Mar 21, 2012

UMass Permaculture Committee took first place in the Campus Champions of Change Challenge!

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Uploaded by whitehouse on Mar 15, 2012

The White House honors five young leaders as Champions of Change for outstanding leadership on their college campuses, chosen by the public for their projects that embody the President's goal to win the future. March 15, 2012.

President Obama congratulates permaculture students as national champions of change

Live from the White House: Fourteen UMass Amherst students are congratulated by President Barack Obama on their new roles as national Campus Champions of Change.

On March 15, the university's student-led Permaculture Committee was recognized as one of the top five winners in the "Campus Champions of Change Challenge." The event was live-streamed and will be posted soon as a YouTube video.

The president told students that while federal policy is important, "ultimately good government policy will only go so far." What's needed, he said, is the commitment of individuals to be social entrepreneurs and improve their communities. The group assembled, he said, represents the ability to make a difference. Over time, he told the students, they will encounter obstacles. "Learn from your failures, adapt and continue on," the president said. "I know you have that grit."

Student members include Nathan Aldrich, Meg Little, Jean Arnaud, Josefine Nowitz, Corey Albert, Mia Shimokowa, Emily Round, Kathleen Doherty, Kate Gehron, Kyle Pratt, Andrew Mack, Varshini Prakash, Rachel Dutton and Tripper O'Mara.

Joining the students at the White House event were Ryan Harb (shown to the right of the president in related photo), chief sustainability coordinator for campus Auxiliary Services; Chancellor Robert Holub; Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance James Sheehan, and Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Services.

The permaculture team will appear on MTV Act and in an episode of mtvU's program, "The Dean's List." Their project received 59,841 votes, the most among 15 other finalists in the nationwide challenge.

Over the past two years, the UMass Amherst Permaculture Initiative engaged more than 1,000 students, faculty, staff and community volunteers to transform a quarter-acre grass lawn near the Franklin Dining Commons into a diverse, edible, low-maintenance garden that supplies fruit, nuts, vegetables, greens and flowers to the dining commons. This year they started a second permaculture garden near Berkshire Dining Commons.

More Information:
UMass Permaculture

The UMass Permaculture Committee took first place in the Campus Champions of Change Challenge! Thanks to your support, we collected 59,835 votes in only a week! We’d like to take the opportunity to express our gratitude to all our faithful followers, the UMass student body and administration, and the wider permaculture community for the amazing amount of support you’ve given us. Nothing is more gratifying than to have total strangers rooting for you; rather than congratulating the committee on their win, we had people outside the committee celebrating with us, saying, “We won!” This really is a win for the entire permaculture community and for UMass; we couldn’t have done it without you!

As the Committee prepares to head to Washington D.C. this week (along with Director of Auxiliary Services Ken Toong, UMass Chancellor Robert Holub, and Vice Chancellor James Sheehan), I’d like to share some of the permaculture ‘elevator pitches’ we’ll be sharing with President Obama and our fellow contest winners. Each committee member has generated a two- to four-sentence definition of permaculture to answer the inevitable question: “What is it that you guys do, exactly?” Here are some samples:
Permaculture is a community based agriculture and sustainability movement which involves care for the Earth and care for people, and results in a return of surplus for both. Permaculture gardens are Earth friendly, require little maintenance, and produce plentiful amounts of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Permaculture is a vision for creating a more sustainable world. It is a design science that involves people working together to create ecological and edible landscapes, which is a small piece of the sustainable communities and economies that we must act now to create.

Permaculture is a system of regenerative design that meets human needs for food, water, shelter, energy, and community while increasing the health of the ecosystem. It is an optimistic, grassroots movement that uses our current resources and technologies to move towards a more sustainable future. By following principles like ‘produce no waste’ and ‘value diversity,’ we can create homes and communities that meet our needs while regenerating the land and our society.

Thanks again for all your support. Now, off to permablitz the White House Lawn!

-Kathleen Doherty

P.S. – Watch the event live on Thursday, March 15, at 2:50 PM Eastern Time! Check it out here! It will also be available on YouTube afterwards!

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