Presentation: GSA launch
October 11, 2007, Allen-Stevenson School, NYC
The GSA started because ONE little boy wanted to celebrate Earth Day in his first grade class at Allen-Stevenson, and because ONE mother wanted to make EVERY day Earth Day for her son.
It started because ONE extraordinary astronaut, who hung upside down under the Earth on one toe fixing the Hubble said, “There are infinite complex life forms in this infinite universe, some survive and some don’t. I’m afraid we may not make it—what are YOU willing to change?”
The GSA started with ONE school facility manager who thought that energy was the right way to challenge HIS community, and ONE Business manager who understood the financial implications on institutions and the need to support a collaborative effort. It started with ONE Headmaster who had the vision, understanding and determination to change his corner of the world.
The GSA started with ONE Music Director who began a Green Group, and ONE Science Director who joined him. It started with ONE student who pushed for renewable energy hoping it could make a difference, ONE parent searching for non-toxic cleaners and healthy food choices, ONE Trustee who thought a green roof was a great idea, and ONE more who caught the bug.
It started with ONE teacher and ONE child who began a community recycling drive and contacted PerScholas, an organization in the S. Bronx that collects and restores old computers and distributes them to those in need, and it started with ONE second grader who conspired with her best friend to make a recycling video.
The GSA started as an idea, a dream, then a possibility, and now because of every single ONE who has come with their story, their curiosity, interest or experience, who want to make a difference one small step at a time — it has become a reality. Well, we’re not taking small steps any longer. Coming together as one, to create a green school community, is ONE BIG LEAP! E Pluribus Unum: from the many ONE. WE are the Green Schools Alliance!
We understand that the education community can play a unique and vital role in shaping the future and we recognize the collective strength of individual action. We have an opportunity at this moment, to join our individual concerns into collective action to protect our shared future.
The independent schools that first came together for the New York pilot, the boarding schools who first took part in the Green Cup Challenge, the public schools who first signed on as a whole school district, and the collective actions of every individual and school in every community, state and nation across the planet, reflect an unprecedented demonstration of human desire to become global leaders in their own communities and help shape the future in a positive way.
Greening our schools is a commitment, not a competition. It’s not about winners, or losers, or who gets there first, or does it best. It’s about celebrating our successes, sharing our experiences and collaborating to build a community and learn together how to do it better.
If there are winners and losers then we’re all losers, and we can’t afford to lose. Our future depends on it.
First envisioned on World Environment Day, June 5, 2007, the GSA was created in response to Mayor Bloomberg’s challenge to New York City institutions to reduce their carbon footprint 30% by 2030. On October 11, 2007, hosted by the Allen-Stevenson School, forty six schools gathered to explore Climate Change and What Schools Can Do About It.
The Green Schools Leadership Commitment was first introduced in an effort to address 21c environmental challenges through integrated sustainable and energy-smart solutions. With support from The Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, NAIS, NBOA, CEFPI, NBOA, PTA and other public and private, local, state, national and global partners, the GSA was launched.
The GSA is a non-profit organization that was a program of GEO: Global Environmental Options, a 501(c)(3) that was founded in 1994 as an outgrowth of the “Greening of the White House” initiative, the first major gathering of the green building community around one project. The GSA was incorporated by GSA legal council, Cravath, Swaine and Moore.
"The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized."
- Rachel Carson
"Greening our schools is a commitment, not a competition. If there are winners and losers, then we're all losers, and we can't afford to lose. Our future depends on it."
- Margaret Watson, 2007
"We cannot solve the problems that we have created with the same thinking that created them."
- Albert Einstein
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