Photo by Luke Williamson (C’21)
By Luke Williamson
The recent “Spooky Sustainability” event brought together a multitude of different activities and treats available for students to indulge in, such as a booth where students could guess their dorm’s water usage, a booth where they could carve pumpkins, taste tests between bottled and tap water, multiple food related booths, and more.
Lauren Newman (C’18) spearheaded this event, aimed towards encouraging a spirit of sustainability on campus, as head of the Environmental Residents on campus. Newman shared that even though Sewanee “usually [has] a Green Convene which gets all the sustainability groups together,” she thought it would be fun to give the event a festive twist and make it Halloween-themed.
The event was a collaboration between eight groups on campus: the Environmental Residents, Sewanee Water Campaign, Sportsman’s House, Sewanee Outing Program, Divest Sewanee, Green House, Healthy Hut, and Farm Club.
Newman explained how the Environmental Residents were especially helpful in planning the event. Six of the eight groups present had “an environmental resident affiliated with their organization,” which, Newman explained, made communication “super easy.”
She deliberately planned the event in a way which wouldn’t be overly time consuming for her busy peers and would simultaneously have a spontaneous spirit: she shared that she simply asked the booths to be “Halloween-themed, fall-themed, and sustainability related,” adding that the various groups involved could “take it where [they wanted] to go.”
It only came together so well thanks to the strong foundation and understanding of sustainability’s importance on campus. For Newman, the fight for sustainability at Sewanee has been ongoing since her sophomore year, when she became a Sustainability Fellow and helped kick-start the Environmental Residents program.
The fight for a sustainable mindset at Sewanee is one which Anna Palmer (C’17) shares with Newman. As a recent graduate, Palmer, now the Student Sustainability Coordinator, has gotten the unique opportunity to witness the immense growth of the sustainability program, evident even through the seemingly simple increase in the number of Sustainability Fellows on campus from three to nine.
For Palmer, it’s exciting that students are recognizing that events “like [Spooky Sustainability] are all under Sustain Sewanee,” and she suggested that in this way, the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Office furthers the tangible atmosphere Sewanee has to offer, especially Sewanee’s sense of community.
Community was the ultimate goal of the event. Newman explained that for her, Spooky Sustainability was especially important because it linked various groups on campus in a meaningful way. The event sought to mitigate the fact that “even though [student groups] may have similar goals and missions…they don’t always get to interact,” she commented.
This event facilitated interaction between like-minded groups in a substantial way and bolstered the efforts of each group because of how they joined together for the event. Newman admitted that had Environmental Residents been the only booth at the Quad, they “would not have gotten as many people as we did with the whole line of tables with food and snacks and games.”
Newman is hopeful that in the future, “we can see more events like this!”