The Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF) will be regularly featuring alumni, project leaders and other students who help the CSF make a difference on campus. Today's spotlight is on Gunnar Colleen, who is project lead for the ASUW Student Food Cooperative Bulk Buying Storefront.
UW Graduation Year: 2017
Major: Public Health
Hometowns: Seattle, WA and Vienna, Austria
Favorite UW Class: CHID 480: Life in Excess: Waste, Want and the Politics of Surplus
CSF Project: ASUW Student Food Cooperative Bulk Buying Storefront
What inspired you to get involved with the CSF?
"At the co-op, one of our main goals is to move towards a sustainable food future. This is tied to many environmental and labor issues. We see the bulk-buying project as a somewhat small but completely concrete way to try and change the local food system in the university community. We are trying to connect students with sustainable, healthy food in a way that is affordable and accessible."
What is a challenge or reward you have experienced in implementing your project?
"There are both issues and rewards tied to moving beyond our small group and trying to be a larger entity. Right now we mostly do educational work, cooking workshops, and different things like that. Membership has been flexible, meaning students can come whenever they’re interested and help out when they can. Moving towards a concrete location with regular operating hours, we are going to have to completely change the way we organize ourselves. It will change our community."
In your own words, what is a cooperative?
"A democratic model for organizing an entity. Unlike most private businesses, you aren’t having someone at the top of the hierarchy making all of the decisions. In a cooperative, everyone is making the decisions together based on what each member can and wants to do. It’s a true community."
What advice would you give to other students interested in the CSF?
"If you have an idea, and you think you can do it, go for it. I was kind of cynical when one of our members went through the grant process because at that point we hadn’t made much progress with our plans. But everything worked out and we are moving forward with it. So biggest advice: go for it. Things only happen when someone does something to make them happen."