A few notes of interest that come to mind for the environmentalist-lite on campus:
- UBC Farm Fee referendum: Yesterday I was at the farm. Getting there was a bit of a hazard due to the South Campus construction bedlam, and I ended up getting tangled in a barbed wire fence while attempting a shortcut, and shredding my favorite pants. Not that it wasn’t worth it. In between sorting butternut squashes and bunching kale and collard greens, I checked in with Mark Bomford, the director of the UBC farm, about recent farm developments. As you may have noticed, the UBC farm is collecting signatures to introduce a 4-dollar student fee. Two of these dollars would turn into sustainable yearly funding for the UBC farm’s programming. Two of the dollars would be put in a fund to be allocated to students engaged in climate-action related projects. More accurately, they are actually collecting signatures to place a question about the student fee hike on this year’s referendum ballot. All new AMS fees need to be approved by referendum. 1000 signatures are needed for referendum questions to be put on the ballot without the approval of AMS council. They’re a few hundred signatures short so far, but it’s expected to reach the goal. The money would mean that students, not the university, are the ones supporting the Farm in the most substantial and sustainable way. Currently, the farm functions from a combination of temporary grants (chielfy a TLEF grant that expires this year). It has no core institutional funding, though it does receive support from the faculty of land and Food Systems. If the fee is approved in referendum, the governance structure of the Farm would change to include AMS representation. This would probably take the form of AMS representatives on the current farm advisory committee. This committee reports to the dean of the faculty of Land and Food systems, and makes the major steering decision about the farm. Eventually though, says Bomford, the goal is to have the farm acknowledged as an official unit of the LAFS faculty in the Senate. This new funding, he continued, will allow the farm to meet its goals in sustainability, student services, and outreach. These will be student dollars for students, he said. I’ve had reservations about students saddling the financing of the Farm. Too me, this is an example of a program that should have core university funding – it meets the University’s trek 2010 vision perfectly. Does students taking up the cause of the farm send the wrong signal? Bomford and Jeff Friedrich, the AMS president don’t think so. They think that if students approve this fee, it will put pressure on the university to match funding. This will be interesting to watch.
- Elizabeth May at UBC: The leader of the federal Green Party was at UBC to speak today. This is the second time I’ve heard Ms. May speak, and I have to say, I’ve just been floored both times. She is incredible. First, she really is a talented speaker. She’s very sharp, very insightful, and a wonderful aura of leadership surrounds her. Even in a dingy physics lecture hall, she was both comfortable, and respectable. And the content! oh the content! I haven’t heard so much actual content out of a politician…hm…ever. Seriously. She was full of information, science, and points of view. She talked about policy solutions in a very concrete, non-hand-wavy way. She summarized, explained, and illustrated with a near-perfect balance of vision and detail. There were absolutely no platitudes. If this is what Elizabeth May can deliver in Hennings 200, I cannot wait to see her in the official debates, not to menetion the House of Commons.
- Terry speaker series: 100 mile diet authors: Today, Friday the 23, is the kickoff of the Terry Project’s high-profile speaker series. For the uninitiated, Terry is an innovative project at UBC whose aim is to address big global issues (environmental and social) from a multidisciplinary perspective. There are several branches of the project, including a brand-new undergraduate course (ASIC 200), a very cool website (http://terry.ubc.ca/), a writing contest, lots of neat collaborations, and, of course, the speaker series. Among previous participants are notables like Stephen Lewis, David Suzuki, and Vandana Shiva. Tomorrow it’s going to be James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith. From the terry website:
These are the authors of “The 100-Mile Diet,” a bestseller and buzz worthy book that uses a social experiment (can we subsist on only eating things produced within a 100 mile radius?) to look into the world of food politics, economics, and culture. Extra bonus is that James and Alisa also happen to be Vancouverites, so their story has this wonderful local angle to it.
The talk is tomorrow at the Chan at 12:00, and there’s still some (free) tickets available.