Arts and Media: Green Impact inspired more.
On the 23rd of February 2015, the University of Salford launched the “Go Green Salford” in the foyer of Maxwell building. The Green Impact Assistants from Adelphi actively took part in the launch. We had the pedal powered bike for making smoothies, we had information about how #gogreensalford would unfold and we had information about the various events that were taking place that week. We had chocolate samples to share and told people all about Fairtrade. It was a great experience for us as the Green Impact Assistants because we gained skills on effective communication and personal development.
Ready, Steady, Cook was a beautiful experience for the Adelphi team as we partook in the food competition held on 25th March 2015. Four teams of two took on the Ready, Steady, Cook competition and made a main course and dessert purely with Fairtrade, local and organic produce. It was enlightening to put our kitchen skills to use in a sustainability challenge; teaching us how to make use of organic produce to make rich, nutritious meals. Team Adelphi emerged 1st and 3rd at the end of the competition.
Green ELS: The challenges and opportunities of working in complex teams
When I worked on Green Impact last year, I felt that the actions should be things that we do anyway, as a matter of course- what can be the harm of conserving energy, purchasing fairer products, improving the capacity of staff to make a difference in their workplace? Our team worked in a shared office so it was easy to communicate and organise with other team members.
This year has been a different kettle of fish. I joined the School of Environment and Life Sciences as a PhD student and found myself in a school spread across different buildings (Peel, Cockroft, Maxwell) and comprising students and staff of varying occupation, timetable and location. It was really hard to engage people to take effective action, and made me realise that more complex working arrangements require more ambitious and more time-costly interventions. However, with the help of key staff, we engaged a number of students, recognising that last year’s GreenELS team gave some great opportunities to students who really brought out their creative side, worked together and some of whom have continued to find careers in the sustainability sector (one team member, Diana Baker, was chosen to be the EAUC (Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges) student rep as a result of her Green Impact work! But it’s beenhard to coordinate action across space and time and has made me realise that Green Impact works best when aimed at smaller groups of people who share physical space and already have close working relationships, so that Green Impact can slot into existing arrangements and become embedded in working patterns more easily. Personal relationships matter!
However, in today’s work place, many people do not share space/time: many work from home or in multi-national teams where travel and telecommunications take the place of shared offices. How can we adapt our strategies to suit the more mobile and transitory worlds many of us inhabit? We have found email and shared noticeboards one useful way to spread messages (especially if displayed in waiting areas and visible to everyone). However, even this doesn’t ensure everyone will get the message. Another strategy is to find ‘ambassadors’ in different areas who can spread the Green Impact message and actions to their own teams. This takes time, but also gives people a chance to take responsibility and means that you can spread your impact further. Ultimately, however, I think our main challenge has been how to ensure that everyone on a team feels confident with what they’re able to do, especially international students who might use English as a second language or be facing the challenges of living in a very new context, let alone having to grapple with the complexities of poorly-labelled recycling bins and negotiating the chains of communication within institutions that can enable messages and action to spread. It’s about giving power to students and staff who otherwise might not feel theyhave ownership over their institutions. This cannot come from one Green Impact team, or even one academic school, alone. It needs buy-in and support from our staff hierarchies, from our Students Union and from an institutional culture that prioritises important questions: and surely our environmental and social impact is one of the most important reasons that universities and students exist in the first place?!
Green Crescent: Both sides of the coin
The chance to work on a team while at the same time co-ordinating the Green Impact programme for the whole university has been really interesting as I’ve been involved with the ‘coordinating’ as well as the ‘doing side’. I have seen, through working with the Green Impact team at Crescent, the time restraints that staff face in taking time out for Green Impact and the difficulty faced in trying to get positive environmental messages across an entire department. The Estates team is on the first floor of Crescent House (which is relatively quite a small floor area) and so I appreciate the added challenge that it must be to tackle a whole building (like Adelphi or Peel!).
The Green Crescent team chose to reaccredit for Bronze again this year so some of the information was already out there, and some of the actions that we completed last year were reaffirmed. Some of the key achievements from this year were a suggestion box in the kitchen where we got feedback from staff on energy saving ideas as well as the positivity from the Estates staff who got involved in other sustainability events (Ready, Steady, Cook and Blackout).
It was great to get involved with the ‘doing side’ of Green Impact and it made me appreciate the amazing work teams put in and it just inspired me from the ‘coordinating’ end to provide as much praise and resources as I could!