Torence Powell InterviewChecking in with CRC's New GreenForce Director
Green Scene reporter Lizz Gaylord chats with newly hired CRC GreenForce Director, Torence Powell.
GS: Give a brief summary of the GreenForce Initiative program.
TP: The GreenForce Initiative is a district-wide effort to prepare our students for positions in emerging green sector employment opportunities; by providing them the skills, training and education they need to make a positive impact on the health of our built and natural environments. At CRC, our focus is on promoting sustainability and efficiency in our built environments, as well as promoting holistic understanding of how we impact our natural environments. We do this through programs such as our Environmental Studies degree program, which is an interdisciplinary program that approaches sustainability from multiple perspectives; as well as through certificate programs such as our Green Building certificate, which teaches the application of green building and energy efficiency measures on residential buildings.
GS: Why did you decide that a green career was for you?
TP: I've always had an interest in sustainability and the natural environment, and have been working in green careers since my first job at 16 years old as a laborer for a Landscape Architect! My father is American Indian, and our tribal customs incorporated principles of sustainable living thousands of years ago as a survival mechanism. The absence of environmental consciousness and stewardship common in 20th Century governmental policy has made life particularly hard for Indian tribes. My green career choice is thus largely due to a need to advocate for tribes, as well as all life in general, that is adversely affected by poor management of natural resources and waste.
GS: Why did you apply to CRC to be the GreenForce Director?
TP: The GreenForce Projects are what I see as a major catalyst for the Sacramento Region, and as a South Sacramento native I am honored to be a part of them. These projects bring principles of green living to populations that have, historically, been left out of preceding environmental and socio-economic movements. GreenForce acknowledges the importance of all people in promoting sustainability - environmental stewardship is not just for those who can afford hybrid cars or solar panels on their homes. There are small steps we can all take which, collectively, have a huge impact. Our GreenForce projects help to foster an awareness of these small steps, and equip our students with the skills to go out and make it happen!
GS: What is your CRC Utopia?
TP: I don't know if I can adequately describe my ‘CRC Utopia' in anything less than a 2,000 word document! What I can say is my CRC Utopia would include a mix of drought-resistant and edible landscaping, a student volunteer force able and willing to tackle our region's energy and water challenges, LEED Platinum buildings, an integrated composting program, and free tuition for all.
GS: What are you working to make happen at CRC-or what would you like to see happen at CRC?
TP: There's so much happening right now, I don't know where to begin! Faculty in Careers and Technology are putting the finishing touches on their GreenForce certificates, and are developing creative ways of incorporating sustainability into existing courses. I myself am devising ways to creatively advertise for and promote these programs, so our current and future students will know the wonderful opportunities awaiting students in green sector programs. This involves pre-college education programs, such as our Junior ACE program that teaches middle school students the importance of environmental stewardship and sustainability in the Architecture, Construction and Engineering fields. We are currently adding to this program, as well as recruiting for new Instructional Aids to teach the curriculum.
Some immediate short-term goals include completion of our GreenForce website, production of promotional videos for GreenForce programs, and completion of a mobile Solar Energy Trailer. The Solar Energy Trailer is such a cool thing - Ryan Connally, the Department Chair of our Construction program, is building a mobile trailer with an entertainment center, powered completely by solar panels. This thing will have an HDTV and Nintendo Wii console, and we can take it around to schools and community events to showcase the power of photovoltaics!
GS: Where do you see yourself in five years?
TP: Alive, healthy and happy, doing something I love!
GS: Where do you see CRC as a campus, in five years?
TP: In 5 years CRC will continue to be a phenomenal resource for people in the South Sacramento area - hopefully with construction of a new facility for the programs in Careers and Technology nearing completion, if not finished! I would like to see our campus adopt some of the comparatively easy sustainability-themed projects that would enrich our campus environment. Foremost, it would be nice to have a composting program in place by then, where our pre and post consumed waste could be processed on site and used in our Horticulture program and for landscaping.
GS: What is your biggest environmental concern, in general?
TP: I don't know if there is one singular ‘biggest environmental concern' that I have. My concerns for the environment, much like the naturally occurring functions that govern environmental conditions, are all interconnected. If pressed, I would say continued apathy of people in developed and developing countries towards environmental degradation. If we don't change our collective interpretation of Earth's resources and recognize their finite nature, our clock is going to get punched very soon.
GS: What is your biggest environmental concern at CRC?
TP: As a campus we could be doing a better job of reducing our consumption. I see this as very real, yet very fixable, concern. We use a lot of paper on campus, and while it takes a lot of water to keep this campus so green, it could be managed better - just yesterday I saw the sprinklers watering grass while it was raining. When we go to grab lunch, many of us hop in the car and drive across the street to the Target shopping center when we could easily walk. Many of these are everyday issues that we can collectively help to change.
GS: Anything else you want the GS readers to know about you?
TP: I'm hiring Instructional Aids for the Junior ACE program next year. If any current students are looking for jobs teaching middle school students, get in touch quickly! I'm in Office BS-116, and would love to talk with you more about our projects, sustainability in general, environmental stewardship, the NBA Playoffs-anything!