Tuesday April 11, 2017

Sustainable Community

By Kaleigh Barkaszi

Hey fellow Flyers!

To introduce myself, my name is Kaleigh and I am a junior international studies major with a SEE minor. I started working for the Hanley Sustainability Institute this year with my official title being the “STARS assessment and reporting intern.” To break that down, STARS stands for “Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System” and it is a self-reporting system in which colleges and universities from across the globe can measure their sustainability performance. There are different sections where universities can enter information, my project right now is to uncover and enter travel and transportation information campus wide.  

After a semester abroad in Iceland focusing on climate change in the Arctic, I returned to campus energized with a desire to enhance the University’s sustainability. I began working on a project to track campus transportation and travel. This included working with and collecting information from a wide array of departments across campus. This was not as easy as I was anticipating it to be. Not saying that this project crushed that fire I had, but it definitely challenged my ability to kindle it. The frustration built as departments were not willing to share travel information or departments simply do not keep track of vehicle mileage on a yearly basis. But not everyone on campus is this way – the people that have bent over backwards are the people that are also interested in knowing where the university stands and how we can improve. They have provided me with more data and resources than I could have asked for. Throughout this process, I noticed that I was not just finding numbers and data sets, but was uncovering the community that Dayton is so well known for.  

While it is in my job description to dig up and enter data, I feel that my work is revealing the culture of sustainability at UD and how it intertwines with community. I would not be able to perform my job successfully if faculty and staff did not care. Our community does not encompass solely the people, but also includes the physical environment that frames our community. A commitment to community is a commitment to care for the world and all that surrounds us. Every little gesture contributes to changing how we view sustainability and our impact on the environment. Through my research on each specific topic, a new dialogue begins with others on campus – the STARS program gives us a way to track our progress and our Dayton community provides the ability to build a stronger and more diverse sustainable campus. 

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