UCSC’s Sustainability Ecosystem

UCSC Science Library. Source: UCSC

UCSC Science Library. Source: UCSC

This blog post was written by Melanie Fornes, a current UCSC undergraduate student who is very involved in UCSC campus sustainbility. Melanie has a Civinomics workshop on UCSC campus sustainability projects which you can view here: https://civinomics.com/workshop/4R7q/ucsc-sustainability-measures


Moving up to Santa Cruz, I’ve learned a couple things about this city’s culture. For starters, I came from a place where smog is permanently in the forecast and being “eco-friendly” means wearing TOM’s shoes and spending a fortune on fresh-pressed juices at your local (but corporate!) juice bar*.

Yes, the city I am referring to is Los Angeles.

Source: Wikimedia. LA Skyline with Mountains.

Source: Wikimedia.
LA Skyline with Mountains. However absurd the city may be at times, it is still my hometown, and there is still a special place in my heart for it. *tear*

Then there’s Santa Cruz.

Source: Wikipedia.  Downtown Santa Cruz

Source: Wikipedia.
Downtown Santa Cruz

From what I’ve seen so far, this city exudes localism; from the avidly supported local businesses to the bustling farmers markets, there is a binding sense of community here that is absolutely refreshing. Furthermore, the shared passion for conservation and sustainability is also a unique aspect to Santa Cruz that really adds to the community vibe.

Civinomics at Earth Day!

Civinomics at Earth Day!

This passion is especially evident among students here on campus — I’m constantly impressed by the strength of the sustainability movement here. However, the sheer volume of organizations, committees, and groups was quite overwhelming at first. To an outsider, they all just seem like a sea of acronyms and logos. The wide array of resources and outlets are sometimes hard to fully grasp unless you find yourself within the vast circle of these sometimes overlapping, but unique sustainable efforts.

I feel happy to be even a small part of this ecosystem on campus. Recently, I was lucky enough to participate in a retreat where I met all of the people behind these various acronyms.

In short, the experience was incredible— I was able to meet other environmentally like-minded individuals from all walks of life and hear their stories, their passions, inspirations, and goals. An event organizer at one point mentioned, “the amount of potential in this room is limitless. We really could solve all of the earth’s problems just from the people in this room.” Although a rather bold statement, her words do hold a strong degree of truth, at least in spirit. With so many fresh new perspectives and ideas, we really could accomplish just about anything.

But let’s come back to reality for a moment. Finding the time for concerned citizens to come together is next to impossible in our age of endless emails,events, and other obligations. It’s no wonder why Google Calendars is seriously starting taking over people’s lives (at least for me).

Enter Civinomics.

Civinomics is a platform that defies the limitations of civic engagement by creating an accessible online space to share and vote on new ideas to solve community problems, test each other’s assumptions, and harness our collective creativity. I was first introduced to Civinomics after volunteering at the first ever Civinomicon event in November. Seeing the Santa Cruz community in action, I wanted to bring this same form of cooperative and collaborative activism to UCSC, and more specifically, the students’ environmentalist efforts.

To this end, I’ve created the ‘UCSC Sustainability Measures’ Workshop as an outlet for inspired and passionate students to work towards the common goal of creating new and innovative ballot measures that promote sustainability on campus.  Through this outlet, anyone with innovative and legitimate proposals can contribute to this process (no more acronym intimidation!). Additionally, the online workshop is a great place to present alternative ideas and points of view side by side to spark discussion. The streamlined process that the workshop facilitates makes it easier to sort through, prioritize, and effectively create measures that matter.

Lastly, I wanted the workshop to be the one-stop resource hub; containing all of the relevant and necessary information pertaining to the goal. Any interested student can login online and utilize the given tools and information.

I hope this workshop becomes an interactive place where both sustainability organizations and individual students can come together to not only produce feasible ballot measures, but also create meaningful conversations and connections.

Happy Posting!

1 Comment

  1. Melissa Ott says:

    Thanks for sharing about your experiences getting involved in sustainability at UCSC, Melanie! It certainly is a jungle of acronyms, but as you’ve articulately explained, there is so much great passion, energy, and potential in the work happening on this campus. Thanks for creating a space on Civinomics for us to engage with each other and the local community. I was one of the students who helped organized the retreat you attended, so I’m glad to hear that it was an enjoyable experience for you!! Keep up the fantastic work!

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