Living Laudato Si’ On Campus: The Gift of Community

Blog By Sr. Shingai Chigwedere

I recently realized I have fallen into the trap of focusing too much on how we are falling short of addressing climate change. It was becoming a distraction and an unconscious excuse to not explore the simple everyday actions I could take. God used my ministry experience during my year of candidacy to remind me that simple actions can have a great impact. For the 2022-2023 school year, I was a member of Albertus Magnus College’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform Committee. Membership consisted of students, faculty, and staff from various departments. I mistakenly thought that this first year would yield nominal tangible results. After all, we only met four times. I am grateful that God showed me the smallness of my thinking and the gift of communal discernment and action. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

God showed me that we do not need to come up with the PERFECT plan. Nor do we need to have endless discussions. We can keep things simple. At Albertus, we were already doing some things that we could build upon, revamp, or celebrate. We had contact-free water refilling stations around campus so during Lent, we hosted a campaign to create a culture of bringing reusable coffee mugs/water bottles to meetings/campus to reduce the use of disposable cups. We had fantastic community partners who helped us implement new things like launching a bike share on campus. We launched Earth Fest, which centered around Earth Day and began with Service Day when we had 110+ students, faculty, and staff perform community service in the local New Haven area for 14 organizations.

We had students who care deeply about the environment and who led some of our efforts to review our recycling infrastructure and made recommendations that led to clearer signage and recycling bins in the residence hall. Our Dominican Mission office prints flyers in smaller sizes or only in black and white to minimize toner and paper usage while leveraging technology more (emails/social media) where appropriate. Simple changes can make a difference.

Our Mother Earth needs us to take immediate action to stop the destruction and heal and restore our common home. I know this audience is steeped heavily in sustainable living, thank you for all you do. Perhaps this is just a reminder for you as well to stop a few times and acknowledge the good results and progress you are seeing. Then let that positive energy feed you when you are overwhelmed with the task at hand and remember you have a community for collaboration. Doing nothing is not an option and we have to start somewhere. After all a waterfall begins with only one drop of water.


Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

2 responses to “Living Laudato Si’ On Campus: The Gift of Community

  1. Thank you, Sr. Shingai, for reminding me to be encouraged by the little things we do. This really helped this week!

  2. We at Albertus were so lucky to have Shingai work with us on our Laudato Si’ Action Team! Her contributions and insights were key to our successes last year.

    In this blog post, Shingai helpfully points out that “you have a community for collaboration.” We found that it was effective to start from our strengths and mission as a community in an educational setting. For us, this looked like sponsoring events to highlight on-campus and local leaders in climate action, supporting grassroots efforts among students, and advocating for additions to the curriculum around sustainability.

    One clarification: when Shingai mentions we met four times, this was per semester. We found it was important for our group to meet monthly, both as a practice of accountability and as a way of keeping each other motivated as we each worked to “green” our institution in our own departments, offices, and student groups.

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