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Kalamazoo College Awarded Green Generation Consumer of the Year by Consumers Energy

By Olivia Nalugya, Contributor

On the 25th of September, Environmental Studies Concentration Director and Professor Binney Girdler, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Paul Manstrom, and Sustainability Interns Emma Dolce ‘14 and Katie Ray ’14 accepted an award on behalf of Kalamazoo College for its ardent utilization of eco-friendly energy from Consumers Energy – Michigan’s largest utility company.

Green Generation Energy is renew- able energy powered by wind turbines in Michigan and K is one of its top ten consumers. According to Manstrom, the College has been using this kind of energy for about five years now and buys about “7020 kilowatts a year in green generated power”.

K started using Green Generation Energy in 2008, owing to the student’s petitioning of the administration to adopt measures that would reduce the College’s emissions via a sustainability campaign that was dubbed “8 in ‘08”. “They wanted the college to commit to buying 8 percent of its electricity in renewable energy,” Manstrom explained.

Despite the financial cost, the College administration thought it was a request worth honoring. Manstrom admits that there are other relatively inexpensive ways of buying wind-powered energy, but “there is no guarantee where that energy is being produced”.

In 2007, President Wilson-Oyelar- an was one of the over 280 American college and university presidents that signed the President’s Climate Commitment, which is geared towards reducing the global emission of greenhouse gases by 80 percent by mid-century at the latest.

Consequently, over the years the student sustainability interns have spearheaded various projects to ensure that the College follows through with the pledge. Ray indicated, “We are trying to keep the president on track with her climate commitment.”

Students last year also devised a composting program that ensured that food wastes from the College are appropriately disposed. The program description indicated that “the food waste was transported to a local farm to be used as pig feed.” However, in compliance with Michigan’s law on feeding animal waste to animals, the College has purchased earth tub machines that will be capable of recycling all of the cafeteria’s compostable waste.

Manstrom revealed that about 90 percent of the College’s emissions come from energy consumption. Subsequently, computer upgrading, LED lighting, and the installation of motion detectors in almost all campus buildings are measures the College has undertaken to offset the emissions. The purchase and usage of Green Generation Energy has thus contributed to the reduction in the College’s overall emissions.

 

Dr. Dorceta Taylor’s Address on “Race, Poverty, and Access to Food in America”

By Paula Dallacqua, Contributor

Last Wednesday, September 18th, the Harvest Moon sits in a particularly beautiful autumn night sky, and watches a crowd of people file into Sangren Hall, the building that houses Western Michigan University’s College of Education and Human Development.

Dorceta E. Taylor, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, has brought together quite the diverse group of folks for her keynote address, “Race, Poverty, and Access to Food in America: Resistance, Survival, and Sustainability”, which concludes Western Michigan University’s day-long event, “A Day on Race, Poverty, & Access to Food”.

Despite the large attendance, Dr. Taylor’s steady voice sets a laid back tone for the talk. She likes to interact with her audience, frequently interjecting with questions, and joking just enough to establish a sense of familiarity with the room of strangers.

In 2012, through funding provided by the US Department of Agriculture, Dr. Taylor embarked on a five-year, $4-million study in order to research 18 smaller and mid-sized Michigan cities with high populations of minorities, along with other residents who may have low-income and poor access to food.

In an interview with Kelle Barr of Michigan Night Light’s online publication, Dr. Taylor explains that her study is trying “to find out if minority families and other low-income residents, no matter their race, don’t have access to healthy, affordable foods like [we] see in some larger cities.”

A hefty portion of Dr. Taylor’s presentation involved an overview of the systematic attempts to control historically subjugated populations in the U.S. via the manipulation of food supply, as well as several examples of discrimination.

Students at Kalamazoo College who are interested in getting involved with fair food movements should check out the local non-profit, Fair Food Matters. Founded in 2001, Fair Food Matters is committed to improving access to healthy, local food within the Kalamazoo community. Check out their website at: www.fairfoodmatters.org. Students can also look into student organizations such as Farms 2 K or Digging In Renewable Turf (DIRT) to further explore food matters.

Although the talk attempted to leave on a positive note, questions of how to tackle the tangled systems of oppression seemed to shadow even the moonlight that guided the students back to the College’s campus.

 

 

 

Find More Than Food At the Bank St. Farmers’ Market

By Paula Dallacqua, Contributor

Vendors sell their fresh produce at the Bank St. Farmers' Market (Photo by Paula Dallacqua)

Looking for a way to pop the “K bubble” and get some grocery shopping done? Then check out the Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market on Bank Street. It is about a forty-minute walk, a ten-minute bike ride, or a 5-minute car ride from campus.

With almost 100 different vendors that are categorized as artisan, grower, producer, or retailer, shoppers can find anything from greens to homemade soap to fresh-baked bread.

Between the hours of 9a.m.-12p.m., the Market is bustling with folks of all ages. Both veterans and newcomers are encouraged to engage in thoughtful conversation with the vendors: questions about food growing practices, artistry techniques, and general methodology are what make the Market buzz with an incredibly contagious energy.

Bank St. Market not only provides a diverse array of products and opportunity to cultivate buyer-seller relationships, but also a chance to explore Kalamazoo outside the confines of campus. The Market, filled with people actively seeking out connection with one another, is a source of replenishment after a long week of juggling activities and schoolwork.

At its core, the Market simultaneously develops and nourishes community—that intangible and beautiful thing we humans all seem to need at the end of the day.

The Bank St. Farmers’ Market is open through October on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 7a.m.-2 p.m. In November, however, it will only be open on Saturdays from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Most vendors accept cash or check.

K Welcomes Creative Dining, new Kalamazoo College Dining Services

By Mallika Mitra, Features Editor

After nearly two years of work from students and administration, the new dining service is finally here. Over the summer Creative Dining Services began working to “get connected and get systems in place,” according to James Chantanasombut, the Director and Executive Chef of Kalamazoo College Dining Services.

“The biggest challenge is the amount of folks to feed,” said Chantanasombut. Although it is not possible for all students to eat in the cafeteria at the same time, dining services has been working to make sure everyone can eat comfortably. This starts with improved dining and house services, which include cleaning tables quickly, a boxed lunch program, the development of the new combo plan at the Richardson Room so students can use meal swipes for most of the day, providing meals at the Book Club, and the extra card reader outside of the dining hall so that students can be swiped in quickly.

According to Chantanasombut, “The first year is really all about just soaking it all in and really learning how everything works.”

However, the new dining service has many plans for the future, including developing a more authentic cuisine, continuing to build relationships with local vendors, providing more options for people with dietary restrictions, and providing a generally well-rounded menu.

Another project the new dining service hopes to launch in regard to its sustainability initiatives is to work with Facilities Management on initiating another composting program.

Kalamazoo College Dining Services also wants to develop the talent of the staff, including more training for better cooking, less waste, sanitation, and safety. Several chefs have already been sent to Michigan State University to see how the dining services are run there, while another will be attending a 3-day boot camp, which Creative Dining runs every year for culinarians.

Tisha Armstrong, an employee of the dining service who often swipes students into the dining hall, says she has heard “no complaints” from her co-workers and that the new dining service is “wonderful” to the employees.

“There still aren’t a lot of options for people who are gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan,” said Aliera Morasch K’16.

Chantanasombut encourages students with concerns such as this to talk to him, saying, “You can stop by my office. My door is always open. If you see me in the cafeteria ever always feel free to ask me if you have any kind of questions or concerns.”