A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
October 5, 2006 Volume 37 / Number 3

 

This Way to Sustainability Conference II: Notes from Three Sessions

The This Way to Sustainability II: Merging with Community conference that took place on the CSU, Chico campus Nov. 2–5 was an unqualified success from beginning to end. Registrants lined up in the BMU Atrium starting at 7:30 am Thursday, and a steady stream of attendees continued signing up through Sunday.
There were more than 900 attendees pre-registered and registered on site, according to Jillian Buckholz, CSU, Chico sustainability coordinator. White-and-green conference mugs were a common sight in classrooms and offices across campus; if you happened to be in downtown Chico during conference lunch breaks, you couldn’t miss the conference nametags.

Buckholz received a lot of good feedback on the conference. One person who had attended the UC/CSU Sustainability Conference last summer told her that the visible presence of the AS and student organizations at Chico and the enthusiasm and involvement they brought to the conference made the Chico conference special. She also heard from several alumni who said that they are pleased Chico State is moving towards sustainability.

David Arkin of Arkin Tilt Architects describes the tenets of ecological design to a room full of conference attendees.
This Way to Sustainability II featured 140 speakers and tablers, according to Teri Randolph, Office of the Provost. Presenters shared information on issues of the environment, ethics, justice, and citizenship. At one full-to-capacity session, David Arkin of Arkin Tilt Architects, Berkeley, showed slides of projects that embody “Green Planning and Design with Maximum Kick and Minimum Impact,” the title of his presentation. His firm’s innovative designs are built in response to the local climate and provide “the most effect and performance with the least amount of resources.” They include a retreat in Baja California that uses an existing grove of rock fig as a welcome center, a center in Malawi that uses wetlands for sewage treatment, and a home in the Sierra foothills that has a sagebrush meadow growing over the roof. Nature, said Arkin, provides “better architecture than we could ever design.”

The built environment was also the focus of the presentation Sustainable Planning and Development, Efficient Regional Transportation and Examples of Smart Growth in Chico and Around the Country. This session discussed the impact land use and transportation planning has on the livability of a community, with a focus on Chico. Paul Zykofsky, California State Local Government Commission; Tom DiGiovanni, New Urban Builders; and Elizabeth Devereaux, Chico Sustainability Group, showed artist renderings of what Chico can look like with attention to sustainable design. The Park Avenue corridor was envisioned as an area rich in sidewalk cafes and public art; Nord became an street punctuated with planters and pedestrian crosswalks. DiGiovanni discussed his plan for Meriam Park, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design neighborhood that will be built near the Doe Mill project. “If you design right,” he said, “you can get that social structure that makes a neighborhood worth caring about. ”

Paul Zykofsky of the California State Local Government Commission shares his vision for livable communities.
This years’ sustainability conference partnered with the Fourth Annual Chico Farming and Food Conference, designed to support local organic farmers and consumers with information and networking resources. The Farming and Food Conference was sponsored by California Certified Organic Farmers and the CSU, Chico College of Agriculture. Farming and Food sessions included information on nutrition, promotion of regional agriculture, and organic farming techniques.

The session Capturing the Link: Aligning Nutrition and Agriculture Policies and Practices with Environmental and Health Needs saw Cindy Wolff, CSU, Chico Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion, discussing the intersection between farming and public health in front of an audience of 80. U.S. farm policy contributes to the growing obesity problem in this country, she said, through subsidies of corn and soybeans (used to produce low-cost processed food high in added fat and sugars), and the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables included in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and food stamp programs.

But California farmers are coming together to promote changes in the 2007 Farm Bill, which may include increased funding for marketing and nutritional programs that would help California’s nut and fruit farmers.

Elizabeth Devereaux of the Chico Sustainability Group waits her turn to discuss the transportation future of Chico.
Another proposed change is adding fresh fruits and vegetables to the WIC food package, a plan that would add $18,000,000 to fruit and vegetable sales in California and $67,200 in Butte County. Sixty percent of California infants are enrolled in WIC, so this change would make a major impact on the health of California’s children as well as its farmers. Currently, 45 percent of U.S. children eat no fruit on a given day; 20 percent eat less than one serving of vegetables, said Wolff.

Wolff talked about several programs that bring local produce from family farms to North State children, striving to promote health, strengthen the local economy, and preserve our legacy of family farms. However, she said, there is no program linking local farms with University food service. Wolff ended her program with a call to action: “We need to bridge the disconnect between local producers and local consumers. … We need to bring Farm to College to Chico State.”