Scholarships Come of Age

July 1, 2003
Penny Bonda, FASID

Scholarships Come of Age
at EnvironDesign®7

More and more, EnvironDesign is being called "the education conference" where learning is paramount. Six top-of-the-line keynote speakers and 34 75-minute workshops enable attendees to delve in-depth into the myriad of environmental issues before us. It therefore makes ultimate sense that students, those who are the guardians of our future, attend EnvironDesign and benefit from its offerings.

Thus, this year we ratcheted up our efforts to secure scholarships to enable students to attend the conference who couldn't otherwise afford to do so. We solicited design firms and suppliers to contribute one or more scholarships to either the school of their choice or to a general fund to be given to those students who made individual inquiries.

Our efforts were successful—more than four times the number of scholarships were contributed to ED7 than to prior conferences—but not nearly enough to accommodate the overwhelming demand. Why the interest in environmental education? Perhaps the schools aren't doing enough to prepare their students within their own curriculums, or perhaps the field is so vast and ever-changing that those eager to keep up must go to outside sources.

Whatever the reason we know we must do better to get more students to our conference and to prevent the frustration felt by those who were turned away. We're looking for new approaches and will work with the schools and organizations such as IDEC to help solicit contributions and distribute the funds that are received. We've also been talking to some schools about making EnvironDesign a part of their curriculum, thus students could earn course credits while monies used to pay for EnvironDesign attendance would be considered tuition toward their degrees.

KudosMany thanks go out to the EnvironDesign7 scholarship contributors:4 Scholarships
Antron Carpet Fibers 2 ScholarshipsTandus Group
Len-Tex Corp.
L.C. Clark Publishing Co.
Shaw S | C
1 Scholarship Carnegie Fabrics
Commercial Carpet
Dow BioProducts
Interface, Inc
Interior Design Services of Nashville, TN
Lees Carpet
Solutia, Inc.

This year's scholarship recipients were an eclectic group—architects, interior designers, graduate students and undergrads studying environmental policy and planning, integrated product design assessment or, in one case, the redesign of the aquaculture (salmon farming industry) using McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry's fractal triangle and cradle-to-cradle models. Because EnvironDesign is centered on the design of everything, this diverse group of attendees were able to take advantage of the workshops offered in 10 different tracks. Some came for research while writing their senior or graduate theses on such varied subjects as environmentally sustainable textiles, green affordable housing, sustainable product development and urban systems. One told us of working on an initiative addressing the obstacles to building green high-rise buildings in Manhattan by addressing the complex and interrelated legal, market and industry forces that are preventing this type of development from occurring on a large scale.

One scholarship applicant in particular really caught our eye. Lucille Gorham and her assistant Cindy Parker wrote us from Baltimore, MD, to tell us about their efforts to create an Environmental Education Center that would include a green building that could be used as a model for the community, providing inspiration and practical information about how to make the built environment more environmentally and people-friendly. "If EnvironDesign7 is truly committed to placing environmental stewardship into mainstream America, it would be empowering to include representatives of the 60 million Americans who live below or around the poverty line," they wrote to us. Fully in agreement and realizing that this group could truly profit from exposure to the teachings at EnvironDesign, L.C. Clark Publishing, the parent company of IS and green@work magazines, partnered with one of our sponsors, Shaw Specified Contract, to enable Gorham and Parker to attend. They captured their experiences of what they saw and learned at EnvironDesign and its impact on their project and sent it to us. We've reprinted their article here.

Thanks to all who stepped up and contributed to the EnvironDesign7 scholarship program. We are heartened by your generosity and hope that you'll do it again next year—and be joined by many, many more like-minded folks who are inspired by your example and who realize the value of education and of protecting our future.

The Outdoor Classroom and EnvironDesign7: Hope for the Futureby Cindy ParkerThe once-distinctive historic row homes are decaying, many with boards covering their doors and windows and with trash strewn at their feet. In some blocks, the city has torn down homes and left behind lots filled with rubble, refuse and remnants of the illegal drug trade. The homes and empty spaces are emblematic of an environment where children attend decrepit inner-city schools with inadequate resources; decent-paying jobs are scarce; and poverty, anger and sadness are pervasive. But this, too, is Historic East Baltimore, a community with a long history of pride where there soon will rise an environmental education center, called The Outdoor Classroom, to show there can be opportunities for human wellness, economic vitality, and a growing, green hope for children and families.

Lucille Gorham, one of Historic East Baltimore's community leaders, recently attended the EnvironDesign7 conference in Washington, DC, to learn what is being done in the realms of green architecture and design to fuel her concept for The Outdoor Classroom. Invited to attend the conference on a joint scholarship from the Shaw Contact Group and L.C. Clark Publishing (the parent company of IS and green@work magazines that produce EnvironDesign), Gorham gained considerable insights about methods of green and sustainable building, actions to enhance the architecture and design of communities and businesses for the well-being of their citizens, and efforts to connect the production of goods and services with environmentally sound and human-safe practices.

All of that is critical to The Outdoor Classroom, a green-building school and community center that will rise in one of the poorest neighborhoods anywhere in the United States to provide alternative educational services to African-American children who have been suspended, expelled or simply dropped out from area inner-city schools. Many of these children, now under the harmful spell of the despair of their surroundings, will gain the skills, knowledge and nurturing to set them on new, healthy paths in a setting that is focused on urban agriculture, job-skills development and connections with caring adults and community organizations.

Being able to attend the EnvironDesign7 conference truly was vital to the creation of The Outdoor Classroom. At one of the conference's sessions, for instance, Gorham learned about the amazing architectural, community and social work that The Rural Studio is doing in Alabama. Similar to the goals Gorham is seeking for Historic East Baltimore through The Outdoor Classroom, The Rural Studio staff described how the desperately poor of rural Alabama are included in close, interactive relationships with Auburn University architecture students and professors to develop buildings, homes and spaces that not only enhance individuals' lives, but also the abilities of communities to care more effectively for their own citizens, work cooperatively together and develop stronger, healthier connections with the world around them.

At another session, Gorham learned about the range of energy efficient buildings that already have been built in this country and around the world and how energy efficiency, particularly when included in the original design of the building, doesn't have to be expensive. It was critical to see examples of environmentally friendly architecture and hear about innovative ideas for how to make The Outdoor Classroom both green and comfortable for learning, productivity and community caring.

During the general sessions, Gorham also gained a greater appreciation for how The Outdoor Classroom might fit into other efforts across the country and world to develop truly environmentally safe and sustainable projects that care about the well-being of people and places involved in them. And in the Product Learning Center, Gorham and her peers learned about a myriad of options for using products and services that not only will help teach inner-city children about taking care of the environment, but will prevent further harm to them in the process.

Gorham offers her heart-felt thanks to the Shaw Contact Group and L.C. Clark Publishing for allowing her to attend the conference. She also recognizes that to build The Outdoor Classroom she will need the help of many people who share the vision promulgated there. For those who are interested in helping Gorham make The Outdoor Classroom a reality for the indigent children and families of Historic East Baltimore, your comments, ideas and support would be welcome. Please send an e-mail to: [email protected].

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