The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Green City College politics

Newly appointed Secretary of Sustainability Michael Viscuso Nov. 16 in City College's Student Associated Council office Photo by ||John Johnson || [email protected]||

As Earth welcomed its 7 billionth child Nov. 1, international concern for diminishing world resources and mounting pollution are on the rise.

This concern not only stems from the number of people on the planet, but how those people consume and dispose of their resources.

City College’s Student Associated Council has recognized the international concern by creating a new position to help the campus reduce waste by welcoming Michael Viscuso to the newly created position of secretary of Sustainability.

“When we created the new constitution, we put in the secretary of Sustainability so that someone can always be available for that position,” says Vice President of the Student Associated Council EloHim Cofield. “Hopefully, this one [constitution] will stay in place the next 10, 15, 20 years, and hopefully, by that time the school will be completely green.”

Before Viscuso, a plant biology major, had considered running unopposed for the position, Cofield had to convince the Connecticut backwoods native Viscuso was the right student for the job.

“We need someone that’s green and he has knowledge about being green. He’s already done this kind of work outside the school, so he would be a perfect candidate,” says Cofield, an administration of justice and political science major.

Viscuso, who intends to transfer to UC Davis, would not strike you as the type of candidate to run for a student government position. His calm, deep voice and demeanor is accented by his dark beard and curly hair that stands on end.

When Viscuso realized that his many years of experience working on sustainability projects would work to his benefit as secretary of Sustainability, potentially having far-reaching effects with other schools in the Los Rios District, he knew he had to run for the position.

“I realized I could actually do something good throughout the whole district,” says Viscuso, who moved to Sacramento in January. “Burning Man is one of the things that definitely got me into the [sustainability] scene,” says Viscuso who has attended or volunteered at Burning Man almost every year since 2000. “That’s where I met a lot of people that are deep in the scene in California.”

Viscuso, a 40-year-old vegan, assisted with coordinating solar projects at Burning Man that allowed patrons to charge their phones and cameras at the event despite being isolated in the Nevadan desert. Later the solar structure was dismantled and installed on public structures in Gerlach and Lovelock, Nev., reducing their energy usage.

“I was really blessed and stoked we helped facilitate all that in a way,” says Viscuso, in his laid-back tone. Viscuso is also a member of Freedom Farms, a community garden in Oak Park that has proposed a garden next to Jedediah Smith Elementary School.

“Hopefully, it will come to fruition,” says Viscuso. “There is a 6-acre plot right next to it that is owned by the Sacramento School District, and we’ve proposed in a two-year span to turn that area into a community garden for the whole community, as well as to produce food for the school. It’s a great plot, too! It will be like a little eco-village. The principal and vice principal are really into it, too.”
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Viscuso is also a volunteer at City Farm, City College’s organic urban-gardening pilot-project on campus.

“Michael’s energy around sustainable agriculture goes well beyond City Farm,” says Robyn Waxman, City College Graphic Communication professor and faculty coordinator for City Farm. “Most of his contributions to City Farm have been directly related to our garden parties
every other Friday at noon.”

“He donated seeds, trained students in how to transplant seedlings, he offered advice regarding irrigation, and he keeps ideas about compost and how to be most sustainable at the front of everyone’s minds,” says Waxman. “He’s truly a gift.”

Since the beginning of fall semester, Viscuso has been collecting signatures for two petitions he has written. As San Francisco has done, he has proposed the composting of organic waste from the campus cafeteria to divert waste from landfills and create usable soil for future use.

“It is a commodity,” says Viscuso with conviction. “It’s the one way to revitalize the soil that we need.”

Viscuso’s second petition proposes that the campus cafeteria take steps to become more sustainable: offering healthier snack and meal alternatives produced by local, environmentally sustainable farms that practice fair labor and the humane treatment of animals.

“It would encompass safe farming practices—all the way from how you take care of your soil to your workers to the end result of it ending up on your plate,” Viscuso says.

Faculty at City College are supportive of Viscuso’s vision of generating less waste on campus.

“What we are doing on the planet, where we are going with this kind of stuff, with the population and with all the things that come into food security, how can it hurt to maybe create a system that is a little more holistic or sustainable versus one that is not?” says Craig Davis, geography professor at City College, who was involved with coordinating the current recycling program on campus 10 years ago.

“Maybe it isn’t just about composting, it’s also about the front end of the food service, the materials we use in the cafeteria as a whole,” says Davis, a City Farm supporter.

One of Viscuso’s fi rst priorities as secretary of Sustainability will be to form a sustainability committee think-tank to come up with different ideas on how to create a sustainable campus and minimize the waste created.

With the rewriting of the constitution to include a secretary of Sustainability, the Associated Student Council is an example of how world governments could restructure themselves to include the interests of future generations—having Viscuso’s vision and experience is just an added perk for the student government.

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