t n i r P e u l B CAMPUS
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FROM THE EDITOR
8 SUSTAINABLE CITIES
15 PERSONHOOD AMENDMENT Dear Readers, Whether it’s with projects in development work, use of natural resources, or a university dealing with budget cuts, the buzz word is sustainability. In a world with finite resources and seemingly infinite problems, our solutions need to be sustainable. We need cures and prevention, not mere bandaids. But while we all might recognize the need for sustainability, the prevailing notion is that sustainable solutions mean sacrificing quality. This is simply not so, and we aim to highlight this in Campus BluePrint. This issue focuses in on one of the many types of application of the concept of sustainability: environmental sustainability. Climate change and resource scarcity are threatening to be two of the deadliest forces of the twenty-first century. Our generation needs to reorient our lifestyles accordingly to combat these global challenges. The theme for this issue centers on sustainable cities across North America and Europe, including one of the most impressive examples of a sustainable city in the U.S., North Carolina’s very own Raleigh. Enjoy,
18 PHOTO ESSAY: ARAB SPRING UNESCO Defunded Chapel Hill: Fair Trade Town Health Care: Vermont’s Plan Sustainability in the Capital City STAFF chelsea phipps editor-in-chief sarah bufkin assistant editor carey hanlin managing editor sally fry creative director cari jeffries photo editor travis crayton social media editor russell mcintyre treasurer joseph biernacki, hayley fahey, troy homesley, molly hrudka, akhil jariwala, alice martin, dinesh mccoy, rachel myrick, jenn nowicki, libby rodenbough, kyle sebastian, luda shtessel, kyle villemain, peter vogel, kelly yahner staff writers carey hanlin, jasmine lamb, cassie mcmillan production and design
anne brenneman, molly hrudka, cari jeffries, alice martin, kyle sebastian, saurav sethia, kelly yahner copy editors kevin diao, gihani dissanayake, hannah nember, stefanie schwemlein, cary simpson, renee sullender
jennifer tran photographers rachel allen, hayley fahey, charlotte lindemanis, aaron lutkowitz, dinesh mccoy, jenn nowicki, wilson parker, sarah rutherford, neha verma
Chelsea Phipps Editor-in-Chief
On the cover: Man in Turban, Oil on Canvas , by Charlotte Lindemanis
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Restricting Abortion Palestine in Poetry Sudanese Art Exhibit
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PHOTO BY WIKIMEDIA
TROY HOMESLEY After the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization formally recognized Palestine as an independent state and a full member, the United States withdrew its funding from the cultural organization. Without US funds, UNESCO will lose out on $80 million a year, approximately 22 percent of its current budget, throwing up hefty obstacles for the international institution. In late October, the 195 member states of UNESCO voted, with only 14 members dissenting, to admit Palestine as a full member. The vote came despite threats by the United States to defund UNESCO if Palestine was accepted. After the vote, cheers rang through the chambers of the Paris-based organization as one delegate shouted, "Long Live Palestine" in French. Soon after, the United States acted on its promise to defund the program with Israel following suit. The United States’ withdrawal of its funds from UNESCO has already levied massive implications upon the organization. "So we have to take drastic action, and we must take it now,” UNESCO Di-
rector-General Irina Bokova told UNESCO members at the organization’s general conference. “I have suspended all of our commitments. I have suspended our projects during this period of revision until the end of the year.” UNESCO understood the implications of admitting Palestine as a member state, but this did not deter their decisions. As Palestine continues to gain recognition around the world, the United States must decide whether to support independence or lose their standing in international institutions by eliminating funding. Irina Bokova revealed this sentiment following the UNESCO vote in support of Palestine when she clarified that although she is worried about the financial stability of the organization, the "admission of a new member state is a mark of respect and confidence." UNESCO aims to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law and human rights along with fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the U.N. Charter. UNESCO is known for
its support of international literacy, cultural understanding, human rights and the promotion of free and independent media sources. After such a massive victory within UNESCO, Palestinian leaders hope that this recognition will set a precedent for recognition in other international institutions. "Now we are studying when we are going to move for full membership on the other U.N. agencies,” said Ibrahim, Khraishi, Palestine’s top UN envoy. “It's our target for [us to join] the international organizations and the U.N. agencies.” As Palestinian leaders begin to apply for recognition by international institutions such as the World Health Organization and the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization, many are questioning how long the United States can justify its withdrawal of funding to organizations that recognize Palestine. Current U.S. law requires the defunding of any organization that recognizes the Palestine Liberation Organization as an equal to member states. •
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FAIR TRADE TOWN
“We’re hoping that younger and younger people start shopping with a conscience.”
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Fair trade in the United States is going through an identity crisis. Fair Trade USA, the largest fair-trade certification organization in the United States, recently split from the International Fair Trade body in order to pursue more business friendly policies. While the larger movement is debating whether fair trade is moving away from its roots, locally the movement is going strong. Starting in the spring of 2010, sociology professor Judith Blauh and her class petitioned local businesses and UNC students to build support for fair trade in Chapel Hill. In June, the Chapel Hill Town Council passed a resolution officially supporting the fair-trade model and thereby completing the first of
five steps necessary for Chapel Hill to be officially recognized as a Fair Trade Town. Becoming a Fair Trade Town would provide a big boost in marketing Chapel Hill as a sustainable city, according to Keilayn Skutvik, the manager of Ten Thousand Villages in Chapel Hill. Ten Thousand Villages is one of the founding members of the World Fair Trade Organization and sells crafts from thirty-eight different countries throughout the United States. Ten Thousand Villages is not alone in pioneering fair-trade in the Chapel Hill area. Open Eye Café, a locally-owned coffee shop in Carrboro, is widely known for its high-quality coffee as well as its dedication to fair trade.
Its success in fair trade is partially due to its partner business, Carrboro Coffee Roasters. Carrboro Coffee Roasters is able to buy directly from producers because it is a wholesale store, not a retail store, according to co-owner Scott Conary. Retail stores are more dependent on thirdparty suppliers who act as middlemen between producers and stores. Carrboro Coffee Roasters, however, is able to develop personal relationships with the growers, and as a result buys seven of its coffees directly from coffee growers. Currently, Carrboro Coffee Roasters is building its eighth partnership with a farmer in Guatemala. Conary just returned from a visit to the country where he met with the coffee grower. Building each relationship is different, Conary says. Sometimes he samples the coffee and backtracks to meet the farmer while other times he learns about the farmer first and then tries the coffee. The relationships Open Eye Café has built via Carrboro Coffee Roasters have insulated the coffee shop from some of the recent turmoil in the fair-trade industry. The coffee segment of the fairtrade movement has especially been undergoing change. Fair trade is designed to ensure a fair living wage is paid to the growers and producers of fair-trade goods; it essentially promises a minimum price so that producers can rest assured that they will have a steady income. In the commodity market, however, the price of coffee has more than doubled in just six months. And that is just the price of commercial-grade coffee,
which is far from the quality coffee that Open Eye Café sells. The high price of coffee, however, means that producers are now charging a higher price than the fair-trade price, rendering the latter meaningless. The long-term partnerships that Conary and fellow co-owner Beth Justus have established, however, ensure that the huge spikes in the commodity market that send coffee prices soaring do not bankrupt Open Eye Café and future drops in the commodity market that send coffee prices plummeting do not bankrupt the coffee growers. Elsewhere in Chapel Hill and Carrboro other fair-trade businesses are also growing. Weaver Street Market in Carrboro buys fair-trade wine and chocolate, among other goods, and it works to make sure its suppliers are paid enough money per pound to support the cost of production, regardless of the whims of the global market. Ben and Jerry’s, Café Driade, Whole Foods and Twig – selling ice cream, coffee, groceries and “eco-friendly specialty goods,” respectively – are all listed as fair-trade stores by Fair Trade Town USA, the organization that Ten Thousand Villages is working to have recognize Chapel Hill as a Fair Trade Town. To be recognized, Chapel Hill now needs to include community outreach, and Skutvik is planning on doing just that. The steering committee is the next concrete step, while raising general awareness is also a priority. She hopes to also involve university students and possibly even work to make UNC recognized as a Fair Trade University. Today, customers at Ten Thousand Villages are mainly female and generally older.
“We’re hoping that younger and younger people start shopping with a conscience,” Skutvik said. On a national level, Fair Trade USA, the American fair-trade group that has come under criticism for adopting more business-friendly practices, is working to spur big growth, with a goal to double fair-trade sales by 2015. Its methods, which include allowing factories and plantations to earn fair-trade certifications, may undermine the principles of fair trade or may allow it to have a greater impact than it ever has before. In Chapel Hill and Carrboro, however, it seems that regardless of the state of the national fair-trade movement, local businesses will continue to provide ethically-purchased goods that benefit both the consumer and the producer. Skutvik looks to the organic movement as a blueprint for the future of fair trade in the community. “If you look at the organic food industry in the 80s and 90s, it was driven by increasing consumer demand,” Skutvik said. “People need to demand to know [where the goods come from] and that will make retailers accountable.” •
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VERMONT’S NEW PLAN CAREY HANLIN
”...Republicans are trembling at the thought of Vermont having a single-payer healthcare system to serve as a model for other states...”
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“We gather here today to launch the first single-payer health care system in America, to do in Vermont what has taken too long…,” Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said earlier this year as he signed into law the bill that would make his state the first in the nation with full publicly funded health care. According to Vermont’s Health Care Reform website, the plan, called Green Mountain Care, would provide “uninsured Vermonters with access to quality, comprehensive health care coverage at reasonable costs.” “We must control the growth in health care costs that are putting families at economic risk and making it harder for small employers to do business,” Shumlin said. He also said the law “recognizes an economic and fiscal imperative.” Under Green Mountain Care, Vermont hospitals will be paid a set amount of money to provide care for citizens of the state, who in turn will pay a set monthly premium based on income and members per household. As with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama last year, Green Mountain Care will completely overhaul the traditional method of paying doctors on a per-visit basis. But Green Mountain Care is not a part of PPACA; in fact, the state had to opt out of the federal health care plan before Shumlin could sign the bill into law, which proved tricky. According to the Daily Kos, President Obama initially wanted to strip out an ACA amendment that would allow states to create their own single-payer
health care systems. But progressive radio host Thom Hartmann attributed Vermont’s difficulties more to Republican lawmakers than to President Obama. “…Republicans are trembling at the thought of Vermont having a singlepayer health care system to serve as a model for other states,” he said. “Canada’s single-payer health care system started in just one province – Saskatchewan – and then spread across the country because people in other provinces demanded it.” Shumlin’s critics say that while the plan promises to provide adequate low-cost health care, the bill doesn’t require the governor to develop a concrete way to pay for it until 2013 – after Shumlin campaigns for a second term. But proponents insist that while the bill still needs to be improved in some ways, it will ultimately improve the quality of health care by discouraging unnecessary care while encouraging coordination. But one of the central aspects of the plan is its ability to cut costs. According to the Green Mountain Care website, a family of four earning approximately $41,500 annually will have a monthly premium of about $49 per person, while a family of four earning less than $11,225 annually will have no monthly premium to pay at all. In an age where the average family can expect to pay thousands of dollars annually on health insurance premiums, such a single-payer health care program has to sound less like socialism and more like common sense.
“Nation’s Most Sustainable Mid-Size Community”
RACHEL MYRICK Communities within North Carolina no longer need look to European cities as paradigms of sustainability. A mere 30 miles from Chapel Hill, the city of Raleigh has been nationally recognized for its green ventures. Earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named Raleigh the “Nation’s Most Sustainable Mid-Size Community.” The award lauded a “Sustainable Raleigh” initiative, which addresses three elements of sustainability: economic strength, environmental stewardship and social equity. The city integrated these principles into its local governance through two endeavors, the Environmental Advisory Board and the Office of Sustainability. John Burns serves as the chair of the Environmental Advisory Board, which Mayor Charles Meeker started back in 2007. “The board exists to advise the city council on matters related to environmental quality and to promote communication among various elements of city government relating to environmental protection and sustainability,” Burns said. The board’s recent accomplishments include endorsing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, developing a greenhouse-gas reduction strategy and drafting Raleigh’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan.
“We also advise the city on interpretations of existing regulations,” Burns said. “If these regulations do not align with sustainability goals, we talk about why that is and how we can change it.” To complement the Environmental Advisory Board, Raleigh created its first, full-time city position in sustainability in 2008. Dr. Paula Thomas directs the Office of Sustainability, funded in part by a federal block grant emphasizing local energy efficiency. Thomas works with each of the 21 departments within the city government to ensure their activities are energy efficient and financially sound. “One of the first things the office did was actually to inventory the programs in place,” Thomas said. “We wanted to help departments recognize the things they were already doing.” Both Thomas and Burns cite progressive initiatives in Raleigh’s transportation sector as examples of sustainability success stories. “Transportation is a huge environmental problem, and Raleigh has made immense efforts to control fossil-fuel usages in the city fleet,” Burns said. “We now have a motor pool, made up mostly of vehicles that run on alternative fuel.” Thomas also highlights the tremendous progress the city has made by introducing electric vehicles.
“When I started talking about hybrid vehicles as part of our fleet three years ago, people dismissed the idea,” Thomas said. “Now, we’re one of the leading cities in the nation for an electric vehicle infrastructure.” In implementing these changes, the city recognizes that environmental policies must be approached from a practical standpoint. “Most people will only consider these changes if a business case can be made for it. We have started to shift the existing paradigm by showing that some changes that are environmentally friendly are cheaper in the long run,” Thomas said. Katie Perry, a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill from Raleigh, notes that many sustainable initiatives are visible to the public. “New downtown developments were built with energy conservation and sustainability in mind,” Perry said. “In 2008, our trash company offered each customer a can specifically for recycling,” he said. “I appreciated the effort because it made recycling accessible and easy.” Thomas feels that sustainability initiatives have improved the city overall. “My personal opinion is that there has been a move towards embracing sustainability both in personal lives and in work functions,” he said. •
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CITIES MOLLY HRUDKA
“When a city has established a creative, open-minded culture, it self-reinforces.” —Alisa Kane
Lists of sustainable cities tend to have repeat visitors. Curitiba, Brazil, is often cited for its municipal park network maintained in part by 30 lawn-trimming sheep. Amsterdam has made a name for itself as the city of bikes, and Copenhagen as the pioneer of wind power. Malmö earned acclaim from the development community when it unveiled its sustainable harbor project. Portland is far ahead of other North American cities when it comes to public transit, and Seattle is inspiring other U.S. communities to set citywide emission-reduction goals. Reykjavik sits on a wealth of geothermal energy, and Vancouver leads North America in urban planning. So why are some cities doing more on the sustainable development front than others? What is it that drives a city to pursue urban sustainability? What are the different forces driving sustainable urban development in European versus North American cities? Are there patterns that evolve in Europe we don’t see in North America? To answer these questions, I traveled to two environmentally-progressive regions of the world, the Pacific Northwest and Scandinavia, to interview professionals in Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, British Columbia; Malmö, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark and Reykjavík, Iceland. Portland Since settlement of Oregon’s frontier began in the mid 1800s, the state, particularly the Willamette Valley, has en-
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joyed a thriving natural-resource economy driven by forestry and agriculture. According to Eric Hesse, a Strategic Planning Analyst at Portland’s public transportation system, the city began looking at its environmental impact decades ago. “In the 1960s Portlanders began to realize that urban growth really presented a threat to agriculture and forestry,” Hesse said. Because the state didn’t support many industries other than those dependent on natural resources, citizens understood that the encroaching sprawl had to be stopped. Alisa Kane, the Green Building and Development Manager at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, also cited this as an important part of Portland’s unique development. “With its waterways, temperate climate and rich resources, people saw early on that this was a place to preserve,” Kane said. Beginning in the late 1960s and 1970s, the people of Portland began electing progressive leaders who promised to ease concerns about preserving natural industry and resources. According to Nancy Pautsch, a board member of Portland’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance, leaders like Governor Tom McCall (1967-1975) and Mayor Neil Goldschmidt (1973-1979) had real foresight and made the decisions that would form the foundation for the city’s sustainable urban development. The
PHOTOS BY MOLLY HRUDKA
most important piece of legislature to be passed in this era, the Oregon Senate Bill 100, was signed into law on May 29, 1973. This piece of legislature ushered in Portland’s invaluable urbangrowth boundary. In an effort to control urban sprawl, it separated high-density urban areas from traditional farmland where limitations on non-agricultural development are very strict. As in many other cities, the 1990s saw Oregon’s economy transform from a resource-driven one to a technologydriven one. Instead of hindering the city’s sustainability progress, however, the transformation continued to encourage it. According to Hesse, the technologybased economy attracts young, creative people to the area, which further encourages sustainable measures. “When a city has established a creative, open-minded culture, it self-reinforces,” Kane said. “The city continues to attract those creative spirits.” Vancouver The beginning of Vancouver’s sustainable urban development is nearly identical to that of Portland’s. In the 1960s and 1970s, residents began to understand the escalating threat of urban sprawl. But unlike in Portland where leaders took the initiative to solve the issue, Vancouverites took the issue into their own hands. According to SkyTrain’s literature, “On Track–The SkyTrain Story,” the 1960s “saw the citizens of Vancouver oppose the construction of urban freeways and in so doing they had, albeit unwittingly, set the stage for a conventional light rail or rapid transit solution. Vancouver is unique among North American cities in that it has less than two kilometers of freeway within the city limits.”
Instead, the city developed on a grid system with heavily-used arterial streets functioning as freeway replacements. Vancouver’s unique city arrangement is what Peter Stary, the Sustainable Commuting Program Coordinator for the City of Vancouver, refers to as the “pre-existing conditions” that made the future development of bicycle infrastructure possible. But while high fuel costs and a lack of freeways contributed to higher numbers of cyclists in the 1970s, it wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s that bicycles began to take off in the city. According to Stary, the city is now “full of bike lanes and separated bike facilities as well as bike buttons and traffic calming in areas with bikeways.” The result is a basic network of bike facilities around the city. “Vancouver is probably the first city in North America to put all of these elements into a widespread network,” Stary said. Malcolm Shield, a Greenest City Action Team Scholar and Climate Policy Analyst for the City of Vancouver, emphasized the importance of Vancouver’s civic pride in his work on the ‘Greenest City 2020’ action plan. “Vancouver has a lot of civic pride,” Shield said. “People are proud to live here. Take for example the riots after the Stanley Cup Finals. Thousands of volunteers were on the street the next day to help clean up. It’s a very responsive city, and this translates into support for our efforts.”
Vancouver Community Garden— a glowing example of Vancouver Civic Pride
Reykjavik Reykjavík, the capital and largest city in Iceland, with 120,000 people, is located on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay in the southwestern part of the counWINTER MINI2011 • 9
The beginning of Vancouver’s sustainable urban development is nearly identical to that of Portland’s.
In April 2003, the world’s first commercially-avaiable hydrogen refueling station opened in Reykjavik.
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try. The city is second to none when it comes to drawing electricity from clean energy sources. Geothermal energy from underground hot springs powers 26.5 percent of electricity in Iceland. Another 73.4 percent comes from hydropower, while only 0.1 percent comes from other sources. The city’s use of geothermal energy presently prevents up to four million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year. The use of these alternative energy sources has helped transform Iceland from a relatively poor country to one that enjoys a very high standard of living. According to Guðrún Lilja Kristinsdóttir, a research assistant at Icelandic New Energy, the drive for sustainability not only stemmed from the presence of natural resources, but also from economic reasons. “When Reykjavík started using geothermal heat for district heating, the drive was mainly economic. The oil crisis in the 1970s was an important factor,” Kristinsdóttir said. Because Iceland was forced to rely on imported oil to fulfill its remaining energy needs, leaders began to explore hydrogen as an alternative energy source. In April 2003, the world’s first commercially-available hydrogen refueling station opened in Reykjavik. It was just a small part of an EU-backed plan to use Iceland to test the logistics of implementing a hydrogen economy in the future. But according to Kristinsdóttir, the hydrogen project has come with its fair share of obstacles. “When working with a new technology, as we do here at Icelandic New Energy, there are always some critics, and many people are skeptical about the first steps,” Kristinsdóttir said. As a result, the project is several years behind schedule and is currently stagnating; the refueling stations in
the city lie deserted. In an article published by the Christian Science Monitor, Professor Bragi Arnason, the University of Iceland chemist who first conceived Iceland’s “hydrogen experiment,” said that this slow progress is normal when advocating a change in energy sources. “If you look back in history, every change from one type of energy to another – wood to coal, coal to oil – it always takes 50 years,” he said. “I will only see the first steps, but when my grandchildren are grown, I am sure we will have this new economy.” Malmö Malmö is a city of 300,000 inhabitants in southwestern Sweden that lies across the Øresund Sound from Copenhagen, Denmark. Walking around Malmö, I found several examples of sustainable urban development. The city’s Western Harbor was unlike anything I had seen during my travels. Powered by 100 percent local, renewable energy, it is one of the most popular areas in the city and a resounding economic success. In addition to being completely carbon neutral, the area’s buses are powered by biogas from residents’ waste. The neighborhood is high density and mixed use and uses a sophisticated rainwater collection system. The buildings are designed with the most highefficiency passive and active features; examples including window placements that maximize natural light and solar panels respectively. Malmö’s transition to one of the world’s most sustainable cities began with the Swedish Shipyard crisis in the 1980s when the city was struggling with the loss of 25 percent of its jobs. According to Malin Sarvik, the Communication Officer at the City of Malmö’s Environment Department, four main components played a key role in Malmö’s turnaround. The first? Sweden’s 1995 integration into the EU.
Copenhagen Harbor—Copenhagen’s Harbor Bath project is the city’s most defining development initiative.
“Second, Malmö University College was established in 1998,” Sarvik said. “It started attracting young, creative people who shared knowledge, created industry and started companies. This change in populace steered the direction of Malmö’s future development.” In 2001, the Øresund Bridge linking Malmö to Copenhagen opened, bringing back much of the industry that had been lost in the 1980s and 1990s. Finally, Malmö was chosen to host the Bo01 ‘City of Tomorrow’ European Housing Exposition in the summer of 2001, which motivated the construction of the Western Harbor. The first thing I observed about Malmö, which I noticed as soon as I walked out of Central Station, was the overwhelming number of bicycles. Even though its population of 300,000 is significantly smaller than Copenhagen’s 1,199,224, Malmö’s cyclists enjoy over 400 kilometers of bicycle lanes to Copenhagen’s 350 kilometers. The city also has sophisticated cycling infrastructure. Many of the major bikeways are named
so that they can be plotted in GPS systems. The train that crosses the bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö features seatbelts, especially for bikes. Bicycle buttons and handrails abound at red lights and one of the most popular bikeways has a ‘bicycle barometer’ that counted over 1,000,000 passing cyclists in its first six months. Government surveys show that more than 80 percent of Malmö’s citizens support campaigns to improve the city’s bikability.
All of the cities I visited were dedicated to developing and promoting sustainable projects.
Copenhagen Renowned as one of the most livable cities in the world, Copenhagen is also one of the most sustainable. Much like Malmö, Denmark’s capital is world famous for its bikability, with over 350 kilometers of bicycle routes and accompanying bicycle infrastructure. The city is also known for its harbor restoration project, sophisticated waste management system and its groundbreaking wind-energy industry. According to Sustainable Cities Project Manager and Danish Architecture WINTER MINI2011 • 11
North American cities tend to focus on expensive, grandiose technologies like solar panels. According to Jain, this is a case of misguided priorities.
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Center Geographer Søren Smidt-Jensen, Copenhagen’s Harbor Bath project is the city’s most defining development initiative. “In 1996, the city decided to clean the Harbor, and by 2000 we had a harbor that citizens could use safely,” Smidt-Jensen said. “It involved a massive cleaning initiative and the installation of better sewage management systems.” Interestingly, the project wasn’t originally intended to make the harbor useful for recreational purposes. The harbor initiative aimed to fulfill some city objectives, national government requirements and EU regulations. But as a result of the restoration, the city also had all these new recreational possibilities. “The people of Copenhagen have been supportive of this project from day one, long before they knew it would benefit them for recreational use,” Smidt-Jensen said. “They were purely motivated by the idea of having a clean harbor. A lot of our solutions are very much supporting livability, walkability and bikability. The key is, though, that this has been the Danish mentality since the 1950s.” All the cities I visited were dedicated to developing and promoting sustainable projects, Portland and Vancouver took a different approach than the European cities of Reykjavik, Malmö and Copenhagen. North American cities put more emphasis on their public-engagement pieces than their European counterparts, as they couldn’t always assume their citizens would be supportive of proposed projects. Citizens in European cities, however, seemed mostly welcoming to sustainable development initiatives, displaying a strong sense of collective responsibility.
According to Dr. Arun Jain, a prominent urban strategist and the former Chief Urban Designer of Portland, this difference between European and North American cities boils down to understanding environmental psychology and behavior. “Europeans don’t talk about sustainable watershed streets, LEEDS rated buildings and all that stuff; they just do it,” Jain said. Instead of focusing on consuming less and implementing simple sustainable behaviors like hanging clothes out to dry on sunny days, residents in North American cities tend to focus on expensive, grandiose technologies like solar panels. According to Jain, this is a case of misguided priorities. “It’s not sustainable to put up solar panels when the alternative is free,” he said. Jain explains that the North American approach is a product of guilt about what has already been done to the planet. “If we cared enough about living sustainably, if it was part of our mental DNA, then we would go about doing it,” he said. “There is no substitute for not consuming at all, and much of the conversation about sustainability is in fact trying to justify a way of living by making it more efficient,” Jain said. But this is by no means a case of ‘too little too late.’ Portland and Vancouver are at the forefront of a group of North American cities that are making huge strides toward catching up with Reykjavik, Copenhagen and Malmö. They are leading the North American effort in making a sustainable lifestyle the norm rather than an exception. •
“I can’t imagine a world in which politicians are deciding what doctors are saying to me.” The “Woman’s Right to Know Act,” recently passed in North Carolina, mandates a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion and requires doctors to provide women seeking abortions with an ultrasound and information on alternatives. North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue (D), who vetoed the law, has called the law, “a dangerous intrusion into the confidential relationship that exists between women and their doctors.” Six major organizations, including the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, have filed suit against the new act, which is currently undergoing judicial review. Around the nation, similar and even more controversial arguments about abortion restrictions have developed. In Mississippi, voters recently rejected the controversial “Personhood Amendment,” proposed by their conservative state legislature to define life as beginning at conception. Critics opposed the extreme measures of the amendment, which would have made certain contraception and fertility practices in the state possibly illegal under the new restrictions. Senior Leah Josephson works at Lillian’s List, a political action committee dedicated to increasing the number of pro-choice women in North Carolina public office. “I can’t imagine a world in which politicians are deciding what doctors are saying to me,” Josephson said. “If I go to the doctor, I want to hear a professional medical opinion.” Dr. Jan Boxill, the director of the UNC Parr Center for Ethics, thinks that the
objectives of the new law should certainly raise questions. “Women know what’s inside of them,” Boxill said. “What is the purpose of making a woman listen to the heartbeat?” Josephson thinks that such measures are an attempt to push conservative values on the public, much like the failed Mississippi law. She worries about the implications of conservative efforts to limit access to abortion for women, especially in the personhood movements that have emerged that could limit access to contraceptives. “It’s hypocritical,” Josephson said. “If you’re going to force people to go through with unplanned pregnancies, they should have access to birth control. I think it would be really productive if anti-choice people spent time trying to combat unplanned pregnancies.” Despite the importance and relevance of the debate, the lack of willingness for public dialogue is something that concerns Journalism and Mass Communication Professor Dr. Jane Brown. “Abortion is becoming symbolically annihilated,” said Brown, who researches how the media influences adolescent health. “We can’t even talk about a legal option for women. The show Sixteen and Pregnant shows only one girl considering abortion. It’s not very realistic.” In fact, Brown thinks that by making abortion a taboo topic, the entertainment media has perpetrated a polarized view of abortion. “The media has adopted the political dialogue on this issue,” Brown said. “It’s
EFFORTS TO RESTRICT ABORTION The “Woman’s Right to Know Act” of North Carolina DINESH MCCOY
become incredibly hard for people on the pro-choice side to talk about when life begins. And it’s hard for people on the pro-life side to talk about the possibility of exceptions.” At the April 2010 Lunch and Learn event, “Why Can’t We Talk About Abortion?,” Boxill highlighted the need to establish commonalities in the abortion discussion. Her four-part model for examining one’s position on abortion includes discussing the goal, looking at the social reality, offering a deeper analysis and devising strategies used to achieve the goal. “No one is anti-life, and no one is completely anti-choice,” Boxill said. “We have to be willing to look at the seriousness of this issue. It’s not so simple.” WINTER MINI2011 • 13
ON THE SUBJECT OF PERSONHOOD LIBBY RODENBOUGH
Rather than granting personhood to the newly-fertilized, let’s extend it to some invidivudals who were not only fertilized but also went to be born and live deceptively humanlooking lives...
We will no longer be able to dismiss the plight of suffering people simply because they do not look or speak exactly like us.
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In the wake of the failed Mississippi personhood amendment, which would have declared that human life begins at fertilization, I find myself feeling legislatively teased—my appetite for amendments has been whetted and left wanting. The personhood amendment had its appeal, no doubt. Vesting any entity with such a particularly magnificent “-hood” could only be a feel-good endeavor for everybody, right? Unfortunately, there were quibbles over such minutiae as the criminalization of certain birth control methods and of failed attempts at in-vitro fertilization (not to mention all forms of abortion, even in cases of rape). But all is not lost! I say we stick to the personhood theme—it’s such a good one—and merely reallocate our grand endowment. Rather than granting personhood to the newly-fertilized, let’s extend it to some individuals who were not only fertilized but also went on to be born and live deceptively humanlooking lives: namely, the homeless, the poor, the elderly, the non-white and the non-American. I’m a lover of traditions myself (I may never shake the compulsive need to see Santa’s cookies lying half-eaten on a plate by the fireplace on Christmas morning at my parents’ house), but this time-honored custom of ours—dehumanization, that is—may be due for reassessment. Sure, it has made things easier, especially in the public sphere. You have to admit, if we thought of our beneficiaries as people, it would be a hell of
a lot trickier to deprive underprivileged American children of welfare assistance or to grant foreign aid that renders farmers and other citizens in need dependent, often for life, on profit-driven industrial food conglomerates like Monsanto. And it’s possible we’d lose a bit of our gusto for armed conflict—and thus our giddy inclination to sign off on channeling exorbitant sums toward such ends—if we stopped picturing our enemies as bull’s-eye-shaped terrorism receptacles and allowed ourselves to see human faces standing in front of the oil fields. I’m sure Kansas state Rep. Virgil Peck (R) would have hesitated to suggest— in casual jest, of course!—that “it might be a good idea to control illegal immigration the way the feral hog population has been controlled—with hunters shooting from helicopters” if he saw fewer resemblances between illegal immigrants and pigs than between those immigrants and his own friends and family. This amendment, I’ll concede, may have some life-altering implications for many of us. We will have to acknowledge the humanity of the vagrant lying on the park bench directly in our path, no matter how unseemly his dress. We will be forced to cease our categorization of “the poor” as a migraine-inducing problem with which we must deal, somehow, and recognize the enormous tragedy that there are people who share all our innate human qualities and rights living in squalor and desperate need, all over the world and right under our noses. We will have to treat
Personhood Now march, from Wikimedia Commons
the senile ramblings of an elderly relative as the words of a human being, and a human being who has known more of the world than most of the rest of us at that. We will no longer be able to dismiss the plight of suffering people simply because they do not look or speak or live exactly like us. In short, by conveying personhood to these people, we will be forced also to extend empathy, if indeed we still have the capacity for it. Although I’m sure the concept has seemed strikingly novel to you as you have read the preceding words, it turns out people have been suggesting the extension of personhood for some years now. Back in 1948, Woody Guthrie appealed to Americans to remember the names of 28 migrant farmworkers who were killed in a plane crash while being deported from California back to Mexico (media coverage of the crash listed the names of the deceased
American flight crew and security guard but referred to the others succinctly as “deportees”). Most people today reject the dehumanization of Jewish individuals and others that facilitated the Holocaust and the three-fifths-of-a-person status upon which American society justified its enslavement of Africans and their African-American descendents. But dehumanization can be quite a bit subtler than genocide or enslavement as they are traditionally understood. And it’s the sort of thing we all find convenient, even necessary, to ignore in our own worldviews. It would be easy to dismiss a call to re-humanize as a philosophical exercise, especially at a time so fraught with immediate practical concerns. But as long as we are getting so worked up over the contested personhood of zygotes, isn’t it only fair that we devote some of our energy and emotion toward the personhood of those we already generally
accept to be people? If the significance of such distinctions seems merely philosophical, you need not look to extreme examples like Nazism but only to consider the drastic inequity both within America and throughout the world to understand the implications of dehumanization—implications that are detrimental to humanity at large although they may fatten the pockets of a select few. So, after concentrating on distinct categorizations of individuals for the bulk of this article, I’m now asking that we amend the way we categorize, that we begin to regard all such categories as equal and far lesser subgroupings of their parent designation: human. •
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THE POETRY OF
”Poetry, music and art as a means of resisting injustice are great.” —Ken Norman
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In a packed room with nothing but guitars, notebooks and their voices as tools, a number of poets and performers spoke and sang Palestine to life. The inaugural Palestine Poetry Night, organized by UNC’s Students for Justice in Palestine, aims to promote dialogue about the long-standing conflict between Israel and Palestine in a unique way. To Ken Norman, a senior Chemistry major and SJP’s president, the conflict in Palestine is a human rights issue. And as such, it demands an artistic response. “Poetry, music and art as a means of resisting injustice are great,” Norman said. “You’re able to present a struggle in a way that makes people think about it in ways that they haven’t before.” Suja Sawafta, a graduate student in French and Franco-Arab Studies, first introduced the event to a small café in Greensboro, NC. Sawafta’s inspiration came from the Gaza War of 2008, in which Israel led a three-week invasion into Gaza territory. As a PalestinianAmerican, Sawafta sought some way to express her frustration. “Gaza was being bombarded; the numbers of people dying were enormous, and before we knew it, it was 1200 people dead,” Sawafta said. “I thought, there’s so much more to Palestine than this.” Although initially uncertain about
the turnout she would receive, Sawafta was encouraged by local artists’ energy. “The main goal [was] to find a way to show the survival of it, to see a side that people wouldn’t normally see,” she said. “If anything, the Palestinian experience speaks of love, and I wanted to find a way to show that experience without [it] being politicized.” Since its start in 2010, SJP has worked to change the narrative most students receive on the conflict by planning events to deepen their understanding. “Our events on campus thus far have been primarily educational in nature,” Norman said. “The situation isn’t black and white – it’s incredibly complex – and that can also make it hard for people to really understand.” One of the group’s major obstacles, Norman and Sawafta agree, is the representation in American media of Israel and Palestine, which often portrays Palestinians as the sole aggressors and neglects their perspective on the conflict. “The media portrays Israel as needing to defend itself at all costs,” Sawafta said. “But the people who are oppressed are the Palestinians—they’re the ones who’ve been erased off the map.” According to the Palestine Monitor, an online magazine organized by writers, commentators and activists living in Palestine, only 12 percent of historic Palestinian land remains since the UN Par-
The genetic memory...has been the primary inspiration for Sawafta’s own poems about Palestine.
tition Plan took effect in 1947. Norman finds that, along with the issue of land, many students also misunderstand the roots of the problems between Israel and Palestine. “I think most people believe that the conflict between Jews and Arabs is an inherently religious conflict that’s existed for millennia, and that’s just not the case,” Norman said. “Jews and Muslims [have been] together in Palestine for centuries without conflict. The religious component has only been introduced relatively recently by those wishing to capitalize on it for their own militant purposes.” But alongside the conflict has emerged new forms of creative expression. According to Sawafta, the tension has brought a new significance to the production of art, both as a means of resistance to occupation and also as a means of cultural expression. “There’s a heritage, an artistic resistance and art movement coming out of this that people don’t know,” Sawafta said. “Palestinian people don’t have an army, a state—they don’t have anything. Anything being created under that condition is saying, ‘Look at us. Look at our story.’ So the cultural production coming out of Palestine is conveying a sense of survival, a sense of love for the nation.” As just one outlet within the Palestine art movement, poetry speaks of
the troubling conditions that Palestinians face daily as a result of the border conflict. For many Americans, however, these conditions are simply not recognized. “It’s important for people to realize that there is another side of the conflict,” Norman said. “The Palestinians are suffering under a military occupation that permeates every aspect of their lives, prevents them from traveling freely even within their own territory. There is a human side that people often only see as a result of violence on the Palestinian side, but rarely as a result of the impact of Israel’s military occupation.” For Sawafta, poetry has been one way of revealing the human side of the Palestinian experience—the side that goes beyond politics and into the actual lives of Palestinians. Inspired by the work of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Sawafta locates the power of poetry in the nostalgia that it evokes, connecting the artist to his or her home. “There’s a feeling you get when you think about the colors of where you’re from, when you’re reading poetry,” she said. “And it’s something [the Def Poet] Mark Gonzales calls ‘genetic memory.’” This genetic memory, or connection with one’s homeland, has been the primary inspiration for Sawafta’s own poems about Palestine. “While I was living in France, I was
questioning my place there, thinking about how every time I drank chamomile tea, I thought of Palestine, how the sage in my tea tasted like Palestine,” Sawafta said. “I wanted my poem to convey this sense of a Palestinian nest without the blood, bones, and numbers—the real tie that Palestinians have to the land.” In 1948, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, made a prediction about the fate of Palestine that many still cite today: “The old will die,” he said, “and the young will forget.” But for artists like Sawafta dedicated to preserving the voice of Palestine, this prediction has not, and will never, become truth. “The Palestinian people are so proud, but the way the Second Intifada changed the way of life there, you have very defeated and pessimistic people,” Sawafta said. “But no matter what they [Israeli occupiers] do to impose restrictions, there’s always going to be this sense of a movement, because there’s this sense of connection to the land.” •
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THE GHOSTS at the DOOR OF EUROPE AUDERY ANN LAVALLEE The author spent two weeks in Lampedusa in July, as part of a summer research project on the refugees of the Arab Spring. She interviewed migrants, activists, humanitarian workers and locals to understand the experiences of those affected by the transnational movement caused by the revolutions in North Africa. Between February and March 2011, an estimated 35,000 migrants left from Libyan and Tunisian ports and crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Their first stop: Lampedusa, a 20-square km path of Italian sand with a population of 6,000 people, situated just 100 km from the North African coast. (photo 1) Some, in quest of better lives away from the economic uncertainties of the Arab Spring, paid a smuggler up to 2,000 euros for their perilous journey. Others, mainly sub-Saharan and Bangladeshi labor workers of Libya, were thrown into boats by Gaddafi’s army. With this bold move, the late dictator hoped to upset the Italians whose NATO bases helped the advancement of Libyan rebel troops. (photo 2) Beyond the risks of dehydration, the most dangerous obstacle for the migrants to overcome was the sea. “Our boat was four meters long and had a small engine,” Jaafar, a Tunisian refugee
who arrived last February, said. A month earlier, he failed his first attempt at crossing when his boat capsized and he was brought back to the Zarzis shore. (photo 3) Commandante Morana, who oversees the port operations, leads rescue missions when boats are in distress. He recounts this vivid memory where an overcrowded boat containing 150 people threatened to capsize in the middle of sea. “The conditions were rough but my men managed to save 53 lives,” he said. “I remember the eyes and faces of my team at that time: they would have liked to save more.” (photo 4) Those who reached Lampedusa did not always receive the warmest welcome. “In March, they waited on the harbour’s deck to prevent the migrants from landing,” Georges Alexandre, a French activist who arrived in Lampedusa in November last year, said. George Alexandre started his own NGO, “Kayak per il diritto alla vitta.” He kayaked from Tunisia to Malta and Lampedusa to raise awareness about what he believes to be the European Union’s failed immigration policies. Some islanders interviewed felt that the migrants’ story – which attracted prominent media such as Al-Jazeera and the BBC – failed to present their
stories. Locals said they lost more than half of the revenue usually gained from the high touristic season because the early coverage showed 8,000 Tunisians free on the island. (photo 5) On April 4, after three months of freezing under makeshift tarps and being fed pasta that, according to Alexandre was suspected to have been infused with tranquilizers, former Prime Minister Berlusconi emptied the island and relocated the excess migrants to other parts of Italy. (photo 6) Lampedusa’s “retention” center nonetheless detained 2,000 people, more than twice its capacity. Detention can span anywhere from a few weeks to 18 months, during which the government decides whether to grant migrants asylum, refugee statuses or seasonal working permits depending on each individual’s circumstance. Some end up being deported to their country of origin. Georges Alexandre knew of desperate men who swallowed razor blades in the hope that a trip to the hospital would spare them the long stay in the detention center. Lampedusa may be a transit point in Europe, but remains a major stop in the migrants’ lives. (photo 7)
TOWARD GREATER AWARENESS KYLE SEBASTION
“Art can reach people on such an emotional level and can have a profound impact.”
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When sculptor Mitch Lewis began researching African totems, he never imagined his project would turn into an in-depth look at the horrific genocide occurring in Darfur. Much of Lewis’ past work has focused on studying the human condition, but Lewis says it was his Jewish heritage that drew him to creating an exhibit focused on Darfur. “After the Nazi Holocaust [the world said] ‘never again’ and to me that meant…all of humanity,” Lewis said. Lewis was shocked at how few people were aware of the genocide occurring in Darfur. “I decided to try to raise awareness about it and the best way for me to do that was through my sculpture; that was how I could reach the most people,” Lewis said. The exhibit “Toward Greater Awareness” is made up of a series of figures crafted from terracotta, high-fired stoneware, resin and metals and seeks to “address the physical and psychological scars left on mankind by a culture of violence and brutality,” according to Lewis’ artist statement. The pieces focus primarily on women and children and how they are affected by the conflict. Lewis touches on the tragedy of child soldiers and the use of rape as a weapon of war. “Women are targeted. When [the Janjaweed] invade a village…there are men whose particular assignment is raping women,” Lewis said. The assault is intended to traumatize the woman and shame their families. Those children too young to be forced to participate in the conflict as child soldiers are burned in trashcans
by the Janjaweed, the roaming militias supported by the government of Sudan who attack villages suspected of sympathizing with rebel groups such as the Justice and Equality Movement. Those displaced by the conflict are left to fend for themselves in refugee camps in Darfur and Chad, where malnutrition and violence, especially gender-based, are widespread. The government’s tacit support for the genocide perpetrated by the Janjaweed in Darfur has led to the International Criminal Court charging Sudan’s President Bashir with crimes against humanity in 2009. Despite a 2006 peace agreement between the government of Sudan and the Sudanese Liberation Army, violence in the region has continued, peaking in 2010. Lewis’ work on Darfur has resulted in a partnership with “United to End Genocide” an organization that seeks “a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Darfur and to prevent and stop large-scale violence against civilians throughout North and South Sudan,” according to endgenocide.org. “Art can reach people on such an emotional level and can have a profound impact…I see that as my role to try to reach those people,” Lewis said. He hopes his exhibit will serve as a call to action, especially among university students. “After you see this exhibit you can never again hide behind the veil of ignorance. Now you’ve seen it, now you know about it and now you must act,” Lewis said. “Collectively, if we all make our voices heard, something might get done.” •
photos by stefanie schwemlein
Preventing Violence through Sudanese Art
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Published with support from: Campus Progress, a division of the Center for American Progress. Campus Progress works to help young people â€” advocates, activists, journalists, artists â€” make their voices heard on issues that matter. Learn more at CampusProgress.org Also paid for in part by student fees.
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