Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Jesuit Band

New Gonzaga student center?
Bill Watson, S.J.
Issue date: 10/12/07

It is exciting to see so many great building projects at Gonzaga and especially the announcement of the new student center. As a former student and administrator, I logged many hours in the old COG. My sense of nostalgia extends more to events that were held there, however, than to the building itself. As a young Jesuit scholastic in the period immediately following the Vietnam War, the most vivid memories are of the old Creative Arts forums where student groups of all kinds, including the famed Jesuit Scholastic musical group "The Bea Pigs" (Cardinal Bea House was our central house), performed on COG center stage. Pat Conroy, the current Oregon Province formation director was lead guitar and I was lead singer. The piano player was David Nazar, now working in the Ukraine on a special mission for the Jesuit General but who also served as a provincial of the Upper Canadian Province. The bass player was Mike Stebbins, who is currently director of the Gonzaga Ethics Institute. We might have peaked in our talents on the COG stage for those events or at least in the fun we had.One of my jobs now for the Oregon Jesuits is to help marshal ideas to put into action the recently published province document "Regional Sustainable Development: A Plan of Action." I would expect the committee organizing the new student center already to be moving in this direction, but it would be great to see Gonzaga do something really bold with green environmental design and LEED Certification. The article describing the new project says no green space would be lost in the new project. Think how much new green space could be created if the building design itself was ecologically green. If that were the case, then not only would the place provide room for education and social endeavors but the very building itself could teach some of the important lessons the Jesuits need to be communicating educationally about the environment and our global responsibility.One of the major agenda items on the platform for the next global meeting of the Jesuit Order starting in Rome this coming January is the Jesuit response to the great environmental and ecological challenges of our day. Gonzaga's students and its student center could become a national model of how Jesuit universities in the U.S. can take these great new signature buildings and design them responsibly for the challenging new world we all face. Not just in the design, but in all the vendors, products, food and all the functions associated with the center. A building of such signature importance only comes along every half century in the history of a university. Gonzaga's new student center just happens to be coming online at an important tipping point in global consciousness for environmental awareness. How appropriate that Gonzaga's new student center help define the new paradigm that building environments must positively relate at all levels to the Earth which sustains us. If this vision could be realized I bet I could reassemble most of the original Bea Pigs for a kick-off concert on the new student center's green center stage. Bill Watson is an Oregon Province Jesuit, Gonzaga '77 graduate, former Gonzaga vice president for mission who currently serves as a provincial assistant to Colombia at the Jesuit regional headquarters in Portland. Link (here)

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