Warm for the Holidays

Meet Veronika Scott. As a 22 year old Product Design student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Veronica took professor Steve Schock‘s class on Design Activism and it changed her life.

As her class project, Veronika spent hours at a homeless shelter and with the help of their residents, developed a coat that also doubles as a sleeping bag at night and a shoulder bag when not in use.  The Element S (survival),  now called the EMPWR Coat, is self heated, and waterproof .  The coat not only filled a need in the community, but became a way for Scott to improve the lives of others.

Ms. Scott stepped up and decided to do more than help the homeless stay warm in the cold Michigan winters, she began to hire people from local shelters and help them work their way out of homelessness. Her nonprofit organization, “The Empowerment Plan“,  centers around lifting single parents out of homelessness by providing them with training and work making coats.

Over 34 families now have permanent housing thanks to a 20-something with a good idea, and a good heart. Together they have made over 15.000 EMPWR coats distributed across North America.

Good for you Veronika!  Thanks for keeping us all warm for the holidays.

 

“THE RECYCLED ORCHESTRA” EXHIBIT AT MIM

On exhibit now at the Musical Instrument Museum

Exhibit displays instruments from remarkable group

Amid a massive landfill in Cateura, Paraguay, children find hope by making music on instruments built from recycled trash. In a slum town where families survive by collecting and reselling garbage (and where a violin can cost more than a house), a visionary music teacher gathered a small team to plunder the landfill for materials and construct an ensemble of “recycled” instruments. In just a few years, their innovation has led to a thriving music school in Cateura and a youth orchestra that performs internationally. For members of the Recycled Orchestra, material poverty is not an obstacle to a life rich with music. They have each learned to value greatly how music impacts their lives, helping them express creativity, build self-confidence, and strengthen community.

The Musical Instrument Museum features the inspiring story and the innovative instruments of the Recycled Orchestra through a Latin America gallery exhibit and docent mini-tours. The Recycled Orchestra exhibit features eight recycled instruments from Paraguay as well as video and images of the youth orchestra and the environment of Cateura.

The Hottest Year on Record … 2016

The scorching temperatures mean 2016 is all but certain to be the hottest year ever recorded, beating the previous hottest year in 2015, which itself beat 2014. This run of three record years is also unprecedented and, without climate change, would be a one in a million chance. Scaife says: “Including this year so far, 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have been since 2000 – it’s a shocking statistic.”

Shattered records show climate change is an emergency today, scientists warn

Unprecedented temperature levels mean more heatwaves, flooding, wildfires and hurricanes as experts say global warming is here and affecting us now

Read more about the science and realities of climate change in this article by Damian Carrington of The Guardian.

Italy rules that stealing food not a crime if desperately hungry

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The right to survival prevails over property,” Italy’s highest court of appeals ruled this week when reviewing the case of a homeless man who had been given a six month jail sentence and a €100 euro fine for stealing cheese and sausages.

The man was caught before leaving the store and returned the goods, so the state prosecutor argued for the sentence to be reduced from “theft” to “attempted theft.”

But when the court of appeals heard the case, they radically upended the decision. This wasn’t worthy of punishment, they argued. In fact, taking food to stave off hunger should not even be considered a crime.

The judges wrote that the food had been taken “in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment.”

They also rebuked the entire process that brought this case before them–an attempt to take less than €5 of food went through 3 rounds of court hearings.

Italy, like large parts of the world, is coping with a recession. Each day, 615 people in Italy fall into poverty, according an op-ed in response to the ruling, many of whom struggle to find housing and food. Forgetting about these people is not an option, the piece argued.

Another op-ed argued that the ruling aligned with one of the most fundamental pillars of Western legal thinking–the concept of humanity that says a person’s dignity should be protected and that dignity rises when basic needs like food, water, housing and security are met.

On one level, this ruling attempts to return sense, discretion and an appreciation of context to criminal justice. Why, after all, was it necessary to spend so many resources to punish a man suffering from hunger, especially when this punishment will only deepen his poverty? Why not, instead, provide food for this person?

On another level, this ruling is a radical rethinking of human rights. Sure, it connects to ancient ideas of “humanity,” but these ideas have never fully been practiced on a large scale. The thought of a homeless person walking into a grocery store and just taking food without paying for it is, in a way, a radical affront to the market-based logic that rules most societies. If you want food, you pay for it just like everyone else, right?

Then there’s a more mundane explanation to all of this. Recently, Italy passed a law requiring all sellers of food to donate unsold food to charities rather than throw it away. So this decision may have been made under the aegis of the new legislation.

But even still–in a world of abundance, should the vagaries of circumstance–job loss, illness, traumas–ever leave a person without the ability to get food?

When grocery stores around the world are stuffed with food, is it moral to allow someone to suffer from hunger?

These are challenging questions that strike at the core of many societal arrangements. But they’re questions that are worth asking, and finding some compromise for, in a time when inequality is rising and more people find themselves in economically distressed situations.

Globally, 795 million people do not have enough food to lead normal, healthy lives. Many more people struggle to buy and find food every day.

It’s unlikely that this ruling in Italy will lead to widespread theft from grocery stores and it’s cynical to suggest that a breakdown in the rule of law will follow (as some critics have suggested).

The more likely result will be an evaluation of what really matters in life and how much another person’s humanity should be respected.

In an ideal world, there would be consensus that a person’s dignity is the top priority in any situation and from there other rules based on other, secondary considerations would apply.

Read More @ Global Citizen

2016 RecycleMania Tournament – Final Results

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Thanks to Chaunda Fraulino and all of her hard work in making this happen every year. We have continually gotten better in this competition and I hope you all improve next year too.

Also thanks to all of you for doing your part and recycling, reducing, and reusing. This would not have been possible without an environmentally conscious student body and employees.

2016 RecycleMania Tournament
February 7 – April 2, 2016
 
Final Results
Glendale Community College (GCC) competed with 276 colleges and universities nationwide in the 2016 RecycleMania tournament from February 7 – April 2.  The four Arizona participants included Arizona State University, Glendale Community College, and the University of Arizona. GCC reduced the amount of waste per person from 8.63 lbs. in 2015 to 7.61 lbs. in 2016 earning a 3rd place finish in the 2016 Waste Minimization competition.
The goal of waste minimization is to reduce overall waste (trash plus recyclables) through waste reduction activities such as the Zero Waste Program.  As a direct result of our success in waste minimization, our placement in other categories is higher.  The final results in all categories are listed below.
2016 RecycleMania Final Results
Grand Champion
103 out of 207Per Capita Classic
249 out of 269Gorilla
222 out of 276

Waste Minimization
3 out of 114

Corrugated Cardboard
93 out of 97

Our cumulative GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Reductions during the competition are 58 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent, or 11 cars off the road, or the energy consumption of 5 households.
 

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About RecycleMania
This is GCC’s 6th year participating in the RecycleMania tournament.  The tournament ran from February 7 – April 2, 2016. RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over an 8-week period, schools report recycling and trash data which are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or has the highest recycling rate overall.

Earth Day 1-Mile Sustainability Walk

sustwaEarth Day 1-Mile Sustainability Walk

10AM-2PM

There no better day than Earth Day to take a 15-20 minute break and enjoy the 1-Mile Sustainability Walk (see attached map).  This is a great opportunity to see our beautiful campus and learn about sustainability initiatives.

EARTH DAY DUMPSTER DIVE PRESENTATION

EARTH DAY DUMPSTER DIVE PRESENTATION in the STUDENT UNION!!

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When Thursday, April 21, 2016, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where SU-104A,SU-104B,SU-104C
Event Title Dumpster Dive Results and Speaker
This event celebrates our ninth annual dumpster dive, with a presentation of this years dumpster dive results, followed by our guest speaker,  Thomas Williams, Chief Sustainability Officer, Maricopa County Community College District.

EARTH DAY STUDENT POSTER PRESENTATIONS @ GCC

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When Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Where SU-100B (by coffee bar)
Event Title Sustainability and Ecology Presentations, Student Posters
Students will set up posters in the SU lobby in two shifts, 8:30-11:00 and 11:30-2:30 on both Tuesday and Thursday, April 19 and 21.

Why is Honduras the world’s deadliest country for environmentalists?

berta     Lenca indigenous women protest against the murder of Honduran enviromnentalist Berta Caceres, in front of the Public Ministry in Tegucigalpa on April 5, 2016. Photograph: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images.

Since her mother’s murder a month ago, Bertha Isabel Zuniga Cáceres has scarcely had time to grieve. The 25-year-old student is adamant that her mother, Berta Cáceres Flores, will not become just one more Honduran environmental activist whose work was cut short by their assassination.

“Development in Honduras cannot continue happen at the expense of indigenous peoples and human rights,” says Zuñiga Cáceres, who met today with members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and Honduran officials in Washington DC to call for an independent investigation into her mother’s killing. She also requested greater protection for her family and members of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, the human rights group her mother co-founded.

A growing chorus of voices, from civil society groups to members of the US Congress, have reiterated the need for reform in Honduras in the month since Cáceres was shot dead by assassins in her home. Cáceres, founder of the nonprofit watchdog group National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), died less than a week after opposing a major new hydroelectric project. Her death was followed two weeks later by that of her colleague Nelson García. While a suspect has been identified in García’s death, local activists are accusing the government of a cover-up.

A well known leader from the Lenca indigenous community, Cáceres received international recognition – and threats – for her efforts to halt the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the sacred Gualcarque River. Last year, she was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her work to uphold indigenous rights.

A deadly place for environmentalists

Honduras now has the highest murder rate for environmental activists in the world, and conflict over land rights is the primary driver. Rampant inequality, a weak judicial system, cozy relationships between political and business elites and near total impunity for crimes against human rights defenders have contributed to 101 murders of environmental activists between 2010 and 2014, according to the British NGO Global Witness.

It’s an upward trend: there were three times as many killings in 2012 as a decade earlier, and 2015 is likely to be the deadliest year on record for environmental defenders in Honduras, according to Billy Kyte, author of a 2015 report by Global Witness spotlighting the dangers faced by activists.

“The environment is the new battleground for human rights, and disputes over land form the backdrop to almost all the killings,” says Kyte.

The Global North’s “rapacious demand” for natural resources is fueling conflict on indigenous lands throughout the developing world, says Kyte. But in Honduras, corruption, organized crime, political instability and increasingly militarized policing have created a particularly acute crisis.

Since the 2009 coup that ousted democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya, the right wing Honduran government has aggressively promoted investment and development in mining, agri-business and large scale energy infrastructure projects. It has privatized land and water resources and removed barriers to large scale development projects, often at the expense of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities and small scale campesino farmers.

In large part to meet the mining industry’s enormous demand for energy, the government has granted dozens of hydroelectric dam concessions. Global Witness found that the developers often disregard the land rights of indigenous communities, which become targets of threats and violence. Powerful drug trafficking gangs are also known to use mining and agri-business projects for money laundering.

Honduras is a signatory to the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, which requires the free, prior consultation and consent of indigenous communities for projects that impact their traditional territories. But the country has a poor track record when it comes to upholding those rights, according to George Redman, Honduras country director for Oxfam.

Please continue to read more @ the Guardian’s website.