New Design for Augsburg Community Garden

As the spring semester and the opening of the new Hagfor’s Center for Science, Business, and Religion come closer and closer, the Augsburg community says goodbye to the layout of the community garden we have known and loved since 2007. With the design of the new building, a new campus Master Plan, and a growing need for gardening space to expand across campus, Augsburg has decided to update the design of this space so that it is a permanent fixture of the campus and visible commitment to our continual experiment with what it means to have public space on our campus. After working with designers from Oslund and Associates, gardeners, and campus stakeholders to lay out a design based on shared goals and principles, the new garden will have a more modern look while still making space for the creativity of gardeners.

greens growing in the garden students working in the garden

The biggest notable feature of the garden, will be that our new space will have 63 plots instead of the current 70. With newly planned accessible pathways and irrigation systems replacing the dirt trails that have gotten smaller and smaller over the years, some garden space needed be taken for better organization. The new plots will be easily distinguishable and farther separated from each other with pathways in between. Benches will now serve as both storage and gathering spaces for gardeners, Augsburg folks taking lunch breaks or doing homework, and neighbors looking for greenspace.

found objects inthe garden students saving bricks form the garden

Although not everyone is happy about the newly designed look, others are excited to have more structure in the garden. Some folks would like to keep it as the natural, organic (in many ways), creative space it has been since gardeners began taking ownership and making it their own. Some of the sustainability-minded folks  are disappointed that we have to say goodbye to reused objects, such as the bricks, poles, barrels, boards and random structures (e.g. crutches) that are both functional and artistic parts of many gardens. Although many things are leaving, many things will stay too – the tools, some of those found objects, plants, and seeds are staying and will be reused with the addition of new ones as well. Many other things from the old garden found new homes in neighbors’ gardens and yards, including our shed, which was graciously (and carefully!) transported to a brand new Cedar-Riverside garden at Timber Park (photo below) that the West Bank Community Development Corporation has been organizing with residents.

garden shed in new location garden under construction

The new garden is expected to open in spring 2018 and construction began last week. If you are unable to get a plot, fear not. The new plots are designed to be replicated across campus. Spaces where there is open green grass may soon be turned into more garden plots! Because the new space will have both raised beds and in-ground garden plots, gardeners are looking forward to partnering with A Backyard Farm this spring to learn new growing techniques and make the most of the growing space. You can support this effort on Give To The Max Day on Nov. 16! 

new garden design

-By Joshua Marose (’21), ESC Intern

 

Augsburg IT Recycles Styrofoam From New Computers

Each summer, as new computer shipments make their way to Augsburg, we’re left with packaging waste that can’t all be accepted by our own recycling hauler. To minimize the waste this year, Eric Strom took a load of #6 expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) over to DiversiFoam in Rockford, MN where it will be recycled and used in manufacturing construction-related polystyrene products.

In 2014, 14,320,000 tons of plastic containers and packaging (including polystyrene) was generated in the U.S. (see page 9 for more fun with numbers!). Only 14.8% of that waste was recycled. Polystyrene packaging and containers in particular had an even lower recycling rate with only 9.1% of all polystyrene in the waste stream being recycled.

Because of its lightweight structure and limited end-uses, polystyrene is notoriously difficult to recycle. As long as the packaging material is clean, white, and adhesive-free, DiviersiFoam is able to keep it out of landfills and put it back into their own products.

Thanks to Eric and our friends in IT for finding this local resource and helping reduce our dependence on landfills and make progress on our Environmental Action Plan!

Does your department collect a lot of polystyrene? Want to help create a campus-wide system for recycling it? Share your ideas or other sustainability stories with us at environmentalstewardship@augsburg.edu!

 

 

Augsburg Residence Halls COMPost COMPetition November 2016

Augsburg Residence Halls COMPost COMPetition 2016

On Nov 7th – 18th, each of the halls competed against the other communities within their hall to have the floor with the most non-food compostables. The grand prize of a Pizza Luce party was awarded to the floors in each individual hall that had the highest weight of compost per week. In addition to making bulletin boards with visual representations of what non-food items could be composted, RAs were also encouraged to reach out to their residents in creative ways to boost participation. Flyers taped to doors, face to face connections, and emails with residents helped bring the total weight of composted non-food items to 128.5lbs!

Compost Board Mortensen Hall "Don't be Grouchy Compost!"
Tiffany Widseth – Mortensen 1st floor
Compost Board Andreson Hall "Don't Talk Trash"
Sady Ly – Anderson 4th floor

Residence Life has an annual Safety and Sustainability project that they work towards every year. As the Environmental Stewardship Committee prepares by encouraging composting, we are working towards our sustainability goals for our residents. Originally we did not have a specific goal weight, because we did not know what was attainable. However, we felt that the foremost goal was to first educate residents about what non-food items could and should be composted.

Altogether the final weights of this two week competition showed a total 128.5 pounds of non-food items! These numbers are very exciting for future programs. If we were able to compost 64.25 pounds of non-food items per week for the 16 week academic semester – we would be preventing 1,028 pounds of waste from going to the landfill! If this were extended for the full academic year – we would be preventing 1.028 tons of waste from going to the landfills!!!  

 

The final weights and winners per hall can be seen below:

Urness 31.6 lbs 9th floor RA Samantha 10 lbs
Mortensen 45.8 lbs 12th floor RA Ben 13.9 lbs
Anderson 31.6 lbs 2nd floor house and apartments RA Sam 16.3 lbs
Luther 19.5 lbs 1st floor RA Erika 10 lbs
Total 128.5 pounds
Compost Board in Urness Hall: "Its Easy to be Green"
Elizabeth Whalen – Urness 3rd floor
Compost Board Anderson Hall 3rd Floor "Don't talk trash"
Destyn Land – Anderson 3rd floor
Compost Board Luther Hall - Composting Competition
Cheemoua Vang – Luther 3rd floor

 

ESLAN Project Completion and Summary

In January, we, The Environmental Student Leaders Action Network (ESLAN) team at Augsburg College, got the ball rolling on a behavior change project on campus. Our project has been to recycle personal care and oral care products via the TerraCycle company, an innovative and renowned company that recycles hard-to-recycle waste. We’re in April now and we have news to share with you!

We placed bins in each of the nine resident bathrooms of Urness Hall, where first-year students reside. Before starting to recycle, we had students take pre-surveys about their awareness and actions toward recycling, especially hard-to-recycle waste. Students also took post-surveys. Figure 1 illustrates the comparison between the pre- and post-surveys. The results show that students were recycling more after taking part in the TerraCycle project for two months.

Untitled     Untitled2

        (A)                                                                                                   (B)

  Figure 1. A) Pre-survey results for Urness Hall residents. B) Post-survey results for Urness Hall residents.

Students were incentivized to recycle by promising a pizza party for the residence floor that collected the most amount of products by weight. The students ended up collecting 28.06 lbs in items. After sorting (Figure 2 shows the team having fun sorting), we found that 18.25 lbs of the items could be recycled in traditional recycling bins. Therefore, 9.81 lbs of the items could be sent to TerraCycle; 7.11 lbs were from personal care and 2.7 lbs were from oral care.Untitled3                                                                Fig 2. The ESLAN team sorting out the recycling items.

There was also a community bin, a bin for all commuters and folks not living in Urness Hall, placed in the Christensen Center. The bin did not fare well. The bin was mistaken for a garbage bin and folks were not dropping off too many products. The lack of items could have been due to poor advertisement about its location when it was moved from one place in Christensen to a different location in the same building (moved after one week), as well as people feeling insecure about dropping off personal care products in a public space. As said before, we did not have much luck with the community bin.

        With all of our efforts, we estimate reaching 2,000 students. By reaching we mean that students had access to the project and details at the very least. We used various modes of communication. We posted images of people using the TerraCycle bins on Instagram. We tabled in the Christensen Center. We wrote a piece about our project for the Echo newspaper. We used every communication tool available to us to spread the word.

Moving forward, there is a lot for our team to think about. We are talking about forming a formal environmental student group on campus. We want to see if we can keep the TerraCycle program going and devise new strategies for creating success with the community bin. There is a lot floating around, so stay tuned. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us at environmentalstewardship@augsburg.edu.

 

ESLAN Students Facilitate Behavior Change at Augsburg

     The University of Minnesota, Augsburg College, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and the North Hennepin Community College, recently joined forces to establish a pilot project known as the Environmental Student Leaders Action Network (ESLAN). The project is a behavior change project funded by a Hennepin County Green Partners grant.

     The Kick-off meeting was on Wednesday, October 14th, at the Gandhi Mahal Restaurant. At the event, folks discussed the structure of the project and brainstormed ideas for behavior change projects on their campus. Also, people had the opportunity to tour the restaurant’s aquaponics system; Minnesota’s first, in-restaurant aquaponics system, and dined in Northern-style Bangladeshi/Indian cuisine.

      Between October 25th and 27th, the ESLAN students attended the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Conference (AASHE), an event that equips higher education faculty, administrators, staff, and students to lead sustainable innovations.  One of the helpful sessions held at the event was the Behavioral Change in Sustainable Campus Actions session facilitated by Alexis Troschinetz, the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Behavior Change and Metrics Coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension. The session informed students on how to organize and execute sustainable initiatives.

Now, each campus is working on their independent project. The Augsburg College team consists of four students (Elise Linna, Hanan Farah, Jennifer Kochaver, and Oscar Martinez), one graduate student (Amber Lewis), and two faculty (Emily Schilling and Christina Erickson). We are recycling personal care products inside bins founds in each residence bathroom floor of Urness Hall and by the Einstein’s bagel shop inside Christensen Center (images presented below in Figure 1).

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 12.17.28 AM                                       (a)                                                                          (b)

Figure 1. a) Recycling bin found in one of the Urness Hall floors. b) ESLAN Augsburg students standing next to the recycling bin found in Christensen Center. 

     The items collected will be recycled through the TerraCycle company, an acclaimed upcycling and recycling company. The company is amazing, so check them out at www.terracycle.comThe team is delighted with the number of products being recycled in the bins thus far. In order to incentivize folks to continue doing a great job, we are rewarding the Urness Hall floor that recycles the most personal care products by Thursday, March 10, with a pizza party.

     We collected pre-surveys from the Urness residents two weeks ago and we will compare them to the post-surveys that we will collect in March. We will use the data from the surveys and our own personal experience to present our findings on March 28th to the rest of ESLAN institutional partner members.

     Up to now, this has been a wonderful opportunity to grow as agents of sustainable change. If you want to learn how to join us in this rewarding experience or have questions, please contact us by emailing us at environmentalstewardship@augsburg.edu. We will be posting more blogs, so also look out for those.

 

bag it: is your life too plastic?

 

bag-it-press-image

On Wednesday, April 22nd (Earth Day), the ESC will be hosting a film screening of the movie Bag ItThis documentary follows Jeb Berrier as he uncovers the mystery of plastic.  What started with a simple grocery trip and a goal to stop using plastic bags, turns into a quest to uncover what happens to plastic when it’s thrown out.  Where does it go?  How does it effect our environment and our health?  Don’t worry though – this isn’t a doom and gloom film.  It’s funny AND informative.  So if you can take a break from late night studying, come join us for some snacks and relaxing entertainment.

Thank you to the Environmental Studies Department for sponsoring this event!


Wednesday, April 22nd
Augsburg College
East Commons, Christensen Center
Screening begins at 8:30pm

 

Native American Film Series: Profit and Loss

SSGPLDVjacketF-211x300The Native American Film Series is still at it!  They’re showing another film that is sure to be inspiring and insightful.  Profit and Loss focuses on mining and oil industries and its effect on Native people across the globe.  Discussion to follow with Dr. Cecilia Martinez, Director of Research Programs for The Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy and Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network.


Tuesday, March 24th
Augsburg College
Sateren Auditorium, Music Hall, 715 22nd Ave South
Reception 6:15-6:45
Screening begins at 7:00
Discussion to follow

Help! We need movie suggestions!

Movie proposals needed for an outdoor movie night for Earth Day! Hopefully, the weather will cooperate. If you have a suggestion for an environmentally themed (and entertaining) movie, please let us know. Leave a comment or you can send an email to auggiesgogreen@augsburg.edu.

Fix-It Clinics

Now you can get broken household items fixed for free at a local Fix-It Clinic.  Repairable items might include:

  • small appliances
  • electronics
  • mobile devices
  • clothing
  • toys

Not only will you get your item fixed, but you can learn valuable repair skills along the way!  Most importantly, you’ll reduce waste AND save money.  No need to bring your own tools, unless you really want to.

Want to know why these clinics are so important and how it impacts the community?  MPR  has a great news story covering just that.

**If you happen to be a really handy person already and want to help out, volunteers are always needed.  More info on volunteering can be found on the Hennepin County website.