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College beefs up green effort with bike share
North Georgia College & State University to host GreenFest event
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What: North Georgia College & State University will hold a sustainability-focused event, which will feature a movie, live band and information about environmental awareness
When: Noon-3 p.m. Thursday
Where: North Georgia College & State University, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega

New bikes will soon make their debut at North Georgia College & State University and campus officials hope they will jump-start a sustainability movement.

The bike share program is one of the first initiatives of the newly formed North Georgia Sustainability Task Force. The group has been meeting informally for about two years, said Nancy Dalman, associate professor of biology and the task force's chairwoman.

"But this year we got the group a lot more organized and decided that it was time to really make it an official group," she said. "... We wanted the name to include North Georgia because we wanted it to encompass, at least in the future, not just the university but the community as well."

Details for the bike share program, which will officially begin next fall, are still being hammered out. But the bikes the school has purchased will be unveiled this week at GreenFest, a student-organized event.

The school has purchased 20 Africabikes that will be placed around the college as a way to cut down on the amount of driving across campus.

The Africabikes, with a basket on the front and a built-in book rack on the back, are designed for aid workers in Africa to use while traveling between villages. For every two that are purchased, one is donated to Africa.

"We're excited because we right now are getting 20 bicycles, so right off the bat we're going to be donating 10 bicycles in North Georgia's name to Africa," Dalman said.

Bike share programs are becoming common on college campuses, which are at the forefront of the sustainability movement. Dalman said she sees North Georgia College & State University as being behind the curve.

"We're behind, which I see kind of an opportunity to learn from what other campus have done," she said.

The Sustainability Task Force is comprised of about 25 faculty, staff, students and community members.

Dalman said when the task force began talking with campus departments about incorporating sustainable practices, it was surprised to find a lot of initiatives had already been started. The problem, she said, is that no one knows about them.

"We do hear from students, ‘Well this campus isn't doing anything.' And we say, ‘Well actually look, here are some things that are happening,'" she said. "And I think that education is important because then they feel like they can get behind it more."

Dalman said the dining halls have stopped using trays to cut down on water usage. An unexpected side effect has been less food waste. Public Safety has also purchased bikes for its officers to use.

The student-run Grrreen Team — the r's standing for reduce, reuse and recycle — will hold GreenFest on Thursday to raise awareness of these initiative and other sustainability groups across North Georgia.

Brian West, one of the team's members, said the event started off as a way to tell the student body about various campus sustainability initiatives. But several off-campus organizations have since become involved. The event will also include live music, a movie and information about sustainability and recycling.

‘We have so much support from the community and the campus," West said. "Those that are concerned about the environment and those that are concerned about sustainability, they want to get the word out about what they do."