Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

“Stop philosophizing about what a good man is and be one,” writes stoic Marcus Aurelius.

Friday, February 26, 2010

note to self: Check out Office of Livable Communities

February 05, 2010
Sustainable Communities Initiative

From the Obama administration:
February 4, 2010

THURSDAY: Top Obama Administration Officials to Promote Sustainable
Communities, Environmental Justice at Smart Growth Conference

WASHINGTON – U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun
Donovan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will visit Seattle on
Thursday, February 4, to address the 9th Annual New Partners for Smart
Growth Conference. They will be joined by Environmental Protection Agency
Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus.

Speaking before an audience of more than 1,500 key planners, public health
professionals, developers, government staff and elected officials
Secretaries Donovan and LaHood and Assistant Administrator Stanislaus will
discuss the ways their agencies are working together through the Obama
Administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities to improve access
to affordable housing, provide better transportation options, and protect
public health and the environment.

“EPA, HUD and DOT are working together to rebuild our foundations for
prosperity, a process that starts with rethinking the ways our communities
grow,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “The interagency Partnership
for Sustainable Communities is working to give our communities what they
need to grow and thrive with economic resilience and environmental

“I am proud to announce HUD’s brand new Office of Sustainable Housing and
Communities today,” said Donovan. “Working with our partners at DOT and EPA,
this new office will help us streamline our efforts to create stronger, more
sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local
innovation and building a clean energy economy.”

“Our Partnership really is a new way of doing business in Washington, to
help our nation meet 21st century challenges,” said LaHood. “Working
together, we’re creating jobs to revitalize our economy, while helping state
and local transportation agencies to build the capacity they need to promote
livable, walkable, sustainable communities.”

The President proposed $527 million in his budget for an ambitious new
livability initiative at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Its Office
of Livable Communities will be a focal point for initiatives such
as expanding transit in low-income neighborhoods. It will fund a grant
program to help state and local transportation agencies provide more
transportation choices that spur economic development.

The New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, taking place Feb. 4-6, is the
premier national smart growth conference, bringing together experts from a
wide range of disciplines to discuss transportation, housing and urban
development, public health, equitable development, environmental protection,
and other topics. The partnership agencies are working together more closely
than ever before to meet the president’s challenge to coordinate federal
policies, programs, and resources to help urban, suburban, and rural areas
build more sustainable communities.

The New Partners for Smart Growth Conference is managed by the Local
Government Commission, in partnership with EPA, DOT, and other public and
private sponsors.

More about the Partnership for Sustainable Communities:

More on EPA’s Smart Growth Program:

More information on HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Getting at Environmental Justice: Science, Discourse & Action

Keynote Kenneth A. Gould, PhD! 
You might remember him from such work as The Treadmill of Production which he wrote with my friend, the late Allan Schnaiberg. RIP
The 9th Annual - Nature, Ecology & Society Colloquium - March 5th, 2010

Getting at Environmental Justice: Science, Discourse & Action

Friday, March 5th, 2010
9:00am - 5:00pm

Martin E. Segal Theater
CUNY Graduate Center

365 Fifth Avenue
New York
, NY 10016

Speakers, presentations, posters, roundtable discussions, films, food, fun!!!

Register at http://opencuny.org/nature/registration

I want to be Martha Nussbaum when I grow up

I recently had to write a summary of Nussbaum's thoughts on world citizenship for a project I was working on. Below is a review of her article based on her longer work, Cultivating Humanity. Anyone who is a teacher or a student should have a firm grasp of these concepts. It's why we do the way we do things here in America. Nussbaum is talking specifically about higher ed, but there is no reason why kids should have to wait until they're 18 to learn about the world.

Nussbaum, M. 2002. “Education for Citizenship of Global Connection” Studies in Philosophy and Education 21:4-5 pp289-303.

The theoretical argument for introducing global connection in the curriculum has been debated in academia as a way to promote citizenship in the critical thinking tradition of Socrates, Seneca and Thomas Paine. Martha Nussbaum of the University of Chicago, in particular, outlines three primary capabilities that global connection provides: 1) ability to lead what Socrates called “the examined life” in reflection of one’s own traditions; 2) ability to think as a citizen of the world in addition to national or local loyalties; and 3) ability to use what she terms ‘the narrative imagination,’ or ability to step in another’s shoes. Without these three capabilities, she argues, students are left to see their lives only through the self-interested instrument of market exchange. What global connection does to a student is to allow them to see complex humanity, engage in the political activity of arguing to search for a good answers, and develop logic skills to test for consistency of reasoning, correctness of fact and accuracy of judgment. Nussbaum argues that students of all disciplines must master these skills in order to be effective citizens in the globalized world in which we live. 

Dr. Nussbaum teaches at the University of Chicago in the Philosophy Department. Hmmm, it will take me a few years to put together an application for uchicago. Of course, I would want to try for the PhD/JD option which means I would have to re-take the LSAT and GRE because they will both be expired by the time I'm ready to apply. I will have to take some philosophy courses to prepare me, but my sociology background is a solid foundation to go "backwards" into the philosophers that my theorists (Marx, Durkheim, Weber) were responding to. There are a couple of uchicago-ers doing philosophy of social science and critical race theory, so I think I could make a place for myself there. Plus, you have to pass a test in Latin, Greek, French or German before you can graduate. I will have to start on that now. Since I've studied German before and I suck at languages, I suppose I should choose that one, especially to read the authors I want to read. It will take me a few years to prepare for this route, especially if I get the PMF and go work with Cass Sunstein in the OMB (wouldn't that be something!). What if Martha retires before I get there like Angela Davis did at Santa Cruz???

3rd National Forum on SocioEconomic Research in Coastal Systems


This is the stuff I live for. Topics include natural resource economics, integrating social science into coastal policy, and legal implications. Talk about People, Planet, Profit! Look at this on the agenda:

Coastal Retreat: From Triage to Hospice?
Coastal communities from Louisiana to Alaska face a barrage of environmental and economic challenges to their long-term sustainability. Sea-level rise, wetland loss, and the globalization of traditional markets could prove insurmountable for many of the smaller, isolated communities that lack the financial resources required to adapt to coastal change. This session invites presentations on the economic, social and political realities surrounding the prospect of coastal community resiliency and retreat.

AND, I am such a nerd:

Legal Mechanisms to Ensure Sustainable Development
The hurricanes of 2005 and 2008 demonstrated that in many areas meaningful and long term planning for disasters is almost nonexistent. This lack of foresight leaves coastal communities vulnerable and threatens their continued sustainability. Education and awareness are a necessary first step in reversing the cycle of destruction, rebuilding, and destruction. This session will focus on innovative legal and policy methods for changing destructive patterns of development, including specific case studies from communities currently struggling with these issues.

Luckily, the conference is in New Orleans where I am living right now. The student fee is $150. Is it worth it?

CNREP 2010 Registration
May 26-28, New Orleans, Louisiana
Registration for CNREP 2010 is now open. Full registration is currently $280 for regular attendees and $150 for students. Registration covers the cost of all breaks, two breakfasts, two lunches, and three receptions. An additional seafood banquet will be held on Thursday, May 27th for an optional fee of $30 per person.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Noon Design Studios

For my first product post, I am featuring Noon Design Studios.http://www.noondesignstudio.com/  Noon Design uses natural dyes from colorful plants like pomegranates (and cactus bugs!) to create beautiful textiles. Synthetic dye is full of chemicals and factories usually dump the waste into our waste system. In many places in the world, the wastewater goes untreated, contaminating our rivers and streams. Natural dyes should be chosen for their environmental health benefits. Jane is using this cool website http://www.kickstarter.com/ to raise money to pay for an industrial washing machine she uses to dye the cloth.

I spilled wine all over my favorite and only organic cotton Prairie Underground jacket at a crazy Mardi Gras parade, so I sent it to Jane to dye over it. Here are the before pictures:

We shall see what Jane does with it!

Until I sit down to write a proper post about this, I will point you to another blogger who has done a great job outlining the environmental issues of synthetic dyes: http://greencotton.wordpress.com/2008/06/18/synthetic-dyes-a-look-at-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/

And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world.

This is my all-time favorite quote that really outlines my global citizenship philosophy. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. laid it out in “A Christmas Sermon on Peace” (1967):

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that’s handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that’s given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that’s poured into your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you’re desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that’s poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Being a global citizen is about being conscious of how you are connected to everyone and everyplace.

For capitalism to benefit everyone, it must take into account human rights and the environment's capacity to renew the resources on which capitalism is built. Without labor (people) and natural materials (planet), we would not have profit. That is why sustainability is often referred to as the "3Ps": people, planet, profit.

For the individual living in a capitalist society, we have a duty to do our part. This means remembering our connection to the people around the world who make our clothes and grow our food. It means being conscious of where our waste goes when we throw away a Starbucks' cup or flush the toilet. In this blog, I will post what is going on in the world to promote the ideals of a sustainable society.