A house of one's own needed, says reader


I read in a recent article (UBC Reports, Feb. 24) about UBC's plans to try to provide housing options for faculty and staff.

While it is most gratifying to see that UBC has acknowledged the problems Vancouver housing creates when attempting to attract faculty, the response is a bit underwhelming. I do not feel that it is an unreasonable expectation for a professional with a PhD to think they can own their own completely detached home.

There is an implicit suggestion that this is not an option for UBC faculty. If that is the case, UBC can expect to be turned down by an increasing number of prospective faculty, with commensurate negative effects upon the university.

John Aveline
PhD candidate, Classics

College recycling model


Today, with funding support from the UBC Alma Mater Society's Innovative Projects fund, St. John's College is proud to have UBC's first fully operational, medium-scale compost facility.

Preliminary research, including a waste audit was undertaken to determine the most suitable method of organic waste recovery for the college. After some deliberation, vermicomposting units manufactured by Dean Lamont from the Vancouver-based Food For All Foundation were installed.

Green College, led by Maggie Julian, recently commenced a vermicompost program based on the St. John's model. It is hoped that other UBC residences and commercial food services will adopt similar facilities.

In addition to producing a valuable gardening fertiliser, the facilities collectively reduce over 50 tonnes of organic "waste" from the college waste streams per annum. This significantly eases the burden on Vancouver's rapidly diminishing land-fills.

With collection facilities placed around the colleges, residents and guests gain a greater awareness of the waste they produce and positive steps that can be taken to reduce their environmental impact. The facilities are models for sustainable organic recycling for other institutions to emulate. The Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, the Student Environment Centre and external gardening organisations have shown much interest in the project.

St. John's College has already used the first batch of humus to grow a small vegetable and herb garden adjacent to the compost facility. Plans are afoot to expand this into a larger community-run vegetable garden in spring, thanks to the efforts of Nathalie Gaudreault and other college residents. In doing so we will have truly come "full circle" with organic recycling. Our sous chef has even used the home-grown herbs for cooking in the college's commercial kitchen.

Careful research and planning, a little fund raising, and dogged commitment were all the elements needed to ensure the long-term success of these projects. It's testament to the kinds of positive change a few individuals can make, and the proactive, community-minded spirit that exists in our graduate colleges at UBC.

Tim Blanche
Third-year PhD, Neuroscience
St. John's College

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