SMC faculty members honored as "Ecoheroes"

Last Tuesday, Santa Monica College hosted the "EcoHero Awards" ceremony, giving honor to those who helped make the student body's dream of an organic learning garden grow into a reality. The two people named "EcoHeroes" were English professor Dana Morgan, and SMC Facilities Planning Director Greg Brown. They collaborated with the SMC Associated Students on installing the new organic learning garden, located between the Bookstore and the Art Complex.

The EcoHero Award was presented by the Center for Environmental and Urban Studies.

According to Genevieve Bertone, Sustainability Coordinator of SMC, this is the third year in which the award is being presented. Bertone was the spokeswoman for the ceremony who presented the honorary awards to Morgan and Brown.

"Dana has been at the fore running grounds of this project since five years ago. She's put in so much effort," said Justine Rembac, Director of Sustainability for the Associated Students. Rembac also noted Brown for his work in facilitating the garden by helping the A.S. make the garden efficient for College Board approval.

"Just like our comic book superhero archetypes, these folks really come in and save the day in hopes of saving the planet. They've taken on labor issues, budget issues, management issues, technology issues, and student turnover issues," said Bertone, referring to Morgan and Brown.

"We need to enter that garden and look closely at what it has to offer us," said Morgan after receiving her award.  She sees the garden as a vehicle for students to slow down, connect with nature, and to help understand the source of their food.

Morgan stressed "through the activity of planting seeds, harvesting, watering, weeding, digging, and saving seeds, we connect with farmers who supply our produce today, and with our ancestors who farmed for generations."

Having successfully worked on the garden project, Brown has numerous sustainability projects that he is currently working on, including new building projects. After receiving his award, he stated that he aims to make those sustainable as well, and he welcomed any input.

SMC's EcoAction Club and Club Grow were also associated closely with the project. Erick Zavala, who is a part of Club Grow, sees the garden as a successful way of students and teachers coming together. He sees one of the main initiatives of the garden being to teach students to grow their own food, just as "EcoHero" Morgan does.

Zavala believes than gardening is not just a hobby for some people, but a way of living. One of the main reasons he's invested in the garden is partly inspired by his learning to grow his own food at home. "It gives me a sense of independence," said Zavala.

According to Bertone, the estimate for the garden's first planting is at the end of April, and is expected to open by the fall semester of 2011.