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The Journey to a Sustainable Future

Cynthia Wiseman, Developmental Skills

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The editors of Faculty Focus want to look back to an event last spring that we believe will have lasting importance for the BMCC community.

BMCC faculty, staff, students, as well as local vendors and community organizers participated last spring in a one day celebration to raise awareness of sustainability.

Sponsored by the BMCC Sustainability Committee under the leadership of Vice President of Administration and Planning, Scott Anderson, and Dean Jane Delgado, the First Annual BMCC Sustainability Fair took place on May 7, 2012. This fair was a joint student-staff-faculty event also sponsored by student clubs, including the Sustainability Club and the Science Club and the Sustainability Team of the 2011-12 cohort of the BMCC Leadership Fellows.

Ms. Lisa Bloodgood, recent BMCC graduate and former President and Founder of the BMCC Sustainability Club, helped plan and execute the event. Ms. Bloodgood chaired the Sustainability Club for three semesters working with advisor Prof. Matthew Ally, Social Sciences. The Office of Student Affairs supported the event with the participation of Student Ambassadors.
What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony.  (

The CUNY Sustainability Project, launched in 2007, was given institutional urgency and support to meet Mayor Bloomberg’s “30 in10” Challenge. This called on New York City’s public and private universities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2017. CUNY is committed to integrating sustainability into the fabric of the university and each college. BMCC has joined all other CUNY schools in the creation and implementation of a measurable ten-year sustainability plan to reach our target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2017. 

Building Community While Raising Awareness

The 300+ attendees of the Sustainability Fair indicated BMCC’s dedication to achieving a more sustainable CUNY/New York. The purpose of this event was multi-fold: 
* To raise awareness regarding issues of sustainability, both globally and locally
* To build community by engaging students, staff, and faculty in a BMCC-wide event
* To encourage student clubs, faculty, and staff to incorporate a sustainability component in their respective areas
* To acknowledge the work, both practical and scholarly, of students, faculty, and staff in promoting sustainability
* To showcase efforts that BMCC has already made to make our campus a green campus
* To gather data regarding practices and knowledge of citizens of our community regarding sustainability practices
* To recruit members for student clubs with a sustainability component.

Demonstrations and Activities

Vendors and community organizations and non-profits were invited to attend, including Tribeca Farmers Market, Whole Foods, Sustainable CUNY, Green Mountain Renewable Energy, and NYPIRG. Attendants hosted tables, provided demonstrations and distributed information regarding sustainable practices. The Sustainability Committee distributed information regarding BMCC’s ten year sustainability plan. The BMCC Leadership Sustainability Committee presented information about greening the office – ways to reduce paper use, garbage, and water and energy conservation. 

The event featured tables in which student club members distributed information on sustainability practices. The Health and Wellness Club, led by advisor Prof. Gloria McNamara, Health Education, hosted a table to promote a proposed urban gardening project with the BMCC Childcare Center.

Demonstrations and activities included proper recycling practices, reading and interpreting food labels to determine nutritional value, and academic advisement for a sustainable college career.

A letter-writing campaign encouraged students to think about hot issues and take action. At kiosks of computers, attendees wrote letters to local, state, or national leaders regarding one of three sustainability-related issues. More than 80 letters were written and emailed regarding the bike lanes in New York City, hydrofracking in New York State, or the Keystone Pipeline and the Alberta oil and tar sands. Several letter-writers received prizes – a flash drive, a stainless steel BMCC water bottle or a Metro card. Participants who responded to a questionnaire regarding knowledge of sustainability at BMCC received a reusable stainless steel BMCC water bottle, donated by the Office of Student Activities and the BMCC Auxiliary.
No event would be complete without food and BMCC’s MBJ Food Services rose to the occasion. Under the direction of Mr. Richard Halem, MBJ provided an array of healthy food choices from the BMCC cafeteria, including Nature Boy vegan sandwiches such as vegetarian spicy tuna and eggless egg salad on multigrain bread. Samples of Kashi bars and a trail mix of cranberries and walnuts were provided, as well as salads. All foods were served on biodegradable plates, napkins, and cups. Water with fresh lemons and oranges were served as healthy alternatives to soda and other sugary drinks.

Only the Beginning

The First Annual BMCC Sustainability Fair initiated a journey into the 21st century. The challenge is to sustain these efforts to change our culture. We must understand the actions that we need to take, and establish practices that will have a significant impact on reducing waste, saving energy, reducing water usage and creating sustainable systems. BMCC faculty, staff, and students are demonstrating their desires to meet these challenges. The Sustainability Fair is only the beginning!