 25th, Oregon State will be hosting the Stand-Up Economist, a performance of economics, climate change, and comedy. The event will take place in the Memorial Union Horizon Room from 7:00-8:30 PM, with sponsor group tabling starting at 6:00.

Pricing carbon pollution, either by a tax or through a cap and trade mechanism, is widely recommended by economists as an efficient, economically sensible strategy for reining in the pollution that is causing dangerous and irreversible changes tot the atmosphere and the ocean, and threatening our present and future environment and economy. The expert economists speaking at this event will provide engaging and rich information about this important public concern.

Presenters Include:

Yoram Bauman, Ph.D., the world’s first and only “stand-up economist,” is affiliated with the Sightline Institute and a leader of the CarbonWA.org revenue-neutral carbon tax campaign in Washington State.

Jenny Liu, Ph.D. is Assistant Director and Jeff Renfro is Senior Scientist at the Northwest Economic Research Center. The Center recently completed an authoritative analysis of a carbon tax in Oregon commissioned by Senate Bill 306, on which they will report.

Stop by the event for some enlightening fun and light dessert.

Event sponsors include: