Category: People (page 2 of 37)

From Ethnobotany to Energy Democracy—ENVS Lunch & Learn 2018

Content based on an Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn Talk given to professors, staff, and students at Tufts University. Every week during the academic year, the ENVS Lunch & Learn lecture series features speakers from government, industry, academia and non-profit organizations to give presentations on environmental topics. This is a great opportunity to broaden your knowledge beyond the curriculum, meet other faculty and students and network with the speakers.

Students, faculty, staff, and members of the community are welcome to attend.

This lecture series is co-sponsored by the Tufts Institute of the Environment and the Tisch College of Civic Life.


Medicinal Plants in their Environments: The chemical warfare of ethnobotany
John de la Parra, Visiting Lecturer, Tufts Experimental College
Watch video

Redistributing Power: Energy Democracy, Renewables & Community Resilience
Jennie Stephens, Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy, Northeastern University
Watch video

This semester, the Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn series is off to a great start with an emphasis on justice and respecting the knowledge, needs, and problem solving of indigenous people, women, communities of color, and low-income communities.

The first talk of the semester, given by John de la Parra, explored the intersections of indigenous knowledge and medicine, and advancements in the biotechnology sphere that increase consistency of products through standardization and analysis. He began by centering the talk on respecting a woman’s knowledge as powerful, as he explains that in many cultures, medicine people are women who know their way around the local plants. About 80% of the world uses plants to heal themselves. Knowledge of the native plants in a given area points to understanding chemical differences between plants that impact their healing qualities and abilities based on the plants’ own “chemical warfare—reactions to pathogens, weather or drought, other plants, and herbivores.” Ethnobotany pairs the technological advances now available with this indigenous knowledge to grow a huge density of plants within the controlled environment of a bioreactor—needing fewer inputs—to produce concentrated tinctures for different illnesses. De la Parra discusses these lab experiments as a way to dramatically increase accessibility to many treatments by curating very specific and tested directions to grow and create the treatments —and possibly distribute them by drone drop-offs—to people all around the world who may be unable to afford or reach pharmaceuticals.  Ethnobotany can produce a product to be used by indigenous cultures to treat existing health problems.

In another talk, Jennie Stephens discussed the movement of Energy Democracy—a concept that connects social change with the energy system transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. The energy democracy integrates concerns about the environment, climate change, social justice, income inequality, racism, wealth, and human rights. This vision is an alternative to fossil fuel dominated systems, as the fossil fuel industry is the most profitable industry in the world and the biggest contributor to climate change. This resistance is forming as a response to growing inequalities, unequal distribution of the impacts of energy and climate change, and the political power of the fossil fuel industry. Stephens reminds us that we are within this energy transition from fossil fuels, even if we sometimes feel we are stuck without much progress. The Energy Democracy sees this transition as an opportunity to democratize and decentralize energy while intentionally advancing justice through inclusion and awareness of the implications and connections between issues of inequality, justice, climate, and energy. Stephens posits that renewable energy systems offer a possibility, but not a certainty for more democratic energy futures.

Stay tuned for more Environmental Studies Lunch & Learns highlighting the intersections of the environment, climate change, and justice.

December 2017 Eco-Ambassador Session #2 – Medford

Session Summary:

We started off our second session by hearing from a current Eco-Ambassador, Rachel Brown, on the office sustainability projects that she has worked on over the years. Then we discussed water, including where Tufts’ water comes from, water conservation projects at the university, and ways you can conserve water in your offices. Carlos Robles from MassRIDES joined us to talk about transportation options and resources available to Tufts employees on the Boston and Medford campuses. We reviewed ways to “green” meetings and events and looked at green event resources on the OOS website. We went over energy use and infrastructure at Tufts, as well as upcoming energy projects and ways to conserve energy in our offices. To end the day, we sorted “Eco-labels” and talked about which are reliable and unreliable and reviewed some purchasing tips and resources.

Assignments for next week:

  • Introduce yourself as an Eco-Ambassador to your officemates
  • Meet with your supervisor/Eco-Ambassador team
  • Create a draft community-based social marketing plan using this worksheet. Email to Shoshana by Friday, January 12.

Next Steps:

  • Now that you have more familiarity with these topics, it could be a great time to finish the green office certification checklist that you started before, to get your office green office certified.

 Additional Resources

Water:

Transportation:

  • Tufts’ Commuter Benefits: Visit the Tufts Human Resources websitefor information about how you can get transit passes with pre-tax funds.
  • Transportation Incentives & Regional Programs: folks on all campuses can sign up for NuRide to find carpool partners and earn rewards for your “green” trips.  Employees on the Medford and Grafton campuses, can sign up for MassRIDES’ Emergency Ride HomeABC TMA provides incentives to employees on the Boston Campus, including the Guaranteed Ride Home Program.
  • Public Transportation: Visit the MBTA websitefor information on the rail, bus, subway, and commuter boat systems and access to helpful resources such as schedules & mapsreloading your CharlieCard online, and MBTA apps.
  • Tufts Shuttles: Find information about Tufts’ shuttles, including schedules and the live tracker, here.
  • BikingMassBikeoffers a wide range of bicycle safety and maintenance courses as well as extensive online resources about bike laws, local bike clubs, guides for new bikers, and much more. Learn more about bike safety from the Tufts University Police Department. View the City of Somerville Bicycle Routes map here.
  • General Transportation Info: Visit the EPA’s websitefor information about transportation and climate change, regulations related to greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and how to calculate your greenhouse gas emissions.
  • For guests traveling to campus: Provide information about how to travel to your campus via public transportation.  This page(and its subpages) have some good resources and language.
  • Transportation Brochures and Maps: Visit the Office of Sustainability’s Publications Libraryfor electronic versions of our various transportation-related handouts.

Meetings & Events:

Energy:

Purchasing:

Additional Topics of Interest:

  • The Environmental Studies program organizes weekly Lunch & Learns about environmental and sustainability topics that are open to all members of the Tufts community (free food is provided!) – learn more and see a schedule of upcoming speakers here.
  • There are CSA farm shares that deliver directly to the Medford and Boston campuses.  This is a great way to get fresh produce delivered conveniently to Tufts.  Click here for more information.
  • Meet other Eco-Ambassadors at Tufts – click here for a list(you will be added shortly!).

Contacts

Shoshana Blank

Education & Outreach Program Administrator

Shoshana.Blank@tufts.edu

(617)627-2973

Rachel Brown

Eco-Ambassador

Rachel.Brown@tufts.edu

(617)627-7957

Carlos Robles

MassRIDES

Carlos.Robeles@state.ma.us

Commute.com

 

November 2017 Eco-Ambassador Session #1 – Medford

Session Summary:

During our first meeting, we discussed the history of the Eco-Ambassador program and the role of Eco-Ambassadors, as well as the definition and meaning of “sustainability.” We also went through an overview of sustainability at Tufts and the goals for water, waste, and energy and emissions set forth in the Campus Sustainability Council Report. We then discussed waste and recycling at Tufts.  To round out the day, we talked about behavior change and the steps to creating a Community-Based Social Marketing plan, followed by an overview of climate change, its impacts, and how it will specifically impact the Boston area.

Assignments for next week:

  • Do your personal behavior change challenge! We will report back to each other about how it went.
  • Introduce yourself as an Eco-Ambassador to your officemates, your department, etc. This can be informal in person, or maybe you want to do a cute email?
  • Check that you have the proper Landfill and Mixed Recycling labels on your waste bins and that you have a blue lid on the recycling lid. Also, assess if you want a wall sign sticker to go above your waste bins. Please bring a list of what you need to next week’s session.
  • Start brainstorming behavior change ideas for your office (some of you have some ideas already!)

Additional Resources

Sustainability at Tufts:

Behavior Change:

Climate Change:

Waste & Recycling:

Contacts

Shoshana Blank

Education & Outreach Program Administrator

Shoshana.Blank@tufts.edu

(617)627-2973

Gretchen Carey

Recycling and Organics Coordinator

RepublicServicesGCarey@republicservices.com

(781)560-1412

 

Recycle (General)

Recycle@tufts.edu

Go.tufts.edu/recycle

 

Slacktivism or #Activism?

Content based on a Tisch College Civic Life Lunch given to professors, staff, and students at Tufts University.


Civic Life Lunch – #Standing Rock: Starting + Sustaining a Movement
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2017, 12 – 1PM

Featuring: LaDonna Brave Bull Allard & Cutcha Risling Baldy, Moderated by Tufts American Studies Professor Jami Powell

Join us for a conversation with LaDonna Brave Bull Allard & Cutcha Risling Baldy. LaDonna Brave Bull Allard is the Historian and Genealogist for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Allard is also the Founder and Director of the Sacred Stone Camp, a spirit camp established in April 2016 that has become the center of cultural preservation and spiritual resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline. Cutcha Risling Baldy is the Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University, where her research focuses on #IndigenousHashtagActivism and #TheNewNativeIntellectualism and how Indigenous people are engaging in #HashtagActivism to achieve social change.

Social media has transformed the way people communicate and relate to the world in the last few years. It has been applauded as a unifier and simultaneously criticized as “fake news,” as a realm where people lose touch with reality and get trapped into a world of likes and retweets. Could it be that social media is actually the great equalizer? Could social media really be a platform that empowers the people to broadcast their truths to the world while mainstream media and “the news” continue to ignore or distort them?

If you ask Professor Cutcha Risling Balding, she’d tell you that social media, especially Twitter, makes a huge impact on the growth and success of a movement, as seen at Standing Rock—one of the most widely recognized and recent cases of blatant environmental injustice. Risling Balding studies #HashtagActivism of social justice movements and believes that there is no such thing as “slacktivism.” As she explained at the Civic Life Lunch, there is no harm done by retweeting and liking posts that elevate and amplify indigenous voices which are so often silenced. Often, people seeing these posts get inspired and feel empowered to do something to stand in solidarity, even if locally. These actions can have a huge impact, pushing the mainstream media to actually cover movements on the news and even calling out the President to come out with a public stance on an issue.

Calling these actions “slacktivism” diminishes the importance of movements that are seen as “indigenous issues.” The reality is that water protectors at Standing Rock, organized by young indigenous women, put their lives on the line to protect water in the Missouri River from pollution because “Mni Wiconi,” “Water is Life”—a universal truth for all living beings. Access to clean and safe drinking water is a human rights issue facing many communities in the US, disproportionately communities of color. Social media enabled millions of non-native people to become allies and engage with the Standing Rock water protectors through retweets and likes of their posts, checking in at Standing Rock on Facebook, watching live videos and pictures as evidence of the police brutality and militarization. All of this shaped the narrative of what was occurring at Standing Rock, instead of it being entirely decided by distant, out of touch, and inaccurate media and government reports.

This so called “slacktivism” caught the attention of media outlets and politicians who were now pressured to address the sovereignty rights of the Sioux tribe in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. News outlets began to invite and speak to indigenous people involved with the #NoDAPL movement. This #HashtagActivism as brought the movement to decolonize Native American tribes and the United States one step further. Through social media, activists at Standing Rock have spread awareness to the public of the real, living, contemporary indigenous people and can further shape the narrative of these social movements.

Meet the New Eco-Reps!

Our new Eco-Reps are here! We now officially have Eco-Reps for every dorm on campus and for the first time we have a SMFA Eco-Rep! So far the Eco-Reps have helped freshman move-in sustainably, composted over 200 gallons of food waste, volunteered at the Community Harvest Project in Grafton, and helped out at the Blue and Brown Pass Down Sale. It has been quite a busy few weeks!

For the rest of the semester, the Eco-Reps will serve as resources for residents in the dorms to help create sustainable living habits.  Be sure to ask them any and all of your sustainability questions! Not sure what mixed recycling is? Ask an Eco-Rep! Don’t know where your dorm’s compost is? Ask an Eco-Rep! Have questions about how to reduce your waste while living on campus? Ask an Eco-Rep!

Not only can Eco-Reps answer all of your sustainability questions, but they also host sustainability-themed events throughout the semester. Some exciting events planned for this semester include tye dying, herb planting, compost decorating, and pumpkin carving! To stay up to date on all of the Eco-Rep events throughout the semester follow the facebook page! You can also find the Eco-Reps in Dewick on Mondays for Meatless Mondays! There you can pledge to reduce your meat consumption, even if it’s just for one meal a week (every little bit helps)!

Don’t the Eco-Reps sound amazing?  We sure think so! You can learn more about your Eco-Rep here!

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