Activism is hard. That is the main thing I’ve learned from this process. Anything and everything can go wrong at anytime and you can be right back to square one. When this project was assigned, I initially intended to create a documentary style short about the lack of pay for college basketball players in Power 5 conferences. I planned to interview players and administrative staff from UMBC Basketball but quickly, this became impossible with the rapid success of the men’s basketball team through March Madness. Upon learning that developing a project around pay in college basketball was no longer possible, I looked to make on sustainability at UMBC. The plan was to design new signage for trash cans and recycle bins that clearly explain what is supposed to be disposed where but, as soon as the designing began, I noticed that Sustainability Matters, the campuses sustainability initiative, was already ahead of me. Back to square one, I looked to combine my previous concepts together by creating a video that advocates on behalf of Sustainability Matters, informs the campus of the sustainability initiatives that are in place, and offer some suggested improvements to the campus’ sustainability plan through recycling.
Note* In order to upload videos to WordPress you must be a premium member thus I have uploaded it to YouTube. Link below.
Project Narrative and Evaluation
Slowly but surely, we are destroying this earth. If future generations are to enjoy the earth, a rapid ideological shift needs to occur that puts a focus on the sustainability and preservation. A worldwide ideological change is a lofty goal for a localized activist project, so I decided that awareness on campus and commitment to action would be the best way to potentially make a difference. It’s important that, at UMBC , we think about our environmental footprint and how to reduce it so we can focus on a green campus that can be beautiful and sustainable for generations to come.
UMBC considers itself a green campus due to all of its initiatives that promote sustainability like green roofs, green buildings, and conservation research areas. UMBC does a lot to promote sustainability put neglects, perhaps, the most significant process of sustainability, waste management. For the four years I have been a student at UMBC, there has not single stream recycling until recently. Within the past month the Commons, exclusively, has switched over to a single stream system. I wanted to investigate the impact of change and determine whether or not it would be beneficial to use the single stream system campus wide.
Before recording the awareness video, I interviewed Ms.Patricia (Last name not available), ABM Commons Day Supervisor, about the waste management system the commons uses. Ms. Patricia reported that before the change, the Commons would empty trash cans on a thirty minute cycle on the first floor and food areas and twice a day for all other trash cans in the building. This equates to about 500 bags of waste per day. After the change, the staff noted they still change the first floor bags at the same rate but have noticed better separation of waste in recycling and compost bins. This has to be because of the new signage.They have switched to a once a day change on all other floors in the Commons. Unfortunately, Ms. Patricia was not comfortable being on camera so I could not include her remarks in the video.
Once this information was gathered, I searched for two students that could offer unique perspectives on the status and growth of sustainability at UMBC. Sidney Mason and Kaitlin Winchester both have been or are currently part of campus groups that have placed a heavy emphasis on the sustainability at UMBC. Both agreed that huge changes have come to sustainability since they began at UMBC but, still feel that single stream recycling and composting should be the goal for sustainability campus wide.
The final step was to record and edit the video. This process was the simplest part of the entire project because all the information was already at hand; all I needed to do was apply it. I went around the Commons and recorded all of the key informative areas that deal with recycling in the building to build a narrative about what is being done at UMBC and how people can be part of the sustainability of UMBC. The only major issue I ran into during the recording process was the quality of on screen talent. I feel that I should have evaluated Kaitlin’s and Sidney’s public speaking skills along with their knowledge of UMBC sustainability.
After the video was made, I sent it to Sustainability Matters to see what use they would make of this video. To this point, I have not heard anything back from them. I felt like I had nothing to show for the all of work I put in so I started a small petition with about 50 signatures that says that people would like to see UMBC green campus to continue to develop through single stream recycling and composting all over campus.
I am a graduating senior so I can not continue what has been started. I would like to call on someone to continue being an activist of sustainability on campus. I prose that someone takes the idea of single stream recycling and composting being campus wide to the Prove It! Selection Committee (Committee that funds student ideas on campus) so they can fund this and bring it campus.
Forward with Activism
As stated in the beginning, Activism is hard. I learned that when trying to make a difference, nothing goes as planned. You need to be flexible and level headed so you can make a positive out of all roadblocks towards your goal. Learning this also showed me that I am the type of activist that won’t give up and will always find a way to get my message across. This project started as a message about college athletes and ended as avocation of sustainability. I found a way to still be an activist despite nothing going to plan, I feel like a very resilient activist. Overall, I have learned that activism is a very noble way to spend your time. It is hard work but if you stick with it and give it a lot of effort, you will make a difference and more importantly earn the respect of peers in the activism specter.
By: Justin Milton