|Vote for UMass Permaculture as College Campus Champion of Change!
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From John Gerber, Professor of Sustainable Food and Farming at UMass Amherst:
"The UMass Permaculture Project was selected from among 1400 nominations as one of 15 finalists in the White House Campus Change Challenge. After a week of online voting we were leading the nation (until yesterday), when the University of Arkansas got a story in USA Today and picked up thousands of votes. We believe that with a last minute "push" we can retake the lead in the balloting.
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UMASS Amherst Permaculture Initiative - Ryan Harb, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
The UMass Amherst Permaculture Initiative is a unique and cutting edge sustainability program that transforms grass lawns on the campus into diverse, edible, low-maintenance, and easily replicable gardens. Over the past two years students have create three community demonstration permaculture gardens that have engaged over 1000 students and more than a dozen local K-12 schools. Permaculture is defined as, "ecological design for sustainable communities that involves people working together to care for the planet." It is considered to be the most sustainable form of gardening and farming and UMass Amherst is currently the only public university in the country implementing new permaculture gardens directly on campus each year and using the food in the dining commons.
If only I had 3 more votes!
Done and passed on ... posted on Facebook.
Sweet -- apparently they were overtaken by Arkansas, but have bounced back to go ahead by a few thousand votes. I think the Arkansas effort sounds quite thoughtful and noble, but does not seem to amount to more than a band-aid:
Full Circle Food Pantry - Julia Lyon, Volunteer Action Center, University of Arkansas
The Volunteer Action Center (VAC) Board, a program of the Center for Community Engagement, launched a student food pantry in February 2010 to serve the needs of students on and off campus who are in personal crisis and do not have the financial resources to meet all of their nutritional needs. The VAC launched a weekly program that provides food for students who make requests through an online, email system with goals that the program be accessible to students in proximity (on campus), free of obstacles, and that it must be dignified. Donations are at the heart of the work of the pantry, and student groups and offices from across campus filled the pantry in the Campus-Wide Food Fight. So far, more than 1,300 individuals gathered 1000’s of food items to stock the shelves.
It's pretty sad that the state school system there can't be more affordable to its students and that some have to go hungry in order to get a college education. On the flip side, I wonder if the UMass effort is doing anything on the social justice front. All in all, I hope UMass pulls it off!
Update: UMass is going to the White House!
UMass Permaculture Wins White House Campus Champions of Change Challenge!
by Ryan Harb March 7, 2012
We did it everyone! It is now official. The UMass Permaculture team will be heading to the White House on March 15! This has been an amazing and inspiring week to see the voting results unfold and be in the center of it all. I can’t thank everyone enough for the support you’ve provided us with.
I’d like to share some reflections for how this week has been for me personally.
Because this was a contest and had only a few winners, there was a competitive aspect that couldn’t be ignored. That was a little difficult for me, because I favor cooperation over competition. But I realize that there is a place for contests like these, and it can have enormous positive benefits with the right intentions...