Earth Month Celebrations!

Earth Month is just around the corner… here are some fun things lined up!

***Please invite your students, colleagues or others you may know that would be interested!***

Campus & Community Events

JoeyFineRhyme is coming April 12!
Taking on our collective eco-challenges requires we each embody an ethos of action. This interdisciplinary and participatory presentation educates students on climate and waste, parallels these crises with other great challenges that have been met, draws inspiration from what previous movements have accomplished, and imparts knowledge to students on what they can do. He has a unique style of free-style rap to help keep the audience engaged!!
Check out Joey’s work here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnDQYVISg3xBamkbNqLArnQ  it’s really amazing and fun!
Library 11AM
Library 12PM
FPAC Menker 4PM

ActOut 2.0 – “Our Common Ground: A Space for Civil Discourse”
April 21, 9-4
Move toward an honest understanding of social issues that bridges the political divide and offers real world ideas for civic engagement and problem-solving action. Attend workshops on Issue and Awareness Building, and Civil Practice and Action. All are welcome! For more information on the workshops and to register, www.morainevalley.edu/actout

GO Green! Club Swap-A-Thon
April 26, from 12 to 3, the G building gym
The gym will be converted into a free-cycle space. All month long there will be boxes for people to make donations- things that are still of good use, but just not wanted by its original owner. Clothing, books and media, school supplies, electronics, etc. will be collected and then organized in the G building gym for anyone to come and take what they can use. Please bring in items you would  normally donate to the thrift stores and help fill the boxes! All items that remain at the end of the day will be donated to local charities.
Partnering with Asian Diversity Club, Student Government Association, ComEd Education Partners and more to ensure we have a diverse and educational event- not just a grab and go!

50th Anniversary Tree Planting – Arbor Day & Tree Campus USA
April 28, S & B buildings at 11AM
In honor of Moraine Valley’s 50th Anniversary, Arbor Day and to celebrate the college’s TreeCampusUSA status, we’ll be planting a tree near between S & B buildings at 11AM. All are welcome to join in the ceremonious event!

Moraine Valley Staff & Faculty Opportunities
ANNOUNCEMENT: Pilot Sustainability Office Challenge
Ongoing
After a small pilot, we’re looking for a few more offices (you determine what constitutes an office- ex. a faculty office, the HR Admin team, all of Institutional Research, etc.) to participate in our Sustainability Office Challenge. The excel sheet is attached. All participants in the Challenge will be invited to an afternoon “celebration” with goodies as well as time to provide feedback on the challenge- what worked, what didn’t, how can it be improved. Plus, you’ll be recognized in our publications and on social media. Any questions, contact Stephenie x5412 or pressellers@morainevalley.edu

CTL Presentations
SmartGrid: What’s That? How Does it Save me Money?
There’s a lot to learn about SmartGrid technology, not just because it’s cool, but because you can save money and energy with this new energy system. Participants will learn about the SmartGrid technology and also about programs that are now in place that can dramatically reduce one’s energy bill and carbon emissions. (Strategic Priority: Program Development)
CTLE-E108-001 W 4/5 12:00p – 1:00p L244
CTLE-E108-002 R 4/13 12:00p – 1:00p L244
CTLE-E108-003 R 4/27 3:00p – 4:00p L244

Finding Hope & How to Talk About Climate Change in 2017
There is a lot of concern about what will happen to climate change policy and actions in 2017 due to the recent election results. This workshop will help participants learn where there are still opportunities to continue moving forward on the progress we’ve made thus far, learn how to talk about climate change issues with their students, and receive resources on how to be involved in making a positive impact for today and the future. (Strategic Priority: Student Success)
CTLF-G102-003 T 4/11 12:00p – 1:00p L244

Questions, comments, feedback- please let me know.

Peace &,
Sustainably yours,
Stephenie

708-974-5412

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. —Anne Frank.

Climate change is threatening to push a crowded capital toward a breaking point.

Mexico City is not unlike Chicagoland. It is a city of neighborhoods and suburbs and houses roughly 21 million people (Chicagoland is actually roughly 10 million). They have a democratic government, elect officials to take care of their constituents, which includes providing schooling, police, and municipal amenities like: clean drinking water. In the Chicagoland region we are lucky to have the Great Lakes and we are not facing serious water issues. However, with climate change the Lakes are threatened.

This interesting article about the issues Mexico City is facing with drought and lack of water paints a picture of what could be a potential future for our region. It is the first of a series of articles that are examining how cities are tackling climate change threats or not, and what are the consequences of not acting.

“A Columbia University report found that where rainfall declines, “the risk of a low-level conflict escalating to a full-scale civil war approximately doubles the following year.” The Pentagon’s term for climate change is “threat multiplier.” “

Many organizations are studying climate change as it relates to the Great Lakes. The EPA has a summary of how lake levels have changed over time and what that means for water supply as well as industry.

“In recent years, warmer surface water temperatures in the Great Lakes have contributed to lower water levels by increasing rates of evaporation and causing lake ice to form later than usual (see the Lake Ice indicator), which extends the season for evaporation. Lower water levels in the Great Lakes forced ships to reduce their cargo tonnage by 5 to 8 percent between 1997 and 2000, which increased shipping costs. Lower water levels can also affect water supplies, the usability of infrastructure such as docks and piers, and shoreline ecosystems. These types of disruptions from low water levels are expected to continue as the climate changes.”

Back in Mexico City water shortages have already reached crisis level.

“…the government acknowledges that nearly 20 percent of Mexico City residents — critics put the number even higher — still can’t count on getting water from their taps each day. For some residents, water comes only once a week, or once every several weeks, and that may mean just an hour of yellow muck dripping from the faucet.”

As more and more are without municipal water, they are forced to buy it from private providers. This cost is often too much for the poor to bear.

“People in rich neighborhoods on the other side of town, “they don’t have to think about water,” she added. “But for us it is something we think about all day, every day.” “

The issues the world faces due to climate change are vast and sometimes too much to comprehend. However, it is important that we try. There are other organizations fighting for climate action. They have great solutions like taxing carbon at its source and then distributing that money back to the people. The idea is that initially the increased costs of using fossil fuels will be put back on the consumer. So the dividend is to help consumers bear the initial increased costs. However, over time it will become too expensive to use fossil fuels and companies will be forced to innovate and use clean energy.

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby is one of those groups pushing this idea. They are a non-partisan organization seeking Carbon Fee & Dividend Legislation. So far, they have 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the Senate that have agreed to join the Climate Caucus that is trying to pass this legislation… so there’s hope.

National Park Service Finds Another Way & So Should You!

It is a sad week! President Trump banned the National Park Service from tweeting (Twitter) about climate change, silenced all media relations in the EPA, and began signing orders to move forward with the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. I’m sure many of you already know this. Please don’t stand for this and remember to write, call, tweet your discontent. Everyday, I have been tweeting President Trump @realDonaldTrump, sending letters via the White House website to President Trump, Vice President Pence, and First Lady Melania Trump https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact. I have contacted my Senators and Representative https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm and http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/. I will put the pen to paper today and hand write letters and post on Facebook, which I rarely do because I am not really a fan of it. Please do something! Please encourage others to do something! I was really hoping that all of the hype around President Trump doing much to harm the environment and future generations was just that, hype, but it seems it is not. It has not even been a week under his leadership and he is working quickly to dismantle so much good. Please do not stand for this! Do something! My children thank you!

No Mention of Climate Change or Renewables on WhiteHouse.gov

After the inauguration of our 45th President, many changes were made to the WhiteHouse.gov including removing any information about climate change, LGBTQ issues, renewable energy and more. Feel free to search for yourself.

What I did find is this – “An America First Energy Plan” that basically outlines intents to abolish the existing or proposed policies that actually help to make America a great and safe place to live.

I was shocked. Upset. Frustrated. I still am, but I need to focus that energy into making sure we still work for climate change policy and justice. So, I reached out to some friends and asked for help to find hope, to inspire me to keep up the good fight. It worked. Here are a few reasons why:

1, This headline from popular online zine, Vox.com, “Illinois passes huge, bipartisan energy bill, proves democracy still works”

2, This blurb from the The Environmental Law & Policy Center summary of the bill helps explain the positive impact further: “Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) will improve and modernize the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by ensuring long-term, reliable funding sources for the purchase of renewable resources into the foreseeable future. The newly updated RPS creates a secure, stable budget of more than $200 million annually for the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) on behalf of Illinois utilities by the Illinois Power Agency (IPA). It also establishes new community solar, low-income solar, brownfield solar, and distributed generation programs that will lead to diverse and balanced solar market development that is accessible to all Illinois residents.”

3, (summary of a conversation with a colleague) So that means at least IL is not going to kill renewables. Also, even though Illinois allows fracking, the low gas prices have discouraged fracking in Illinois, and as of today no permits have been granted. Furthermore, the economics of renewables have gotten much better and we should expect that to continue. In IL and surrounding, republican controlled states, we have seen movement toward green energy… Texas has one of the largest wind energy programs in the nation!

4, Here is a recording from ELPC Executive Director, Howard Learner talking with Justin Kaufmann from WGN Radio. Learner gives a lot of insight into what we should be concerned about the future of the EPA, but also why we should be hopeful.

5, And another interview with Learner, by Kari Lydersen from the Midwest Energy News: Q&A: Advocate upbeat about Midwest as Trump administration looms 

This interview even more so highlights progress that has been made, bipartisan in fact, on clean energy and why he believes it will continue.

But it will take work. It will take constituents reaching out to their representatives and telling them to support a clean and healthy today and tomorrow for all of us.

Money Talks

If you are as concerned about environmental advancements taking a few steps back, perhaps we should worry less. A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times posted an article highlighting the want for large corporations to keep addressing climate change issues instead of the new Presidential administration abandoning the Paris climate agreement and more. Concern over US economic security has these corporations speaking up. At least 365 companies will stick to their own greenhouse gas protections, but urge the new President to honor the direction the US has been heading. Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/17/business/energy-environment/us-companies-to-trump-dont-abandon-global-climate-deal.html?mtrref=undefined&_r=2.

Will Trump Change His Views on Climate Change? Let’s Hope/Take Action

In recent reports, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon feels that President Elect Donald Trump will have to change his views on climate change (for more on this: http://abcnews.go.com/International/secretary-general-ban-ki-moon-predicts-trump-change/story?id=43547496), and I really hope he is right on this one. Trump said on Twitter and later deleted: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Please be sure to write to Donald Trump to look at the scientific data on climate change and make advancements. You can write to him here: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact.

Recycling… does it really happen?

The radio station WBEZ (91.5) has several feature shows that tell stories about current events and interesting topics. Personally, I like their story-telling style versus a bullet point fact sheet approach to news-telling. Curious City is one of my favorite shows (also podcasted). They take questions from listeners that are specific to curious and “mysterious” topics about Chicago and surrounding areas.

Recently, Curious City was asked about the Blue Cart Recycling Program. Many think it’s just a sham. It’s not working and is just a “feel good” placebo program. I’ll admit, I had my doubts too. After listening to the podcast “What really happens to Chicago’s blue cart recycling?” by Chris Bentley, I am happy to know that at least 80% of what I (and collectively, my Chicago Family) put in the blue bin actually ends up somewhere with the intent to recycle it: to turn them into something of use, reclaim the natural materials and reserve the need to use virgin and raw materials. They will not sit in the landfill forever, never to be used again, wasted.

 

 

Simple Tips (& Why) to Green Your Holidays!

Stores staying open all day on Thanksgiving, Black Friday hype, Christmas ads already blaring… enough! It’s STRESSING me out! And that is not healthy.

I want to relax and enjoy quality time with my family and friends. And I want the experiences to be healthy for me, them and light on environmental impact.

Two things I like to consider to help me be less stressed & promote health for my peeps and my (our) planet: 1. Greening Gifts
2. Greening the Menu

1. On Gifts (and avoiding the crazy, stressful shopping wars!) I’m steering clear of all that hub bub and instead will be home, warm and cozy, preparing my craft room to make my gifts. I love making things! It helps me unwind, plus I know I’m pouring love into the gift and so does the recipient. Win-win!

Not everyone is crafty or inclined to make gifts. But if you are! Here’s a blog with a few ideas I really like and maybe you will, too. 38 DIY Gifts People Actually Want

If you’re not crafty, no problem. You can of course still pour love into bought items, too. And there are plenty of resources out there to help you find the perfect gift for that special someone. It’s perfect because not only do they need the item, it is helpful to them, won’t make them sick and is also created in a way that doesn’t harm the environment. Perfect!

I realize some of us will still want to get out and shop for some great deals… have you heard of Small Business Saturday? A lot of Chicagoland businesses are participating and shopping local is really a great way to encourage local economic recovery!

2. On the Menu: Eating lower on the food chain is a great way to make a difference for your health and the planet. It’s easier than you think, too. Do you have to give up the Turkey? No!! But treating it more like a condiment and enjoying more of your favorite vegetable based sides is a great start. Also, everything doesn’t have to be organic, but I do look out for certain food additives to avoid as well as where and how the veggies or fruit are grown for health concerns.

[On meat: If I did eat meat I would want to buy it from a local farmer where I know the animal was cared for, ate the right foods and slaughtered in a manner that was ethical.]

What’s on my menu? Well, I’m not hosting….but this is what I am bringing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts in a Balsamic Reduction
Kale, Pumpkin Seed, Cranberry Salad
Apple, Turnip, Sweet Potato Saute

Final Greening Holidays tip from me to you… When making your list to give people this holiday season, it helps to consider the following:

  • WHAT will be the impact on the person I’m giving this gift to? Will it improve their live in a meaningful way?
  • WHERE does this gift come from? Is it locally crafted and supporting local economies?
  • WHO made it? Are they paid a living wage and have safe working conditions? WHO profits from me buying this gift? Does it enrich some corporation whose values I do/don’t support?
  • HOW was it made? How does the resource and manufacturing impact on the environment?
  • WHY? Why should I give this gift? What NEED does it fill?

It’s important to consider these questions so that not just at a personal level, but at a global level you are fully aware of the impacts of your gift-giving decisions.

Happy Holidays!

2 World Leaders #ActOnClimate

Woke up to hopeful news this morning!

U.S. President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping coming to agreement to #ActOnClimate Change. Under this new deal, the U.S. would cut its 2005 CO2 emissions by 26-28% before 2025 and China will aim to get 20% of its energy from clean (zero-emission) sources by 2030.

The U.S. and China are two of the world’s top CO2 emissions polluters so this deal is quite significant; it sets a precedent and calls for other countries to also address their emissions in a global commitment to mitigate the most severe impacts of climate change. Perhaps there is hope for the Climate Summit in Paris next year!!

Still have questions about climate change? The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has a series of podcasts and simple to understand articles that help explain what is climate change; what changes can we expect regionally and globally; what is being done to address these changes (policy and innovations); what else can be done and how can we, individually, act?

Or, Check out Bill Nye the Science Guy explain climate change in less than 5 minutes…

then dig deeper to get wise on the topic. The more we know, the more we can do to make positive change for today and tomorrow.