Earthkeepers, Creation Care Council and the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions contributed a total of $2,000 to be dispersed among six winning projects in the annual sustainability mini-grant competition at Eastern Mennonite University. (EMU file photo)

Earthkeepers mini-grants boost campus grassroots sustainability projects

Campus bicycles and solar and gardening initiatives are among the six grassroots sustainability projects at Eastern Mennonite University selected to receive Earthkeepers’ mini-grants.

Earthkeepers, Creation Care Council and the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions contributed a total of $2,000 to be dispersed.

The annual competition received a record number of proposal submissions this fall.

“A lot of operations we take for granted at EMU, like recycling by bicycle or the composting tray in the dining hall or reusable mugs in Common Grounds, were ideas conceived and put into place initially by students,” said Harrison Horst, co-president of Earthkeepers. “The mini-grant competition contributes to a constantly evolving community on campus.”

The grant committee, following a rubric focused on creativity, durability, visibility, education, and collaboration, awarded money to these projects:

  • $850 to the Cycling Club led by president Aaron Dunmore, to purchase bike frames and parts, which will be put together by the spring semester commuter cycling class in partnership with Wyse Cycles and added to the EMU bicycle co-op fleet;
  • $350 to the Student Solar Panel Project led by student Dylan Grove and Greg Sachs, facilities management, to help purchase food and supplies of an all-volunteer solar installation work day in the spring;
  • $300 to the Engineers for a Sustainable World led by student James Paetkau, to assist with the cost of mounting solar panels on the roof of one of the Facilities Management electric golf carts with the aim to have it fully powered by solar energy;
  • $300 to the Sustainable Food Initiative, to purchase hazelnut and cherry trees for a new perennial garden designed by students Clara Weybright and Megan Good behind the Suter Science Center;
  • $100 to the music department, to assist in purchasing a water bottle filling station in the basement of Lehman Auditorium; and
  • $100 to the education department, to assist in purchasing recycling receptacles in Campus Center 203.

The mini-grant funders include:

  • Earthkeepers, which encourages environmentally friendly practices on campus;
  • The Creation Care Council, which serves as a visionary body directly involved in long-term sustainability planning for EMU, and includes staff, students, and faculty; and
  • The Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions, a collaborative initiative of EMU, Goshen College and Mennonite Central Committee “to lead Anabaptist efforts to respond to the challenges of climate change.”