MO Love Retreat unites environment organizations across the state

Organizations from Missouri universities discussed “collective action” at the retreat, which was held at MU.

Coal Free Mizzou and other student-run environmental organizations from universities across Missouri met to discuss environmental issues and unity at this year’s MO Love Retreat.

Representatives from Truman State University, Webster University, and Missouri State University joined members of Coal Free Mizzou in environmental discussions that took place Jan. 24-26 at MU.

Coal Free Mizzou President Samantha Tellatin said the retreat gave the organizations an opportunity to share resources and ideas.

“One of the biggest conversations we (had) was how to act as a unit across the state to create change,” Tellatin said. “So we are trying to create a legitimate, functioning organization.”

For Chloe Jackson, a member of The Environmental Campus Organization from Truman State University, unification of different organizations — both at the state and campus level — was an important issue.

“Right now, (ECO) is trying to form a better connection with other environmental organizations on campus,” she said.

Jackson added that she took part in discussions at the retreat about taking more “collective action” alongside organizations from the other schools.

“We’re talking about doing a letter-writing campaign to protest the Flanagan South Pipeline (Project) that runs through the state,” she said.

Another widely discussed topic was member recruitment on campus.

Valerie Martin, a member of Webster Students for Environmental Sustainability from Webster University, said her organization had to undergo a “restart” since membership fell through last semester.

“Now all the officers are freshmen, but we are getting more people involved,” she said.

Missouri State University’s Students for a Sustainable Future faces a similar challenge, which it hopes to tackle by collaborating with WSES.

“We have a lot of older students and we want to encourage freshmen to get involved early on. Webster has a lot of younger students, so we are able to learn from that,” SSF member Katelin Knight said.

Each organization also shared ambition, future goals and projects for their respective campuses.

“We are planning on doing an energy audit for Webster Hall, which is the oldest main building (at Webster University) that has really bad energy efficiency,” Martin said. “We want to see where we can make improvements and talk about renovations, and how heating, air (conditioning), windows, and lighting could be better.”

As for MU, Tellatin believes the university should improve its sustainable initiatives with more urgency.

“We love everything that the university is doing,” she said. “But we think that climate change is pressing, so we want everything to happen so much faster. There are so many other things that (MU) has to consider, but we think this should be the top priority before anything else.”

Coal Free Mizzou submitted a request Jan. 20 to change its name to the “Mizzou Energy Action Coalition.” Tellatin said she hopes the new name will help the organization broaden its scope of action.

“We don’t just want to focus on eliminating coal from campus,” she said. “(We) want to begin an awareness campaign to tell people that there are these issues that are not only environmental, but also related to people, animals, and future generations.”

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