While green drinks might not have actually been present, the Green Drinks discussion held at Scuppernong Books certainly was. Green Drinks Greensboro, a regularly held meeting at Scuppernong, attempts to open the door for conversation regarding the environment, sustainability and the forces that tend to interact between the two.
Their latest meeting, held on Wednesday, March 27 at 7pm, delved into one of the biggest developments surrounding the current state of our environment, The Green New Deal. Welcomed by Kathe Latham and Sarah Dorsey, the co-coordinators of Green Drinks, the crowd was neatly organized into something reminiscent of a class discussion styled circle. From here, they were introduced to Green Drink principals.
Kathe Latham stated, “Green Drinks is an open space, we don’t have a creed or anything that has to be followed, we’re not pushing an agenda. We are really here to hear from each other and to learn from each other and so we’re really glad to have a variety of different kinds of people come talk about what they’re doing in this area of sustainability.”
To kick off The Green New Deal conversation, speaker Julian Gordon of the NC A&T Climate Justice League told the group a bit about how they’re working towards sustainable practices on campus. Amongst leading recycling and water testing initiatives, NC A&T students are also simply trying to spread the word about environmental issues and opportunities.
“A lot of people don’t know there’s something to get involved with.” stated Gordon. He mentioned that he’s also “trying [his] hardest to get solar power panels on campus before [he] leaves”, admitting that the obstinance he’s faced, has been due to the negative aesthetic certain land managers think solar panels create.
Following Gordon’s talk, questions arose surrounding the campuses involvement with permaculture, however, an environmental studies major at NC A&T said that while she’s a huge advocate for it, students are really just taught unsustainable, commercial farming.
Facilitating the conversation, Kathe Latham added that “it’s just really interesting to look at some of the nitty gritty details, the day to day work is really, really important” before introducing Alice Croom, an environmental studies and political science student at Guilford College.
Croom, a public health fellow at the Bonner House, who works with the Greensboro Solar Power Now Coalition and is a leader in the Green Society, detailed what exactly encompasses The Green New Deal, “It’s a fourteen page document that lays out a plan for the country to move forward in environmental initiatives”.
With optimism, Alice Croom noted, “One thing I’ll say about The Green New Deal that I think makes it different from other climate legislation that has been voted down in the past, is its emphasis on jobs, because I think that job creation is the party bridge…so I think the big focus on creating sustainable green jobs would make my hopes for this to pass bigger than past climate legislation that I’ve read.”
The final speaker, Matt Armstrong, a journalist, lecturer at Guilford College, and faculty advisor to the Green Society, shared his experience in uncovering the need for environmental change as well as his thoughts on The Green New Deal.
For journalistic endeavors in 2008, Armstrong embedded with the Seal Platoon in Haditha, Iraq, where he discovered what was on the other side of the Euphrates River.
Matt Armstrong said that he observed, “where Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton, ran…burn pits” past the Haditha Dam. Upon seeing, “a football field sized ash heap just burning right beside the Euphrates River,” Armstrong was swayed to become an environmentalist. According to him, these burn pits are the, “Agent Orange of our generation.”
Armstrong offered praise towards Amy Klobuchar and Tom Tillis for working on a bipartisan piece of legislation to give money to the soldiers exposed to the burn pits, however, he doesn’t see this as enough, because innocent Iraqis are also victims who’ve yet to receive much help.
In combination with being an environmentalist and lecturing on George Packer’s book, “The Unwinding,” Armstrong and his students, were inspired to start Guilford College’s Green Society. He proudly stated, “Last April, we petitioned our college president, Jane Fernandez to commit Guilford College to become the first carbon neutral campus in the American south…and Jane signed it”.
Now Guilford College is taking actionable steps towards achieving their goal by the year 2035. The college is committed to designing cell phone sized solar chargers to give every Guilford College freshman by the year 2020, as well as designing Greensboro’s first carbon neutral food truck. In relating to The Green New Deal, this not only advances environmental causes but also provides job opportunity and economic growth throughout the local community.
All in all, NC A&T, Guilford College and UNC Greensboro are excited to collaborate with one another and anyone else in the local community in order to build a more environmentally friendly, New Green Deal abiding, community.
Free and open to the public, the next Green Drinks will be held April 25th at Scuppernong Bookstore, featuring the national chair of the Sierra Club, speaker Ken Brame.