The Office of Sustainability Practices has over the years celebrated the sustainability champion award to highlight some of the tremendous work being done by individuals within the GVSU community and beyond in various ways that engages the triple bottom line of sustainability; social, economic, and environmental. This year marked the 10th year since the award’s inception of recognizing worthy sustainable ambassadors. The event took place at the Kirkoff Center and brought together faculty, staff, and community members including President Haas as the guest speaker. With flower decorations from our farm, a slideshow of major highlights of the year visibly projected on the screens and solemn music playing in the background, the ceremony set out to be an eventful one. Guests treated themselves to food and drinks which was essentially a zero waste event with the food sourced from the classic fare catering services on campus. The event recognized over 50 personalities for their respective roles in ensuring sustainability. We have captured some of the major highlights below:
Wooden pen award with a story! A unique feature of the event was the awards presented which had an incredible story to tell. The wooden pen and base were made out of recycled wood from fallen ash trees on the Allendale Campus. How cool! Its natural beauty and flowing grains tell a story that many other artifacts aren’t capable of. The base has a butter-smooth surface with an amazing grain pattern. The color and grain vary, but each one is uniquely beautiful. Lending itself to a blue stylish Grand Valley State University tag boldly plated on the base. This award speaks to our place. It gives rise to the function of our immediate environment and meaningful rather than simply existing. This opens up a conversation on upcycling and embracing sustainability opportunities amidst the current wave of discussion on circular economy. We are particularly grateful to university arborist Steve Snell and Dave Faulkner of Kent Design and Manufacturing, whose ingenuity has given life and purpose to our dead trees. Come on Lakers, we have a story to tell!
Students as the fulcrum of Sustainability Culture. As President Thomas J. Haas remarked, “the university’s commitment to sustainability stems from students. We listened to our students and now faculty, staff and students are driving a culture of sustainability on campus”. Over the years, students have been at the full helm of sustainability affairs breaking all sort of barriers and making a difference in their respective fields. Students were awarded for their efforts in striving to make an impact in this challenging times. Among the highlights were videos that emphasized student’s innovation in breaking boundaries. The mobile market for the Sustainable Agricultural Project came to being through an array of innovative approaches by Ottawa area middle schoolers (ichallenge youth) and SAP interns. The Green team also received honorable mention and applauds for their role in waste auditing and their recent impact on our Recyclemania campaign on campus. Among the SAP interns honored, was Benjamin Hunt for his incredible role of inculcating communication and video production in the Sustainable Agriculture Project. His efforts within a short period saw his video presented at the national AASHE conference in Austin and creating an Instagram page for the SAP that has gained over 400 followers to date. As part of our dedication to global sustainability, students of Environmental and Sustainability Studies showcased research presentations and posters across so many global issue areas both in the country and internationally.
Quadruple bottom line sustainability. The Sustainability manager of the City of Grand Rapids discussed among other things, ongoing partnerships with GVSU and the City. While the conversation on sustainability has been centered on the triple bottom line; social, economic, and environmental, it was inspiring to hear of accountability as the fourth piece the City of Grand Rapids has its focus on. The commitment to transparency is vital to improve corporate governance and thereby help shape programs to deliver increased sustainability in our society. The government, public administrators and the business world, still has a long way to go, but the strides being made today will only make it easier for future sustainability initiatives to excel. We are happy for the city in prioritizing accountability that leads to improved sustainability performance along with equally pressing needs.
Celebrating our heroes. “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” –Benjamin Disraeli.
The Dave Feenstra award continues to remember Dave’s wisdom and thoughtfulness, and honor his legacy by supporting an intern, who exemplifies Dave’s natural leadership and mentorship skills at the Sustainable Agriculture Project. This year’s awardee, Michael Hinkle believes that “a good leader understands that the goal of a project is beyond them, rather the goal is the sum of conjoined efforts across the team, culled together by the leader’s ability to lead.” As we honor this year’s recipient, it is our own way of paying homage to Dave and to serve as a remainder of the impact we can make through dedicated leadership in sustainability.
George Heartwell, John Koches, and James Moyer received Leadership Awards for their lifetime honorable roles in which they championed various sustainability initiatives in their respective fields. This award will help to support scholarships for students who embodies their leadership quality in the future.
Congratulations to all award winners and to everyone committed to making a difference in sustainability. We are thrilled by your efforts in selflessly thinking about the future. We hope your dedication continue to guide our community to a more sustainable lifestyle! Thank You
Blog post by: Samuel Afoakwa
Photo credit: Valerie Wojciechowski