Eco-School Networks (ESNs) are composed of parents leading projects at separate elementary schools (K-5 level) within the same school district or community. Their shared goal is to introduce sustainable practices and raise eco-awareness within the overall daily experience of a child at school.
The Eugene/Springfield Eco-School Network began in Fall 2014 after a group of 13 parents from eleven elementary schools attended the “How to Be an Agent of Change in Your Child’s School” training course from Dick Roy at the Center for Earth Leadership. The training was sponsored by Partners for Sustainable Schools (PSS), a Eugene nonprofit founded by Mel Bankoff, which is highly respected for its work in Eugene elementary and middle schools to offer classroom instruction, work with student green teams, and organize student conferences. In December 2014, at the conclusion of the first Eugene training, Heather Sielicki, a parent at Camas Ridge, assumed the role of Network Coordinator to launch activities in early 2015.
The Eugene/Springfield network joins a coalition of networks in the Willamette Valley which includes: Portland Eco-School Network (flagship network), Beaverton Eco-School Network, Corvallis Eco-School Network, and Salem Eco-School Network.
Network members meet monthly to discuss topics related to sustainability initiatives at school. Often a guest speaker shares information on a specific topic.
ESNs traditionally organize events that inspire, educate, and promote collaboration. Network parents exchange ideas, create a community of support, and collaborate when appropriate as an organization of parents working in their respective K-5 schools. The Eco-School parent leads earth-minded projects at her elementary school. Each parent, in cooperation with teachers and school administrators, decides the scope and level of activity for work in her school. Examples:
- Party packs for each classroom: durable plates, cups and utensils
- Student nature club, green team, or Power Patrol
- Walk and Bike to School trains
- Green School Certification; World Wildlife Fund Eco-School Certification
- School Garden Project education
- Community Electronics Recycling Competition
- System to segregate food scraps for pick-up by nearby farm with chickens
- No-Idling Campaign targeting parent drop-off and pick-up
The Center was founded by Jeanne and Dick Roy, nationally recognized leaders in the sustainability movement. The Roys are also co-founders of the Northwest Earth Institute and the Oregon Natural Step Network.
Within the Northwest, citizens provide the true leadership to a sustainable future through uncoordinated efforts within their respective spheres of influence. Although public agencies and businesses must play a key role, because of political and economic constraints, they cannot provide the bold leadership required for fundamental change in our culture. However, they can follow the lead of citizen agents of change.
The term “sustainability” has no accepted definition. The following definitions are instructive:
- Sustainable development is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
- Sustainability is equity over time. As a value, it refers to giving equal weight in your decisions to the future as well as the present. You might think of it as extending the Golden Rule through time, so that you do unto future generations (as well as to your present fellow beings) as you would have them do unto you.