Green Committee 2
28 September 2000
Green Committee 2
Wine and Cheese Reception
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Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Let me begin my introductory remarks by drawing on the wisdom of Aldo Leopold, quoting from his famous work, A Sand County Almanac.
The Choral Copse
By September, the day breaks with little help from birds. A song sparrow may give a single half-hearted song, a woodcock may twitter overhead en route to his daytime thicket, a barred owl may terminate the night’s argument with one last wavering call, but few other birds have anything to say or sing about.
It is on some, but not all, of these misty autumn daybreaks that one may hear the chorus of the quail. The silence is suddenly broken by a dozen contralto voices, no longer able to restrain their praise of the day to come. After a brief minute or two, the music closes as suddenly as it began.
There is a peculiar virtue in the music of elusive birds. Songsters that sing from top-most boughs are easily seen and as easily forgotten; they have the mediocrity of the obvious. What one remembers is the invisible hermit thrush pouring silver chords from impenetrable shadows; the soaring crane trumpeting from behind a cloud; the prairie chicken booming from the mists of nowhere; the quail’s Ave Maria in the hush of dawn. No naturalist has even seen the choral act, for the covey is still on its invisible roost in the grass, and any attempt to approach automatically induces silence.
In June it is completely predictable that the robin will give voice when the light intensity reaches 0.01 candle power, and that the bedlam of other singers will follow in predictable sequence. In autumn, on the other hand, the robin is silent, and it is quite unpredictable whether the covey-chorus will occur at all. The disappointment I feel on these mornings of silence perhaps shows that things hoped for have a higher value than things assured. The hope of hearing quail is worth half a dozen risings-in-the-dark.
Taken from A Sand County Almanac by Aldo LeopoldAs University Provost, I want to thank you for accepting your appointment to Green-2. The work of this committee can have a substantial impact on the University in the years to come. The timing couldn’t be better, in terms of President Brownell’s request that we undertake a five-year strategic plan for the institution. As I said in the letter of appointment, I hope that we can integrate the recommendations that you will bring forward into this process and help establish the foundation for Ball State University to continue to move toward becoming a sustainable university.
As an Historian, of course, I need to share with you some specific background on this initiative. As many of you know, in 1991 I asked a group of your faculty colleagues to assemble under the leadership of Professor Robert Koester and Dean Tom Lowe, who served as co-chairs of the committee, to undertake a study of environmental issues as they relate to our educational mission. This original Green Committee reported out its 35 findings, and we have continued to work on these -- some 20 have been implemented.
Looking back at the charge I gave to that committee, it’s interesting to see how much has changed in nearly a decade. My request then was that the recommendations be formulated which might:
- raise environmental consciousness in our student body,The work flowing from that committee has indeed facilitated much development on the part of students (and faculty) and has been institutionalized in several ways. Examples include the Greening of the Campus Conferences, the Clustered Minors program, the offering of summer workshops for faculty, and the endowment of the Bracken Fund.
The continuing interest in that green initiative is reflected in the mutual interests of faculty serving on the planning committee for this adventure. Bob Koester, John Vann, Jimmie Eflin and Dave Ferguson, put forth a proposal this past spring that outlined several steps for assuring the continued Greening of Ball State University. The reinstitution of the Green Committee, ‘Green-2’ flows from that set of recommendations.
As a Faculty Colleague, I would note that, although the environmental consciousness of our students has been provoked by everyday events in the world occurring since the original green report, we have much to be proud of in our follow through on the original 35 recommendations. Ball State continues to be an institution where things get done; we are in a unique position to be able to foster the bridging of traditional disciplinary areas and, as in the work of this committee, engage the complexities of our concerns.
As Student of the Environment, myself, I realize that any more, it doesn’t take much scratching of the surface of student interest to discover the deeply held, though sometimes difficult to articulate, convictions. All of us suffer to some degree this same difficulty; we know that the issues need to be addressed, we feel a sense of conviction but we can also sense some frustration over knowing exactly what to do. Participation in the work of this committee can provide a venue to talk through and refine our respective understandings.
Finally, as a Member of the Muncie Community, environmental stewardship is a very real concern. Our community occupies land within the watershed of the White River corridor and/or prairie creek reservoir. We participate in the flow of material resources ‘through’ the community, including that which goes to the landfill. We support and promote economic development by growing indigenous businesses or inviting corporations to locate in the area. In every instance the environment is a factor of concern. And without question, we are all, as community members, interested in sustaining a healthy environmental future.
Now, let me conclude these introductory remarks by noting one other element of context:
Quite separate from our Green Committee initiative, but at about the same time, a group of university leaders gathered on the Tufts University campus in Talloires, France, and elected to sign what became known as the Talloires Declaration. The ten tenets of this document attest to the interests of these leaders in using their institutions to demonstrate and exemplify more sustainable management of their campus resources and cultivation of curricular offerings.
The planning committee for ‘Green-2’ has recommended that we use this Declaration as the organizing framework for the work of ‘Green-2’; and, we will. In describing our decisions and operations in more detail, I would now ask Tom Lowe, who with Bob Koester serves as co-chair of ‘Green-2’ to introduce members of the planning committee, the steering committee, the Muncie community and the university community who have accepted appointment to ‘Green-2’.
University College, Green Committee 2
Overview and Context
Marketing, Green Committee 2
Download a Microsoft Powerpoint
file containing slides that accompanied John Vann's presentation.
CERES, Green Committee 2
English, Green Committee 2
The Students - Subcommittee Chair
Wendell Berry is a Kentucky farmer, a poet, a novelist, an essayist, and retired English professor. He’s also an environmentalist who embraces a strong ethic of sustainability and responsible treatment of the land and use of natural resources. To that end, he not only writes wonderful books about such ideas, but he practices what he preaches: he farms with horses, not tractors; he uses an outhouse in his backyard instead of modern indoor facilities; he writes with a pen and paper in daylight hours, rather than using electricity to run a computer.
In short, he believes that we, as both individuals and communities, need to live according to nature's rhythms, rather than make nature live according to ours.
It therefore seems appropriate for this
gathering to read one of Berry’s best-known poems, entitled “The Peace
of Wild Things.”
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair grows in mereturn to top
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Well, we have packed a lot of information into this brief meeting. You have in hand some of the tools for your use; your subcommittee chairs have been briefed at a prior session and they, as mentioned, have additional tools to put at your disposal. We would like to use the remainder of our time to give you a chance to meet with each other in your subcommittee groups.
In the spirit of this political season, you will find that each of the subcommittee chairs, has his/her own banner around which you can gather. And although you won’t be nominating any favorite sons for political office, you are welcome to begin cultivating an allegiance to your group. So, if you would, please move off to the various quarters of the room, visit with each other about next steps to be undertaken and exchange schedules so that your committee chair can begin to pattern a meeting cycle for your group.
On behalf of the University, I want to thank you for your willingness to invest your time and participation in the work of this committee. As I mentioned at the start, you will help establish important foundations for the longer-term development of Ball State University as it moves toward becoming a sustainable university. We can continue to be a unique institution, capable of demonstrating in the stewardship of environment, the programs we offer, and policies we adopt that sustainability can be a watchword for the university in the context of the larger Muncie community.
Subcommittee Breakout Sessions
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Photos by Steve Talley
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