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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

SCUP-43 Sunday 7:30 pm
July 20, 2008 - 9:19pm

OK, so I've met a bunch of SCUPers (at least that's what some of them call themselves -- I always thought a scupper was a hole just above deck level to let the water drain), I've attended a "newbie" orientation, I sat through the opening plenary, and I'm confused.

My first impression was that SCUP -- the Society for College and University Planning -- might more honestly be called the Society for Campus Planning. There were regular references to an "integrated planning process", but most of them seemed to boil down to talking to the academic folks as you decided what modifications to make to your physical plant and when to make them. Lots of campus (buildings and grounds, construction and maintenance) planners, lots of architects, landscape architects, engineers, furnishers.

Then came the plenary. Big room. Big stage at the front. Big lighting. Big sound. Nice job of going through the appropriate opening rituals. Nice job of introducing the opening keynote speaker.

And what a speaker she was! Dr. Martha Piper, formerly President of the University of British Columbia. Speaking on the topic of our collective responsibility to educate our students to be global citizens in the 21st century. Teaching kids to think globally, then act locally. Recognizing that what we teach, regardless of discipline or specific subject matter, is either relevant or its opposite. She only used the term "sustainable" a few times, but everything she said was all about sustainability in this global village we all inhabit. There is no separation, their is no solitude, there are no acts which affect only the actor. Hardly the stuff of space allocation and construction bonding. And the audience loved it!

So, my second impression is that I need to do a better job of forming first impressions.

As a side note, when I arrived in Montreal, the staff of the conference hotel (The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth -- a magnificent old CN-built pile directly above the main railroad station) was on strike. Apparently, it's a rotating strike on some basis, as it's moved across the street to the Hilton right now. Just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to social (or at least socio-economic) sustainability.

On a more personal front, last night's dinner was Caribbean -- griot (marinated pork) at a funky little second-story restaurant in Le Plateau du Mont-Royal. Very slightly overcooked (it's hard to get pork that's not overcooked in any restaurant), but absolutely delicious. Served with red beans and rice, fried mashed plantain, a couple of different salsas, and a citrus-dressed green salad. A local red beer was the perfect accompaniment.

Tonight, dinner was in Chinatown. I cheated, in that I decided on Pho, that delicious Vietnamese beef and noodle soup with fresh cilantro, bean sprouts, lime juice and a chili pepper. Tripe, tendon, and beef balls (chunks of sausage, not prairie oysters!) may not be everybody's bowl of soup, but they sure were mine. An extra-large bowl. Cheap. And "I may have to go back before I leave town" kind of good.

Meanwhile, the hotel bar stocks Cragganmore. What's not to like?

 

 

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