Category: Uncategorized
Boston is a place for everyone, says council president Michelle Wu
| February 12, 2017 | 5:25 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed
Photo by Ryuji Suzuki. Courtesy of the Office of Michelle Wu.

Photo by Ryuji Suzuki. Courtesy of the Office of Michelle Wu.

It has been more urgent than ever for cities to step up and be a voice for its people in the face of the current political climate, said Michelle Wu, president of Boston’s City Council.

The recent executive order to ban immigrants traveling to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries is discriminatory, Wu said.

“We need to be a space for everybody,” she said. “When the community surrounds people with needs (by providing) health services, education services, and others, we can solve every urban problem and be a model for other cities. Other cities can be jealous.”

Wu, the first woman of color elected as council president, spoke at a recent Civic Life Lunch at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. She added that, by being a welcoming place, Boston is not only doing the right thing but it is also benefiting the city’s economy.

“Immigrants are the backbone of our growth,” Wu said, urging students, faculty, and staff in the room to run for office during these tumultuous times.

Since being elected to Boston City Council, Wu has been active in initiatives pertaining to access and equity. In one instance, Wu helped lead the effort for a Language and Communications Access ordinance to ensure residents have access to city services and resources regardless of English proficiency or disability.

One of the city’s biggest challenges currently is inequality, Wu said, and she sees transportation as the foremost way to tackle the problem.

“You can create housing and education but, unless people can get to those opportunities, they’re going to be stuck,” she said. “Transportation is where you see the first forms of segregation — (through) choice.”

Responding to a question about whether the city can pressure the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to improve service and reinstate late-night service, Wu said the MBTA’s governance structure is largely set up to insulate it from politics, but the city can make small changes to help its community.

“The vast majority of city residents are closer to a bus stop than a T stop. The T controls vehicles … the city controls how fast they go,” Wu said.

For instance, the city could add dedicated bus lanes, add systems to change the lights when buses are approaching, place bus stops after traffic lights rather than before, and other similar tweaks.

Towards the end of her conversation, Wu again encouraged attendees to run for office and recommended the Emerge Massachusetts program, which prepares women for running for public office.

“The big picture answer is that government has to start being more reflective and responsive to people,” Wu said. “How do we get there? Get people who are different, who don’t fit the traditional molds (elected). … If we can make government seem like an attractive place for young people, I think we’ll be fine.”

Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe Staff. Michelle Wu speaks with community members during a campaign event at Victoria's Diner November 2015.

Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe Staff.
Michelle Wu speaks with community members during a campaign event at Victoria’s Diner November 2015.

From cynic to champion

A daughter of immigrants from Taiwan, Wu never intended to serve in the government.

Having arrived in the U.S. from Communist China, Wu’s parents associated government with famine, poverty, martial law, and other aspects of that totalitarian regime. The extent of their political involvement was abiding by the law and staying out of trouble.

About a decade ago, the discovery that Wu’s mother was struggling with mental illness tore the family apart and Wu left her beloved Boston to support her mother and two younger sisters in Chicago.

As a 23-year-old, Wu was running a family business while trying to find good education for her sisters and culturally appropriate health care for her mother with limited English.

“It felt like everything was spiraling out of control,” Wu said. “I became completely fed up with government. They were always trying to shut us down when I was just trying to help my family, trying to make my community better.”

Eventually Wu moved her family to Boston and, after working with then Mayor Tom Menino, she realized it is possible to solve problems from within government. Working on the campaign for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who was Wu’s professor, also gave Wu a glimpse of how to build a campaign from the ground up and how to connect with different communities both before and after an election.

Wu spoke candidly about dealing with her mother’s mental illness.

“When Mom first got sick, I never thought it could happen to us. I felt ton of guilt — there were times I reacted to her (in ways) that I am not proud of today,” she said.

The first time her mother had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance in the midst of crisis, Wu said she drove separately. By the time she arrived and filled out all the paperwork, Wu said her mother was in bed with a hospital robe on. The nurse handed Wu a bag of her mother’s clothes and she discovered they had been cut off her body and her mother had been sedated.

“I asked her what happened,” Wu said, tears coming to her eyes, “They had a male attendant in the room and she felt very uncomfortable, but she couldn’t communicate that to them. In that moment I felt I hadn’t been there for her. Leaving the hospital, I didn’t mention it to anyone.”

Things have since become more stable, Wu said, and had that happened today she would handle it very differently.

Wu said there have been many occasions where members of her family have felt helpless and that the power dynamics were stacked against them.

“There were times I haven’t spoken up,” she said. “It drives me to fight for what I believe in and what I am working to change.”

For upcoming Tisch College events, including a conversation with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker Feb. 23, visit: http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/events/.

UEP alum recognized for land stewardship practices
| September 7, 2016 | 5:46 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/a-bl993e.pdf.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/a-bl993e.pdf.

Caitlin Hachmyer, a 2013 graduate of UEP, was recently highlighted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for her work at Red H Farm. The farm at Sebastopol, California — owned and operated by Caitlin — integrates traditional and modern farming practices rooted in agroecological values. Caitlin, who grew up in a family that grew and raised a lot of its own food, helped foster Caitlin’s current practices of stewarding the land and providing for the community.

The full story about Caitlin’s work can be found at: http://www.fao.org/family-farming/detail/en/c/429752/

New Report by UEP’s Lorlene Hoyt on Education and Entrepreneurship in Chile
| June 16, 2016 | 2:00 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed

At el Centro de Emprendizaje(CEM) in Southern Chile, relationships are an important part of the educational experience.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 1.58.37 PM

A newly published case study — co-authored by UEP Professor Lorlene Hoyt — explores the approach of the CEM at Valdivia’s Universidad Austral de Chile to integrate higher education with entrepreneurship and collaborative learning. The report, Emprendizaje: Higher Education for Entrepreneurship, Learning, and Collective Intelligence in Southern Chile seeks to flesh out the practical applications of “Emprendizaje,” a concept (emprender + aprendizaje) that the CEM faculty and staff try to live out daily.

This report began with Hoyt’s UEP graduate course, Community Development Planning and Policy, which examined alternative community development approaches that the Global North can draw from the Global South. For the course, students examined case studies from Mondragon, Spain to Lawrence, Massachusetts and conducted interviews with students, faculty, and staff at the CEM. Work on the report continued after the course through Tufts’ Talloires Network, the MIT Community Innovators Lab and the CEM.

The CEM draws from methodologies and theories such as Manfred Max-Neef’s Human Scale Development, which emphasizes greater self-reliance through satisfying human needs, and provides an alternative to neoliberal development approaches focusing on indicators such as Gross Domestic Product.

The CEM’s alternative pedagogical approaches can provide innovative solutions to the world’s crises and therefore worth delving into.

Read the Case Study Here!

UEP Co-hosts Leaders for Land and Food Sovereignty from Brazil and Honduras
| May 16, 2016 | 12:33 pm | Uncategorized | 3 Comments
From L-R: Jovanna Garcia Soto (Grassroots International), Yasmin Lopez (Via Campesina), Debora Nunes (MST), Lydia Simas (Grassroots International), Saulo Araujo (Why Hunger)

From L-R: Jovanna Garcia Soto (Grassroots International), Yasmin Lopez (Via Campesina), Debora Nunes (MST), Lydia Simas (Grassroots International), Saulo Araujo (Why Hunger)

On March 31, 2016, Tufts UEP co-hosted a dialogue with Debora Nunes Lino Da Silva, a leader with Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST), and Yasmin Lopez, a leader of the Women’s Regional Commission of La Vía Campesina–Central America, based in Honduras. More than 60 Tufts students and community members from Greater Boston attended this evening event at Tufts downtown campus, which was co-hosted by Grassroots International, Why Hunger, and Friends of MST. The evening began with a mistica (tribute and reflection) to Berta Caceres, a Honduran environmental and human rights activist who was assassinated in March.

Mystica tribute and reflection for Berta Caceres

Mystica tribute and reflection for Berta Caceres

With interpretation in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, Nunes and Lopez talked about their movement work in Brazil and Honduras. In Brazil, the MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) has been reclaiming rural land and building communities based on cooperative and solidarity economics. Since 1984, they have settled more than 370,000 families on more than 7.5 million hectares of land, where they have built agricultural cooperatives, schools, and health care facilities. Their current struggles center around countering the efforts to take down the democratically elected government.

La Via Campesina is a global social movement led by landless peasants, small scale farmers, women, indigenous people, and migrant workers from around the world. Lopez spoke about how people are taking over land to implement small-scale sustainable agriculture to promote food sovereignty and social justice. In the dialogue, one attendee who now lives in the Boston area shared the story of how his friend, a fellow Brazilian immigrant, had gotten involved in one of MST’s land settlements before moving to the US. Though he had to leave Brazil, family members who remained are now settled on and farming the reclaimed land. This story highlighted one theme throughout the evening about the need for building solidarity and ties across global communities.

This event was also sponsored by Tufts ASE Diversity Fund, Tufts New Economy, Tufts Friedman School’s Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program, Tufts Latin American Studies, and Tufts Portuguese Program.

UEP Student Allie Platt Reflects on Thesis Research in India
| May 13, 2016 | 10:42 am | Uncategorized | Comments closed

Before beginning my degree at Tufts I spent seven months in India and Southeast Asia. I returned with looming questions about the cultural and economic differences that exist between the East and the West. However, through my UEP courses such as Economics, Food Justice, and Cities I was equipped with tools to process and cope with some of my traveling experiences. For example, terms such as the Gini Coefficient and Purchasing Power helped me to understand the contrast between the value of a rupee and a dollar, without feeling guilty for everything that I bought in the United States.

While studying at Tufts, I remained in contact with the management of the farm where I had volunteered (WWOOFed) on my travels. In January I returned to India to pursue an internship with their organization, TGGFCT, and conduct field work for my thesis research topic (A Sustainable Livelihood Assessment), in which I was able to put to practical use some of the tangible skills and concepts I have gained since starting my degree.

During my internship, I lived on a beautiful organic permaculture farm learning and participating in the harvest of ginger, black pepper, arecanut, and coffee. I was also able to work in their office location, helping to strategize the future charitable activities and economic development initiatives they were planning, particularly aimed to support women entrepreneurship. Some challenges I faced while working with the organization were mainly related to cultural differences. Due to heavily steeped cultural practices that stem from the caste system, it could often feel like there was a divide between members of the farm and the organization management. It is very common in India for those who fall lower on the hierarchical spectrum to eat after those above. Working with the TGGFCT, most of the time this took the form of agricultural workers, particularly the women, eating after everyone else. Women are also the only ones who do the dishes, as men will almost never do their own. This often times upset me, and I was motivated to question my supervisor about some of the everyday customs related to daily life on the farm and in the office. Before approaching him regarding some of these topics, I often thought of the negotiations course I took at UEP, knowing that I did not want to shy away from asking difficult questions while upholding a positive and respectful discourse. He always encouraged me to “push the boundaries” and ask workers to join our meals, however they almost always indicated that they felt uncomfortable with doing this.

I was struggling with the boundary between cultural differences and injustice in many instances, until I was joined by Varnika, a Natural Resource Management masters student from Delhi. Interning with Varnika was probably the most valuable and rewarding part of my experience with TGGFCT. Throughout the month we became quite close sharing a room and hundreds of stories about our strikingly different backgrounds and cultures and bonding over our similar values and interests. I was able to ask her some of the questions about India’s customs, their historical origins, and current repercussions for women in particular, from someone of a native (albeit still privileged) perspective – rather than my American influenced and biased opinions. While many of the practices that seem to be impractical from my perspective still exist on the farm, they far exceed what I know to be some of the harsh realities and lived experiences of many within India. It is changing bit by bit, and I have full faith that some of the questions and discussion that took place on the farm during my time there had an effect, and am even more convinced of the power and importance of cultural exchanges.

Scholars Strategy Network Podcast on Gentrification
| February 8, 2016 | 8:38 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed

The Scholars Strategy Network, a nonprofit outlet and venue for connecting scholars with policymakers based in Cambridge, MA, recently released a podcast on Gentrification. The podcast, from a series titled No Jargon, interviews university scholars on public policy, politics, and social issues. In this episode they talk to Jackelyn Hwang, a postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University. Hwang’s 2014 study of gentrification in Chicago, Divergent Pathways of Gentrification: Racial Inequality and the Social Order of Renewal in Chicago Neighborhoods, brought out some interesting patterns not usually considered when dealing with changing city demographics.

The most striking outcome of her study is the way that racial dynamics can affect whether gentrification, and the level of investment associated with it, occurs at all. Using Google Street View, which Hwang claims is better for assessing gentrification than census data, they quantified gentrification in Chicago through the visible presence or absence of litter, graffiti, new construction, and a number of other variables. Comparing this with census data within the neighborhood, the study shows that gentrification is occurring most rapidly in diverse neighborhoods up to a point. Gentrifiers are attracted to diversity, but if a previously low-income community is greater than 35% black, gentrification does not occur. Accounting for crime, poverty and vacancy, this trend persisted across many Chicago neighborhoods and has fascinating implications for planners and policymakers.

The host suggests policymakers need to take two approaches to facilitating investment: one for gentrifying neighborhoods and one for persistently poor but not gentrifying neighborhoods. He calls it affirmative action for neighborhood investment. Hwang emphasizes the need to promote investment that protects current residents and prevents displacement. One example she cites from Philadelphia is the property tax cap. If you purchase a house in Philadelphia and own it for 10 or more years, and suddenly the surrounding real estate market booms, your property taxes don’t go up. This notably protects homeowners but not renters. A landlord could still benefit from lower tax rates but make more money when they perceive an increase in the market price for rent. Another approach, quickly laughed off by the host, is rent control.

More From the UEP 2015 Loj Trip!
| December 3, 2015 | 1:53 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed

As reported previously, eighteen UEPers made the trek up to the White Mountains last month for some hiking, camping and chili eating. We got so many great photos out of it that we felt the need to share them!

UEP Loj Group!

UEP Loj Group!

Some nice passersby offered to take this photo of the whole group.

Stopping for Lunch

Stopping for Lunch

Stopping for Lunch

Stopping for Lunch

 

After a quick lunch, half of the group took it easy while the more adventurous half continued on to the summit of Cannon Mountain (almost).

Getting in Touch with Nature

Getting in Touch with Nature

 

 

 

 

The general consensus was that it was too cold to go for a swim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We encountered this living birch tree which had been mostly uprooted. Despite the appearance of a shelter, we decided this was not a good solution to addressing housing shortages.

 

International student from Beijing, Yu “Frank” Xiang wrote about his experience at the Loj:

“On Saturday 11/7 and Sunday 11/8, I had experienced an unforgettable time with some fellows form UEP. We went to the White Mountains for hiking, and then stayed at the famous Tufts-owned Loj for a wonderful night. To me, it was a really exciting trip, and a good opportunity to immerse myself into the American students’ daily life. For example, we could share interesting things during the hiking, play games and exchange foods during the lunch break, and make a big dinner together at Loj. It was so interesting to hear other’s story and ideas, and to look at the funny items in the Loj, particularly the magnets on the refrigerator.  Generally, I liked the Loj trip very much, and hope more international students could join it next year!”

Loj Dinner

Loj Dinner

Reflections on the 2015 UEP Loj Trip: Lylee Rauch-Kacenski
| November 20, 2015 | 5:20 pm | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Prior to beginning my journey with UEP I had been living in a town of 2,030 in rural central Vermont. It took 10 minutes to walk through town, into the foothills of the Green Mountains, and quickly be engulfed in trees, pine needles underfoot, lost in thought. Since the start of school I have been absorbed in trying to keep on top of reading and research, discovering new passions within the field, and generally acclimating to an academic lifestyle.

On Saturday November 7th, 18 Tufts Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning students set out for a day of hiking and overnight at the Tufts Loj in New Hampshire. The drive to the White Mountains was a relaxing transition out of the city and into the weekend. The car ride provided a space to chat with classmates who are slowly becoming friends and compare notes about classes, assignments, research, and careers. It was at the beginning of our hike, bundled in layers of long underwear, hats and scarves, that I realized just how much I miss being in the woods. I couldn’t have articulated that I needed the space, solitude and silence that the trees and mountains provide: how the vast vistas beyond the peaks helped clear my mind and reset my core. Even while hiking with a group of people, I found the space to reconnect with a non-urban environment.

White Mountains and Lonesome Lake

White Mountains and Lonesome Lake

Between conversation with friends, picking up souvenirs of birch bark and crimson leaves, and traversing up steep passes, we slowly made our way to Lonesome Lake. Navigating our way over planks through bogs and marshes we finally arrived at the docks on the bank of the lake. There is nothing quite as satisfying as lunch after a long hike, and this day was no exception. I made the time to sit and sketch, a passion that I have ignored for the past 8 months. With rusty hand and no expectations- just the joy of being in the moment- I sketched the mountains and enjoyed bouncing in and out of conversation about yoga, food and traveling.

Lonesome Lake

Lonesome Lake

Birchbark

Birchbark

Although the trip was short, it provided enough time to reconnect with art and trees and to make deeper connections with fellow students through hiking, cooking together, setting up an unfamiliar tent in the dark, camping, s’mores, bonfires and silly games. For me the overnight was a perfect balance to the seriousness and intensity of the first semester of school and the relaxed social atmosphere outside of the classroom to get to know my cohorts even better.

UEP Fall Colloquium: Lisa Freeman on Human and Animal Health
| September 30, 2015 | 2:52 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed

Starting things off for UEP’s Fall Colloquium series was Lisa Freeman, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and nutrition PhD at the Friedman School. She presented the basis for her research and work with One Health, which aims to bring about changes in veterinary medicine in line with 19th century German physician Rudolf Virchow’s belief that: “Between animal and human and medicine, there is no dividing line—nor should there be. The object is different, but the experience obtained constitutes the basis of all medicine.

Freeman elaborated on the many components of One Health. Zoonotic infectious disease, transmittable between humans and animals, represents some of the most well known causes of death worldwide (rabies, ebola, salmonella, etc). According to Freeman, 20% of animals eating raw meat diets are exposed to salmonella, which can then be passed on to the dog’s owner.

There is also a focus on the effect of climate change on spread of animal borne disease. As temperatures rise, bacteria tend to proliferate while the natural range of disease-carrying animals can expand (e.g. deer ticks). Human health effects can even be felt as a result of increased arctic drilling and the subsequent effects on the surrounding wildlife.

The Cummings School puts on stress relief events for students around finals, with the next one scheduled for December 11 in Tisch Library from 4-6pm. Dogs will provide emotional support for stressed out students!

Colloquium takes place on Wednesdays from 12-1pm at the Crane Room in Paige Hall. The next colloquium will be October 16, featuring UEP’s Nathaniel Fink and Pat Kelsey discussing their experiences with cycling infrastructure in Copenhagen and Amsterdam. We hope to see you there.

Boston Drops Bid to Host 2024 Olympics
| July 28, 2015 | 2:06 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed

“No benefit is so great that it is worth handing over the financial future of our City and our citizens were rightly hesitant to be supportive as a result,” said Mayor Walsh in a statement published by the Boston Globe. The mayor made the statement after refusing to sign a contract pledging public funds to cover Boston 2024 cost overruns.

The decision was celebrated by an opposition group, No Boston Olympics, which made the following statement in the Globe, “We are a city with an important past and a bright future. We got that way by thinking big, but also thinking smart. We need to move forward as a city, and today’s decision allows us to do that on our own terms, not the terms of the USOC or the IOC. We’re better off for having passed on Boston 2024.”

The bid experienced low levels of public support from the beginning, stemming from detail-sparse proposals and the release of information regarding huge paychecks made out to proponents and elected officials.

Boston 2024 Chairman Steve Pagliuca believed that their second attempt at a proposal would win more support, as he said in the following statement: “We believe that the benefits of hosting the Games far outweigh the risks. With more time to engage in a discussion about Bid 2.0 – about its 8,000 new units of housing, tens of thousands of new jobs, and new tax revenues for the city – along with the appropriate review by Mayor Walsh, the Brattle Group, the Governor and Beacon Hill leadership, we think public support would grow in Boston and across the Commonwealth.”

Los Angeles, which hosted the games in 1984 and 1932, is the presumptive next choice for the US Olympic Committee.