Archive for the 'Environmental Society (student organization)' Category

A look inside Arlington’s community: bicycles, gardens, and business as usual

Arlington is not what it appears to be at first glance. On the  outside, it’s a city of sprawling strip malls with large roadways  connecting cars to the larger DFW metroplex. On the inside, it’s a city  of beautiful and well-established neighborhoods, friendly local  businesses, and a diverse and growing activist community.

Arlington is infamously known as the largest city in the U.S. without  public transportation, making personal vehicle transportation nearly  inevitable. UT Arlington reached a record enrollment of almost 33,000 students this year, defining Arlington a college town in principle but not in practice. Almost 35% of its population is under the age of 25, yet it’s  quintessentially a commuter city with a large proportion of the  University population opting to live in neighboring cities. However, a  growing number of concerned citizens, community activists, business  owners and students are working hard to change Arlington from the inside  out.

Bike Friendly Arlington (BFA) is a group of cyclists organized to promote bicycle and  pedestrian infrastructure within the city. The group is composed of  people from a diverse background, including UTA students and local business employees. The group is modeled after Bike  Friendly groups started in Oak Cliff, Denton, Fort Worth, Dallas, and  Bedford, and others sprouting up all over  the metroplex. So far, BFA has been successful in supporting the Bike & Hike Master Plan and the Thoroughfare Development Plan, which will function over a 30 year time scale to delineate  bike lanes and implement and/or refurbish sidewalks along some of  Arlington’s lesser-congested roadways.

BFA has also been successful in incorporating businesses into the cause. Downtown Arlington establishments, such as Maverick’s Bar on Main Street, have served as meet-up spots for the group. Potager Café and Health & Harmony House have hung BFA signs at  their establishments and even offered a discount to bikers to show their support. These establishments, among  others, have seen their weekend business triple because  of the popular bicycle “pub rolls”, which have attracted over 35 riders,  including cyclists from Fort Worth and Dallas. The group, which has  grown since its creation a year ago, will convene to show their support  for the Bike & Hike Master Plan at the City Council Hearing on March 22, 2011, and are expecting a record number of supporters.

Arlington’s citizens and UTA students are also organizing around gardens and the Downtown Arlington Farmer’s Market.  Chowgene Koay, the President of the UTA Environmental Society, has been  volunteering at the Farmer’s Market introducing interested passers-by in  his personally engineered aquaponics systems, which he builds at no  charge from re-purposed materials. His dedication to the Environmental Society,  which is rooted in his vision of an ideal community, is indispensable to Arlington’s growth as a sustainable city. He has brought students,  residents, and business owners together by freely discussing his  passions and ideas about permaculture design, aquaponics, and community  sustainability and has found that many people excitedly share his  vision. The Environmental Society has held garden installation potlucks  and has been working to propose a Green Fund initiative to the Student Council in order to fund student-led projects in sustainability.

Another initiative that has gotten a lot of positive attention is the establishment of the City of Arlington community garden, which will be built by Parks and Recreation officials and University volunteers this Thursday, March 3rd through Saturday, March 5th.  Many of the same people involved in the bicycle movement and in UTA’s  Environmental Society will be lending a hand. The community garden will  serve as yet another place for Arlington’s citizens to come together  with ideas for a brighter future. Arlington is not exactly what it  appears to be at first glance. The city has a lot of heart on the inside  and its citizens are working hard everyday to show its true self to the world  outside.

North Central Texas Campus Climate Summit

On October 28th UTA hosted the North Central Texas Campus Climate Summit. The event was co-sponsored by the University of Texas at Arlington, the National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology Program and the Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability. The student groups involved with bringing this event to campus were:

Air & Waste Management Association at UTA

Environmental Society at UTA

International Business Society at UTA

Student Planning Association at UTA

UTA Volunteers

The first-ever North Central Texas Campus Climate Summit brought together over 50 participants from 15 different universities and colleges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The summit provided opportunities for faculty, students, staff and administrators from the region to get together to share ideas, best practices and resources to accelerate climate change and sustainability solutions. The main themes explored were 1) Transforming the Curriculum to Address Eco-literacy 2) Green Workforce Development and 3) Comprehensive Greening of Campus Operations.

NCTCCS Website

Program and Agenda

Mission Statement

Presentation Files

Workshop Descriptions

Sponsors and Organizers

Environmental Society launches upgraded website

The Environmental Society at UT Arlington has launched its upgraded website.
A new sapling of Maverick ‘Green’ brand has set root and hopes to sprout up, rising through the Fall.

Kudos to the Webmasters: Electra Thornburg and Himanshu Pahwa, for their dedication and initiative. Our gratitude extends toour advisers: Dr. Tim Henry and Dr. Bob McMahon, whose support and encouragement made this possible. Final revisions and proofing are in the process. Please send in your comments, suggestions, ideas and feedback to utaenvisoc@gmail.com.

Coming up soon: A new blog where all UT Arlington students, staff and faculty can tune into charged conversations on topics such as ’smoking and clean air’, ‘parking and public transit’, ‘fast food and real food’, ‘Deep Economy – OneBook discussions’ etc.

Vinodh Valluri
President,
Environmental Society,
University of Texas, Arlington

Environmental Societys’ First General Meeting Fall ‘09

Greetings,

The Environmental Society at UT Arlington invites you to their first general meeting this Fall. The meeting begins at noon on 11th September 2009 in Room 106, College Hall.

AGENDA

1. Introductions
2. 2 minutes of silence in memory of 9/11
3. Membership & Dues
4. Committees and Connections
5. Preparations for upcoming events:
Make a Splash (12th September 09)
Arlington EcoFest (19th September 09)
6. Webbing our way through UT Arlington: Our new website, blog and e-magazine.

Please come, bring your friends, ideas and energy!
Win prizes in a surprise activity!

Vin Valluri

President,
Environmental Society,
University of Texas, Arlington

Summer Love

Yes, it is official. Summer is here now, and we better love it! Taking it a step ahead, why don’t we choose to take advantage of the summer…

The Environmental Society at UT Arlington is recruiting volunteers to form a group that will manufacture solar cookers using reused/recycled materials and display them at the Central Library Mall area from June 1st through June 27th, 2009.

Students, faculty, staff and the general public are invited to participate in this month long ’solar’ love affair between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon everyday! Also get ready to share ‘eco’-nomic ideas for a smart summer survival while sipping refreshing summer drinks. Join informal discussions on a variety of topics such as solar energy, energy conservation, and keeping cool in the summer.

While some basic designs for the solar cookers will be used [available at this link]; we also aim to actually design and fabricate a new, Maverick Solar Cooker. The solar cookers will be auctioned off on June 21st, the Summer Solistice. All your ideas, questions, comments and criticism are welcome!

Renewable energy expert talks on prospects and problems, May 4

Dr. Krishnan Rajeshwar, Associate Dean, College of Science, UT Arlington will deliver a guest lecture at the next meeting of The Environmental Society. This event will be held at Room 101, College Hall, UT Arlington at 12:00 noon on Monday, 4th May 2009.

Dr. Rajeshwar, a renowned expert in the field of alternative energy science and technology, is also a Distinguished University professor at UT Arlington. During the talk on Monday, he will discuss the problems and prospects of renewable (alternative) energy for the future.

Find out more about Dr. Rajeshwar at the following links:
UTA Features
Research Profile
Recent news

Student groups work together for Sustainability Awareness Campaign

The Environmental Society and The Student Planning Association get together to raise awareness on issues of sustainability at UT Arlington, in the context of sustainable land usage decisions (for parking lots)
Wednesday, April 29th 2009, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., UTA University Center.

Last Friday, April 24th, the Environmental Society hosted an open forum to discuss the parking lots as a campus sustainability issue, particularly about the proposed Parking Lot 54. The forum was part of a growing effort to develop conscientious discussion on the many problems associated with parking lots on campus. It invited ideas and comments from the university community and the general public.

During the event on Friday, it became obvious that there was considerable interest in continuing the conversation about sustainable options to solve parking problems other than laying down more parking lots afresh. However, as it stands, construction on this lot is slated to commence in Fall 2009. In an effort to raise awareness and urge UT Arlington to think about sustainable ideas further, members of the Environmental Society and the Student Planning Association will host an awareness campaign in the University Center this Wednesday, April 29th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

At this event, members of both groups will speak to the campus community about the proposed lot and other sustainable ideas (as alternatives to the lot), and will encourage students, faculty and staff to take action on this issue. Additionally, there will be petitions available at the table for members of the campus community to sign. If you are interested in signing the petition and will be unable to stop by the table on Wednesday, or you would like to help out with the table please contact Brooke Kapur at brooke.silkeykapur@mavs.uta.edu

For more information on the parking lot issue, use following links:

http://blog.uta.edu/sustainability/2009/04/27/lively-discussion-on-campus-parking-and-its-environmental-impacts/

http://blog.uta.edu/sustainability/2009/03/20/grad-student-and-resident-contests-plan-for-new-parking-lot/

http://blog.uta.edu/sustainability/2009/04/04/green-or-gray-2/

Lively discussion on campus parking and its environmental impacts

On Friday (April 24) the Environmental Society sponsored a forum on the environmental context of planned changes in campus parking. The event was prompted by the administration’s recent announcement that it plans to turn a tree-covered parcel on the southeast corner of campus into a small parking lot, designated Lot 54. About 20 people attended.

  •  * Vinodh Valluri, graduate student in Environmental & Earth Science and the organizer of the discussion, displayed photos of the parcel and the surrounding lots and questioned the need for more parking.
  • * John Hall, vice president for administration and campus operations, provided extensive background on plans to build the Special Events Center and two large parking garages on land now occupied by surface parking lots. He noted that the campus master plan calls for converting some lots to greenspace in the long term and that the university currently has excess parking capacity. But he argued that while the garages are under construction, additional surface parking will be necessary and development of Lot 54 is under consideration. He presented plans for preserving some of the parcel’s trees  and using permeable paving to allow rainwater to penetrate the soil.
  • * David Hopman, assistant professor of landscape architecture, discussed other options for greening Lot 54.
  • * John Darling, president of Arlington Conservation Council (also the university’s compost specialist and a resident of the neighborhood near Lot 54), called attention to the parcel’s value as habitat and expressed concern about the university’s continued conversion of undeveloped land to parking lots and buildings.

Valluri presentation

Hall presentation

Hall table

Hopman presentation

Campus master plan

Shorthorn story, April 27

Shorthorn story, April 22

Valluri posting on opinion poll,  April 4

Howard posting on controversy, March 20

Forum Discussion on Parking Lots and Campus Sustainability, April 24

On Friday, April 24, the Environmental Society will host a forum discussion open to the university community and the general public.

Location: Pedernales Room, Upper Level, E.H. Hereford University Center, U.T. Arlington
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Friday, 24th April 2009

This event is part of a growing effort to develop conscientious discussion on the many problems associated with parking lots on campus. All members of the university community are invited to participate and share their views, opinions and ideas. We hope this discussion will allow the university community to better understand and review the vital decisions being taken by university administration related to parking lots on campus.

Green or Grey?

The Environmental Society recently held a bake sale and public opinion poll about the Parking Lot 54 proposal. Nearly all the members of the university community who came to our bake sale were not informed about this issue at all. We explained to them both the growing need for parking space on this campus, and that our university has chosen to set a progressive example of a sustainable campus.

At the end of our bake sale, more than 110 members of the campus community asked for green space, while only 1 asked for a parking lot at the place in question. Many students have strongly called for multi-level parking spaces closer to campus than spread out parking lots so far away. They reasoned that the proposed parking lot would not be efficacious for a number of reasons:

1. Convenience:
Having to walk more than 330 meters (1080 feet) to get to that parking lot will be a huge inconvenience. Waiting for a shuttle to take you there is not comfortable, especially in bad weather. The shuttle service has a limited functioning period (not available in the evening and on the weekends).

2. Safety:
Walking to a parking lot that is so far away from campus increases the probability for crime (attacks). Students also expressed concern over the safety of their car and their belongings in the vehicle. Ensuring security at all times on these faraway parking lots will be a necessity, and thus an added expense for the university.

3. Weather:
Weather was a major concern expressed by some students.The extremes of weather (hail, freezing rain, strong winds, tornadoes) are not under the control of any human. To park a car so far from campus is a chance no student would want to take, unless left with no other option.

Seeing this list of important concerns voiced out by the university community when informed about this proposal, we ask for you to please consider beginning a fair discussion on this issue within the Presidents Sustainability Committee.
Vinodh Valluri
The Environmental Society
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