Proximate events spur action more quickly than any news headline ever will. Coming off the hottest, wettest summer in decades, those of us who have lived in Andover, New Hampshire for multiple decades feel the very real impacts of a shifting climate. Sometimes those impacts feel incremental, while at other times (like when we received no snowfall until late January last winter), they feel have a far greater impact on our day to day life.
Proctor’s Science Department Head and Environmental Coordinator Alan McIntyre’s work over the past fifteen years has led Proctor’s institutional commitment to environmental stewardship. Whether it is coordinating campus wide recycling efforts, engaging students in the study of solar potential on the rooftops of buildings (resulting in a massive investment in solar power by Proctor), engaging in the early stages of capital building projects to ensure they are aligned with the school’s environmental mission statement, Alan’s leadership has helped Proctor students, employees, and community members understand the economic and environmental pressures facing the school.
It is no surprise then, that Proctor and Alan received recognition last weekend at the 7th New York City Green School Conference for excellence in responsible relationship building around the environment. As Alan noted, “It takes individual action to get things done, but it also takes institutional will and policy to make things happen. Proctor received recognition for being a green school for putting our beliefs into action, something we must continue to do as we move forward as a community.”
Hosted by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network alongside the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 78) and the 2023 SDG Summit, the 7th NYC Green School Conference brought together thought leaders, educators, learners, policymakers, innovators, diplomats, administrators, solutions providers, bookkeepers, healthcare experts, and climate leaders worldwide to discuss a more inclusive, compassionate, and climate-conscious approach toward humanizing and climatizing global education. Alan joined hundreds of other educators and activists to hear keynote speeches and panel conversations from domain experts covering topics like the greening of learning spaces and school design, greening curriculum and integrating sustainability and environmental education into all disciplines, integrating sustainability principles into sports and activities, and extra curricular programs.
Reflecting on both Proctor’s recognition at the 7th NYC Green School Conference and his time soaking in all that the conference had to offer, Alan notes:
I have been to many gatherings and conferences, but this opportunity was unique because the scope was truly global. The notion of “thinking globally and acting locally” was front and center.
Each presenter linked their local work to specific sustainable development goals (there are 17 SDG from no poverty to affordable and clean energy). Many of these efforts were focused on familiar issues and concerns that we face here - waste management, energy conservation and connection with the outdoors. However mixed in was a clarion call to change our human systems, not just individual behavior.
Maria Ivanova (Director of School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs, at Northeastern University) used the example of single-use plastics that plague countless meetings, conferences (not this one) and public gatherings as the example. Holding up her personal bamboo utensils, she tersely stated that her efforts were not enough. “Individual behavior can only do so much, the systems need to change in order to reach sustainable development goals,” real change will require “imagination, inspiration and impact.”
Many other presenters took up that theme and gave examples of “imagination, inspiration, and impact” with hydroponic and garden projects (New York Sun Works), watershed tours (Hudson River Clearwater), indigenous storylines (Origins Education) and more. Regina Valdez of the Earth Institute quoted Rachel Carson, “It's not half so important to know as to feel,” and gave examples of environmental education efforts (Mission 4.7) that are transforming hearts and minds by building relationships with land and community. The sheer number of fresh, deliberate, and familiar efforts from across the planet was a welcome rallying cry for our campus efforts and vision for the future. The world is at work, and so is Proctor.
- Environmental Stewardship