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.
Read more at:

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

Learn more at 

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.
Published at 
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.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Environmental Justice

Go Green! No. 4

The world is a home for many different inhabitants. Not only does wildlife and vegetation have their respective homes, but also many diverse populations share the world. No matter how differently subscribed people may be, the world is home to all. Even in the great American city of Chicago, all citizens of diverse cultures, ethnicities, philosophies, and opinions, have an equal right to live and thrive in their homes. There are divides in socio-economic status, in political beliefs, in traditions, and in religions but we must never forget that we all are neighbors, we are all Chicagoans, we are all Americans, and we are all humans. We must strive for egalitarianism, and for Chicago, America, and the world to honor the most natural, inalienable right to life, we must unite in our interest to protect all human’s right to life.

The world is our home, a home to many, but it is a home that shines above for some and for others it is a modest attempt to shelter a family. For many Chicagoans in neighborhoods like Pilsen and Little Village, a home consists of crumbling houses, weakened infrastructure, and contaminated water. Even the air is polluted, air that any other Chicagoan, American, or human could breathe. Neighborhoods with these conditions are not fictional, and it is because of the major coal-burning energy factories that cause this undeserving living conditions. It would seem that the solution is then very easy; Chicago must close the coal-burning factories. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. (Though it is unprecedented that the Fisk and Crawford Factories, two of Chicago’s largest coal-burning facilities, were announced to close this past February.) After years of repeated exposure these Chicago neighborhoods are finally being treated with the same opportunities that the rest of the city has come to regard as standard living conditions.

At DePaul University, the Green Team projected this situation in the Student Center for February’s theme, Environmental Justice. We presented the neighborhoods surrounding the power plants and connected the city by showing the union of Chicago’s upper class living and the energy that comes from the factories. The environmental injustice that affects the lower class neighborhoods is that Chicago and other cities in the area get their power from these factories, but the adverse effects are only felt by those in close proximately; essentially, many of the families that live in factory neighborhoods are of lower socio-economic status and do not have the financial means to live in places where clean air and water are customary living conditions. Fortunately, two of Chicago’s largest coal-burning factories, Fisk and Crawford, were announced days after the Green Team demonstration to not only be closing but to be committing their full attention on cleaning the areas afflicted by the factories.

After such a pressing issue, what’s next for the Green Team? Our attention has turned to a prominent concern on campus and so for the month of March, our theme is creative recycling methods. The Green Team will be holding seminars in each of the freshman dormitories sharing different creative ways of reusing common things found in average dorm rooms. Each event will be the first weekend after break and all are welcome to join the Green Team in celebrating springtime with resourceful devices to make dorm life easier and promote sustainability. And who could forget April, the middle of spring and the month of Earth Day? The Green Team will be working closely with the Environmental Concerns Committee (ECC) to commemorate green living in the city each day in the week prior to Earth Day (April 22).

Interested in DePaul’s Eco-Reps? Check us out on Facebook and follow our updates on Twitter! (Facebook: “Eco Reps” in search under “People” and we’re the first hit! Twitter: “depaul_ecoreps”) New events, places, and environmentally friendly tips are always available!

Written by Matthew Morley, DePaul Eco-Rep

Monday, February 13, 2012

From Sustainable Fods to Envrionmental Justice

Go Green! DePaul Eco-Reps

For those who remember the 27th of October, the early hours of that day were not promising for the DePaul Green Team’s farmer’s market. A typical Chicago overcast darkened the sky, and cold rains fell surely ruining the day. But, by some stroke of luck, clouds parted and rains subsided only a few hours before the Green Foods Festival. Hours of planning and scheduling only two weeks before the set date came to a major success. Hundreds of DePaul students flooded the Quadrangle and thousands of samples from Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Mariano’s Market, Native Foods and Karyn’s on Green were distributed. Eagerly passing out information about the event, the Green Team was able to meet their goal.

While the prospect of free food may have brought majority of the students on campus to the Green Foods Festival, it is with high hopes from the Green Team that each student left with knowledge about the health benefits of environmentally friendly sources of nourishment. In a span of four hours, the Green Team accomplished their aspirations and then some.

What then is next for the DePaul Green Team? And after such a popular event, how can the Green Team achieve a larger number of participants? Many questions like these were asked at the meetings following the Green Foods Festival. Stemming from the seed of health foods and environmentally friendly groceries, the Green Team’s next major project will be concerned with Environmental Health and Justice.

To give an idea of what this project entails, the Green Team will be visiting neighborhoods and learning about the socioeconomic population trapped in environmentally unsafe living conditions. While these neighborhoods may seem to have only existed decades ago, areas like these exist in many cities today, including in Chicagoland.

Information about this project will be posted on the Eco-Rep’s Twitter and Facebook. Additionally, the Green Team will make it a priority to disburse information about the neighborhoods negatively impacted by poor living conditions so that any students concerned with the living arrangements can get involved.

Interested in DePaul’s Eco-Reps? Check us out on Facebook and follow our updates on Twitter! (Facebook: “Eco Reps” in search under “People” and we’re the first hit! Twitter: “depaul_ecoreps”) New events, places, and environmentally friendly tips are always available!