Monday, April 20, 2009

Teacha Teacha

Maybe a college instructor isn't supposed to care quite so much but I am so fond of my students. I look forward to watching them learn the language of the industry, reading their papers with dozens of typos, and seeing those light bulbs go off above their heads. Sustainability is a funny field; it ranges from moments of gentle ecological enlightenment to being horrified and sometimes even morally outraged. Sadly the semester is coming to a close which means I'm also inventing extra credit opportunities to help those borderline students who were distracted by life.

Today some my students went to their first city council meeting to watch citizenship in action. We have a new Mayor who is a 27-year-old OSU student. They saw people standing up for principles. At issue was a $25 fee assessed to Senior softball players who lived outside the city limits. Dozens of citizens gave up their evening to politely protest this discrimination; it was the principle not the money. Sustainable societies springs from citizenship.

The $25 fee generated a total of $750 additional revenues, but it was a net loser because teams disbanded taking with them thousands of dollars of team fees. Teams opted not to travel to Stillwater for the day; there is a loss of economic development. Goodwill was not increased. If you take a sustainable holistic analysis of this situation, it becomes clear the community backlash coupled with revenue loss makes this $25 fee suddenly not a viable idea. I think they can find a win-win, even now, because a dialogue has been initiated.

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