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Issue 1, Spring 2010

Mad Gardens Environmental: Science, Art and Culture

Mad Gardens This journal is a place where one can become engaged and informed about environmental issues through different medias. It is a place where you can find enjoyment from reading about environmental news, and from this enjoyment find inspiration to become more environmentally active within your own life by realizing different ways to improve, interact and communicate with sustainable issues. Read, look, think! Then get involved and submit:

Ireland by Marina Zaiats ‘10

Hands and Bulbs

Filled with dirt and bulbs, my hands are gardens. Small ceramic pots for roots, even canals run through them bringing water down heart shaped and long paths. Old and smooth they count, write, point and plant. They are sundried smelling like cherries and cherry sodas on hot afternoons, every Spring, these hands wake, aching and asking to dig. -Rebeccca Benson ‘10

Photos submitted by Jane Derderian, UMASS ‘11

Conscientious Eating at Smith By Colleen O’Toole, ‘11

Being religious at Smith can be difficult sometimes because my beliefs don’t line up with the popular opinion, or because my beliefs don’t line up with official Church teachings. As a result, I get really excited when I come across a saint who thinks the same way I do, and I file them away in my head for later use to find comfort in and to tell people about when they insist the Church is out of touch. One such man I’ve come across is Brazilian Archbishop Hélder Câmara (1909-1999) and his famous quote “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a Communist." This makes me wish the Church was hearing claims of Communism more often. Charity is wonderful and necessary, but also necessary is a reimagining of the social systems that put and keep so many into poverty and disadvantage. It may seem daunting to try to reshape our own behavior on a basic level, but it needn’t be. It’s as simple as not complaining about Smith food. I know we live in an institution, and sometimes the food reflects that. However, one of the things that easily gets under my skin is when my

classmates complain about the dining hall food. Maybe it’s undercooked, overcooked or not how Mom makes it, but it’s food nonetheless. With so many people around the world going to bed hungry, Smith students should be thankful for each meal they receive. My church once participated in the Thirty Hour Famine, where students fasted for thirty hours, the length of time most people in the developing world have between meals. We slept, went bowling and volunteered and drank a lot of juice to keep our minds off our hunger. At the last hour, we all gathered together for a breaking of the fast, hungry and excited to get solid food. We were given a small bowl of rice, because that’s what a lot of people get after thirty hours. It was a sobering reminder, and though we were later given fruit and cereal and other food, everyone got the point. I grew up in a house where we were expected to clear our plates, We didn’t throw away food because children in China were starving. They are starving, and me not eating my green beans wasn’t going to change that. Believe you me, I would have donated them to the cause had I known where to send them. I’ve since realized my parents were attempting to teach me about a wise use of resources, which I try, and sometimes fail, to adhere to. Throwing away half a plate of food is disrespectful not only to those who prepared or gathered the food, but to those who have none. We live in a land of conspicuous consumption, which means our garbage is pretty ostentatious too. There’s a Biblical story about a suffering man who asks a rich man for his table scraps. He is refused anything, and the rich man’s dogs eat better than the poor man. Guess which one gets to go to Heaven? Being more conscious of what we eat, how much we eat, and what we throw away can help us to slowly examine the rest of our lifestyle. We can all make changes in how we use resources, but it can be hard to get started. Conscientious eating is something all Smith students can do quite easily. You don’t have to be a vegetarian, a vegan, or anything else. Just be aware.

Coast Excursion- Machalilla. Photos by Tess Anais Zinnes ‘11

Mass photo by Rebecca Benson

" Tell about a place where you have spent some time. Describe that location as it might have been two hundred years ago...depict what this place could have looked, smelled, sounded and/or felt like in the year 1800.." Ukraine by Marina Zaiats ‘10 A dirt road will bring you to the village of Kobelyaki. A wide, dirt road that floods in spring will bring you home. The sun that broke the night and beat down on your back in burning glory now casts a soft embrace on your sauntering frame. Your step is heavy and hungry as your shadow moves across the mud. The earth pushes back against your muddy shoes and exhales hints of the sweetest hay. Ahead is the promise of sleep, another day, another tract to sow, but the same sun - always that same sun. The ring of Matya’s chain is the first sound of home. Tautly drawn, its snap lets you know that she misses your endless romping beneath that willow. The yard before you has enough vegetables, chickens and pigs to feed you, your parents and your three younger sisters, who upon hearing Matya’s shuffling, push past each other out the back door and run to you, fussing. As the oldest, your duty is to work and delegate household chores. Quite often, your sisters’ squealing about whose turn it ISN’T to wash the linens obscures the throbbing in your back. You lift Katya, the youngest, up to your chest and lead the jittering mob inside. With mama in the cellar getting a jar of something-or-other she canned last harvest papa is safe to sneak a piece of warm bread. Seeing you he smiles, takes Katya and sits her down on his lap - the safest place she’ll ever be. You realize that you’ve forgotten to stop at Uncle’s house (who, as far as you know, isn’t really your uncle) to get today’s milk. Since Uncle’s yard is much larger and is mostly grass he has agreed to exchange two carafes of his milk for a dozen of your eggs. Mama emerges handing you the pickles and raspberry jam; the cold glass jars remind you of your fear of being trapped down there in the dark earth. But with the cellar door shut and the latch in place, you can return to the task at hand. Papa shouts for you to hurry as you grab a clean carafe and run back out into the yard. Not knowing that you’ll be back Matya offers a sad farewell. As you reach the corner, feeling the chill of twilight on your legs, you hear your name and nod a quick hello to the troika – the three women who usher in the dusk with the cracking of laughter and of sunflower seeds (the shells of which they let accumulate on their front porches). Uncle has been expecting your arrival. You rap your nails against the window, waving to thank him and then swap the two carafes, placing the clean one on his front step. After dinner your sisters soak the dishes in warm water, papa tends to the animals while you and mama prepare the house for sleep. Mama fills the bed warmer with smoking embers from the clay oven and places the pan underneath her bed, moving it about to avoid scorching the sheets. You unroll two thin cots on both sides of the oven, lie down and drift into tomorrow. The warmth and sweet smoke bring you dream of harvest.

Leftovers: Stamford Beach, photo by Rebecca Benson

Invisible Waters Newton Creek is one of the most polluted waterways in the United States. Recently submitted for approval as a superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) residents of the Newton Creek area are desperately trying to decontaminate the water. In the mid-seventies a helicopter patrolman spotted a large plume of oil emanating from the creek. Upon further investigation, that did not take place until the 1990s, it was discovered that there has been continuous oil leakage into the creek resulting in a 17 million gallon oil spill, about three times the size of the Exxon-Valdez spill in Alaska. While the Exxon-Valdez spill took three years to clean up, it has taken over 40 years to even come to some kind of consensus on how to clean up Newton Creek.

This picture shows why we need to preserve the planet and save endangered species. It is not for us; it if for future generations to be able to appreciate and enjoy what we have been lucky enough to be able to experience.

These 3 pictures were all taken in Hawaii. The first one represents the power of water, and when many water molecules move together they can create a huge splash. This is a metaphor for the difference people can make when they come together and fight to preserve the environment. The second picture is of a lone grasshopper and shows one of many species that lives on this planet. Humans are not the only ones here, so we need to think of our impacts on everything around us. The third photo is of the shore on Hawaii. It was taken on a portion of the shore that is not regularly attended and represents the pristine beauty that is all around in the world that needs to be preserved.

These photos were submitted by Jaimi Inskeep ‘12

Organochlorines: Excerpt from an environmental chemistry paper by Veronica Kratman ‘11 Organochlorines as pesticides became popularized during the early 1940s and became controversial shortly thereafter. Organochlorine pesticides are chemical compounds that contain at least one atom of chlorine. Chlorine has natural properties that make it a good disinfectant or water purifier; however it can also be poisonous. Since chlorine is a highly reactive element, “it is not likely to move through the ground and enter groundwater.” 1 Soil persistency is a common characteristic of organochlorines. Methods for applying pesticides include crop dusting, which utilizes a plane to cover larges areas, using a machine to spray the crops, and manually via a pack carried on a person’s back. No matter in which manner pesticides are applied, they interact with and affect their insect target as well as other parts of the soil, the air, the water and the organisms living on earth. One of the most notorious organochlorides is dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, more commonly referred to as DDT. This chemical was first synthesized in 1874 by a German chemist, but its properties as a pesticide were not discovered in 1939. It was used only by the military until the early 1940s. DDT’s time in the United States was short, as it was banned in 1972. It was banned because of the adverse effects it has on people and the surrounding environment. However, it is still used in developing countries as a way to control malaria. Acute exposure has been shown to cause nausea, diarrhea, and respiratory irritation in adults and can cause death in children. Chronic exposure affects the nervous system, the liver, kidneys, and the immune system. It also causes tumors in the throat and lungs and birth defects. DDT is most toxic to cold blooded organisms, such as insects, birds, and fish. The molecular formula of DDT is C14H9Cl5, and its molecular weight is 354g/mol. This molecule is non-polar, and it has a net charge of zero. Also, DDT is not very soluble in water, which means it is not easily broken down by water. Its solubility is 0.003 ppm, which means that 0.003 milligrams of DDT are dissolved per one liter of water. Because of its low solubility, it has the tendency to accumulate in water and soil. 2 This causes adverse effects on The molecular structure of DDT (wikipedia) organisms in the surrounding environment. The DDT first affects animals lower in the food chain, such as phytoplankton and fish. It then continues to get passed onto the animals higher in the food chain. Each time the DDT enters a new level of the food chain it becomes more heavily concentrated. This is because less soluble and non-polar molecules tend to build up in fatty tissues. This can also be the case with fatty breast tissues. DDT can build up within breast tissue and can be especially hazardous if a mother is breast-feeding her child. DDT’s persistency is the reason it was banned. According to an article written by Dore Hollander, “even where DDT is no longer actively used, the threat of exposure remains because it may persist in soil for years and can be found in produce shipped from a country that uses the pesticide to one that does not.” 3 The half-life of DDT in soil is fifteen years and approximately fifty-six days in the water. If fourteen million pounds of DDT were applied in the United States 1971, DDT’s final year in the United States, then in 1986 seven million pounds still remained in U.S. soils. Existence of DDT would last until about 2001. Paired with low solubility and a long half-life, DDT has many opportunities to affect its surrounding environment.


Lenntech Water Treatment and Purification. “Chlorine.” Water Treatment Solutions. 2009. 24 Apr 2010 <>.


Linde, Clark D. Physico-Chemial Properties and the Environmental Fate of Pesticides. 1994 January. 22 Feb 2010 < pubs/ehapreps/eh9403.pdf>.


Hollander, Dore. "DDT Levels in Breast Milk Fall.(Statistical Data Included)." Family Planning Perspectives. Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1999. AccessMyLibrary. 1 Apr. 2010 <>.

Photos by Kelly O’Brien ‘11

Safbois Company’s Soliloquy by Lauren Arthur ‘10 These meddlesome American missionaries! these frank British consuls! these blabbing Belgian-born traitor officials!—those tiresome parrots are always talking, always telling. They have told how for twenty years I have ruled the Congo State not as a trustee of the Powers … but as a sovereign; … seizing and holding the State as my personal property … claiming and holding its millions of people as my private property, my serfs, my slaves; the food they raise not their property but mine; the rubber, the ivory and all the other riches of the land mine—mine solely—and gathered for me by the men, the women and the little children under compulsion of lash and bullet, fire, starvation, mutilation and the halter. (Mark Twain, King Leopold’s Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule [Boston: The P.R. Warren Company, 1905], 7-8)

Mark Twain’s scathing political commentary satirized King Leopold II’s rule over the Congo Free State. Twain imagined King Leopold speaking in his own defense, raving about the “benefits” he contributed to the country while simultaneously dismissing the grievous atrocities he inflicted upon its people and environment. The pamphlet artfully exposed the madness in King Leopold’s plundering for natural resources and labor. I suspect many people today would agree with Twain’s depiction and condemn King Leopold’s actions as unjustifiable. Indeed, anyone possessing even a limited faculty for irony can sense its sad presence in a scene in which wealthy Belgians’ hands danced across ivory piano keys while African men, women, and children lost their hands for failing to meet Belgian demands. Yet few people realize that the plunder of which Twain spoke continues to negatively impact the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). New, but nonetheless challenging, ironies have replaced the situation involving ivory: as someone in the United States downloads the “Flashlight” application to her or his iPhone, a young worker attaches a makeshift flashlight to her or his forehead and heads into the Okapi Wildlife Reserve to mine for coltan, a rare and valuable metal used in products like iPhones. Or, as journalist Christian Parenti suggests, another example involves the “massive mahogany, afromosia, teak and wenge trees of Congo … making their way downriver, past the lower falls and over the sea to re-emerge as parquet flooring and lawn furniture in the homes of French, Italian, and Chinese yuppies.” i These cases allude to the fact that the Congolese government and international players continue to exploit the DRC for its natural wealth. The present situation in the DRC appears problematic and complex, but evaluating Congo’s environmental past sheds light on the involved issues and demonstrates the unacceptability of unsustainable land use. With few exceptions, corrupt leaders and dictators have treated the Congo’s environment simply as an object from which they could profit. This mentality has lead to historical instances of environmental degradation, which weakened the DRC by intensifying the country’s ecological, political, and social instability. The anticipated effects of the Safbois Company’s logging policies will contribute further to these problems without improving the pervasive economic injustice that cripples much of the Congolese population. As activist Wangari Maathai said, “When you have the environment degraded, it is always so that we are going to fight over the few resources that are left.” On behalf of the Congolese people, I ask you to stand with us and fight for Congo’s forests. Only then will the DRC succeed in ending the pillage to which Twain referred over a hundred years ago.

Torres del Paine Park, Chile

Cloud, Northern Argentina

Iceberg, Southern Argentina

By Alana Miller â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;10

Eating Animals: A Father’s Quest to Expose Factory Farming by J.S. Foer Review By Alice Rezicknova ‘10 For many people, becoming a father means sleepless nights, steady supply of nappies, and mashing food. Not so much for J. S. Foer: the author of two exceptional works of fiction (Everything is Illuminated, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) and a husband of Nicole Krauss (History of Love), instead decided to take up factory farming and expose the meat industry to ensure his son’s healthy future. Foer embarks on a fascinating quest to investigate where 99% of our meat supply comes from as well as explore the alternatives – currently only 1%of our meat comes from family farms. You might think – if I read one of those (for many that would be The Omnivore’s Dilemma), I have read them all. But there you would be mistaken. Foer’s account of factory farming is not one of the boring books filled with statistics and gory details. Although those are in there too, they are embedded in a story – a story of discovery, terror and compassion, but ultimately, a story filled with optimism and empowerment. Foer is not offensive; instead, he questions the deepest ‘truths’ about food as a habit in a manner that will leave you deep in thought. Although Foer questions factory farming on ethical, environmental, and health basis, he does it with a great insight supported by multiple first-hand accounts including that of an animal rights activists, vegetarian beef farmer, and a vegan slaughterhouse designer. The story of eating (or not eating) animals can be clearly written from many angles. Eating Animals is not only a book about everyone – but also for everyone. All of us need to understand the consequences of the choices we make, be it on ourselves or our families, friends, and neighbors. If you are not a vegetarian, you might be finally confronted with reality. If you are a vegetarian or vegan already, you might find the answers you wished you had when someone asked about your choices. I have been vegan for three years now – when I made this decision, I did it mostly to put a label on myself; at the time, I did not necessarily understand what eating animals and animal products means. Every time I made people uncomfortable with my veganism, I tended to became apologetic – I thought I was making them uncomfortable due to my dietary preference. Now I know I have the power of starting conversation and it is my duty to raise the issues of animal consumption with everyone. Yes, people will feel uncomfortable, but these questions are, as Foer points out, essential to our human soul. In the end, food is an important part of our lives and our culture; it shapes who we are and how we interact with each other. To understand your food choices means to understand yourself. You might not in the end turn vegetarian (as he did), but you will surely think about his questions. Was it just yesterday that someone asked you why you do not eat meat when people are doing so for thousands of years (they usually suggest something about brain development starting at the same time as using fire to cook meat)? Or maybe someone suggested that by not eating meat, you alone will not change anything? After reading this book, you will have questions to ask others and answers to give. Foer’s book is not praise on vegetarianism or selective omnivorism, it is merely a start of an important conversation. Cruelty, pollution, and health problems touch all of us and as Foer suggests, it is now time that we confront ourselves and begin to act.

Poland Recycles: A Three Photo Journey by Rebecca Benson â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;10

Dots by Charlotte Stanley

Bryce Canyon Charlotte Stanley ’10

Grand Canyon Kerri Kimura ‘10

Text by Lauren Arthur ’10

In Booth Tarkington’s book The Turmoil, greedy businessman Sheridan refers to coal, saying, “It’s good! It’s good. Good, clean soot: it’s our life-blood, God bless it!” He directs his comments to women activists who voiced concerns about the amount of smoke blanketing the city. “Smoke may hurt your little shrubberies in the front yard some,” Sheridan remarks, “but it’s the catarrhal climate and adenoids that starts your children coughing…Smoke means good health: It makes the people wash more.” Sheridan concludes by noting smoke’s links to industry: “You go home and ask your husbands what smoke puts in their pockets out o’ the payroll – and you’ll come around next time to “…suggesting that the get me to turn out more only means for financial smoke instead o’ chokin’ it off!” Tarkington wrote his security is through novel nearly one hundred years ago. environmental Unfortunately, the passage still resonates with environmental activists today. Sheridan acts condescending and paternalistic, which demeans the earnest efforts of the women environmental activists. He avoids taking responsibility for any health problems created as a result of his industrial factories. He also connects prosperity and jobs with air pollution, suggesting that the only means for financial security is through environmental degradation. Sheridan’s hubris persists, and today we encounter industry titans’ stubborn attitudes regularly.

Ireland by Marina Zaiats â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;10

Future Generations photograph by Rebecca Benson â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;10

Mad Gardens  

Environmental: Science, Arts and Culture

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