U of G Celebrates Sustainability Week

September 14, 2009 - News Release

The University of Guelph will host a week of events designed to provoke, inspire and connect people with the many ways they can contribute to sustainable communities.

Sustainability Week 2009 builds upon the success of last year's first-ever sustainability day, offering a variety of engaging, innovative events and a broad range of perspectives, said Marena Brinkhurst, a member of the organizing committee. The theme of the week is ""ntertwined: Roots to Community Sustainability" and refers to the intertwining and strengthening of our social and ecological communities, she said.

Organized by the Guelph Institute for the Environment (GIE) in partnership with a number of student and community groups, Sustainability Week runs Sept. 24 to 29. It coincides with Impact! The Co-operators Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership and the official launch of the U of G's 2009 United Way Campaign. The week kicks off at noon in Branion Plaza with a welcome from president Alastair Summerlee and Guelph mayor Karen Farbridge.

"We wanted to explicitly move away from an exclusively environmental definition of sustainability to something broader and more community-focused, to bring more people into the discussion," said Brinkhurst, a fourth-year B.Sc. student of environmental economics. "Sustainability is an ambiguous and controversial term – to some people, it's a buzzword, exciting but empty. But it is also being used increasingly in activist, political, and business circles. So we decided that a way to better understand ‘sustainability' in its broader sense is to focus our events on encouraging dialogue and bringing in perspectives not traditionally included in sustainability efforts."

Events include a resource fair on Sept. 24 and screenings throughout the week of the collaborative film project "What Does Sustainability Look Like?" Other highlights include reflections on personal sustainability, featuring a community yoga session, staff "living green" training session, and discussions about sustainability and spirituality; a photo-art exhibit; a focus on farming in Ontario and lectures on the future of livestock production; a fair trade coffee break; outdoor art projects; a free concert and more.

The week wraps up with a President's Panel featuring local business leaders, community organizers and academics exploring the nature of sustainability and its relations to community.

It's hoped the week's events will promote understanding and collaboration among people with different expertise, values, and experiences, said Robert Gordon, dean of the Ontario Agricultural College and chair of the organizing committee.

"Any kind of larger social change towards a sustainable balance of economic, social, and environmental goals will only come about through sharing our unique perspectives on what sustainability actually is," Gordon said.

Details and schedules can be found at the Guelph Institute for the Environment website.

Volunteers are needed to assist with the week's events. Anyone interested in helping out is encouraged to visit the website and contact organizers via email at vsustain@uoguelph.ca. Artists are invited to submit their work to the Developing Positives visual arts exhibit by contacting developingpositives@gmail.com.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, at 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338 or lhunt@uoguelph.ca , or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982 or bagunn@uoguelph.ca .

University of Guelph
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