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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Guest Writer: IC Sustainably Conscious Community

Today on Viridorari I am excited to have my Ithaca College residential hall RA, Rachel Gray, on the blog to talk about the floor that her and I both live on. Our floor is designated as the Sustainably Conscious Community, and unlike normal residential floors, we partake in special activities and programs to learn how to live sustainably. We are also required to do community service, and at the end of the semester we’ll turn in an essay about our experiences. So far I’ve had an amazing time living in the Sustainably Conscious Community, and everyone here is friendly and welcoming. But, before I give too much away, I’ll turn you over to Rachel and let her talk about it.

            First, here’s some information Rachel provided to us about herself:
Hello everyone! My name is Rachel Gray and I am the Resident Assistant (RA) in the Sustainably Conscious Community (SCC) at Ithaca College.
I hail from Milford, New Hampshire, a small town of 15,000. 15,000 might seem like a huge number, but that is less than the total amount of students that go to Ithaca College and Cornell University combined. Milford is a cute historical town in the middle of the State, fifteen minutes from the Massachusetts border. Fun facts: Milford is known as the “Granite town in the Granite State” and one of Paul Revere’s bells (that he made, not the one he rung) is the bell of our town hall.  My parents and this town shaped the sustainable person inside of me. I would never litter or destroy the beauty of my hometown. Recycling and composting have always been huge in my house. We have a closet filled with the different bins, allowing easy storage and sorting of recyclables. In our back yard, under this wonderful tree, is our compost “dumping site” where a wood plank is used as a stirring stick. Lights were never kept on if you were not in the room and the thermostat was not too hot or never too cold (so I grew up in layers in the winter and would sweat my ass off in the summers).  Now, it’s just a way of life. If I don’t recycle something I feel dirty and evil.
Educational wise, I am not the “stereotypical” person would run a Sustainably Conscious residence hall. I am a junior Physical Therapy Major with minors in Religious Studies and Jewish Studies. Fun fact: I am neither religious nor Jewish. I use these minors as a support for my major. I will understand how the body moves and works, the muscle systems and the nervous system, but what about the spirit and the mind? Yes, I will know the anatomy of the brain, but what makes that brain tick? For a majority of people it is a religious or spiritual ideology. I want to know the entire person, not just what makes them move physically. I bring this thought process along with my past sustainability knowledge to my floor, helping to form a strong community.
The SCC Floor
I am going into my second year running this floor at Ithaca College and my level of excitement is already too high. Last year, being a new RA, there was a lot of transitioning into a Residential Learning Community. Unlike the other RAs in my area, I have a different set of programs and requirements that I have to hit. One of the requirements, my favorite one, is Family Dinner. Family Dinner is a way to get everyone on the floor to come together and bond over food. Everyone has to cook or help someone cook at least one meal. When buying ingredients for this meal, organic and locally grown food is always in the back of my mind. This year, unlike last year, I would like to utilize Ithaca’s Farmers market. The community that arises from these dinners is unlike anything I have ever seen. The ease and joy of eating homemade food takes everyone’s mind off work and transports them back “home.”
So far this year we have gone apple picking at an organic apple orchard and baked with 50 apples. Our first family dinner of Thai food went without a hitch! From here on out, people will be making the family dinners. I have a couple ideas of programs for the upcoming year. I would like to do another hike in the Ithaca College (IC) Natural lands. The IC Natural Lands holds multiple purposes. First, it is a teaching tool, where students can learn about different species native, or not native, to Ithaca. Second, it houses our Ithaca cross-country meets. Lastly, it is a nice place to get off campus and roam through the woods, learning about the wildlife that surrounds us on South Hill. I would also love to go ice skating again. The sustainable connection: the skates are reused? That might be a stretch, but it worked last time!! Now that First Year Students on campus have to be a part of different themes on campus, I’m thinking about reaching out to “The Quest for a Sustainable Future” students and incorporating them into our family dinners and programs. Last year we also implemented a compost bin which residents of the floor will take out weekly. I have a couple more programs up my sleeves (which are non-existent at the moment because I am wearing a dress), but I want to keep them a secret.
The Floor as a Whole
The bulletin boards on my floor are unlike any on the campus. I do not use backing paper to create these boards. At least one of the boards is about being sustainable or a fun sustainable project/idea. Right now I have a board with information about six plants that help purify air. I like to make them fun and interesting to look at so that people stop and read what I have to say. 
Picture courtesy of: Rachel Gray 

The name tags (door decs) are also sustainable. Last year I made my own recycled paper, took sticks from my back yard, glued them at the top, did some leaf prints and tied some twine around the stick to hang on people’s doors. The only thing I bought was the magnet for the door and twine. Last year I also took all the recycled cans in my house, cut them open and punched people’s names into them with a nail. Again the only thing I bought was the magnets. This year I made books for everyone. I took an old book, cut out the pages, used packing material from my work for the covers, pressed flowers from my sister’s garden and pasted them on the inside. My hope is that at the end of the school year people can use these books as traveling journals.
Picture courtesy of: Rachel Gray 
The thing I love most about the floor is the wide range in knowledge base. Some people major in environmental studies and have committed their lives to making the Earth a better place. Some people recycle and compost and try to be as ecofriendly as possible; while others have no background. This knowledge curve, while dramatic, allows the floor to become more cohesive. The people with a large knowledge base help the people who have little. SCC is a forever growing and changing community, open to everyone and anyone.
If you have any further questions or ideas to help make my floor a more sustainable place, please feel free to leave me a comment below or email me at:
In this post Rachel mentioned making her own paper. To learn how to make paper, check out this past Recycling Project for Kids post on Viridorari. 

Thank you so much Rachel for sharing our wonderful community with the Internet world. Please help give Rachel a warm welcoming on to the blog and leave her lots of comments and post ratings!  

1 comment:

  1. Hey you two, you should just know that you both are awesome and basically congratulations on being beautiful, sustainable people!