CASEY TRIMM – Environmental sustainability is not only a priority for Denison, but for Granville as well. Recently, Denison students had the opportunity to collaborate with members of the community and professionals in the environmental studies field on ways to protect and maintain our environment.

The idea began over the summer when members of Village Council Jackie O’Keefe and Michelle Lerner got a group of people together to investigate the ways that Granville Township and Village could become more eco-friendly and sustainable.

After a couple meetings with about a dozen people who represent many facets of the community, O’Keefe and Lerner agreed that a public forum was best in order to inform the public of sustainability and collect as much of their input as possible.

In short, sustainability looks to protect our natural environment, human and ecological health, while driving innovation and future technologies. Specifically to Denison and Granville’s community, sustainability has been a key factor when it comes to future plans to protect our natural environment.

Dr. Abram Kaplan, associate professor in the environmental studies department, and his students ran the forum which took place on Nov. 16 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Welsh Hills School on Newark-Granville Rd. The sustainability initiative involved representatives from both the village and township, Denison University and manufacturing company Owens-Corning. All of these representatives from different areas of the community were able to share their thoughts on environmental sustainability and have an open discussion with one another.

“I’m really lucky to have had the opportunity to talk with residents of the community and professionals in this field. Sustainability is something that can’t be overlooked, so being able to share my ideas was something really special to me,” said environmental studies major Charlie Bassett ‘20 from Edina, MN.

The focus of the meeting was particularly centered on how to preserve and protect the land, water and air of Granville while accommodating the changes brought on by the economic and housing needs of the community.  

The forum was structured around five core areas of interest: energy and the environment, transportation, land use, local foods and policy. Participants from Denison were able to voice their opinions and thoughts freely throughout the exhibit and receive feedback from the village planning staff and community residents.

When reflecting on the event, Dr. Kaplan said, “Since I teach a class on environmental planning and design this semester, it made sense for the class to facilitate the forum. We had a tremendous turnout from the community and now are embarking on our next phase. This involves the research of specific ideas that were brought up by residents, identification of possible steps the community can take and exploration of what other jurisdictions have done in these areas.”

This forum is a prime example of a collaborative effort from not only residents of the community and Village Council members, but Denison students as well. This was an amazing opportunity for students interested in environmental studies because they were able to apply what they’ve learned and their passions for sustainability improvements in a real world setting.

In terms of future plans, Dr. Kaplan and his class are producing a report for the Village and Township as well as presenting their recommendations to the community on Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Village Offices on Broadway St.