By Ivanhoe/The AS Review

Design by Mel Woodard.

Design by Mel Woodard.

Budding earth-lovers and old-growth planet stewards will descend on Western for the Environmental Club Summit at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 in VU 464.

AS Environmental and Sustainability Programs (ESP) organizes quarterly summits as a way to encourage environmental leaders at Western and in the greater Bellingham community to network, share information and ideas and identify potential opportunities for collaboration.

The summit is free and open to all. ESP sent invitations to all the AS clubs focused on environmental issues as well as community organizations, university resources and several non-environmental AS clubs devoted to supporting the cause of sustainability.

In an e-mail invitation promoting the summit, AS Environmental Center Coordinator Lauren Squires billed the summit as “an event to bring all those involved or interested in the environmental clubs on campus together to network, discuss goals for the year and learn about how to build an effective ‘environmental’ community within Western Washington University.”

“It’s a really good time for students to come and meet the people who are working [toward environmental sustainability] in the community and people on campus,” ESP Associate Director Kayla Henson said. “There will be food, a little bit of time for people to mingle, and introductions where people talk about what their club or organization does and what they’re working on this year.”

“We’ll give a short intro of the environmental offices and resources within the university in hopes of giving you tools to hit the ground running in working toward your club’s goals for this year,” Squires’ invitation said.

However, it will be the clubs, organizations and individuals that attend who drive most of the gathering’s content, Henson said, although the students need not be hardcore environmentalists to find value in attending.

“There’s a lot of really interesting things to get involved in ... to make your quality of life better,” including farm tours, gardening at Western’s Outback garden, “and meeting a lot of really amazing people and learning from them,” Henson said.

Miranda Savory, president of the AS club WWU Engineers Without Borders (EWB), said her club plans to be at the summit this quarter.

“We have never gone before, since we are a newer club,” Savory said, “but we are planning on sharing our trip that we went on in June of 2009 and telling what we plan to do this year.”

Six EWB members traveled to the village of Candelaria Camposanto in the Chisec region of Guatemala this summer to stake out the logistics of building a lavanderia, where indigenous villagers can wash their clothes without polluting their drinking water, Savory said.

In the coming year, student engineers will propose designs for the lavanderia and raise money to return to Guatemala next June and pay for the necessary building materials, she said. EWB has christened their endeavor the Guatemala Sustainability Project.

Henson said that off-campus organizations like RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and Sustainable Connections have regularly participated in past summits.

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a Bellingham organization that promotes resource conservation through recycling. It operates the nonprofit RE Store, which collects and circulates used building materials and home furnishings within the community.

Sustainable Connections works to support the environmental and economic health of Bellingham by connecting local businesses with the resources and markets to thrive economically while contributing to the well-being of the community.

ESP will provide eco-friendly refreshments at the summit.

“We always bring gallons of apple cider,” Henson said. “And we bring our own dishes,” which, she added, can be washed afterward to cut down on waste. Guests are welcome to bring their own reusable cups, she said.

“Our hope is that you leave the summit empowered with knowledge of the resources at your fingertips, excited about new connections with like-minded individuals and inspired by potential collaborations with other clubs and offices,” Squires said.