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The Oregon State University Sustainability Blog

Digging into Bioswales

November 29th, 2016

Brought to you by Micco Emeson, the Living Lab Coordinator for Landscape for SSI.

Landscape Maintenance Insights

Wintertime approaches, and so do a plethora of opportunities for landscaping and gardening activities on the OSU campus. Winter is when many perennial plants lie dormafruit-tree-apple-treent, shedding their leaves and maintaining cellular processes via stored energy reserves which allow them to get through the cold, cloudy winter. This means that it is a good time to plant long lived plants such as fruit trees, native perennials, and berry bushes as the disruption of their fragile root system due to planting will have minimal effect on their growth cycle during this dormant stage. This is also a good time for pruning trees and removing invasive species.

Project Updates

Inconsiderate human development can cause the phenomenon of stormwater pollution due to precipitation which would soak into the earth naturally, but is rerouted by impermeable surfaces. Corvallis receives approximately 40 inches of rain per year, or approximately 3 ft. A 10 square foot section of pavement creates 3 ft x 10 ft2 = 30 cubic feet of stormwater runoff each year. Not only can these flows cause flooding, but stormwater picks up debris, heavy metal contaminants, and other pollutants, escorting them into the nearest surface water. In the case of the OSU Campus, either Oak Creek or Mary’s River, and eventually the Willamette, is the recipient of these fouling agents. This can cause problems for important fish species such as trout salmon, upon which many ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling depend.

Bioswales are features designed to slow the flow of water, decreasing the magnitude of surge events caused by the lack of permeable surfaces, allowing sediments to drop out, heavy metals to bind to soil particles, and water to cool. The OSU Campus hosts numerous bioswales which have been designed to intercept stormwater runoff from parking lots, roofs, and other impervious surfaces. However, these bioswales often experience invasion by plant species such as Himalayan Blackberry.

photo-one_-bioswale-graphicThe Sustainability Office hosts regular work parties to remove invasive species from bioswales and other important areas such as solar arrays to the ensure the functioning of these critical features. Following in suit, the Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) is hiring a Sustainable Landscape Intern to host work parties throughout winter term and into the Spring. They will be responsible for identifying sites requiring maintenance, plan forlogistics such as the acquisition of tools, and then to work with the SSI’s marketing team to get people to these events.

Another project taking place is the installation of a new garden over at Avery Lodge on the Western Edge of Campus on 11th and Madison. The Human Services Resource Center (HSRC), housed in Avery Lodge, provides services to both students and community members experiencing homelessness, as well as financial or food insecurity. A food pantry is run from this building twice a month, which is partially supplied by produce grown by volunteers and staff of the Student Sustainability Initiative. The HSRC has expanded and has moved from Snell Hall to this newly renovated, beautiful building, carrying along with it around 4,000 feet of garden space. The Student Sustainability Initiative is working with University Housing and Dining Services, as well as the Permaculture Design Certification Course, to design and create this space. A cover crop has been planted, and students recently applied copious amounts of leaf mulch and compost to the site for soil building purposes.

This is just a snippet of the exciting things that the SSI has the pleasure of taking part in. If you would like to get involved, email Micco at ssi.lab.organizer@oregonstate.edu

Oregon Drive Less Connect Challenge

November 17th, 2016

The Oregon Drive Less Connect Challenge ran from Oct 1-Oct 15 and the results are in! In just 15 days, thousands of Oregonians succeeded in finding alternative transportation to work, school errands and more.


Here is our collective impact:

TOTAL PARTICIPANTS: 4,797 Oregonians.

TRIPS LOGGED: 91,628 trips.

NON-DRIVE ALONE MILES*: 819,525 miles!!

POUNDS OF CO2 REDUCED: 530,436 lbs

GAS SAVINGS: $93,947.

*These miles include bike, bus, train, carpool, vanpool, walking trips, and teleworking.

Be sure to visit Drive Less Connect’s Website to find a biking partner, a carpool buddy or track your trips and savings for more inspiration!

Pedal Corvallis Outreach Ambassador: Now Hiring!

November 4th, 2016

Remember a few months ago our exciting announcement that Corvallis now has a bikeshare program? Now there is a wonderful opportunity to become involved. Pedal Corvallis is now hiring for an outreach ambassador.pedal

The goal of the bikeshare program is to offer an affordable and easily accessible transportation option to residents and visitors to encourage active transportation. Bike sharing promotes health, connectivity, livability, and economic development. Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments is seeking an intern to promote awareness and encourage enrollment of the bike share program. The focus of the program is to help medicaid recipients get around.

Zagster8-RealThis is an excellent opportunity to gain experience working with stakeholders, healthcare providers, and build public speaking skills. The duration of the internship will be Jan 9-June 16, 2017 ranged from 8-12 hours/week. This internship if for credit for students currently enrolled. There is also a $300 stipend per term, as well as travel compensation.

Find more details here!

Before applying, candidates should be familiar with the information at www.ocwcog.org/pedal and www.zagster.com/pedalcorvallis.

How to Apply? 

Submit via email, fax, or mail by November 15th 2016 at 5 p.m. Candidates should send a cover letter explaining why they consider themselves suited for the position and a résumé of qualifications and relevant experience.

Provide via email to: hrrecruit@ocwcog.org;

Via mail to: Human Resources, Attn: Pedal Corvallis internship, Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments Suite 201, 1400 Queen Ave SE, Albany, OR 97322;

Via fax to: (541) 967-6123.

Climate on Campus

November 1st, 2016

Written by Taylor Bennett, Climate Neutral 2025 Education Coordinator, Student Sustainability Initiative

Everyone has the power to do something about climate change, but there is one group in particular who is tasked with an especially important role; youth. The term “youth” applies to the 15-25 year age group, which encompasses most of the students at a 4-year university. Being at a university also provides a unique opportunity for engagement as educational resources, clubs, organizations, and professors are never more than a short walk away. For this reason, the atmosphere of a college campus is usually full of passion and possibility. That’s the outlook necessary for tackling a problem like climate change.

It may seem like our “campus bubble” separates us from the issue, but in fact, the opposite is true. We have essentially limitless resources available to help us develop creative ways to approach climate change on a campus and community level. The only other things needed to be successful in a task like this are determination and enthusiasm. Climate change affects all of us, but it doesn’t have to be the doom and gloom scenario it’s often made out to be. If we all took the initiative to seek out available resources and become involved in climate action, what a wonderful and sustainable place OSU could be!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Climate Science major or not – although there is a fantastic new program for that – we can all play a role in creating a climate friendly Corvallis. If you would like to get involved, here are a few things to get you started…kelley

Know Your Climate: Know about climate change but not sure how to approach it? This two-workshop series will provide tools and resources you can use to talk about the issues and get involved in the climate movement. Attendees will participate in group discussions, learn how to upcycle disposable products, and get connected to useful climate literacy resources.

Nov. 9th & 16th 5:00-6:30 pm in the Student Involvement Lounge (SEC 112). Dinner provided.

Climate Science Option: The Climate Science option is built on a strong foundation of physical climate system science as well as an emphasis on the intersection of climate with biological, social, political, and economic systems. All students participate in “hands-on” experiential learning through field classes, project focused classes such as Climate Data Analysis and Climate Modeling, and senior research or internships. A broad set of electives allows students to pursue additional course work to prepare them in their specific areas of interest.

For more information, contact Karen Shell, Program Head: kshell@coas.oregonstate.edu

2017 Master Recycler Class reg. open

October 26th, 2016

Master Recycler class graphic

Now’s the time to sign-up for the 2017 Linn and Benton Master Recycler class offered by Republic Services and OSU Campus Recycling – act soon to secure your spot!

WHEN: 8 required classes on Tuesday nights, January 10th through February 28th at 6:15-9:00 pm plus 2 required Saturday field trips (January 21st and February 11th) and 1 optional Wednesday field trip (February 1st).

WHERE: On the OSU campus

WHAT: This once-per-week, 8-week class will explore landfill science, waste reduction, reuse opportunities, recycling, composting, hazardous waste, community sustainability and taking action. This non-credit class is free to residents of Linn and Benton County who agree to “pay back” what they learned by completing 30 hours of volunteer service within one year of course completion.

INFO & SIGN-UP: Visit http://tiny.cc/recycclass for more details. Registration is open until late December or until spots fill, whichever comes first.

Corvallis Sustainability Coalition: Now Seeking Interns!

October 25th, 2016

The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition is seeking interns for Winter term for the 2016-2017 school year. If you or anyone you know is a senior in an undergraduate program and needs to fulfill an internship requirement for their degree, here is a great opportunity!

Build your resume and work on one or more projects thatcoalition will focus on several areas of sustainability. The internship is flexible hours with an option to fulfill a 6 or 12 credit internship, depending on the needs of the applicant.

Background on the Coalition:

The mission of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition is to promote an ecologically, socially, and economically healthy city and county. By using the Sustainability Guiding Objectives, a framework for decision-making based on the four Natural Step system conditions for a sustainable society, our community will:
1. Reduce and ultimately eliminate our community’s contribution to fossil fuel dependence and to wasteful use of scarce metals and minerals. Use renewable resources whenever possible.
2. Reduce and ultimately eliminate our community’s contribution to dependence upon persistent chemicals and wasteful use of synthetic substances. Use biologically safe products whenever possible.
3. Reduce and ultimately eliminate our community’s contribution to encroachment upon nature (e.g., land, water, wildlife, forests, soil, ecosystems). Protect natural ecosystems.
4. Support people’s capacity to meet their basic needs fairly and efficiently.

To apply, you will need to submit:

❖ cover letter
❖ resume
❖ unofficial transcript
❖ answers to the application questions on a separate page, typed, with proper grammar, and sufficient length and detail.

Application Questions:

1. What term are you applying for (Winter Term) and for how many credits? (6 or 12)
2. Why are you applying for this position?
3. What action teams interest you the most and why?
4. What are your goals after graduation?
5. What efforts have you made in your own life to be more sustainable?
6. What volunteer experience do you have?

Interested in applying? Learn more here

The application deadline for Winter Term 2017: November 21, 2016

Send applications and questions to:
Lani Beavers
Intern Supervisor

Get your Fix at the 2016 Fall Repair Fair!

October 24th, 2016


Do you have a torn shirt, broken bike, or otherwise damaged items? Bring them to the Fall Repair Fair on Wednesday, November 2 from 5:30 – 7:30 PM in the OSUsed Store (644 SW 13th Street).

Volunteers will teach you how to fix your broken items; attend demos to learn more skills! See the list below for this month’s skills and demonstrations. The event is free and open to all.

Repair skills offered:

  • Appliances and Electronics
  • Bicycles
  • Clothing (hand and machine sewing)
  • Computer Diagnostics
  • Housewares (furniture, ceramics, lamps, etc.)
  • And more!


All demos are a drop-in format; stop by any time during the hour to learn new skills. Demos offered will include:

5:30 – 6:30 PM

  • Rub-A-Dub: Make Your Own Toiletries – Come learn how to make your own deodorant, body scrub, and/or dry shampoo using simple, natural ingredients! Come away with recipes and a sample of one of the finished products, while supplies last. Making your own toiletries is a practical and fun way to save money, ditch products with those long lists of unknown ingredients and lighten your environmental footprint. (Leaders: Charlotte Gruninger and Amy Jean, volunteers with the Waste Watchers)
  • Wormshop: Composting with a Worm Bin – Worm bins are a method of composting using red wrigglers to break down food waste. Stop by to learn how to construct and maintain a worm bin for your household, which is a great way to reduce your trash and create a useable product! (Leader: Kyle Reed, Outreach Assistant for Campus Recycling)

6:30 – 7:30 PM

  • Yarning for Warmth: Learn Crocheting  Learn how to crochet! We will teach you a basic pattern that can be used for a variety items like scarves and hats. We will also offer materials and guidance to get you started making your own door draft blocker (a tube that is tucked under doors to keep out pesky winter drafts). Crocheting your own items saves you money, is a creative outlet and reduces packaging waste. (Leader: Shannon Ritz, Repair Fair Chair for the Waste Watchers)
  • Clean Up Your Act: D.I.Y. Green CleaningBe kind to the environment and your wallet at the same time! Come learn how you can use a few basic, food-safe ingredients to clean your whole home. Bonus: take home a free sample – mason jar included! (Marisa Specht, Program Assistant for Campus Recycling)

Additional Details

Note: We don’t have spare parts, but will do our best to repair what we can and/or refer you to where you could find the parts you need. If you have parts already, we may be able to help you install them.

repair-fair-mapDirections: We are located at 644 SW 13th St. in Corvallis; see a map of the entrance and parking here; view our building on Google Maps here. Please enter through the warehouse gate on 13th Street, between A Ave. and the railroad tracks. City buses 36 and 8 stop within 2-4 blocks of our building while routes15 and 7 stop 6 blocks away at 11th & Monroe (view full details on the Corvallis Transit System website or use Google Transit to find the best option for you).

Join this event on Facebook.

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