Green campaign at my former school

A prefab modular home with LEED Platinum certification. Chicago should have its first Platinum-certified prefab residence in 2011. (Flickr photo from Heather Lucille. CC.)

Here are some links to my 2009 project to reduce Cedarville University’s environmental impact. I was collaborating with school administration to implement the project when I moved to Chicago to attend a more well-known journalism school.

CU/Green on transportation

CU/Green on clothing and consumer goods

CU/Green on building upkeep and construction

CU/Green on water use and landscaping

CU/Green on good air and energy

CU/Green on our refuse

CU/Green on everyday stuff

Before I left Cedarville University in May ’09, I was one of the founding members—vice president—of the environmental organization on campus. I got that gig in part because of the extensive plan I had proposed, above.

The plan took into consideration what was feasible for the college’s budget at the time, as well as what was socially responsible. One thing I stressed for administrators was that once our campus learns how to weatherize buildings, we should go into our community and do it for lots of residents there, many of whom are poor. Why? Free labor from students, minimal expense from the college, savings that make a big difference for families, and massive PR.

We could even serve as a knowledge hub for the community about “green” choices, and as a pilot program for similar universities across the country, I demonstrated.

P.S. — Here’s a link to an article on colleges who have voluntary student-funded offices of sustainability. Here’s a link to the only organization that evaluates colleges’ efforts toward sustainability and transparency, something the group considers essential to continuing sustainability.

Jensen nonviolent, after all

Art I made for the large open wall of my apartment. The metal numbers were someone else’s garbage. (My Dad’s, in fact.)

This month Derrick Jensen took a step back from his usual extreme tone in his Orion Magazine column. (Orion represents the literary and philosophical side of the environmental movement.) Normally he advocates a revolution in order to address environmental problems. With this most recent column, he (finally) clarified that he doesn’t mean violent revolution. At least necessarily.

A little background: Jensen doesn’t think the status quo can fix our problems, and I agree with him. The current system of the world’s governments, the massive corporate influence, the wealthy nations’ addiction to consumerism and the poor nations’ inability to climb out of poverty will more or less continue as-is, because those who could change things are too invested in the system to substantially change it.

But I’m also staunchly non-violent. So while Jensen may have softened up a bit from his normal tone, expressed in great pieces here and here, he still means business. I’m sure he’s enraged as much as I am that there weren’t enough limousines in Denmark to accommodate the climate conference at Copenhagen. The conference campus was fairly walkable, I heard.

The limo thing is but a humorous representation of the leaders being invested in the current system. Like a Ponzi scheme, they continue playing the dangerous game because to try to fix things is to admit your own stupidity. I highly recommend this piece, which compares the global economy with a Ponzi scheme.

Clandestino

Lamb stew with microgreens over a root-vegetable gratin. Lamb by the Carr family, whose Mint Creek Farm is outside Chicago. Cell phone flash by Mariely Santiesteban, Clandestino staff. Photo by Brandon Smith.

The end of the semester has been upon me. Super-crunch time. But now it’s over until Jan. 20 or so, and I’m happy to fill my time filling this space.

The picture above was taken at the underground dinner club “Clandestino,” at which I volunteered for nearly 12 hours last Saturday. I filed two different stories based on the experience (and in consult with other proprietors of underground dinners in this fine city).

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Awesome quote of the day

The awesome quote of the day regards the upcoming climate change conference in Copenhagen:

And this being Scandinavia, even the prostitutes are doing their bit for the planet. Outraged by a council postcard urging delegates to “be sustainable, don’t buy sex,” the local sex workers’ union – they have unions here – has announced that all its 1,400 members will give free intercourse to anyone with a climate conference delegate’s pass. The term “carbon dating” just took on an entirely new meaning.

From this article in the Telegraph.

Quick shout-out

Annie Leonard lectures at a sustainability conference. (Creative Commons photo from the Flickr account of Kevin Krejci)

Annie Leonard released a long-anticipated followup to her “Story of Stuff” video, called “The Story of Cap and Trade.” It’s more complex than the first (I, an environmental reporter, had to rewind a couple times), but it does a better job than anything else at simplifying this really hard topic.

Which is to say, get on over there and spend 10 minutes learning about the so-called “solution” our leaders have proposed to attempt to save our planet.

And the Pursuit of Happiness review

What a name for a blog, And the Pursuit of Happiness.

The blog’s beautiful, but it’s not really a blog. It’s a place that, once a month, displays a new piece of written and visual art—created by author and illustrator of children’s books Maira Kalman. It was one of the most popular items on New York Times‘ website recently, which is how I found it.

Here’s another thing the blog isn’t: it isn’t focused on people pursuing happiness. Its name is more a reference to its decidedly American focus, and also its storyline that there is happiness here, despite the myriad and potentially devastating problems inherent in our system.

I like Kalman a lot. She acknowledges the problems, but lets the columnists deal with them. She’s resolved her little corner of the Times is gonna be about the good people are doing and trying to do. It’s not reckless promotion but, rather, she realizes that sometimes journalism means telling, simply, the happiness people have and bring to others. Kalman’s a good journalist.

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