Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Electric Cars and Bikes, Oh My!

As a native Coloradan, it is typical to drive long distances to get to places like school, the grocery store, and the mall. Before moving to Seattle, I only rode the bus a handful of times and biked no more than a leisurely ride down the street. Yet, living in this city with school, entertainment, grocery stores, and other amenities all conveniently within a few miles of each other, it is easy to choose more environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. From carpool lanes, the link system, biking, to even kayaking, people in Seattle find convenient, active, and unique ways to get where they need to go without the stress and expense of driving.

An exciting new resource for Seattelites are dockless bikes, an idea that previously originated in China. SPIN, Limebike, and Ofo currently are the three major companies represented in Seattle. They’re cheap and carbon-free without the hassle of docking the bike at specific locations, like Seattle’s previous bike share program Pronto. We also soon might have the luxury of dockless electric-assist bicycles for those of us who need a little help up those steep Seattle hills (3rd Ave. hill, anyone?).

SPU supports and mirrors Seattle’s innovative sustainable vibe through various departments’ efforts. One of the ways it tries to offset its carbon emissions is by encouraging students, staff, and faculty to utilize alternative modes of transportation to get to school. Last year (2016-2017), 39% of undergraduate and 12% of graduate students used modes of transportation like walking, biking, bus, train, and ferry. Certain incentives provided by SPU help make transportation easier through cheaper parking passes for carpool, bus passes at a reduced rate, and a 20% parking discount for those who drive a qualified fuel-efficient vehicle. In 2016-2017, 14 drivers of these fuel-efficient cars avoided 1,176 kg of greenhouse gas emissions by charging their vehicles – the equivalent of planting 44 trees!

Though SPU and the greater Seattle have a long way to go to further decrease its carbon emissions, they are at least working towards offering alternative options. Though I strive to live a more sustainable life, I am still often fearful of giving up the comfort and convenience of my routine. So my challenge to you and myself is this: start small and try everything at least once. Use one of the dockless bikes to bike to a coffee shop. Bus to work one day. Walk to the grocery store on your day off. You don’t have to completely forgo carbon-producing methods to have an impact. You might even see a boost in your mood!

commuter 1

Rail Turned Trail

While researching the Burke Gilman Trail (BGT) and its Missing Link, I found the origins of the (t)rail particularly intriguing. Rather than loading readers down with a ton of historical data in the original BGT post, I dedicated a separate post to the history of the multi-use trail.

Rail History

The origins of the Burke Gilman go all the way back to 1885, six years before SPU’s inaugural year. The Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern (SLS&E) Railroad founders: Judge Thomas Burke, Daniel Gilman and ten investors, spearheaded an effort to get Seattle on the map as a major center for transportation and trade.  Continue reading

Compost Champs

If you read our last waste-related post from the summer, you may be hungry for updates on how SPU is doing this school year. As we will be conducting our next waste audit come May 2017, we thought we’d give a mid-year update, specifically regarding compost.

In its second year, SPU’s compost program is already diverting more food and yard waste as compared to last school year. Here’s a graph detailing our campus compost by tons for the last year and a half:

compost-comparison-fy Continue reading

New Zealand: Part II

One post could not contain the fullness of the study abroad trip to New Zealand that I recently embarked on. So I gladly made another one! Continue reading

Aotearoa New Zealand: Sweet As!

Eighteen students, thirty-thousand sheep, two Kiwis, twelve days, and one incredible experience in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

These numbers only begin to describe the study abroad I recently participated in. This trip was organized for more than two years by two Kiwis: Dr. Ross Stewart, SBGE Dean and Professor of Accounting, and Dr. Daniel Schofield, Professor of Chemistry.


Daniel and Ross at the Waimangu Inferno Crater Lake. Photo courtesy of Daniel Schofield.

After Fall Quarter finals, eighteen students studied abroad in Aotearoa New Zealand. We focused on aspects of environmental and cultural sustainability from both accounting and chemistry perspectives.

“Aotearoa is the [indigenous] Māori name for the country of New Zealand. The literal translation of Aotearoa is ‘land of the long white cloud’” (Māori Tourism Lmtd.).

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Sustainable Creativity as Healing


This month has been a tough one for me and many in the SPU community, especially with the current political, economic, and social unrest happening in our nation and world. Closer to home, a fellow student, dear friend, and committed social justice advocate recently died in a car accident while traveling to Seattle from North Dakota. Erin Kimminau and a handful of others were on their way back from showing their solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its protest against the construction of the 1,200 mile-long Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). This pipeline is set to be done in early January 2017 and spans from North Dakota to Illinois. It will transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily, thus impacting the tribe’s access to drinking water and disrupting sacred burial grounds.

Before the accident, I had bought fabric at a sustainable craft store in Greenwood, and the trip could not have come at a more opportune time. I brought home four different patterns of scrap fabric and planned to use them for Christmas presents. Instead, ripped strips of the fabric were offered to folks to pray over and tie together into a beautiful garland as a way to tangibly honor Erin’s life. Being able to contribute this reused and reclaimed fabric was special for me, especially after seeing the ways in which it ministered to, comforted, and healed the pain that many of us were (are) experiencing.

From the looks of Seattle ReCreative, nestled on a busy part of Greenwood Avenue, one wouldn’t imagine the potential crafting opportunities contained within the store. Here’s the creative space’s mission:seattle-recreative

“Seattle ReCreative is a non-profit organization dedicated
to promoting creativity, community and environmental
stewardship through creative reuse & art education.”

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