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UI senior sows seeds of sustainability

BY DORA GROTE | SEPTEMBER 01, 2011 7:20 AM

(The Daily Iowan/ Rob Johnson)
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Rays of sunlight shone down on the garden, nurturing the earth as it burst into colorful forms of life.

Standing in the University of Iowa Student Garden, located near the Hawklot, Giselle Bruskewitz scooped up a tomato in her hand and smiled, showing her love for sustainability.

The UI senior channels that passion into her internship at the Office of Sustainability and position as copresident of the UI Environmental Coalition.

“I want the world to reflect natural systems where everything is regenerate and vital with no linear planning, but most importantly, beautiful,” Bruskewitz said.

Her high-school environmental-science teacher, Adam Perkins, sparked her interest in sustainability by riding his bike almost everywhere.

Following that interest, the Elgin, Ill., native decided to create her own major at the UI, Sustainability Community Development, with an emphasis in language and culture.

“I think the emphasis on people, culture, community and language is pivotal in identifying and addressing environmental issues on all scales — local to global,” she said.

The 21-year-old has been an active participant in the Student Garden Project for almost three years and has had the pleasure of watching it grow.

Carrots are one of her favorite plants because of the way they intermingle with one another while growing.

“It’s like little carrots in love with each other,” she said. “They teach you good lessons.”

While interning at the Office of Sustainability last summer, she helped coordinate the recycling and composting. And this summer she was put in charge of the operation, said Liz Christiansen, director of the Office of Sustainability.

“I think what motivates Giselle is that she knows change is possible,” Christiansen said. “She knows that each person’s contribution is important to making collective and sustainable change possible.”

Besides her work in the Office of Sustainability, Bruskewitz has played an active role in coordinating the Student Garden with activities such as Sowing the Seeds of a New Farm Bill.

Chelsea Krist, who became friends with Bruskewitz when they met sophomore year through the Environmental Coalition, said her friend is a great leader.

“Giselle is the most articulate, outspoken, powerful woman I know,” Krist said. “Giselle always says, ‘We’re walking in the footsteps of giants,’ but she is really a giant of her own.”

Once Bruskewitz graduates, she will travel to Lima, Peru, to study the indigenous people and globalization — how different countries operate differently because of the distribution of wealth.

While there, she plans to learn the native language of the Quechua, and she will stay on an organic farm in exchange for labor — a practice also known as “wolfing.”

Bruskewitz does not have any specific career goals in mind, but knows for sure she wants to address issues surrounding sustainability.

“I’d like to help create positive social change and try to make the world a place future generations can enjoy, as I have,” she said.


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