Mac Cares’ identity crisis

By Brianna Besch

Mac Cares is widely referred to as the Macalester environmental student organization. Ironically, as sustainability efforts have become institutionalized and taken up by other orgs across campus, in recent years Mac Cares has lost direction. The more dedicated members of the org have realized that Mac Cares can’t continue to function the way it did when it started, and have even begun to wonder whether there is still a need for the org at Macalester. While we still believe there’s a place for Mac Cares, we are somewhat at a loss for what it should be, and decided to try to ask Macalester at large to help us define that role. In an effort to find some direction, Mac Cares is hosting a campus-wide brainstorming session next Thursday, the 23rd, at 4:30 in Davis Court. Mac Cares started in 2005-2006 as Mac CARES- the Macalester Conservation and Renewable Energy Society. A group of incredibly motivated students wanted to change the way the school looked at sustainability, and through Mac Cares they did. They started CERF, the Clean Energy Revolving Fund, collaborated to help create the Eco house, and worked with other Minnesota colleges to start the Minnesota Campus Energy Challenge. Working with Xcel Energy they helped get the wind turbine near Olin-Rice, as well as prairie and green roofs installed around campus. They are a large part of why we now have the Sustainability Office and the Macalester Sustainability Plan. The org operates on a non-hieratical structure of rotating facilitators. While this made a lot of sense with a lot of passionate people with big issues to work on, as other parts of campus took over roles previously filled by Mac Cares and original members graduated, the club started to flounder. Still, during my first two years at Macalester Mac Cares we managed to pull off a couple of cool projects. We secured a bike blender as the prize for the 2010 Minnesota Campus Energy Challenge, and created successful 10/10/10 events. We took over 30 students to Power Shift last spring and played a large role in the discontinuation of bottled water sales at Mac. However, these projects centered on a few people involved in specific issues without really engaging the whole org. Rotating facilitators led to a leadership vacancy and lack of structure. While there is still a lot of passion around environmental issues on campus, it’s no longer being filtered through Mac Cares. The question of what Mac Cares should be as a student org arose. Mac Cares has always been a rallying point for environmental work, and now we are attempting to bring students, faculty and staff together to define the role they would like to see Mac Cares have on campus. We invite you to participate and hopefully re-kindle some of the initiative Mac Cares started with. We still think there’s a place for Mac Cares, we’re just not exactly sure what that is, and would love your help in figuring it out. refresh –>