Long Live Sustainability (Friendsbalt page is LIVE!)

Woohoo! Our webpage is live!

We’re proud that sustainability now has a home on the “About” section of the Friendsbalt.org website. This means that current and prospective students, parents, and employees can search for and learn about what we’re doing at Friends. (I know that personally it was one of the things I looked for when I was applying for a job).

Thanks again to everyone who was involved–Jane Huth Walsh, Stephanie McLoughlin, Heidi Blalock, Danielle Keeney, Scott Harrington, Katherine Jenkins, Joshua Ratner, and the Sustainability Council.

Our webpage and our blog are linked, with excerpts from all new posts to this blog automatically appearing on the webpage, so you can now stay up-to-date by checking either location. Go ahead and try it now, following this link to your webpage, and then the link back to the blog, and then back to the webpage….in an endlessly sustainable loop of sustainability. Actually, don’t do that; instead you should email us and come help us think about what work to do next on the Green Schools MD application!

Hi There: This is Sustainability at Friends

Hi! If you’re encountering this blog for the first time, this is a good spot to start. Friends School Sustainability Council uses this blog to record and celebrate all things sustainable at Friends. You can find the long version of our mission statement or a (brief, we promise) history of our Sustainability Council. Maybe you just want to learn more about the Native Plant Teaching Gardens or you’re curious about how sustainability enters our humanities or our science classes. 
This blog will continue to give students a chance to reflect on their thinking, highlight collaborations across divisions on campus and beyond, and document green infrastructure plans and progress on campus. We hope you’ll check back again and that you’ll email sustainability@friendsbalt.org with ideas or to volunteer. We’re always eager to have people join the Sustainability Council: here’s what we’re focusing on this year.

Hope to see or hear from you soon,

-Sustainability Council Clerks (Scott Harrington, Katherine Jenkins, Joshua Ratner) 

New Logo Announced!

We have a new logo!

We’re excited to use this logo around campus and on the web. Many many thanks to Upper School student Nat Werkheiser who created the design as part of Upper School Art teacher Ben Roach’s digital design class. After the council approved Nat’s design and offered additional feedback, Ben Roach made final adjustments in consultation with Upper School English teacher and sustainability council member Joshua Ratner.
We really like the design. It was important to the council that the design would be recognizable as unique to Friends School (building silhouettes) while still incorporating elements that everyone thinks of as related to sustainability–things like cycles, trees, the color green, etc…. We think the mix of grey buildings and green trees, along with the four arrows in the circle, will convey to visitors and to members of our community that Friends School cares about sustainability. Great job Nat!
If you’re advertising an event that has a sustainable element to it, please let us know at sustainability@friendsbalt.organd we can send  you the logo. 

Sustainability Council Subcommittee Work for 2014-15

This year, Sustainability Council will complete most of its work in small subcommittees. At our first meeting this year, we agreed to focus on the efforts described below. If you’re interested in joining these subcommittees or have ideas you’d like to share with them, you can find their names below and contact them using the Friendsbalt.org directory; general comments and inquiries can be sent to sustainability@friendsbalt.org.

  • Aquaponics Feasibility
    • Researching the possibility of installing a small system on campus to grow fish and leafy greens sustainably.
      • Contact Katherine Jenkins 
  • Communication/Education: 
    • Improve communication with other campus committees, parents, students, faculty, staff, other area sustainability groups 
    • Create and mantain sustainability web page and blog 
      • Contact: Joshua Ratner and Jane Huth
  • Maryland Green School Application Process
    • Begin application
    • Document completed steps and long-term plans
    • Plot timeline, priorities, ways to involve community
      • Contact Katherine Jenkins and Joshua Ratner 
  • Native Plant Teaching Gardens
    • Document designs and intentions of each individual garden
    • Continue education and publicity re: gardens
      • Contact Kay McConnell
  • Responsible energy use on campus, including:
    • Building and campus infrastructure
    • Waste reduction and composting
    • energy use
    • future furniture purchasing
    • new architecture projects
    • Food/drink offerings:
      • Contact: Scott Harrington
  • Responsible energy use to and from campus (transportation issues) including: 
    • athletic transport
    • idling
    • walk pool
    • community web page for carpooling
      • Contact: Andy Spawn

Sustainability Statement Announced

At Earth Day 2014, Friends School formally announced a new sustainability statement. Here’s the Youtube version of the Earth Day announcement, but if you prefer to read it yourself, this is what it says:

Sustainability Statement

Sustainability is an integral part of the Friends school experience, combining deep thinking about the future of our planet, collaboration with partners within and beyond Friends school, and meaningful actions that facilitate sustainable stewardship of our campus and the environment.

Our statement is the result of lots of work by the sustainability council, with input from parents, staff and students, and we have given ourselves some “guiding principles” to focus our work going forward:


Guiding Principles

Recognizing that this mission statement is only valuable when we meet and expand beyond its premise, the Sustainability Council intends to add continually to this document as students, parents and employees implement existing plans, strategize about future projects, and seek additional input from the community.

The following principles and ideals guide the Sustainability Council and the Friends School community in this work:

  • Sustainability at Friends School of Baltimore embodies the Quaker testimonies of Stewardship, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Simplicity and reflects our intention to live in right relationship with people and our environment.

  • Shifting our mindsets at the personal and institutional level will challenge us. We acknowledge this challenge as an ongoing process necessary for continued sustainable thought and action.

  • As the world becomes ever more interconnected, we strive to build partnerships with schools, community organizations, and others who can help us become better stewards of the environment.

  • Engaging and addressing questions of conservation, ecology, and stewardship is an integral part of how Friends School prepares students for their roles as local and global citizens of the twenty-first century.
So, hurrah! We have a Sustainability Statement! And we think it’s a good one, but we know that these statements, on their own, don’t mean that much. And that’s where you all come in. We want to know what kinds of actions you are already taking and how you think Friends needs to challenge itself further in the future. And we want you–students, parents, staff– to tell us about it, which is why we’ve created an email address, sustainability@friendsbalt.org.  Have a neat idea about reducing paper waste on campus by changing printer settings?Send us an email. Your class talked about the ethics of global resource usage and connected it to environmentalism at Friends? Let us know. You’re going on a service project that combines deep thinking, collaboration in the community and meaningful action AND you’re going to take some pictures of it? Please, Please do! And then send your requests, ideas, stories and pictures to sustainability@friendsbalt.org. With your help, we’ll post developments, projects, plans and concerns here and eventually on a new page on the Friends School website.

A Brief History of the Friends School Sustainability Council

As part of a summer grant in 2012, Scott Harrington, Deb Kinder, and Michael Paulson met to brainstorm ideas about how to make Friends School a more sustainable campus and community. After reviewing various ongoing efforts at Friends, they decided to focus on 3 general areas that have a significant impact on the school: Waste, Transportation, and Energy. In addition, the group talked with RPCS’s sustainability coordinator in order to share best practices,wrote the first drafts of a sustainability statement, proposed a Sustainability Council (now meeting regularly) and met with Dining Hall staff to discuss composting (now implemented in the Dining Hall and around campus). Now, in 2014, the current Sustainability Council has decided that Friends School needs to advertise the work that has been and still needs to be done on campus and in our community. This blog will be part of that; so, we hope, will you. The Sustainability Council will continue to meet, but this year it has also agreed to meet more regularly as smaller subcommittees focused on specific issues; more information about those subcommittees will be included in a future post.