A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
Feb 14, 2008 Volume 38 / Number 4

Debasis Das and Max Kee, among the founders of The Cause, hold two of the groupís chickens. Photo by Stephanie Tombrinck.

Students Plant Seeds of Change

Sustainability is on the minds of many at CSU, Chico. However, to one group of students, sustainability is more than an idea; it is an intricate part of their lives.

A large Bob Marley poster hangs in the front window of a house on West 4th Ave. The front of the house looks like any student rental house, with peeling paint and cars lined up in the driveway. But when you enter the back of the house, it is transformed into a garden of life hidden in the cluster of Chico neighborhoods.

The students of The Cause house work to live a sustainable lifestyle. This outlook on life earned them the $6,000 Jack Rawlins Environmental Prize in 2007 for their work in sustainability. The Cause received the prize at the This Way to Sustainability Conference III in November.

With mounds of compost and a small greenhouse standing tall within a garden in the small backyard, student and co-founder Max Kee sifts through the compost.

“Life is growing and happy here,” Kee says as he looks around the garden and chickens run at his feet.

The Cause was started last year by Kee and a fellow student with the intent of living a low-impact lifestyle. Kee and other students thought they would continue the model others had started by buying energy-efficient appliances to make the house more sustainable. But after hearing a talk about living a low-impact lifestyle without all the fancy equipment, Kee and others asked, “Why can’t we do that?”

Max Kee and Ryan Montgomery sift worm bins at The Cause.
Since last year, The Cause house has seen students come in as average consumers, but leave with a personal growth and understanding of how to live a low-impact lifestyle.

About living in the house, Kee says, “It’s easier to make changes in your life when other people are changing too.”

The goal of The Cause is to establish a lifestyle model that everyone can follow. The first step for The Cause is to first heal themselves, then one another and their families, the neighbors and the community, and ultimately establish low-impact living throughout the world.

The Cause and other students have chosen to live their lives through low-impact living, which is attainable for every household, by being conscious of water use, reducing waste by buying in bulk, composting, reducing energy use, and the final step of reaching out to the community.

Kee says he and other students hope to use the house as a conduit to “spread the seeds of change” and save the earth through a new lifestyle.

Stephanie Tombrinck, intern, The Institute for Sustainable Development