Summer for the Zilkha Center is filled with the new ideas, energy, and commitment of the eight student interns responsible for facilitating the interactions between the newly completed environmental center and its surrounding community. Each internship position has different tasks to complete for the Zilkha Center. From evaluating food waste management on campus to creating sustainable artistic outlets, each of our summer interns are excited to participate in building a more sustainable community on campus.
Julio Monge is the Energy Conservation Analyst for this summer. He looks at energy use on campus over the past year to see where improvements can be made to increase energy efficiency. His goals are to summarize and convey this data on energy use in an accessible manner and to provide useful recommendations to increase energy efficiency around campus. Julio’s summer internship position plays into his idea that campus sustainability should mean that institutions of higher education promote environment-friendly practices on campus, not just because these actions are good for the environment in and of themselves, but because they have the potential to inspire the local community and perhaps even a global community to follow suit.
Roxana Rodriguez is the programming intern for ROOT, a First-Year EphVenture program.. She hopes to broaden her understanding by engaging in topics at the intersection of sustainability, identity, and social justice. Because of her interest in the intersectionality of these issues, the word “sustainability” means to Roxana that everyone involved in a particular system plays a part in giving it the ability to continue. On campus, this means that everyone should keep in mind ways that they are able to continue use of resources such as energy or food so that future students can continue to use them.
Chris Stefanik is the Food Waste Specialist for this summer. His goal is to reduce our campus’ post-consumer food waste, which is essentially what is left on one’s plate after a meal that goes into the trash or compost. He is also trying to improve the quality of the waste that does find its way into a compost bin by thinking of ways to stop non-compostable items from entering the wrong containers. He hopes to educate students and staff members on the importance of trying to eliminate food waste on campus (and at home!) in order to save energy, save money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Campus sustainability to him means creating a place that everyone can equally enjoy while having the smallest possible negative impact on the environment. He feels extremely fortunate to be able to attend a school that is set in such a beautiful location, and he thus wants to ensure that visitors fifty years down the road are able to enjoy the Purple Valley in the same way that he was able to during his time at Williams.
Scott Shelton is the Environmental Center Education Intern for the Zilkha Center. He hopes to be able to properly and effectively make signage that will educate students about the new Environmental Center while simultaneously making the building more accessible and less intimidating. Sustainability to Scott means that everyone is acting in a way that is taking into account that the human legacy has become to take and to exploit resources that have been previously available to them. In order to be sustainable, Scott believes that we all must be conscientious of that past history and intentionally act in a way that is better than how we came to it. To Scott, accomplishing this feat would mean paving the way to sustaining this place for future generations.
Kathryn Cunningham is working as one of the Garden Interns for the summer. She is responsible for maintaining, planting, and harvesting the three gardens on campus, as well as helping out in the garden at the nearby Children’s Center. This summer, she hopes to help build the bridge between the Williams community and the gardens, as well to keep the gardens in “tip-top shape” for the upcoming year. Campus sustainability to Kathryn means acting in an eco-friendly way and being aware of how our actions are affecting the environment, both directly and indirectly. Kathryn believes that there are small things that people can do to contribute to having a more sustainable campus, such as shutting off lights, unplugging electronics, and eating fresh produce from the garden.
Michelle Buncke is the other summer Garden Intern. With Kathryn, Michelle maintains the three major gardens on campus-Kellogg Gardens, Parson’s Gardens, and the Presidential Garden. In addition to maintaing these gardens, as mentioned before, Michelle works with the Children’s Center and the Williamstown Elementary School. Michelle is excited to organize a pilot season for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program on campus that will allow students, faculty, and staff access to the produce grown from the gardens. Michelle thinks that sustainability means acting in such a way that is conscious that our earth has limited resources. The goal of sustainability, to Michelle, is being able to act consciously in a way that helps preserve these natural resources for future generations.
Sammi Stone is the “artist in resident” for the summer, working in music and sound art. Sammi has been busy building simple instruments out of material found in the trash. She also has sampled and recorded “noise pollution” from around campus, like the sounds of old Sawyer library being torn down. Another project that Sammi has been working on is creating blog posts that she hopes to complete as part of her internship. Sammi believes it will be important for her to write about the work she is doing as an intern at the Zilkha Center in order to keep herself critical about the projects she is pursuing, but also to dig a little bit deeper into the conceptual connection between music and sustainability. Sammi thinks about campus sustainability in a way that is pertinent to her own internship position. One important part of sustainability that is also relevant to art is that it’s all about relationships. Looking at sustainability to Sammi means examining how we all relate to and treat each other, how we engage with and participate in human systems. All of this, to Sammi, is intrinsically linked to how we interact with our “environment.” Thinking about and building campus sustainability in terms of concrete things like energy use, food waste, and recycling is also incredibly important. However, Sammi believes that another way we could be more sustainable is in consciously improving how we relate not only within our communities but also outside of them.
Emily O’Brien is the Social Media/Communications intern for the summer. Her job includes finding ways to build a bridge between the exciting things happening at the Zilkha Center and the surrounding campus and local communities. The projects involved with this internship include managing the Facebook page, creating a Twitter and Instagram account and keeping up with interesting and applicable blog posts. Hopefully, the next steps in social media for the Zilkha Center will be to open a Pinterest Board of easy, sustainable tips for college students, and she is currently working with the Office of Communications to develop a snapchat platform. Emily sees campus sustainability as something that extends far beyond just scientific environmental issues. She sees a sustainable campus environment as somewhere that people consider not only how to conserve energy and power and not waste food, but also as a place where knowledge, emotional, financial and other types of support are readily accessible, where individuals who differ in race, socioeconomic background, gender identity, sexual identity, experience, and general outlook can come together and create valuable relationships.
These eight summer interns come to the Zilkha Center from all different facets of campus. From being involved with VISTA to playing in Student Symphony, from being members of sports teams like Cross Country and Ultimate Frisbee to participating in clubs and organizations like RASAN, Feminist Collective, Eph’s Business Association and WCFM, this particular group is a model for looking at sustainability through a creative framework. Campus sustainability pertains not only to environmental sustainability, but to creating networks on campus that thrive in diversity of experience and opinions. By coming together from all of these different niches on campus, these eight interns are going to spend the summer trying to figure out what sustainability means, in all of its senses, to the College and the surrounding community.