Hiram College

Most of us put a lot of thought and effort into how we can be happier and healthier. And many of us also make efforts to help out the planet, too. But why do we prioritize them so differently? Why will we always eat when we’re hungry or put on a sweatshirt when we’re cold, but we only recycle or remember our reusable grocery bags when it’s convenient for us?

As you’ve probably heard, Hiram’s ethics theme this year is Borders.

As SEED (Sustainability, Environment, and Engaged Design) Scholars, we’re interested in the border we all create between the responsibility we feel for our individual well-being and the responsibility we feel for the well-being of the environment.

Why is there such a big difference between our concern for ourselves and our concern for the systems of life we depend on?  There are lots of reasons why. Little things like turning off a light switch or carpooling aren’t going to solve the problems with the environment. And many of the big things that seem like they could actually make a difference aren’t anything we can control as college students—for most us, there’s no way we can afford an electric car. And it’s completely natural to put yourself first: Earth’s problems will never feel as urgent as our own.

But the SEEDS’ work is not about making you feel guilty for your lack of perfect environmentally-friendly behaviors.

Instead, what we want to do this year is to explore the borders between you, the Hiram community, and the environment, as well as to show you how ”sustainability” is not really about self-sacrifice and short showers.
Tree HouseSustainability from a purely biological standpoint—making sure our planet can continue to support life—is incredibly important, but in order to get there, we will need to make our human relationships sustainable too, to cooperate and collaborate on these complex challenges.

The vision SEEDS has for a sustainable Hiram is one that embraces the idea of resilience in the face of coming environmental changes through a strong community with a culture of common goals. You can read more about this idea of resilience at TransitionNetwork.org.

Over the last couple weeks, you may have seen the SEED Scholars handing out student surveys to gauge your level of knowledge and concern about the environment and your level of interest in potential projects the SEED Scholars are considering.

The surveys are just the beginning of the open dialogue we hope to start at Hiram. Issues of sustainability are so much more than scientific data and political debates in Washington—they’re right here in Hiram, in the flip of a light switch, in conversations with friends, in the food we eat in the dining hall.

Together, we have the power to make a stronger, greener Hiram. How will we get there? It starts with you and with me, and it starts today.

To join the conversation, send any questions or comments to Robin at peshickra@hiram.edu.

Image credits: Lucinda408 and Hiram College