Green Room Fosters Dialogue, Launches Sustainable Programs

Green Room Fosters Dialogue"The first step in creating a sustainable campus is communication as we launch into this first initiative of the Green Room," says Hillary Edwards, academic coordinator for the Wellness and Academic-Life Balance program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).

With most universities advertising sustainable living — also known as "green dorm rooms" — the Wellness Hub takes the idea a step further by operating a Green Room. Located on the first floor of the SMC Campus Center, the Green Room offers students a place dedicated to the discussion of sustainability issues and initiatives.

Even though it's always been a sustainable room, it was an inactive space, Edwards says. Based on the success of the Wellness Hub's Hungry Mind initiative — a series of programs last year focused on food sustainability, food politics, nutrition, and the environments that support food production — the Wellness Hub administration wanted to create a central space for sustainability education in an urban environment. "We wanted to create something that meant what it said," Edwards says.

The Green Room includes a living wall — made of plants and flowers — a book-swap library, and informational resources on environmentally friendly practices. It also is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) drop-off site for One Straw Farm.

The School of Social Work (SSW) sustainability committee uses the Green Room as a meeting place to discuss projects such as improved recycling, alternative transportation methods, and use of sustainable food and paper products on campus. Susan Roll, PhD, MSW, committee member and assistant professor for the school, says, "The Green Room is a visible meeting space … that shares our mission."

The Green Room will launch student-sponsored sustainable programs and foster campuswide dialogue. It will facilitate student learning opportunities around sustainability, create opportunities for service, help develop student leaders who will educate the community on sustainability efforts, and develop new policies to improve the environmental wellness of the UMB campus.

Student programs should be offered so we can be there for all types of students, Edwards says. Sustainability is a work in progress, and the Wellness Hub needed something that would empower the community. Roll looks forward to partnering with the Wellness Hub and using the Green Room to encourage sustainability initiatives across campus.

Edwards says sustainability is not just about environmental wellness, but social consciousness, too. The priority of the Green Room is to bring students together to grow as individuals and engage in the community in the hopes that they will take these efforts into their professions.

Emily Eason, SSW student and member of her school's sustainability committee, says the "Green Room will serve as a visible icon for the culture of sustainability on the UMB campus." Edwards anticipates sustainability will continue to be important in this culture and expects in time, these initiatives "will withstand new leadership and students."

For further information on Green Room programming, please visit the Wellness Hub.

For more information on connecting with other sustainability groups on campus or working as a fellow for the Wellness Hub, please contact Hillary Edwards.

— Tracy Gnadinger

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