Sustainability conference includes ‘many voices, common ground’

Photo from event Facebook page

Photo from event Facebook page

Chico State has been home to the “This Way to Sustainability” conference for 11 years. This year the conference will feature new speakers, feature films and question-and-answer forums with sustainability professionals.

“It is a nationally recognized student-run conference,” said Avalon Brown, junior biology major and sustainability conference volunteer.

Avalon brown, junior biology major and sustainability conference volunteer. Photo credit: Sarah Strausser

Each year the event brings close to 100 speakers and 1,400 people. Although the main focus of the event is sustainability, there are many other aspects. Within the conference there are over 70 workshops.

The workshops include a range of topics from lifestyle and health to education and transportation, Brown said. The most prominent goal of the conference is education.

Another part of the conference that draws in participants is the annual Greenie awards. These awards are handed out to schools from all over Butte County for their achievements in sustainability.

According to Giovanni Quezada, senior communication design major, the Greenie awards have different categories which lead to many different winners. There is one award for grades K-12 and one for higher education, which includes almost any college and university from Northern California.

Giovanni Quezada, senior communication design major. Photo credit: Sarah Strausser

Many of the schools work on sustainability projects and send in videos of the process to be considered for an award.

“We’re using the Greenies as a way to recognize the environmental contributions from schools in the area,” he said.

“Everybody that walks in should be able to walk out having learned something about sustainability that they didn’t know,” Quezada said. “We’re looking to expose people to as many ideas about sustainability as possible.”

This relates closely to the educational goals of the conference.

“A lot of un-sustainability comes from people just not knowing any better,” he said. “They just don’t know how bad certain things they do impact the environment.”

The conference is essentially a zero-waste event, Quezada said.

“We’re trying to go as digital as we can,” he said. “Ticket sales are all digital.”

With Chico State ranking among the top five in many national sustainability competitions, the university is looking to use the conference as a way to share ideas about sustainability with others.

“It’s a really important opportunity for communities, students and professionals from all facets of sustainability to come together and talk about what they think needs to happen,” Brown said.

The conference will take place March 24-25. Further information can be found here.

Sarah Strausser can be reached at [email protected] or @strausser_sarah on Twitter.