Friday, April 11, 2014

Andrew Faust: Environmental "Expert Practitioner"

By Kristen Andrada

 On February 6, Ramapo’s Environmental Writing class attended the “Lesson of Sustainability: The Expert Practitioner’s Series” in Friend’s Hall. There’s a different speaker each week and for the second week in the program, Andrew Faust came in to speak about permaculture design. I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation: he’s great at conveying his message to the audience and from the way he speaks it’s almost like he’s speaking another language just by the vocabulary he uses, even though you can clearly hear that he’s speaking English – that’s how smart this guy is.

Most of the issues and ideas that he mentioned were already things that I had learned in many of the environmental classes that I’ve taken at Ramapo, but these topics were things that Mr. Faust practiced and experienced. He introduced new ideas and ways to tackle an issue and his leadership and cooperation with his peers, community, and his students are beyond inspiring to me.  He is basically a connoisseur in many aspects in the environmental field including agriculture, environmental policy, geography, energy, urban design… he’s worthy of the title “expert practitioner.”

You probably figured out that I admire this guy. All right, I’ll get into the details of what I particularly liked in Mr. Faust’s presentation.

I like to write down notes of anything: classes, meetings, speakers, etc. The first thing I wrote down for this presentation (besides the title with his name and date) was “For-Profit Organization.” It’s news to me because I see non-profit organizations and businesses as two entirely separate entities. I never heard of anything like for-profit organizations until now. Initially hearing the name I was against it because almost all my life I was taught or I was given this idea that doing anything for profit was bad.

For some environmental people, when they hear the words “profit” or “business,” they usually think “bad,” “selfish,” or even “anti-environmental” because let’s face it, countless businesses and companies have violated and degraded environmental landscape and took advantage of inhabitants in the world’s ecosystem for a long time. We try to stay away from involving ourselves with business or some sort of organization whose priority is to make money. But after some explanation, I’m entirely for it.

Non-profits have been around because people found that they want to do something ethical and they take whatever money they take and give it to a cause. Mr. Faust basically asks why can’t we take it to the next level? We notice that “going green” and the environmental movement are starting to trend everywhere; not just at home but at school, stores, recreational centers, and more so businesses, green washed or not. To encourage that, we should evolve our non-profits to for-profits so we can develop an “ethically minded business culture.” He stresses that America won’t see significant changes in society if businesses aren’t on board in the environmental movement. 

In summary, we must be ecologically literate and act ethically.  

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