Children's Fire dedicated at FDLTCCFond du Lac Tribal and Community College took another step forward toward building a better future and creating awareness of sustainability.
By: Tom Urbanski, Pine Journal
CLOQUET — Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College took another step forward toward building a better future and creating awareness of sustainability.
In front of a packed audience in the college amphitheater and commons on Wednesday, Oct. 23, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College President Larry Anderson and Sustainability Program Coordinator Bill Hilty unveiled the perpetual Children’s Fire on campus.
The perpetual Children’s Fire is a symbolic tribute to future generations and the role of sustainability in maintaining health and well-being.
“Green is not enough,” said Anderson during the Children’s Fire dedication. “We can embrace the good things people do like recycling and changing light bulbs, but that is not enough. We need to be transformational in order to build sustainability. This transformation is not only about changing our actions and the way we do things, it means changing the way we think about things. That is the challenge, and our Children’s Fire will be a constant reminder to us that we always need to think about our future and future generations.”
“The Children’s Fire idea is borrowed from a centuries-old Irish council who kept a fire burning in their council chambers,” explained Hilty. “The constant fire was a reminder that no law, no decision, and no force of action shall be made that does not consider the future of the children. Ours is a symbolic representation of the fire that burned in those Irish council chambers.”
Hilty created and built the Children’s Fire on campus. It features natural materials of stones, moss, small branches of trees, and energy-efficient LED bulbs. Mark Bernhardson, FDLTCC facilities manager, constructed a base out of diamond willow. The Children’s Fire is on display in the center of the college’s amphitheater where everyone can see it and be reminded of its message.
“Keep in mind that this is version 1.0,” said Hilty. “Hopefully, someone will come and improve our design.”
Integrating a small solar panel to provide power to the LED bulbs is one improvement that has been mentioned.
“The Children’s Fire is a call out to every student, every employee, and every visitor to campus to be proud of our college and also serve as a reminder to take care of each other on campus,” said Anderson. “The Children’s Fire is a gift to help remind us of what is right.”
The Children’s Fire unveiling was the centerpiece event of the first-ever Sustainability Awareness Week on campus Oct. 21-25. Activities and guest speakers provided opportunities for students and community members to learn more about sustainability issues, as well as how to lead a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle.
“Sustainability is something we have to keep working at,” said Bruce Ahlgren, mayor of Cloquet, during his comments at the Children’s Fire dedication. “If we don’t take care of our environment, and if we don’t take care of our economy, what does that mean for our children? We need to teach and lead people to do the right things to protect our environment and make a better future for everyone.”
The Sustainability Awareness Week featured guest speakers each day, including Jeff Maida of Sustainable Twin Ports, Shannon Judd from the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Ojibwe Garden Coordinator Danielle Diver, Duluth Seeds of Success Coordinator Sarah Lee, and energy consumption expert Tony Mancuso. Francois Medion, FDLTCC graduate and leader in the local agriculture and fresh food movement, spoke about his experiences with the Duluth Grill along with restaurant owner Tom Hanson. FDLTCC Admissions Officer Josh Cleveland presented about his solo kayak expedition paddling the entire length of the Mississippi River, from Lake Itasca to Louisiana.
Other activities included a campus scavenger hunt and campus clean-up day, daily movie screenings, facilitated discussions, a geocache hunt on campus, and a tour of the energy efficient and LEEDS certified Fond du Lac Resources Management building.