Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Andrew Hargadon of U.C.Davis promotes networks for innovation

It's not a lack of great ideas, brilliant scientists or smart entrepreneurs that impedes leaps in technology, says Andrew Hargadon of U.C.Davis. It's a lack of the right kinds of networks.

Hargadon's ideas may be interesting to use for our IGSS unit on Progress. How do innovations take off? What does this mean for progress on Sustainability. To get technological innovations to be commercially viable, we need to tap into those post-docs who may be able to change the way we view things. They are not entrenched in old models of doing things.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


GlobalGiving is an online marketplace that connects people to the causes and countries they care about. Select the projects you want to support, make a tax-deductible contribution, and get regular progress updates - so you can see your impact.

Current Projects can be found through their website search.

Projects can be selected by country or by topic area:

Climate Change (GG Green)
Democracy and Governance
Disaster Recovery
Economic Development
Human Rights
Peace and Security
Women and Girls

Thursday, July 16, 2009

TED Talks: Stewert Brand

He speaks about the consequences of how any medium sized nation can impact climate change:

Wal-Mart Greening American Consumption

Nutrition labeling has been a source of consumer information since the 1970's to help people make informed food choices. The FDA Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition even has website tutorials to help consumers read and understand the components of the food labels. According to a 2006 Associated Press poll, 80 percent of Americans check the food labels at the grocery story, but 44 percent say they may buy the item regardless of high fat, calories and sugar. These poll results point to heightened awareness among consumers about food and also to more prudent food purchases.

Will this translate to purchases with “sustainability labels” for other consumer products?

Once again Wal-Mart is leading the charge to change American business practices and how American consumers shop. According to Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, Wal-Mart was one of the first retailers to understand and change supply systems. Their latest efforts are focused on helping buyers to determine the social and environmental impact of their purchases with a new labeling campaign. Wal-Mart is now developing a “sustainability index score” for each of its products by surveying about 100,000 of it suppliers. See Supplier Assessment Questions. They expect younger consumers who care about the environment to encourage the production and consumption of more earth-friendly products. Read the full story in today’s New York Times.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Religious Environmental Movement

The Renewal documentary shows how Americans from the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim traditions are starting to become caretakers of the Earth.

"RENEWAL offers a comprehensive overview of what different religions are doing about the awesome devastation of Earth’s life systems now taking place. The filmmakers’ vision of the problem and understanding of viable solutions show rare depth of perception and are matched only by their sense of the urgency of action if we are to realize our hopes for the future."—Thomas Berry, who died this year, speaks powerfully in a video linked here.

In an interview a few years ago, Berry stated “From here on, the primary judgment of all human institutions, professions, programs and activities will be determined by the extent to which they inhibit, ignore or foster a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship.” Thomas Berry's essays resonate today. You may enjoy reading them at his foundation website.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Obama's G8 focus Today

Developing nations may not follow suit on G-8 leaders' commitment to 50 percent reduction in global emissions by 2050 and G-8 leaders are not leading the charge to get developing nations to agree to any specific targets.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Growing Power

I became aware of Will Allen's non-profit organization by reading the July 5th NY Times magazine article which describes the "good food movement" developed by Allen who learned to created soil from waste. In 14 greenhouses on two city acres of Milwaukee's northwest side, Allen and his paid workers and volunteers produce about $250,000 each year as Allen trains farmers in intensive polyculture.

Growing Power's mission is to help provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner. Check out this blog for more info.

His daughter Erika Allen runs Growing Power's satellite office in Chicago. Since 2002, Growing Power has worked in collaboration with Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church to facilitate the Chicago Avenue Community Garden. In addition, Growing Power created a 20,000 square foot urban farm on Chicago’s lakefront adjacent to Buckingham Fountain and Lincoln Memorial in Grant Park. As the winner of several high profile grants (Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation & Kellogg Foundation) Growing Power has many projects running, including one in collaboration with the Chicago Park District,which manages the Jackson Park Urban Farm and Community Allotment Garden in Chicago.

The Chicago Growing Power websites states: "The growing beds use Growing Power’s Living Biological Worm System approach and is an active learning tool to teach youth and adults the importance of closed-loop systems and how to grow food in urban soil which is often depleted or contaminated. Learning how to compost using both aerobic and anaerobic digestion methods and the production of valuable vermicompost and compost tea is stressed and part of the hands-on training and demonstration both with gardeners and our youth." This may be a good resource for our IGSS students who want to learn the basics of soil fertility or who want to volunteer as garden helpers.

Contact information:
Milwaukee Headquarters: 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53218 phone 414.527.1546 l Fax 414.527.1908
Chicago Projects Office: 2215 W. North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 phone 773.486.6005

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Global Climate Change Impacts

Of particular interest to next year's Integrated Global Studies School students will be a major report released today: "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States." It was produced by a consortium of experts from thirteen government science agencies and from several major universities and research institutes.

The press release describes the report as "written in plain language to better inform members of the public and policymakers" ... and as a "science based report [which] is a consensus product spanning two Presidential administrations and [which] transcends political leanings or biases".

Go to the Full Report to see more fact sheets, slide show, and other information on national and regional impacts. Related blog postings include those from the White House and the New York Times.

Linda Straube, New Trier librarian

New Trier Organic Garden