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"A moment with ... Yvette Kline"

02/02/2012

Yvette Kline
"A moment with ..." is a Q-and-A column featuring Miami employees.

Take "A moment with ... Yvette Kline," Miami's first director of sustainability and energy conservation. She focuses on sustainability in university operations and on the implementation of the sustainability commitments and goals (SCAG), announced last spring.

Recently, Kline led the development of a series of “Go Green @ Miami” weekly events for spring semester, kicked off this week. The events center around the theme of "Creating a Culture of Sustainability at Miami." Included are the RecycleMania and Campus Conservation Nationals competitions which both begin Feb. 5.

Q: Tell us about your previous positions in sustainability.
A: Sustainability is my "encore" career. (Her background is in engineering.) One day, while working for the Cherry Hill, N.J. school district, I was alone in the office when we received a citation from county inspectors who found recyclables in our trash dumpsters. Recycling was sufficiently close to my position in capital outlay and energy management that revamping our system became another of my projects. That led to a visit by two women to discuss an all-volunteer non-profit they were starting called Sustainable Cherry Hill (SCH). My sustainability knowledge and experience grew through my board and committee work with SCH.

Q: Now that you have lived in the small college town of Oxford for a semester, what differences do you see between it and urban New Jersey in the culture of sustainability?
A: My former township, a south Jersey suburb, is approximately 95 percent built out. While that situation "locks in" the major roads that divide the town, it also elevates the importance of the remaining green spaces. Cycling clubs, riding in groups, have helped make drivers aware of cyclists, and have increased the number of people who bike. State law, through a solar carve out, has facilitated photovoltaic installations, and nearly every electric pole houses a solar panel that feeds the grid. Recycling rates increased by 60 percent with the introduction of RecycleBank, a service that provides single stream recycling containers and gives households a broad menu of rewards in local goods and services based on the weight collected. Problems and opportunities differ from region to region, and although studying other regions helps us understand what is possible, a solution that works in Cherry Hill — where the beauty of the sky is best appreciated from large parking lots — is not necessarily a good solution for Oxford.

Q: What are some of the successes you see at Miami, in regards to creating a culture of sustainability?
A: The framework exists. We have a thoughtful set of commitments and goals, good town-gown relations, and people of all ages involved in sustainability-related study and practice in many fields.

Q: What are some of the challenges you see?
A: The challenge? Helping them find each other: Channeling their individual lines of interest into a continuous stream of action.

Q: Since this is the Year of the Arts at Miami, have you explored any the arts events since you arrived at Miami at the beginning of the school year?
A: I take daily inspiration from the beauty of the trees, sky, outdoor sculpture and buildings at Miami and Oxford, and delight in the songs of the Pulley Tower. My husband and I took in the Art Museum's "Women in Arts" exhibit and the opening reception/sale at the new Art Center on Family Weekend, and I was moved by the Dance Theater's concert in December. Of course, we were also thrilled by Marching Band and Dance Team shows during football season - and watching the band on TV was a highlight of Thanksgiving.

Q: Do you have recommendations/tips for how we can all contribute to the RecycleMania competition? (RecycleMania officially begins Feb. 5. This national collegiate recycling contest encourages faculty, students and staff to recycle.)
A: I believe that those in my generation have an obligation to get in the game by discussing and modeling sensible resource conservation and recovery behaviors. This is one way we will shift our focus from contest to culture.

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