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Sustainable Action Squad to host roundtable discussion

Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 02:10

Garbage Bags

Meagan Maher / Tufts Daily

The Sustainable Action Squad will today host its first roundtable discussion, designed to plan new environmental campaigns.

The Sustainable Action Squad (SAS), a new branch of the Tufts Sustainability Collective (TSC), will today host its first−ever Sustainability Roundtable, which will serve as a forum for members of the Tufts community to advocate for future environmental campaigns.

TSC launched SAS this semester to encourage dialogue within the community about sustainability and the means of promoting it on campus, according to co−Founder of SAS and co−Director of TSC Jibade Sandiford, a senior.

"[SAS has] also evolved to incorporate Sustainability Roundtables in which we try to flesh out the vision of what the campus wants to see," Sandiford said. "So SAS has now transformed into the fusion of the organizing with tangible action things that we want to be seen on campus."

Although SAS has not yet met formally, the directors of SAS explained that some potential goals for the group discussed among TSC members included promoting increased compost usage on campus, getting rid of all plastic bags on campus and encouraging participation in Community Supported Agriculture groups in the area, according to co−Founder of SAS and co−Director of TSC Kathleen Kidwell.

The primary mission of SAS is to find out what the campus wants in terms of sustainability and to then act upon the student demand, Kidwell, a junior said.

The Roundtables will serve as an open platform for discussion and constructive conversation among students, faculty, staff and administrators who are passionate about these causes, according to Sandiford.

The Roundtables will include between 20 and 25 student groups, and each term Roundtable participants will select a particular campaign to pursue for the semester, Sandiford said. Kidwell noted that SAS hopes to lead two different campus campaigns each year.

"We try to see where different groups can collaborate, and we are collective. We try to foster synergy among all those groups," Sandiford said. "That's our goal at the end of the day — always just to work together toward one goal, which is always sustainability on campus and generally in the greater Tufts community."

SAS aims to collaborate with the rest of the Tufts community and other like−minded students and organizations.

"One of the biggest reasons why we became TSC was that we saw that there were so many segments of the Tufts population who cared about sustainability, but we weren't necessarily working together," Sandiford said, adding that the groups sometimes even essentially worked against each other.

SAS looks to continue promoting sustainability on campus both in the short and long−term. "The short−term goal of SAS is always going to be the campaign. [The] long−term goal of SAS is that we organize SAS to be a sustainable way to have action happen on campus continually," Kidwell said.

SAS developed from the group Tufts Against Plastic (TAP), which last semester led the campaign to eliminate plastic water bottles from Hodgdon Good−to−Go, according to Kidwell. TAP was spun off from last year's Experimental College class "Environmental Action: Shifting from Saying to Doing," in which students learned how to actively develop and carry out environmental campaigns on campus.

TAP recently took on the name SAS after accomplishing its goal, allowing the students to expand the potential of the organization, Kidwell said.

Five former students from the ExCollege class will design a series of workshops this semester, intended to teach participants about the logistics of organizing an environmental campaign.

The workshops will include instruction on developing a mission and researching, surveying the community, generating support from the community, working with administrators and faculty and launching a campaign, according to Sandiford.

SAS will need strong and passionate leaders to continue its goals in the future, Office of Sustainability Program Director Tina Woolston, who taught the ExCollege class, noted.

"A lot of it's going to depend on leadership and how many people step up to help out with it, because just having a few executive committee members, they can't run a whole organization, and so I know they're going to need other students to kind of take the lead on different initiatives that they're doing," she said.

The leaders of SAS are very excited to see the increase in interest in sustainability around Tufts.

"On such a huge level beyond TSC, sustainability on this campus has exploded this year," Kidwell said. "There's really been a shift on this campus. It's really exciting, and I feel like TSC is only going to grow as it becomes more of a norm on campus to be environmentally sustainable."

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