By Danielle Frawley ’08
For the first time ever this past January,
members of the Champlain College community
came together to engage in a lively, weeklong
dialogue on the state of the environment.
Dubbed Focus the Nation, the event was part of
a nationwide initiative involving more than 1,900 schools,
clubs, and organizations.
Champlain’s participation began with freshman
Brittany Langdon ’11, a Digital Filmmaking major from
Syracuse, New York, who brought the idea to Sustain
Champlain, a campus group focused on sustainability
issues at the College (see “Lean, Green Campus Team”
on page 15). “I heard about the event, and I thought it was
something that should be done at Champlain,” Langdon
recalls. “I brought it to Sustain Champlain, and they were
really responsive to it. We just want to raise awareness of
what’s going on in the world.”
Following the theme “Learning More Is Doing
Something,” Champlain’s Focus the Nation events
included a Car-Free Campus Day, a daylong teach-in, a
keynote speech by environmentalist Bill McKibben—a man
often credited with “discovering” global warming—and
screenings of such films as Who Killed the Electric Car?
and The End of Suburbia. Following McKibben’s talk
about climate change and how Champlain College could
be part of the solution, College Vice President of Finance & Administration David Provost outlined some of the
institution’s current and projected sustainability initiatives
(see “Going, Going Green” on page 9).
One of the more poignant Focus the Nation events
was a deliberative dialogue session, an open forum
in which everyone is free to state his or her opinions
and to listen without responding with harsh criticism.
Cohosted by Nancy Cathcart, director of the Champlain
College Center for Service & Civic Engagement, and
student Douglas Tetreault ’07, the dialogue elicited
three approaches to achieving sustainability. All three
approaches called for change: the first for reducing our
dependence on foreign oil, the second for developing
alternative energy resources, and the third for
lessening our demand for energy.
“We’re asking people to act,” says Sarah Cohen,
the College’s information literacy librarian, a Sustain
Champlain member, and one of the Focus the Nation
organizers. “It starts by knowing something.”
While Langdon says that she would have liked to
see more student involvement in the initiative, fellow
Sustain Champlain member Rob Williams, associate
professor in the Core division, sees cause for optimism. “It was one of our first steps in a collective journey
towards energy efficiency and independence,” he says. “We have a tremendous amount of challenging work
ahead, but all great journeys begin with initial steps
like this one.”
To view images from Focus the Nation and Champlain’s
Car-Free Campus Day, visit www.youtube.com and
search for FTN and Champlain College.