The SEED has yet to sprout, but support for a sustainable education classroom module in Jasper is by no means dormant.
Students, teachers, parents, designers, donors, public officials and Jasper Jr./Sr. High School alumni joined together January 13 to rekindle a flame that they weren’t ready to see extinguished. The reunion was an effort to update the community on the progress of bringing a SEED (Sustainable Education Every Day) classroom to Jasper and, by brainstorming with stakeholders, invest new energy into the project.
“We’re here tonight because we believe in this plan,” said moderator Christopher Read. “We all said we’re going to follow the lead of these students because that’s how we got here.”
In 2011, a contingent of Jasper students inspired Seattle-based architect Stacy Smedley to help incorporate the principles of the Living Building Challenge into a portable classroom, destined for Jasper. The initiative came on the heels of the students’ environmental design recommendations for the new high school being rejected by the provincial government. With the backing of the community and thousands of donated dollars, it was a major disappointment to students and supporters alike to then learn that their SEED classroom was destined for another school in Seattle.
“I get emotional whenever I talk about this project because it’s been such a long journey and we’re still not there yet,” Smedley told the group via Skype.
But even though many of the students who were originally involved in the initiative have gone on to post-secondary education, there remains a committed core of alumni. Members of that group dialled in to the January 13 meeting and voiced their ongoing support.
“This is still inspiring to me because its’s something we’ve done,” Theresa Westhaver, now a UNBC student, told the group.
“It’s been so long that we’ve been working on this, yet so many people haven’t given up on it.”
Despite there being a feeling of fundraising exhaustion (partners have raised just over $51,000 of the $180,000 SEED price tag), there is still a chance that Jasper could receive a SEED classroom at no charge, if Smedley can sell 20 prototypes so as to offset its cost. Knowing that, when Jasper councillor Brian Nesbitt wondered aloud whether education leaders around the district might be interested in considering fulfilling their capital needs with a SEED classroom or two, real excitement started to build.
“That’s a great idea, that’s exactly the kind of stuff we need,” Read exclaimed.