Why should we not, when deliberating the well being of our planet, make every effort to pursue a course leading to a better stewardship of the environment? One definition of utopia is “an imaginary and indefinitely remote place”. Striving for an impossibly ideal condition is a lofty goal for any individual, group or society.
An initiative titled Youtopia introduced by APGA (American Public Gardens Association), entices public garden leaders to pledge to reduce their climate change impact. This is a national leadership incentive for public gardens. APGA invites its 500 institutional constituents of which the arboretum is a member, that effect over 80 million visitors annually to join in. The arboretum pledged to take part in August and was the 14th establishment to do so. We join the early ranks of organizations from Massachusetts, Arizona, Alabama, North Carolina and Ontario, Canada.
Haverford College, as an institution, has signed on to various national endeavors such as The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and AASHE STARS, (The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education), (The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) this is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. At the grass roots level on campus daily we buy energy from renewable resources like wind, initiate recycling campaigns, encourage alternative transportation methods like Philly Car Share, encourage biking, many electric vehicles are in the facilities fleet, Bi-Co buses run on natural gas, and support student/staff/faculty efforts in the Committee for Environmental Responsibility and Earth Quakers.
Youtopia is the first program offering public gardens a standardized method to build awareness. The arboretum staff will illustrate how it has and will take measures to reduce our climate impact. Participation requires the completion of three benchmarks:
1- Lead by example and illustrate how the arboretum is reducing net climate impact.
2- Educate and engage in climate impacts and sustainable solutions
3- Monitor and share results.
The many steps taken by the College to this point and the anticipated efforts of the arboretum, will enable us to carry out the action plan. Through the many efforts of the arboretum, we will move forward toward this goal.
Utopia is at our fingertips, close to our hearts and where we call home. The arboretum is poised to offer civic leadership by offering relevant lectures and tours, in addition to sustainable solutions to our peers and the Haverford community. We will keep the college community updated as we move toward a more sustainable institution.