There’s a popular Maine saying that goes, “You can’t get there from here” (and when pronounced properly in a full Maine accent, of course, sounds like, "Ya can't get they-ah from hey-ah." While it’s true that rural areas of Maine can’t offer the same public transit options like the buses or subways found in large cities, employees and students at Saint Joseph’s College are proving that there are alternative ways to the traditional model of suburban and rural commuting approach that calls for one person per car. Saint Joseph’s College’s Director of Career Development Steve McFarland is one such employee who is mindful of his carbon footprint and chooses to bike to work when possible. "I like to ride and enjoy the exercise. I recently saw a cyclist with the phrase on his back "One Less Car," which inspired me to ride to work more often. Living only six miles from the Saint Joseph’s College campus, it's an easy ride and adds only about ten to fifteen minutes to my commute," he said.
Tucked amid pines, maples, and birches along Sebago Lake, Saint Joseph's College realizes there are several lifestyle choices that individuals make every day that can collectively add up to substantial change over time. For three weeks in October 2017 the College participated in the Way 2 GO MAINE Business to Business Commuter Challenge and won "Most New Members" to join GO MAINE for a medium-sized organization. This effort was led by Heather Craig who is serving as the Maine Partnership for Environmental Stewardship Energy Efficiency Coordinator for Saint Joseph’s College (a service year opportunity offered through AmeriCorps). Participating members logged into personal accounts online to track their alternative commuting trips such as carpooling, walking, or bicycling to work.
GO MAINE is a state-wide collaboration between the Maine Turnpike Authority and the Maine Department of Transportation that promotes economical and eco-friendly modes of commuting, while coordinating with planning agencies, businesses, advocacy groups, and other partners to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles in Maine. The commuting challenge was held in October to celebrate National Rideshare Month.
The following organizations were recognized for the Way 2 GO MAINE commuting challenge:
- Saint Joseph's College — most new members, medium organization
- The Jackson Laboratory — most greener trips, large organization
- City of Portland — most new members, large organization
- Tyler Technologies — most greener trips, medium organization
- Gulf of Maine Research Institute — most greener trips, small organization
- Gulf of Maine Research Institute — most new members, small organization
- Greater Portland Council of Governments — most team spirit
- Portland Downtown — Way 2 GO MAINE Choice Award
At Saint Joseph’s College, sustainability is expressed as a deep respect for the earth through daily practices, decision making, and stewardship in a healthy and equitable way so that communities now and in the future can thrive. Sustainability at Saint Joseph’s College encompasses human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for future generations. Building and modeling sustainability practices on our campus cultivates an ethic of sustainability among our graduates and the broader campus community. In 2015, the College adopted a comprehensive Climate Action and Sustainability Plan, which provides a framework to establish benchmarks, develop goals, and monitor progress toward carbon neutrality on campus. The goal of the plan is to reduce the College’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero.
As a reflection of this ongoing commitment to sustainability, President James Dlugos signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. He appointed a task force comprised of faculty and staff to perform a greenhouse gas inventory and a College-wide sustainability assessment using the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) STARS (SustainabilityTracking, Assessment & Rating System) standard, develop a sustainability plan, outdoor air quality and sustainable purchasing policies, and a mechanism to guide progress. In 2017 Saint Joseph’s College earned a STARS Silver rating from the AASHE.
The College continues to work towards these large sustainability goals, one commuter at a time! Learn more here.
-By Emma Deans, SJC Communications Officer