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An overview of a Panel Discussion at CSUF's inaugural Sustainability Graduate Forum



Nick Rivas AMST 444 Dr. Steiner

Sustainability Forum February 18, 2010, CSUF The topic of sustainability is one that proposes the modification of the way we interact with the world. It has become imperative to address problems and initiatives in a holistic worldview. In the panel discussion of “Community Engagement in Sustainability Issues,” holistic thinking was the essential theme throughout the discussion. On our most basic level of interactions, the way we engage our fellow humans has powerful implications with our engagement to the natural world. Each panelist touched on the collaborations they took part in to achieve their own particular goals. Sara Johnson described her relationship with the arboretum as central to the success of her projects of developing awareness for an urban agricultural revolution. Through their expert knowledge, they are training a student group to maximize the limited of space of urban environments to create a garden for a women’s shelter. She emphasized the effects gardening had on the women at the home, they all had a great sense of relaxation and respite from a very stressful period in their lives. A presentation from the arboretum brought about a project not known by many people in the community. They had been approached by the city of Fullerton to convert a vacant lot into a community garden. It had been a successful project that has really changed the landscape and atmosphere of the community. Instead of an eyesore and place of neglect for vagrants and vandals to inhabit, the new garden is a gathering place for the neighbors to reconnect and build community from the ground up. It is a venue to bridge the generation gap and re-establish traditions that have been lost in the information age. These projects are sprouting up all over urban areas across the country. These will be the fountains where community flows, reinvigorating a land of previously displaced individuals into a place where people and ideas thrive. One quote that was heard repeatedly was that “the greenest building is the one that is not built.” This embodies the heart of sustainability, to work with what we have. The urban agriculture project is a great example of how to adapt a sustainable solution to community in need of development. It will not take a rampage of LEED-platinum construction to make our built environment more sustainable, but rather to adapt the hardware we have to suit the needs of today and the future.

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