Conference Aims to Create Sustainable Campuses for Healthy People

Around 200 college and university faculty and staff who are involved with sustainability and green activities on their home campuses will be visiting Bemidji State University for the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability conference, June 17-19.

The association’s sixth conference is called Healthy Planet = Healthy People, Campuses and Communities. Programming will focus on the integration of wellness and healthy lifestyles into sustainability programs to ensure that campuses and communities are not only sustainable, but also that the people within those institutions are developing healthy lifestyles.

“People should attend the conference to be engaged in solutions to some of our pressing resource problems,” Bailey-Johnson said. “It’s also exciting to see all of the good work that is going on and to get ideas for projects that can be done in your own communities.”

Keynote presentations will be given by Pandora Thomas, co-founder of California-based Earthseed Consulting, and David Abazs, who operates Round River Farm on Lake Superior with his wife, Lise. The conference will also feature a panel led by Anthony Desnick, director of greater Minnesota strategies for the state’s Nice Ride bike rental and sharing program, on efforts to reduce automobile usage.

The conference begins with a wellness kickoff which will allow conference participants to explore topics including worksite ergonomics and Earth-centered meditation. The conference also will feature field trips and tours to local sustainability destinations including the Leuken’s Village Foods aquaponics facility, one of the only grocery store-operated greenhouses in the nation.

Conference presentation subjects include:
* Campus Greenhouses: Two Approaches to Sustainable Student-Grown Produce
* Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Campus and Community Partnerships
* What is Sustainability Leadership and How Do You Teach it?
* Black Lives Matter: An Auto-ethnographic Account of the Ferguson, Missouri Civil Unrest of 2014
* Unci Maka: An Indigenous Perspective on Healthy Soil
* Banning the Sale of Bottled Water on Campus: The Six Year Project
* Simple Bike Maintenance

Day activities for kids from kindergarten to eighth grade will be provided to make it easier for families to attend the conference activities.

Pandora Thomas
Earthseed Consulting is a holistic consulting firm whose work expands the opportunities for sustainable living to diverse communities. Its co-founder Pandora Thomas has taught groups as diverse as Iraqi and Indonesian youth to men serving in San Quentin, creating inspiring and hands-on programs around permaculture design, sustainability and outdoor and environmental education. She has presented and lectured on topics ranging from diversity, social justice, youth and women’s leadership, social entrepreneurship and sustainability.

David Abazs
At Round River Farm, David and Lise Abazs grow and sell organic fruit and vegetables, make wreaths and raise livestock. Teaching, consulting, and installing renewable energy systems fill out their lives as they strive to balance their needs with what the Earth can provide. The farm’s rocky soil provides the materials to build their homestead, and the northern elements provide the solar and wind power to keep it all running.

• Erika Bailey-Johnson, director, BSU Sustainability Office

• Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability | UMACS on Facebook
• Earthseed Consulting
• Round River Farm