“Brandeis Pedal Power: Amping Up Campus Events” Proposal

Biking to blast music. Sounds like a spinning class. Or an OK Go video. In fact, it's a sustainability project.

Harrison Goldspiel, Carrie Watkins and Amira Mintz-Morgenthau submitted "Brandeis Pedal Power: Amping Up Campus Events" as a proposal to the Brandeis Sustainability Fund last month, and are waiting to hear back about whether their project was picked up or not. If funded, it would enable volunteers to generate energy simply by bicycle-riding. The energy could be used for a multitude of campus events, including as a "sustainable sound system," which is what the band Melodeego does, explained Harrison.

This is an awesome idea, promoting bike-riding, concert-attending and sustainability all at once. It's pretty crazy to think that we have such amazing technology these days, which enables us to generate our own energy in such a simple manner.

Read Harrison's description of the project, below, and take their survey too!

The project is "Brandeis Pedal Power: Amping Up Campus Events." I am working with Carrie Watkins '12 and Amira Mintz-Morgenthau '12. I became inspired to work on this project after seeing various concerts powered by bicycle energy. There was a water/hydrofracking festival this summer in NYC that featured a big concert completely powered by bicycle energy generators and "natural ass" power. I also knew of a Massachusetts band called Melodeego that has their own bicycle powered sustainable sound system for all their shows. After going to 350.org's Moving Planet: Boston event on 9/24 and riding the bikes myself, I decided we need this at Brandeis. So I rallied together Carrie and Amira and we applied for a BSF grant to construct three bicycle energy units. We are working very closely with Melodeego and their side project, Sustainable Sound to design and eventually construct the units. The second component to our project involves creating a student group called the Pedal Patrol which will manage the bicycle units. We are collaborating with Student Production Services and will incorporate the completely bicycle units and the Pedal Patrol into their organization.

The goals of our project are to: (1) create a new, carbon-free mechanism to power events on campus, thus reducing total energy use and carbon emissions, (2) get students, faculty, and the administration educated and excited about energy and climate change issues in a visually innovative fashion, and (3) set a precedent for university departments and student organizations, such as the Student Union, Student Events, Student Activities, WBRS, Chums, and the Punk Rock and Roll Club to constantly think about the environmental impact of their decisions.


BSF Gets a Check!

National Office Furniture has awarded The Brandeis Sustainability Fund the Gift of Inspiration for Education Environments, a prize which comes with $25,000!

As Brandeis Now reports, “Janna Cohen-Rosenthal ’03, a member of the Facilities services staff who serves as campus sustainability coordinator, applied for the National Office Furniture gift and says it “is a wonderful boost to the [BSF] program.””

The check presentation event for this award will be Tuesday Oct. 25 from 11:30-12:00 in the SCC Atrium. It will be a BIG CHECK, and a must see!!

Apply for the BSF NOW!!!

Past projects have included an Energy Building Dashboard and expanding the awesome Deisbikes program.

You can check out the BSF 2010-2011 Annual Report here.

Read below for more information on applying for a BSF grant, courtesy of Herbie Rosen, emphasis added by IMP.
Continue reading “BSF Gets a Check!”

Bike-Sharing: Not Just for Brandeis

The ‘DeisBikes program, which started during the spring 2009 semester, provides free bicycle rentals to Brandeis students. If you’ve never used it before, it’s really easy to get started — just present your student ID to the Shapiro Campus Center Information Booth, and you’ve got yourself a bike for the rest of the day. The program was started through the hard work of the Union and the “Greening the Campus and Community” class, and it’s a great way to encourage green transportation on campus.

Brandeis is far from the only campus to feature bike-sharing — in fact, a recent USA Today article shows that we’re part of a growing movement across the country. Nearly 90 American universities have adopted similar programs, many that dwarf our small 12 bike fleet. My favorite:

In 2008, faced with a parking crisis, the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, raised parking permit fees and began to give away free bikes to freshman students who promised not to bring cars to campus, university spokeswoman Kathleen Taggersell says.

Since then, the university has given out 530 bikes and, as a direct result of the program, turned a 95-space parking lot into a basketball court with a river-view tent for university events, Taggersell says.

Maybe we don’t have the money to do that now, but coupling free bicycles with a increase in parking fees would be a simple and very effective carbon tax that I think the majority of the student body would support.

The Drury University program also jumped out at me, particularly because of how it’s funded. The Drury student body agreed to pay a sustainability fee of $20 per year, much like the Brandeis Sustainability Fund we voted for last year. We already have bike-sharing, but Drury shows that this relatively minor contribution can go towards green initiatives that benefit the entire community.

Speaking of the BSF, the deadline to apply for funding is October 12th, so if you’ve got that awesome idea you’d love to see become reality, check out the BSF website for application instructions. Environmentalism doesn’t have to be chore; it can be as easy as riding a bike.

SPRINGFEST — You Heard It Here First!

Back in January 2009, Innermost Parts was the first news outlet to report that the Board of Trustees had decided to close the Rose Art Museum.  Last September, we were the first to announce that President Reinharz was going to resign.  Both times, we were accused of irresponsibly publishing false rumors, but both times, we ended up being correct.

So when Emily posted on March 13th that the Spring Fest music committee had booked Passion Pit to headline Spring Fest 2010, I feel that our track record should have been good enough that we should have at least gotten the benefit of the doubt.  However, we were again attacked in the comments, being called a “trash rumour site” and told we should “recheck our sources”.  And when the Spring Fest line-up was revealed on April 19th, the headline act was — surprise! — Passion Pit.  Imagine that.

I don’t know why our commentators thought it was appropriate to accuse us of rumor-mongering while they were doing that very thing, trying to spread confusion by claiming that it was actually Owl City who was coming.  And I don’t know why they thought it was appropriate to lie in a public forum about how Student Events’ money — money that comes from all of us — was going to be spent.  While I definitely appreciate the hard work that goes into planning events like Spring Fest, that doesn’t give anyone the right to be dishonest to students about student money.

My policy for handling confidential information is simple.  If someone tells me something with the understanding that it remains confidential, I won’t say or publish a word about it.  However, if someone with inside information shares important news with me because they want it to be publicized, I’ll write about it as long as 1) I’m confident that the source is trustworthy on the issue and 2) I think the information is interesting to the Innermost Parts community.  I may have further reservations on a case-by-case basis, but for the most part, I think my responsibility as an activist blogger demands that I’m transparent as possible with what I know about campus events.  I can only speak for myself, but I’m pretty sure that most Innermost Parts authors would agree with me.

By the way, Passion Pit alone cost us $40,000 dollars, and the newly-created Brandeis Sustainability Fund costs around $50,000 dollars.  Why hasn’t there been a push against holding Spring Fest from the people who are complaining about spending so much money?

A Compromise

I’ve heard from a lot of people offering to compromise on the Brandeis Sustainability Fund by saying that they’d support it as long as they could opt out of paying.  That still seems a little unfair to me, so let me offer a compromise of my own:

Anyone can opt out of paying the BSF.  However, anyone who opts out is no longer allowed to use campus resources that produce carbon emissions.  That’s fair, right?


Then join me in voting YES on the Brandeis Sustainability Fund: https://sys.brandeis.edu/voting/menu/9655.

Voting is now open

Here’s the link to the voting on the Brandeis Sustainability Fund amendment:


There is also an unopposed election for UCC rep on there.

I encourage everyone to vote on this very important decision. I’ve said my piece against the amendment, so I will not spew my views further. But you really ought to vote on this, no matter which way you lean.

Why You Ought to Vote AGAINST the “Brandeis Sustainability Fund”

So the SEA kids are trying to get us to subsidize their cause by giving $50,000 a year to a new “sustainability” board. Here is a summary of what the proposed $7.50 per semester fee would do. The Facebook event lists such worthy proposals as a “Green themed Pachanga,” “shower minders,” and “energy efficient exercise equipment,” whatever that means (It also lists improving DeisBikes twice, as if the writers were running out of ideas). Of course, these are only suggestions. The actual project has no specifics whatsoever, and depends on whatever students come up with after the fee has been passed. We don’t actually know whether this enormous pile of money we’re giving would have any real benefit, because there are no actual concrete plans.

I don’t like this at all. Firstly, I think it’s morally reprehensible to prioritize the sort of small improvements suggested on the Facebook over the livelihoods of Brandeis workers. Our university is in the midst of a particularly precarious financial time, and the administration has gotten rid of staff in addition to announcing a reduction of faculty by 10%. This money could save a job. I think it would be utterly despicable to spend more money on bicycles and Pachanga (which are already very well funded), when we could rally to save the livelihood of a Brandeis worker. Shame on SEA for prioritizing politics over people.

I also think this is an unfair way of pushing an agenda. All clubs have the same pool of resources to draw from, yet SEA is greedily attempting to squeeze more money out of students. Yes, I know, I know, Mr. Waizer, they’re not the ones on the board, and it’s independent. But it’s their proposal. In fact, the official summary linked to above bears ONLY the names of SEA members. And we all know what club’s members will have the best qualifications for a seat on the new board. It’s independent on paper, sure, but the entire proposal is being created and lobbied for by SEA, and serves their club’s purposes.

$7.50 may not seem like a vast amount, but it’s hardly negligible, and if other factions pick up on this method (as they should, if it works!), we might see a deluge of new fee plans. And why should the Environmentalists get money and the Labor people not? Why shouldn’t we have a special fund for the anti-genocide people or the AIDS groups or the Zionists? We can’t allow proponents of various causes to start levying their own fees on students, else we will erode the entire purpose of a communal fund. We really must get everyone out in force to vote NO on Monday. The fee should be optional or should not exist at all.