Green Leaders initiative works to bring together U.Va.’s sustainability community

Student Council Sustainability Committee creates new initiative to increase student collaboration

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Green Leaders is a new initiative on Grounds designed to open and foster communication between sustainability-focused groups at the University. 

Eleanor Barto | Cavalier Daily

Created by the Student Council Sustainability Committee, Green Leaders is a new initiative on Grounds designed to open and foster communication between sustainability-focused groups at the University. 

There are currently 43 student sustainability groups — in response, Green Leaders has been organized in order to “promote cooperation, avoid overlap, and to unite in order to better promote a sustainable environment around grounds.” 

The Green Leaders came together for their second meeting Sunday afternoon, with more than 20 students representing a large variety of green groups on Grounds attending. After introducing themselves and the organizations they were representing, the assembled Green Leaders proceeded to engage in an open dialogue about upcoming sustainability events, green movements on Grounds, community concerns and accessibility to funding for student groups. 

The first iteration of this initiative was called the “Sustainability Forum”, a monthly meeting of green groups in order to foster community. There were concerns about the efficiency and lack of structure to these meetings, however, prompting the co-chairs of the Sustainability Committee — third-year College student Megan Routbort and second-year College student Jacob Weitzman — to adopt and rework the forum into the “Green Leaders” initiative. 

“The most important development that has sort of come from [Green Leaders] is establishing a communication mechanism, with the listserv and also with the monthly meetings,” Routbort said. “We can always constantly be talking about overlap, adjust the overlap, advertise events to each other [and be] working together on particular goals.”

According to a statement from Routbort and Weitzman, the goal of the Green Leaders is “to have at least one person from each sustainability-minded group present.” Whether the representative is a leader or regular member, the overall objective is to create and maintain dialogue between different organizations on Grounds. 

“Our role is sort of an umbrella over all green organizations on Grounds,” Weitzman said. “We wanted to help link each other up.”

There is an emphasis on communication and collaboration between sustainable groups on Grounds, with a listserv between all green leaders and scheduled monthly meetings to exchange ideas and keep communication open. 

“[Originally] there was a lot of mission overlap, a lot of mission creep … we found that there wasn’t collaboration between CIOs,” Routbort said about previous semesters. “My biggest hope for Green Leaders is that it helps organizations realize that pursuing sustainability doesn’t have to be divided.”

In addition to being a collaborative green community and a resource for sustainability, Green Leaders is also working to help fulfill the goals of the the University’s 2016-2020 Sustainability Plan. 

Green Leader meetings are open to the public, including members of current green organizations or clubs on Grounds and people who are interested in sustainability at the University.

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