Updated: Nov 10, 2019
My name is Emma Fry and I am a sophomore here at Meredith College. As a Rachel Carson Council fellow, I am currently working to get solar energy onto our campus. Over the past several months, I have been working toward a goal that originated from the support I have had throughout my life and new sources of encouragement that have been invaluable in my belief that I am capable of making a difference. Though it has evolved into an environmental organizing project to bring solar installation structures to Meredith College, my idea for change in our small campus community started out as nothing more than a belief that my school could become a focus of the community for taking steps toward conservation and sustainability. My proposal to the Rachel Carson Council’s (RCC) Fellowship Program centered around my desire to bring solar energy to my campus, and after being awarded this position, I began the process of reaching out and connecting with people who are experienced in the field of sustainability and communication. I talked to professors early on, connected with students and spoke about my proposal at a small group discussion about activism. I knew my goals were ambitious, but I have been fortunate to find a lot of support from professors and students on campus. A valuable lesson I have learned is that we are not alone in our dreams. Several of my professors have been invaluable to me throughout the entire process of proposing my project and seeing it through to the next steps, many of which would be insurmountable without their help. Working to this point in my project, I have come to truly understand what it means to create something from the influence of those who came before you, as well as the significance of collaboration, even when working toward the smallest successes.
Though the project is just beginning, it began with my hope that Meredith could incorporate solar panels onto the roofs of the academic buildings.
Meredith has been moving forward with its own solar plan and other green projects. The idea is to create an interactive outdoor classroom with a sustainable garden and solar panels. The space is designed for mindful and educational interaction with nature. Outdoor lessons are planned to be conducted in a spacious, unenclosed structure that will provide learning and close contact with the garden. Mr. Lyons and other staff on the college’s campus were able to make improvements in internal areas, such as improvements to the boiler system, the Sharon Campbell Facilities and a Green Revolving Fund that helps to cover the costs of these internal sustainability projects. I have also been working on coordinating and discussing my proposal with the Meredith Angels for the Environment Club.
Progress rarely comes all at once, and working on a big project can amount to a strenuous task even when an individual is not alone.
This year, students around the world, such as Greta Thunberg, have shown us that anyone can have a bigger impact than they thought possible. Change is not something we can wait for others to do in our place. Though solar panels at one college may not change the world, all that any of us can hope to do is make change in our own communities. If we were all to make that effort in our own spaces, we may then see real change. Solving the climate crisis will require all of us to do what we can. Even if it terrifies you, remember that undertaking a community project means that you’ve got a whole community behind you.
By Emma Fry, News Editor