Learn How to Go Green with ACC’s Green Team

Story by Georgina Barahona

Edited by Pete Ramirez

Have you ever wondered what you could do to protect the natural environment around you? Have you ever tried to calculate and lower your carbon footprint? 

Austin Community College’s Office of Energy & Sustainability can help you address these questions and discover how you can get involved in creating a more sustainable world through green initiatives led by their Green Team.

The large and ever-growing department’s Green Team consists of ACC faculty, staff and students who volunteer to improve environmental sustainability on campus and throughout the surrounding city.

The office and its Green Team work to continuously elevate the knowledge of sustainability to those they have the opportunity to work with, students and community members alike.

The Green Team welcomes all volunteers with open arms, no matter what community they come from. 

Inspired by the work of the Office of Energy & Sustainability, Angelica Ruzanova, a first-year journalism major at ACC, decided to join the Green Team last fall.

“Our ACC Green Team works by offering particular activities, advocacy and action,” Ruzanova said. 

The organization has a calendar of events accessible to anyone who wants to join their movement in ecological restoration, including events offered by The Trail Foundation.

“The Trail Foundation is a beautiful place to start with hands-on projects,” Ruzanova said. “We do planting, weeding, invasive species removal, trash clean-up, mulching, and other ecological restoration activities on the Ann & Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail.” 

Angelica Ruzanova works with other Green Team members to spread mulch at the Ann & Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail. Follow the foundation’s Instagram account @thetrailfoundation.

You can find the organization’s events calendar by clicking this link. The Green Team provides a wide variety of events curated to teach individuals how to take that first step towards environmental awareness.

One of the upcoming events that is open to ACC students is the Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability on Monday, April 4, 2022 from 1 pm to 5 pm. 

The event is a free student virtual summit with the theme being student empowerment and climate action. If you would like to attend the conference, send an email to the Green Team at Green@austincc.edu

If you get involved with ACC’s Green Team, they’ll introduce you to the seemingly endless possibilities to learn new and realistic ways to combat climate change.

From helping to implement sustainable living ideas into a conference like Adulting 101, to acquiring access to off-campus events where other like-minded individuals share ideas about approaching ecological restoration, there are countless opportunities to get involved.

Jasmin Rostamnezhad, Sustainability Manager at ACC’s Office of Energy & Sustainability, works with her teammates and volunteers to find new and creative ways to make fighting climate change accessible and achievable to the everyday person.

“My passion is working with each person & getting them to understand that the little things you do have a big impact,” Rostamnezhad said. “I do that by tabling with students at ACC and creating resources for people to use after their time at ACC.” 

Jasmin Rostamnezhad, Sustainability Manager at ACC’s Office of Energy & Sustainability, speaks to ACCENT reporter, Georgina Barahona, about her office and the Green Team’s recent work.

Ruzanova says the Green Team is a place where you can share your ideas about sustainability and work with the team to turn those ideas into reality.

“Starting small, on an individual level is what makes it special,” Ruzanova said.

“You can go from so many angles with sustainability because it’s a universal movement acknowledged throughout the world, with people from different demographics and different socio economic levels bringing something to the table by sharing their stories,” Ruzanova said. 

“Having organizations such as ACC Green Team, who work so hard to organize these events, is a step towards widespread sustainability in our community in Austin and a realistic example of what action is capable of,” Ruzanova said.

But ACC did not always have sustainability in mind. As the consensus around climate change reached a tipping point during the 2000s, the college moved to change with the times.

The blueprint to enact college-wide sustainability policies was created and adopted by ACC in 2009 with the C-9 Sustainable Practices Policy and the Sustainable Construction and College Operations Guidelines/Procedures. In the same year, ACC joined the Carbon Commitment, which is a public pledge for the school to take steps to make the entire college carbon neutral. 

As these initiatives were put to the forefront of the college’s taskbook, the steps to creating climate neutrality among the college were put into full effect.

But wait, what is climate neutrality? 

In simple terms, it means reducing greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide, which is created by burning fossil fuels, as soon as possible by balancing those emissions so they are equal to or less than the emissions that get removed through the Earth’s natural absorption. Fundamentally, it means we reduce our emissions through climate action.

Rostamnezhad realizes that her work is cut out for her but she is driven by the hope of building a better world for all of Earth’s inhabitants. 

“Ultimately what inspired me to get into this field is the impact that our climate issues and environmental problems have on certain communities as well as low income communities and disadvantaged communities that are unfairly targeted by our behaviors everyday,” Jasmin Rostamnezhad said. “I think that should inspire everyone to want to change the way that they live.” 

Prizes, Pizza, and Kombucha Pop: A Look at the Eastview Campus Fall Fest

Story and photos by Shaina Kambo, Reporter

Eastview Campus hosted the Fall Fest, a student appreciation event providing free food, admission, and activities open to all ACC students.

The seventeen-member Enrollment Management Team at Eastview Campus organized the October 15 event.  Recruiting Advising Specialist Kendra Singletary said the aim of putting on such an event was to allow students to have a moment to relax between classes.

“It’s a way for students to get to know their enrollment management team and get together [with] some of their fellow classmates in a fun environment,” Singletary said.

The arrival of midday brought along several curious and hungry students who ate pizza and candy coated popcorn while trying out the different activities including shooting basketballs into inflatable hoops , competing in a game of indoor soccer, and trying to score against their opponents in the  Fake- It-‘til- You-Make-It Challenge: a game involving opposite facing players  moving against the pull of an elastic cord which joins them together in an attempt to dunk a basketball their corresponding hoop.

The management team joined in on the amusement. Event coordinator and Recruiting Advising Specialist Vincent Bustillos said he had no qualms with defeating his coworkers at the Fake-It Challenge on more than one occasion.

He also said that various organizations such as H-E-B, ACC Student Life, and the ACC Bookstore, donated food and giveaway items for the Fall Fest. LIVE Soda Kombucha “generously donated over eighty bottles” of the organic beverage for the event, Bustillos said. “[I] definitely want to give them recognition.” He hopes to help organize future campus events for students to enjoy.

As the raffle numbers were announced, several students glanced at their blue tickets in anticipation to win something. The first prize of the afternoon, a twenty dollar gift card to H-E-B, was awarded to freshman Mikhayla Johnson, the first of several raffle winners.

Megan Reyes, who’s in her fourth semester at ACC, walked away with a LIVE Soda case containing coupons for free drinks, a hat, t-shirt, and a bandana. Fifteen minutes later, Amy Deng, a dental hygiene major, won an ACC backpack including a school-themed banner, t-shirt, sunglasses, and water bottle.

Student Derrick Ellis said that he enjoyed the event and would like to see “more events like this”. Ellis spent much of his time at the event competing against first-year Meagan Harper in a game of life-size Connect Four.

 

 

 

EV1
FACE-OFF – Students competing against each other in the Fake- It-‘Til-You-Make-It Challenge.

 

EV2
PIZZA-APPRECIATION – Students enjoying some pizza.

 

EV3
IN-BETWEEN – Students taking a break between classes during the Fall Fest.

 

EV4
ALL SMILES – Recruiting advising specialist Kendra Singletary enjoying the festivities.

Photo Story: Collings Guitars

Photo story by, Kelly West News Photography One Class, Fall 15′

Collings Guitars, which started as a one-man shop in the mid-1970s, has grown to include more than 70 full-time employees and an expanding facility on the western edge of Travis County. Bill Collings dropped out of college as a pre-med major and started repairing and building guitars, and eventually hired his first employee in 1989, who still works for the company.

The Collings shop turns out high-quality acoustic and electric guitars, as well as mandolins and ukuleles, and most steps of the production process are performed painstakingly by hand. The cost of the guitars can range anywhere from $3,500 to $6,000 or more, depending on how custom the design is.

Collings instruments are played by a variety of musicians, including Lyle Lovett, Lloyd Maines, and Patti Smith.

[Students from the News Photography 1316 class spent a morning documenting the work and craftsmanship at Collings Guitars, and complied a photo story from the assignment.]

Jerome Little, an employee of Collings Guitars, a local guitar manufacturer since the 1970’s, sands a piece of an electric guitar inside the Collings facility in Austin, Texas. October 9, 2015. photo by Anneke Paterson
Hard at work – An employee Sands a piece of an electric guitar inside the Collings facility. Photo by Anneke Paterson.

Collings Guitars is a stringed instrument manufacturer established in 1973 in Austin, Texas. Reid Albach smooths out the sides of an acoustic guitar on Friday, October 9th. photo by Mario Cantu
Smoothing out the edges – Reid Albach smooths out the sides of an acoustic guitar. Photo by Mario Cantu.

Collings guitars, a handmade guitar and mandolin company located on highway 290 W in Austin, TX has been locally owned and operated for over 20 years. A satin finish A-Model MT mandolin made by Collings Guitars receives its final adjustments before completion Friday October 9th, 2015. photo by Nicholas Skelton-Tangredi
Collings guitars – A satin finish A-Model MT mandolin made receives its final adjustments before completion. Photo by Nicholas Skelton-Tangredi.

Jerome Little, an employee of Collings Guitars, uses a chisel tool to finish a piece of an electric guitar inside the Collings facility in Austin, Texas on October 9, 2015. photo by Anneke Paterson
It’s all in the details – Jerome Little, an employee of Collings Guitars, uses a chisel tool to finish a piece of an electric guitar inside the facility. Photo by Anneke Paterson.

Scott Butts assembles a bridge to a Mandolin at Collings Guitars in Austin, Texas on Friday Oct. 09, 2015. photo by Mario Cantu
Putting it all together – Scott Butts assembles a bridge to a Mandolin at Collings. Photo by Mario Cantu.

Andrew Murray makes small cuts into a guitar, a process called kerfing which requires intricate and skilled work. photo by Mario Cantu
It takes skills – Andrew Murray makes small cuts into a guitar, a process called kerfing which requires intricate and skilled work. photo by Mario Cantu

Ed Rodriguez repairs an old guitar at Collings Guitars, located in Austin, Texas on Friday, October 9th, 2015 . The C10 series acoustic was sent back to Collings for a scratch made at the headstock. photo by Chloe Bennett
Making repairs – Ed Rodriguez repairs an old guitar. The C10 series acoustic was sent back to Collings for a scratch made at the headstock. Photo by Chloe Bennett

 

For a look at how Collings employees take a break to have fun during the day, enjoy this short video at http://bcove.me/z93mtt9m.

On the Record: Gigi Edwards Bryant

Story by Shaina Kambo, reporter

Photo Courtesy of Deborah Cannon, Austin American-Statesman

ACC District Trustee and businesswoman Gigi Edwards Bryant, who grew up in the Texas foster care system, began her post-secondary education at ACC in 1977. Bryant recently discussed her journey to success with Accent.

ACCENT: What was your childhood like?

BRYANT: My childhood before I was six was very good, but when I was six, I entered the foster care system. There was abuse and mistreatment. It was an old system, and the checks and balances that they have today were not there for children. I aged out at age eighteen with my daughter. My experiences taught me to be more caring about people, that it’s the little things that make a difference, and that one individual can change the world.

ACCENT: Who encouraged you on your journey to achievement?

BRYANT: My Big Mama (great-grandmother) told me that I could do anything and that God would protect me.

ACCENT: Has your definition of success changed throughout your life?

BRYANT: Success has to be defined by the individual, and everyone has to realize their own potential. Some days in my life, success was just getting out of bed. Some days, success was helping somebody to do the things that they wanted to do. Some days, success was knowing that I had done a good job and that I could take a nap.

ACCENT: What was it like being a student at ACC in 1977?

BRYANT: It was fabulous: small classrooms, professors and individuals who looked for you when you weren’t there. When I was going to ACC there were so many [moments when] I thought I was going to drop out. I just didn’t think that I could do it all: take care of my kids, pay my bills, go to work. It started out tough, but I stuck to it until it improved; I didn’t want to opt out.

ACCENT: How did your ACC education help you to achieve your goals?

BRYANT: It gave me an opportunity to realize that I could achieve an education at a pace that was successful to me.

ACCENT: What improvements at ACC would help students reach their full potential?

BRYANT: I want to see our graduation rate go up. I want to see our involvement in high schools be more concerted. I want us to put ACC in the minds of those students and [help them to realize] that we are a very good option. On the other side, I want to hear our students talk about the experiences they’ve had at ACC — the positives and the negatives — and then come back and help us do a better job.

ACCENT: What are some of the goals that you have for the future?

BRYANT: I want to leave a legacy behind about education and I want it to be empowering for the next generation. I want to make sure that I do something every day that leads the next generation to know that they can do it.

ACCENT: Is there any advice that you can give regarding perseverance?

BRYANT: Perseverance is a step-by-step journey. [Within] anybody that you encounter, there is a story. I want to encourage people to tell their own story. Tell [it] the way it happened to you. If it’s validation that you need, you may not get it, but keep telling your story because that’s where your strength is going to come from.

 

Campus Viewpoint: How do you feel about finding water on Mars?

Story by Noor Alahmadi, reporter

Widyan Younes
Widyan Younes • It’s important because they might discover there’s life there, or something lives there. I would want to live there.

Victor Morrow
Victor Morrow • I’m not surprised. I thought, there’s something we didn’t know that we just found out, so there must be more that we don’t know that we will find out. If you find water, there’s a good chance that we’ll find life.

Eri Watanabe
Eri Watanabe • That’s totally astonishing! There’s a possibility we can find life there. It’s new. We haven’t found water there before. We might find other things other than water. I wouldn’t want to live there, but I would go sightseeing. In Texas, the water supply is a problem. We could use that water.

Campus Viewpoint: Is Voting Important to You?

Story by Anthony DeVera, reporter

Daniel Woo
Daniel Woo • I didn’t vote. I’m just not informed enough about the candidates. I’m too inexperienced, too naive right now to really vote. I might vote someday. Maybe when I have actually read up on the candidates and what I affiliate myself with.

Jasmine Scott
Jasmine Scott • I didn’t vote. I wanted to, but I have a lot on my plate and I didn’t have the time to get around to it. Voting just in general is important. I mean, if you want to be heard, if you want things to change, you have to vote. If you don’t, you don’t have a say so, you can’t complain about what’s going on in the world.

Maleha Baset
Maleha Baset • I voted. My brother reminded me since he’s more informed and can inform me of what I need to know. I also have a pretty good government teacher who gets my class really well informed on how local voting affects us more. It’s important to vote because it affects you and your lifestyle.

At the Movies: A Review of Recent Box Office Films

Reviews by Avery Callaway and Gaius Straka,

Bridge of Spies

Steven Spielberg’s latest film, “Bridge of Spies,” is pleasant, but not very memorable. There are no standout moments that can really push it over the edge from being good to great. Even with the Coen brothers writing and Tom Hanks’ star power elevating the film, it never tries to go any farther than it has to with it’s story and characters. The story focuses on James Donovan (Hanks), an insurance lawyer who has been given the difficult task of representing a captured Soviet spy in 1950s America. His ethics as an attorney are tested when his own country seems to turn against him. There are no glaring issues to be seen within “Bridge of Spies.” It achieves everything it wants to accomplish with gusto. Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks, he never gives a performance that isn’t superb. The plot can switch seamlessly from tense to lighthearted on a dime and not be jarring in the slightest. Unfortunately, it never tries to go farther than it has to, and that holds “Bridge of Spies” back.

Accent Rating B+ Avery Callaway

Goosebumps

“Goosebumps” gains some points immediately for being one of the more inspired young adult novel adaptations to come out recently. Instead of just adapting one of the novels, “Goosebumps” tells an original story by throwing many of the series’ monsters into the same setting. That, and some sharp performances early on earn the film some merit. However, “Goosebumps” quickly loses it due to a lack of consequences and a bad script.

The plot is a mess. There are so many unnecessary characters and subplots that nothing is ever accomplished scene-by-scene. Every time the audience might feel some progress has been made, the film finds a way to waste time, usually with some awful computer generated effect. Even at a run time of just over 100 minutes, it still seems like it’s an half hour too long.

It’s a shame, because sometimes a glimmer of creativity can be seen in this mess of a film. However, these moments are not frequent. The greatest sin “Goosebumps” commits is that it decided to be a feature-length film.

Accent Rating D Avery Callaway

Sicario

“Sicario” is a great example of mechanical film-making at it’s finest. Every scene and music beat work toward creating a feeling of dread and tension that immediately engrosses the audience in the events that play out.

The cinematographer, Roger Deakens, deserves recognition for his work because every frame is purposeful and precise.

The story is focused on Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), an idealistic FBI officer who is recruited onto a task force, headed by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), designed to bring a major cartel located in Juarez to justice. However, the longer Kate works with her new team, the more her ideals conflict with the shady actions of her higher ups.

If there were a complaint about “Sicario,” it would be that some of the dialogue in the film was stilted at times. Some of the dialogue was too light-hearted for events taking place. However, this should not keep you from seeing the film.

Accent Rating: A- Avery Callaway

The Martian

“The Martian,” is an exciting action/adventure film about a man surviving in a vast unforgiving world millions of miles from home.

Mark Watney, brilliantly acted by Matt Damon, is an astronaut stationed on Mars and presumed dead after an intense storm strikes his base during a rushed departure off the planet.

Watney shows how much of an elite specialist he is by surviving for years on the desolate Red Planet with few resources. He even manages to make his own garden.

The movie brings out the good of humanity in many ways including the portrayal of how far the astronauts are willing to go to bring one of their own back home.

Despite the dire situation, Matt Damon’s character doesn’t fall into a gloomy depressed frame of mind. Rather, he turns to making fun of himself through his failures while remaining confident and driven to survive, and eventually, leave Mars.

Director Ridley Scott has even more to offer in “The Martian” than he did in “Exodus.” The cinematography and special effects are stunning, creating gripping scenes and a feeling of realism.

Accent Rating: A- Gaius Straka

A Surreal Steve-O

Story by Christian Santiago, reporter

In lieu of recording his Showtime comedy special at the Paramount Theater on November 21, Steve-O of Jackass fame took some time to speak with Accent to answer a few questions.

Accent: What inspires you? What’s the inspiration for the things that you do?

Steve-O: “My main inspiration is the fact that I am an attention whore. I’m also a sensitive guy, it’s important to me to be impressive.”

A: As a stand up comic, are there any other comedians that you look up to?

S: “Dane Cook was a big deal for me. He put the wind in my sails early on. Beyond that I generally don’t model myself after anybody. My experience in life as a drug addict, alcoholic, sex addict, and as a maniac is where I draw my material from.”

A: Your fans have grown to love you by watching you go through some sort of pain or get sick by your own stunts. What is it like to have so many fans that love to watch you go through that?

S: “I don’t feel like my fans are sadistic, I just feel like there is an inherent compulsion for people to stare at accidents and be comforted by the misfortune of others. I think Jackass was about manufacturing accidents for this reason.

A: What motivated you to work with and promote the efforts of the David Lynch Foundation including starting a fundraiser?

S: “David Lynch teaches transcendental meditation. The program that I am raising money for is to bring this [program] to inner city youth. I have been practicing transcendental meditation for two and a half years and it’s really helped.”

A: How did you come up with the seaworld protest?

S: “The whole thing was really random. My buddies and I were looking for cool stunts to do with drones, but I thought it would be a really cool shot to bring a killer whale, and it would be a great publicity stunt for bringing attention to Sea world”

A: You’ve gone from home movies, to TV series, to feature films. You’ve published a book, and you’ve garnered a following on your Youtube channel. What’s your favorite medium to work in? And If you had a choice, how would you like to continue entertaining your fans in the future?

S: “I love it all, and again, thats because I’m an attention whore through and through. Right now I am looking to make my own movie and I have a great idea for it. That and my stand up is another thing I am working on. I can’t tell you enough how excited I am to come to Austin and perform. I feel like this is my opportunity to really break through. I love Austin, and this is going to be the best show [The Paramount] has ever had.”

Steve-O is extending a special invitation to ACC students. Purchase your tickets online at tickets.austintheatre.org, use promo code “jailed” to get a discount on your purchase. 

Riverbat Cafe: You Get Served

Story by Ryan Fontenette-Mitchell, reporter

A quick bite to eat and then off to classes is how many ACC students operate on a daily basis. The Eastview Campus has an option for hungry students —The Riverbat Cafe, located in the campus courtyard.

The cafe offers two different menus, the regular menu which changes each week and the chef ’s special that changes every day. Both menus offer tasty food combinations that appeal to a variety of palates. If you are uncertain what to order, a friendly server will give you their opinion. Student’s can try the chef ’s special menu featuring items such as Albondigas En Salsa Chipotle, an appetizer of meatballs drenched in chipotle sauce. Entrées like the Chile-Seared Salmon with a sweet pear based sauce. To finish everything off — a delicious, spicy, chocolate chile cake with raspberry sauce. The food can come out within 10 minutes with the appeal of a fine dining restaurant. The flavors are so rich and unique that patrons will go back again and again.

During the day the cafe is open from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for dine-in customers and until 1:00 p.m. for to-go orders. The wait for both seating and service is about 10 minutes, while the wait time for togo orders is about 15 to 20 minutes. Many customers get their orders to go due to a busy lunch rush.

The Riverbat Cafe is a working classroom, that incorporates International Cuisine and a Dining Room Service class that meets Thursdays and Wednesdays. The cooks and wait staff are students of ACC’s Culinary Arts Department. While the department is located on the Eastview Campus, a state of the art culinary classroom is scheduled to be built at the Highland campus.

Go to the Riverbat Cafe for lunch as the cafe offers some of the best service and food that Austin has to offer.

Honoring Hard Work: NSCS

Story by Gaius Straka, reporter

The National Society of Collegiate Scholars held its first induction ceremony at ACC.

Ranging from high school aged to senior citizens, 91 ACC students received NSCS membership pins during the October 28 ceremony at the Eastview Campus. The inductees took the oath of membership, officially recognizing them as part of the collegiate honors society.

Invitations to join the organization are only offered to first and second year college students who carry a 3.4 GPA or higher.

Breanna Miller, a high school student enrolled at ACC who plans to major in Psychology, advised anyone interested to not take the organization lightly. “This is a great accomplishment,” she stated.

Another inductee, Lambert Maddy, a second year student and petroleum engineering major, urged students desiring an invitation to “keep up your grades and work hard in school.”

NSCS offers $1 million in scholarships each year, more than any other honors society.

“NSCS is not solely academic,” Dr. Anne-Marie Thomas, ACC english professor and faculty advisor for the organization, said. “It’s social as well.”

“When members enter a four-year college” Sankaya Hall, Associate Director for NSCS said, “they can have a family to belong to.”

NSCS is integrated into local communities through various service programs such as book drives to support local schools, and 5k races benefiting breast cancer research.