Going Green

28 06 2012

by Alex Gandionco, 11th grade

“Going green” – it’s a fairly large statement and even larger commitment to make.  For a school to go green, it involves a lot of thinking, encouraging, perseverance, dedication, and curiosity.

Idyllwild Arts Academy is moving toward being a greener school and being part of the green schools movement that has caught fire throughout the United States.  One of the first steps towards this movement was our participation in the Green Schools National Conference earlier this year in Denver, Colorado.  I was fortunate enough to be chosen to go to this conference, together with three other students, Michelle McMillan (11th Grade), Katherine Kearns (11th Grade) and Devin Debowski (10th Grade).  The four of us were initially interested in making the school more environmentally friendly and also making ourselves more aware of environmental issues, but nothing prepared us for what the Green Schools Conference had to offer, and the effect it would have on us.

After settling into our hotel rooms in Denver, we immediately started roaming the Exhibition Hall filled with organizations, companies, and products all contributing to making our world more sustainable. The five of us were constantly on our toes, eager to find out more about certain ideas and products, and how we can apply it to our school.  The conference consisted of ‘breakout sessions’ – small hour-long sessions and presentations focusing on a certain aspect of making your school greener.  We all chose specific sessions that we were curious about, or that contributed to already-spurred ideas that we had.   There were a number of well-renowned and fantastic speakers at the general session, including Majora Carter, the founder of Sustainable South Bronx, Philippe Cousteau, CEO of EarthEcho International, and Laura Turner Seydel, chairperson of the Captain Planet Foundation.  These speakers hit home with us, and inspired us so intensely to really care about what is happening to our world, and that we are able to make a difference.  We were fortunate enough to have met some of these influential people.

An important aspect of the conference was the relationships and connections we made.  Our group was highly active in networking.  We were always keen to make conversation with people we would run into who happened to be leaders of environmental organizations, teachers from other schools, or simply interesting people with innovating ideas.  The exchange of business cards became second nature to us, as we jumped at opportunities to be able to stay in touch with people from all over the USA that may come in handy in the future.  Relationships between our school and these people can be very valuable and useful, and we did not hesitate to build them with whomever we thought we could.

You could say we had a ‘special appeal’ to others, as artists.  There is sort of an allure behind the idea of an arts boarding school in the mountains, and adults tend to find passionate and driven young artists very intriguing.  We found that there was much curiosity behind how we would integrate eco-friendliness into our art forms and all of us were more than ready to present our ideas.  With Michelle a dance major, Katherine majoring in film, Devin in InterArts with a focus on interior design, and myself, a classical vocalist, there are many ways of incorporating the ideas gained at the conference into our art, and there is always a way to make our art more eco-friendly.  As artists, thinking outside of the box is instilled into us, and this is very much essential in the process of creating projects to make our environment more sustainable.

Ideas for our school were constantly on our minds, and on the van ride back to school from Los Angeles International Airport one would think that four tired teenagers who just spent the last three days on their heels would be fast asleep.  In reality, it was the contrary.  The post-excitement of the conference was visible, as we spent the two and a half hour-long ride back home, discussing ideas that we had.  Everyone was already looking forward to putting what we learned into action.

A special thanks inevitably goes towards our chaperone Shannon Jacobs, student life and leadership coordinator at Idyllwild Arts, who not only fully organized and put together the trip (needless to say, it could not have happened without her), but also dealt with four very excited teenagers successfully.

For me, personally, this conference enriched me in more ways than one.  I have not only learned and been educated, I have been inspired and motivated to push for this movement like no other.  The conference, in short, made me care.  There is nothing like the feeling of wanting to go out and save this planet.

And how could you not want to?  Idyllwild, California is beautiful and so rich in its nature and wildlife.  As students that live here everyday, we can sometimes take its magnificence for granted, but we all must face the facts – if we do not act now towards becoming more eco-friendly, this may all be lost.  I know that none of us could even begin to imagine what Idyllwild would be like without the abundance of the beauty it currently holds.  For us, the idea of ‘environment’ and ‘nature’ is not distant or detached – we are living in it.  And that is why we feel so strongly that this green movement is extremely important.

“Idyllwild Arts is going green”- yes, it is a large statement, but it is nothing short of possible.  It is something that us four students, our leader Shannon Jacobs, together with the rest of Idyllwild Arts, are absolutely going to put in everything we have, to make happen.

Alex Gandionco

11th Grade

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One response

4 09 2012
Deborah Geisinger

This is very exciting. For the school and for Idyllwild. If/when you are ready to help some of your native trees turn around and be healthy again (a very ‘green’ thing to do), please let me know and I would be happy to meet with anyone there interested what can be done…for an hour or so (no charge), let’s talk about what is feasible.
Debbi G. 951-966-1094

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