Two 60-foot long LiveWall vertical garden systems (green walls) have been installed this May at the MSU Library Bridge near the Spartan Football Stadium. These green walls are a vertical garden system of planters made from recycled automobile plastic, and containing plants arranged in a specific pattern to create a design. The green space team applied for funding from MSU’s Infrastructure Planning and Facilities (IPF) and was awarded $16,000 for the installation of two green walls. The green space team, composed of 7 members from the student group, Sustainable Spartans, adopted this project in March of 2020 from the project’s founder, John R. (“J.R.”) Nosal. Throughout the past year, this small group of students have been virtually coordinating efforts with the MSU Office of Sustainability and IPF for a successful climate change mitigation project.
The team noticed the need to reconnect Spartans once students start returning to campus following the COVID-19 pandemic. These green walls will serve to build bridges between members of the Spartan Community as they begin recovering from the global pandemic. Not only will these walls reunite the community, but they will also enhance the natural beauty and peaceful environment around the Red Cedar River, creating a unique place for Spartans to enjoy being on campus. All members of the Spartan community can find a sense of healing and togetherness through this new sustainability corridor on campus. This initiative is the first collaboration between a student organization at MSU and a funding source from IPF. The green space team sees this opportunity as a “pilot project for the installation of future green walls across MSU’s campus.”
Like many other college students throughout the country, Michigan State University Spartans have been learning remotely because of the pandemic. Spartans, and many others, worldwide have been impacted in several ways by this era of social distancing and uncertainty. Everyone in our community has experienced a sense of loss: a loss of togetherness, a loss of a loved one, a loss of economic stability, or most importantly, a loss of normalcy. J.R. has “been extremely grateful to work with such a wonderful team and believes that this project will be able to show that Spartans have continued to make positive change, even during a time when a sense of normalcy has been lost.” Although there were many challenges faced throughout the initiative, this group of Spartans was able to persevere through all obstacles that emerged during this process, and hope their journey will inspire others to pursue their own innovative sustainability initiatives.
Authors: J.R. Nosal, Jarrod Griffus, and Kevin Hayes