April 2011 Newsletter
In this month's issue:
- Bike Users Group Launches Pilot Bike Share Program
- Socially Responsible Investing Working Group
- Good Point Recycling Celebrates 10 years
- PowerShift 2011
- Environmental Forum Update
This spring, UVM's Bike Users Group (BUG) launches the first phase of the Student Run Bike Share Program. Beginning March 28th, students and employees with valid UVM ID's will be able to rent bikes from one of 3 hubs on campus.
The program aims to provide free bikes for everyone on campus, as well as educate students and the UVM community about biking through events such as Doctor Your Bike Day and Bike Fest 2011 (date TBA). A total of 17 bikes will be provided in 3 convenient and easily recognizable hubs around campus (McAuley Hall on Trinity, Davis Center & Simpson Hall on Redstone Campus) and renters will simply need to provide ID to receive the key to the bike lock, which will also be the responsibility of the user.
In 2006, the Yellow Bike Project was started from the work of Ben Searle's senior thesis, with a similar goal to provide free bikes on campus, however the program lacked any form of accountability system and many of the bikes were missing and in disrepair by the end of the semester.
The new bike share program aims to make bikes as easily available and free as possible, though small fee is needed for maintenance and user reliability. The bikes are free for the first two hours, and $1 an hour after that. Bikes used overnight will incur a $5 fee and if the bikes are not returned with 7 days, the user will be charged the full price for the bike.
The bike share program is a collaboration between various groups including the Office of Sustainability, Campus Planning Services, Transportation & Parking, Risk Management and Workman's Cycle, who created and customized the bikes.
To sign up for the program, simply submit a waiver form (under "forms" in left column once signed into the Lynx) to be approved and bring you ID to rent the bikes from any station. For more information, contact Jesse Simmons.
The Socially Responsible Investing Work Group (SRIWG) was officially established in 2008 as a standing workgroup of the Budget, Finance and Investment Committee (BFI) with the purpose of reviewing investment proposals based on moral, ethical and social criteria; examine the impacts of such proposals, solicit input from the campus community, and pass on recommendations to the Investment Subcommittee.
On March 17th, the SRIWG held an Open Comment Sessions for members of the UVM community voice their statements for opposition or approval of the group's proposal to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
(Question Forum March 17th, Waterman Memorial Lounge. Photo: Katherine Devine)
Currently, the University invests in companies such as Motorola and Caterpillar that supply technology and resources to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli settlements, that occupy areas of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. Prolonged military occupation of these areas, particularly of Palestine since 1967, has been deemed illegal by United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions and the 4th Geneva Convention. According to the divestment proposal, UVM’s contractual relationships with such companies indirectly supports the occupation and is in opposition to the principles upheld in the Common Ground, SRIWG Charge and the Board of Trustees Statement of Investment Objectives and Policies.
The Comment Session opened up the discussion to the public and heard from students, professors, Rabbis and other interested parites on both sides of the issues. Those in favor of the proposal called upon the University to follow their values of Justice and Respect along with a sense of moral and social obligation. Others mentioned the opportunity to switch to companies actively seeking green technologies instead of war profiteers. Many speakers supporting the proposal made a point to distinguish that this was not an anti-Semitic movement but a non-violent peaceful resolution to help end persecution of Palestinians.
Those opposed to the divestment proposal argued that the proposal is too short sided and brief for such a complex issue. Many claimed the document is oversimplified and singles out Israel. Others also argued divestment may cause more violence and that some technologies also used for protection and to save lives. Investment also provides extra funding for the University that is needed to finance the increasing budget gap.
As a whole the SRIWG helps to foster and secure social and economic sustainability by analyzing all angles of investment.
E-waste is the informal name for electronics such as computers, monitors, copiers, fax machines, etc., which are at the end of their product life cycle. These products often contain high levels of mercury, lead, heavy metal or other hazardous substances and therefore need to disposed of properly to avoid contaminating the environment or people.
(Stacks of CPU's ready for shipment to be sent for repair and reuse in developing countries.)
For a decade, UVM has relied on Good Point Recycling, a Middlebury VT-based company, to handle its e-waste in an environmentally and ethically responsible manner-- over 301 tons (602,000 pounds) have been sent to the company. The company provides ethical electronic recycling solutions to institutions, businesses, and municipalites around New England.
When products arrive at their Middlebury facility, they are evaluated for reuse potential or disassembled into individual components, such as metals, plastics, glass and circuit boards which are either recycled or resold as raw materials depending on the commodity. Of the e-waste collected, about 30% can be repaired for local reuse, online sales, or returned to the manufacturer (primarily CRT and LCD monitors).
The company founder, Robin Ingenthrom, also established WR3A or World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association, a world wide consortium that has set "Fair Trade" standards for international electronics recycling. Fair Trade recycling allows for the legitimate export of computers that can be reused and repaired in developing nations, providing jobs, skills training and digital access in places such as Mexico, Ghana and Senegal. UVM is fortunate to have this global leader in fair trade e-waste recycling located just down the road. Learn more about the company on their website: http://www.retroworks.net/
Be part of the largest youth summit in History!
Powershift is a 4-day conference in Washington, DC focused on shifting the nations economy to sustainable renewable power and giving our generation's youth a say in the government. Participate in rallys, workshops, lectures, community organizing, networking, training and concerts in the nation's capital. In the past UVM has had the largest number of participants of all schools across the country. To register, contact Kristen Talbot and visit the Powershift2011 website for more information.
The March Environmental Forum meeting took place on Wednesday, March 16 to discuss updates from the Office and the Student Bike Share Program.
FIrst FM Munoz gave an update of Earth Week (EW) Planning initiatives and opened the forum up for other ideas. Earth week will be held April 18-22. Contributing groups/organizations include the Campus Kitchens project who are working to incorporate the Food Summit with EW and Office of Community Relations and Campus Programs hosting Bike Repair and Green Your Cleaning workshops. The spring farmers market will be held Wednesday the 20th and Sun Box Installations from artist Craig Colorusso will also be displayed in various locations around campus during the week. Other events include guest speaker Heather Rogers and a screening of the movie "Home" presented by IRA. For other ideas or events please contact FM Munoz by March 31st.
Next Gioia Thompson gave an update on the Climate Action Plan and the Clean Energy Fund. The Climate Action plan was passed and the next step is to set up conversations with the Burlington Electric Department for talks about reaching carbon neutrality. The proposed Clean Energy Fund projects have been approved by Richard Cate, VP of Finance and Administration, and are set to move forward. Approved projects include: a comprehensive campus wide feasibility study for optimum site for renewables, an architectural study for the installment of revolving doors .... OTHERS?
Steve Posner spoke next on the Eco-Reps program and their actions this semester. Currently the group is working on event planning for Earth Week and community based social marketing projects to target specific behaviors. Also, senior Eco-Rep Winter Heath is working on a thesis regarding the presence of the program on campus and looking into marketing techniques to increase awareness from the student body.
Finally, Jesse Simmons presented on the UVM BIke User Program (BUG) and the Bike Share Program starting March 28th. The aim of the program is to provide free bikes, education and service for everyone on campus through bike rentals, the DC Bike Shop and events and festivals such as Bike Fest 2011.
The idea for the program came partly out of observations that there was a lack of space for students to park bikes on campus and many bikes became damaged and were left unused. The program also aligns with the University's environmental ethics and mission to encourage "human powered transportation".
The program begins the first of three phases this spring, with 17 bikes in 3 hubs (Trinity, Davis Center, Redstone). The next phase, starting this fall, will assess the progress of the program and hopes to double the fleet to 30 bikes. An advisory group of stakeholders will also be created during this phase. The final phase, from Winter '11 to Fall'13, will assess progress, evaluate the budget, up the fleet to 50 bikes, add two hubs (Athletic, Waterman) and decide to continue the plan as is or modify as necessary.
The program is open to all UVM students and employees with a valid ID and are not restricted to the campus limits when rented. In the future, it may grow to collaborate with Champlain College and St. Mikes, but will begin at the University scale.
The Landscape Advisory Subcommittee of Campus Planning is also looking into transportation issues and is working on create a Bicycle Master Plan to improve bike routes and label all bike rack stations. A survey put out by the subcommittee showed that students would bike more if the routes were safer and racks were safe and possibly undercover. This work along with BUG is helping to create a more sustainable transportation system for the University campus.
The next Environmental Forum will be Wednesday, April 20th from 2-4 pm in the Davis Center Williams Family Room. The forum will showcase student and faculty research and class projects from this semester.
Japan Relief Efforts - in light of the recent Earthquake and Tsunami that have stricken Japan, American and International relief organizations are working hard to provide food, shelter, clean water and medical supplies to those in need. If you would like to help, contact a trusted organization for more information.
Environment and Health Seminar Series - "Issues in Global Environmental Health" Dr. Omar Khan, Department of Family Medicine. Tuesday, April 19th, 11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Living and Learning Commons, room 315. Free admission.
Common Ground 2011 CSA - UVM's student- run educational farm is starting the 2011 season CSA and inviting you to purchase a share! Full shares (Master Shares) for $365.00 and half shares (Bachelors Shares) for $195.00. Contact Common Ground for more information.
H2Know - Student run conservation and advocacy group to educate students about ecological issues surrounding Lake Champlain and and discuss solutions. The group is an affiliate of Lake Champlain International. Meetings are held each Tuesday from 7-8 in the U-Heights North Multipurpose Room 119. For more information, you can visit their website here.
Spring Farmers Market - Wednesday April 20th, 11:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. Davis Center.