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Carrying the Mission Forward:
Louise Gava '07, St. Lawrence’s First Sustainability Coordinator

By Alexander Eaton ’08

Louise Gava ’07 says when her relationship with the North Country began as a student at St. Lawrence, it was love at first sight. “Who wouldn't love the vast fields, the meandering rivers and the stands of trees that dot the landscape?” she remarks.

Her attraction based on aesthetics very quickly developed into a love based on community and its relationship to its environment. “I believe that one of the root problems of our climate crisis is our lack of community,” she says “Individuals taking responsibility and taking action is very important; however, it is only through working collectively that we can have any hope of achieving real solutions that do not simply shift the problems elsewhere.”

Gava’s passion for the environment and her concern over the climate crisis led to her becoming the first sustainability coordinator at St. Lawrence.  In May of 2006 the University’s Board of Trustees approved a student-drafted resolution that made environmental sustainability a “core University value”.  Having made a commitment to sustainability, the University established the position of sustainability coordinator so as to ensure that it fulfills its goals of reducing its impact on the environment.

“The sustainability coordinator is responsible for supporting green initiatives on campus and providing a resource for those who are already working to live a more sustainable lifestyle on campus and in their communities,” Gava says.

In addition, the coordinator is responsible for monitoring and developing plans to reduce the school’s heat and electricity use; educating the campus on issues such as energy use and recycling; and organizing, hosting and publicizing special events related to greening the campus, such as last spring’s Step It Up rally that called attention to the planet’s climate situation.

 “I have come to understand that you can't change people,” Gava says. “All you can do is give them the resources and inspiration to want to change themselves. I think that with the help of many others we can create a culture of sustainability at St. Lawrence and in the local community.”  Given her energy and zeal, Gava has a good a chance as anyone of bringing that about.

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