Amaranthus: The Journal of Youth Environmental Leadership, 2018

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a m a r a n t h u s

volume II 2019


© Creative Commons

amaranthus volume II

Jeff Sharpe

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Introduction

Eana Bacchiocchi

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Understanding Nature in New York City Through Gentrification and Environmental Justice

Eve London

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Neighborhood Composting

Madeline McKowen

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Behind the Lens

Alexie Dietz

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Permaculture: The Paradigm Shift From “Easy” Agriculture to Efficient Agriculture

Nicole Radlauer

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Landscapes of Light

Arthur Yao 22 Hong Kong: An Oyster Maclaine Sorden

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Waters of Ccototaki

Jeff Sharpe 36 A Green New Deal 40 About Amaranthus

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*Cover Photo by Maclaine Sorden


Photo by 123RF.com

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hat does youth environmental leadership look like in 2019? To me, it looks a lot like the Sunrise Movement, a youth-founded and led non-profit that has been the driving force behind a Green New Deal.

introduction running for President, the GND has quickly made waves - and left many pragmatic environmentalists and moderate lawmakers scratching their heads.

the Green New Deal, including some of its key political and economic considerations, in a separate article in Amaranthus. I thought it would be an interesting topic to explore given its roots in the youth-led Sunrise Movement. It is inspiring in its scope and ambition despite its long political odds and difficult to square economic rationale. It was also a pleasant reminder of the audacity of youth. We can only hope that today’s young people will continue to hold older generations to account for the mistakes and missed opportunities of the past with bold ideas like the Green New Deal. If they do not, we’re all cooked.

“It’s just impracticable,” Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s Energy Sunrise describes itself as “ordinary Secretary, told National Public Radio. young people” and “a movement “And what concerns me about that is to stop climate change and create if we start putting out impracticable millions of good jobs in the process.” targets we may lose a lot of key Its goals are to “ make climate change constituencies that we need to bring an urgent priority across America, along.” end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and Moniz is, in my opinion, correct. But elect leaders who stand up for the who are we to challenge the audacity health and wellbeing of all people.” of youth for actually doing something! Succeed or fail, this moves the debate Sunrise deserves much of the credit forward. In two years, we’ve gone from for bringing an ambitious progressive scant discussion of climate change in Jeff Sharpe proposal for a Green New Deal national politics to a present where it Co-Founder, Sustainable Learning into the public discourse. With the looks to become a centerpiece of the support of (at present) 75 lawmakers progressive agenda. in Washington, including all of the Democratic Senators currently I write in much more detail about

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Understanding Nature in New York City through Gentrification and Environmental Justice By Eana Bacchiocchi

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ature in New York City seems contradictory. However, if you look closely and think critically, it does exist, sometimes in quite copious amounts. When considering nature in New York City, you need to be creative and think outside of the box. Because in practicality, it is the concrete jungle. There are parts of New York City where blocks are tree-lined and it’s refreshing, and then there are places where you don’t see a tree for blocks upon blocks. Nature appears in small ways in urban areas. They’re not accosting you, up front and center. For the most essential purposes of this essay, I will draw upon Jenny Price’s third and fourth way of seeing nature in urban areas from her Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A. Within New York City, experiencing nature is not equal. Nature for people living across the street from Central Park is very

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Photo by Caio Christofol from Pixels

different for nature for people living in Midtown. There is a disparity across neighborhoods within New York City that benefit the most from nature around them and those who benefit the least from the lack thereof (Price 6). Central Park is within walking distance of some of the wealthiest neighborhoods, whereas if you lived in the South Bronx, the closest public park could be a train ride away. Furthermore, viewing nature as the resources around us, nature is, of course, not equal. The story of how your food traveled from where it was grown, probably hundreds of miles away, to a produce store or perhaps shipped directly to one of the new trendy restaurants in town is nature (Price 5). The many hands that followed the growth and then transportation of the avocado that you just smashed onto your toast is a story of nature. The economic disparity between what the avocado workers get paid to what you paid your avocado smoothie at Avocaderia is a story of natural resource value and economic inequality. Nature is actually quite abundant in New York City: from the resources used to build the incessant high rises to the many or few, depending on the way you view it, parks and recreational spaces around the city, nature exists. And with a city of 8 million people, through the inequality of understanding and experiencing nature, environmental injustice exists.

and climate refugees or impoverished populations facing food insecurity. However, looking inward, to your home, brings a vulnerability to the place you grew up. New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the United States, economically, culturally and ethnically. In a fairly homogeneous body at Colby College, I’m proud to have grown up experiencing an urban lifestyle, in arguably one of the best cities in the United States. The value of growing up in New York City versus a small New England town is almost indescribable and has impacted the way I approach thinking about issues in general and of course, environmental issues. Coming to Colby, my Environmental Studies courses have reiterated and gone into more depth of the environmental issues we face today: climate change, first and foremost, biodiversity loss, water, land, and air pollution, the list is endless. As an Environmental Humanities student, I’m taught to think critically about the way we convey these environmental issues to our peers using the humanities, but also simply the humanitarian aspect of environmental issues defined as environmental justice. Now, taking a piece of my New Yorker background, through this essay I attempt to explore the link between environmental injustice and gentrification within the city I know and love. Now, New York City is enormous and tackling all instances of environmental When thinking about environmental injustice and gentrification within injustice, it’s easy to see instances of the city is nearly impossible within environmental racism or exclusion the context of this essay. Therefore, across the world with coastal regions I propose for you to accompany


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me, along the B/Q train line to a small neighborhood in the middle of Brooklyn, to my home for the past fourteen years, into Ditmas Park. At the age of six, my parents moved our family from the center of SoHo to a quiet neighborhood in Brooklyn. From Broadway to a Victorian house and tree-lined street called Westminster Road, the disparity between these two places I’ve grown up was clear. SoHo was crowded and filled with tourists, probably the epitome of what you would think of was Manhattan. Ditmas Park is an almost suburban-like neighborhood in the middle of a huge city. The neighborhood boasts quiet streets with huge Victorian homes and scattered apartment buildings filled with families hoping to expose their children with an atypical urban lifestyle: exposure to forms of nature that are limited elsewhere in the city, but take the subway and in 35 minutes, you can be in Midtown. My family’s transition from SoHo to Ditmas Park was for two reasons:

the first one is a common saying of all New Yorkers- “I’d like to see some trees in my life.” The second and more significant reason was financial. My parents wanted to make the transition from renting to buying their own home and prices in Manhattan were and continue to be overpriced and unaffordable for our family. The past few decades, Manhattan has become almost unlivable for the middle and upper-middle class and thus, a new wave of people had begun to move into the outer boroughs. Brooklyn and my very own Ditmas Park has experienced its own surge of gentrification as former Manhattanites and wealthy Brooklyn-ites came settling into deeper Brooklyn. More coffee shops and restaurants began to line a newly bustling Cortelyou Road and the neighborhood gradually saw a steady increase in real estate prices. Ditmas Park, once named one of the most diverse neighborhoods in New York City, witnessed a wave of “yuppies” coming to settle down and

start a family. Particularly, I should add, Brooklyn yuppies, those who fit this hipster-like stereotype of those who live in Brooklyn: young, uppermiddle class, flannels, and organic. Today, I look at my neighborhood and the biggest takeaway I can get is that embodying a green lifestyle requires some form of economic privilege. Particularly in the realm of food consumption, the captivating branding of organic or all-natural or local grants the payment of higher prices and those paying the higher prices are wealthier and of higher economic class. In Ditmas Park, there are two organic food markets, one a food co-op and another a natural food market. The emergence of these two food markets epitomize how within the past twenty or so years, Ditmas Park local businesses have begun to cater to the environmentally-conscious ideals of their consumers. The coffee shops charge $4-$6 for a cup of coffee, but of course, it’s fair-trade and topped off with some wicked cool latte art. The restaurants are close volume ii

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to Manhattan prices with upwards of $25 per dish, but of course, they boast using local produce in many of their dishes, conforming to the new trend of farm-to-table restaurants. The families I’ve babysat for fill their fridges with almost exclusively organic produce and grass-fed meats because of course, they only want the best for their family. These consumptive behaviors and the price paid for one’s food indicate the presence of green consumerism here in Ditmas Park. However, I question whether those around me truly recognize the importance of eating food grown by sustainable agricultural practices. Or are they simply following the trend Big Organic has marketed extensively as the “environmentally-friendly, better, healthier” option because they have the financial means to? Furthermore, looking at real estate, green spaces indicates privilege. Seven years ago, my co-op building decided to turn the “backyard” of the building, which at that moment was a pile of barren dirt, into a green space. The following two years, a newly formed garden committee took charge and brought our building’s backyard back to life. Today, the garden consists of plants only native to Brooklyn and areas meant for lively entertainment. Every so often during acceptable temperatures outside, I hear shrieks of children playing or having a birthday party in the backyard. This concept of calling it “my backyard” is foreign to most New Yorkers. Space is something that every New Yorker struggles dealing with as well as justifying their lack of space. It seems unnatural to many non-New Yorkers cramming a four-person family into a little over 1,000 sq ft apartment. Therefore, New Yorkers find ways to find space elsewhere:

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the local playground for the children, a coffee shop for the parents, perhaps a weekend house if you have the financial means. The co-op knew that a green space for the building would yes, attract more families and simply provide another nice space for its residents, but also heavily considered the financial incentive: having a wellmaintained, quaint backyard for an already coveted building in Ditmas Park would drive building real estate prices up, increasing the wealth of each and every co-op owner. It would make the building and consequently Ditmas Park a more desirable, a more gentrified area for the Brooklyn yuppies. Therefore, this mere $500k green backyard project would be worth it in the long run, right?

Ditmas Park before gentrification fully happened, I realized that my family could most certainly not afford an apartment in Ditmas Park now. And there’s the silver lining of gentrification: the pushing out of the lower income households to make way for wealthier households, which by many, is perceived as “bettering” the neighborhood. In many cases, gentrification pushes out minority cultures for white cultures. And in the case of Ditmas Park, here comes the supposedly environmentallyconscious, Brooklyn yuppie culture. What does gentrification mean for environmental injustice? Through two specific modes, green spaces and food consumption, gentrification has created Ditmas Park into a neighborhood where there is a divide: those with the financial means are able to consume foods purchased at the food co-op or farmer’s market, sporting healthier and more environmentally-conscious consumer choices versus those who do their grocery shopping at supermarkets with limited produce and aisles upon aisles of processed foods. And then there are those who live in nicer, wealthier buildings in the neighborhood have access to a privatized green backyard or perhaps a green roof versus the buildings that don’t. Across the city, access to healthier food options or simply green space has been constricted by financial mean. Furthermore, gentrification has incited a trend of creating areas that are yes, may be more environmentally conscious through local businesses or spatial usage, but not affordable or accessible to those of lower income.

Almost all parts of New York City have experienced gentrification and with Amazon moving to Queens, current residents of one of the remaining boroughs that hasn’t experienced an enormous amount of gentrification yet, may begin to be displaced. Gentrification is a process: the area where the wealthier begin to move into begins to cater to these new residents’ higher end lifestyle through the introduction of new businesses and upgrading real estate development. These new developments and the new residents change the current perceptions of the neighborhood particularly through the mode of safe versus unsafe. The consequent rising prices thus increase or decrease the viability of certain demographic groups moving to the neighborhood. Voila, the neighborhood’s character and culture can be completely altered through gentrification. The gentrification of Ditmas Park has been gradual, but it’s been strong. I look at the current Experiencing any form of nature real estate prices and like almost around you is valuable. While many everyone around us that was here in quickly disregard the presence of


nature in New York City, there are many instances, on a small or large scale, where one is able to be captivated by their natural surroundings within the city, particularly through the presence of green spaces. However, not all green spaces are created or placed equally. The beauty of New York City is that yes, all public parks are of course, open to the public and accessible by mass transit, but think about where these public parks are located. The beautiful strip of Riverside Park runs alongside one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Manhattan, the Upper West Side. Battery Park City, a notable neighborhood home to the 1%ers with families, has invested tons of money into building gorgeous lawns, playgrounds, walking and running spaces right next to the

Hudson River at the bottom tip of Manhattan. Downtown Brooklyn is still putting money into Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Piers surrounding it, filled with recreational spaces and maintained lawns and sitting areas. Within these past few decades, the development of public green spaces have almost exclusively centered around the wealthy areas of New York City.

financial means, buildings’ priorities are not necessarily to create green spaces, but rather upgrade facilities. Environmental injustice exists through the possibility or lack thereof of creating spaces where experiencing nature is available to all. The value of having a place outside your probably small, cramped apartment and simply take a walk and enjoy a (relatively) breathe of fresh air is priceless. However, readily available spaces like Furthermore, opportunities to build this don’t exist everywhere and if they smaller-scale green spaces are only aren’t convenient, why even consider afforded to buildings or homes that taking that quick walk? Green spaces have the financial means to. The provide cleaner air for its surroundings beautification of a building’s roof and in the midst of the dreadful NYC or backyard is a luxurious choice to summers, reduce the heat buildup make; many buildings don’t have the from the concrete jungle. The simple ability to refinance and/or create benefits linked to green spaces needs funds for a green development to be available for residents across project. And even if they had the different neighborhoods, ensuring the

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development of their own connection can we make New York City a green to nature and consciousness of the city for everyone? Sustainable urban environment they’re in. development must be constructed equally across buildings and districts. Patterns of food consumption relay Upgrading a neighborhood should another indicator of gentrification’s not mean immediately gentrifying it, link to restricted environmentalism. but rather improving areas that still Only certain types of people flock remain affordable for more than the to the Sunday farmer’s market. upper classes. Coupling sustainability If you shop exclusively at Whole and affordability is a challenge for Foods, everyone knows that you are this next generation as more cities an upper middle-class believer that and states pledge their support for organic and local is the only way environmental urban planning and to eat. However, the placement of shifting towards 100% renewable these organic stores and farmer’s energy. As one of the most arguably markets as well as the higher prices important cities in the United of local or organic food demonstrates States, New York City’s transition the environmental injustice within to become a more sustainable our food system. Gentrification city needs to recognize and tackle plays a role in food injustice through environmental injustice along the encouraging a culture where food lines of gentrification. Ensuring deemed all-natural, organic, or that the arrival of Amazon doesn’t grass-fed as better, but unaffordable upset the communities surrounding for many. A few years ago, Whole its headquarters and doesn’t incite Foods placed a store in the middle of opportunities for environmental Harlem, claiming to help bring fresh injustice through gentrification produce to communities that don’t seems idealistic, yet critical for the have easy access to it. The backlash next steps of New York City’s urban was quick: why place an overpriced planning. organic market in a neighborhood where almost every single resident couldn’t afford it. Food politics is complex and there are certain initiatives in place, such as food stamps that attempt to address some of the food inequality. The movement of more expensive grocery stores into Literature Cited newly gentrified areas is unavoidable Price, Jenny. “Thirteen ways of because yes, gentrified areas is where seeing nature in LA.” The Believer they will be receiving more business. 4.3 (2006). However, initiatives and policies gentrification seems idealistic, yet that address the overall need for critical for the next steps of New York access to healthier food options for City’s urban planning. lower income areas and households, particularly within urban areas where so much economic diversity exists, need to be implemented in response. So what does all of this mean? How

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Photo by Eana Bacchiocchi

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eana Bacchiocchi is from Brooklyn, New York and is a sophomore studying Environmental Policy and English at Colby College. She was a participant in Sustainable Summer’s 2016 Seeds of Change trip. She is currently interested in pursuing a career in environmental policy and law.


Neighborhood Composting By Eve London

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uring the summer of 2017, I participated in the Sustainable Summer program at Dartmouth College. The program had a focus of entrepreneurial leadership related to the environment. At the end of the program, my peers and I presented independent project proposals which we had been developing during the course of the program. Many of the projects involved introducing composting programs into local communities, though not mine. I was inspired by these projects. When I returned home from the program I was energized to explore how I could bring composting into my community. I was fortunate to find a local composting company in my area, Silver Spring, Maryland. My communication with the company The Compost Crew, http:// compostcrew.com/, began with an introductory email. I expressed my interest in launching a community pilot program in my neighborhood.

They were enthusiastic to start a program in my area. As The Compost Crew’s Community Leader for the Rosemary Hills area I set out to find 15 homes to join the pilot program. Fliers were put in every mailbox, emails were sent to listserves, and word of mouth in my community led to my success. By November 2017 the pilot program became a permanent program.

Photo by Eve London

Since November 2017, my neighborhood has taken a large step towards living more sustainably. Compost Members have reduced the amount of trash bags they put out per week to be collected, they have seen how much waste they have prevented from going to landfills, and they have in a small but impactful way made a step towards improving soil, air, animal, and human health. By 2020, my high graduation year I hope to have 50 members from my community signed on to the program. Establishing a composting program is not as daunting as it seems. Fortunately, similar compost service companies are emerging around the country with whom you and your community can partner.

Photo by Eve London

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eve London is from Silver Spring, Maryland and I attend Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. She is an alumna of the 2017 Sustainable Summer program at Dartmouth College. Her environmental interests have been investigating and understanding what motivates people, societies, and businesses to be environmentally conscious.

Photo by Eve London

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Behind the Lens

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hen I first began practicing photography in 2011, I had no idea it would guide me to the place I am today. As someone who had been creating art since I was a child, it was one of the places I felt the most confidence and joy, so much so that my peers expected me to become a photographer at the age of 13. The camera quickly became another way to breathe; the lenses gave me just the tool I was looking for to focus in on the details of life. Unless one hones in on these fleeting moments, details would be overlooked, failing to move us - failing to inspire us to make change. Over the past few years, the passions I’ve studied have ranged from fine portraits to environmental sustainability to graphic design, but the greatest lesson I’ve learned by far

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By Madeline McKowen was not to settle for something less than what I’m capable of. I let myself think that the most efficient way for me to work for the environment was through engineering - a subject that was causing me to neglect my innate strengths. Today, I plan to use my artistic abilities to move the world to a greener direction. This selection of photographs were from my transformative Sustainable Summer trip to Ecuador in 2017, where we focused on regenerative agriculture. I loved it so much that I returned to Ecuador the following summer on a different, unrelated trip about environmental design. The sustainably-grown farms we walked through, the fresh taste of cacao beans and coffee grown here, local dairy from 12,000 feet in

elevation, and the array of produce in Quito marketplaces are just a few of the experiences we encountered. I remember being disconnected from technology and a part of nature for three weeks allowed me to feel the most creative inspiration I had in all my life, and I can’t have been the only one. Behind the lens on the Seeds of Change trip was where I felt the most like myself.

Photo by Madeline McKowen


Photo by Madeline McKowen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Originally from Houston, Texas, Madeline is a Communications Design student at Pratt Institute. She attended Sustainable Summer’s Ecuador: Seeds of Change trip in 2017. Her current environmental focus and interest is branding design and art direction for sustainable businesses.

Photo by Madeline McKowen

Photo by Madeline McKowen

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Permaculture: The Paradigm Shift from “Easy” Agriculture to Efficient Agriculture By Alexie Dietz

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f you have ever driven through rural Minnesota, you are probably familiar with this scene: rows and rows of golden wheat, orderly lines of soybeans, and a farm with cows huddled around a pile of hay. The general perception has become that a farm centers around one central crop or animal, farmed by huge tractors for an enormous harvest at the end of the year. However, what would happen if we switched out these uniform rows for a melting pot of trees, legumes, grains and fruit? What if we planted crops that worked together to keep the soil healthy and make the most efficient use of the land possible? These are the principles of permaculture, or permanent agriculture: instead of planting crops in a way that makes harvest as easy as possible, what if we planned out complex agriculture systems to maximize food yield in as little space possible? In a world of constantly increasing human population, we must begin to think

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Photo by 123RF.com

of how we will be able to feed future generations on the land we have now. To do so, it is necessary to look as more sustainable agriculture options, such as permaculture. When we think of Minnesota farming as acres on acres of corn, wheat and soy, we aren’t far off. According to Farm Journal Media, Minnesota is the “sweet spot” of the Corn Belt, a region in the U.S. that produces high yields of corn. The USDA states that in 2012, Minnesota produced 8,316,822 acres of corn, 7,005,764 acres of soybeans, 1,354,928 acres of wheat (for grain). By looking at these high yields, it seems to make sense that Minnesotans are farming these crops. However, the effects of these monocultures - farms producing only one crop in a farming system at one time - are disastrous. The repeated use of the same crop depletes the nutrients in the soil, leads to the build up of pests and potential plant disease, and requires higher use of pesticides

and herbicides, which can lead to water pollution. Although orderly monocultures are easier to harvest and more profitable since all sales can go to one market, the overall effects are extremely toxic to the ecosystem. In order to ensure that we protect our land for future generations, as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development puts it, “the world needs a paradigm shift in agricultural development from a ‘green revolution’ to an ‘ecological intensification’ approach.” To begin, it is important to recognize that farmers are not to blame for their unsustainable agriculture practices. Rather, it is necessary to look at the agricultural system. As Maclaine Sorden, a graduate of the Aldo Leopold Sustainable Agriculture and Landscape Architecture program at Iowa State University, says, “[farmers are] victims of a framework that is incentivizing destructive behavior”. Monocultures are currently


more justifiable and incentivized economically than sustainable agriculture practices, so farmers are just doing what makes the most sense for them economically. It is important not to demonize farmers, but instead to look at these issues from their perspective to recognize whose actions perpetuate unsustainable agricultural practices. In order to understand why monocultures have become the standard farming style in the U.S., it is necessary to look at how the government addresses agriculture. In talking to Sorden, he says that there are two government programs that support unsustainable farming practices: subsidies and crop insurance. Farmers receive subsidies from the government in order to ensure that farmers make a profit, despite some of the weather and price fluctuations that may diminish profitability. As Daren Bakst, a Senior Research Fellow in the Agricultural Policy, explains, legislators often present subsidies as a system that supports struggling family farms. In reality, it doesn’t work out this way. Instead, subsidies benefit mainly large industrial-sized farms. The following graph shows how in 2017, large family farms owned only 3% of all farms, yet received over a third of the share of commodity payments. If these subsidies don’t actually help the small farms of America, but rather the large corporations, Bakst asks why they are necessary. Further, corn accumulates the largest sum of subsidies, receiving over $77 billion from 1995 to 2010. If subsidies encourage the use of crops like corn, then farmers tend to cultivate large monocultures of that crop in order to make the largest amount of profit possible. Corn, specifically, is extremely detrimental in a monoculture, as it requires a lot

of water and chemical support. The constant need for more fertilizer and pesticides to revitalize the soil may be costly, but the subsidies allow for this process to continue so that farmers don’t have to change to a more sustainable practice. Crop insurance works in the same manner. Since only certain crops are covered by crop insurance, these crops are incentivized. In the Midwest, these crops are corn and soy. Similarly to subsidies, crop insurance minimizes the risk of planting these crops, allowing it to seem much more appealing to farmers. Monsanto a lot of power over farmers and, in a larger sense, over the whole agriculture industry. Rather than risk trying new sustainable practices, farmers can receive crop insurance, either from the government or from big seed companies like Monsanto. For example, in 2007, farmers paid lower premiums if they planted a majority of their corn acres using Monsanto’s genetically modified hybrid corn seeds. In order to maximize profitability, farmers turn to these companies to save money by buying their seeds. This gives Monsanto a lot

The Heritage Foundation

of power over farmers and, in a larger sense, over the whole agriculture industry. It is also important to look at who is consuming the farmers’ crops. Some of the crops are sold at the grocery store for human consumption,, but most crops are actually grown for animal grain or fuel. According to Michael Pollan, in 2008, there was enough food produced to feed 11 billion people, yet half of this potentially human food was used to feed animals. This demonstrates that although farmers resort to monocultures in order to maximize yields, this isn’t necessarily the solution. Instead, if food production is managed better to prioritize human food needs, then food insecurity can begin to be resolved. However, with the current typical U.S. diet and economy, it makes more sense economically for farmers to grow grain for livestock rather than food for humans. Further, what consumers buy also has an impact on what farmers produce. As Joel Salatin, a polyculture farmer said, “You, as a food buyer, have the distinct privilege of proactively participating in shaping the world your children will inherit”. What this means is that

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consumers ultimately dictate what crops farmers will grow: if consumers want sustainably grown food, then farmers will fulfill that desire in order to make a profit. Sorden explains that by providing the market for organic and socially-responsible sourced food, small farmers can have a niche within the agriculture system without directly competing with large, industrial farms. Through specializing by farming organically or sustainably, these farmers are serving conscious buyers who desire this type of food. If more consumers insist on wanting sustainably grown food, larger farms could also begin to change their practices in order to increase their profits.

more food than if you grew each sister alone.” As can be seen in the image to the right, the corn acts as a structural support for the beans, the beans act as a nitrogen fixer for the other plants, and the squash covers the ground, acting like a mulch to prevent weed growth. From a dietary perspective, the crops also provide the perfect combination of protein, carbs, and fatty acids. Kimmerer recognizes the efficiency of this type of system in that it also creates an “ethical habitat for coexistence and mutual flourishing” of plants: or in other words, the foundation of permaculture.

Native Americans identified the efficiency of a permaculture Although monocultures are currently system far earlier than any western the most common agricultural farmer had “invented” the practice, practice, it was not always like this. yet Australian Bill Mollison In Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book officially coined the term in 1978. “Braiding Sweetgrass”, Kimmerer Permaculture systems, or permanent recounts a time when Native agriculture, are: Americans fostered a more symbiotic relationship with the Earth. Instead “consciously designed landscapes of planting to maximize profits, food which mimic the patterns and was more appreciated and farmed relationships found in nature, while on a smaller scale. There was also a yielding an abundance of food, fiber greater sense of reciprocity between the land and Native Americans, pushing Native Americans felt a greater sense of stewardship towards the land. In “Braiding Sweetgrass”, Kimmerer tells several stories of how it is customary to say a prayer for the food that is harvested - plant or animal - and to ensure that humans do not overharvest wild plants. Another customary Native American farming practice that Kimmerer discusses is the use of “the three sisters” - corn, beans, and squash in farming. By planting these three crops together, they are able to thrive. As Kimmerer says, “Acre for acre, a Three Sisters garden yields

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and energy for the provision of local needs.” This differs from monocultures because it aims to integrate plant systems together rather than to segregate them. With nature as a model, permaculturists plant different crops all on the same plot of land to work together to meet the soil’s needs as well as the farmer’s needs. Since its creation, permaculture has grown to become a global farming practice in countries around the world. From the U.S. to Costa Rica to Sierra Leone and elsewhere, farmers are finding ways

Photo by Lexie Dietz

to use permaculture as a sustainable agriculture system, environmentally, socially, and economically. Locally, one permaculture expert in Minnesota is Bruce Blair (pictured above). Blair is the founder of Homestead Gardens of Welch, a permaculture garden in southeastern Minnesota. Established in 1999, Blair created his own sustainable garden (see image above, to the left) that employs permaculture concepts. When Blair first moved to Welch, he recognized that much of the soil


black pepper, vanilla, and raise pigs. In 2013, Daniel became USDA Organic Certified, which helped him to be able to raise his prices to make more money.

had been deprived of nutrients due to monocropping of corn and soy. He also faced the problem of intense flooding from the nearby Cannon river. In order to deal with these issues, Blair used permaculture concepts to bring in plants to replenish the soil and mitigate the flooding effects. Blair integrates many different species to maximize efficiency through the use of chickens, various fruits, vegetables, plants, firewood and compost. In his garden, everything has a purpose and requires minimum human input. Blair also hosts permaculture workshops to educate the community about alternate forms of agriculture. He has taught his neighbors how to manage the severe flooding due to the river and how to maximize land space. He also demonstrates that permaculture is not just an Australian system, but can be used in Minnesota as well. This makes it easier for other farmers to begin to consider permaculture practices on their own farm, since Blair has proved that it can function on Minnesotan land. Permaculture has also grown on a global scale. This past summer, I travelled to Costa Rica to learn about sustainable agriculture and talked to

Daniel’s story is a success story, yet he confessed to us that he constantly receives death threats from the large plantation companies. As he educates and tells his story to a wider audience, large corporations are scared that their businesses will be held accountable for their actions and lose money. Daniel believes that it is his life’s purpose to educate Photo by Maclaine Sorden people on the negative effects of a local farmer,Daniel Vega (pictured unsustainable monoculture farming, with his grandson to the right). so he continues on, despite the fact Daniel previously worked on a large that all of his other six friends who had banana plantation that would illegally also quit their plantation jobs in 2007 tear down huge portions of the Costa are now dead. His farm is currently Rican rainforest and bulldoze through thriving with his permaculture style natural habitats, polluting waterways. of farming that combines cacao Further, the extensive use of agro- trees, pepper vines, vanilla bean vines, chemicals contaminated waterways, and pig production. To the right, you killed aquatic life, and had negative can see Daniel and his pepper vines effects on his health. Although Daniel that grew on trees that he could knew his actions were immoral, he later harvest for wood. These plants had to continue in order to receive a work together in order to maintain a paycheck to support his family. The turning point came one day as he was bulldozing through the rainforest. While tearing down trees, Daniel spotted a monkey in one of the trees. Daniel said it seemed as though the monkey was screaming at him to stop, begging him to protect the monkey’s home. Getting down from his bulldozer, Daniel tried to move the monkey out of the way, yet the four other bulldozers behind him shouted at him to move forward. Feeling pressured, Daniel closed his eyes and continued. This scarring moment pushed Daniel and six of his friends to quit their jobs in 2007 to form their own polyculture farms. Daniel began to sustainably farm

Photo by Maclaine Sorden

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healthy soil and requires few “inputs” - the only substance Daniel buys that he doesn’t source from the farm is calcium. This story is an extreme one and shows the difficulties of leaving a monoculture farm. Current huge monoculture plantations have immense money and power, allowing them to “bully” small farmers like Daniel into working immorally for them in order to maximize profits. However, Daniel is also a success story, in that he escaped the system and is now helping others to break out of the chains set by huge plantation

who educate their neighbors about permaculture solutions working in their own town. There are also organizations like PRI Cold Climate that connect individuals to permaculture farms within the state to find permaculture-type solutions that work for Minnesota cold climate rather than its original Australian hot climate. Grocery stores like Lakewinds in Minnetonka, Chanhassen, and Richfield - that sell produce from sustainable farmers in Minnesota also help promote permaculture and sustainable agriculture. By putting sustainably grown produce on its shelves,

Photo by Maclaine Sorden

companies. Daniel works within his community to spread his story and farming techniques with other local farmers in hopes that they, too, will start a polyculture farm. In response to the issues of monocultures, there are many organizations and individuals working to educate farmers about the sustainable farming practices available. Locally, in Minnesota, there are people like Bruce Blair

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Lakewinds encourages farmers to grow their food in a sustainable manner, as they reap the benefits of the Lakewinds market. Nationally, there are permaculture organizations, like the Permaculture Research Institute that promote permaculture courses and resources to the general public. Large permaculture farms, like Restoration Agriculture Development’s farm, also demonstrate to farmers that

permaculture is a viable alternative, convincing more farmers to change their farming method. The government also promotes sustainable agriculture practices through funding subsidies for farmers to use cover crops. Cover crops are plants that are grown in farm fields during the winter to keep the soil in place, reduce runoff, and limit soil erosion. In Maryland, the government pays farmers up to $90 per acre to plant cover crops in order to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen runoff. By paying farmers, there is an economic incentive for them to try sustainable practices at low risk, then hopefully continue even after they are no longer paid. This solution is particularly interesting because it satisfies both sides: farmers make money and environmentalists see less water pollution due to runoff. The only question is if this is sustainable. The government cannot pay every farmer in the U.S. to utilize cover crops, so how else can farmers be incentivized without pushing the country into even further debt? That is the question for the next generation of environmentalists. From a global perspective, there are many initiatives to support permaculture practicers. For example, WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities for Organic Farming) is an organization that connects volunteer farmers to international organic farms. WWOOF promotes sustainable farming practice through their support of those trying to farm organically, providing yet another reason for farmers to see permaculture as a realistic option for themselves. There are also farmers like Daniel who are pushing their community to think outside of the box to find ways to farm sustainably on their land.


There is a lot of awareness initiatives taking place for permaculture, yet there needs to be more action. One future solution could be for the government to subsidize more sustainable agriculture methods instead of corn. This will ease the pressure that farmers feel to farm huge monocultures and instead farm to support the land. Sorden also says that it is important to decentralize agricultural efforts and empower local food growers. Instead of a handful of rich seed companies controlling the agricultural industry, there needs to be more control by the farmers themselves in order to be able to realistically input sustainable agriculture practices. Overall, what the agriculture industry needs is a paradigm shift. With the rising environmental issues and growing population, farmers will

need to adapt to these changing conditions. Permaculture proves to be a feasible solution as it maximizes land space, ensures the good health of the soil, and eliminates some of the typical agricultural pollutants that fuel environmental damage. Farms need to shift their focus from maximizing profits to maximizing productivity, even if it requires extra time to harvest. By embedding a holistic permaculture mindset into the culture of farming, farms can begin to boost their efficiency and our planet may have a chance at sustainably feeding the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lexie Dietz is currently a junior at the Blake School in Minneapolis, MN. She was a participant in Sustainable Summer’s 2018 Costa Rica trip. The trip ignited her passion for agriculture and has inspired her to work within her community to see how she can help promote sustainable agricultural practices at home, at school, and beyond.

Photo by Maclaine Sorden

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Photo by Maclaine Sorden Work Cited: Blair Garden, Welch, MN. P ersonal photograph by author. September 29, 2018. Bruce Blair in garden, Welch, MN. Personal photograph by author. September 29, 2018. Daniel and his pepper, Chilamate, Costa Rica. Personal photograph by author. July 15, 2018. “2017 STATE AGRICULTURE OVERVIEW.” USDA - National Agricultural Statistics Service Homepage. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.nass.usda.gov/Quick_Stats/Ag_Overview/stateOverview. php?state=MINNESOTA. Vladislav. “6 Problems with Monoculture Farming.” REGENERATIVE.com. March 13, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.regenerative. com/magazine/six-problems-monoculture-farming. Bakst, Daren. “What You Should Know About Who Receives Farm Subsidies.” The Heritage Foundation. April 16, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.heritage.org/agriculture/report/what-you-should-knowabout-who-receives-farm-subsidies. Charles, Dan. “How To Make Farmers Love Cover Crops? Pay Them.” NPR. March 16, 2017. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/ thesalt/2017/03/16/520281317/how-to-make-farmers-love-cover-cropspay-them. Daniel Vega and grandson, Costa Rica. Personal photograph by author. July 15, 2018. “Maclaine Sorden on the Agriculture System.” Telephone interview by author. October 7, 2018. Blair, Bruce. “Bruce Blair’s Permaculture Workshop.” Interview by author. September 29, 2018. Vega, Daniel. “Daniel Vega.” Interview by author. July 15, 2018. Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2015. “Monsanto Corn Technology Approved for Innovative Crop Insurance Program.” Monsanto. September 26, 2007. Accessed October 10,

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2018. https://monsanto.com/news-releases/monsanto-corn-technologyapproved-for-innovative-crop-insurance-program/. Old Farmers Almanack. The Three Sisters: Corn, Beans, and Squash. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.pinterest.com/ pin/323344448228094668/. Palmer, Kim. “Permaculture 101.” Star Tribune. August 19, 2008. Accessed October 10, 2018. http://www.startribune.com/ permaculture-101/27131429/. Salatin, Joel. “A Quote from Holy Cows and Hog Heaven.” Goodreads. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/39836you-as-a-food-buyer-have-the-distinct-privilege-of. Sustainable Summer. “Costa Rica Update: The Daniel Vega Experience.” Sustainable Summer. July 22, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2018. https:// sustainablesummer.org/costa-rica-update-the-daniel-vega-experience/. “The 9 Foods the U.S. Government Is Paying You to Eat.” Mercola.com. August 3, 2011. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://articles.mercola.com/ sites/articles/archive/2011/08/03/the-9-foods-the-us-government-ispaying-you-to-eat.aspx. The Audiopedia. “Search 5 0:08 / 1:53 What Is MONOCULTURE? What Does MONOCULTURE Mean? MONOCULTURE Meaning, Definition & Explanation.” YouTube. August 16, 2016. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxEpaxJHrOU. “UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT: TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT REVIEW 2013.” TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT REVIEW 2013. 2013. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditcted2012d3_en.pdf. WBUR. “The Environmental Risks Of Corn Production.” The Environmental Risks Of Corn Production | Here & Now. June 11, 2014. Accessed October 10, 2018. http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2014/06/11/cornenvironmental-risks. TheRSAorg. “Winner: RSA / Nominet Trust Short Film Competition: Food Rules for Healthy People and Planet.” YouTube. December 20, 2013. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxyxANyTWeM.


Landscapes of Light

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oming back from Ecuador in 2016, I chose to focus on developing a concentration in my art class, a series of pieces that shows a sustained investigation of an idea. By doing so, I hoped to promote veneration and wonder for our constantly abstracting idea of the “environment”. After all, how can we expect people to protect the health of natural systems we have forgotten to admire? My pieces came to explore the dynamism of nature and promote this curiosity in viewers. I built my canvases with recycled canvas wood and hand mixed sustainably harvested pigments with walnut oil to avoid the toxic additives mixed into most commercially sold oil paints. I use color and a consistent mark with subtle variations to convey the balance between simple and complex that I perceive within nature. My work is static at first glance but increasingly

By Nicole Radlauer detailed when looked at longer. They can be seen as landscapes of the impact of light on our surroundings. My second series was inspired by my participation in the Costa Rica program. After returning, I decided to paint over photos that I took on my trip. By doing this, I highlight the presence of light and color in the photos, making them capture a feeling of liveliness that extends from the background into the people within the composition. I wanted to capture the energy and passion that I felt in this new environment, which radiated not only from Costa Rica’s amazing biodiversity, but also the people I was able to learn with and from on the trip.

Orange Ochre

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nicole Radlauer is from Tarrytown, New York, and currently finishing up her senior year of high school. She traveled with Sustainable Summer first on the 2016 Seeds of Change program and then on the 2018 Costa Rica trip. She hopes to study Environmental Studies in college, with her primary interests within that are food and agriculture.

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Hong Kong: An Oyster

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By Arthur Yao

haphazardly picked up the razorsharp knife which lay inside the shucking glove, trying my best to find any opening in the oyster that would give to my force. I kept flipping the poor oyster over in my hand, determined to shuck my first without any guidance. After five minutes of struggling, I eventually dug myself a small hole between the oyster’s valve. Feelings of anticipation flooded through me. I was determined to shuck this oyster. Moments later, a light “bup” sounded within my hands. Disarming the seagrass-covered top shell, I beheld a fresh oyster for the first time.

and human eyes. The oyster almost seemed to be outlined by black ink, with soft, light green flesh in the center. The gills surrounded the rest of the organs, where food and water is filtered. Then came the adductor muscles, the heart, the tentacles, the mantle and the intestines, each performing a specified task to sustain the life of the oyster. In some ways, the oyster reminds me of Hong Kong. The heart is the central government, monitoring the economy and regulating the people; the gills are the forests, wetlands, and marshes within Hong Kong; the narrow mountain roads resemble the intestines of an oyster, always functioning as a Within the shell was a coat of pathway for time-rushed citizens creamy white as the oyster’s base to reach their destinations; and last layer, similar to the color of a face but not least, we, humans, are the product. Within this whiteness lay colorless blood that pumps through a naked oyster, exposed to sunlight the transparent organs of the oyster,

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Photo by Arthur Yao

vital and omnipresent. You will find history in every street, every corner, and every alleyway of Hong Kong. This history serves to enrich the human experience of living in such a flagrantly cosmopolitan city. Gigantic skyscrapers fill blocks at a time with their reflective windows and fancy signage. Modern restaurants attract customers with their signature dishes. Newly constructed malls with namebrand shops populate the heart of the city. With such an advanced design of the city on an island, it begs the question of what else we can accomplish in the future. However, before we venture that far, let us reexamine the footprints we have left on this island. Take a bus into a rural neighborhood in Hong Kong, and you will encounter walls of buildings cracked beyond repair, cockroaches scattering at the sight of humans and loud air conditioners propped outside high windows, slowly dripping gray water onto the streets. Like the separate shells of an oyster, there are two sides to Hong Kong. Oysters are mainly cultivated in one area, Lau Fau Shan. This small fishing village in the southwest of Hong Kong has provided consistently delicious, fresh oysters to the city’s residence. Lau Fau Shan faces the magnificent skyline of Shenzhen, only separated by the waters of the Deep Bay. It is in this narrow channel that hundreds of floating metal cages are placed to feed the growing population. This method of cultivating oysters in Hong Kong has been practiced for seven hundred years, yet to this day, only thirty families continue to honor the traditional method passed down from generations above. Due


to intense labor, low pay, and luring city job offers, the new generation is slowly disrupting the business, as less and less people are willing to work in this field. This change in mindset of the young is severely disrupting the natural order in Hong Kong, and locals are scrambling to find ways to revive the industry. Particular means to increase incentives include increasing salaries or decreasing labor, which are both temporary solutions to a more ingrained problem.

head on, one of these institutions is the Nature Conservancy. As an intern in the Nature Conservancy, my work brought me places I never even knew existed. TNC’s goal is to maintain the oyster reefs in order to filter water and pollutants. It is their hope that cleaner water will bring back marine life and improve conditions for animals native to Hong Kong Bay like the endangered pink dolphin. During my two months working in the field, I identified and mapped oyster populations in various

sites within Hong Kong. Lau Fau Shan, Pak Nai, Tung Chung, Tai O and Yi O to name a few. Another job of mine, this one unofficial, was to raise awareness of sustainability in Hong Kong, specifically oysters. The industry has to be economically viable, socially acceptable, and environmentally conscious in order for it to thrive. Through word of mouth and social media, I spread the message of this little-known problem in Hong Kong, which affects all of us on a much larger scale.

Photo by Arthur Yao

With my work bringing me into every corner of Hong Kong, I saw firsthand the importance of protecting our natural environment, not just limited to oyster and sea grass beds, but also to our wetlands, forests, and nature reserves. Pak Nai is no exception. During my time in the Nature Conservancy, I visited this site on four separate occasions, each with a different goal in mind. Walking in knee deep mud is certainly not an easy task, however, these steps are necessary to ensure the Hong Kong oysters are well-documented and thoroughly researched.

Part of the reason the industry is declining is because of the 2013 Oyster scare. During this time, the media reported hazardous levels of bacteria and heavy metal in shellfish, causing public concern and abstinence from consuming oyster products. The effects of the 2013 scare can still be seen in Hong Kong’s consumption habits, as many local restaurants refuse to purchase oysters farmed in Hong Kong. Instead they turn their heads and order oysters in bulk from France. Many governmental programs and NGO’s have addressed this problem

Photo by Arthur Yao

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Photo by Arthur Yao

One of the objectives of the project our project was to determine the locations of seagrass beds, oyster beds, horseshoe crabs and find a correlation between the three. In other words, to test if there is a relationship between the three species, as all three seem inseparable at times. The method to determine correlation was to carry a hand-held Garmin device and walk around the patches where oyster and seagrass beds were present as the map automatically downloads itself into the device. For the horseshoe crabs, we took a picture of the crabs and uploaded the picture’s coordinates to a map. With all three elements on a map, we began to see a pattern emerge. Sites almost always start with oysters lower in the tide, after that, the seagrass beds follow, then the horseshoe crabs. The oysters serve as buffer for healthy horseshoe crab habitats, which are composed of soft mud containing a slight layer of water without any obstruction into the sea. Juveniles, carrying a soft shell in the exposed mud, are the main groups that our research focuses on to ensure their habitats are fully understood. Horseshoe crabs have been in the world before humans have, yet we

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still don’t know enough about them and their habitats to ensure they will continue to live on in the future. What we do know, however, through testing multiple hypothesizes, is that there is some type of correlation between horseshoe crabs and oysters, and it is only a matter of time before this relationship is confirmed.

in ultraviolet sterilized seawater for up to four days to remove bacteria from their system. With ten state of the art tanks, and a lab equipped only with the best machinery, oysters that emerge from this rigorous cleansing cycle will not only be safe to eat, they will be delicious. Through controlling key measurements of the water quality such as pH, temperature, oxygen levels and so on, scientists have achieved a new level of purity in their product. Not only do scientists control water quality, they control bacteria as well. Everyday, scientists sample the water and oysters for bacteria, even counting the number of individual bacteria, to ensure safe consumption for all. The walls of dilapidated buildings are being repainted here, the cockroaches that infest these oysters are being exterminated, and the air conditioners are being fixed to safeguard these oysters from another outbreak. The depuration center is a colossal step in reviving the oyster industry in Hong Kong. Over the past years, the community is slowly gaining farmers’ trust despite the incident in 2013. It is only a matter of time before oysters become commonplace on the dinner table yet again.

But how exactly are these oysters grown and harvested? A portion of the oysters grown in Deep Bay are transported into the Hong Kong Oyster Company’s Depuration Center. A milestone achievement, the image above shows the first depuration center to be opened Mudskippers fill the murky puddles in Hong Kong. Here, oysters are during the low tide. Cranes venture brought from Deep Bay and will sit

Photo by Arthur Yao


into the shallow mudflats in hopes of finding astray fish. Sea crabs bubble under the thick mud. It is a regular day on the job for oyster farmers in Hong Kong as they hop on their rustic boats and whir into the horizon. The tide comes and goes within the flash of an eye and farmers have to be prepared for a sudden retreat or attack in the waves. Out in the horizon, the cages bobble helplessly in the estuary with thousands of oysters within them. Farmers rely heavily on the oysters for their livelihood, therefore it is crucial for them to preserve the health and biodiversity of the species. Any disease or outbreak would immediately cripple their lives and collapse the industry. Similarly, it is the scientist’s job to keep the oysters thriving, undergoing regular monitoring and checkups. With all these safeguards in place, it is the consumers job to enjoy this delicacy freely. Walking into a local restaurant in Hong Kong, I sit down and customarily holler my order at the waitress with handfuls of plates stacked onto her hand: “YangZhou Fried Rice!” I take a seat, glancing at the people around me. People of all different types of skin colors, hair styles, and clothing seated in this crammed restaurant tucked into the corner of an alley, known in Hong Kong as the most authentic place to eat oysters. People’s plates piled up with wasted shells as they slurped the delicacy into their empty stomachs. Slurping the history, the architecture, the highways, the people of Hong Kong – all in one bite. But what they don’t know is that they might also be slurping the methane, the carbon dioxide, the runoff, and waste water into their stomachs. I suppose these are part of Hong Kong now as well.

aligns with my interests. I remember thinking to myself: I have to apply to this program. Prior to attending Sustainable Summer, I was most excited about meeting like-minded individuals from all over the country with the same passions of protecting the environment. Additionally, I also wanted to gain the experience of living independently with a roommate on a college campus for two weeks. Programs like these are a two-way relationship - I wanted to take what I learned from sustainable summer ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ​Arthur Yao is from Shanghai, China and and purposefully change the lives of currently a junior studying at Deerfield many. Academy. He was a participant in Sustainable Summer’s 2017 Dartmouth Q: Have there been any other classes program. He is particularly interested or programs that have inspired in sustainable agriculture and finding you or interested you in the realm solutions to feed the world - to of sustainability or environmental leadership/entrepreneurship? ultimately end world hunger. A: Definitely. In the summer of 2016, I went on a school trip to the Island School in Eleuthera to study how to protect endangered species, as well as how to create a sustainable Sustainable Summer intern Eana school environment. Later that Bacchiocchi interviews 2017 summer, I embarked on a two week Sustainable Summer participant, voyage on a skipjack and sailed across Arthur Yao, who has demonstrated the Chesapeake Bay, in which I environmental leadership within his learned the importance of our marine high school, Deerfield Academy. systems and methods to protect this Arthur speaks about his attempts precious resource. In addition to to implement green modes of my previous summer experiences, transportation on campus, as well as my school offers AP Environmental further sustainable projects he hopes Science, AP Seminar, and Research in Sustainability, which I plan to take to achieve on campus. by the time I graduate. Q: What brought you to Sustainable Summer? What were you hoping to gain from the experience? A: Sustainable Summer was introduced to me though my parents friends who highly recommended the program. After initially hearing about this program, I researched it and found out not only was it held on a prestigious campus, the programs mission statement directly

Q: Do you know of any other boarding school campuses that have implemented a program similar to GreenBikes? A: As of the moment, I don’t believe there are any boarding schools currently employing bike share services, but I can speak, from talking to students across other schools, that students have at least tried. One of the biggest obstacles that

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face students is the law, especially in Massachusetts, that if you are below the age of 16 you are required to wear a helmet. This was one of the reasons my idea of starting bike share initiative at my school failed. However, I know that certain college campuses have hired professional bike share services on the campuses. An example would be ZAGSTER operating on Dartmouth College’s campus, or Green Bikes operating on Bates college’s campus. Although the cost of maintaining and acquiring the bikes and bike stands are high, these college campuses pave the way for environmental stewardship.

with a concussion. This led the school to retract all the scooters due to liability issues. Another initiative, another setback, but my failure only fueled my success. Q: In what ways does or does not Deerfield Academy present itself as a sustainable campus? A: Sustainability initiatives and clubs have populated our campus in the past couple years. Whether that is a club discussion or an all-school meeting, students who are passionate about the environment will always have an outlet to express their interests. Not only are these initiatives springing up in our school, many other boarding schools and colleges are taking the same step forward to significantly reduce their carbon footprint. It has become a movement which has swept our institutions. Specifically at Deerfield, there are clubs such the EcoReps, which empowers students to monitor dorm trash disposal and educate younger students on the issue; there is the Sustainable Development club, which focuses on student-led projects and instilling an overarching sense of care for our environment. The school is incredibly responsive and supportive to studentled initiatives and has implement many of our own ideas. For example, the school sorts our trash into compost, landfill, cardboard, plastic, bottles, electronic waste, tissues, and pizza boxes ensuring nothing is disposed incorrectly; the school has also bought local ingredients around western Massachusetts for our dining hall and our community has also ended plastic straws and foam takeout boxes, switching to compostable materials.

Q: Did you do a campus survey to get a sense of student interest? A: A survey wasn’t needed, based on every single person I talked to around campus, they supported the Green Bikes program; they sincerely hoped I succeeded since it would make a big difference in travel time for those students. However, after pitching my idea to Student Life, I was shot down because of the rules and regulations of the State of Massachusetts. This was merely a roadblock in my way; I was determined to continue to make our campus more sustainable. My friend and I, Brigid Stoll, started another initiative called Green Scooters. Instead of riding bikes, students would ride scooters around campus. This idea, as a matter of fact, was accepted by the student body due to the recent popularity of scooters around campus. We customized 20 scooters and named them after Deerfield’s headmasters - a technique which hopefully would allow students to respect them. It was an instant success. Students rode scooters to class, to games, and to see their friends. However, there was Q: What are some other future projects another problem - a student fell on a for your Sustainable Development Club pavement one day and was diagnosed on campus?

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A: After failing once again, I wanted to take another route - to start an environmental club on campus. I started a club called the “Sustainable Development Club”, named after the United Nations Sustainable Development goals. As this is a relatively new club, some of the projects the school could benefit from is to eliminate plastic waste in our laundry services. As a matter of fact, our clothes usually come in two to three sheets of plastic as a protective layering. Instead, we are proposing to switch to reusable mesh covering. Another initiative we have discussed is to have a green wall - or in other words, a moss wall in our buildings. This would cover one side of the wall with live plants to purifying the air. Lastly, we hope to take Nature walks in the spring - a place where students can enjoy the beauty of Nature and all its benefits. Q: Looking towards the future, do you hope to pursue environmental or sustainability studies in college? You mentioned two very eco-friendly colleges in regards to their environmental stewardship- how important is that for you when you’re choosing colleges? A: As I am going on college visits to see what it the perfect fit for me, I want to attend college that genuinely cares about our environment. However, I also want to branch out and try out different fields of study when I grow up. Environmental Science is something that is apart of my life now, and even if I venture into the most unexpected fields of study, I will always have this innate care for the wellbeing of the environment since it is such a big part of who I am.


Waters of Ccotataki By Maclaine Sorden

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was finishing up our Costa Rica program last summer when I got a phone call from my Uncle Steve about a water project in Peru. He was wondering about my availability in the fall and whether or not I had any interest in joining him on a reconnaissance to the Sacred Valley region of the Peruvian Andes.

I could also be an asset on the trip. Arkan was pleased to have me along so I am grateful for the opportunity that he and his organization, Arawaka, have given me. ABOUT THE PROJECT Waters of Ccotataki is a grassroots, community-led collaboration to create permanent sources of water on Ccotataki’s land. A consistent source of water will provide a stable foundation for the community to continue living as their ancestors lived - closely connected with the land producing healthy and nourishing food. Ccotataki is home to about 300 families. The project seeks to stop migration to cities by empowering the young people to support themselves and their families while working in their ancestral lands of Ccotataki.

Steve had recently retired from working for a Soil and Water Conservation District in northern New Mexico. He was scouting the land while volunteering with a local non-profit, Arawaka, when he met the founders, Arkan Lushwala and Marylin Baeza. After learning of Steve’s land management and reclamation expertise, Arkan told him about a community in Peru needing some professional input. They decided to meet up over dinner and discussed some of the details of the community’s vision. When Arkan invited Steve to come down and Ccotataki is nestled into the tops of see the community, Steve thought the Peruvian Andes at about 4,000

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meters (~13,200 ft). The peaks that surround the community are over 5,000 meters (~16,000 ft.). For centuries, Quechua people and their culture have called this land their home. Traditionally, they had raised alpaca for wool, raised guinea pigs and grown fava beans, potatoes, vegetables, and basic grains for food, and used traditional earthen construction methods for shelter. The closest city is Pisac, about 1,500 meters lower than Ccotataki, which sits down in the Sacred Valley. In September of 2018, Steve and I spent 10 days in Peru, getting to know the community members, the project, and the surrounding areas. As we hiked up the watershed above the community to begin our understanding of the Ccotataki’s water supply, it was abundantly clear to me that I was back in Latin America- the entire village joined us. As we were told by the community, many of the traditions are still alive in the area, but some have faded

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Site Plan of Ccototaki because of circumstances outside of their control. Infrastructure paving nice roads to beautiful hotels in the valley offer unprecedented financial security to the region. The development of a tourism industry coupled with access to a few vehicles in a community have completely changed the definition of the marketplace to many of the elders in the communities above the valley. As money is poured into this booming tourist economy, the indigenous culture and traditions are becoming less and less prevalent.

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A group from the United States came to Ccotataki a decade ago with ideas about helping to finance future projects in the community. They gifted Eucalyptus trees so that they could sell timber when the trees matured. This idea wasn’t necessarily unheard of. Eucalyptus trees have been found in this region of the Andean mountains since the first time railroad tracks entered the highlands- almost a century ago. Priests and other members of the upper class were among the firsts to plant the tree in the area. The tree

quickly gained popularity because of how well it adapted to local climatic and soil conditions. It was fast growing and could withstand the Andean climate year round. This was at a time when Andean trees were disappearing after almost four hundred years of European style development so anything that could grow and stay healthy was desirable for the time. Groves of Eucalyptus soon became part of the Andean landscape. As it became more available, locals learned to use the plant. They learned to use the leaves aroma as a way to treat


respiratory illness, used the timber as both construction material and for firewood, and as a commodity to sell to restaurants dependent on wood for cooking. In recent years, however, the tree has become quite controversial. Eucalyptus trees have roots that strike deep into the ground, eliminating surface water in the surrounding regions. This eventually dries the top soil our, killing the habitat that once supported a diverse plant community, including native species of trees, shrubs, and grasses.

Photo by Maclaine Sorden

Despite the arrival of Eucalyptus to the region being within the last 100 years, you can look over any Andean mountain landscape today and you are sure to see patches of Eucalyptus trees, mostly along tributaries, perennial or intermittent streams, and in lower parts of valleys. Little did I realize that this tree would be such a primary focus for a sustainable water management plan. Steve and I spent our first night in the community of Pisac with Arkan and Marilyn upon arrival into the highlands. It was necessary for altitude adjustment and gave us a perfect opportunity to prepare for our visit to Ccotataki the following day.

Photo by Marilyn Baeza

Photo by Maclaine Sorden

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The Ccotataki community connected with Arkan through a chance meeting between Arkan and a taxi driver, Isidro, in the neighboring town of Pisac. Arkan appreciated the conversation and driving style of Isidro so much that he decided to ask for his number so that he could call for rides in the future. They have been good friends ever since. Isidro grew up in the Ccotataki and his family still lives there. Arkan introduced Steve and I to Isidro the night we arrived. As I met Isidro and talked with him about the history of the community, we learned the goals of the community project. OBJECTIVES: 1. To create permanent sources of water on the lands of the Ccotataki community at a capacity that provides all the water that is needed, especially when there is no rain, to be

able to produce healthier, nourishing and the struggle for survival is not food for the inhabitants and grass for the only occupation, new possibilities the animals for the entire year. open. It will be possible to dedicate themselves to other projects, such 2. Support the courage and hope of as agricultural, economic, health, the residents of Ccotataki so that cultural, environmental, artistic, and through their talents and innate social endeavors. These projects will abilities they assume the leadership be able to promote the flourishing of to develop economically, culturally the community, after having suffered and ecologically. The improvements 500 years of continuous deterioration in these three levels will allow the of their living conditions. community to have a long-term sustainable development that will 5. Due to its location in the heights benefit their descendants. of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the community of Ccotataki has the 3. Young people are leaving the capacity to be an example for other community to seek work in the cities. rural communities that surround This project can create conditions it. Once the main objectives of this for them to enjoy living in their land internal growth have been achieved, and have work that allows them to the community will be able to share its support themselves and their families experience and knowledge with other without living in material poverty. communities that wish to embark on the same path towards a future 4. Once the development of water that is economically, culturally, and sources solve the basic problems of ecologically sustainable. sustaining the lives of the inhabitants,

Photo by Marilyn Baeza

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6. Take advantage of the technological advances of the modern world, avoiding the loss of the values and customs of the original culture of the Andean people. The people of Ccotataki are direct descendants of wise Inca and Pre-Inca people whose science and way of life are in harmony with Mother Earth. These ways will be reactivated and will remain alive in Ccotataki. With these intentions in mind, Steve an I left for the community the next morning. We took the accent slowly in Isidro’s taxi as we climbed from 2750 meters to 4000 meters to arrive at the community. The men and women of the community held a ceremony, blessed and welcomed us to their home, and prepared a lunch. We had countless cups of tea, roasted fava beans, a few different varieties of their steamed potatoes, and of course, cuy, or what you may know as guinea pig. Over the four days of community meetings, walking the watersheds, and hearing stories of the communities past, Steve and I had a much better understanding of the history, current conditions, and culture of the community. The communities largest concern was their location within the watershed - very close to the headwaters - and the amount of available water at their altitude. It is estimated the community receives 22 - 25 inches (55 - 63 cm) of precipitation annually during the rainy season. Although precipitation patterns are less and less consistent now, the rainy season is typically from October to April. It appeared that the soil surrounding Ccotataki is fairly porous, resulting in most of this rainfall to be absorbed into the soil. There are, however, conditions that suggest that when the community

Photo by Maclaine Sorden

Photo by Maclaine Sorden

Photo by Marilyn Baeza

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CCOTATAKI

A view from the rocks above Paruzuna Pata of the water shed looking North.

Our initial assessment concluded the primary impacts to the water supply of the region to be: - Eucalyptus trees planted where water had been flowing - Existing waterways and springs are unprotected from animals - Lack of native vegetation on banks of waterways and springs - Water needs to be captured and slowed down where slope is steep - Soil type near water collection areas not suitable for water retention. Once our visit came to a close, we spent our last lunch talking to some of the community leaders about our observations and came up with a few recommendations before our departure. RECOMMENDATIONS:

CCOTATAKI

A view from the sky looking South.

PARUZUNA PATA

PUQUIO (SPRING) TO BE PROTECTED

COCHA CHAQOL CCOTATAKI

1. Protect the existing reservoir with andenes (terraces) and native vegetation once expansion project is complete. A fence (or some other infrastructure) needs to be considered for protecting Cocha Chaqol from roaming animals as well. 2. Construction of two small ponds in the area Paruzuna Pata. Design should incorporate a Condor, with both lakes serving as the wings. The middle of the two lakes will be the body and the community will design the head and tail with rocks in the area. The ponds will have multiple salidas. One will overflow from the upper ponds to the fertile agriculture land in the Northwest corner of the community via tubing. The other salida will eventually feed other constructed wetlands in the area between Paruzuna Pata and Cocha Chaqol.

A view from the Easterly slopes looking to the West. experiences a large rain event, (puquios) in the region, but finding overland flow is contributing to springs with a consistent flow all year multiple erosion paths in the area. round did prove to be challenging. As The soil type is largely silt with anticipated though, there were no varying sizes of other rock. We were springs large enough to create any able to observe clay layers where constant flow year round. The brook the community had dug holes for a that runs through town is stagnant 3. Begin practicing rainwater study done by the local government. for half of the year. harvesting techniques at different There was no shortage in springs scales throughout the community.

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PHASE 1 WATERLINE CCOTATAKI

S) ER ET M TH 50 G 19 EN (~ E L E N C LI UFA ER S AT OF W METERS 0 50 100 200 300 400 500

There are existing roofs (schools and library) where collection could begin this year when the community gains access to tanks. Regardless, the construction of 2 green houses in the community will provide more roofing for potential water harvesting as well. The two greenhouses will allow the

N

community to have a more reliable to different areas surrounding the means of cultivating vegetables for a community, especially in three main longer duration of the year. areas where Eucalyptus is removed, areas surrounding constructed 4. Re-vegetate the area with native wetlands or reservoirs to stabilize soil plants. These can be started in the and create ecological niches, and in viveros (greenhouses) for the first areas susceptible to further erosion. few years and then transplanted

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others, the project will be developed in four phases. The beginning of Phase 1 will start in April 2019, with the planned completion of all phases by the end of 2022.

5. Implement agriculture practices to improve soil fertility. The community uses techniques that have been handed down to them for generations. Some of these practices (tilling and leaving the soil turned over/exposed to sun) are damaging the soil’s fertility, as well as its’ water and air holding capacity. Most plant organic matter is taken from the fields to feed animals. Planting a cover crop after harvest, especially a nitrogen fixer, could dramatically improve the soil’s structure and ability to retain nutrients in plant available form.

PHASE 1 This first phase consists of the creation of two lagoons in the upper part of the community lands in an area called Paruzuna Pata. It includes the implementation of an aqueduct of 1.5 kilometers to bring water to the most extensive and fertile fields of the community. This first phase also looks at the creation of two large greenhouses that will allow for the cultivation of Photo by Maclaine Sorden vegetables in the coldest times of the 6. A small river flows through year. In addition, in this first phase Ccotataki. Erosion mitigation there will begin a series of training efforts need to take place upstream programs for community members, to prevent further undercutting related to project management, organization for damage. This can be addressed with community project development and finances, ‘pools’ to slow the water down. There environmental may also be areas where culverts are administration, protection, and the design of plans needed to protect roads. for healthy and productive reception After developing recommendations of visitors. These programs will be with the community members and carried out with the support of other leaders, we decided it was necessary organizations that have extensive to prioritize projects and set a time- experience working in communities line. Because many of the project of the Sacred Valley. This first ideas are subject to the success of phase also includes the extraction

PHASE 1 WATERLINE PROFILE

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of eucalyptus trees that use a large amount of water, especially in areas with potential for water harvesting. Some areas near the reservoirs will be reforested with up to 1000 native trees, named Chachacomas, that will be donated by the Pisac municipality. The purpose of this reforesting is to stabilize terrain, increase habitat, expand biodiversity, and build fertile soil. PHASE 2 Phase two consists of the creation of a third larger lagoon under the Pantipallana mountain, whose location can easily be fed by existing springs that will serve to irrigate a neighboring cultivation field with very special characteristics. One is its natural beauty – it is protected from wind. This area has been used for generations to produce varieties of dry potatoes, which are long lasting foods, such as moraya and chuño. PHASE 3 The lands of Ccotataki are very rich in natural springs, and up to thirty of them have been identified so far. This third phase consists of cleaning and improving the conditions of the springs, as well as creating containment structures for many of them. These will be placed in strategic areas where it will be possible to channel their waters for irrigation of crops and pastures for alpacas, vicuñas, llamas and sheep. PHASE 4 In the center of the town of Ccotataki, where there is a school for children, the communal center and several houses, there used to be a lagoon fed by groundwater. Some years ago this lagoon was drained with the intention of creating a soccer field to promote the sport in the community. Over time the members of the

community have agreed that draining this lagoon was a mistake that needs to be repaired. They have decided that the lagoon should be reactivated which is possible thanks to the spring that still lives below the soccer field. Phase four will focus on developing this area by reviving the lagoon and creating gardens of native plants and trees around it. This project of water development and embellishment of the town center includes creating structures around the lagoon to receive visitors who can appreciate the weavings, traditional foods, and different artistic expressions that are unique to this community. This last phase of the project will give greater impetus to develop cultural and tourist programs and relationships with other communities and beyond. These programs will result in important increased economic benefit. As Phase 1 commences in April, it will be most important that we primarily focus on the quality of the constructed wetlands. As mentioned beforehand, it the soil is quite porous in the region. If there is not adequate packing of clay, we are risking loosing all holding capacity and thus, potential to re-vegetate the watershed. We will have a backhoe from the municipality for a couple weeks, allowing adequate time to make sure each lagoon is functioning properly. Along with the construction of these wetlands, it is just as important that we take the necessary precautions to protect them with terraces as well. I have learned a lot so far throughout this project, and I’m sure I’ll be learning much more in April. Although this project is phased out over four years, there is no doubt that I have made some lifelong connections to Ccotataki and the

community. I am proud to have the privilege of representing action that promotes diversity, cross-cultural collaboration, and social justice. One day, I hope to be taking students like ours to this place.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maclaine Sorden is a Program Director for Sustainable Summer. He has lead Global Programs in Cuba, Costa Rica, and Ecuador for Sustainable Summer. He studied Sustainable Agriculture and Landscape Architecture at Iowa State University.

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A Green New Deal: Waiting for Polititians to Save Us from Ourselves

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By Jeff Sharpe

or years we’ve asked our students to read Michael Pollan’s Why Bother. First published 10 years ago, it is approaching canonical status in the environmental studies field. Many of our students have read it before, but it bears re-reading. I do it annually, at least. Why?

progressive politics since November. Although specific policy measures are not proposed, the GND’s goal is a 10-year mobilization of the nation’s resources to effectively transition the country to a carbonneutral economy. The plan calls for massive government investment to completely overhaul the energy, At the most basic level, Pollan asks us agriculture, manufacturing, and all to plant a garden. A simple act, and transportation sectors; upgrade “utterly inadequate to the challenge” all existing buildings for energy of climate change. His argument for efficiency; restore ecosystems; doing so, essentially, is that “for us to and build resiliency against wait for legislation or technology to climate-change related disasters. solve the problem of how we’re living our lives suggests we’re not really All this by 2030. And all while serious about changing–something guaranteeing well-paying, local our politicians cannot fail to notice.” jobs to anyone who wants one and protections for historically I can’t help but think of Pollan’s marginalized communities and piece in the context of the Green those most impacted by climate New Deal, a non-binding Resolution change. In short, this isn’t so much sponsored by Alexandria Ocasio- environmental policy as an ambitious Cortez, first-year Representative of vision for an economy that makes the New York and Senator Ed Markey “original” New Deal look like a rather of Massachusetts, revealed today modest social program in comparison. after bubbling to the surface of Consequently, it is no wonder

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GreenNewDeal_Presser_020719_(26_of_85)_(46105848855).jpg

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that House Democratic leadership has been cautious. The GND proposes a fundamental reordering of our economy and represents a massive near-term electoral liability for Democrats in swing states that are going to have to stand up to the withering criticism of creeping socialism, already emerging as the latest rallying cry to the Trump base. Coupling the problem of climate change to wage and job growth is an effective way to broaden the plan’s appeal, but also complicates the politics infinitely. In a concession to labor and moderates, the GND’s proponents walked back from a plan that called for the elimination of fossil fuels from our energy supply to one that allows for the “clean” use of fossil fuels and nuclear energy, to the chagrin of the more progressive environmental activists. From my vantage point, it is difficult not to view even this version of the GND as too ambitious. Let’s set aside the obvious arguments against the political viability of a GND (political gridlock, entrenched interests and corporate lobbying, the simple fact that our political system is designed to yield incremental - not wholesale - change, etc.) or the political liability that the democrats would own if it ever became legislation (assuming no or limited bipartisan support) in the form of unintended consequences, halfbaked legislation, or bumpy program rollouts (healthcare.gov anyone?). I’d like to ask a simpler question: Is the will of the people actually, truly behind this idea? And not just in a


“sure, I’m all for green jobs” kind of way. Is the will of the people behind this in a way that can withstand the onslaught of money and media that will be unleashed before the words “Green New Deal” are ever uttered in a Congressional committee hearing? Do enough people actually care? We’ve seen the political tide turn surprising quickly on social issues like gay marriage, but this is of a magnitude that dwarfs even healthcare reform, to say nothing of the inter- and transnational complications or the base-level assumption that Democrats will control both chambers of Congress and the presidency in 2020. Proponents of the GND have been quick to point out that the public supports the idea, but who wouldn’t be in favor of good jobs, a strong economy, and clean, renewable energy (as the GND was represented to poll respondents in a December 2018 survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication that showed even a majority of self-described conservative Republicans supported it)? You don’t have to look very hard to find examples of ideas with strong public support that nonetheless fail to become legislation even when one party controls government (exhibit #1: Hillarycare 1993; exhibit #2: the public has steadfastly favored increased regulation of Wall Street since the financial crisis). Elected leaders who have been through a legislative fight or twenty know that it is going to take a monumental effort to turn this aircraft carrier around. The war reference is apt because, from an economic perspective, the GND looks a lot like a war economy, where resources are allocated and mobilized towards a different set of production goals. One argument of GND proponents

is that an economy organized this way creates jobs, technical innovation, and long-run economic prosperity a la the United States in and following WWII. It all sounds great, especially when this war is being waged against environmentally harmful practices and social inequality, and not against actual people (except maybe some cartoon character, coalmine owning, industrialist pseudo-villains, like Don Blankenship of Massey Energy). HOW TO PAY FOR THE WAR The question of whether or not we can pay for a GND are less about how much money it will cost and more so about how scarce resources - labor, natural resources, etc - are deployed while avoiding inflation. John Maynard Keynes’ 1940 book How To Pay For the War provides a model for the economic arguments that underpin the GND. Keynes notably maintained (and it is probably analogous in the context of the economic scope of the GND) the need to reduce consumption and divert resources to the war effort. The economic mobilization proposed in the GND isn’t just about marshalling abstract government resources; it necessarily involves changing human behavior in significant ways. In economics, it is axiomatic that all goods are scarce. Whenever we make consumption decisions, we have to give something up. The cost of a Tesla Model 3 isn’t $35K in this sense; it is whatever else we didn’t spend $35K on. In fiscal terms, the federal government can spend trillions of dollars on a GND. How many trillions of dollars depends very much on other tax and spending decisions. Can we make the investments the GND calls for while also spending $580B annually on Medicaid and $600B

annually on military expenditures? Yes. Can we do so without raising taxes or cutting spending elsewhere? Probably not at the scale needed. By injecting money into the economy, the government puts resources to work. Those resources are finite. While government budget deficits aren’t inherently inflationary, we have an economy approaching full employment. The economic fundamentals for a large government spending program were stronger a decade ago, when unemployment was in the double-digits and deficit spending was sound economic policy. Indeed, that stimulus spending pulled our economy out of a liquidity trap without resulting in inflation and economic calamity. The case for a multi-trillion dollar stimulus program today, however, is questionable. I’m not going to feign fluency with the economic principles, but I will point out that the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) resulted in a comparatively modest $426B investment by the federal government over 8 years. We currently spend about 50% of federal discretionary budget spending on the military and as a share of GDP, discretionary spending is expected to “be equal to or less than spending in each of the two largest categories of mandatory programs, Social Security and Major Health Programs” by 2022, according to the Congressional Research Service. In other words, given the current macroeconomic conditions and government spending priorities, expansionary monetary policy will trigger inflation. Government needs to raise revenue or cut spending elsewhere. We have to give something up. I’m not inferring that the GND supporters don’t understand that concept. In an effort to maintain as large a base of

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support as possible behind the GND’s goals, the resolution is agnostic on the question of how to pay for it. Some on the far left argue that deficits never matter and that the US government can essentially print money to finance these investments ad infinitum. Again, I’m not going to assert anything other than a basic understanding of the arguments for or against this “modern monetary theory,” but it is a minority view and left-leaning economists, including the much pilloried from the right Paul Krugman, have debunked the idea. So how do you pay for it? A PRICE ON CARBON One obvious path forward is putting a price on carbon and other greenhouse gases, like methane, through a carbon tax and/or cap-and-trade scheme. Some progressives are critical of a carbon tax, believing that a marketbased solution to this problem is insufficient to the challenge and will effectively amount to a regressive tax, instead favoring a tax on the wealthy or financial transactions to fund programs. Indeed the consensus view of a carbon tax among the Democratic party’s left flank is perhaps best characterized as lukewarm, not ruling it out, but definitely not enthusiastic about it as a core component of a GND. “A carbon price could be part of a ‘Green New Deal,’ but it must not prioritize corporate profit over community burdens and benefits,” said a spokesperson for the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led non-profit and the most prominent progressive advocacy group behind the GND.

transportation and heating fuels would be administratively simply to implement. Imposing emission caps on industrial producers has already been successfully implemented in multiple US states, Canadian provinces, in Europe, and in China. Phasing caps and taxes in over time allows for predictability, something firms and households need to make investment decisions. Carbon pricing is one mechanism, and an important one, that can be leveraged to drive down emissions while funding investment in new technologies, public infrastructure, and other social and environmental programs, and returning a portion of the revenues to economically vulnerable populations so that it is tax-neutral on the earners that can least afford to pay it. As a market-based solution, it is also one of the more politically viable ways to reduce emissions since moderate Republicans have shown an indication to support some form of carbon pricing. As a basic rule of thumb, each dollar of tax per ton of CO2 would raise gasoline prices by about one cent per gallon. That means a $50 tax would add 50 cents a gallon to the price of gasoline. (Sweden’s carbon tax is currently about USD $130.) The price of other carbon-emitting energy sources would be impacted similarly. Broadening the carbon tax to include imports would be an economic necessity. Taxing or capping methane emissions, too, would be smart environmental policy since it is a potent greenhouse gas, and would be on of the simplest ways to reform the agriculture sector, one of the GND’s stated goals.

I don’t see how a GND exists without putting a price on carbon.. Some very rudimentary economic thinking tells COMMUNITY BURDENS AND us that if you want less of something, BENEFITS increase its price A carbon tax on

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The GND promises good jobs, a strong economy, and environmental justice. Who doesn’t want that. We all do. But what does our consumption look like in a Green New World? A few obvious examples come to mind immediately. No more SUVs and pickup trucks, at least not until we’ve mastered energy storage, except for the very wealthy. American car manufacturers have said that their business strategy depends on selling lots of higher margin large consumer vehicles to fund the development of electric vehicles, so how, too, do we ensure the financial health of these and other businesses as we transition to a carbon-neutral economy? And what of all of the stuff we get from China, delivered to our doorstep on-demand by Amazon at a bargain price. That’s possible in our current cheap energy globalized economy. We can talk about the electric vehicle revolution that is so clearly the future, but no such opportunities exist in the pipeline of ideas for the global shipping industry. We are so many decades away from solving that problem that it surely means consumers will have to pay more for, wait longer for, or go without many of the things that we have come to deem as necessities, like cell phones and TVs and whatever $20 item you ordered just this week that was undoubtedly manufactured somewhere halfway around the globe. Some would view this as part and parcel with laying the foundation for a resurgence in domestic manufacturing, but I think it is far more likely that we will simply pay more for less stuff. This is what happens when production costs that were externalized are now internalized. Price increases while units sold decreases. Not at all a bad thing from an environmental standpoint, but as a society we need


to be willing to pay more for less. million households, while community gardens tripled from 1 million to 3 I think also of our food supply. A million, a 200 percent increase. more localized and much less meatbased ag sector would be great for What level of home garden the environment and small farmers, participation indicate a society ready although the thought of a winter to embrace the GND? Is it 50%? subsisting on kale and rutabaga Higher? What if I don’t have a home makes even me want to reconsider garden, but I don’t own a car, buy whether it’s worth the sacrifice. I’m only local produce, have divested being overly dramatic, I hope (winter from fossil fuels in my investment lettuce does fine in a greenhouse accounts and electric supply, and am with minimal energy inputs), a recycling and composting zealot? but the issue of food production ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeff is the brings us back full circle to Pollan. Obviously, the Pollan test doesn’t co-founder and Executive Director at stand up to scrutiny, but I do wonder Sustainable Summer. Pollan surmised that politicians how genuine the appetite is for a aren’t going to take serious action GND. I’m sure some proponents on climate change unless society of the GND will say that my indicates that were serious about understanding of the proposal is the issue. Are we? In the 10 years misguided, pointing to the hypocrisy since Pollan’s call-to-action, have of spending trillions on wars or tax we planted enough gardens to get cuts for the wealthy that could be the attention of the powerful, the diverted toward decarbonization and corporate and political leaders that a massive public works bil, and the can deliver us to green salvation if many revenue generation options only the public will indicate that we that could be used to pay for it, such will buy that electric car if you’ll just as a carbon tax or a tax on financial manufacture it and we will vote you transaction of the high-income into office if you support a carbon tax? earners. Currently there are no concrete numbers attached to the The victory gardens of the first and GND. But no matter what the price second world wars were one hallmark tag, I don’t see how this legislation example of the public’s support of the moves forward without willingness war effort. Producing some of our of the public to accept that decisions own food at home, or in a community about production and consumption garden, was one important way the are going to be fundamentally economy was reorganized. As a impacted. That is going to terrify gauge of the public’s readiness to get a lot of people, even if assurances behind a GND, perhaps we would use are provided that their taxes won’t the “Pollan test” - the percentage of go up and their job won’t be lost. households producing a portion of their own food? According to a 2014 report by the National Gardening Association one in three households are now growing food in a home garden. Between 2008 and 2013, spending on food gardening increased 40 percent and the number of home gardens increased by 4 million to 37

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About Amaranthus

maranthus is an annual publication by Sustainable Learning, a Brooklyn, NY-based 501(c)(3) notfor-profit that specializes in youth environmental leadership programming. The publication’s purpose is to cultivate an intellectual and emotional connection​ within our community. It is distributed to few thousand readers from our community of program alums and their parents, educators from a variety of disciplines, and the general public that shares an interest in educating for sustainability, youth leadership development, and environmentally-conscious living. Our editorial approach is similar to that of a subscription-based commercial magazine. We do not assume that our ​publication will be read and enjoyed simply because its recipients have an affiliation with ​Sustainable Learning. We strive to deliver a publication that is stylish, engaging and relevant, with demanding standards for writing, editing and design. Every article in ​Amaranthus has some c​ onnection​to Sustainable Learning’s mission of cultivating the next generation of environmental leaders​. These may be from a program alum or from a staff member. Anything that we can put in a digital journal will be considered as long as it speaks to the topics of environmental leadership, education, and/or activism.

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If you are interested in submitting to next year’s edition, please email your submission ​​ to journal@ sustainablesummer.org​by December 31st, 2019. REQUIREMENTS: Although not intended to be an exhaustive list, we will consider publication of​the following: - creative pieces - photography and illustrations - critical essays - DIY projects ​- academic writing - product and book reviews If your piece will help others be environmental leaders in their communities and can be included in a printed publication, we’d like to take a look. Prose submissions should be ​​500 ​- 15,000 ​words​; the majority of published material is under 3,000 words. All photos and other graphics should be the highest possible resolution, ideally 300 dpi, and include relevant metadata (caption, location, etc). We prefer polished manuscripts to “first drafts,” with the understanding that revisions, additional research and some rewriting may be necessary. Writers will be consulted on revisions; they will not be consulted during copy fitting.


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