On January 27th, Gisela Frias spoke to a group of about 25 faculty, staff and students from Dawson College and outside about the Sustainable Campuses initiative that she initiated three years ago. As the Research Coordinator at Dawson College, it was incredibly rewarding to see some of the results of this project. I’ve seen how hard Gisela works on the administrative side, and it was amazing to see how her efforts have paid off in concrete projects, and the impact the team has had with our Mexican institutional partners. Some of the sustainability projects were ingenious – the air circulation stovepipe that funnels hot air out of a building, the solar stove made out of an old satellite dish and broken mirrors, and providing clean, free drinking water to a university. Gisela, her partners and her students, in conjunction with the community, have had initiated real, lasting changes that benefit people.
Gisela also discussed the new initiative, supported by the SSHRC Community & College Social Innovation Fund, to expand the project, and explained how the team plans to continue this ongoing institutional collaboration which aims to generate knowledge and action for campus sustainability. The project will kick off with a Forum in Cuernavaca, Mexico in March, with participants from Dawson, UPEMOR, UPN and Ciudades Verdes working together to develop meaningful initiatives to promote sustainable institutional practices.
Guests included: Jessica Burpee Coordinator of the Environmental Studies Certificate at John Abbott College; Geneviève Aboud, Geography Instructor at Champlain College, St. Lambert; and Adan Suazo, Assistant to the Principal at the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability at Concordia University.
The most compelling intervention was what the former interns had to say about the impact of their experience on their lives. Clearly, their trip to Mexico was not only the highlight of their college career, but a deeply formative experience. Morgen, Mikayla, and Ella spoke eloquently about what the trip meant to them, personally as well as academically, and the next group of interns (currently in Mexico) were obviously eager to get on their way!
After working with Gisela on project administration for 2 ½ years, it’s very satisfying to me to see how far the project has come, and the authentic, lasting, and meaningful changes that her team has created both at Dawson and in Mexico. I hope we can continue to work together for many years to come, and I look forward to the next instalment!
By Kaila Folinsbee, Research Coordinator, Dawson College