Friday, August 10, 2012

Lincoln Park campus to welcome urban farm - News - The DePaulia - The student newspaper of DePaul University

Urban farming at DePaul
For most students, the freshness of their groceries depends on the selection at Dominick’s that week. However, that may no longer be the only source for local produce after the DePaul Urban Farming Organization’s (UFO) urban farm breaks ground in May.
The new organization was developed in the fall by students from Barbara Willard’s Urban Agriculture class who felt the need to address sustainability on another local level. The group’s farm will make temporary use of the purchased lot at the corner of Belden and Bissell Avenues, just blocks away from the Lincoln Park Student Center and across from Wish Field.
“It is a natural fit with the university’s newly-launched Institutional Sustainability Plan,” said James Montgomery, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Studies. “As DePaul focuses on becoming a more sustainable institution with respect to its curriculum operations, research and community engagement, issues of food quality and food access are vital elements. The farm allows us to begin addressing these issues.”
The farm will encourage all students and faculty to learn about urban agriculture and connect classroom learning with urban nature and community engagement. The group hopes the project will also educate the public about how to establish and enjoy sustainable food production systems.
“Students will have the opportunity to conduct research on various aspects of food production, besides getting their hands dirty and playing with worms,” said Montgomery. "The farm connects students to food directly and intimately.”
Starting in the fall, DePaul will offer an urban agriculture minor, making this addition to the Lincoln Park campus even more purposeful as students will be able to watch the garden progress in an urban and degraded environment.
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Lincoln Park campus to welcome urban farm - News - The DePaulia - The student newspaper of DePaul University

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New sustainability initiative in motion - News - The DePaulia - The student newspaper of DePaul University

The Sustainability Initiatives Task Force (SITF) began their journey with a question: In what ways does the focus on sustainability function to build DePaul’s capacity to be an agent of social transformation?
Two years later, it appears that we have an answer to that question and a plan of action. Last week, a faculty-wide letter from Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, CM announced the completion of the Institutional Sustainability Plan (ISP). An accompanying cover letter described the plan as “a baseline audit of activity and list of proposedrecommendations.”
This report is the first of its kind at the university and covers many facets of university life ranging from academics to operations. According to Barbara Willard, an environmental science and communication professor at DePaul, the task force was meant to get the ball rolling in regards to the ISP.
“We began working to come up with a strategy as to how to create a plan that was comprehensive, stressed all aspects of sustainability (as too often people narrowly see it as only environmental), and involve the DePaul community in the process,” said Willard.
In light of the recent student protests regarding tuition increases, the issue of how these applications fit into the budget becomes relevant.
While a “green fee” in tuition costs is typical at many universities, DePaul has yet to implement one. Student Government and the Environmental Concerns Committee have been working toward adding such a fee, which is generally around $10-$20 per quarter.
“It actually should make the university more economically sound because we will see long-term savings due to conservation of energy, water, and resources,” said Willard.
Senior journalism major, Evan Taylor, said that she would not mind paying a fee at all.
“That’s a really small amount to contribute and I would be happy to pay it, as long as I knew exactly where the money was going,” Taylor said. “I love seeing the things like the water bottle refill stations that show exactly how many bottles we’ve saved.”
Jonathan Eiseman, senator for sustainability within Student Government, sees the SITF as critical to realizing the goals DePaul has set.
“Their role is one of establishing the language that DePaul will use to communicate the changes that will take place in the future,” said Eiseman. “They determine the most plausible, economically efficient, and ecologically sound procedures for becoming the most sustainable urban campus.”
The task force is comprised of four “working groups”: curriculum, operations, research and engagement. Each group worked to isolate problems in their assigned areas and propose solutions that eventually made up the ISP that Fr. Holtschneider approved, according to Willard. Currently, the task force is working toward implementation of some of the proposed recommendations.
The SITF chose the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) that was created by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education as their measurement standard for creating a baseline to work up from.
Additionally, Housing Service’s “Green Team” attempts to promote sustainable living and environmental awareness across campus, another testament to DePaul’s commitment. As popular as environmentalism has become, Green Team supervisor, Cecelia Jacobson, said that it is certainly not a passing trend.
“All of the new DePaul buildings are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified -- which isn’t easy,” said Jacobson. “I believe that it is now policy to build our new projects within those guidelines.”
The Green Team and their “eco reps” host events across campus that increase the knowledge of sustainability in the residence halls and campus buildings.
“We hope that the impact we make on students will stick with them throughout the rest of their lives,” said Jacobson.
Eiseman confirmed DePaul’s policy of LEED certification and offers a long-term perspective of the commitment the university has made.
“The students who are involved with ‘greening’ our campus seem very committed to realizing these changes,” said Eiseman. “However, their time at DePaul is short in comparison to the strategic plan – and even shorter when comparing them to faculty and staff who have been and will be here for a good chunk of time.”
The next phase of the plan is the creation of a DePaul Sustainability Network (DSN) that will serve as a campus-wide group “working to sharpen, reshape and implement some of the recommendations contained in the ISP” in an effort to improve.
“The faculty members heavily involved in the DSN and SITF are amongst the most committed toward seeing these institution-wide changes take place in a reasonable amount of time,” Eiseman said.
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More info can be found at DePaul's Sustanability page.

DePaul Invites People to Recycle

A cure video to invite people to use the solar powered recycle Big-Belly at DePaul

Ten Things Wrong with Environmental Sustainability

Heneghan gave a presentation entitled "Ten Things Wrong With Environmental Thought & What We Can Do To Change Them: An Environmental Manifesto" at NYU on Tuesday, February 15, 2011.

Liam Heneghan is a professor of environmental science and ecosystem ecology at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. He is also co-director of the university's Institute for Nature and Culture. In "Ten Things Wrong With Environmental Thought & What We Can Do To Change Them: An Environmental Manifesto," he asks if the environmentalism that we have received from the foundational figures in environmental thought provides us with the proper ground for an appropriate response to today's ecological problems. In a series of ten provocations he suggests we need a radical reassessment of our understanding of people's relation to the natural world.
Heneghan specializes in biological invasions, ecological restoration, arthropod ecology, and soil ecology. His research has covered European soil foodwebs, and their vulnerability to acid rain, as well as interbiome comparisons of nutrient dynamics and decomposition of North American and tropical forest ecosystems. Currently, Heneghan and his pupils are putting effort into researching, preserving, and restoring Midwestern ecosystems.
In 2010, Heneghan jumpstarted the DeepMap project, where he - along with a small group of students - count and gather data for every tree in Lincoln Park. Further, he intends to plant millions of trees over the upcoming years. As co-chair of the science team of the Chicago Wilderness Association, Heneghan and his team garnered $435,325 from the National Science Foundation to research how people are affected by the degree of nature in their environment, while trying to see how resource planning models influence biodiversity.
In January, 2011, Heneghan co-authored Brute Neighbors: Urban Nature Poetry, Prose, and Photography, an anthology of urban nature, poetry, prose, and photography, with poet Chris Green. The work encourages environmental awareness by exposing the beauty of biodiversity, and explains that we can - paradoxically - turn to the city for answers, through careful urban design.