Schools Going Green conference at Cate School

On Saturday, January 24, 15 independent schools throughout Southern California gathered at Cate School for the Schools Going Green Conference.
Jan. 26, 2009 - PRLog -- CARPINTERIA--On Saturday, 15 independent schools throughout Southern California gathered at Cate School for the Schools Going Green Conference. The purpose of the day-long conference was to provide students and teachers an opportunity to share their schools' most successful sustainable practices and thereby providing representatives from each school new ideas they could incorporate to increase the sustainability of their campuses.

UCSB sustainability coordinator Katie Maynard began the conference with the concept of an ecological footprint--the overall environmental impact each person or each school makes. Maynard reminded the over 100 students and faculty in attendance that we no longer have the choice to act--our very living has an impact on the earth. Santa Barbara City Councilman Das Williams took up Maynard's call for action, emphasizing how each person can make a difference. "I want you to be power hungry," Williams said to the crowd. "Each one of you will make choices that will affect this world. You can be the drop that makes the ocean."

Students then met with students, and faculty met with faculty in wonderfully productive small discussion groups. "We do so much to make recycling easy," said one student participant, "but it's amazing how lazy people can be." The group of environmentally-aware students all shook their heads, sympathetic to this experience. The frustration was shared, but so was the commitment to make these programs work. Students shared their success stories as well. "Over 40% of our school in the environmental club," said another student representative, "which adds significant momentum to our efforts.

"Our environmental club took on a militant approach," said one teacher in another group discussion. "We shut down half the school power and water and blocked off walkways for the better part of a day. Everyone was uncomfortable, if not irritated with that," she chuckled, "But that's the point. We'd all be uncomfortable if we started losing the resources we take for granted." Teachers shared the many initiatives at their schools and took notes on how their peer schools implemented their own campus-wide environmental efforts.

The Sustainable Lunch that followed featured a combination of organic, sustainably grown, hormone and antibiotic-free area foods. During lunch, Laura Weiss, Portland-based regional sustainability manager for ARAMARK, and Sam Edelman from the Santa Barbara-based Farmer Direct Produce Network spoke about how we can reduce our impact on the environment by choosing food products wisely and how we can increase the local agricultural economy by purchasing locally grown sustainable produce and protein.

In the afternoon, students and faculty alternated between hands-on workshops and exhibits that included touring Cate Schools' new LEED Platinum Certified faculty homes, using recycled restaurant oil in automobiles, working with solar electric systems, and seeing and trying on sustainable clothing made from organic cotton and other eco-friendly fabrics.

At the end of the day, conference participants reconvened to reflect on what they had experienced during the conference. It was evident that the students and teachers would return to home with even more good ideas about how to further their efforts to "green" their schools.

Jim Masker, Cate teacher and conference organizer observed, "It was invigorating to hear so many creative ways that students and teachers at the fifteen schools are working to reduce their ecological footprint. We sincerely hope the school-to-school collaboration that took place during the Schools Going Green Conference will help to boost even further the sustainability initiatives on all of our campuses."

Participating schools were:
Besant Hill School
Campbell Hall School
Cate School
Crane School
Dunn School
Echo Horizon School
Harvard-Westlake School
Marymount School
Midland School
Ojai Valley School
SB Middle School
Thacher School
Turning Point School
Webb School
Windward School

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Located one mile from the ocean, in the foothills of Santa Barbara County, Cate School is a coeducational college preparatory boarding school of 265 students. Founded in 1910, the School delivers a demanding academic program resulting in a breadth and depth of scholarly inquiry. In an intimate setting, students and teachers together pursue high ideals. Cate's mission statement reads: "Through commitment, scholarship, companionship, and service, each member of the Cate community contributes to what our founder called "the spirit of this place...all compounded of beauty and virtue, quiet study, vigorous play, and hard work."
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