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Action Project Issue, April 2014

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Since 1892




“…the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

action project 2


Action Project Issue, April 2014

An independent student newspaper, serving the University of Wisconsin-Madison community since 1892 Volume 123, Issue 105

2142 Vilas Communication Hall 821 University Avenue Madison, Wis., 53706-1497 (608) 262-8000 • fax (608) 262-8100

News and Editorial

Editor-in-Chief Abigail Becker

Managing Editor Mara Jezior

News Team News Manager Sam Cusick Campus Editor Adelina Yankova College Editor Emily Gerber City Editor Patricia Johnson State Editor Eoin Cottrell Associate News Editor Dana Kampa Features Editor Melissa Howison Opinion Editors Haleigh Amant • Ryan Bullen Editorial Board Chair Anna Duffin Arts Editors Cheyenne Langkamp • Sean Reichard Sports Editors Brett Bachman • Jonah Beleckis Almanac Editors Andy Holsteen • Kane Kaiman Photo Editors Courtney Kessler • Jane Thompson Graphics Editors Mikaela Albright • Haley Henschel Multimedia Editor Amy Gruntner • Grey Satterfield Science Editor Nia Sathiamoorthi Life & Style Editor Katy Hertel Special Pages Editor Samy Moskol Social Media Manager Rachel Wanat Copy Chiefs Vince Huth • Justine Jones Maya Miller • Kayla Schmidt Copy Editors Kara Evenson

Business and Advertising Business Manager Tyler Reindl Advertising Manager Jordan Laeyendecker Assistant Advertising Manager Corissa Pennow Account Executives Brianna Albee • Erin Aubrey Michael Metzler • Dan Shanahan Tim Smoot • Elisa Wiseman Marketing Director Cooper Boland

The Daily Cardinal is a nonprofit organization run by its staff members and elected editors. It receives no funds from the university. Operating revenue is generated from advertising and subscription sales. The Daily Cardinal is published weekdays and distributed at the University of WisconsinMadison and its surrounding community with a circulation of 10,000. Capital Newspapers, Inc. is the Cardinal’s printer. The Daily Cardinal is printed on recycled paper. The Cardinal is a member of the Associated Collegiate Press and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. All copy, photographs and graphics appearing in The Daily Cardinal are the sole property of the Cardinal and may not be reproduced without written permission of the editor in chief. The Daily Cardinal accepts advertising representing a wide range of views. This acceptance does not imply agreement with the views expressed. The Cardinal reserves the right to reject advertisements judged offensive based on imagery, wording or both. Complaints: News and editorial complaints should be presented to the editor in chief. Business and advertising complaints should be presented to the business manager. Letters Policy: Letters must be word processed and must include contact information. No anonymous letters will be printed. All letters to the editor will be printed at the discretion of The Daily Cardinal. Letters may be sent to opinion@

Editorial Board Haleigh Amant • Abigail Becker Ryan Bullen • Anna Duffin Mara Jezior • Cheyenne Langkamp Tyler Nickerson • Michael Penn Nikki Stout

Board of Directors Herman Baumann, President Abigail Becker • Mara Jezior Jennifer Sereno • Stephen DiTullio Jacob Sattler • Janet Larson Don Miner • Phil Brinkman Jason Stein • Nancy Sandy Tina Zavoral © 2013, The Daily Cardinal Media Corporation ISSN 0011-5398

From the management desk

Making a more sustainable future the priority



hat can we do to ensure a blueprint for tomorrow? Create a GREENprint. And by that we mean environmentally sustainable plans that will propel us into a prosperous future. Ensuring the future of our planet is a global issue, but The Daily Cardinal wanted to delve into the topic on a local and individual level, from initiatives going on within the university, the city of Madison and Dane County. With Earth Day this week, it seemed like a perfect time to explore the idea of sustainability. What we found is that individuals in the community are already creating change for the better, but there’s always more that can be done. To have the greatest positive effect on the environment, change needs to start at a grassroots level. These results can come from being aware of composting services in the city to becoming actively involved in the Associated Students of Madison Green Fund program. As members of the Madison community, we need to take personal responsibility for how our actions affect our world. The state of the environment as well as per-

sonal attitudes toward sustainable actions are a result of a combination of individual decisions. As a community, we need to be informed about how the choices we make on a daily basis affect the long-term health of the environment. While this issue delves into a variety of issues and ways to become more environmentally sustainable, we want to hear your thoughts on the state of the environment, specifically sustainable

issues affecting UW-Madison and the surrounding community. Are there specific measures you take to reduce your carbon footprint? Do you actively take steps to minimize your potentially long-lasting effect on the environment? Join in the conversation by emailing actionproject@ or tweeting at #dcactionproject. As The Daily Cardinal staff completes the final installment of


the Action Project series, we would like to give a huge thanks to our staff and all who contributed to each of the Action Project editions, especially our features editor Melissa Howison, for embracing this series and making it impactful. This is one of the highlights of the year for us at the Cardinal, and we hope the project has had a positive, influential impact on campus. We hope that you as readers have had a chance to delve into topics facing the UW-Madison campus community as much as we have. Creating change in any area—campus climate, the state of higher education and environmental sustainability—comes first from starting conversations. We hope that you will continue to join in these discussions with fellow Badgers to foster debate and hopefully create possible solutions to issues affecting the UW-Madison community. Speak out and be a part of the change. The Daily Cardinal would like to acknowledge the charitable arm of The Capital Times for providing the funds to make the Action Project series possible. Let us know what you think by emailing or tweeting at #dcactionproject. The Action Project issue will be on stands all week. Please check for all daily news coverage.

The Daily Cardinal would like to recognize

The Evjue Foundation, Inc. (the charitable arm of The Capital Times)

for providing the funds to make the Action Project possible.


For the record Corrections or clarifications? Call The Daily Cardinal office at 608-262-8000 or send an email to



Action Project Issue, April 2014



Building a more sustainable future for uw Campus officials strive to use 2005 Campus Master Plan to create and maintain a ‘greener’ UW


Story by Maija Inveiss y creating and renovating campus b uildings in an environmentally

sustainable manner, the University of



a n d p re s e r ve s i t s c o m m i t m e n t t o prog ress, a wareness and innovation. “A renewed sense of space renews thinking and encourages and inspires us to do better,” said Angela Pakes Ahlman, external relations director in the Office of Sustainability. Ahlman helped implement the 2005 UW-Madison Master Plan, which outlines goals for buildings, open spaces, transportation and utility systems on campus. The university releases an updated Master Plan every 10 years, and 2005 was the first time the authors identified sustainability as the No. 1 goal.

structed Union South trimmed down energy consumption by 37 percent using vertical sun louvers, occupancy sensors and a technique known as “daylighting” to harness natural heat. Union South has a strong Wisconsin backstory, which enriches the unique building design and adds to its sustainability. One striking element is that 26 percent of the building materials originated in Wisconsin, and most of the other materials came from within a 500-mile radius of Madison.

"Right now, a sustainable building needs to have all sorts of eco-decorations ... all sorts of things that people can see, but sustainability is usually hidden." John Nelson

adjunct professor College of Engineering

According to the Master Plan, sustainability implies using “green” building designs, materials and techniques when creating and renovating campus buildings. It also refers to reducing energy and water consumption, especially because heating and cooling campus buildings comprises 83 percent of overall energy use. In accordance with the 2005 Master Plan, the newly con-

For example, the floor in Union South’s Varsity Hall is repurposed wood from a Wisconsin barn. Additionally, the ashlar sandstone around the fireplace was quarried from Mosinee, Wis. “These are timeless materials that read a sense of organic and warmth to the building, and students and community members just love it,” Ahlman said. “They come here because


When first constructed, Union South cut down energy consumption by 37 percent using occupancy light sensors, vertical sun louvers and “daylighting” to harness natural heat. they want to be there, not because they have to be there.” Ahlman said it was equally as cost-effective to demolish the old union as it would have been to renovate it. According to John Nelson, an adjunct professor in the College of Engineering, it is more important to look at the resources needed to operate a building over its life cycle than general construction when evaluating its economy. Although sustainable building features may cost more than less environmentally friendly alternatives, the change will make a difference in long-term energy and maintenance costs. “It’s not years one to five that matter, it is years five to 50,” Nelson said. Additionally, Nelson said he believes many of the sustainable building elements use symbolic components rather than substantive features to appeal to the public’s emotions. “Right now, a sustainable building needs to have all sorts of eco-decorations … all sorts of things that people can see, but

sustainability is usually hidden,” Nelson said. While the university is making large leaps in the direction of positive sustainable building practices, there is still room for improvement. Nelson said he believes the technology in sustainable building practices will drastically improve once it is based on science instead of emotions. Other projects in the Master Plan include the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery and the Education Building, both of which include sustainable features.

and Environmental Design certifications, although it was not a goal of the Master Plan. According to its website, LEED is a United States Green Building Council certification program, which tracks sustainable building practices. Building project teams choose from three different certifications and can earn points to eventually reach that goal. Based on the state of Wisconsin standards alone, Brown said a silver LEED certification is always achievable.

"The most sustainable buildings, you don’t have to build; it’s a building that you already have." Gary Brown

director Facilities Planning and Management

Gary Brown, director of Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture, said many of the new buildings received Leadership in Energy


Union South is one of two college and university unions across the country that have received a gold LEED certification.

Although LEED certifications bolster the university’s reputation—Union South is one of the two college unions nationwide to receive a gold LEED certification—Brown said the primary goal of the Plan never centered on receiving any specific ratings. Brown also said he hopes sustainable building practices will become second nature in the future, and believes the focus in the next Master Plan will shift from buildings to outdoor spaces. “We are going to spend a lot of time looking at the landscape and site elements … And a little less time on buildings,” Brown said. “Because the most sustainable buildings, you don’t have to build; it’s a building that you already have.” Ahlman said the 2005 Master Plan successfully kick-started the effort to improve environmental sustainability on campus, and said she hopes the new “green” buildings will inspire future Badgers to continue innovating and making campus even better. “These are not things that happen overnight, it takes a lot of effort and a lot of great student voice to move things along,” Ahlman said.

news City officials expand composting effort l


Action Project Issue, April 2014

City hosts events, free classes to boost waste reduction Story by Irene Burski


lthough once considered an infeasible and costly option for homeowners, Madison city officials and residents now recognize composting as a crucial element to city-wide sustainability. “It is very feasible,” said Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8. Compost, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, consists of naturally cultivating organic waste material, which can then be used to supplement soil and grow plants.





pollution and reduce the need to use fertilizers and pesticides. In a 2012 Organic Waste Systems study, researchers found Madison diverts approximately 66 percent of its “waste stream” away from landfills through recycling and composting. Madison event planners and city officials contributed to the diversion by adopting new practices and committing to policies that facilitate green methods respectively. For example, organizers of La Fete de Marquette, held last July, used all compostable tableware for the celebration, according to a statement. City officials praised their efforts as a model for future expenditures.

took with

some a




composting, you can divert almost all the trash from the landfill." George Dreckmann

coordinator Madison Recycling

The potential of composting is being seriously explored and implemented in Madison, both as a backyard and commercial effort, due to the benefits of diverting this waste from landfills. Additionally, composting byproducts can be used to enrich soil, prevent methane

La Fete de Marquette event planners composted and recycled more than 1,100 pounds, while only sending 57 pounds of waste to the landfill, according to the statement. “The effort took some advanced planning but with a commitment to composting, you

can divert almost all the trash from the landfill,” Madison Recycling Coordinator George Dreckmann said in the release. A proposal to expand the “curbside composting” initiative also took a prominent position on the local stage in the October 2013 city budget discussions for the 2014 fiscal year, according to Resnick. B r o u g h t forward by Madisonians as a leading concern through an Internet voting program called “IdeaScale,” Re s n i ck cited the expansion of curbside composting as particularly beneficial to reach more densely populated areas of Madison. The current pilot program includes neighborhoods in District 6 on Madison’s East side and District 7 on Madison’s West side. However, an additional 1,600 households, eight to 10 restaurants and one grocery store will be added by this July, according to Dreckmann. City Council’s final approval of the 2014 budget in November 2013 provided funding for the expansion. Madison currently sends compost collected through

the pilot program to Oshkosh, Wis., which has the capacity to fully break down and dispose of the

plan is to succeed, which aims to reuse or recycle all materials, implementing a biodigester is crucial, according to the study. In addition to building compost infrastructure, Resnick said city officials are working to educate residents about how to compost on a smaller scale. An estimated 43 people attended a recent introductory composting class Dreckmann taught, sponsored by the Madison Public Library, at Pinney Library April 13, according to Digital Services & Marketing Manager Tana Elias. She said similar library events in the past typically attracted only 20 to 30 attendees. At t e n de e s learn which materials are GRAPHIC BY HALEY HENSCHEL compostable and where to store their materials with a biodigester. compost bin, in addition to basic However, Dreckmann said he household compost management. hopes Madison will have an While the program has operational biodigester by 2017, been in place for multiple negating the need for compost years, Elias did note a growing disposal outsourcing. interest, as evidenced by the The 2012 OWS study esti- improved turnout. mates it would cost the city As residents and city officials approximately $15 million to strengthen their collective cominstall and operate a biodigester mitment, Resnick said he expects in Madison. However, the study environmentally friendly initiaprojects the significant initial tives will become be more prevacost would rival landfill-dump- lent in the near future. ing costs in the long run, espe“I see city officials very cially if offset with revenues supportive of composting from renewable energy sources. and going-green initiatives,” If Madison’s “zero-waste” Resnick said.


UW student makes strides for campus sustainability efforts By Daniella Emanuel The Daily Cardinal

Before garnering national recognition as one of 50 students awarded the 2014 Udall Scholarship, University of Wisconsin-Madison junior Colin Higgins founded the Associated Students of Madison Sustainability Committee and helped run a competition between residence halls to reduce electricity use.

to a UW-Madison news release. Higgins, a student leader in the Office of Sustainability, said his passion for the environment began in high school when he would run past the Pheasant Branch Conservancy during cross-country practice in Middleton and notice all the ecological relations that occurred between the different plants and animals.

"With choosing to bike instead of drive somewhere, one person adds a very small amount, but multiply that by every college graduate ... That becomes a much larger impact." Colin Higgins

junior UW-Madison

The Udall Foundation selects students with a noted commitment to progress on their respective campuses and who want to pursue a career in Native American policies or the environmental world, according

“When I came to college I thought I was really interested in environmental science,” Higgins said. “More and more I realized that it was sort of the social and political relationship that runs throughout society

that actually had an impact on the environment and that’s sort of where I turned my focus.” Higgins is triple-majoring in history, geography and environmental studies. He said his coursework made him aware of a gap hindering eco-friendly initiatives on campus and inspired him to close that gap as an ASM representative. “One of the papers I wrote was sort of about how there needs to be an institutional backing for sustainability,” Higgins said. “And mulling on the thoughts from that course I began to conceive the [sustainability] committee.” He wrote the legislation the summer going into his sophomore year. Higgins said he believes student engagement with environmental sustainability on campus has increased and UW-Madison housing in particular has made strides in reducing waste during the move-in and move-out phases of the year. “At first it is sort of a death by a thousand cuts, but in reverse, people’s small actions do add up,” he said. “With choosing


UW-Madison junior Colin Higgins won a 2014 Udall Scholarship to pursue a career in environmental studies. to bike instead of drive somewhere, one person adds a very small amount, but multiply that by every college graduate … That becomes a much larger impact and living in a sustainable manner is very easy.”

Higgins will meet the other 49 Udall Scholarship recipients in Tucson, Ariz., this August to discuss how to solve some of the issues in the fields of environmental policy and Native American policy.


Action Project Issue, April 2014 5


Spiny water flea threatens health of Lake Mendota



Story by Conor Murphy erched in sunburst chairs at the Memorial Union Terrace, visitors admire the view of Lake Mendota and its expan-

sive shoreline. The surface is smooth as glass on a calm day, but beneath, an invasive species runs rampant. The spiny water flea, native to Russia and Northern Europe, took hold of Lake Mendota in the summer of 2009, according to Limnology Ph.D student Jake Walsh. “[Limnology professor] Jake Vander Zanden took a bunch of students out for basic limnolog-


The year spiny water fleas were discovered in Lake Mendota


drop of Daphnia pulicaria

concentration in Lake Mendota

ical samplings, and when one student pulled up a zooplankton net and put it in a jar, it was like spiny water flea applesauce,” Walsh said. “It was so dense, and it was shocking because he had never seen them in Lake Mendota before.” Walsh said it is difficult to

Water Clarity Depth: (in meters)

4.578 2013: 3.441 2009:


The number of lakes

in the Yahara Watershed

pinpoint exactly when the spiny water flea invaded Lake Mendota, but he said he is confident boats transported the fleas from Lake Michigan, where they have been present for more than 30 years. “Studies on spiny water fleas have found that most of spiny water fleas being transported across land is through boats,” Walsh said. Walsh said the concentration of Daphnia zooplankton dropped more than 90 percent due to the spiny water flea’s invasion. The spiny water flea is one of several freshwater zooplankton species in Madison area lakes, according to Walsh. However, it differs in that it eats Daphnia pulicaria, a beneficial species that reduces harmful algae. The reduction in Daphnia pulicaria has led to higher algae concentrations and caused Lake Mendota’s water clarity depth to drop from 4.578 meters to 3.441 meters, which is a substantial drop, according to Walsh. Diminishing water clarity disables sunlight from reaching native

plankton, thereby disrupting the natural flow of energy within Lake Mendota’s food chain. “The main driver of algae in this lake is manure runoff from farms,” Walsh said. “Spiny water fleas are relatively useless in containing the phosphorus levels like other zooplankton, so their presence wastes energy.” Walsh said the reduction in Daphnia pulicaria puts added pressure on those working to decrease phosphorus loading because with-




species gets into a lake or environment, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it." Tim Campbell

aquatic invasive species outreach specialist UW-Madison Sea Grant Institute

out a natural control method in Lake Mendota, phosphorus levels will continue to rise. Through Walsh’s research into the spiny water flea’s impact on the local ecosystem, he discovered Lake Mendota has the highest water flea concentration compared to any place the flea has inhabited

across the globe. Tim Campbell, the aquatic invasive species outreach specialist at UW-Madison’s Sea Grant Institute, said Lake Mendota does not have any natural methods to control the water flea, which poses the gravest problem. “They’re not only eating native zooplankton, they’re also too big for our native fish to eat,” Campbell said. “Once an invasive species gets into a lake or environment, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it.” Campbell focuses his efforts on containing the spiny water flea population. Campbell is working alongside the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department to prevent spreading the spiny water flea to surrounding water sources by informing boaters and fishing enthusiasts about the risks, according to Dane County Water Resource Planner Pete Jopke. Jopke said initiatives such as “Clean Boats, Clean Waters,” place large signs near major docks to educate boaters. “We don’t want people to introduce invasive species accidentally,” Jopke said. “And that’s our main goal with the educational programs.” Despite the containment, Jopke is skeptical as to whether the spiny water flea population will ever decline, because there is currently no natural biological method of eradicating the species. “I don’t think there’s any silver bullet to the problems of [the spiny water flea],” Jopke said. However, Campbell said he is

"Spiny water fleas are relatively useless in containing the phosphorus levels like other zooplankton, so their pres-

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ence wastes energy." Jake Walsh

limnology Ph.D student UW-Madison

optimistic the ecological make-up of the lake will resolve itself in the long run, as seen in Lake Erie after pollution nearly decimated the fish population in the 1970s. “Nature is going to be fine,” Campbell said. “Nature hates to waste energy; it’ll figure out how to use it, just like we’re seeing in the Great Lakes.”

news 6


Action Project Issue, April 2014

Funding for a 'green' future tommy yonash/the daily cardinal

Green Fund aims to renew environmental dedication

Story by Gillian McBride


s is often the case when major institutional budgets are adapted to meet cultural demands, the Associated Students of Madison’s new Green Fund met its fair share of scrutiny in 2014. Fortunately, months of conflict have not swayed ASM Sustainability Committee Chair Will Mulhern. As a key member in the push to redistribute segregated fees toward the $80,000 fund, he happily noted far more eligible projects were submitted to the Green Fund than he expected. “I tend to think conflict doesn’t always have to be the worst thing possible,” Mulhern, a University of Wisconsin-

Madison sophomore, said. The ASM budgetary committee approved the Green Fund in November 2013, inciting months of negotiations over its bylaws, application process and selection procedures until its February 2014 implementation. Student organizations were able to begin applying for project grants in March. An appointed board of seven student government and campus representatives are reviewing grant proposals for the fall 2014 semester. To receive funding, Mulhern said projects must “concretely affect campus” and the surrounding community in one of the six designated areas: food systems, ecological restoration, energy efficiency, water efficiency or transportation. Green Fund Advisory Board members critique applications using a seven-point system to ensure the projects are fiscally responsible, realistic and will implement real change. “We have to make sure we’re being responsible and not recklessly spending student money,” Mulhern said. However, Aaron Conradt, a UW-Madison sophomore applying


$12 Harvard University

University of Vermont


Data compiled from The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education *amounts in millions

for the fund, said he feels the bylaws and selection process are limiting. His “edible landscapes” idea aims to more productively use campus lawns, such as those near the Charter Street Plant and Gordon Commons by planting vegetable gardens and trees and creating seating areas. Conradt received near-unanimous support from student government and university administration officials but encountered problems securing plans for specific locations without official approval and vice versa. “No one wants to say yes to what might not happen,” Conradt said. He called the application process “disappointing and basic” and said although the Green Fund covers construction and supply costs, long-term planning is complicated by its restrictions disallowing it to compensate student labor and event costs. The application and bylaws resulted from a series of deliberations with ASM and the UW Office of Legal Affairs about how to appropriately allocate segregated fees, according to Mulhern. Mulhern said he learned student segregated fees cannot be used to finance student research or employment, and developed the sevenpoint system as a viewpoint-neutral selection method. “There’s always hoops to jump through and red tape,” admitted Mulhern, “but as unfortunate as that is, it’s worth it,” he said. UW-Madison students Katherine Kokkinias and Alexandra Schwartz agree, which is why they combined their resources to establish a hybrid model of their respective branches of the Food Recovery Network and the Campus Kitchens Project. Both programs operate to redistribute leftover perishable food from college dining halls to areas of food insecurity. According to Kokkinias and Schwartz, the Green Fund could cover the cost of establishing the required student organization and provide necessary supplies. However, approval requires sponsorship from an existing student organization as well as letters of recommendation from one faculty member and one administrative member, all of which have been difficult to obtain. Kokkinias attributes this in part to how few people are familiar with the Good Samaritan Act. The act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, encourages people to donate any food to a non-profit organization regardless of quality by removing the fear of liability. As food from UW-Madison’s dining halls is state property, Kokkinias said she understands the university’s hesitancy about food redistribution. However, she and Schwartz said their larger obstacles lay not in the legal concerns, but in others’ perceptions of their efforts. “I get that pushback because



University of MinnesotaTwin Cities

University of Illinois, UrbanaChampaign


Data compiled from The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education *amounts in millions ‘you’re young,’ because ‘you don’t know the world,’” Kokkinias said. Schwartz was also criticized for her privilege as a white college student despite her aspirations. She said she is concerned her position might influence how the Madison community receives Campus Kitchens Project’s services, which include running community gardens, teaching cooking classes at local kitchens and providing job training in these areas.

She explained the projects help resolve social inequities in distributing food more equally among communities. Conradt agrees these projects consider both sides of the equation and compensate for the decoupling between human consumption habits and the environment. “[People] have no idea where their food comes from, so [they] don’t understand you can’t just have it all,” he said.

"[People] have no idea where their food comes from, so [they] don’t understand you can’t just have it all.” Aaron Conradt

sophomore UW-Madison

“I don’t want anyone perceiving our group as, ‘oh, these are some wealthy white students who want to feel like they’re helping,’” she explained. Schwartz contends she and Kokkinias are aware of the issues, which helps them build cross-community relationships and design projects that are able to overcome inequities. Kokkinias expressed a similar sentiment. “It’s about treating people like they’re people, not looking down on people like ‘you need help,’” Kokkinias said.

He also noted how this contradicts the intention of UW-Madison as a land grant university, advancing understandings of the agricultural and engineering fields. According to Kokkinias, Green Fund projects will help reclaim that ideal through a better understanding of the UW-Madison campus in terms of its communities. In fact, she said the change is already happening. “There’s a giant food movement that’s happening in the Madison community,” she said. “And we’re not just providing food ... we’re feeding the community’s needs.”

Join us for a discussion on ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY 7:30 - 9:00 PM THURSDAY, APRIL 24 MEMORIAL UNION UPCOMING EVENTS Recap of the book of Romans


Stories of Graduating Seniors


Check Out: for details!

Action Project Issue, April 2014




Riding on two wheels in a world of four Madison’s bicycle advocates maintain optimism despite facing municipal, state opposition Story by Melissa Howison


adison may boast the 9th highest percentage of bicycle commuters in American cities, according to the League of American Bicyclists, but it’s still an automobile’s paradise. And it’s not easy having two wheels in a world with four. Chuck Strawser, the bicycle coordinator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Transportation Services, attributes much of the pushback he and local enthusiasts face when advocating for improved infrastructure to misunderstandings about the logistics of bicycle commuting. The recent reconstruction of East Washington Avenue is a good example. Strawser said his appeals for a well-defined bicycle amenity were often met with: “Why in the world would anyone want to ride their bike down East Washington Avenue?” “Most people don’t,” Strawser responded. “Most people are going to choose a more pleasant alternative for through travel, but if your destination is on East Washington Avenue, you’re going to have to get on the street at some point in order to get to your destination.” Therefore, Strawser said not providing bicyclists the same access as motorists severely limits the scope of efforts to increase environmentally conscious modes of transportation. “It would be like saying for people who drive cars: ‘Well that’s fine, you can drive a car, but you have to stay on the interstate,’” he said. Despite such challenges, Madison enjoys a strong bicycling community relative to other parts of the country, according to Strawser. However, when compared to many Northern

European towns, Strawser said Madison disappoints. “They’re appalled that we expect people on bicycles to share the road with semi trailers, 18-wheelers, and coexist,” he said. To that end, former Madison mayor and current Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin Executive Director Dave Cieslewicz said a city’s “bikeability” hinges on safety. He identified three attitudes an individual can hold toward bicycling. Approximately 7 percent of Americans are “intrepid cyclists,” and will bike regardless of accommodations, according to Cieslewicz. Thirty-three percent will persistently refuse to bicycle, and he categorizes the 60 percent in between as “interested but concerned.”










and feel safe, more people






Dave Cieslewicz

executive director Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin

“What they’re concerned about is their safety,” Cieslewicz said. “And if you create the infrastructure that makes people safe and feel safe, more people will ride, simple as that.” The number of bicycle crashes reported in Madison increased 17 percent overall between 2007 and 2011, compared to a 1.9 percent overall uptick in automobile collisions, according to a report

by the city Traffic Engineering Division. The majority of bicycle crashes occurred when motorists, turning either left or right, struck bicyclists continuing straight through an intersection. Nearly one third of the individuals on bikes were 19 to 23 years old. Several factors contribute to a locale’s bicycle safety, according to Cieslewicz, and they intersect where money and politics meet culture. He said exclusive bicycle routes, running either adjacent or completely removed from roads, provide the best solution. However, Cieslewicz admitted proposals to fund urban bicycling infrastructure stall in the state Legislature, despite projected economic benefits. “It’s bigger than deer hunting, that’s how big it is,” Cieslewicz said. Therefore, he added, mainstream Republicans line up with Democrats on this issue. “Our problem is with the Tea Party,” Cieslewicz said. “And for Tea Party Republicans, you can quote all the statistics you want about how many jobs [bikes create], they don’t care, the bike is a weapon of culture wars.” Potential economic benefits transcend the $924 million and 13,139 full-time jobs bicycling supports statewide, as calculated by student researchers in UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies in 2010. According to their report, 49.7 percent of Madison residents fall below the World Health Organization’s recommended activity levels, increasing their risk of ischemic heart disease, stroke, breast cancer and colon cancer. If all Madison residents were to attain the recommended weekly exercise, the report estimates statewide morbidity and health care savings of approximately $80.5 million. Taking into account statistics

from the National Household Transportation Survey, which show nearly 40 percent of car trips made in America are shorter than 1.9 miles, the report suggests bicycle commuting as a time-effective alternative to a sedentary lifestyle.

-Cycle’s ridership grew 29 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the 2013 annual report. Part of that is attributed to a new UW-Madison partnership, which offers discounted memberships to students, faculty and staff.

“The very best thing you can do for the campus is biking or walking, because you’re taking up less space, you’re not imposing a lot of externalities on people, there’s no greenhouse emissions.” Dave Cieslewicz

executive director Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin

Madison’s average commuter spends 19 minutes traveling both to and from work each day, according to the American Survey Data. Applying the average cycling speed of 13 miles per hour, individuals living within approximately five miles of their work could theoretically bike to work without sacrificing much time (Five miles at a 13 mile per hour pace rounds out at a 23-minute commute). What’s more, is that if a person living exactly five miles from their work biked even four out of the five weekdays, they would spend approximately 184 minutes bicycling each week, exceeding WHO’s minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity required of “sufficiently active individuals,” according to the report. B Cycle, Madison’s bike-sharing program, indicates an international trend of emerging business models aimed at achieving these goals. Having just entered its fourth year of operation, B


According to a Nelson Institute report, a 20 percent bicycle mode fare would reduce annual carbon emissions by 4.2 percent.

However, Cieslewicz said B Cycle suffers inadequate revenue streams despite its growing popularity, partly because the government does not regard bicycle subsidies in the same light as subsidies for other modes of transportation, such as driving and transit. “The very best thing you can do for the campus is biking or walking, because you’re taking up less space, you’re not imposing a lot of externalities on people, there’s no greenhouse emissions, all this great stuff,” Cieslewicz said. “And yet that’s the one form of transportation that doesn’t get any subsidy.” Regardless, Cieslewicz said he will continue striving to improve Wisconsin’s bikeability. “My philosophy is don’t worry so much about state government,” he said. “Until the mainstream Republican party takes back their party from the extremists, we’re not going to make much progress there, so let’s work at the local level.” And that starts with Madison’s “20 by 2020” campaign, which Cieslewicz explained represents a goal to increase Madison’s bicycle fare number—the percentage of trips completed on bicycle—from approximately 8 to 20 percent by the year 2020. If accomplished, the Nelson Institute report estimates a 20 percent bicycle fare would reduce annual carbon emissions by 4.2 percent. Change will not come about overnight, and it will not necessarily come sealed in government wax, according to both Cieslewicz and Strawser. Similar to social perceptions about samesex marriage, Strawser said time is a byproduct of adapting bicycling into the mainstream. “It’s going to take that same sort of intergenerational change to bring about a different attitude in transportation,” Strawser said. On the institutional side of it, Cieslewicz looks overseas. He credits European successes to policies adopted decades ago, when places such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen experienced similar bicycle rates as America. “It isn’t just culture,” Cieslewicz said. “They really changed the culture, and they consciously did, so there’s no reason why we can’t accomplish it here.”

news l


Action Project Issue, April 2014

An ‘era of man-made climate change’

United Nations’ report outlines plan to ‘adapt and mitigate’ impacts of changing global climate Story by Hallie Mellendorf


ith each new blade of green grass that emerges from beneath thin layers of late snowfall, smiles slide onto faces with a bit more ease. However, the return of warm afternoons and whistling robins is a relief too often taken for granted. As sweaters are traded for T-shirts and winter boots for sneakers; as baseball gloves and Frisbees are pulled from storage shelves to relish in the magnificence of the surrounding world, now is also the season to recognize its fragility. Students have heard about climate change for the better half of their lives on the news, online and even in classes focused on the issue. Still, few grasp their role in the matter or the impact climate change will have on their lives and the lives of those around them.

lation between climate change and human activity in certain terms. In accordance with cognitive bias, people tend not to act when they perceive uncertainty. “But there is always uncertainty associated with [scientific research],” Robbins said. “Uncertainty doesn’t mean we’re unsure about the science. Uncertainty simply means we’re unsure about the magnitude.” For example, Wisconsin is facing a 20 percent increase in precipitation in the near future, according to Robbins. Scientists are unable to say precisely where the rain is going to fall, so they express uncertainty. However, the rain is going to fall and create runoff, damaging the sewage industry as well as the dominant agricultural industry of our state. The Center for Climatic Research, a branch of the Nelson Institute, is already downscaling research to make findings more applicable to Wisconsin citizens.

"We could reduce our carbon footprint a lot more, and we will in time as people become more aware of what they can do individually. Ride a bike. Ride the bus." Frank Kooistra

operations coordinator Office of Sustainability

“We live in an era of man-made climate change,” Vicente Barros, co-chair of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said in a statement. “In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face.” The IPCC released a report in March 2014 about how adaptation and mitigation can manage the impacts and risks related to climate change. Adaptation refers to the process of adjusting lifestyles and behaviors to fit environmental changes, while mitigation is the action of reducing the severity of climate change. The 1,729 experts and government reviewers from 70 countries who authored the report found the risks we face as a result of climate change are made up of three components: vulnerability (lack of preparedness), exposure (people or assets in harm’s way) and the hazards that trigger climatic events. These risks include a changing sea level, changing wind patterns, coastal erosion, droughts, wildfires and increasing average global temperatures. Each has an immense impact on marine and terrestrial ecosystems as well as personal livelihoods. The predictions the IPCC outlines in its most recent report hardly differ from those in its 2007 report, according to Paul Robbins, director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. What has changed, however, is the IPCC’s improved ability to speak about uncertainty, which is often confusing to the public. The IPCC previously struggled to communicate the corre-

“If you put a map of the world in front of a farmer from central Wisconsin, it’s meaningless because it doesn’t pertain to them,” Robbins said. “But if they can find themselves on that map, running with the example of rainfall variability, then they’ll say, ‘OK, I should be thinking about cropping strategies, erosion management, etc.’ This [research] has bottom-line economic interest.” UW-Madison has already taken steps to minimize harmful environmental behaviors, according to Frank Kooistra, operations coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. “Sustainability is made up of three components: there are environmental, social and economical aspects,” Kooistra said. “Just because [a proposed solution] is the best solution environmentally, it may not be the best solution in terms of sustainability.” For example, Kooistra said UW-Madison switched all of the light bulbs on campus to energyefficient bulbs in 2000. Kooistra is also an active member of WE CONSERVE, an on-campus program dedicated to conservation and waste elimination. In 2006, WE CONSERVE made a commitment to reduce the university’s energy levels by 20 percent over the following four years. Kooistra said they exceeded their goal, reducing energy usage by approximately 28 percent by 2010. In fact, energy levels continue to decline despite campus’ expanding square footage. The reduction is in part credited to a completed renovation

of the Charter Street Heating Plant, which produces electricity for campus. The plant received energy-efficient natural gas boilers in the fall of 2013 to replace outdated coal boilers, according to UW-Madison KnowledgeBase. Nevertheless, Kooistra remains dissatisfied with UW-Madison’s carbon emissions. “We could reduce our carbon footprint a lot more, and we will in time as people become more aware of what they can do individually,” he said. “Ride a bike. Ride the bus.” When asked about UW-Madison’s progress since 2010, Kooistra said the biggest roadblock is students’ lack of recycling. He speculates 22 to 28 percent of the trash UW-Madison sends to the landfill is recyclable. WE CONSERVE provided every residence hall with trash and recycling bins to resolve this issue, but Kooistra said many students still neglect to separate their waste into the proper containers. This puts UW-Madison in stark contrast with other campuses such as Ohio State University, where students divert 98 percent of their trash compared to approximately 35 percent here, according to Kooistra. But why should Madison students feel a responsibility to pay attention to climate change? Robbins said any student concerned with social justice should look at the role climate change plays in deteriorating global conditions. The World Health Organization recently called air pollution the “single largest environmental health risk” after

they calculated 7 million people died prematurely in 2012 due to health problems associated with air pollution such as heart disease, strokes and lung cancer.

tion to this issue, Elvert said he feels he should leverage his privilege as an American college student with many opportunities to serve a greater good.

"We live in an era of man-made climate change. In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face." Vicente Barros

co-chair, working group II Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

“People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise marginalized are especially vulnerable to climate change,” according to the IPCC report. “This heightened vulnerability… is the product of intersecting social processes that result in inequalities in socioeconomic status and income, as well as in exposure.” One UW-Madison student who has already taken action to fight these risks, UW-Madison junior Brian Elvert serves as the chair of Climate Action 350 UW, a registered student organization committed to raising awareness about climate change. Elvert traveled to Washington, D.C., March 2 to walk the few miles from Georgetown to Lafayette Park alongside 1,200 others in a civil disobedience protest against constructing the Keystone XL pipeline. He was also among 389 protesters arrested that day. When asked why he would to go to such lengths to call atten-

“I feel it’s an obligation for me to use my power as a citizen to stop [climate change],” Elvert said. “This is going to affect so many people, especially the most vulnerable. It’s immoral to not do anything.” Along with other members of the UW-Madison staff working to educate others about climate change, Elvert said he feels there is a general sense of apathy toward recycling and carbon-footprint reduction. “There doesn’t seem to be a strong sense of civic engagement or activism as much as there could be,” Elvert said. “We have power as students, why not use that power as a large student body with something to say?” With the state Capitol just blocks from campus, UW-Madison students are in a unique position to ignite change in the Madison community and beyond. As the frozen earth yields to soft, budding grass, now is the time to draw inspiration from the striking beauty of nature that sustains and accentuates everyday life, and make an effort to defend it.



Action Project Issue, April 2014

UW leads in good food system research By Suma Samudrala THE DAILY CARDINAL

Maintaining what nature has to offer us and harmonizing the relationship between nature and humans is the goal of sustainability. A sustainability researcher who is part of the effort to make agricultural systems more productive and effective is Molly Jahn, a professor in the departments of Agronomy and Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a member of the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment. Her research has focused on disease resistance and the molecular genetics behind it. She has a successful career in advocating for the advancement of good food systems. “One of my top goals has been to ensure that we have nutritious tasty crops coming from agriculture,” Jahn said. Indeed taking that notion, Jahn’s research has produced a lot of crop varieties that provide sustenance on six continents. She is also interested in the benefits that the people who grow and eat these crops recieve. As a public sector vegetable plant breeder, Jahn brought together disease resistance and an inherited seed to create better seed varieties. With efforts such as these, she recognized the importance for breeding in and for organically managed agriculture. In 2011, she worked with organic breeders and realized the systemic interactions involved in creating a business cycle. With a network, breeders and chefs helped create good food that came from healthy systems. While working with potato farmers and their effort to tackle environmental problems, Jahn recognized the need for community presence and network interaction. Jahn discussed the need for the science world to create a safe operating space for the producers, chefs and consumers to promote sustainability efforts. Jahn explained how maxi-

mizing production does not always result in food security. Only recently have the intersections of different components of agriculture, such as land and water, with food systems been identified and clarified.

“[For example, we might understand] agricultural productivity, but not necessarily how water works, or [realize] how water works but not the consequences of climate.” Molly Jahn professor and researcher UW-Madison

To further research and development in building operating spaces for the food systems, Jahn and her colleagues have connected with Oakridge National Laboratory under University of Wisconsin-Madison provost leadership. This bridge helps establish internship and research opportunities with a focus on data knowledge, modeling and analytical approaches in areas of climate, water and other environmental sciences. Jahn discussed these were opportunities for stronger exchanges, particularly for students. “We don’t always have very good quality tools for these interactions. [For example, we might understand] agricultural productivity, but not necessarily how water works, or [realize] how water works but not the consequences of climate,” Jahn said. To better understand these interactions, Jahn and her team have begun a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy at a flagship national laboratory to conduct basic science research. Thus began the land, water and energy nexus, which is an area recently instituted to focus on risk alleviation in food systems. The idea is to collect data and modeling capabilities to better understand the uncertainties in agriculture. She has

helped create broad collaborative networks from global leaders in government, business and academia. Jahn said that the scientific frontier she faces includes “not just valuing risk but it is also valuing risk that we avoid and that is actually very hard to do.” Three main goals of this research include better knowledge, management and collaboration. The first idea is to gain a better understanding of the different layers associated with global food systems, which relate to their respective stability or failure. In preventing systemic risk, another idea is to manage the dynamics of food production and consumption. Lastly, the necessary advancement in the understanding of global food systems was recognized via the need for partnership and broadscaled exploration. In order to advance sustainability in agriculture, layers need to be identified and studied, including food, soil, landscape, weather, climate, water, public health and genetic diversity. In addition to these factors, Jahn and other sustainable researchers also hope to discover and explain the interface of other resources such as energy, aquaculture and livestock. Professor Jahn’s focus in this initiative has been to model e c o n o m i c, social and environmental consequences of disaster scenarios and their impact on food systems. With partnerships and funding, researchers hope to plan and assess studies that would later result in implementation of new ecosystem services.


The word “organic” is a buzzword in the whole foods/go natural movement. Prior to my interview with Erin Silva, associate director for the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, I had a narrow definition of what “organic” meant. I thought it was just food grown without pesticides typically found at places like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and the farmer’s market. When I mentioned this to Silva, she said, “The first thing that people associate is no pesticides, but that isn’t necessarily the case. There are pesticides that are allowed. They’re classified as ‘natural.’ The compounds are limited in number and degrade quickly.” Silva works broadly in organic cropping systems with vegetable crops, row crops, corn, soy beans, cereal, grains, pasture and livestock. In short, Silva heads the mission to continue to grow and improve organic. My mainstream notion of organic barely covers what the whole movement encompasses, which has deep roots in environmental stewardship beyond use of pesticides. If organic farming is just more than limited use of pesticides, then what is organic? An organic farm’s key job is to build soil fertility and quality. “Organic producers have to include aspects of management and are constantly striving to improve soils,” Silva said. “When inspectors come onto the farm, which is a yearly event, there is oversight that the grower is using practices that prevent, or minimize, erosion and

Ask Ms. Scientist: endangered bananas and hibernation Dear Ms. Scientist, Why are bananas currently in serious risk for extinction? —Mike R.

Dear Ms. Scientist, Why don’t animals get hungry when they hibernate?

Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4) is a threatening fungal disease in banana plants that has become widespread in Southeast Asia. The main variety, Cavendish bananas, has zero resistance against TR4 and no viable treatment exists to stop or slow the growth of the fungus into the plants’ roots, resulting in a black mush at the plants’ core. Furthermore, TR4 germinates by releasing highly environmentally resistant spores into the soil, where they can remain for decades, making it difficult to contain the plant parasite. The Cavendish banana is now the eighth most important food staple globally and fourth most important in developing countries. TR4 has yet to enter Latin America, but if it does, then the global food supply could take a serious hit.

Hibernation can be a very deep state like in hedgehogs and ground squirrels, or a light and short state as seen in bears. However, across most hibernations, heart, breathing and metabolic rates as well as body temperature all decrease to extremely low levels (some bears breathe only once every 45 seconds during hibernation). Furthermore, animals gorge on food to increase fat reserves beforehand. Even though their stomachs are empty, their body is not deficient in energy requirements due to the slow burning of the energy stored. In effect, their nervous systems do not send off a “hunger signal” to wake them up from their sleep.



Interest in organic movement grows with technology



—Mary T.

Ask Ms. Scientist is written by Corinne Thornton. If you have a burning science question you want her to answer, tweet @DC_Science or email it to

help build soil organic matter.” Not only do farmers attempt to prevent erosion, but they also use tactics like crop rotation to help build organic matter in the soil. “All organic farms use a rotation [as required by the NOP [National Organic Program] regulations] that is at least a three-year rotation. This helps build diversity of the system,” Silva said. When I mentioned to Silva that I was aware of some organic methods to reduce weeds, such as tilling, Silva responded, “Tilling is often a criticism of organic, because it circumvents herbicides, but it does use fossil fuels. It also can make the fields more susceptible to erosion issues.” And erosion issues fly in the face of organic’s main cause, which is increasing soil quality. Organic farmers are now using a different method. They use cover crops to increase nitrogen in the soil, add organic matter into the soil and prevent weed growth. Silva’s program heavily looks at organic no-till and relies on use of cover crop as a mulch. Cover crops work at a multiple acre scale; they prevent weeds from germinating and suppress weeds in the field without relying on tillage. In addition to its soil benefits, cover cropping also helps sequester carbon back into the ground. In the long run, this is beneficial to fighting climate change because climate change’s driving factor is too much carbon in the atmosphere. There is an idea around organic farming that it is going back to a more primitive way of farming and runs contrary to conventional farming. However, Silva wholeheartedly disagrees. “One of my pet peeves is when people say that organic is going back to the old way of farming,” she said, “I would argue that organic production isn’t that. I think it disregards the willingness or eagerness of organic to really progress and to continue to improve and support and adopt new research,” Silva said. To make her point, Silva pointed to a poster behind me. This particular picture was of a cereal rye cover crop that was planted in the fall and rolled down the following spring to create a blanket of mulch. Then, farmers planted the soybeans directly into the mulch layer. She explained that this is some of the new technology that organic farmers are using. On a broader scale, the interest in organic continues to grow, as evidenced by a yearly conference in La Crosse that has seen a growth in attendees. “Organic is a very recognizable label to consumers, so whereas it’s been harder to capture a premium off some of the other sustainability labels, like grass-fed or healthy grown, organic tends to more reliably fetch an organic premium,” Silva said. The upshot of organic is that people recognize and trust the label, which lends the movement teeth in actually making a dent in the food market.

opinion 10


Action Project Issue, April 2014

Cities can serve as blueprint for sustainable living MICHAEL PODGERS opinion columnist


recent article on BBC explored the role cities play in efforts to combat global climate change. Cities are immediately described as “carbon criminals” since they account for “three quarters of global energy consumption and for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.” True that may be, however cities are far from “carbon criminals.” Instead they’re keys to saving us from our own self-destructive tendencies. We live within a socio-cultural context, which has for some time vilified cities. The “concrete jungle” lives on in our minds as places of pollution, vice and low-living standards. The soot encrusted London of “Oliver Twist,” the bullet holed Chicago of Al Capone and the broke, beaten down New York of the ’70’s all play into our communal consciousness of what cities are. We manage to ignore livable places like Amsterdam, Barcelona or Vancouver though; they’re

tourist attractions or ideas for urban planning enthusiasts. Cities are where our future lies. Based on their inherent design, cities often force us to live more sustainably than if we lived in non-urban spaces. Vermont might look really “green,” but if we really want to make a difference, we better make our way to Brooklyn instead. When discussing cities, it’s important to figure out what we’re talking about. Depending on the person, the term “city” will bring to mind many different images. For some it’s Midtown Manhattan or Chicago’s Loop, while for others it may only refer to a specific municipal area, like Madison proper. Because of these discrepancies, we need to create universal terminology. I prefer urban, suburban and rural. Each convey a specific idea based on geography and types of physical spaces. Urban spaces are those associated with cities: downtowns, high-density areas with a mix of residential and commercials uses versus suburbs with low-density sprawling housing and commercial developments, strict zoning and a dependence on cars for transportation.

Finally, the rural landscapes are farms and fields.

It’s urban living that gets us to the levels of resource consumption that can help us sustain human life longer.

The urban spaces are the ones that will best aid us into the future. By design, they’re sustainable. Even before sustainable design and living became a thing to consider, places like Manhattan, Chicago’s neighborhoods and Madison’s Isthmus were considerably more sustainable places to live than sprawling suburbs like Sun Prairie, Wisc. Living in apartments, sharing green space, getting around by bus, bike and walking all work toward a significantly lower environmental footprint than the alternative of driving most places, having large plots of land that are inneficiantly and building large energy intensive single-family homes. The statistics from BBC about cities being “carbon

criminals” and producing huge quantities of pollution and greenhouse gases are deceiving. They only show what happens when we look at the total sum of pollution and negative environmental impacts when viewed as concentrations within a single urban area. But break down the statistics into per capita use and the picture is very different. Manhattan for example, the island borough at the center of New York’s identity, has some of the highest collective water and energy consumption of any place in the United States, but some of the lowest, if not the lowest, per capita use. Manhattanites use gas at a level unseen since the Ford Model-T was the most common car on American roads. Over 80 percent of Manhattanites take public transportation to work, and that doesn’t include the number of people who walk or bike. These are all points taken from David Owen’s book “Green Metropolis.” It’s urban living that gets us to the levels of resource consumption that can help us sustain human life longer. Americans need to embrace urban life once again. For too long our ideal mode of living has been the suburban community. But it’s only a facade

of green. Bigger lawns and more space doesn’t equate to sustainable living. That’s not to say we must abandon the single-family home and garden, but we need to reconsider how we plan them. One way is by reviving traditional planning methods like smaller homes, gardens and walkable communities where transit and commercial uses are accessible without a car. Urban spaces also need to be embraced as locations for the middle class and families, not just yuppies, the super rich or the lower class. A city can be as fulfilling a place to grow up as a house with a big lawn. While Americans may not change the world alone, the way we live has a huge international impact. Our global influence shapes how other people aspire to live. If we continue to act as role models, we must be good ones and show that sustainable life is something worth aspiring. We can’t vilify cities anymore, they’re saviors of sustainable living. We must embrace them and the urban age. Are America’s cities ground zero for developing sustainable living? Michael is a senior majoring in German and history. Let us know how you feel and please send all feedback to

Local Langdon historic district could push Madison in ‘greener’ direction SAMY MOSKOL guest columnist


f you take a walk up East Gilman Street or North Pinckney Street, you have surely taken note that most of the houses you pass have greater historic character and continuity than some of Madison’s other downtown neighborhoods. The city’s decision to make the Mansion Hill neighborhood a locally designated historic district in the 1970s is the key reason why the neighborhood today has the highest concentration of historically significant residences in the city. Maintaining historic neighborhoods with this protection supports the notion that reusing existing structures is a viable way to sustain our city. The Langdon neighborhood is currently unprotected at the local level in this way and this is evident by a number of recent developments that are out of scale with the rhythm of the street. Although there is in fact a national historic district in place for the Langdon neighborhood, this national designation only provides homeowners with tax credits on home improvements and does not provide any oversight on development proposals at the local level. In this time, as Madison’s building boom continues and our older housing stock becomes ever so old, it is more important now than ever that people who have a stake in the future of the Langdon neighborhood, Greek societies, housing cooperatives and tenants alike, show their support for the preservation of a local district. Madison’s 2012 Downtown Plan encourages the creation of

a local Langdon historic district, to help facilitate the preservation of existing historic buildings and thoughtful, context-sensitive development that respects the historic character of the neighborhood. The Madison Trust for Historic Preservation is currently developing a Preservation Plan for the Langdon neighborhood, which, if approved by the city, would allow for a local district to be created. If created, development proposals within the district would receive a higher level of scrutiny, subject to the Landmarks Commission’s approval. If passed, new development projects would better relate to the existing structures in the neighborhood. Creating a local district would not prohibit new development from occurring, but rather it would allow new developments to fit well within the context of the neighborhood. Historic preservation is not just a nostalgic aim to preserve a semblance of the past but it helps maintain strong neighborhoods. In the Langdon neighborhood in particular, preserving historic structures helps maintain affordable housing availability close to campus that new structures rarely offer. Historic renovation projects contribute more to the local economy than new construction projects because labor forms a greater portion of total project cost for historic renovation projects, comparatively. Furthermore, research suggests renovating existing buildings uses less energy and is generally more environmentally sustainable in the long run. In particular, the Preservation Green Lab, a research group that examines the sustainable value of historic preservation, came out with a study in 2011 entitled “The Greenest Building: Quantifying

the Environmental Value of Building Reuse,” that supports the notion that reusing and renovating existing buildings with an average level of energy performance is almost always more sustainable than constructing new buildings that are energy efficient. Through extensive comparisons between historic renovation cases and new construction cases of various building types in cities across the country, the lab concluded it can take decades for the efficient operating energy of a new building to outweigh the negative effects on climate change from new construction. In Chicago, one of the

cities surveyed, it would take 38 years for the energy efficiency of a newly constructed single-family home to pay off. Reusing existing structures uses around 40 percent less energy than new construction, according to the study. Again, when comparing the reuse or new construction of a singlefamily home in Chicago, reuse has a 10 percent less negative effect on climate change, a 10 percent less negative effect on resource depletion, a 21 percent less negative effect on human health and a 29 percent less negative effect on ecosystem quality

than the new construction alternative. The embodied energy, or in other words, the energy that was already used to construct the previous building, is important to preserve. Creating a locally designated historic Langdon district is integral not only to preserve the cultural landscape of this historic student neighborhood, but also to ensure Madison can grow in the right direction in the future. Samy is a senior majoring in history. How do you feel about the historic Langdon homes? Please send all your feedback to


Historic homes such as these on Howard Place in the Langdon neighborhood display the rich history of the area, which high-rise housing developments threaten.

Action Project Issue, April 2014




Earth Day honored with recycled art Evolution Arts Collective holds gallery show April 18 focusing on recycling-centric art.


Story by Sean Reichard

he exterior is painted in an array of pastels—rose, sky blue, sea foam green— and one window facing Dickinson Street reads in paint, “Evolution Arts Collective.” Inside, a series of white-walled rooms adorned with art leads to a back-room studio floored with concrete, housing a kind of scaffolding. People are bustling around, placing tags at the corners of frames, putting the final touches on the buffet spread—plenty of Green Goddess dip and smoky vegan bean spread, as well as pigs in blankets and a cookie plate. They are harried but kind. They’re excited to be there. On April 18, the Collective debuted its first-ever recycled art show, according to co-founder Kim Roberts, in honor of Earth Day. “Honestly, we’ve talked about it for years,” Roberts said over the phone before the show. “We just decided having a recycled art show … near Earth Day would be a good idea.” Speaking about the show, Roberts touched on the preparations the Collective made to prepare for a recycled art show. “We had enough people, I had enough work, we know a couple of people and I also did a call for art on Craigslist. “I would love to do [the show] every year,” Roberts said. Roberts, who has run the Collective since its inception in 2008, is no stranger to the concept of recycled art, which stems out of her belief in sustainability. “Recycling and composting and sustainable living … is kind of what I’ve always been into,” Roberts said. “I hate the idea of landfills being filled when you could use the stuff for something else. So it’s just natural for me to make artwork out of things that have already been used for some-

thing else.” Indeed, Roberts observed her own art, for the most part, is de facto recycled. “I do a lot of mosaics and I make earrings out of game pieces, and I also make feather earrings, cause I have chickens, so I like that whole local theme too. “Can’t get more local than art supplies in my backyard!” Roberts added with a chuckle. The only stipulation of the Collective’s show was that the finished product be at least 50 percent recycled. Besides that, it was anything goes, Roberts explained. For the most part, the artists embraced the theme and made their recycling very explicit. Ben Zwank, for his piece “Remember,” took a canvas, arranged a host of objects—butterfly cutouts and cylinders—and painted over it with a profusion of rainbow pastels. Artist John Pahlas, in his piece, “Perched in the Balance,” took recycled steel and fashioned it into a tree crowned with a sharp-yet-fluid crow, beak agape, roosting in mid-screech.

“Art is in some way a religious calling, also a social calling, an environmental calling and a calling to celebrate life.” Art Schmaltz artist Evolution Arts Collective

“This is stuff that is really beautiful, contemporary and it’s not antiseptic at all,” said Evolution associate and fellow artist Daithi—pronounced “Dahhey,” it’s Gaelic for “David” “We’ve really got some amazing art. It was really great what people came up with.” Daithi himself contributed two

pieces to the show, both what he called “assemblages.” The first piece, “Beyond,” featured a canvas lightly embellished with materials ranging from paint, rust and turquoise to a bundle of hay tied with a thick rope. “I created this kind of little alter of transitions in life; and how we each have chapters and how we kind of develop and grow through that,” Daithi explained. The other piece, “Chimes,” seemed to spring from a very different state of mind: Resembling a wall clock, the piece looked dilapidated and apocalyptic between the somber coloring and the opossum skull that adorned the top, but also stored a great deal of beauty on its shelves, between a clay bamboo tile and an iridescent butterfly wing, among other effects. And yes, there were chimes hanging from the bottom. Beautifulsounding wooden chimes. “Art is life and it comes from many different ways,” Daithi said. “Everybody is doing different things and having those different materials and putting those materials [together] … my assemblages, they come out of serendipity or a poetic moment.” He related a tale about the making of “Chimes,” a strange bit of spontaneity rippling through its construction. “My friend was holding [“Chimes”], and a bee came and stung him and died on his arm,” Daithi said. “So I took that carcass of that bee and I preserved it and I put it in my piece of art.” Sure enough, when Daithi was showing me “Chimes,” the little bee’s carapace was lying on its side, abdomen facing us, on the left-hand shelf under the butterfly wing. “This is the bee that stung my friend,” he said simply. He went onto explain the opossum skull’s purpose and presence, hearkening back to serendipity and poetic moments. “I found this [opossum skull] up at my cabin, when I was making love to a girl I fell in love with,” Daithi explained. “I knew it was gonna be a part of something. I was making [“Chimes”] and I thought, ‘Oh, this is a home, this is a house, this is our self, you know what I mean. It’s life, you know.” Daithi pointed out another facet of “Chimes” that may have gone unnoticed without his presence there. “In the center of [“Chimes”] there’s a little small mirror, almost like a dental mirror. And you look there and you see your eyeball ... and that brings it around and tried to put it inside yourself ... [It’s a] very personal, soulful piece for me.” Another poetic moment came an hour into the show, when I encountered Daithi placing a flower on his assemblage “Beyond.” He explained that a few months prior, he was asked to make a flower bouquet for Valentine’s Day and the deal fell through; now, mid-April, he revisited the incident. “I woke up and said, ‘I’m

Sean reichard/the daily cardinal

Local artist Daithi (pronounced “Dah-hey”) places a lastminute addition on his recycled assemblage, titled “Beyond” gonna go over to that flower shop and get a flower for my piece of art.’ [The florist and I] had a conversation and kind of healed through that, because she wanted me to work and I didn’t want to work,” Daithi recalled. Early on in the show, walking through the concrete-floored area, my attention was drawn to a corner display of two statues. One was a tall, lumbering T-post bird holding hacky sacks (appropriately named “Hacky Sack Bird”), and the other was a bike that had been hacked up and refashioned into a burlesque-type dancer. I looked at the name on the placard, “Art Schmaltz,” and I wanted desperately to speak to this artist about the bike. Sure enough, he was floating around nearby.

On April 18, the Collective debuted its first-ever recycled art show, according to cofounder Kim Roberts, in honor of Earth Day.

Standing at 6 foot 4 inches with a mane of gray-brown hair spilling over his wide-lens glasses, wearing a camo jacket and yellow turtleneck, Schmaltz gave off a “cool grandpa” vibe—he’s a couple weeks shy of 70—explaining the burlesque bike woman. “I call it ‘Jacques Derrida’s Bicycle,’” Schmaltz said. “It had to be deconstructed and then reconstructed, according to the requirements of postmodernism.” Schmaltz added he had finished the piece that morning and spoke a bit about the general impetus behind the project. “I was just about ready to take it to the recycling place and then I looked and I just kind of liked the form of the central chassis there, and then it took off.”

In a talk that ranged from goat herding (Schmaltz has a team of goats who do weed control; he gave me his goat card) to the psychology of dreams to kinesthetically involving yourself in art, Schmaltz postulated a credo of creation, which invests meaning in all his projects: “Art is in some way a religious calling, also a social calling, an environmental calling and a calling to celebrate life.” He went on to talk about the positive benefits of recycled art as a whole. “You’re re-using a lot of material that would otherwise be landfilled,” Schmaltz explained. “You’re taking mundane functional pieces and showing they have the potential to be joyful, creative expressions of the world.” Daithi echoed these sentiments when he was walking me through his assemblages. “Art is the highest language of a culture, so we’re saying ‘whyn’t you make art out of that as well?’” he asked. “If we can do it in art, we can do it in every aspect. It’s time, don’t you think, that we start recycling everything. We need to recycle everything, everything needs to be recycled.” Indeed, Daithi’s sentiments, paired with Schmaltz’, reminded me of something Roberts said over the phone prior to my visit. “When something breaks, like a really beautiful plate, I don’t want it to just go in the trash,” Roberts explained as a general example of recycled art. “So using it in art to make like a mosaic mirror, tabletop or just something, you still get to see the thing that was broken—and now it’s not broken—now it’s part of something that’s maybe even better than it was when it was just a plate.” The art will be viewable via appointment with Roberts until April 27.

by the numbers



Action Project Issue, April 2014

UW-Madison weighs in on sustainability 1 in 4 people compost


of people feel Madison’s tap water supply is clean enough to drink

25% of people think about the state of the environment on a daily basis, but 10% never do


of people ride a bicycle around campus and

Rank the following contributors to climate change based on their relative threat level: 1. Burning of fossil fuels 2. Deforestation 3. Waste accumulation 4. Water quality 5. Personal electricity consumption


of those said they feel moderately or extremely safe

8 in 10 people use a reusable water bottle Graphic By Haley Henschel and Justine Jones

The Daily Cardinal - Action Project Issue, April 2014  

The Daily Cardinal - Action Project Issue, April 2014

The Daily Cardinal - Action Project Issue, April 2014  

The Daily Cardinal - Action Project Issue, April 2014