Climate Leadership Summit #4 at Goshen College

Liz Symon (Moontree Studios) and I took a trip over to Goshen College yesterday for the 4th annual Climate Leadership Summit, organized by Earth Charter Indiana. There are lots of workshops, summits, and conference, and only so many days in the year, so I try my best to make them worth my while. Having attended the last summit, I knew that CLS would be a can’t-miss event.

Liz has an extensive background in ecological & justice work in South Carolina, so I wanted to get her connected into the Hoosier scene. She was back with her tribe!

[this is where I’d normally put a photo of people milling together at coffee break, or even a photo of Liz & I… but I didn’t get anything like that! oh well…]

Our day started off by walking into the sanctuary of College Mennonite Church. Seating is in the round, and in the balcony was the college chamber choir, singing For the Beauty of the Earth, a rendition of Psalm 23 and other earthy melodies. It was very appropriate for the theme and the audience. I remember the first time I heard Mennonites sing, at a friend’s graduation at Goshen College. I grew up with the United Methodist hymnal, so I was pretty proud of my musical heritage. But the four-part harmony that is a part of their liturgical tradition is unmatched. I would post my scratchy iPhone recording I took, but it wouldn’t do it justice!

We heard from several speakers, from IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute, Purdue’s Climate Change Research Center, as well as some engineers, authors, and mayors of Indiana cities.

Dr. Jeffrey Dukes reviewing the latest climate science & its impact for Indiana.

Indiana University has developed some great tools for municipal leaders to use to make their communities more resilient. I was struck by the practicality and non-partisan approach of the summit, which is why I think so many leaders have found it useful.

We also heard from David Orr of Oberlin College, who founded The Oberlin Project. He zoomed out from the details of climate science & sustainability and gave a cautionary address about the decline of democracy in the U.S. and Europe, together with the increasing amount of wealth that is being redistributed to the top 1% and 0.1% of society. It was a moving call to action to re-engage with and defend our democratic heritage.

At lunch we heard from several children and high schoolers. Earth Charter Indiana has done some very ground-breaking with youth across the state. Youth-led initiatives have been responsible for the adoption of several municipal climate recovery resolutions. Read more here and here.

Afterward, we went on a tour of the Goshen College campus to see all the work they’ve done in decreasing energy usage and implementing renewables.

We started off in the parking lot, looking at electric vehicles. I brought our Nissan LEAF to put on display for comparison to the other models avaialable (see here for our chronicles with EVs; more to come shortly).

And not only cars. There are also more and more options available for electric lawn mowers, from residential push mowers to commercial riding mowers. The commercial market is moving increasingly towards electric options. There are a lot of concerns about hearing loss, air quality effects, and noise pollution associated with gasoline blowers, weed whackers, and mowers.

We then moved to the athletic facility. The best in sustainable design is simple. Sometimes it’s just a giant fan, running at low horsepower, mixing air.

This monster is made by – who else? – the Big Ass Fan Company (really).

We then saw the 2012-ish installation of a solar thermal hot water heater. The market is now moving more towards photovoltaic solar, even for hot water needs, but this was a really good design for it’s time. It was well engineered & well cared for, thus is still provides lots of hot water even during the winter.

And now I’ve got a notepad full of new people to connect to, book titles to look up, and projects to start. Par for the course for these summits and workshops. Time to get busy!

One Reply to “Climate Leadership Summit #4 at Goshen College”

  1. Sr. Mary Baird, PHJC

    Excellent report as well as heads up awareness and attending such an event.
    As signers of The Earth Charter we are encouraged that two of you represented us.


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