Climate cafes offer close engagement with members of the climate working group

In Room 002 at Upham Hall, you wouldn’t normally expect to find some of the University of Miami’s biggest sustainability projects and project managers.

However, throughout this semester, this room is home to intimate conversations about Miami’s carbon neutral progress through the Miami Department of Sustainability’s Climate Cafe series.

With two sessions completed and three more to complete, members of the Climate Action Task Force (CATF) and other presenters opened up to the Miami community to discuss topics such as student engagement, transportation, diversity efforts and more.

The idea for the series came from Denali Selent, the Miami CATF student representative.

Selent said that as she researched ways to engage the Miami and Oxford community, she found her inspiration.

“I think it was a high school organization that I saw hosting these cafes, and I was like, ‘Sounds like a really cool idea,'” Selent said.

Selent said she wanted to make sure the community was included and aware of progress under the Presidents’ Pledge for Climate Leadership (PCLC).

“Often times initiatives like this may not get a lot of community involvement,” Selent said, “so [this is] just a way to really give people a place to share their ideas, thoughts, concerns and that way we can make the strongest plan possible by getting as much feedback and thought as possible.

Adam Sizemore, CATF Co-Chair and Director of Sustainability, said everyone in the community has a role to play in efforts towards carbon neutrality.

“In the middle of everything [our] work, we wanted to increase our means of communication, ”said Sizemore,“… not only to let the campus know what’s going on and what we’re going to do, but also to add the collaborative component where it isn’t. not the case. just the working group that comes up with ideas, that we really bring the ideas to the campus community.

David Prytherch, Professor of Geography, presented at the inaugural Climate Cafe on September 15 on transport and carbon offsets.

Prytherch said they are at an advanced stage in their process of opening the conversation with the community.

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“We’ve formed these committees, we’ve got some really great people who are very knowledgeable and we’ve started to set some goals that we think we need to accomplish, but now is the perfect time to open it up to the public to say, ‘S ‘Are these the right goals? ”or,“ Are we base?

Prytherch said it was amazing that a university the size of Miami was able to offer opportunities for close engagement with students and the community.

“You can sit down your first semester and participate in a conversation with the campus architect,” Prytherch said. “The next one that’s with Cody Powell, you can sit down in a conversation with someone who oversees hundreds of employees and millions of dollars in college operations.”

Sizemore said he hopes the discussions will strengthen engagement on campus and encourage faculty, students and staff to be part of the overall process.

“The level of engagement in Miami is simply phenomenal [from the] students [in] what they want to accomplish and how they are prepared to be a part of this journey with us, ”said Sizemore.

Selent said that now that the students are back on campus, she hopes to see an increase in student engagement, especially with an interest in Climate Cafe events.

“I hope after all the cafes we can make this a more regular thing and continue to have them throughout the years to come,” Selent said, “just as a place for people to come and share their comments. , share their ideas, any concerns or criticisms that they have of the work done by the working group… and feel comfortable sharing and hearing updates. ”

Sizemore also said they plan to create an online forum for people who can’t come but still want to share their concerns and opinions, and when this is posted it can be found on their page. Instagram.

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Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement