Final Project – Our Shitty Planet

This class wasn’t really into positive messages, so I made an image that sort of reflects how this class made me feel; that everything is wrong with our planet and we’re basically doomed to some sort of awful global collapse.

– Patrick Benjamin

Environmental Jewelry

These are two pieces that CJ and I created. One is a head band made of hemp that has been crocheted. We added a decorated beads that are recycled like, recycled glass, and small pieces of copper. The other piece is a necklace also made from crocheted hemp and three dangling charms. Each charm I found and recycled for this piece. First there is a piece of broken bottle that I found on the beach and the sand has smoothed out the rough edges. The second charm is a recycled shell casing that I found and the third is a piece of broken coral that I found on the beach as well.

Hemp is one of the faster grown biomasses known today. It is made from strains of  the plant Cannabis sativa and or oil/seed varieties. In history hemp has had many industrial uses in society including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food and fuel. As a crop, hemp is very environmentally friendly as it requires few pesticides. The leading production of hemp is in China and smaller productions around Europe, Chile, and North Korea. Hemp has multiple purposes like a material for our jewelry.

By CJ Hipp & Mackenzie Vartanian

An interesting article on the effects of the March tsunami

I came across this article from TIME on the recall of baby food in Japan- it’s really important to see that the effects of the nuclear disaster earlier this year are happening. I’d be interested to know if anyone else has seen or heard of other things that have been affected by this or other disasters from this year.

http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/12/07/irradiated-baby-food-spotlights-ongoing-woes-for-japans-food-sector/

-Ailish Reilly

Biodilloversity

a simple poster celebrating the diversity of life on earth

by Victor Maury

The No-Impact Man Impact

I thought it was incredibly beneficial that we got to watch the ‘No-Impact Man’ documentary. I don’t think we as Americans really take into consideration how much we effect our environment and the people living around us. The fact that his main message was to build a stronger community about this green movement was also incredibly touching, knowing that what we would be working for, would be for the greater good of everyone, not just focusing in on ourselves or our family unit.

One of the things I would like to do once I live on my own would be to start keeping bees. It was really interesting to learn from my fellow classmate (whose name escapes me) how simple it was to care for them and being aware of the disappearing bees issue, I’d like to do my part and help out. Through the help of the Beekeeping Learning Center I found a lot of awesome facts about beekeeping and apiculture (who knew there were bee breeds?). Keeping bees would also be incredibly beneficial to my potential garden I’d like to start. Knowing my plants will be pollinated guarantees that I will have a worthwhile crop for years to come. Not even mentioning my personal excess of honey and beeswax for all of their multiple uses.

Something else I could tackle, with a little bit of determination, would be to convert to a vegetarian diet with a focus on local grown foods. For the local grown part, I feel like I’d need to move to a more agriculturally based state, but the vegetarian part is going to start with the new year. There are tons of advantages of being a vegetarian. First off conservation of Fossil fuel. It takes 78 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of beef protein; 35 calories for 1 calorie of pork; 22 calories for 1 of poultry; but just 1 calorie of fossil fuel for 1 calorie of soybeans. That’s insane! Especially knowing how damaging fossil fuels are to the environment in the first place. There is also the risk of exposure to livestock drugs. There are over 20,000 different drugs, including sterols, antibiotics, growth hormones and other veterinary drugs that are given to livestock animals. These drugs are consumed when animal foods are consumed and then transferred into your body.

The easiest switch that I can make is going without a car. Currently I don’t have a car and only borrow my parents now and again. But it would be entirely possible to cut out that convenience entirely and go by bike. I would be lessening my carbon footprint, forcing myself to work out, and save money from maintenance fees and gas. This is something that I feel more people should convert to. This lifestyle helps build community and really puts into perspective how much we go out of our ways and burn fossil fuels unnecessarily.

I will definitely be making these changes to my life once they are feasible.
by: Grace Betts

No Impact Man

Colin Beavan, also widely known as No Impact Man, and his family accomplished the extraordinary feat of not impacting the environment for an entire year. Through the acts such as using worms for composting and biking everywhere instead of driving, the entire family were able to pull off a lifestyle of zero impact on the environment for a year in New York City. This experiment proved to be highly successful in showing that it is possible for an entire family to have no impact on the environment when the effort is put in, although it seemed like they struggled quite a bit. While I find this experiment incredibly impressive, it proves to me that while having zero impact on the environment is possible, it’s most certainly not probable. Today’s lifestyles require an efficiency to our actions, and Colin Beavan’s ‘No Impact’ lifestyle requires a huge amount of effort and planning to upkeep. Almost everyone, especially those living in large urban cities, are incredibly busy with jam-packed schedules revolving around their work, friends, and family. It just doesn’t seem practical in this day and age to make the tremendous effort of having no impact on the environment at the cost of your own comfort and time.

Despite this, Colin Beavan and his family’s effort to help the environment is very inspiring, and I would most certainly be willing to take little steps towards that goal. I looked up a few different ways that any individual can do to help impact the environment less, and there are quite a few things anyone can do to help very easily. Actions as simple as taking shorter showers, or not shaving while the water is running can help, especially if people in the community become aware of this simple action. Other easy things that can be done to help are recycling plastics, driving a fuel efficient vehicle, making dinner with locally grown produce and cutting food into smaller pieces so they cook more quickly, and unplugging electronic appliances or shutting down the computer when one is done using it are all simple things one can do in passing while going about day to day activities. I would be willing and will begin to do all these simple things if it will both reduce the impact on the environment, as well as not disrupt my day to day schedule.

While searching online for something that can be done to help reduce the impact on the environment, I discovered this great website which has numerous lists of different things one can do to help reduce the impact on the environment.

http://www.greatgreenlist.com/How-to-reduce-your-impact-on-the-environment-181.html

This link has more in-depth descriptions of how to have low impact on the environment and even breaks it down by room, such as the bathroom, kitchen, and office.

http://www.lowimpactliving.com/pages/green-projects/green-projects

-Elaine Wu

Climate Change

Climate change videos are all over the web, but one page in particular is a wealth of resources.
This BBC news website has a bunch of interesting videos of climate change, and its a great resource to start learning or further your knowledge about the topic.
This next video, about walrus’ getting shafted by the loss of habitat, due to climate change, is extremely tragic and a reminded of why we need to consider there are more lives on the line than those of our fellow humans when it comes to climate change. It is really depressing but also amazing to see how many animals there are here. I am always amazed by how people write off animals as something similar to a moving plant. Anyone who has ever had  a dog or cat, or spent more than a few minutes around animals must see that they are conscious creatures experiencing emotions just like us (only completely different in a way that makes it impossible to compare).
That being said, this video shows us how even humans today are being effected on a dramatic scale by climate change. It is interesting to see this because usually we just see polar bears in the arctic or something that people can’t relate to, but here are humans being effected by climate change right now!
While these videos all present a tragic view of the current state of the earth, they are a reminder that we have the power to effect our environment and should not let it happen without giving it our concern. The climate should be a priority of every living creature who is conscious enough to effect it.
Eric De Barros 🙂

Agnes Denes

Agnes Denes is a world renowned pioneer of conceptual art. Born in 1931 in Budapest, her family moved to Stockholm and finally the US at a young age.  She has explored topics like the physical and social sciences, philosophy, linguistics, psychology, art history, poetry and music and used them to create environmental artworks. She is best known for her work Wheatfield-A Confrontation (1982). In this piece she took a two acre plot of land in NYC and turned it into a wheat field. She ended up yielding 1,000 lbs of wheat from that two acre plot in the middle of a city. This harvested wheat was then shipped around the world in an effort to improve awareness for ending world hunger. After the International Art Show for The End of World Hunger, the wheat was symbolically planted around the world.

Wheatfield - A confrontation

Wheatfield - A confrontation

In 1996 she created another amazing feat of conservation art called “Tree Mountain – A Living Time Capsule – 11,000 Trees – 11,000 People – 400 Years” In this piece, she, along with 11,000 people planted a forest on and man made mountain. The beauty of the project was that it could never be put in a museum. they could never charge admittance to see the tree mountain. it was just there. It helped re-established disturbed and destroyed land and served as  note as if to say that yes, we may have destroyed this earth. we may have pulled it up and cracked it open, we may have torn it up, polluted it and mined it. We may have poisoned this earth, but we must remember that no matter what; no matter what we do or how we treat it, there is still time for us to turn it around. Projects like Tree Mountain are a testament to the reversibility of deterioration. No matter how hopeless an abandoned mining operation or a surface mining area or a deforestation area may look, there is always an opportunity there to help rebuild what was lost.

Tree Mountain

Tree Mountain

Some more information about Agnes Denes:

Agnes Denes has had over 300 solo and group exhibitions on four continents, including Documenta VI in Kassel (1977), three Venice Biennales (1978, 1980,2001) and “Master of Drawing” Invitational at the Kunsthalle in Nirenberg (1982)

Ms. Denes’ work has been featured at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Metropolitan Museum of Art , and the Whitney Museum in New York

-Ciera Fedock

Citations:

Greenmuseum Bio:

http://greenmuseum.org/content/artist_content/ct_id-136__artist_id-63.html

Evo1:

http://www.evo1.org/agnesdenes.html

WEAD:

http://weadartists.org/agnes-denes

Food for Thought

When we talk about the problems with our agricultural system we tend to most often discuss genetic engineering, antibiotics, or the seedy (haha) business practices of corporations such as Monsanto.

However, the biggest problems and the means to overcome them lie in the laps of our incompetent and corrupt leaders. If we really want to see lasting change it’s going to take more than just buying more expensive organic foods we need to start lobbying our representatives in Washington to change legislation to benefit us, and not their own special interests or the corporations of whom they’re in the pockets of.

The Farm Bill is revised every 5 years and the current Farm Bill is set to expire in 2012. Now is the time to make your voices heard.

http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/solutions/big_picture_solutions/the-2012-farm-bill.html

https://secure3.convio.net/ucs/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2999

-Tim Lowell

Nils-Udo

Nils-Udo, is a German Artist. Born in 1937, he began art in the 1960’s as a traditional painter. Soon after that, he decided to move to his home country of Bavaria and begin doing something very odd. He decide to make planted creations. He would take these creations and leave them in natures hands to develop and eventually disappear. After a while he began photographing his pieces in order to share them with the world. Udo’s practice fluctuates between intricately planned out installations, some urban, and extensive use of found natural materials after he has immersed himself in a place and a particular season season. This has led to both small and quite monumental works, including Nordhorn Tower and STONE-TIME-MAN. The Artist,Nils-Udo, however recognizes that, just like the flowers on a leaf, these pieces too will eventually slowly decay and fall back into nature, even though that timeline might be much longer than that of a flower.

Nordhorn Tower

Nordhorn Tower

Over the course of all of Nils-Udo’s works, his primary metaphor, which can be seen across most of his works, is the nest. He believes that the nest circles down into the comfort of the natural earth. Along with this he holds a deep playful affinity for berries and blossoms.

Quite possibly the most interesting thing about Nils-Udo’s works is that he creates all of his works on site, and only uses materials which he can find around him in the area which he is creating the piece. Greenmuseum.org describes his work best when they say “It is a seductive world of “potential utopias”, colorful mounds, giant nests and dreamy days in the forest. Nature is the source and inspiration.”

Nils-Udo’s artworks are a great testament to the utter beauty of nature. we don’t need such artificial means we’ve created to make something utterly beautiful in nature.

Citations:

Morning Earth

http://www.morning-earth.org/ARTISTNATURALISTS/AN_Nils_Udo.html

Green Museum

http://greenmuseum.org/content/artist_index/artist_id-36.html

Sclupture.org

http://www.sculpture.org/documents/scmag99/sept99/nils/nils.shtml

-Dave Swanson