Archive for the 'General' 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.

Sustainability Job Opportunity with AASHE – Lexington, KY

Hi Friends,

AASHE [Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education] seeks a resource center program assistant. We welcome recent (and not so recent) graduates with on campus sustainability experience. Full description and application information is available here – http://www.aashe.org/highlights/jobs/resource-center-program-assistant-job-posting

Any help spreading the word is appreciated!

Cheers,

Vin Valluri

Ecofest Arlington, Sept. 18

September 18, 2010  — 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. — Founders Plaza and Levitt Pavilion

Ecofest, a free, family oriented event, helps build a sense of community, stimulates environmental awareness, and promotes stewardship across North Texas. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. and the fun will continue until 10 pm. The day will be filled with entertainment from local musical talents performing at the Levitt Pavilion.

We are inviting local businesses to showcase their green products and practical do-it-yourself solutions for home improvement and maintenance.  We will be providing classes on do-it-yourself projects to reduce consumption of natural resources as well as discussions to enlighten North Texans on different environmental issues and what we can do to help reduce, repair and prevent these problems in the future.  Demonstrations will be given throughout the day by vendors and others like The Critterman and the Blackland Prairie Rapture Center.  There will be fun, games and educational classes for the children to enjoy and food and drinks will be available as well.

Ecofest web page

Sustainability Committee meeting, Aug. 10

A car-sharing program, a new website, and guest speakers will highlight the University Sustainability Committee meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, in the Carlisle Suite at the E.H. Hereford University Center. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend.

Information on the car-sharing program can be found at tryparkingit.com, a website managed by the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Mindy Mize, program manager for NCTCOG, will speak on the car-sharing program and Air North Texas.

Other guest speakers include Donald Gatzke, dean of the School of Architecture; Laura Fiffick, environmental manager for Gresham, Smith and Partners; and Pamela Sexton from the Department of Public Works and Transportation for the City of Arlington.

Refreshments will be served.

On a green internship in the heart of The Bluegrass

I am Vinodh Valluri, a recent graduate from the Environmental & Earth Sciences (M.S.) program at UT Arlington. AASHE, Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education has recently hired me as an Intern at their Interactive Resource Center in Lexington, KY.

UT Arlington is one of several institutions across U.S.A. that form the core membership of AASHE, which includes colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as a growing number of international institutions. In addition, businesses, nonprofit organizations, K-12 schools, higher education associations, system offices, and government agencies partner with AASHE to help advance sustainability in higher education.

As an Intern, I actively conduct sustainability research at AASHE, developing resources that members would use to build their sustainability programs. I compile a variety of resources, such as a list of campus solar-electric installations, and a list of worldwide sustainability-centric study abroad programs, upload the information on the website www.aashe.org, and regularly update the database. Please note that these resources are free for ALL faculty, students and staff of member institutions.

I will also assist with the affairs of the AASHE Awards 2010 Conference which is set to take place in Denver, CO this October. The call for presentations at this conference provides an ideal arena to showcase the sustainability efforts at UT Arlington. Deadline to submit presentations for the conference is 15th June 2010. As a member, UT Arlington is also eligible to submit nominations for the awards: Campus Sustainability Case Study, The Oops! Award, Student Sustainability Leadership, and Student Research on Campus Sustainability. Deadline for submitting nominations for the awards is 1st July 2010. For more information on the awards, please visit the AASHE Awards website.

Please feel free to contact me at vinodh@aashe.org or 682.234.8388 with questions or comments, or for more information about the services provided by AASHE.

Senior runs for State Legislature under Green Party banner

Senior Ryan Steward is the Green Party of Texas nominee for the District 94 seat in the Texas Legislature. The party must raise 44,000 signatures by May 22 to get its nominees on the ballot.

Shorthorn story, May 6

Update on carbon footprint reduction

Yesterday I updated the PSC Steering Committee on the carbon footprint reduction initiative. The committee requested that Sustainability Director Meghna Tare prepare a proposal on how to formally get footprint reduction planning underway.

Presentation

Meghna Tare becomes Sustainability Director; Office of Sustainability is launched

Meghna Tare has been named as the University’s first Sustainability Director.

Meghna TareShe holds a master’s degree in environmental studies from San Jose State University in California and a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of San Francisco. She was an environmental manager with the City of Dallas’ Office of Environmental Quality for the past three years and has taught environmental studies at California State University at Hayward and worked at Stanford University with the Institute of Environmental Science and Policy.

The PSC enthusiastically welcomes her and looks forward to working with her to advance the institution’s sustainability programs.

Tare’s arrival is doubly noteworthy because it marks the opening of the Office of Sustainability. The office is located in Preston Hall, room 204 (Box 19333).

Contact info for Meghna Tare:

817-272-0753

mtare@uta.edu

Press release, 1/5/10

Shorthorn article, 1/19/10

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

AASHE overview for 2008

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, of which UT Arlington is a member, has issued its annual compendium of developments in campus sustainability. The 356-page volume provides an overview of sustainability efforts on hundreds of campuses, including UT Arlington.

AASHE Digest 2008 (pdf)