The Essence of an EcoHub

by Anna Pirvola

Creating ideas for what an EcoHub space at BCU could look like. Source: Fariha Ehsanulhaq
Creating ideas for what an EcoHub space at BCU could look like. Source: Fariha Ehsanulhaq

When we first started the EcoHub project in February 2017 it was clear in everybody’s mind that our goal was to scope for a physical space within the BCU campuses that could be turned into a ‘green bay’ an area with tables and chairs, bookshelves, a kettle and cups of tea… The project started off well as we set-up student and staff surveys to gather an understanding of the general greenie mood of the BCU community and to find out about the specific things people would like to see in an eco-space. We also learned that Millennium Point was about to be refurbished which spiked some hope in us to actually find a space right in the beginning of the project which we could base our plans on. We produced a simple room plan and waited impatiently for the survey results. Unfortunately, in the end we had to forget Millennium Point as available space was too tight but at the same time we started to understand something fundamental to the project – that even before finding the perfect spot for the EcoHub, we’d need to bring the BCU eco-community together. In the end, the hub is for the students and staff of BCU and essentially it is the people who will make it reality.

And it’s not like us green enthusiast weren’t out there! There are greenies all over BCU, spread across faculties, lurking around the corners of City South campus, lunching at Eastside park, passing through the hallways at Vittoria Street… It might be the person next to you at the coffee queue! There might not be any visible signs how to recognise these individuals, other than they might order their coffee to a keepcup and save 10% off the price by doing so. This is essentially the problem we’ve found; many greenies are lonely and don’t know of others who’d share their love and passion for the environment. They might be the only one on their course or at the office who actually get upset inside when a colleague or peer misuses the recycling bins falling in constant conflict with people around them. So sad.

Luckily, there are good initiatives that offer shelter and support for greenies. The Student’s Union (SU) has organised events like the Canal Clean-Ups and knitting workshops where old T-shirts are recycled to yarn. There are even two green SU societies forming: an Eco-Society and a Zero Waste Society! Staff members can join the Environmental Champions network. Every spring the university hosts a Go Green Week together with our city centre neighbour Aston University.

But, we want to make it bigger and gather all the nature loving staff and students together as one large group, a hub. For that, a physical space isn’t necessary, though we now have a hunch for a new space but more about that later. Meanwhile, we have set-up a Twitter account (@EcoHub_BCU) and a Facebook profile (BCU EcoHub) and started to build a digital community. In this digital age, online is where we first go searching to find, well, anything really, even friends. So welcome to the community by following BCU EcoHub and joining in the conversation. We welcome all greenies from the university and hope you will use these channels as platforms for conversation, sharing your ecological projects, recirculating no longer needed books and other items and making new connections.

 

Facebook: BCU EcoHub

Twitter: @EcoHub_BCU

 

If you’d like to join the Student’s Union Eco-Society or Zero Waste Society, please contact Nyssa Koring, nyssa.koring@bcu.ac.uk

If you’d like to join the staff Environmental Champions network, please contact Environmental Officer Deborah Southwell, deborah.southwell@bcu.ac.uk

About Claudia Carter

Claudia studied geography and environmental management for many years worked in academic and applied research on environmental governance, environmental values, public and stakeholder engagement, critical evaluation, and interdisciplinary research approaches. She joined BCU in 2011 as researcher and lecturer teaching and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students.

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