Last year, when I saw that nominations were open for the Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards, I knew I had to put in a good word for the members of the Augustana Chaplaincy, who make our campus more sustainable in so many ways.
Chaplaincy is a diverse community that includes: the campus chaplain, Rev. Craig Wentland; the assistant for Chaplaincy, Sara Smith (currently Geordie Nelson who is covering for Sarah’s maternity leave); student chaplains; and a committed group of community members who serve on the Augustana Chaplaincy Council. They provide leadership in both social and environmental sustainability. On the social sustainability side, they use their influence to build community, support diversity and reach out to all of the campus community regardless of their faith or non-faith backgrounds.
Chaplaincy plays an important role in creating a culture of environmental sustainability at Augustana. For the past few years, Chaplaincy taken the lead on hosting SCORE!, an annual free-cycling and swap event that is open to both the campus and local community of Camrose and reminds us all of the importance of reducing and reusing. Remaining items are donated or recycled appropriately. The event has a carnival-like atmosphere including food, a fashion show, upcycling crafts, music and supports a local beneficiary each year. SCORE! also normalizes the act of giving when we have an abundance, accepting when we are in need, re-purposing and keeping items out of the landfill.
Chaplaincy reinforces its commitment to sustainability and leads by example by using reusable dishes at its weekly Soup Suppers. Free Soup Suppers see about 100 students gathering on a weekly basis for socializing and to ensure a healthy meal. In addition, with the absence of a campus food bank, Chaplaincy supports our campus Reciprocity Shelf on an ongoing basis. Members of the community initiated the Reciprocity Shelf in order to provide basic goods and encourage our campus to “give what you are able and take when you need.” SCORE! and the Reciprocity Shelf are examples of students identifying a need on our campus and taking action to address the issue in a sustainable way. In both of these examples, the student-led initiatives have been institutionalized by Chaplaincy to ensure they continue for years to come.
Chaplaincy’s reach is far and diverse on Augustana campus. Rev. Craig Wentland estimates the group has direct contact with about 200 students (20 per cent) on a weekly basis. Our student chaplains provide service to others and are encouraged to contribute to the well-being of our campus community and beyond. Chaplaincy also provides the leadership and logistical support for other groups on campus; they are invaluable resources for campus events like I-Week and Pride Week. They continuously support students to put on cultural events including the celebration of Passover and Diwali, to name a few.
Beyond admirable efforts to promote environmental sustainability, the presence of Chaplaincy on campus provides a sense of belonging for many of us, strengthening our campus community, for the past 25 years. And it’s for all of these reasons that I knew that I had to nominate Chaplaincy for a Campus Sustainability Leadership Award last year – which they won!
They deserved the award, and I hope that they know that they’ll always have my thanks for helping to make Augustana Campus a place that I’m proud to be a part of.
Amber Basarab – Community Service Learning Coordinator, Augustana Campus
Amber Basarab fills a diverse role in the Learning, Advising and Beyond office at Augustana Campus which includes sustainability outreach and coordinating Community Service-Learning placements. “I love working with students because most have a genuine interest in making the world a better place. Lots of creative, big-picture thinking happens on a university campus and I’m continually inspired.”
This article originally appeared on The Quad on February 21, 2017.