By Claire Pockell-Wilson & Emma Sharpe
Each semester, students pay a $25 optional fee to the Green Fund. A committee composed of six students allocates the money collected by the fee to student, staff and faculty members of Willamette University to help fund projects and ideas that will affect the community in a positive way. In the past, as the name suggests, we have funded many projects related to environmental sustainability, however, this year we want to encourage and emphasize projects that are more than green. Environmental sustainability is extremely important, but we want to expand the positive impact that the Green Fund can help students achieve in other areas as well. This year, we have made a commitment to supporting projects with particular interest in social justice and equity, as well as the environment.
The following testimonies are from students, staff and faculty of Willamette University who have submitted and completed a project with funding from the Green Fund Committee. We hope that these stories will inspire you to come up with your own impactful ideas for projects.
La Chispa or Salem Spark
After being hired last spring, new professor, Catalina de Onís, dove into sustainability on campus by submitting a Green Fund grant for her project, La Chispa/Salem Spark.
“We are very much looking to work with Willamette University’s commitment to sustainability and ensuring that there are equitable conditions when the environment is concerned. One of our goals is to expand what we think about the environment and the impacts as a result of that expansion, and why that matters for different groups.”
The project is led by de Onís and nine students that form three action circles, each with a different focus. The action circles are divided into one working on Worldview Wednesday’s radio show at KMUZ, one on events and outreach and one for social media and marketing. La Chispa is working to “acknowledge and grow awareness about what the university is already doing surrounding sustainability, but also push them to foreground the equity deficit in sustainability, as far as at least dominance and disability discourses that circulate,” explained de Onís.
Although the project is new and growing, the students working in the action circles have worked all summer to organize events and look towards the future of the project. La Chispa has played a role in composting efforts on campus, and recently hosted a muralist and documentary filmmaker.
Moving forward, de Onís would like to see, “some kind of material mark that this effort has tried to work on. So maybe someplace in Salem making spaces greener, more accessible, more inviting in terms of how you park, where you walk on the sidewalk. Things that are currently not in place, but making them available.”
You can learn more about La Chispa and what other things they are organizing on their Facebook page ‘La Chispa/Salem Spark’ as well as on Instagram and Twitter @salem_spark.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs First Generation Book Drive
In 2015, Manny Rodriguez proposed a textbook donation to benefit first generation college students at Willamette. Currently, Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) First Generation Book Drive co-coordinators, Manuel Marcos Gutierrez and Rebeca Lopez-Figueroa, have been working hard to keep the Book Drive operating and organized.
“For me, it was about doing the most I could to help ease cost for students. Especially first generation and first-year students, because it is such a crucial point in their lives,” Gutierrez said.
In the fall of 2016, Malorie Hill requested a $3,000 grant from the Green Fund to use for student employees, advertising and supplies. The Green Fund decided the project perfectly captured their mission and would likely have a profoundly positive impact on the Willamette community. In the spring of 2017, they again requested money and they were again given a grant.
When the project was first started, they only had 200 books, but they now have nearly 2,000 books and are still growing. The continuation of this project has created an important resource for first generation students, while also allowing for students to give their used textbooks a new life. Rodriguez stressed the importance of the donated books, saying, “If you’re getting rid of your textbook, please consider donating it to us.”
When asked what Gutierrez would want to say to people thinking about doing their own Green Fund project he said, “…go for it. Whatever project they have, they should pitch it to the committee and gather the support. There are a lot of students at Willamette who take the mission of the Green Fund to heart, so there is a strong sense of support among students.”
Evan Greer Event
In 2016, Sophia Brownstein decided that she wanted to bring Evan Greer, a trans/genderqueer, musician/writer/activist, to the school to do a workshop with students. At first she wasn’t sure where she would get the funding, but she knew she wanted to make this event happen.
“Evan could have done a variety of topics for her workshops, but I ended up choosing a climate justice workshop that was about the connections between climate change and other social issues and how marginalized groups often suffer most from the effects of climate change,” Brownstein explained.
She was not sure if the Green Fund would be interested in her project, but after the committee reviewed her application they decided give her the requested $1,700 to fund the workshop.
“I hoped that Green Fund would be interested in funding this and was elated to discover that they were!”
Approximately 40 students attended the event. During the workshop, Evan Greer asked students to split into groups and map out the connections between words that they associated with climate justice. Students then engaged in a discussion about why they connected these ideas and what responses to these issues might look like on an individual and international scale. After the interactive workshop, Evan Greer held an inclusive and meaningful concert where she sang some of her own songs.
Brownstein said “this event actually got me on an event planning kick and now I am on Willamette Events Board and plan to bring other rad performers to campus! Thank you so much to Green Fund for allowing my vision of this event to manifest, for supporting Evan’s art and activism and enabling the Willamette community to experience the show and interactive workshop Evan provided.”
The hope of the committee is to help fund meaningful and well planned out projects that will empower Willamette students to change the on-campus community in beneficial ways. If you are interested in submitting your own project, the first deadline to submit a mini-grant is Oct. 2. If you have ideas for a project that is more than $3,000, we will begin accepting applications for our annual grants by mid-October. You can meet past grant recipients, learn more about how to apply and gain inspiration for your own project at our Green Fund Mixer Oct. 25, 4:30-6pm on UC 2nd.
For more information about how to apply for a Green Fund grant or past projects we have funded you can also visit our website at willamette.edu/go/greenfund or visit our Facebook page at Sustainable WU. You can also contact the committee itself with specific questions at <wu-greenfund>.