SDP 2021-2022 Week 12: Environmental Messaging

As we hit the final week of class before our Thanksgiving break, our SDP student group took some time to recap the individual activities which we had engaged in over the prior week in order to center ourselves and our goals. A highlights on the city side of things is the completion of the survey which had been in the works over the past few weeks, which will poll residents of Baltimore City about their interest in refining compost infrastructure as well as their personal composting habits until now. On the institutional side, the time for action could not be more optimal, as the university has just released an official statement about its revised Sustainability Plan. The team is concurrently working on crafting an op-ed to be published in the Hopkins newsletter with information about the composting movement, a pledge/demand for Hopkins to commit to zero-waste, and the launch of a PLAN chapter which will hopefully organize students around these issues; this three-pronged offensive is intentionally meant to bombard members of the Hopkins community with information and actionable steps around zero-waste in order to raise its prevalence as a hot topic for sustainability.
We then had a brief discussion about the assigned readings for the week, which discussed how we frame things and provided the extensive example of how efforts to handle waste in Nicaragua have historically been difficult to intervene in as outsiders because the value systems held there do not treat solutions the same way. In general, we concluded that context, values, and storytelling are all important in framing, especially for environmental equity and justice. We then split into our teams to discuss matters of our progress, such as figuring out logistics with getting an op-ed published and how we might want to utilize PLAN on campus.
On that topic, we were party to the first PLAN meeting on campus, where interested persons joined on Zoom to discuss some context around JHU’s waste disposal practices and how the chapter might proceed on campus. The meeting itself began to feel confused and errant, as the concrete goal of zero-waste which prompted the chapter’s inception began to slip away into what-ifs and hypotheticals about tackling other issues and a general lack of clarity about who was actually leading the meeting.
We took a short break in class and met up again as just our class to discuss our takeaways from the meeting, with our general agreement that it felt like the Hopkins bureaucracy had infiltrated as a guiding hand. This also contributed to fears about needing to become a registered club on campus which could be influenced by Hopkins politics and require our immense involvement in launching. After much back and forth about the idea about the “umbrella” of bodies who are or might become involved with the zero-waste movement on campus, our worries were lessened when we clarified that we did not need to make PLAN our entire lives and that we could take on a limited role with just one concrete goal (zero-waste pledge) while shepherding it as an organization which could take off in the future under future students’ leadership unrelated to SDP. With that we gathered in our teams one last time to reaffirm our goals over the break, including publishing the op-ed and preparing PLAN for a larger launch in the spring.