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Posted on Thursday, Jun. 2, 2011
Hazella Bowmani, a Technology Training Specialist in the University Library, is a champion for sustainability on-campus and off. She has her hand in several on-campus organizations related to sustainability, organizes educational events, and still finds time to ride her bike to and from work every single day.
As a young African-American woman, with a father very interested in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Hazella has always been aware of social and environmental justice issues. “I remember (my father) taking me as a child to see the newly-freed Nelson Mandela at a rally. Given my race, ethnicity, and gender, it was impossible for me growing up not to notice how so many issues—whether economic, social, political, or environmental—have intersecting causes and effects.”
Hazella has taken those values and transformed them into a life of intention, or as she likes to call it "committed activism"; she thinks about the ramifications of her actions from the clothes she buys to the transportation she chooses.
Since coming to Santa Clara in 2007, Hazella has been involved in numerous sustainability initiatives including the Solar Decathlon, Fair Trade Chocolate Campaign, LGBTQ Allies Network, and the Sustainability Teach-In.
In 2007, the Solar Decathlon team won 3rd place at the international competition, which inspired Hazella to lend a hand in the next design. "It looked like such an exciting and inspiring project and I wanted to get involved," she said. Appointed as the lighting team leader for the Solar Decathlon, she helped the 2009 team recapture 3rd place, along with leading the lighting design team to a 6th place finish in their category.
In the fall of 2009, Hazella learned about Reverse Trick-or-Treating, in which children hand out fair trade chocolate with a note explaining the many injustices associated with the cocoa industry. She soon focused her attention on these injustices and became an advocate for fair trade chocolate, which has transpired into the rest of her pantry and other purchasing habits. “Being a chocoholic, I was glad to find ethical sources of cocoa that I could buy, and then did the same for tea and other luxury items. I later did the same thing to everything else I consume—food, drinks, clothing, books, etc.”
This past Halloween, Hazella hosted a screening of “The Dark Side of Chocolate,” a documentary about child trafficking and forced labor involved in the cocoa industry, to raise campus awareness of the issue. She showed it again during the Valentine's Day season, along with the film "The Price of Sugar." In addition to educational documentaries, Hazella hosted a fair trade chocolate tasting party with sponsorship from the Food and Agribusiness Institute.
Hazella is also an active participant in the LGBTQ Allies Network. Instead of attending the two required quarterly events, she attends all. "I go to all (events) to fully educate myself about the needs and challenges our queer students face on campus and the resources we provide for them," she said.
As a member of the planning committee for the Sustainability Teach-In this past April, Hazella helped bring renowned environmental thinker, David Orr, Ph.D. to campus, as well as set up a number of Earth Week activities, including the open classroom in Kennedy Commons and the library screenings of several environmental films.
If her professional life is not enough of an example of a commitment to sustainability, then her personal life sure is. Hazella does not own a car, instead she bikes to work everyday, rain or shine. She uses recycled mason jars as drinking cups, avoids animal products, and seeks to buy only ethical goods. Her wardrobe, which is quite recognizable and the envy of many Santa Clara females, is primarily from Savers and Goodwill.
She acknowledges that at times sustainability is not the most convenient path. Despite the inconveniences, however, Hazella fully believes in her actions. “I'm doing my research and supporting companies and organizations that make ethical choices and agitate for positive change.”
“One day I want to be able to say that I've achieved 100% sustainability: I produce zero-waste and nothing that I consume or financially support contributes to the degradation of another person's life,” she added.
Chloe Fitzmaurice-Shean, Sustainability Intern, '12
Watch a news clip about one of Hazella's events, a screening of “The Dark Side of Chocolate”.