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Collective to act as umbrella for campus environmental groups

Published: Monday, February 14, 2011

Updated: Monday, February 14, 2011 07:02

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Justin McCallum / Tufts Daily

Tufts Bikes, which will initiate a bike-share program on campus, joins other environmental sustainability groups in the new umbrella organization, the Tufts Sustainability Collective.

Filling in the gap left by the now−defunct group, Environmental Consciousness Outreach (ECO), a new student collective established this semester is stepping in to act as the umbrella organization for environmentally focused groups on campus, attempting to improve coordination between its members and bring a sense of organization to the sustainability movement at Tufts.

The Tufts Sustainability Collective (TSC) will comprise a number of environmentally conscious subgroups, including Tufts Bikes, Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF) and Tufts Against Plastic (TAP).

TSC's board is charged with bringing together organizations and individuals with similar goals, TSC co−founder Signe Porteshawver, a senior, said. Representatives from each autonomous subgroup will serve on the collective's board, which is responsible for planning leadership training for students interested in establishing green initiatives on campus.

Porteshawver and co−founder Sally Sharrow, also a senior, expect that the collective will create more opportunities for students to get involved in environmental sustainability projects.

"My personal hope is that it will create the sort of robust community where people can take on leadership positions and will have the knowledge that if they want to get something done on campus, they can do it … and that there's a support group for them to be able to do that," Porteshawver said.

The collective will replace ECO, which until this semester served the same purpose but lacked organization and membership, according to Sharrow, a former ECO member.

"Last semester especially, we didn't have any officers, and we didn't really have anywhere to go. And at the same time all of these other cool things were happening that had taken off on their own because ECO wasn't there to back them up," Sharrow said. "We spent a lot of time last semester just figuring out how we could get people on the same boat, yet have them feel ownership over their own projects," she said.

TSC will continue to be funded by the approximately $1,700 the Tufts Community Union Senate allocated to ECO this fiscal year, but will next year ask for a larger budget than ECO has requested in the past, Sharrow said.

Sharrow is also a member of Tufts Bikes, which this November received $50,000 from the Senate to establish a bike−share program on campus.

Several of the TSC board members said they joined the collective with the expectation of help procuring funding for their groups.

Porteshawver, who co−founded Tom Thumb's Garden, a student−run garden, said that being part of the collective would help structure attempts to secure funding for the initiative.

"For the sustainability of Tom Thumb's, we needed to be a part of a larger group," she said.

The Tufts chapter of SJSF, which promotes clean−energy legislation in Massachusetts, will also join the collective with funding in mind, said freshman Anna Lello−Smith, who serves on TSC's board.

Lello−Smith said the collective will help build support for environmental sustainability initiatives of all areas of focus.

"We're kind of different from other subgroups because they're more campus−oriented and we're more regional, but I think we can still work together," she said. "We'll have more people to send to their events, and they can send to ours."

TAP member sophomore Danny Markowitz said while the promise of securing more money for the group was one incentive for TAP to join the collective, the TSC's credibility was also a draw. TAP, which emerged from an Experimental College class offered last semester, aims to eliminate non−reusable water bottles from campus.

"It's a good fit. It gives us more credibility on campus," Markowitz said.

Sharrow hopes TSC will expand to incorporate more groups across Tufts.

"I really want to see some big events that will bring everyone together — all of our own groups, but also other groups on campus with diverse interests, from the Eco−Reps to Jumbo Janitor Alliance," she said. "The Collective is about sustainability, which is not just about the environment. It's about justice and creating new lifestyles."

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