Sometimes, as passionate people dedicated to a cause, we get too caught up in the obstacles and the hurdles we have yet to overcome. Funding is dwindling and in many cases cut for projects like Lake Restoration and management of the riparian buffer zones. Sustainability Science continues to be an unknown, something I’m reminded of every time someone asks me what I am studying here. Projects like the rain garden are slipping out of radar.
In the spirit of Sustainability Science, I believe we need to take a step back and look at what we have already accomplished. Solutions for social-environmental problems are in practice across the world, and sometimes they get overlooked. Let’s share our successes, share how we established a campus Tree Committee, share our landscaping projects, share our educational goals. These are things I want to share with my campus community, and with other campus communities who might benefit from our experiences. So often, I have seen projects on this campus come and go (and I’ve only been here four years!). We need to remember to make connections, to share, to persevere in our work to make our experiences and efforts known.
Change is achieved slowly. When I started my work here at the Shi Center for Sustainability, my efforts seemed fruitless. I couldn’t start projects without learning the systems of management across a wide variety of campus issues, and I couldn’t understand these systems before exploring the projects already in place. Developing an arboretum plan has required me to seek input of various departments, faculty, staff, students, and community members. What do we want our arboretum to look like? What do we hope to achieve? How can we use the arboretum as a tool to accomplish some of the larger goals of the university? All of these questions, and more, had so many different answers and interpretations, not to mention restraints.
As my fellowship is coming to a close, I find myself reflective of the changes over the past two years. Arbor Day events have grown in numbers, visibility, and education. The Campus Arboretum Plan is in its final drafts and will soon be sent out for review. The educational viewing deck for the Bunched Arrowhead Site is being reconstructed. Students are speaking out even more about the importance of trees to Furman’s campus, especially in regards to environmental services.
Sustainability concerns are important ones; taking care of our personal landscapes is a major area of concern for biodiversity corridors, biodiversity patches, environmental services, social corridors, financial services, educational opportunity, and so much more. Ultimately, some of the most influential work we can do with Sustainability Science issues is to set a good example by sharing our experiences, successes, and efforts. When I leave Furman, I hope to leave a legacy of landscapes being used as a unifying tool across the university. I hope that my focus can become a connecting point for others in sustainability concerns.