Growing up, I spent a lot of time sitting at the dining room table. Dark wooden and oval in shape with boards that slid in and out to accommodate the huge family that rolled through the door on Thanksgiving or some random weekday. At the table, my sisters and I made snow day crafts, my uncles talked about the Phillies game the night before, young cousins played beneath it pretending to be kittens, hands reached for cookies that were placed a sustenance to get listeners through long winded stories or competitive games of Cranium. No matter the activity, having a seat at the table meant you were a part of whatever was going on.
Looking back I think of the importance of having a seat at the table and how my chair made me feel like part of a community. Churches, sports teams, offices, businesses, towns, neighborhoods, families, these are all examples of communities that exist around us. It is easy to see a community as a unit and expect a representative from that unit to be able to communicate the needs of each member. And maybe that works in some cases. But I have existed with in many representative structures where someone was elected to convey my voice. Many times I wasn’t even sure who that person was. Let’s just say whatever changes I wanted were not properly represented. A community is composed of individual. Each is so unique with a story of her/his own. No one person can represent these people. To make real change each person must be engaged in her/his surroundings. Each person must have a seat at the table. Each person must be a proactive agent of change. In my humble opinion, it is time to remove our eyes from the sky and expect answers to rain down on us from above. It is time to look around us at our most immediate communities and begin to see the crucial role each of us play in the sustainable happiness of the people we love the most… our families, our hometowns, etc.
As a CSE intern this summer, I have been thinking a lot about the Eco-Reps program. Eco-Reps is a community that focuses on building sustainable communities. Lindsey and I have taken time to talk quite a bit about how to create a program for Eco-Reps where Reps walk away with the skills to empower the members of the residents’ halls to make sustainable change. What we decided was that, as the program manager, CSE has a commitment to the Eco-Reps community…. let’s start there. Every year an amazing group of leaders passionate about sustainability come to the Eco-Reps community. This semester the program will focus on building that community. We want to offer a space for the voices of each of our Reps, a seat at the table. We want each Rep to walk away feeling she/he has the capacity to create sustainable change.
I am hoping it is a good year and look forward to meeting the members of our Dickinson College Eco-Rep community in the fall. Until then 🙂