Butte College Green Team

By Tommy Diestrel

Here in Chico, we are lucky enough to have not one, but two higher education facilities nationally recognized for their efforts in sustainability. And Butte College is at it again.

Their branch of the California Student Sustainability Coalition is hosting their Fall Convergence on the Butte campus November 9th-11th.

What does that entail for the rest of us? Well, student coordinators Kevin Killion, Melody Leppard, and Ben Johnson were kind enough to sit down with The Synthesis and excite the community about this event.

Thanks for taking time from your busy schedules to talk today. Let’s start with the basics. What is the California Student Sustainability Coalition?

Kevin: The C.S.S.C. is an organization that spans from Humboldt College to San Diego State. It unites over 20 different college campuses in common action, and focuses on integrating sustainability into higher education. Not only do we act on campuses across California, but we also try to implement projects focusing on sustainability in our surrounding communities, and statewide action. The C.S.S.C. holds a Convergence each semester (once in spring, once in fall) to unite sustainability-minded students throughout the state, provide a space to connect with one and other, share resources and ideas, and offer increased involvement within the C.S.S.C.

So does that mean that only students who are a part of the C.S.S.C. can attend?
Melody: No, anyone can come. And we highly encourage community members to attend. There will be Keynote Speakers, workshops, information, activities, and plenty of things relevant to non-students as well.

Kevin: This convergence provides attendees a chance to network and bond with leaders from all over California. Being part of the sustainability movement can often impart the feeling of being fragmented and alone. Coming to these convergences offers an opportunity to see the team; fill up your spirit and feel connected to like-minded people from all over.

What is the 2012 Fall Convergence all about?
Ben: This particular convergence is bringing 300 to 500 students leaders and community members to Butte College’s campus so they can share what they know about sustainability. What practices work for them, and even what doesn’t or hasn’t worked for them, in hopes everyone will walk away better informed, and ready to take on their own campaign at home or abroad.

Kevin: We are trying to make a radical shift with this event. Convergences have been happening for 11 years now, and this is the first time a community college has had a chance to host this event. We’re trying to shift the focus of the sustainability movement, which has largely been focused on ecological sustainability, and want to emphasize the economic fairness and social justice aspects of this movement. There are people whose focus is social justice who feel isolated within sustainability, and we recognize that we are all stronger together.

You mentioned Keynote Speakers. Who will be speaking?
Ben: Caleen Sisk is our main Keynote Speaker and she’ll speak on Saturday, November 10th. She is the Chief of the indigenous Winnemem Wintu Tribe. She’s spoken on several diverse topics including sacred sites protection, spiritual medicine use, global climate change, and water rights and is the leading force behind her tribe’s struggle to restore native salmon to the tribe’s sacred waters, and gain federal recognition of their sovereign rights. Her battle illustrates the inherent connection between ecology, economy, and equity. In her presentation, she’ll share with us her story in preventing the U.S. Government from raising the dam on Lake Shasta. She’s currently on a speaking tour and was just at the Bioneers conference. We’re honored to have her with us.

Melody: We also have Annie Symens-Bucher and Ajelaja Simon hosting an all day workshop 9am-5pm on Friday Nov. 9th based on the work of environmental scholar, Joana Macey. Symens-Bucher is Macey’s personal assistant, and is also a facilitator of The Work That Reconnects. Saturday and Sunday speakers include Kirsten Schwind of Bay Localize talking about empowering transition towns and the movement to bring power back to communities; Dwayne Edwards, the diversity chair of Butte’s Associated Students, on bridging the divide between economic, social, and environmental sustainability; and Victor Menotti the executive director of the International Forum on Globalization.

Wow that’s quite the lineup of guests. How much does all of this cost?
Melody: Registration is $25 for students, $30 for community members, and can be found on the C.S.S.C. Homepage. (http://www.sustainabilitycoalition.org/fall-2012-convergence)
Kevin: That includes a full day of student led workshops along with all of the Keynote Speakers. Local artist Daniel Dancer will take a sky view picture of a 70ft wide snowflake mandala using bodies of attendees.
Ben: And everyone will be provided 4 meals. We are trying to hold a zero waste event, so please bring your own mess kits, plates, and utensils.

Anything else you would like to say about the Convergence?
Melody: We’re really excited about this and would love to see all of our community members in attendance.
Ben: We’d like to see this event help build something more within our community. We don’t want to see it stop after the weekend.

The California Student Sustainability Coalition will be hosting the 2012 Fall Convergence at Butte College November 9th-11th. For more information about the event, or to register to attend visit www.sustainabilitycoaltion.org/fall-2012-convergence. Registration is $25 for students/ $30 for community members. Come and learn about sustainability throughout California.

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