Healing Communities by Healing the Planet
As the sun begins to make a presence in our lives once again, I hope everyone is preparing their garden beds and have already begun planting or at least planning for it!
Speaking of planting, let’s talk a little bit about soil.
Along with seeds, and tools, we often spend quite a bit of money on commercial fertilizers and soils. Well, maybe that’s the case for you this year, but if you plan ahead, you can cut down significant costs on commercial fertilizers and soils and maximize the use of your food waste by starting a compost pile!
If you take a look at the chart above, you can see that not only is there a significant amount of organic wastes that are not being recycled, but that food waste has one of the lowest occurrences of being recycled. What does this mean? It means that most of our food waste is ending up in the landfills, along with toxic materials and not being used to their fullest potential.
Starting a compost pile is easy, and requires minimal upkeep and materials. Compost typically takes roughly 6 months to a year to fully decompose, depending on the size of the pile. However, what you will end up with is a nutrient rich soil that is of higher quality than what you typically find in the store.
Here is a link to a comprehensive guide of how to compost, although the guide is made specifically for Flagstaff, the concepts should apply universally: http://flagstaff.az.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/14147
In the past two years, we have picked up over 4,000 pounds of waste from Brushy Fork Creek and other places all around Berea. This has been a community wide effort, that has drawn a lot of attention from both students of Berea College as well as community members in the Berea area.
This year we are anticipating over 130 volunteers to participate in this community-wide effort. Our central location will be the Brushy Fork Park, however we will be shuttling out volunteers to 5 other locations:
The best part of it all is the post clean-up celebration where we get to enjoy live music, hardy food, and fun activities for all ages. There will be educational material provided as an effort to showcase the importance of caring for our natural environment, and how it affects various aspects of our life. We will also have a table set up for information regarding the Community Food Systems Assessment being conducted in the city of Berea.
Come on out and join your fellow community members as we clean our city again! We will provide gloves, garbage bags, and shuttles; you bring your water bottles and wear bright clothing. Be prepared to get dirty and/or wet. This is a rain or shine event!
Appropriate technology is technology that is designed with special consideration to the context of its use – including environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economical aspects of the community it is intended for. With these goals in mind, appropriate technology supporters claim their methods require fewer resources, are easier to maintain, and have less of an impact on the environment compared to techniques from mainstream technology, which they argue is wasteful and environmentally polluting.
To be effective in practice, an appropriate technology should be easy to maintain. To be effective for many people and have a wide impact, an appropriate technology must be affordable.
Some common features that make a technology “appropriate” is whether it can be built locally, made with locally available materials, and be easily repaired by local people with locally available equipment.
This idea of appropriate technology is not a new concept. In the early 20th century, Gandhi advocated small, local, mostly village-based technology to help India’s villages become self reliant, resisting the dependence associated with colonialism, to aid in the freedom struggle against British and wealthy Indians.
Some modern examples of efficient appropriate technologies include composting toilets, wood burning stoves, and solar-powered lightbulbs.
For more information on appropriate technology, check out the websites listed below!
The United States consumes 4 times more energy per capita than the world average. While this statistic alone should make us all want to turn off every light and unplug every appliance in a mile radius, there is more bad news. 92% of the energy that we use is non-renewable, and a mere 15% of the energy is considered “clean” in respect to carbon emissions.
There are a plethora of reasons why this needs to change, as soon as possible. Nearly half of our energy is obtained from burning coal, which results in rampant pollution, destruction of mountains and the ecosystems that inhabit them, as well as health hazards to surrounding communities. But it is not only coal that is detrimental to the well-being of our land and our people; carbon emissions from the burning of petroleum have exaggerated the Greenhouse Effect in our atmosphere to an extraordinary extent. We are witnessing super-storms of near-mythical proportions, the melting of polar ice caps, and the desertification of entire continents (Australia’s “drought” sure has been going on for a long time…)
While it is important that we drastically reduce our energy consumption, it is also vital that we switch our dependency from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. We currently get a mere 3% of our energy from wind sources, and a dismal 1% from solar sources. These two types of energy emit no carbon byproducts and are 100% renewable. It is true that these technologies are relatively expensive at this point, that will not be the case for much longer. As more research and development takes place, the cost of these forms of energy consumption will decrease drastically and will become more widely utilized.
In the meantime, be vigilant in conserving energy whenever possible to help avoid the disastrous potential effects of global climate change.
It is a fancy way of saying genetic engineering of fruits and vegetables. When you take a bite of that apple bought from the supermarket, did you think it was just grown out of a simple tree? More than likely, it had probably gone through some genes combination before that tree was panted. So what are the pros behind this innovative mechanism? Well if we take a look back thousand of years on to the physical parts of the crops, they would look very different from what they look like today. Genetic engineering of crops helped made them more resistant to the fungus grown underneath as well as pest such as bugs that would ruin the crops. On the other side, people against this has raised awareness that it has caused disruption of the natural fruits and crops and fear that the future of genetic engineering will cause fruits and vegetables to lose all its natural components be just a bunch of mixed pool of genes from different plants. Which side do you choose?
We here at Berea College love us some mountains. Berea’s even created its own holiday in order to celebrate our local Pinnacles. Mountain Day is one of the things that makes Berea unique in showing commitment to our surrounding natural environment — mountains in particular.
That’s why it’s all the more important that we take part in the fight against mountaintop removal mining. MTR mining isn’t just an environmental issue. It also has deeply rooted economic, health, and social implications. Such mining sites scattered throughout the Appalachian region bring with them higher poverty rates and a wide array of negative health consequences (which should come as no surprise, given the coal ash in the air and the God-knows-what that ends up in the streams and groundwater). Furthermore, MTR mining actually provides only a fraction of the jobs that underground mining can. So not only is mountaintop removal mining the dirtiest of the dirty when it comes to fossil fuels, it’s also not helping the people, considering the money made from such projects goes to the pockets of those running the company (who live far away from the destruction taking place on a daily basis where mountains are being destroyed).
In Kentucky alone…
…hundreds of miles of streams have been contaminated as a result of this form of mining.
…well over 150 square miles of mountains have been flattened.
…the number of coal jobs has dropped by 67% in the last 20 years, which correlates with the shift from underground mining to mountaintop removal mining.
It’s because of all this damage and injustice that we invite you to come out to I Love Mountains Day tomorrow. An annual event for many years now, I Love Mountains Day brings together people from all over Kentucky and beyond to Frankfort for an afternoon of rallying, singing, heartfelt speeches, and marching to tell our state legislators that it’s high time they hold up their obligation to the people of their state. The people whose lives, homes, and futures are in danger of being lost.
For more information about MTR mining, check out these sites:
Each year, the Green Education Foundation has mobilized millions of students from across the country to participate in National Green Week, the largest waste reduction campaign in history. Green Week officially kicks off February 6th – 10th, but schools are able to participate in this campaign until Earth Day, April 22nd.
The Green Education Foundation (GEF) is a non-profit organization committed to creating a sustainable future through education. Sustainability Education provides educators with the real-world applied learning models that connect science, technology, and math education with the broader human concerns of environmental, economic, and social systems. GEF provides curriculum and resources to K-12 students and teachers worldwide with the goal of challenging youth to think holistically and critically about global environmental concerns and solutions.
National Green Week is an annual event designed to empower schools to engage in sustainability focused lessons, projects, or activities. Participating districts, schools, classrooms or youth groups select from GEF’s sustainability focused programs to be their ‘green theme,’ depicted in the image below! Each theme provides standards- based lessons, activities, recommended reading, sustainability tips, contests, and more! Participants have the option to participate in a day, a lesson, or the full week.
Those interested in participating in National Green Week can sign up on the GEF website. GEF will provide you with all of the necessary tools to succeed for free!
*This information was gathered from the Green Education Foundation.*