Lobby Talk: What is Creative Sustainability?


On Friday, September 2, students and faculty of the Honors Association and the Creative Sustainability Council (CSC) gathered in Prichard Hall Lobby to discuss the steps needed to make Fairmont State an eco-friendly campus. This event was the first of several Honors “Lobby Talks” designed to facilitate meaningful discussion between students and guest speakers about culturally relevant issues. Friday’s Lobby Talk included three presenters: Dr. Erica Harvey (Chemistry professor and creator of the CSC), Dr. Joseph Han (Associate Vice President of Facilities), and Dr. Nathan Myers (English professor and CSC member). Together, these speakers gave a comprehensive look at the CSC’s ongoing work to make FSU more sustainable.

What is the Creative Sustainability Council?

The Creative Sustainability Council is “an interdisciplinary group of students, faculty, and staff members who collaborate actively with members of the local community and other partners on student-led sustainability projects.” In its broadest sense, sustainability refers to the process of using resources responsibly today with hopes that they will remain available for future generations. At Fairmont State, the CSC is accomplishing sustainability through projects such as glass crushing, repurposing grocery bags as “plarn” (plastic yarn), and the Sustainable Grounds Initiative.

The Sustainable Grounds Initiative

The largest ongoing project for the CSC this year is the Sustainable Grounds Initiative, a series of eco-friendly changes on campus property done in partnership with the Facilities department. These changes include returning steep hillsides to natural vegetation, planting wildflowers, and adding solar-charged umbrellas to outdoor study spaces. Abigail Peterman,

Vice President of the Creative Sustainability Council, is especially looking forward to the incorporation of more native plant species: “I’m excited about the prospect of more wildflower areas on campus. Not only will it look beautiful, but it will also be easier to care for and will help feed our pollinators.”

Caring for these hilly areas has always been a concern for the Facilities crew. Many hillsides on campus are measured at 50-60 degrees in steepness, making the task of mowing and trimming a dangerous one. These steep hills are also prone to water run-off that causes flooding in areas like the Turley Center and Bryant Place. Returning these areas to natural growth can both prevent erosion and promote the safety of the Facilities crew. Two areas on campus have already been seeded with wildflowers and returned to natural growth: the hill beside the library and the solar panel area. These efforts have already reduced the need for mowing by 30%. Future areas for natural growth will include the hills beside Bryant Place and Morrow Hall.

Aside from landscaping changes, the Sustainable Grounds Initiative also includes the purchase and installation of solar-powered charging umbrellas across campus. These high-tech umbrellas will provide students with both a shady spot to study and a place to charge devices outdoors. This project has recently received a $25,000 start-up grant but will require further funds for full implementation. Donations to the CSC from the upcoming Falcon Day of Giving will be used to fund the remaining costs associated with the solar umbrellas.

Looking to get involved?

The Creative Sustainability Council is led by students Ally Quigley (president), Abigail Peterman (vice president), and Molly Simpson (secretary). Meetings are held the second Friday of every month at 2:30pm in 212 HHH. If you would like to get involved with the Creative

Sustainability Council or learn more about their initiatives, contact Dr. Erica Harvey at [email protected] or the current leadership.