By Audrey Brinkers, Campus Garden and Edible Campus Coordination
It is easy, I have found, to compare yourself to others–this mindset tormented most eleven- to fourteen-year-old children, and it troubles, I dare say it, most adults today. And further, these comparisons can certainly be applied to our efforts in sustainability.
So when we (your beloved interns) set forth on our journey down to the University of Louisville today to check out the sustainability initiatives happenings on their campus, comparisons were taking place in the minds of everyone–admit it. But these comparisons were not necessarily negative; it wasn’t a clear “we’re better” or “we’re worse.” Instead, it was simply a “how can we do this like (or unlike) them?”
As we listened to our lovely guides Russ and Claude show us the way, pointing us to recycling and renewable waste and LEED buildings and cleaner watersheds, we saw how these differed from our own campus, and we were able to both take and offer inspiration. In the campus garden, for example, I was amazed at their volunteer dedication and applied permaculture principles. While we can boast larger square footage and more pounds of produce, they had turned their tiny garden into a place for people to get their hands dirty and enjoy good food, but they also allowed for experimentation and participation by engineers and growers alike.
It was useful for us all, I hope, to see how sustainability was taking place in a different setting–it is important to keep in mind that not everyone is working in the same ways or at the same pace. We can use these comparisons for good (and not the awkward pre-teen evil), looking to one another for motivation, wisdom, and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of friendly competition.