For the Earth Month Sustainability Festival in April, a Career Preparedness Abstract Competition was held asking students to answer one of two questions:”What the Sustainability Certificate means to me” or “What does Sustainability education and research at Iowa mean to me.” Here are the top two submissions:
Josh Meier clinched first place and $500 dollars with the gripping way he writes about his grandparents, the land they have owned for 70 years, and how his certificate will be used to change old habits from abundance to balance.
“I see it in my grandfathers aging eyes as he looks across the land. Where for seven decades he offered his heart and soul. Here my father’s bare feet ran through the fields. Here, mine did the same. We’d been entrusted as caretakers. Yet there’s a hint of uncertainty in his gaze.
“You can’t feed the world on organics…” he rationalizes. I wonder if he believes that. In some ways he must, but the tone belies his pride. Those eyes reveal a swirling conundrum in wake of presumed obligation, digested propaganda and seasons of pressure to obtain bumper yields. It’s been hard on the farmers.
It’s been harder on the land.
“It’s not so different than the way things used to be,” counters grandma, referring to the Depression- era practices they were both raised on: Don’t be wasteful. Look out for one another. Work hard to do what’s right. Grandma remembers when you could fill a jug and drink water from the stream. Somehow, over her lifetime we’d lost that. Somewhere it seems we’ve lost our way.
But if we’ve lost our way, we still haven’t lost hope. For beneath that golden dome that’s long stood sentinel over this countryside, a revival is born. In the name of Sustainability, the University of Iowa is training leaders of tomorrow with values from long ago. Teaching us to value balance over abundance. Advocating equal social, economic and environmental consideration. Seeking clean energy and reducing consumption. Conserving resources for tomorrow, and inspiring the individual responsibility necessary for global change.
If there’s solace to offer my grandparents, it’s that we will take it from here. The University of Iowa is educating people who are going to change the world, including those of us who plan to start right here at home.”
Second place was awarded to Chelsea Krist with her entry titled “Sustainability, the Spoken Word” and for her efforts, Chelsea won $250. She graduated this May with a degree in geography and a minor in anthropology.
Sustainability, the Spoken Word
We look for open doors in life, and go outside.
Sustainability surrounds me.
To the student, an education centered on studies of sustainability plants
knowledge that fixes The Three Spheres as one,
a circle that surrounds me.
Environmental stewardship, economic sensibility, societal prosperity:
these once bifurcated bubbles are bonded by the dynamic winds of change,
the breeze of sustainability inside the student’s breadth;
a current that surrounds me.
It blows to sew the thoughts of systems; cycling,
resurfacing seeds of antiquity we may have dropped along the way.
Perhaps they were gifts of our grandmothers; there saved, they endure,
awareness that surrounds me.
The student prone to possibility is directed by The compass,
it points to past from present ‘till tomorrow, encompasses.
Germination is ever, in sight and in lightening, restoring.
By(e) the bated path of a life-linear, the student trues their tendency;
a movement that surrounds me.
The ends of the line, topline and bottom-lines, are brought together.
Tethered to around and around and around, and a round begins to resonate,
echoing the cyclical nature of nature-all things, reinforcing.
Sustainability, in occupation of the student’s consciousness, cultivates story-
telling of purpose, perception, preservation and perseverance in
alliteration that surrounds me.
Mindful of sustenance, we plant stories, plant place.
Where we are permanent students, minds-full, sustainability is and it becomes-
a permaculture that surrounds me.
In native tongue, the story’s told tall; tales of action and brilliant novation.
Through crafting compassion from inside and out, our crusades close the loop.
Knotted by opportunity, we are tied to grand ambition: grandchildren, biodiversity,
a presence that surrounds me.
The students who pre-pone proactivity, re-defy language in a celebration of learning,
that sustainability surrounds me.