UMBC Kraken Upcycled Sculpture/ Drum Circle/ Solar @Artscape (7/17)

DSC_3140Come celebrate UMBC’s creativity in action at Baltimore Artscape.

  • Prof. McAlpine’s Kraken Upcycled Sculpture: Interdisciplinary Studies at UMBC Student-built Sea Monster made of upcycled plastic (grand prize winner at the AVAM Kinetic Sculpture Race). 11 a.m. onwards Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
  • Dance or drum along with Straight Up Tribal/ UMBC Drum Circle Performances. 7 p.m. Friday
  • Keep the beat with an upcycled bucket drum installation
  • Taste some local food grilled in a Solar Cooker Demonstration with Sustainability Matters at UMBC. 7 p.m. Friday

Visit myUMBC for more information.

Faculty Workshop: Sustainability Across the Disciplines (6/1-6/2)

Page-1Join the third annual faculty curriculum development workshop at UMBC, held on June 1 and 2 from 10-4 p.m. The workshop will be facilitated by Rita Turner, author of Teaching for EcoJustice. Stipends are available for the first 10 UMBC faculty, instructors, and lecturers to register. All are welcome regardless of background, department, and level of familiarity with sustainability. 
Click here to register.

It Still Has to be Done

Clare McCauley, ’16, Environmental Science, was the trip leader for a 2014 UMBC Alternative Spring Break trip focused on environmental sustainability.

Clare McCauleyWhen I accepted the position of Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Leader (for one of five UMBC ASB trips), I thought I was agreeing to plan what would essentially be an interesting field trip for my peers. I wanted share information about the services local parks provide, and what challenges they face in doing so.

I am so grateful that the way I envision a project is never how it turns out.

Back in November, David Hoffman, Assistant Director of Student Life, came to speak to our group of trip leaders. He told us that the risk in a program like ASB is that students could come away feeling like they’ve done some good deeds, without having learned how to engage in the more difficult work of bringing about lasting change. That is why it is our job not just to do good work and make important contributions in our communities, but also to reflect on the experience and share it widely. We must illuminate how working in unfamiliar territory can unlock something special, something we can’t learn anywhere else.

Clare McCauley ASB 1I am not here to humble-brag about spending my spring break volunteering while you lounged on your sofa or headed to the beach. I am here to motivate you. I am here to extinguish the feelings of powerlessness, uselessness, and hopelessness that can accompany good intentions. It is so easy for us to fall into negative excuses: “There is so much to be done! Where do we begin?” “Our individual, single day of service is useless.” ”Whatever we do is barely a drop in the ocean of what needs to be done.”

It still has to be done.

And I believe that when enough people discover their capacity to make a difference through collective work, even the big needs can be met, and the big challenges overcome.

One of the most powerful lessons I took away  from working with 5 different community organizations in 4 days was how much work a small group of people can get done together. We spent no more than 4 hours with at any single site. Yet every agency we supported expressed immense gratitude for the assistance of many hands for a few hours.

At Gwynns Falls we cleared vines from a switchback, saving the lives of the trees and improving the safety of the turn. When we got there, the vines and branches were so tangled you could not see past them. By the time we finished, the space was clear and open and bikers would be able to easily see through to the other side of the turn. The work we did would take the Friends of Gwynns Falls group a few days to clear. With a team of ten we completed the job in about two hours. Our work there will last Clare McCauley ASB 2the entire season. The same thing happened when we cleaned and organized the warehouse at the Tool Bank. Ten volunteers, working for three hours, completed 30 hours worth of chores. For an organization that runs on a staff of two, that is a significant burden released. To put it in perspective: that is one person’s entire working week!

As volunteers, we can carry the burden of the small tasks so the leaders can dedicate themselves to the bigger picture. And if we reflect on our experiences, challenge our assumptions, and think critically about the problems we’re addressing, we can develop the skills to become leaders ourselves.

Of course, there were other lessons during the trip. I learned that nothing ever goes as planned and flexibility is a skill. Together, we learned about invasive vines, migratory birds, floodplains, edible plants, and deadly fungi. We even learned what I planned to learn … how parks serve their communities.

We chose to devote our week to environmental service. But that doesn’t have to be your cause. What matters is that you take the first step and do something. Dive in. Start learning. Start contributing.

Begin small, begin local. Have you ever noticed how many vines are choking the trees on campus?

Contact the author, Clare McCauley, at

UMBC Transit & Parking Q&A (4/16)

CitiesonSpeed_8.5x11_3.26-page-001On April 16 from 12pm-1.30pm in UC 312, there will be a time of documentary reaction, sustainable transportation panel discussion, and UMBC Transit and Parking Q&A.

A panelist of campus community members actively involved in sustainable transportation initiatives and programs at UMBC will discuss their work. A Parking Services representative will be there to address students’ parking concerns. The documentary Mumbai Disconnected will also be discussed.  A free lunch will be provided.

Visit myUMBC for more information.

Carpool Social (2/14)

carpooling wordleHopping in the car with other students from the same area as you can reduce costs. Carpooling can also help reduce UMBC’s carbon footprint and the amount of cars on the road and in our parking lots. Aside from helping save money and reducing traffic, carpooling is a great way to meet other students. Students who would like to create a carpool with other UMBC students can join the online Casual Carpooling forum, where you can discuss carpooling logistics.

Join the growing casual carpooling community on February 14th in Lower Flat Tuesdays in The Commons from 12pm-1pm for FREE Valentine’s Day treats & crafts. Meet other UMBC students and create a carpool.  This event is sponsored by UMBC Off-Campus Student Services.

My Internship: Building Community Around Sustainable Transportation Alternatives

Karly Trinite ’13, Environmental Studies, is the Sustainability Outreach Intern in UMBC Off-Campus Student Services

Karly Trinite 2Before I applied for my internship with UMBC Off-Campus Student Services, I knew it was right for me. My passion throughout college was always taking the information I learned as an environmental studies student and sharing and applying it beyond the walls of my classes. Through collaborations with Tanvi Gadhia, UMBC’s Sustainability Coordinator, Ryan Williams from International Education Services, and student leaders Patrick Hixenbaugh, David Wecht, and Jack Neumeirer, I was able to put on some very fun and informative events for my fellow students that helped bring the UMBC  community together around sustainable transportation alternatives.

Events like “Being Green Off Campus” allowed students to learn about more sustainable lifestyle choices, and to develop and share their own visions for the future of the UMBC commuter community. Those visions influenced leaders of campus departments and student leaders, and fueled new attention to campus policies and practices affecting commuters. Student input and organizing fueled the creation of Retrieverfleet, UMBC’s new bike share program, as well as UMBC’s student-conceived, student-led Community Garden initiative.

At first, my internship seemed daunting because nobody wants to host an event that doesn’t attract participants and inspire new thinking and action. However, I quickly realized that this was a learning experience that allowed me to make a difference in the UMBC community that has given me so much. In the future, I hope to continue promoting sustainability as an activist and science teacher in high-needs schools. This internship has helped me prepare me for a career in which I will need to be able to make my voice heard and to hear, and elevate, others’ voices.

Contact the author, Karly Trinite, at

Being Green Off Campus (November 22, 2013)

Karly Trinite ’13, Environmental Studies, is the Sustainability Outreach Intern in UMBC Off-Campus Student Services

Karly TriniteThis semester, through my internship with UMBC Off-Campus Student Services, I have been researching opportunities for students to make choices that protect our local and global environment. I’ll be sharing the outcomes of my research–information students can use to become more active participants in promoting sustainability–at Being Green Off Campus, sponsored by Off-Campus Student Services (November 22, 2013, noon-1:00 p.m., Commons Main Street). I promise this will be fun (and tasty): the event will feature games, organic produce taste testing, giveaways, and free pie and hot drinks.

My goal in designing this event is to address topics students are passionate about: saving money, making healthy lifestyle choices and promoting sustainability. Among the topics to be addressed: alternative transportation options, recycling off campus, saving money with “greener” behaviors, and benefiting from organic foods.  This event is made possible through a collaboration involving numerous UMBC offices, staff members, student organizations and student leaders, including UMBC International Education Services (IES), the Athletics Department, student leaders from UMBC’s Community Garden and the Cycling Club, UMBC Sustainability Coordinator Tanvi Gadhia, and Students for Environmental Awareness. I hope to see you there!

Contact the author, Karly Trinite, at

Building a Sustainable Culture

100 Words is a BreakingGround series that asks faculty, staff and students across campus to explore a challenging issue that impacts us all. This post asks: What can members of the UMBC community do to contribute to a culture of sustainability?”

Click on one of the photos, below, to see the full gallery of responses and add your view, in 100 words or less, as a comment.

Event: Sustainability Film Screening (3/27) and Transit Forum (3/29)

Jessica Sadler, a graduate student in UMBC’s TESOL program, is UMBC’s Graduate Assistant for Off-Campus Student Services.

Jessica SadlerTwo upcoming events will challenge us to think more deeply and creatively about tackling climate change and reducing UMBC’s carbon footprint. Both events involve collaboration among campus departments and organizations, including Off-Campus Student Services, ReSET (Retrievers Sustainability Events Team), UMBC Transit, seb, and the Climate Change Task Force. Given the urgency of cooperation around climate issues, I’m thrilled to be involved in this emerging partnership.

BogotaThe first event, this Wednesday, March 27th (Commons Sports Zone), will feature several screenings of the hour long documentary Cities on Speed: Bogotá Change (starting at 11:40 a.m., 2:40 p.m. and 4:40 p.m.). The film highlights two charismatic mayors’ highly unorthodox approaches to transforming the culture and quality of life in their city.

Two days later, on Friday, March 29th (UC 312, noon – 1:30 p.m.), a panel of UMBC leaders will facilitate a discussion about how the courage and entrepreneurial spirit highlighted in the film could contribute to creative new approaches to transportation at UMBC.

Both events will be “waste-free,” meaning that food will be served with plates, cups, napkins and utensils that are 100% compostable. My hope is that In addition to sparking thoughts and conversations these events serve as models of sustainability in practice.

Contact the author, Jessica Sadler, at

My Journey: Sustainable Power

Tanvi Gadhia ’09, Geography and Environmental Systems, is UMBC’s first Environmental Sustainability Coordinator.

Tanvi GadhiaWhat excites me about UMBC is that the campus community is brimming with intellectual resources, passion and the capacity for innovation. For this reason, we have the opportunity to serve as a living model of sustainability: a way of living that focuses on what is best for the individual, the community, and everything connected to it, with consideration of long term impacts.

While I’m new to my role as a UMBC staff member, I am also a UMBC alum. I arrived as a self-conscious transfer commuter student, never expecting to become engaged in civic life, much less as a student leader. By the time I graduated, an array of experiences had transformed me, and I left feeling empowered, inspired, capable of making positive change, and deeply connected to a vast network of intelligent, thoughtful, and caring members of the UMBC community. [Read more…]