1. Solomon Bayer-Pacht's Action: Administrator of the Sustainability Club
My action is administrating the inaugural Sustainability Club at IES Abroad. As administrator of the Sustainability Club, it is my job to ensure the club, and all students in the Sustainability Course, have success in putting their sustainable actions into use at IES Barcelona. Following the first Sustainability Club meeting, it became necessary to recruit members for the club, and schedule meeting times that worked for as many people as possible. Prior to our second official meeting, I spent a lot of time brainstorming and developing ideas for possible action the sustainability club could implement. At the first meeting, I presented these ideas to the rest of the club, and as a group, we refined which projects made the most sense to focus our energy on and go forward with. We set a list of goals for the semester, goals which we knew were pending on support both logistically and financially from administration. Following the meeting, I arranged for an appointment with Betsy from IES Barcelona Administration, to determine which of the goals we had set were supported by the administration, and those projects that they were willing to include in the budget. The meeting with Betsy was a success, as she helped direct my attention on plausible objectives, and provided definitive answers on projects that she was willing to have take place at IES. In addition, Betsy named those goals she would include in the budget, as well as those goals we had set that she didn’t approve for this semester. Along with the bi-weekly meetings, I have been responsible for organizing and overseeing many of the actions other students are working on in our class. As time went on, many peers in the Sustainability Course were struggling to find adequate sustainable actions to put into play at IES. When this became clear, I posted on the class’s wiki page the many projects the Sustainability Club was working on this semester, and asked any students who were interested in turning some of our goals into reality, to contact me. Following this post, I have been able to work with other students in the class, giving them control of many of the goals the Sustainability Club had set, ensuring that all students had actions to take the lead on, and all projects could be successfully completed. The projects the Sustainability Club are working in coordination with include but are not limited to: Getting IES water bottles to all students at IES Barcelona; hosting an end of the semester collection and redistribution drive of all unwanted goods IES students don’t wish to take home; Getting a terrace table garden under way; Posters with sustainable tips in all IES apartments and dorms; A solar charger for the IES building, to reduce energy usage; End of year recycle-your-IES readers, pizza party; and more.
1.1 Why this action makes IES Barcelona more Sustainable
By maintaining a body of students within the IES community to bring focus and attention to sustainable practices and ways of living, IES Barcelona has a working consciousness to make the community more sustainable. Any time you wish to bring action to a community, it is essential to create and establish a core membership that is dedicated to bringing success to the project at hand. In today’s energy climate, it is essential to form a lifestyle that is driven by sustainable consciousness. The administrator of the sustainability club has the opportunity to lead the way in making the IES facility more sustainable, and changing the attitude of other students in the program. If the sustainability club is able to create events, projects and activities at IES that truly influence the lifestyle of the attending students, than the IES community will have a smaller ecological footprint, that can continue to grow from this day forward. As energy issues become more and more prevalent in today’s world, the growth of the sustainability club may become more essential as time goes on. The Sustainability Club can help reduce students dependency on giant corporations, focusing projects on SLEN and LOIS businesses. The continued strength of the sustainability club is dependent on a reinforcing loop of students, willing to take on some extra work while abroad, to improve the sustainability of their current community. It’s becoming ever more important to focus our attention and energy on local and smaller projects. If we all were to take care of what we can control, then the entire world would become populated by sustainable people, practicing sustainable ways of living. As students at IES Barcelona, the sustainability club’s members are able to influence that which we can in our community, and implement many actions that make IES Barcelona more efficient and sustainable. All the actions of the sustainability club are done with the overarching goal of eliminating waste, and forming a cradle-to-cradle design where all IES waste, in some way equals food.
1.2.1: SWOT Analysis
• The Sustainability club has the ability to over-see all actions by students in the Sustainability course ensuring they take place successfully
• IES administration, has approved many sustainability club projects in the programs budget
• We have enough students willing to help implement these actions for them to truly take place
• Students studying abroad travel a lot, and have less interest in school field trips/activities than at their home campus
• Organizing Sustainability Club events that work for most students is difficult given the busy travel schedules
• Lack of students participation in events due to lack of time and energy for school when abroad
• Students nowadays are genuinely interested in sustainable practices, however often do nothing to get involved in championing such practices. The sustainability club has the opportunity to give students good reason to get involved and enjoy our activities
• We can raise awareness of IES students with steps they can take in their everyday lives’ to be more sustainable
• We have the opportunity through the many actions the sustainability club helps make happen, to make the entire IES building more sustainable in how it is run, and what sustainable activities future students have access to
• Being the inaugural Sustainability Club we can set a tone of achievement for future SC’s, as well as set into action many different activities, and energy saving devices for future Sustainability clubs to continue/improve.
• We have contacted local companies to provide products like water bottles and a solar charger, in addition to helping supply goods to charitable distribution groups in Barcelona. The Club has the opportunity to promote LOIS and SLEN businesses through the local businesses that are there to assist the SC
• The Sustainability club can help set a standard of sustainable living for other IES students to follow, and provide tips and ideas to help them shrink their carbon footprint
• Continuity; the sustainability club must be able to ensure that all actions and projects have a means of being maintained and continued from one IES semester to the next
• Many actions and projects depend on budgetary finance from the administration, important to have a positive working relationship with them
• If there is a body of IES students who are uninterested in participating in a club while abroad, the club can dissolve. Club needs students to exist
• Takes a fair amount of work to assure all the sustainability course’s students actions happen successfully, necessary to have a core group of members who will do the work and make it happen
1.2.2: Feedback Loops
Reinforcing Loop: As student involvement in the sustainability club increases, so too does the impact the club makes on the IES community. The more actions implemented over time creates a more sustainable program both the facility itself, and the available practices to the student body. The loop the sustainability club creates is reinforcing, because as the strength of the club, and the amount of accomplishment the club achieves increases, the overall sustainability of IES Barcelona increases, and visa-versa. The sustainability club must capitalize on this reinforcing loop by creating and implementing actions and goals that the student body and faculty can learn from and use to change their everyday way of living. That is where the greatest long-term impact can come from.
The loop looks like this:
1.2.3 Potential Benefits
The sustainability club has the ability to really change the awareness and consciousness of the IES abroad community. Most students who are willing to travel abroad will be open to obtaining practices and ways of life while exploring other cultures and people. The sustainability club has the opportunity to capitalize on this, and show students and faculty alike simple measures that can be taken to balance one’s impacts and benefits on the earth, making them sustainable beings. All buildings must become “smarter” and more ecological, including the IES facility. The sustainability club must do all it can to make our “school” as clean as possible. The building that we all inhabit must be as sustainable as possible, but changes will only happen as a result of the club and administration’s collective actions. The sustainability club has the potential to make the entire IES Abroad program as sustainable as possible by minimizing its ecological footprint to the least harmful it can be. The sustainability club can help change the long term attitude of American students by promoting the ideas and actions of environmentalists around the world. It may become eventually possible to make IES Barcelona a community without waste. This may be a long way off, but the sustainability club should always operate with the ultimate goal of eliminating waste at IES Barcelona, and turning our community into one where all waste=food. If this does happen, then IES Barcelona would be a self-sustaining community.
1.2.4 Potential Costs
Many of the projects the sustainability club works on will require financial support from the IES budget. For this semester’s club, such costs include a solar charger that will reduce the energy intake of the IES facility, as well as the initial purchasing cost of reusable water bottles for all students. While many projects require some monetary costs, time is the cost that is required for success. The club needs members to continue, and members must be willing to put in the time to implement actions and promote sustainable living at IES Barcelona. Without students putting in the time to see that goals become reality, and that true actions are put into effect that benefit sustainable living, the club won’t succeed and exist. In order for the administration to support the financial costs of the sustainability club, member students need to “pay” their end, and meet the necessary time-costs.
Sustainability club supported actions include: providing water bottles for all IES students; hosting a collection and redistribution drive at the end of the semester; end of year recycling the readers pizza party; posters in all IES student housing, and a new solar charge for the IES facility. Such actions and more are the direct result of students in the Sustainability class and club. Many of the actions the sustainability club is working on would not be possible without the work of students in our class. Everything started with collaborative thinking, and through direct action by many individuals, these ideas have been or will be able to take place. There have been many challenges, and changes in approach that have had to take place due to some factors. Participation from a student body is harder to obtain when abroad, as there is a constant wave of students traveling throughout Europe. In addition, there is a lack of motivation for students traveling abroad to participate in school related activities, as many are involved in all sorts of unusual experiences while here. Therefore, it is essential to create incentives for everything we do. The reader recycling event will include free pizza; the bin drive an opportunity to get rid of unwanted goods before traveling home, all while helping out others; water bottles to save money on purchasing plastic ones all the time; rewards for recycling the most goods in a awareness raising competition. To get students involved while abroad, it is crucial to provide a source of benefit for doing so. While I do believe the majority of students at IES Barcelona are all for making our community and the world more sustainable, there is just a lot else going on while abroad. It is important to create a link in actions between a true cause that makes IES Barcelona more sustainable, and good incentive for the students to partake in such a cause. These two things together hold the key to actual implementation of our actions. There are all kinds of email correspondents, and other documents containing the work we have done, which I am happy to include if I should. It is just a lot, so for now I’m leaving it out.
1.2.1 Cradle to Cradle Design
None of our actions will produce any waste, and for the most part, we will truly turn waste into food. Like for example our end of the year collection bin and redistribution; this actions will take all unwanted necessities and goods, items that students do not wish to bring home, and instead of throwing them out they will be redistributed to future IES students, and necessities to those in need. There will be two types reusable “nutrients” those supplies that will be useful to future IES students, and those necessities like clothes that can benefit local people our age who are not as fortunate. There is no waste in this action, not even recycling, everything collected will maintain its value and purpose, and stay out of the landfill. The water bottles will save waste, lots of it, by eliminating the need to purchase plastic ones. The solar charger will slow down our energy usage, which can at times be wasted in the facility. Sustainability Club members have done a lot to pay attention and shut down all energy being unused within the building, reducing our waste as a community. And while the end of the year recycling-pizza part will have cardboard pizza boxes, pizza is pizza, and we can use the beauty of free pizza to bring greater attention towards the need for sustainable thinking. We will of course recycle all the pizza boxes in their proper locations. All in all, the projects of the sustainability club are for the most part without any waste, and all actions are driven with the ultimate goal of eliminating all waste from the community, and creating a true cradle to cradle, waste equals food, society.
1.3.2 Questions for the unified survey
1. Would you be interested in contributing any time or effort to maintaining an IES garden?
2. Would you be interested in contributing any time or effort to gathering unwanted goods to a collection bin for other students or underprivileged people?
3. Would you be interested in contributing any time or effort to Cooking on an IES owned Solar Cooker?
4. Would you be interested in contributing any time or effort to throwing your leftovers into a community compost at IES?
5. Would you be interested in contributing any time or effort to taking the stairs, not elevator?
1.3.3 Analysis of the results to the survey
The survey was very helpful in shaping our goals for the semester, to include those which showed strong support from the student body and eliminate those that didn’t. Despite the small survey turnout (which is typical of many of the issues our actions are facing) it is possible to infer that those who did take the survey, may be more willing/interested in actually participating in our actions. For some of the goals, like the lack of interest for cooking on a solar cooker, administration had already nixed the possible projects. Seeing the lack of support for the terrace garden, rearranged my priorities, instead focusing on projects like the collection drive that showed good support from survey takers.
I talked about incentives some earlier in the implementation section and how crucial they are to the success of our actions. If we want extracurricular activity from students studying abroad, no matter how good the topic or reason, we need incentives. Every sustainability club related action has some sort of incentive. Everyone saves money and creates less with a reusable water bottle. A reward will be given to the student who can win the recycling competition action. Unwanted goods that would be thrown away can be passed on to other students or those in need, which allows the donator feel good about their actions. Of course the pizza at the end of the year recycle-your-reader party is all the incentive ever needed. Even the solar charger has the incentive of saving IES Administration money over time, which was incentive enough for them to agree for the solar charger’s inclusion in this year’s budget. In any of our actions where incentives are plausible, they have been implemented or are being thought about for future declaration.
1.3.5 Relationship with Sustainability Club
As President of the Sustainability Club, all the actions I have worked on have had a direct relationship with the Sustainability Club. The students within the club and those in the class who have worked with us so far, have been a huge help, and are crucial to the success of our actions. The title of the SC, has allowed us some legitimacy when speaking with administration, which resulted in good support both logistically and financially from IES Barcelona’s top dogs.
1.3.6 How will this action be sustained when I am not here
I plan to leave behind a whole webpage worth of materials on that which the sustainability has accomplished, and a set of goals for the future. The accomplishment of future actions and goals relies on future semesters of IES Abroad Barcelona students. I will be there via email and posting to the forum to offer my advice, and provide any info or answers to questions from new sustainability clubs and their administrators. I will be sure that what I leave behind is sufficient and detailed, so next semesters club has all they need to know; and once the semester is underway, and a new club is established, I will make myself available to them, to help get things rolling and be there to help throughout the semester.
1.3.7 Document Format
The Posters I created were mostly using Adobe Reader or Microsoft documents like Word and Excel. I also used the class and SC’s wiki pages to post updates. These are all OpenOffice documents, and therefore open to feedback and improvement from others.
1.3.8 Copyright License of Report
CC: I chose a Creative Commons License because it is the most accommodating license offered, and therefore allows for the most improvement to be made by others. Such circumstances gives my action the most potential to grow.
1/25/2011: First Sustainability Club Meeting, Elections, meeting schedules set
2/10/2011: Second Sustainability Club Meet (every 2 weeks from this date forth) This was the meeting where the original goals for the semester were agreed upon and set by the club, and a course of action was drawn for the semester
2/16/2011: Meeting with IES Administrator Betsy-Received final approval/disapproval on all projected action goals set for the semester.
From this day forward we have been working on bringing the potential actions to life, and creating more goals as other sustainable issues are noticed within IES Barcelona
2/24/2011: Many signs on Water Usage are made for the IES Student housing apartments and dorms.
Also on this date I got in contact with the local business IES works with to supply goods with the IES logo. Negotiated price circumstances for bulk purchase of IES water bottles
2/28/2011: Posted planned SC actions to our class website, offering the lead on any of our actions to students who still needed an action to work on
3/17/2011: Got in touch with local charity that is willing to distribute the unwanted goods of IES students, following the SC’s end of year collection bin.
3/20/2011: Worked with students in the Sustainability Course on some of their actions, and received great help from those I worked with
1.5 Reference and Links
http://www.makito.es/ → Company for water bottles
The International Church of Barcelona → Collection bin
McDonough, William & Braungart Michael (1998). The NEXT Industrial Revolution. The Atlantic 282(4): 82-92. Available online at: http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/nextIndusRev.pdf → Cradle to Cradle design that is the basis of all our work
The Agenda 21 Location we visited for the Solar Charger we are purchasing from them
http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/ → For water conservation posters in student housing
There are many more websites used for poster research if a full bibliography is wanted
1.6 Students involved in this action
Many students from the class were involved with the sustainability club, and helping achieve the desired action, and therefore I worked with quite a few directly.
Sean Tubridy has been a huge help all semester long, both as a member of the Sustainability Club, and in the class. He has brainstormed and collaborated with me over many of the topics and issues, and been a great help in setting a successful course of action. He took on many actions on his own and was the leader in bringing real value to the Eco-Euro system.
Mary Bowerman has been a huge help in ensuring water bottles for all IES students not only this semester but in the future as well. Her help with the local business providing the water bottles has been great in getting the ball rolling and the order placed.
Megan Bernstein has taken the initiative in the collection bin action. She has promised to promote the event as the time nears, and take the lead in making the collection drive happen. This will involve getting the word out, and helping in collecting, sorting, and redistributing all of the goods.
Chris Fahey has contacted me about a sustainability club sponsored gift to provide incentive for his recycling competition; and Drew Pero provided the inspiration for the collection bin action.
Assignment 4: Peer review form
Grades for this action report (From the PROFESSOR)