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Laurie Laird, Ignatian Center

Friday, Jan. 13, 2012

On a Sunday morning, you could find Laurie Laird riding her tandem bicycle through San Jose with her husband. This weekly ritual has Laurie cycling between 25 and 50 miles on any given day between San Jose and Morgan Hill. Riding a bike has been a huge part of Laurie’s life, and she says it’s the best way to travel, having explored other parts of the state or other localities via bicycle! Along with her husband and tandem partner, Laurie’s “ridden the Pacific Coast from Washington to San Diego, explored all over Oregon, and have even done self-supported touring in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain.”

On a daily basis, Laurie cycles to SCU as many days as she can, although she finds riding in the rain particularly unpleasant. “If there’s a chance of rain, and I decide to drive, it generally won’t rain. But if I decide to ride my bike, it practically guarantees that it will. But I still take my chances.” Through bicycling, Laurie has found that she’s been able to develop friendships with others in the bicycle commuting community and the neighborhood. Laurie says, “It’s a great way to begin and end my day, and some of my best thinking and creative ideas come to me while riding. Unfortunately I only remember a small number of these moments of brilliance by the time I arrive to work or home.”

What’s on her mind? Laurie works as one of the Associate Directors of the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, overseeing the Arrupe Partnerships program for community-based learning, the Jean Donovan Summer Fellowship for SCU students, as well as leading a group of faculty and staff members on a yearly immersion trip to El Salvador to explore social justice issues in the country. In addition to this, Laurie is a strong supporter of Bronco Urban Gardens, an environmental justice initiative of SCU with three urban gardens, farms, and educational programs: The Forge Community Garden on the corner of Benton and Sherman Street, an in-school garden and nutrition education program at Gardner Elementary, and the Alma Verde after-school program in San Jose. Laurie’s interests in sustainable urban agriculture have her working in her own garden at home. This past spring, she added chickens to what she calls her “suburban farm”.

Through her work on-campus, Laurie finds herself working with many different populations, which she considers a privilege. “I used to work much more with students, and miss that. I hope to teach again soon. I particularly enjoy when I can help make connections between individuals across these populations.” Among her community involvements, which span from being on the board of Sacred Heart Community Service to an advisor to the Pequeños Agricultores de California, a coalition of organic farmers in San Benito County, Laurie enjoys working with students, staff, faculty, and community members and finding opportunities and projects for them to connect and collaborate.

One of the projects that Laurie’s holds most near and dear to her is the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program she has coordinated since 2001. The CSA supports the Catalán Family Farm of María Inés Catalán, a former farm worker and single mother who manages the farm together with her daughter, three sons, and their families in Hollister, about 45 miles away from the SCU campus. Community Supported Agriculture is a way for the food-buying public to create a relationship with a local farm and a local farmer by receiving a weekly box of produce able to feed about four people. Each week, the Catalán Farm CSA is dropped off at Sobrato Hall on-campus for CSA members to pick up. Laurie says participating in the CSA program has “changed the way I eat and has expanded my understanding of gardening, what food is seasonal, and most importantly has allowed me to become friends with María Inés Catalán, one of my heroes.” More information on how to become a member of the Catalán Farm CSA.

By Michelle Tang, '13, Sustainability Intern

Tags: Centers of Distinction, Community Engagement, Profiles, Transportation



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