Ypsi library hosts sustainability series

When a person goes to college, he or she may expect to become independent. In a way, the city of Ypsilanti is working to be as independent as its university students by encouraging sustainability.

Sustainability means creating and using products that are made and grown from a local area. As part of that concept, the Ypsilanti District Library is hosting the ReSkilling Series, meant to inform and teach residents of the Ypsilanti area how to be self-sustainable.

Benjamin Miller, reference librarian at the YDL and an Eastern Michigan University alumnus who double majored in urban planning and art history, said the library initially had been hosting a lot of do-it-yourself projects. After approaching a member of the film club who was conducting a sustainability film series, the YDL started focusing a lot of the DIY programs it offers toward sustainability.

One such event will take place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The YDL will be hosting a ReSkilling event on making your own bath products.

“I know people have expressed concern about all the chemicals in traditional bath products and knowing what’s in it,” Miller said.

In response, the YDL created this event, advertising it on their website saying, “Make soap, bath salts and fizzy bath bombs from safe, non-toxic ingredients.”

Some of the other ReSkilling events the library has hosted have included starting your own beehive and making your own toothpaste.

“The only one I knew was how to make your own toothpaste, but I’ve been interested in aspects of [sustainability],” Miller said. “What’s great is that there’s so many people in Ypsilanti who are interested in that type of stuff.”

This seems to be true, considering that Ypsilanti has a number of small businesses. Growing Hope, Bike Ypsi and the Ypsilanti Farmers’ Market are just a few examples of the city’s movement to be more sustainable and independent. Part of Miller’s reasoning for staying in Ypsilanti years after his graduation is because of the emphasis of sustainability.

“I had internships in other communities but the dream was to be here,” Miller said.

As Miller works in the YDL, he’s trying to help it focus on the needs of the community, including sustainability.

“Of course we have books and movies and computers, but we try to keep things relevant,” Miller said. “[The library’s] not just media based. It’s community based.”

The idea is that while the Ypsilanti community is moving towards a more sustainable future, the YDL remains a central hub for a lot of the progress. Miller and other members of the Ypsilanti community, such as Charline Collier of the YDL, have been trying to keep libraries relevant by making YDL a hub in the center of the community.

“If you can dream it, you can do it at the library,” Miller said.

Along with the ReSkilling programs, the YDL tries to tighten the community through programs teaching Microsoft Excel, knitting sessions and Lego programs. As the summer approaches, the focus will be switching to more DIY programs.

“Come to the library,” Miller said. “But if you get involved in stuff going on around the city you’ll find all sorts of things to do to make Ypsilanti more sustainable.”

For those interested in the ReSkilling events, including the one Thursday or any of the other library events, go online and register at www.ypsilibrary.org or call 734-482-4110, extension 1385.

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