TEDx/Ashoka U Summit

COA group

Ashoka U and TED

I am down here in Washington DC at the Ashoka U Summit. Ashoka U is the college program of Ashoka, the world’s “leading” network for social entrepreneurs (I’m not sure who gets to decide that they are the leading network, but that’s how they brand themselves). Ashoka U envisions a world where universities provide students with access to the resources, learning opportunities, role models, and peers needed to actualize their full potential as changemakers. This year, they’ve selected COA as a Changemaker Campus along with Babson College, the University of Colorado at Boulder, College of the Atlantic, The New School, and Tulane University. This weekend, we are meeting students and faculty from other changemaker campuses to exchange ideas and resources.

This afternoon we participated in a TEDx event at the Google Center. We heard from remarkable people with beautiful stories that I will hopefully share later. We also watched this video:


And because I’m too tired for words, I’ll share some pictures:

Google Center

new friend from Mauritius playing with legos

The Trash

Whenever I leave Mount Desert Island, I am always shocked the rest of the world does not always compost or recycle. I take it for granted that everyone I know in Maine has a compost bucket next to their trash and at least three separate buckets for metal, plastic, and paper products.

To be perfectly honest, before I joined College of the Atlantic, I don’t think I gave trash a second thought. But then I met people like my friend Lisa. Lisa, a first-year from Sweden, has made it her mission to understand trash and water. Trash and water are threads she weaves through her education (kind of like children and women are themes for me). In every class, she figures out the connections to water and trash. At one point this weekend, she joked that the majority of images on her computer are pictures of trash cans and disposal methods from around the world. Her passion for trash has inspired me to care too. Now whenever I go anywhere (especially conferences focused on making the world a better place!), I always check out the trash as well as the FOOD.

The Google Center prides itself on innovation and green initiatives so it’s funny (and sad) that all of the trash cans looked like this one:

The Food

For the most part, the food available was not healthy. As a group full of vegans, vegetarians, and those just interested in eating non-processed, chemical free food, we really struggled with meals. I know we weren’t the only ones walking around hungry.  My hotel roommates and I made a trip to Trader Joe’s to cook in our room and discussed how it’s “just not okay to serve BAD food at conferences focused on doing GOOD.” Bad food includes not only things with chemicals like MSG and BPA, but also animals who have been treated cruelly.

Whoever provides food for others must share where they got it from. If it’s organic or from a local farmer, broadcast it! Put it on the label next to the plate! Use every opportunity as an opportunity to EDUCATE.

I wish this wasn’t necessary, but right now healthy and nutritious food is considered “special.” Simply: it is not the norm. While it should be the other way around (bad food should have a special CAUTION label), it doesn’t work like that… yet. Although I’m too tired to write about it now, I look forward to a world with improved food and waste disposal systems. I have immense hope because I know a few incredible people working to make this world an actuality.

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