Imagine uOttawa

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Back in October the Student Federation hosted Green Weeks. Basically this was the longest continuous green event that I have ever participated in. Actually, and don’t quote me on this, I think it was the longest green event in Canada… maybe even the US too. Four weeks of daily events. Now I am sorry if it sounds like I am complaining, because I am not. The whole thing was great and secretly… i can’t wait to do it again.

But I am not here to talk about Green Weeks, I am here to talk about Imagine uOttawa. It was one of the events that made up the beautiful green mosaic of that month. First, let’s get this out of the way; it has been months since this event happened. So why am i talking about this now? Well i finally have enough time to work on it and I was going over the minutes of the event and I fell in love with the idea again.

Okay… enough suspense! Imagine was a community design charrette to determine what the campus should look like in 100 years. Yes, that’s right, 100 years! Why in any sane world would we want to sit down and talk about the campus in 100 years from today? I mean realistically most students will be on campus for 4 years, some might stay longer and do a graduate degree. Your average employee sticks around for about 10 years or so. Faculty on tenure track and some long term employees could be around for upwards of 40 years. And if a first year student attending the event were to live their entire life and see the outcome of this event, that student would be one of the oldest people on the planet.

Oh, you noticed that I didn’t actually answer the question yet. Well here’s the reason. If I want to have garden on every roof, or a campus without cars, and I wanted to do this in the next 5 years…. No chance! It would be too expensive. Well what if I wanted the campus to be completely off the grid in 10 years? No sir, definitely not enough time. And if i wanted the campus to be an urban forest in the next 25 years? The chances still don’t look good. But, draw out these initiatives over the next 100 years and anything is possible.

Really? Well of course it is. Think about it. If i did want an urban forest in 100 years, in the next 5 years we decide what kind of trees we want and where they will go; in the next 10 years we make sure that no green space is removed; in the next 25 years we stop building any above ground parking spaces; in the next 50 years we plant our trees; in 75 years we cull the trees to make sure that they healthy ones are surviving; and in 100 years, our campus is an urban forest.

So as I reminisce about the event I remember all the great ideas and questions that came out. The President of the University of Ottawa (Allan Rock) not only came out to talk about the event, he actually stuck around for the entire event and then praised all the community members that came out.
I promise is that in the next few days a website will go up about the event and we will make a long term plan for the great ideas that our students and staff had.

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