The lecture was co-organized by the Offices of International Education and Environmental Sustainability. GCSD, an organization based inBangalore,India, brings sustainable development to impoverished areas of the world through initiatives like the “We Build” program. “We Build” has students from around the world—including students from UAlbany—build homes for impoverished single mothers in India.
When building these homes, John integrates his three pillar philosophy on sustainability, which includes economic, societal, and environmental sustainability. Not only does “We Build” use environmentally sustainable materials, they also help women learn tangible skills to enable them to continue living an economically stable life. To communicate a sense of social sustainability and responsibility in the women receiving this gift, “We Build” only builds the houses to 70% completion. The women and their communities then develop a sense of ownership over their new home by finishing the building process. Students from UAlbany can volunteer for this program as a winter or summer session course through the Office of International Education. Check out their web site for more information.
To end the presentation, John took us through an exercise that challenge us to fill a spaceship with all the items we would need to live in the future. It was very interesting to tap into our imagination to create a vision for a new world and interesting as to what we left behind and what suddenly became much more valuable and vital to us. Ironically the valuable items are the things we usually take for grant (like access to water and food) and the things we might see as valuable in our world became worthless in this new one (like cell phones).
John’s main point is that if we are concerned about our world that we need to connect, converse and commit to action. The kind of events John organizes crosses borders but we don’t need to replicate this on such a large scale. Setting up a simple local program or discussion group can be the first step towards creating a larger global community and becoming better global citizens.
(thanks to Jackie Mirandola Mullen for helping with this piece)