All the things green is
One of my favorite songs has always been "All the things you are", by Kern and Hammerstein. It appeals to my sense of order, of proportion, of flow. It also has the rare characteristic of not resolving to its tonic (the main chord of the key it's in) until the very end of the melody. (You know this song, even if you don't know you know it.
One of my favorite songs has always been "All the things you are", by Kern and Hammerstein. It appeals to my sense of order, of proportion, of flow. It also has the rare characteristic of not resolving to its tonic (the main chord of the key it's in) until the very end of the melody. (You know this song, even if you don't know you know it. Here are very different versions by Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass, and Keith Jarrett.)
I think the rootlessness within the melody is one of the things that's brought the song to mind recently -- I've felt a little uprooted myself. One example:
One of my projects for next year will be to lead an initiative which will take a highly-used building on campus and turn it into Greenback's "Sustainability Showcase". There's an operable consensus in favor of this transition, so I can already feel both backing and pressure to do the job right. The problem is knowing what "right" means -- there, the consensus is less operable.
Does creating a sustainability showcase mean maximizing the opportunities for:
- class projects, which might showcase how our students are learning sustainable techniques and technologies?
- efforts by existing student groups (rather than classes) with sustainability agendas?
- staff-selected and -designed enhancements, which might have more measurable impact on building operation?
- LEED gold or platinum certification, which might involve significant investment and disruption?
- a holistic retrofit, similar (in ways) to what's been initiated for the Empire State Building?
- some sort of design/proposal competition open to (and only to) the campus community?
- creation of some sort of trans-disciplinary academic center which will anchor the showcase?
- coordination with various deans to recruit teams representing Greenback's constituent colleges?
- coordination with the undergraduate honors program, to showcase our "best and brightest"?
- coordination with (indeed, work largely accomplished through) our dean of students' office?
Most of these possibilities have popped up in conversations with people who are part of the consensus behind the "showcase" idea. What that tells me is that there really isn't a clear (single) showcase idea at all. It's just that nobody dislikes the word or the broad concept it conveys.
When I talk to people at the actual decision-making level, I hear a similar range of considerations and priorities. The provost wants the showcase to maximize students' educational opportunity. The bean-counter wants to maximize energy (and cost) savings. Campus planning wants to maximize the replicability and scalability of whatever technologies we choose, so that the showcases can serve as pilots for an overall campus greening initiative. Some of our engineers want to maximize technological innovation, while others (and other faculty, as well) want to maximize the exposure for (and leverage of) faculty research.
Clearly, creating a sustainability showcase on campus isn't a project, it's more akin to a career. But for it to have positive career potential, my first task has to be to narrow the focus, create some meaningful metrics and objectives, and then sell those to all the parties whose personal visions of sustainability just got dropped out of the Greenback-sponsored version.
I'm excited about the possibilities, so whatever level of effort it requires on my part will (in some way) be worthwhile.
Still, I really do wish I knew what key this particular song wanted to be played in.
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