Sustainability solutions on campus

Cheryl Valenta and Gege Wael
On Oct. 14, 2022, Cheryl Valenta, events coordinator and business liaison, discusses the proposed bike share program with Gege Wael, the international student behind the idea. PHOTO BY SHAELY ODEAN

As many students are aware, there are several clubs in which to get involved at Kirkwood. However, one that may be less frequently mentioned is the Sustainability Club. 

The all-inclusive organization, which welcomes students, faculty, staff and administrators, has a goal to help create and foster solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change on a local level, while also emphasizing awareness of environmental issues and sustainability concerns on campus grounds. 

Additionally, club members also have a collective interest in supporting ways to reduce their carbon footprint through sustainable actions. One such method is through the recycling of urban lumber.

During the 2020 Derecho, the storm that devastated hundreds of local trees in the Cedar Rapids area due to high winds, many of them were unsalvageable in its aftermath, and “were cut, chipped and burned, said Blaise Boles, assistant professor of biology and one of the clubs’ advisors. 

As a result, the club made plans to repurpose the remaining lumber, through a Climate Action grant of $2,500 from the City of Iowa City, which they hope will turn into a self-sustaining project, Boles said. 

The group envisions the profits generated from the project will continue to provide on-going financial resources for this endeavor. This includes, the recent project which includes raised bed kits for gardening, wooden bat houses and free mini neighborhood library boxes. 

However, repurposing lumber is just one of the many initiatives the club has taken into their own hands to provide local sustainable solutions. As such, the addition of a bike share program on campus is one of their latest forthcoming projects.

A student-run bike share program is gaining traction with the help of the club. International student Gege Wael, who is majoring in hospitality management, said she has put a lot of thought into the program. Partnering with Molly Schwarz, director of the academic advising center, these two are paving the way.

With the continued rise in gasoline prices, and limited parking in certain parts of the campus, the group hopes to provide a cost-effective transportation method for students, while also reducing the amount of emissions that vehicles produce. 

“This makes the program very environmentally friendly,” Wael said. 

According to Wael, the bikes will be donated and stored on campus. In order for students to claim one as their own, they will have to sign an agreement, and from there any desired campus location will be one pedal away.

Aside from hands-on projects, the club also has an entire slate of events, including guest speakers and book discussions.

Students interested in learning more about the Sustainability Club can contact Blaise Boles, Cheryl Valenta or David Jennerjohn under the clubs and organizations drop down menu on Kirkwood’s website.

Image courtesy of Shaely Odean | Kirkwood Communiqué

Categories: Feature