“We don’t just want to be a place where there’s a beautiful campus,” says Math Instructor Brad Chin, chair of the West Valley College Sustainability Committee. “We want to be committed to living sustainably and we want students to come to West Valley because they’ll learn about sustainability and how they themselves can help promote environmental justice.”
Chin says that as a general part of their education at West Valley, students will walk away with a better understanding of the impact that humans are having on the environment and will learn changes that we can all make to improve conditions. Each year, he encourages his students to attend the Annual Earth Stewardship Symposium, an interdisciplinary event that features activities, presentations, movie screenings, and other events focused on sustainability, as a way to gain a deeper understanding and learn more about sustainable practices.
This year’s symposium will be held on April 21 – 22 and will focus on the theme Our Home by looking at the damage that is being done to our natural environment and what we can do to protect it. The event will feature speakers dedicated to protecting their homes, such as Valentin Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band who will be speaking about protecting and stewarding sacred landscapes and activist J. Michelle Pierce, who will be presenting a screening of the movie Never Surrender detailing the fight between the government and residents of Bayview Hunters Point due to the contamination of the area that began at a nearby military base during World War II. Other speakers include Xueli Wang, who will be speaking about building equitable STEM transfer pathways for students, and environmental artist Linda Gass who will discuss her multi-media artwork that focuses on water, land use, and climate change.
The symposium will also feature activities based on sustainable fashion as a response to the growing fast fashion trend that damages the environment. Attendees will learn how to refashion t-shirts into grocery bags or learn how to arm knit a sustainable scarf with swim trim.
The symposium is developed specifically to be interdisciplinary so that every student can find a way to fit in and contribute.
“Through the symposium we hope to engage people in a holistic way to develop a consciousness of how we go through life and the choices we make,” says Professor of Art and committee member, Heidi Brueckner. “Environmentalism and environmental justice really infiltrate all aspects of life, and we can make choices in our own lives to become more perceptive of what’s happening around us through educating ourselves.”
The Sustainability Committee recognizes that it is a privilege to have the resources to be able make sustainable choices, and that many of the college’s students need basic necessities, so the symposium is hosting a donation drive. Students and community members can donate new blankets, sleeping bags, hygiene items, and socks that will go to West Valley students who are homeless, recently housed, or in need.
To learn more about this year’s Earth Stewardship Symposium and how to support and provide student resources, visit https://www.westvalley.edu/events/earth-symposium/index.html.
To learn more about West Valley College’s Sustainability Committee and sustainability initiatives, please visit https://buildingos.com/s/wvm/storyboard11267/?chapterId=64737