Elon forum is a
sustained success


By Cheryl Williams

Crowded parking lots and squished meal halls were two of the only disadvantages to be seen at Elon University's Fall 2004 Environmental Forum. Appropriately titled, "Roadmap to the Future," the forum concentrated on ways to help the environment - from organically grown foods, to hybrid cars and of course to the two exciting and learned speakers: David Orr and Stuart L. Hart.

The second of the two keynote speakers at the forum was Hart, who took up the challenge of lecturing and wowed his audience with an informative speech on business and sustainability.

According to Hart, the commercial agenda is the single most important way to achieve environmental sustainability. Environmental sustainability is a tough to have a conversation on, said Hart. "The term is really a buzzword," most everyone who says it is referring to something different. However, this, he claims, is a good thing. "Opportunities are veiled in uncertainty and ambiguity," said Hart, and with the amount of questions flying around environmental sustainability, it is bound to be met with mounting success.

Hart was kind enough to spend a few minutes of one-on-one time with those of us who had lingering questions after his talk. The start to change, he said, is looking where there is need. It is a lot harder to drive change into a marketplace such as the United States. However, as he mentioned in his lecture, "what we are dealing with, at best, is a large number of communities who have been bypassed by globalization or, at worst, who have been damaged by it."

Helping capitalism extend into these areas is a good start, he said, adding that capitalism has a lot of potential for the disadvantaged people of the world. Hart said changes in entrepreneurship can alter a lot about a company, and that can be scary for the small percentage of companies that are doing things the "right" way.

Hart's talk drew a positive reaction from members of his audience, including Susannah Lach, a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member. "I admired his hope for capitalism," she said, "unfortunately not all of us have that same hope in business."

Hart said it's not hard for college students to get involved in the action. "Just become as sophisticated as you can become about how a company works," he said while explaining the value of business in the environment. Hart was also quick to point out that we need to hold companies accountable and demand and encourage sustainable business practices.

Culinary Clash features organic, local foods

Following Hart's speech, many forum participants headed off to Harden Cafeteria for the Culinary Clash, which included a head-head-battle between James Getkin and Meena Monaghan, two Elon-employed Aramark chefs. Delightful smells as well as deliciously prepared food enticed visitors to stand in a rather long line in order to sample the meals.

While no formal voting took place, a packed lunchroom gave proof to the fact that the cooking talents of both chefs were being enjoyed. Staying true to the nature of the forum, the chefs cooked with organic foods brought in from local farmers. Hart said this was an "extremely positive step" for Elon in the process to helping our schoolwork towards sustainability, as well as for helping our local economy.

The Culinary Clash drew enough people to put a smile of the face of Rita Gordish, one of the Elon/Aramark employees co-coordinating the event. "We got the turnout we wanted," said Gordish. "It's so great to see everyone." While she spoke, a bluegrass band, Larry Vellani and Friends, played in the background to room full of delighted diners.

Janet MacFall, coordinator of the Forum and the chair of the environmental studies program at Elon said the forum was successful. "I was very pleased with the turnout and the interest from the audience (both students and community members) in the idea of sustainability," MacFall said. "Both speakers were inspirational - very well organized with challenging and thoughtful topics."



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Last Modified:  10/08/04
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