Healing Communities by Healing the Planet
Food security refers to an individual’s ability to consistently obtain enough food that is both affordable and healthy. The issue of food security is one of the most pressing and relevant problems that Appalachia faces today. Despite being home to one of the world’s most diverse and fertile ecosystems, Appalachia has a notable lack of local foods and other sustainable dining options. Compounding this problem is the fact that the region also suffers from inflated rates of unemployment and poverty, which means that most families are not able to afford the few healthy food options that are available.
The best way to combat this disadvantageous system is to create or strengthen a localized food economy. By encouraging the production of locally-grown food, jobs are created at the same time as healthier eating options are made available. A local food system also keeps money circulating in the region, rather than sending wealth away to other parts of the country. The result is not only a happier and healthier populace, but a thriving local ecosystem and an enhanced sense of community.
Fortunately, there is an ever-growing network of organizations which strive to implement this system nation-wide. One notable example from our own region is Grow Appalachia, a group created through a partnership between Berea College and John Paul Dejoria.
What sort of impact do they have? You may have trouble believing it:
“Last year, Grow Appalachia worked with over 25 partner sites in 39 counties with more than 1500 families and 50 community gardens. We were fortunate to feed 19,500 people growing over 1,151,000 pounds of food. We facilitated 100 jobs in central Appalachia through gardening projects with Grow Appalachia and our participants sold more than $54,000 in produce.”
That’s almost 20,000 people fed and well over a million pounds of food produced locally, all while creating hundreds of jobs and stimulating the local economy — all in one year!
Check out there website to learn more about this amazing organization: http://www.berea.edu/grow-appalachia/history-goals/
What is a Carbon Footprint? Who has a Carbon Footprint? How big is it? These are some basic questions for anyone who’s never heard the term before. A Carbon Footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses emitted due to the consumption of a particular group or individual. This includes the fuel emissions from your drive to work or class, but it also factors in emissions from production of goods and services you consume. For example, there is a carbon footprint associated with the production, harvest, and transportation of the food we eat. There’s also a carbon footprint associated with the production of the things we use, like our clothes, phones, computers, etc. Every individual has a carbon footprint, as do businesses, schools, and other groups/organizations.
There are many things that can affect the size of your carbon footprint. Eating local foods reduces your footprint as there are less gasses emitted during the transportation of your food. Conserving energy by turning off lights and appliances when not in use is another good way to reduce your carbon footprint. Any practice that conserves energy or other resources is good for reducing your Carbon Footprint.
There are many different online calculators for determining your personal Carbon Footprint. This website has a list of good calculators you can use:
Have a good week and keep recycling!
The Campus Conservation Network is a nationwide group that put together Campus Conservation Nationals. With 119 colleges and universities involved, it makes campus conservation nationals the largest energy and water reduction competition in the world. Campus Conservation Nationals is open for three months of the spring. During these three months, colleges and universities can select three weeks of the three-month period to participate in this competition. All colleges and universities involved will have competitions among buildings or groups of buildings at their campus, while some also choose to participate in competition with other schools. Students are able to view their performance on a website that is constantly being updated.
Here, at Berea College, campus conservation is being enforced across campus as a part of the Berea College Eco-Challenge and the competition is split between five neighborhoods, or groups of dorms. HEAL, the Sustainability Program, and many other programs on campus are promoting campus conservation by advising students with information on how to reduce water and energy consumption using information tables, posters, emails, and social media. From February tenth to March second, the energy consumption across campus will be recorded. This information will be incorporated into the Eco-challenge competition by averaging the energy consumption and amount of recycled goods of each neighborhood, together. At the end of each week as well as the end of the whole competition, winning neighborhoods will be rewarded.
The BC Eco-Challenge is the Berea College brand name for the 2 sustainable competitions the college is participating in: The Recyclemania and the Campus Conservation Nationals. Recyclemania started this week, on Monday, February 3rd, and runs for 8 weeks until March 30th. Recyclemania’s goal is to recycle as much as possible.
In order to make recycling exciting, neighborhoods compete against each other. How does that work? Well, there are 15 dorms on campus, divided into 5 neighborhoods:
Goal: To recycle at least 4 lbs per person by the end of the competition. The winning neighborhood will receive a final prize (which will be announced throughout the competition), and if the college reaches the campus goal, there will be a general prize for the entire campus!
Surprise prizes will be given in every dorm every week to students who are “caught being good.”
Be a recycling Champion!!
The BC Eco Challenge is about to kick off! The HEAL team has been working with groups all over campus to make sure that everyone is educated and prepared to make the changes that we need in order to not only win these competitions, but more importantly to do our part in minimizing the environmental impact of our consumer society.
Keep in mind these helpful tips to reduce the power that is used in your dorm room!
Obligatory obvious reminders:
- Turn off lights when not in use.
- Use natural light as often as possible.
- Be conscious of time spent using appliances or electronics.
- Take shorter showers
- Don’t let the water run while brushing.
- Take the stairs, not the elevator
Somewhat less obvious tips:
- Always do a full load of laundry. Washing one load on heavy wash uses far less energy than washing two loads, even on the lowest setting.
- Drying loads of laundry back to back helps utilize the heat produced from the first load, thus reducing overall energy consumption!
- Unplug all appliances that are not currently in use to reduce “phantom loads”.
- Keep doors and windows closed when the heat is on.
- Fully stocked refrigerators use less energy than empty ones.
Hopefully you will keep these considerations in mind throughout the next two months, and maybe even for the rest of your life!
“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” (Gertrude Jekyll)
One of the main HEAL programs is Garden Club. So, what is it? And how does it work? Garden Club is an after school program in the Community Elementary School. Our participants are the kids of that school. They are self-motivated and passionate about their love to gardening. Through their raised beds, they invest every minute to make them greener and full of fruits and vegetables.
Heal team members along with some volunteers gather at CELTS and head to the school at 3:15 PM every Tuesday. They meet the young students after they finish their classes and gather in the main lobby. Then, they head to outside where the raised beds are. However, if the weather in that day was not assisting, they prefer to stay inside and do some gardening activates. These activities can be learning about different types of plants, the cycle of planet life, where does food come from, or they just pick to play some games with us.
Through our work, we try to plant the essentials of sustainability into those kids and together establish the love to our lovely mother, earth. What we have noticed is that we are supposed to teach them, however, we are learning from them too. It is a mutual relation as the plants and the earth. We support each other during our gardening sessions.
We, at HEAL, invite you to join us and experience that sustainable atmosphere of mutual learning and that is exactly what our umbrella program is called: Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS).
Image source: Free
Environmental Justice is becoming a big issue in the world. Many people wonder if our modern conveniences come at the expense of others. The point of Environmental Justice is to identify cases where technology and conveniences do come at the expense of others, be it humans or animals, or just the planet, and to work to right those wrongs. But in order to do that, you have to know more about Environmental Justice itself. This pdf has an outline of issues that are related to Environmental Justice: http://www.wearepowershift.org/sites/wearepowershift.org/files/The%20Principles%20of%20Environmental%20Justice.pdf. The page identifies essential components of Environmental Justice like equal and fair resource distribution, sustainable practices, and basic human equality. This document can give you the information you need to find a cause that you believe in and work towards it. So, get involved. If you can’t find a way to make a difference on your own, ask someone. If it’s a sustainability issue, contact someone in the SENS department for more information. And of course, all of the HEAL team members would be glad to help you find something, and many of us have experience working for different causes.