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Faculty and staff commuters: UO students are here to help

Faculty and staff commuters: UO students are here to help

It’s about time University of Oregon faculty and staff caught up with students – and LiveMove may be able to help.

In a 2009 survey from the Office of Sustainability, about 50 percent of faculty and staff reported driving alone each day in their commute to campus. That compares to the 11 percent of students who drive alone, the rest taking advantage of alternative transportation such as biking, walking, and riding public transit.

Something must be keeping faculty and staff from commuting in those cleaner ways, and the students in LiveMove want to encourage them to overcome whatever it is that’s keeping them behind the wheel.

LiveMove is a student organization composed primarily of Public Planning, Policy and Management students, says Paul Leitman, a LiveMove member and graduate student of Community and Regional Planning. The group’s mission: “Promote healthy, sustainable communities by integrating transportation and livability through collaboration, education, research and outreach.”

LiveMove’s new initiative, the Commuting Companions program, is right in line with the mission and the values of sustainable transportation.

Leitman says Commuting Companions is a program for faculty and staff to be paired with LiveMove students as a consultants for alternative transportation. Students will act as mentors, answering any questions participants might have, and even accompanying them on a few commutes to help them get used to any changes.

“Sometimes it’s scary to change how you get to work,” says Leitman. “Partnering up with LiveMove and the Commuting Companions program really clears that up and helps the faculty member understand what their options are.”

In the true spirit of service, the Commuting Companions mentor relationship is flexible to fit a given participant’s needs and expectations. “It’s whatever the faculty member wants to get out of it,” Leitman says.

Faculty and staff engaged in the program will collaborate with their student mentors to determine what they need to effectively switch to sustainable forms of transportation. Mentors will be able to help with everything from answering basic questions on which routes to take, to accompanying participants to the bike shop to pick out fenders and lights.

For Leitman, sustainable travel is not just about saving the environment. He says he has fun walking, biking, and taking public transit to campus. Beyond that, “it’s convenient to leave your car at home,” says Leitman. He cites exercise and time to read or do extra work on the bus as added bonuses to ditching your car and heading to campus in new ways.

“Right now we’re just in the stage of getting the word out and asking if any faculty or staff members are interested in getting involved,” Leitman says.

Though LiveMove is still in its beginning stages, and no faculty or staff members have signed on to be paired with mentors yet, Leitman’s enthusiasm signals hope for a successful and beneficial program.

“Livemove is just really excited about this opportunity,” says Leitman. “We strongly support walking, biking and taking alternate modes of transportation, and we’re just really excited to show other people how much we care and that we want to help them make smart commuting decisions.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Commuting Companions, contact Paul Leitman at [email protected].

– by Dillon Pilorget, UO Office of Strategic Communications intern

This article was reposted from Around the O.

Power Shift West Registration Open!

Power Shift West Registration Open!

Across the country a bold movement is emerging to demand a clean and sustainable future. People of all ages and backgrounds are coming together to show industry and politicians that we will not let our country continue its dangerous addiction to fossil fuels and youth are at the forefront. Whether it is in DC resisting the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline, in Appalachia resisting the destructive process of mountaintop removal or in cities resisting the placement of toxic industries near low-income communities our generation is taking a crucial role in this process.

In the Pacific Northwest, we face numerous and complex problems. There is the export of coal to Asian markets, the expansion of clear cutting in ancient forests, the importation of tar sands equipment, unsustainable food systems, close ties between industry and politicians, and the ongoing inequity in the distribution of environmental harm in our own communities. Yet we also know how powerful we are when we come together as a movement. Youth environmental activists have been victorious in gradually phasing out coal plants, defeating LNG export terminals, and passing some of the boldest climate legislation in the country.

That is why on November 4th-6th, members of the youth environmental movement from up and down the west coast are going to Eugene for Power Shift West. The weekend long conference will have speakers, panels, skill building workshops and opportunities to network with other leaders of the youth climate movement. We gather to deepen our understanding of the systems that are destroying the environment and to develop tools to dismantle those systems and construct equitable and sustainable alternatives.

We demand a viable future where the health of our communities and our land is put above the profit of corporations. Come join us and be part of this growing movement.

Get involved today by registering to join us at Power Shift West.

Attend on Facebook & follow us on Twitter.

Youth Activists Prepare for Community-Building Journey

Youth Activists Prepare for Community-Building Journey

It’s called the Self Express: and the catchy name isn’t the only unusual thing about the 38-foot bus which a group of Northwest students and recent graduates are converting into a living space that will transport them across the country this summer.  By the time it’s finished, the former 1989 school bus will be ready to run entirely on used vegetable oil, and will be outfitted with a solar panel installation on the roof.  For the bulk of the summer it will serve as a temporary home for six youth activists determined to show that sustainable living in the twenty-first century is both possible and practical.

The Self Express project is a grassroots effort launched by youth organizers based at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon who have a vision for a better future.  Traveling across the US in an essentially carbon-neutral vehicle, they plan to create a real-life example of community-oriented living.  The group intends to connect with local nonprofits and charities in locations they visit across the United States, performing service and volunteer work that gives back to the community.  They will also travel to and participate in key events in the US climate movement happening over the next few months. 

“I’m really interested to see what’s going on in our country,” says Katie Kann, a recent graduate of Linfield College who will be setting out on the Self Express later this month.  “I’m tired of only hearing about the negative stuff in the news, stuff that makes me sad. I want to see the good things that fellow citizens are doing to help people and improve quality of life across our country.”

In this way the Self Express project connects the hands-on solutions work needed to jumpstart a transition to a clean economy with the political organizing and activism that’s essential to building the sustained movement that will get us off fossil fuels for good.  Considering the scale of the challenge we’re facing, it’s neither logical nor useful to argue about whether climate activists should be addressing problems or building solutions.  We urgently need to do both these, things, which is why youth organizers aboard the Self Express will be connecting with community solutions projects while also facilitating communication between grassroots groups fighting fossil fuel infrastructure.

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