Embark reinvents their vision for campus sustainability

Embark has decided to move away from mobility programs such as Bike to Work Week to focus on social sustainability with its latest strategic plan.

The organization intends to utilize the majority of their additional funding from a recent increase in student levy fees to promote food systems change, climate action, and social sustainability programs as part of their new strategic plan.

“In order for us to make sure that we’re spending [this] money effectively, we wanted to make sure that we had a thorough understanding of exactly what our priorities were and what our goals were,” said Tosh Turner, Embark’s member relations officer. “When we got this referendum, and when the referendum passed, we understood that we needed to reassess our goals and reaffirm our commitments and make some changes.”

“One of the big change[s] we’ve made this year is we’ve moved away from mobility and we’re focusing on social sustainability,” he added.

During the fall of 2016, SFU students voted ‘yes’ to increase the levy that Embark, SFU’s independent sustainability organization, received from Simon Fraser University. As a result, Embark received additional funding for this fiscal year.

“This strategic plan is our attempt to be as thorough and as engaged with the student body as possible.” – Tosh Turner, Embark

According to Embark’s 2017–20 strategic plan, the organization will discontinue Bike to Work Week and similar programs because SFU has been proactive in the last few years in promoting sustainable mobility options to its community members.

The organization intends to not only broaden the idea of sustainability at SFU, but help students see it in different areas. By doing this, they hope to give lots of different options and a broad perspective of what sustainability can be. They also want to give students the opportunity to take on leadership roles and make changes here at SFU.

Social sustainability, according to Turner, is about “building systems and networks and spaces for people so that they can feel comfortable, learn, and share their perspectives.”

The organization will introduce a variety of programming over the next three years, such as community cohorts, which encourage students to learn about sustainability at SFU and in their community.

In addition, Embark has partnered with RADIUS SFU to contribute a grand total of $10,000 to the Social Innovation Seed Fund, replacing the $500 community grant that they previously offered to students who worked on sustainability initiatives at SFU.

According to their website, the Social Innovation Seed Fund will offer funding to SFU students ranging from $200 to $1,500 to help them launch their project that touches on the topics of “social, economic, or environmental transformation” on campus.

“This strategic plan is our attempt to be as thorough and as engaged with the student body as possible,” said Turner.

Moreover, the increased funding from students allows Embark to employ twice as many staff to work on more programming that will engage students.

“In order for this organization to run properly, well, and effectively, we need staff. A big portion of these [monetary] resources are going to staff. I’m really excited about that because that gives students and alumni opportunities here, but it’s also gonna make sure that our programs are running better,” concluded Turner.