Hello Urban Investigators!

Welcome to our class blog for Citizen Journalism: Writing for Change.

You should have received the syllabus last week, by email. If you didn’t, well then, you are probably not reading this, either!

For this post, please introduce yourself to your fellow Urban Investigators. Tell  us:

Why are you interested in citizen journalism? Why do you think it’s important?

And further, what does sustainability mean to you? How would you define it?

Please introduce yourself and answer the above questions by replying to this post. And feel free to respond to any of your classmates’  comments.

Karyn

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34 thoughts on “Hello Urban Investigators!

  1. Lori Mould

    Hi, my name is Lori Mould and I have been blogging on WordPress for almost four years at http://lmould.wordpress.com/. I started blogging because I feel that everyone has a different perspective on life and what is going on around them and I love sharing some of my insight. This unique opportunity provides an amazing format to tell your story and/or the story of something/one of importance to you.

    I believe that the idea of Citizen Journalism is very powerful especially with the bias and misinformation in the mainstream media. Citizen journalists have a responsibility to be ethical, truthful, and in doing so, they will gain the respect of their readers. I feel that Citizen Journalism is a grass roots format within the journalism realm in which John Q. Public can get in-depth and reliable information on what is happening around them especially when it comes to anything related to the environment. This format is like anything else on the great worldwide web…as a consumer, it is your responsibility to do your own research to verify the content of what you read and choose what to believe as fact.

    The subject of sustainability is so vast in nature and far-reaching these days. I look at sustainability within the realm of the environment and how the “human factor” has changed the environment. I have had the privilege of working for the last five years in the rebuilding efforts after numerous hurricanes, documenting the effects from the BP oil spill, and wetlands recovery. I have experienced the after effects of how far-reaching the damages can be when our natural resources are exploited with no afterthought to the long term damage that has been done to the communities and the enormity of the environmental impact.

    Reply
  2. Breukellen

    Hi classmates! My name really is Breukellen, and I’m a Brooklyn native. I used to blog on WordPress several years ago, at a time when I felt more involved in politics and current events than ever before, and I think that’s why I felt empowered to add my voice to the mix. Some time after I had stopped writing in it, I read the old entries and felt deeply embarrassed. The blog is now private. I know this is a common phenomenon. Even President Obama has said that he feels some embarrassment when re-reading his youthful voice in his first book, Dreams From My Father. I think it has something to do with the way earnest, passionate, in the moment writing can seem flowery and indulgent once you have gained distance from the initial creative burst. Even this comment will probably cause me to cringe in a weeks time.

    So while my first attempt at citizen journalism was a bust, I feel strongly about the potential for the field, especially on the local level, which is where major media outlets fail. Citizen journalists have the opportunity to reach minds outside of their communities and let them know if something great is being done locally, and to inspire those people to go and implement the same changes/policies in their communities. This can be seen in other areas, not necessarily environmental, for example, the “It Gets Better” campaign reached out to LGBT youth all over the world with a message that the kids weren’t hearing at home.

    When I think about sustainability, I imagine small, self sustaining communities where everyone has a role to play, villages raise families, and society’s broader core values have switched from the selfish and material to the responsible stewardship of the planet Earth and of each other. In this new society, humans recognize their effect on Earth’s ecosystem, and are cognizant of that effect in every aspect of life. These values can only be expressed if the entire human race recognizes that our population has gone beyond the limits that our ecosystem can handle and still remain healthy. Or, if new technologies solve our environmental problems, a la Star Trek.

    Star Trek is an interesting vision of the future because advanced technology is merged with a cultural revolution to create a better society. After World War III, the Earth is poisoned by radiation and plunged into a nuclear winter, but the first test flight of a warp drive (faster than light) ship is detected by aliens. Vulcans come to Earth to say, basically, welcome to the galaxy. It is the discovery that we are not alone in the universe that brings the human race together to finally live in peace on Earth (there are still plenty of war-hungry aliens out in space.)

    I used the term “cultural revolution” before, but in the context of Star Trek it was really more of a cultural maturing, and that applies to humans today. We behave like a teenager who thinks that he is invincible, will never die, and will never grow old. We will never run out of oil, never run out of trees, fish, or clean air to breathe. Even as the truth stares us in the face, little changes because of a warped value system that places short term material wealth on a higher pedestal than all else. So I suppose that to me, sustainability is wrapped up with a whole system of values that is mostly contrary to the values of developed and developing countries, and you can’t have one without the other.

    Reply
    1. Lori Mould

      I like your insight when you say that; “I imagine small, self sustaining communities where everyone has a role to play, villages raise families, and society’s broader core values have switched from the selfish and material to the responsible stewardship of the planet Earth and of each other,”

      I can see people starting to trend more towards this belief that we have to drop some of the self-centered and self-serving values that we have acquired and move towards the ideal that we need to focus on the greater good of Mother Earth and our fellow inhabitants on this planet!

      I believe that some of the stereotypes surrounding the issue of homelessness and our socioeconomic statuses in our country (which help to drive negativity, turmoil, and strife) have been changing because of the recent economic downturn/recession and the increased widespread devastation from natural/man-made disasters. The breakdown of long-standing stereotypes and barriers will only serve to move the ideal of being responsible stewards towards each other in a forward and progressive manner.

      It is a slow process of change especially when we are still fighting to protect what I believe should be our basic human rights to have clean air and water and to treat all living beings/creatures with respect and dignity!

      Reply
  3. Spencer Oakes Dawson

    Buenos Dias a todos,
    Soy Spencer, and I know this class is going to be taught in English, but I believe in an ever changing world. My world is currently set in Spanglish. My partner is Dominican, and his sister, who had never been off of the island prior to moving here, is living with us. It’s been an amazing experience as I have been forced to test my patience, and to learn more Spanish than I already knew.

    I have been using WordPress for over two years. I find the format on this site to be much more catered to professionalism than other sites I have used in the past. Blogging has always been a hobby of mine since I first started using the internet. I love that Empire State College incorporates so much of it into their platform. What makes citizen journalism interesting, and necessary, for me is that it allows average people to have a say. Mass media, in the traditional formats of television, and print news, tells the average person what to think. Citizen Journalism allows us to think for ourselves, and more importantly to speak for ourselves.

    Many new outlets have been popping up in recent years. Current TV, which was recently bought by Al Jazeera had a fantastic format that incorporated its viewers into how the programming was created and run. AL Jazeera America has now copied its widely successful worldwide program ‘The Stream’ for viewers here in the United States. The Stream post ideas about stories they will air to social media, and allows its followers to submit text, and video comments. Producers then sift through and select users comments to be aired. This is in direct opposition to the previously mentioned mass media that tells its viewers what to think.

    To me, sustainability, is the art of allowing mother nature to do her thing and not disturbing that thing. I have heard modern mans obsession with fossil fuels likened to a poor person winning the lottery. That is truly maddening, when we know there are other ways of living, and we have the capability of developing those technologies further. There is an end coming to oil. It will dry up. We know this, yet those at the top are unwilling to to invest in new technology, and if they are investing, it’s just slow enough to be for show.

    While I tend to lean towards more idealistic thoughts about sustainability, I have come to the conclusion that it is possible to live in a modern day society, and still take care of our earth. Mama earth is smart. She’s beautifully designed. The colors, shapes, sounds, and smells that occupy the air are magnificent. It’s really ingenious if you take the time to stop and comprehend. What I think is holding us back form accomplishing a modern world, that is also sustainable, is greed. Money can do some great things, but it can also be disastrous.

    I am so excited to be a part of this course, as I feel that I need to advance my level of writing and reporting to be taken more seriously. If you have the time to look at some of my past posts on OakesReports.com you’ll find that many of them were unedited, and quite immature. I have chosen to leave my old posts public because I think it’s good to see progression, and I hope that this course will allow me to do just that. I am also glad to see that the two classmates who’ve posted thus far are on the same page, and I can’t wait to see some differing views!

    Happy Journaling,

    Spencer Oakes Dawson

    Reply
    1. Lori Mould

      Hi Spencer,

      I can identify with your statement: ” I have come to the conclusion that it is possible to live in a modern day society, and still take care of our earth. Mama earth is smart. She’s beautifully designed. The colors, shapes, sounds, and smells that occupy the air are magnificent. It’s really ingenious if you take the time to stop and comprehend. What I think is holding us back form accomplishing a modern world, that is also sustainable, is greed. Money can do some great things, but it can also be disastrous.”

      Greed seems to be the driving force behind most of the environmental issues that are plaguing the world. In the U.S. alone, the Oil and Gas lobby had a staggering total spent of $144,762,462 for 2013 according to figures provided by http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/indusclient.php?id=E01; NOTE: All lobbying expenditures on this page come from the Senate Office of Public Records. Data for the most recent year was downloaded on January 27, 2014..

      There really is no way for citizens to compete with the money that is being thrown around; however, I believe that if we unite together that the sheer numbers of people who are concerned about the issues raised by fracking, the Keystone XL pipeline, increased drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic, and mountaintop removal, just to name a few, then we have a greater chance of being heard and making progress.

      The total numbers of various lobbying firm or individual lobbyist in the U.S.has increased from $1.45 Billion in 1998 to $3.21 Billion in 2013 (http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php; NOTE: Figures are on this page are calculations by the Center for Responsive Politics based on data from the Senate Office of Public Records. Data for the most recent year was downloaded on January 27, 2014). These figures just show us how much money is used to gain the needed support within our government for various organizations and I would be remiss if I did not point out that not all lobbyists are garnering support for destructive industries, companies, and measures.

      Just a little food for thought!

      Lori

      Reply
  4. violetvague

    Hello Everyone,
    I am thrilled with the opportunity to begin posting on Word Press once again. I began a blog for a previous course but never returned to submit daily posts as I had wanted to. Maybe it was because I didn’t think my writing was good enough, maybe it was because I didn’t think anyone would be interested in what I have to say. Either way, I am happy to return and look forward to posting as often as possible.

    Citizen journalism is an excellent way of expanding our free speech rights in an exponential capacity! With digital technology we have the potential to juggernaut our thoughts into the universe. It is possible to reach a huge audience with blog and social media posts. We can become part of local, regional, and global communities with equal ease.
    Citizen journalists play an important role in the digital era. While the majority of media outlets provide news content that is biased by special interests and consolidated corporate ownership, citizen journalists can offer fact checked and more deeply investigated content. Citizen journalists aren’t beholden to corporate shareholders and budgetary restraints. We can often provide content that provides a voice for those who are least represented. And it certainly seems as though our news content is coming from a more narrow perspective every day. Citizen journalism is an excellent vehicle for activism of all types. I learned this first hand when I attended the National Conference for Media Reform a couple of years ago. While I couldn’t attend the conference in Denver this past spring (I was at the Women’s Studies Residency for ESC!) I look forward to the announcement for the next one. I strongly urge anyone who can to attend at least one of these conferences. It will change your life!

    When we speak of sustainability it is typically in reference to the natural environment. But sustainability is also being embraced in the business world. A growing number of businesses, many in Europe and Australia, focus on a triple bottom line. This bottom line is not assessed solely on financial stability. Financial goals must be achieved while successfully investing in a community’s social aspects and environmental preservation. Tying these three elements together, three p’s – people, profit, and planet; maintains a balance focused business model.
    Yesterday, the humanitarian NGO (non-governmental organization) Oxfam released a report that stated 85 individuals own as much of the world’s wealth as the least wealthy 3 billion people. This half of the human population, has the least access to resources and is often unable to provide for their basic human needs. Natural resources in their localities are depleted and their environments are exploited for profits, as well as being polluted.
    My first reaction to this statistic was awe. But I quickly realized that what is really important is to determine what wealth means. Money and financial value are culturally constructed concepts. Wealth is really a synonym for power. If this is true we can safely assert that these 85 people have the ability to influence major corporations as well as government policies to maintain their share of power. The rest of us have dwindling amounts of power to influence levels of social and environmental sustainability.
    This is where citizen journalism comes in. While those of us in this course are in a better situation than the 3 billion people in developing nations, we can use our voices to influence and educate others about power imbalances all over the world.

    Reply
    1. Spencer

      Hi,
      Are you Violet? And are you vague? haha.
      But seriously, may I ask your name?
      I would love to know more about the National Conference for Media Reform. That is something I would love to attend!
      Thank you for including your comments about the news of the 85 richest people on the planet. I read that on Huffington Post(which I am slightly addicted to), and while I am disgusted, I’m not surprised at all.
      Here’s to us average, everyday, non billionaire folks breaking the mold!

      Great to meet you Ms. Vague! 😉
      Spencer

      Reply
      1. violetvague

        Hi Spencer,
        I am Lisa, My posts are coming from my word press blog account which I haven’t figured out how to include my name! You can find a website for the NCMR – National Conference for Media Reform. They typically schedule one every two years or so, the last one was March of 2013, so we should hear about scheduling for the next one in a few months. I believe that there are lots of podcasts and video from the conference and topics are diverse.
        I look forward to meeting you in a couple of weeks.
        Lisa

    2. Jon-Marc McDonald

      Lisa,
      I appreciated your reference to sustainability being addressed in the business world and for providing a succinct definition of the triple bottom line. While I am skeptical of big business in general, especially when it (the collective “it”) attempts to delve into environmental and sustainability related issues, I am hopeful that as an increasing number of consumers select their purchases based on not only the environmental implications of the product, but also based upon the sustainability record of the company, a growing number of companies will in turn begin to adopt a “triple bottom line” approach.
      In The Post Carbon Reader, in Box 2.1 Defining Social Sustainability, it mentions that three-quarters of the firms that responded to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of large U.S businesses are implementing “some sustainable business practice” though “relatively few are pursuing the social leg of the ‘triple bottom line.”
      In order for sustainability to be, yes, sustainable, big business will need to realize that profits are but part of the goal and not the entirety of it. The only way business will recognize this is through public outcry. Rarely does business modify their behavior, especially if their behavior is reaping large returns, unless it has incentive to do so.
      Ultimately, though, if there is going to be any real, lasting impact with regards to sustainability it will come from, in my opinion, the grassroots, with each individual doing their part to create a world in which our resources are not depleted, our energy is renewable, and our behavior reflects our desire for a world that will be inhabitable for many generations to come.

      Reply
      1. violetvague

        Hi Jon-Marc,
        Thanks for your input. I agree with your suspicions toward big business. I think I was really impacted by Asher Miller’s discussion in the foreward of the Post Carbon Reader when he speaks of a “new economy” (p. xv). I think he is getting to something that I am only just realizing. Corporations will change their business models only when they must! As long as they continue to earn record profits they will pursue what seems to be acceptable. The choice of AOL C.E.O. Tim Armstrong to blame the exorbitant costs of providing health care for two high risk baby deliveries as the reason AOL reduced company contributions to employee retirement funds backfired when the infants mother responded in an online article. According to New Yorker magazine AOL pays Tim Armstrong a $12 million dollar annual salary and the company was highly profitable last quarter (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2014/02/tim-armstrong-aol-whose-distressed-baby-is-it.html.).

        Conversely, companies like Costco and Chipotle Mexican Grill are gaining credibility in the business world as leaders in sustainability initiatives. Costco gets a great deal of press because their choice to pay workers a living wage. Chipotle restaurants strive to bring healthy food to their customers by using as much organic food as possible. I think the business world is keeping a watchful eye on these types of decisions. For those businesses who choose to continue degrading our environment and abusing the worker/employer relationship I think grass roots efforts will chisel away at their resistance to work with a sustainable business model.
        Lisa

  5. Sterling Julius Ivey

    Good day fellow classmates,
    My name is Sterling and pretty much my detailed life story is somewhere on the internet and isn’t hard to find. I’ve heard of WordPress before but I’ve actually never checked it out. It reminds me of blogspot and I did have one of those. A friend and I created one blogspot about 2 years ago and dedicated it to video game journalism which lasted about 6 months. However I am very opinionated on certain issues and very interested in journalism which I feel is a good way express my thoughts based on facts.

    Citizen Journalism seemed like a course I could use to improve my abilities as a journalist as well as get over certain fears I have about being a journalist. I am pretty shy until I am comfortable. However, I don’t think I can be a very good Urban Investigator if I am scared to ask the tough questions or reach out for that important interview. Usually, I can rise to the challenge if the situation calls for it so I am excited to get the opportunity. Having volunteered for a couple of community programs, there are some concerns that I notice within my community specifically with youth. I help run a basketball clinic in the summer and it’s alarming what young people are doing now because of technology advancement and a general lack of knowledge in my immediate community.

    I like to keep it simple and I think sustainability is pretty much like it says; the ability to sustain. This is in reference to some sort of ecosystem that uses resources to keep itself going. Resources can be anything money, food, labor or even something simple like clean water. What is our ability to keep these resources from drying up? Are we using too much ? I think sustainability is about identifying these factors and coming up with solutions to sustain our environment.

    As for my other classmates, I am super excited to read your opinions and thoughts on these and other subject matters. I am not an English teacher but the replies above mine are very well written and intelligent. I feel like I can learn a lot from all of you.

    Take care,
    Sterling

    Reply
  6. Jon-Marc

    Hi class,
    My name is Jon-Marc. It’s a hyphenated first name. And, yes, I go by Jon-Marc; it’s not one or the other. And, no, I’m not French. I was born and raised in Texas and moved to New York City thirteen years ago for a job. This is my first semester at Empire State College after being away from academia for over seventeen years. I have a dog named Weezie and am currently taking applications for a husband (for me, not Weezie). I’m an avid runner, prolific baker, and a staunch advocate for the equality and dignity of all people no matter race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. I am also a fan of the Oxford comma. In addition, I have some experience blogging. My now dormant site bakeittilyoumakeit.com was a blog in which I tried to entertainingly post about the joys of baking with recipes, videos, and the occasional write-ups of my favorite bakeries in and around NYC. The site was put on hold when I moved to a new apartment and realized that my kitchen was more suitable for a Smurf than it was a 6’6″ man.

    For me, Citizen Journalism means being a mindful participant in the world around me by presenting things via nontraditional platforms (blogs, online videos, microblogging, etc) that might otherwise be ignored by the various news outlets, whether “legacy” or “new” media. These things can cover a broad range of topics, from exposing an egregious wrong or starting dialogue by providing commentary on an issue that might have previously been overlooked by the community at large. It also means, for me, providing a voice to the voiceless and being an advocate for those that feel powerless.

    Regarding sustainability, the issue is far more complex than I once thought. Reading the course materials, I am beginning to understand that my idea and definition of sustainability isn’t as broad as it should be. Therefore, my preconceived notions are changing and my ideas are evolving. While sustainability in the past, for me, meant reducing my overall “footprint” whether by biking when possible or eating locally grown produce or using nontoxic materials in my everyday life, I am starting to realize that perhaps it’s not so much about reducing my overall footprint as it changing the footprint all together. What I mean by that is unless we radically change how we go about living day to day, there won’t be much living to go about – perhaps sooner than any of us realize. I thought Breaukellen’s comment provided as good and succinct a definition as any I’ve come across when they wrote that sustainability is “responsible stewardship of planet Earth and of each other.”

    I am excited about this class. Reading the previous comments from my classmates, I am confident I will be challenged in both my ideas and my overall writing ability. I hope, by semester’s end, I will have contributed to the overall dialogue in a positive and meaningful way.

    Reply
  7. violetvague

    Hi Everyone,
    I have enjoyed reading your introductions. I realized that my entries are posting under Violet Vague, my blog name and that I hadn’t posted my name. So…. I’m reintroducing myself … this is Lisa Kosek! I will work on changing the name on my blog so my posts are clearly from me.
    Thanks,
    Lisa

    Reply
  8. Bfrankjr Bernell B Frank Jr.

    My name is Bernell B Frank Jr and my interest in Citizen Journalism stems from my grassroots work in my local community. Everyday there are so many thing happening right before our eyes and yet with all of us wearing our personal veils of we never see or hear about it. When I was starting my non profit agency I realized that if was going to make an impact I needed to understand my communities needs. Thus, with the assistance of my local community board I found out information that literally shaped my organizations mission. Two major problems my community in University Heights in the Bronx struggles with is Prison recidivism (of incarnated youth retiring to jail within 2 months of their release) and High School dropout/graduation rate (one of the lowest in the city next to Arverne in Far Rockaway NY. My organization is currently working on grants that can actually provide ex offenders entry level jobs within the automotive, and computer recycling trade. For our at risk youth we create mentoring programs and extended tutoring and support programs that made them understand that success or failure was not their own, but was part of a larger picture that will someday concern their unborn children as well. However, without me first seeking the resources I would have never known those problems existed. Thus, the need for Community Journalism has a need in all communities so information can be shares and problems can be discussed on a social level.

    Furthermore, community journalism is important because it awakens us to the needs and resources within our community at large. When we as a people get caught up in our own daily needs we seldom see the community around us crumbling at our feet. Community journalism is that spark plug that gives us the power to see a problem and generate support as a catalyst for change.

    Sustainability to me means the ability to make the best use of what resources we have so they will be there for future generations. One position I had many years ago was working with an agency that recycled used pallets and crates. South Bronx Local 2000 was received discarded pallet wood and created furniture and wood flooring from it remains. While providing a valuable service by sustaining forestry they provided jobs for close to 30 local residents in their immediate vicinity. Working there opened my eyes to what I could do in my community. So I started a computer-recycling program. Every three months we collect used computers from various companies and we recycle them and give them to low-income families and to entry-level college students. In the past 3 years of operation I was able to recycle close to 1200 computers and employ 26 part time students whom learned how to repair computers and prepare for their A+ certification. So I’ve learned first hand if we can just make better use of what we have in front of us we can extend our precious resources for the next generation. In short, sustainability means life for our future by governing what we use in the present. Being a steward of our communities so they are there for all to enjoy.

    Reply
    1. Breukellen

      Hi Bernell! It sounds like you’re doing some great work. I like how you have connected sustainability (recycling computers) with working to improve social equity by training young members of an under-served community with valuable skills, and then giving back to that same community by donating the computers. It brings to mind what Heinberg wrote in The Post Carbon Reader about why he did not include an axiom for social equity – a society that lives by his axioms of sustainability will likely naturally “lead to greater levels of economic and political equity…” (pg. 24) Your program is a small scale example of how sustainable practices actually go hand in hand with job creation and community enhancement.

      I was also fascinated by this – ” For our at risk youth we create mentoring programs and extended tutoring and support programs that made them understand that success or failure was not their own, but was part of a larger picture that will someday concern their unborn children as well.” This is also a tenet of environmental sustainability. Leaving a livable planet for future generations, but here you are talking about cultural sustainability, I believe. It all relates, doesn’t it? The choices we make now, and what we put into our bodies now can effect the health, well-being, and successes of our children and grandchildren. How we treat the Earth now will effect the health of our children and grandchildren. Your work seems a microcosm of a global sustainability movement.

      Reply
  9. bfrankjr

    My name is Bernell B Frank Jr and my interest in Citizen Journalism stems from my grassroots work in my local community. Everyday there are so many thing happening right before our eyes and yet with all of us wearing our personal veils of we never see or hear about it. When I was starting my non profit agency I realized that if was going to make an impact I needed to understand my communities needs. Thus, with the assistance of my local community board I found out information that literally shaped my organizations mission. Two major problems my community in University Heights in the Bronx struggles with is Prison recidivism (of incarnated youth retiring to jail within 2 months of their release) and High School dropout/graduation rate (one of the lowest in the city next to Far Rockaway (Averne). My organization is currently working on grants that can actually provide ex offenders entry level jobs within the automotive, and computer recycling trade. For our at risk youth we create mentoring programs and extended tutoring and support programs that made them understand that success or failure was not their own, but was part of a larger picture that will someday concern their unborn children as well. However, without me first seeking the resources I would have never known those problems existed. Thus, the need for Community Journalism has a need in all communities so information can be shares and problems can be discussed on a social level.

    Furthermore, community journalism is important because it awakens us to the needs and resources within our community at large. When we as a people get caught up in our own daily needs we seldom see the community around us crumbling at our feet. Community journalism is that spark plug that gives us the power to see a problem and generate support as a catalyst for change.

    Sustainability to me means the ability to make the best use of what resources we have so they will be there for future generations. One position I had many years ago was working with an agency that recycled used pallets and crates. South Bronx Local 2000 was received discarded pallet wood and created furniture and wood flooring from it remains. While providing a valuable service by sustaining forestry they provided jobs for close to 30 local residents in their immediate vicinity. Working there opened my eyes to what I could do in my community. So I started a computer-recycling program. Every three months we collect used computers from various companies and we recycle them and give them to low-income families and to entry-level college students. In the past 3 years of operation I was able to recycle close to 1200 computers and employ 26 part time students whom learned how to repair computers and prepare for their A+ certification. So I’ve learned first hand if we can just make better use of what we have in front of us we can extend our precious resources for the next generation. In short, sustainability means life for our future by governing what we use in the present. Being a steward of our communities so they are there for all to enjoy.

    Reply
  10. himanee

    Hello everyone,

    I am participating in this class as a bit of an observer. My name is Himanee Gupta-Carlson and I am an ESC faculty member who works out of the Center for Distance Learning. Before I entered academia full time, I worked for 25 years in the mainstream newspaper industry, first as a reporter for The Kansas City Star and The Seattle Times and later as a copy editor for The Honolulu Advertiser.

    I maintain a health and fitness blog on WordPress called movingyourbody.wordpress.com, and several blogs on Blogger, including one on sustainability.

    Citizen Journalism excites me because it has the potential to return American journalism back to its roots. At least from my perspective, as a “recovering” journalist from the mainstream industry. Yet, I agree with many of you that there is a responsibility to write with accuracy, integrity, and fairness — and to follow the principles of good writing and editing that supported mainstream reporting through the twentieth century. I am in the process of developing a News and Feature Writing course for ESC students through the Center for Distance Learning, and I see Citizen Journalism as an aspect of helping to sustain the future of journalism. We can make it a lasting profession that is better, more connected and more responsible than the mainstream industry has been in recent decades. I am observing to learn, and I look forward to learning from all of you.

    Reply
  11. Tessa Lou Fix

    Hi,
    Sorry to respond so late but I am will be involved from now on. I have never blogged and feel that I am just on the cusp of really understanding how to utilize my technological voice with social media and other outlets. I was very resistant to this means of communication for some time, but see the benefits of how information and discussion can be so accessible to a much wider audience; especially to those who might not have access to it otherwise.

    Personally I am fascinated by how people live in their environments, and how the environments and inhabitants got to be the way they are. I am a writer, artist, hopefully advocate and perpetual investigator. I love to delve into people’s stories and beings. I personally feel compelled to make art about the places and people I whiteness i.e. To take a step back from mundane sights and experiences and whiteness the meaning or beauty or pain of them. I also feel a responsibility to living things and our surroundings. I hope that this Citizen Journalism will help me to find a structure for this responsibility and ability to produce something out of it, academic and otherwise.

    I believe that sustainability is the ability to take care of ourselves responsibly, and to be able to this for some time into the future.

    I am a life time resident of Chelsea, NYC, and have seen it change irrevocably. Now I am raising my son here. I also have always maintained residency in very rural Upstate, NY (in the Mohawk River Valley) and am emotionally, intellectually and artistically informed by these extreme different environs; both in New York State! I am so excited to have this substantiated context to really delve into my communities. Last month I was able to help effect positive change in my Upstate (tiny) community with a campaign to close a puppy mill that had plagued us for years. How wonderful to see a grassroots campaign work and know we can effect change.

    Looking forward,

    Tessa Lou Fix

    Reply
  12. Jon-Marc McDonald

    *Some thoughts on what makes something sustainability-related*

    This list is by no means exhaustive but below are a few factors I believe makes something “sustainability-related” are –
    • A product or practice that’s outcome is, directly or as a byproduct, environmentally advantageous. An example of this would be bike lanes. While providing a cheaper, healthier alternative to commuting, they also are environmentally advantageous as they reduce pollutants in the air, oil consumption, etc.
    • Efforts at more social equity. As people are elevated socially, out of the grips of poverty and desperation, they are able to make more informed decisions about the world around them, including environmental concerns. If one’s only focus is survival, there is no room to consider other variables such as sustainability.
    • Political, religious, and civic attitudes that address the larger condition. Legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, sermons preaching the maintenance and care of the earth as a moral imperative, civic leaders implementing and enforcing pro-environmental policies in their various municipalities.
    • Scientific research that’s mission is sustainability-centric, focused on creating technology and discovery aimed at eliminating our dependence on non-renewable and non-sustainable ways of life. Essentially finding new ways forward in all we do.

    Reply
  13. Sterling Julius Ivey

    After reading “We The Media”, I really learned a lot about how important grassroots journalism is. Though the book is slightly dated (2008), it successfully predicts some of the changes made in journalism due to technology. The advancement in the smartphone technology allows us to report on our findings with the most clarity and ease. Mr. Frank Jr., I have a new found respect for what you are doing in your community. I don’t have the most optimistic views on small organizations trying to do things in the community because I always believe that it never is enough. However, after reading the first three chapters in our text, I understand how powerful one voice can be and in the past it was hard for one voice to get their opinions heard but that isn’t the case anymore. A lot of government and community issues were unearth by one person being the voice of many. One of the issues that stuck out for me is in the beginning of Chapter 3, with the statement that Trent Lott said in 2002 that the nation would be better off if Strom Thurmond won the presidential campaign of 1948, in which he wanted to preserve segregation in the US. Major media all but ignored it but “tomorrow’s” media did not. Just by them keeping the story alive, it took on a life of it’s own that was started by grassroots which later caused the resignation of Trent Lott.

    I always thought to be an effective journalist, I would have to be hired by some established media outlet instead of having a passion on certain issues and voicing my opinion on it, no matter how big or small the issue is. I have a different paradigm now on how effective just being involved in something can be. What starts as a little snowball rolling down the hill can lead to something larger as long as it keeps itself alive.

    Reply
  14. lynn pacifico

    In my religion we worship many gods and goddesses and experience the earth as our mother, she who cares, nourishes and finally holds us. And while the “great mother” is eternal, through her we die and are born again. So it had been in the shamanic earth-based spiritual traditions for many generations but our cultural mindset now is to subdue and take advantage of the natural world with little societal recriminations.

    We have been taught that we have dominion and have every right to do what we want with nature. Consequently we now suffer from the poisonous effects of chemical and nuclear wastes and oil spills. Our inland water tables continue to be poisoned due to fracking. Our forests and oceans are experiencing large die offs and we continue to release “Franken” seeds, pesticides, radio waves, etc. into the atmosphere. Our foods are lacking in nutrition and are so different from what nature intended that we are now allergic to most of the foods our ancestors lived on for thousands of years.

    In fact we are so distanced from the natural world that we live like aliens on our own planet. With the constant extreme weather we have been experiencing, we might be witnessing the beginnings of mother earth throwing us off.

    How did western civilization become so out of touch with nature and what do we lose when we do not understand the meaning and uses of the cycles of the natural world? Very simply the diseases of civilization are a result of a civilization that is out of balance – we have lost the knowledge, value and power of the true feminine, (valuing only masculine sensibilities.) There has been a women’s holocaust that has continued for at least 3500 year without being recognized as such and this lack of recognition allows it and the disregard of the planet to continue.

    The women’s mysteries have been hidden, misinterpreted and misunderstood and our world is out of balance, filled with war and violence. From my vantage point I see sustainability evolving as a result of having respect for all life and this being helped by the return of the divine feminine and her sensibilities. Sustainability to me means leaving the earth no worse than you found it (if not better.)To this end I teach the women’s mysteries to small groups of women as my teacher taught me & her teacher taught her. Many women are so moved by this knowledge that they change their names as African Americans did in their r/evolution from slave to freedom and cultural re-identity.

    Applied in a practical sense if we understand the phases of the moon for instance we can use this knowledge to our advantage as the moon affects everything that flows, esp. for women (i.e. when is the best time to flow, how to change your flow, when not to have an operation, when to clean out & when to build.) The women that I teach go on to teach other women and so I hope the sensibilities that grow out of this knowledge spread.

    I have difficulty writing on this subject without sounding didactic and I need to work on that but I am witnessing us reaching critical mass and I am about to have a grandchild. I am alarmed about our legacy for the future. What challenges will he face after I am gone?

    In the meantime I act locally to help animals and keep my carbon footprint down. And while I see that most of my otherwise conscious friends still buy water bottles I try not to be critical and instead further challenge myself to do better: I carry a mess kit with me so that I don’t need takeout packaging, plastic bags, a coffee/tea cup and utensils while away from home: I sweep instead of using a vacuum cleaner: The little garbage pail in my bathroom has gotten a little banged up over the 25 or so years that I have had it but it still serves its purpose. Every time I think to replace it with a new shinier version I ask myself “how bourgeois are you?” and I keep the old banged up one.

    I also do not use a cell phone or any Wi-Fi as I believe that the electromagnetic waves generated by these technologies are not only unhealthy for the user but also for birds, bees, bats, butterflies, etc. I aim to not contribute to the assault on the natural if I can help it. I admit that I suffer from “low-tech syndrome” and apologize for my late entry (I have been having trouble with my computer.)

    My name is Lynn and while I have never blogged or read a blog, I identified with many of the statements from other class members. For example, I will no doubt find what I have written here embarrassing shortly (like tomorrow when I read it!)

    Reply
    1. violetvague

      Hi Lynn,
      Given your statements about the way in which you conduct a very non-technical life I am curious why you chose this particular course. I am impressed that you seem to be stepping out of your comfort zone to learn about something that you don’t have great familiarity with. What spiritual path do you follow? I am familiar with the gynocratic structure of most indigenous cultures and how they played an important role in valuing nature as an integral component of their societies.
      What from our readings did you find compelling? I would make an assumption that our media related materials are the most intriguing. Anyway I look forward to meeting at the residency to discuss more about how you see citizen journalism fitting into your lifestyle and your belief system.

      Reply
      1. lynn

        Hi Lisa,
        My involvement in community politics prompted me to take this class. I became involved in community politics 22 years ago when dog owners & the rest of our community lost the use of the last multi-use field in our area, JJ Walker Ball field.

        Part of a large community center, the actual field was a sand/clay lot with grassy flora growing wild along the edges. As there is no real parks below 57th St, our downtown districts are the most park starved in NYC so multi-use parks are vitally important to the life in & for the community.

        The NYC Parks Dept. began covering fields with field turf 22 years ago to provide a ball field for league teams. And although only a small fraction of the children and adults in the area play ball, if you are not involved in league sport you lost the use of our only field. City dog owners have always used open fields to gather, socialize with their community and exercise their dogs but we lost it all, including our community.

        Practically speaking, beside the obscenity of covering the earth in plastic (certainly not a way to provide flora for area & migrating birds, bees & butterflies) maintaining field turf costs as much as maintaining a real grass field. The initial cost to install field turf is very high with much time required for installation. (JJ Walker turfed field doesn’t drain properly, always flooded after rain and snow and often unusable because of maintenance repairs.)

        Pier 46 in the Hudson River Park had field turf installed. Recovery after Sandy for pier 46 was 6 months longer than the real grass pier 45, rendering the field turfed pier 46 unusable 6 months longer. The field turfed JJ Walker was unusable all of the 2013 season & didn’t open again till a year after the surface was destroyed by Sandy. The use of field turf in flood prone downtown Manhattan has proven to be foolish and should now qualify as park mismanagement.

        Each New York City district which does not have park land, needs a “multi-use field” to be used for individual community member’s individual purposes, including off-leash for dog owners (at specific times, if not at all times, as community specific needs determine.)

        Dog parks are not for dogs but for the dog owners (who pay taxes a portion of which go toward parks.) I never met my neighbors before I got dog and I never went to JJ Walker or the waterfront before I got a dog. As a city dweller, the dog park, or any off-leash area that I use to relax, is where I experience nature on a daily basis as well as meet with my friends. It was an important part of my life and 22 years later I am still at a loss without it. We organized, lobbied and won small dog runs but dogs are a field sport and these runs are too small for a simple game of Frisbee, agility, training, etc.

        Adequate space allows for training which promotes responsible dog ownership. Dog owners are the largest single-user group in our parks – in all seasons and in all weather. The numbers support this point as illustrated in the study done by the Central Park Conservancy: http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2011/04/28/central-park-survey-shows-visitors-prefer-thinking-over-softball/?mod=WSJBlog&mod=WSJ_NY_NY_Blog.) We need more open recreation space downtown. Now that there have been a few ball fields installed on pier 40 for league use we need JJ Walker to be returned to the community – not just for dog owners but for the entire neighborhood.

      2. violetvague

        Lynn,
        I look forward to discussing the topic of community building and how it impacts the ability to make sustainable choices. I also ran for office (twice) in my community because of an environmental issue. While I didn’t win the elections – the group I was affiliated with was able to create enough community awareness about the strip mine proposal we were battling to squelch their plans. I think the ability to communicate clearly and effectively is a critical tool when we build a community movement. Citizen journalism teaches us how to take our communication skills and reach a much larger audience.
        Lisa

  15. tessalou

    As I observe my neighborhood, including architecture, streets, waste disposal, people and their stories and so on, I am stuck by the deep divide. There is an economic divide between the onslaught of new development, seemingly inhabiting almost every free corner or lot that exits, ready made for high income New York transplants1, juxtaposed against Chelsea’s old life, which includes converted lofts housing art weirdos, brownstones, tenements and the projects on the West side. There was a core hispanic population here at one time and some of it survives. There is still a thriving gay community and whole slew of young families who have arrived in the last 8 years. There are still some drug infested SRO type residencies and old time bodegas as you approach the high-line, Chelsea Market and the Martime Hotel (which used to be Covenant house. This change over form charity house to hipster hotel, nightclub and restaurant, pontificates the Bloombergian switch I am referring to.) At the same time of this craze to build and serve a wealthy population, central parts of Chelsea lay vacant for years: on 7th ave between 21sat and 22nd store fronts remain vacant and small buildings abandoned.
    I see turnover of materials being hauled in and out of spaces, businesses closing and opening and construction as old industry and populations fade away.
    The idea that The Post Carbon Reader purposes, about shifting ourselves away from an economic and social structure which depends upon growth, in order to deal with our environmental crisis, is tied into my observations of Chelsea. There is nowhere better than in the heart of Manhattan (NYC) to see a cultural obsession with the cult of more, better, bigger, etc. In Chelsea if some piece of property can be altered in order to maximize capital, it most certainly will be. The supply and demand system is ruthless in NYC, monetarily wise. “Progress” comes fist and all other concerns later. I am most interested to try to find out about the environmental impact of all
    (1 According to City-Dada.com in 2011 Chelsea’s median income was $98,943 compared to New York’s State average of $49,461, and I’m sure it has grown since.)

    the new construction, let alone the social conations implied in a system which values money above all. However, I ask myself if this is not truly capitalism in action.
    I also wonder if it is possible to so radically go about overhauling a system so based in the growth model, as The Carbon Reader suggests. I want to farther understand how the book proposes we do this, for the change would in effect encompass every layer of our economic, social and governmental system. This dilemma is something I have come up against a lot in my studies and beliefs, because I do believe that radical change is needed on many fronts in our system, in order for humans to thrive as a whole, however I want to work for things that are actually possible. The dilemma here is if I then work on these small fronts, that do not really address the systemic issues, but may help in small areas, am I in effect undermining my purpose.
    I think that We The Media addresses issues in this same vain, in that it encourages individuals not to underestimate the power of their own voices. I love that it gives concrete examples of the power of individual reporting and “speaking out”, as it were. I have believed for a long time that our cultural obsession with celebrity, leaders and role models (even), is a means to disempowerment. If we believe that we must have a great leader to organize the success of a movement we are in effect useless on our own. Occupy Wall Street could have been a wonderful example of individuals effecting change without a central dynamic leader, I wish that it had continued in the positive way it could have. There is no question that the internet is a key tool in harnessing the strength of the people. It has basically revolutionized how we relate to each other as it is and allowed for a whole new transmission of information, as Dan Gilmore asserts in We the Media. Amazing, the numerous ways to post ideas that I am learning about form the book.

    In reading both books I feel that I am getting the general concepts discussed, but I am not retaining all the details. I hope that our residency will help with this and I am wondering if others are feeling the same way.

    P.S. On a side note, I had never whitenessed piles of garbage so prolific, as the ones I have in the last 6 years, outside of one of these new luxury buildings on garbage night. Some of this new construction attempts to simulate a loft experience with all of the amenities of the suburbs, amenities that were never available to loft livers before.

    Thanks,

    Tessa

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    As I observe my neighborhood, including architecture, streets, waste disposal, people and their stories and so on, I am stuck by the deep divide. There is an economic divide between the onslaught of new development, seemingly inhabiting almost every free corner or lot that exits, ready made for high income New York transplants1, juxtaposed against Chelsea’s old life, which includes converted lofts housing art weirdos, brownstones, tenements and the projects on the West side. There was a core hispanic population here at one time and some of it survives. There is still a thriving gay community and whole slew of young families who have arrived in the last 8 years. There are still some drug infested SRO type residencies and old time bodegas as you approach the high-line, Chelsea Market and the Martime Hotel (which used to be Covenant house. This change over form charity house to hipster hotel, nightclub and restaurant, pontificates the Bloombergian switch I am referring to.) At the same time of this craze to build and serve a wealthy population, central parts of Chelsea lay vacant for years: on 7th ave between 21sat and 22nd store fronts remain vacant and small buildings abandoned.
    I see turnover of materials being hauled in and out of spaces, businesses closing and opening and construction as old industry and populations fade away.
    The idea that The Post Carbon Reader purposes, about shifting ourselves away from an economic and social structure which depends upon growth, in order to deal with our environmental crisis, is tied into my observations of Chelsea. There is nowhere better than in the heart of Manhattan (NYC) to see a cultural obsession with the cult of more, better, bigger, etc. In Chelsea if some piece of property can be altered in order to maximize capital, it most certainly will be. The supply and demand system is ruthless in NYC, monetarily wise. “Progress” comes fist and all other concerns later. I am most interested to try to find out about the environmental impact of all
    (1 According to City-Dada.com in 2011 Chelsea’s median income was $98,943 compared to New York’s State average of $49,461, and I’m sure it has grown since.)

    the new construction, let alone the social conations implied in a system which values money above all. However, I ask myself if this is not truly capitalism in action.
    I also wonder if it is possible to so radically go about overhauling a system so based in the growth model, as The Carbon Reader suggests. I want to farther understand how the book proposes we do this, for the change would in effect encompass every layer of our economic, social and governmental system. This dilemma is something I have come up against a lot in my studies and beliefs, because I do believe that radical change is needed on many fronts in our system, in order for humans to thrive as a whole, however I want to work for things that are actually possible. The dilemma here is if I then work on these small fronts, that do not really address the systemic issues, but may help in small areas, am I in effect undermining my purpose.
    I think that We The Media addresses issues in this same vain, in that it encourages individuals not to underestimate the power of their own voices. I love that it gives concrete examples of the power of individual reporting and “speaking out”, as it were. I have believed for a long time that our cultural obsession with celebrity, leaders and role models (even), is a means to disempowerment. If we believe that we must have a great leader to organize the success of a movement we are in effect useless on our own. Occupy Wall Street could have been a wonderful example of individuals effecting change without a central dynamic leader, I wish that it had continued in the positive way it could have. There is no question that the internet is a key tool in harnessing the strength of the people. It has basically revolutionized how we relate to each other as it is and allowed for a whole new transmission of information, as Dan Gilmore asserts in We the Media. Amazing, the numerous ways to post ideas that I am learning about form the book.

    In reading both books I feel that I am getting the general concepts discussed, but I am not retaining all the details. I hope that our residency will help with this and I am wondering if others are feeling the same way.

    P.S. On a side note, I had never whitenessed piles of garbage so prolific, as the ones I have in the last 6 years, outside of one of these new luxury buildings on garbage night. Some of this new construction attempts to simulate a loft experience with all of the amenities of the suburbs, amenities that were never available to loft livers before.

    Thanks,

    Tessa

    As I observe my neighborhood, including architecture, streets, waste disposal, people and their stories and so on, I am stuck by the deep divide. There is an economic divide between the onslaught of new development, seemingly inhabiting almost every free corner or lot that exits, ready made for high income New York transplants1, juxtaposed against Chelsea’s old life, which includes converted lofts housing art weirdos, brownstones, tenements and the projects on the West side. There was a core hispanic population here at one time and some of it survives. There is still a thriving gay community and whole slew of young families who have arrived in the last 8 years. There are still some drug infested SRO type residencies and old time bodegas as you approach the high-line, Chelsea Market and the Martime Hotel (which used to be Covenant house. This change over form charity house to hipster hotel, nightclub and restaurant, pontificates the Bloombergian switch I am referring to.) At the same time of this craze to build and serve a wealthy population, central parts of Chelsea lay vacant for years: on 7th ave between 21sat and 22nd store fronts remain vacant and small buildings abandoned.
    I see turnover of materials being hauled in and out of spaces, businesses closing and opening and construction as old industry and populations fade away.
    The idea that The Post Carbon Reader purposes, about shifting ourselves away from an economic and social structure which depends upon growth, in order to deal with our environmental crisis, is tied into my observations of Chelsea. There is nowhere better than in the heart of Manhattan (NYC) to see a cultural obsession with the cult of more, better, bigger, etc. In Chelsea if some piece of property can be altered in order to maximize capital, it most certainly will be. The supply and demand system is ruthless in NYC, monetarily wise. “Progress” comes fist and all other concerns later. I am most interested to try to find out about the environmental impact of all
    (1 According to City-Dada.com in 2011 Chelsea’s median income was $98,943 compared to New York’s State average of $49,461, and I’m sure it has grown since.)

    the new construction, let alone the social conations implied in a system which values money above all. However, I ask myself if this is not truly capitalism in action.
    I also wonder if it is possible to so radically go about overhauling a system so based in the growth model, as The Carbon Reader suggests. I want to farther understand how the book proposes we do this, for the change would in effect encompass every layer of our economic, social and governmental system. This dilemma is something I have come up against a lot in my studies and beliefs, because I do believe that radical change is needed on many fronts in our system, in order for humans to thrive as a whole, however I want to work for things that are actually possible. The dilemma here is if I then work on these small fronts, that do not really address the systemic issues, but may help in small areas, am I in effect undermining my purpose.
    I think that We The Media addresses issues in this same vain, in that it encourages individuals not to underestimate the power of their own voices. I love that it gives concrete examples of the power of individual reporting and “speaking out”, as it were. I have believed for a long time that our cultural obsession with celebrity, leaders and role models (even), is a means to disempowerment. If we believe that we must have a great leader to organize the success of a movement we are in effect useless on our own. Occupy Wall Street could have been a wonderful example of individuals effecting change without a central dynamic leader, I wish that it had continued in the positive way it could have. There is no question that the internet is a key tool in harnessing the strength of the people. It has basically revolutionized how we relate to each other as it is and allowed for a whole new transmission of information, as Dan Gilmore asserts in We the Media. Amazing, the numerous ways to post ideas that I am learning about form the book.

    In reading both books I feel that I am getting the general concepts discussed, but I am not retaining all the details. I hope that our residency will help with this and I am wondering if others are feeling the same way.

    P.S. On a side note, I had never whitenessed piles of garbage so prolific, as the ones I have in the last 6 years, outside of one of these new luxury buildings on garbage night. Some of this new construction attempts to simulate a loft experience with all of the amenities of the suburbs, amenities that were never available to loft livers before.

    Thanks,

    Tessa

    Reply
    1. violetvague

      Hi Tessa,
      I found your post to be so interesting for a couple of reasons.
      First … I live in a rural/suburban community outside of Saratoga Springs. There is little diversity in our region, especially Greenfield Center -where I live. The history of the area with regard to ethnic communities is sometimes highlighted in newspaper articles or art exhibitions, but for the most part we are a highly homogeneous area.
      Second … the gentrification you speak of is going on here as well. One particular developer purchases every vacant property and renovates them into high priced apartments and condominiums. The property values were assessed to a point (pre-recession) that a strong, vibrant downtown of flourishing small businesses changed to empty store fronts and corporate boutiques (The Gap, Banana Republic, etc) because of the increased rents. A community that once approached growth management very carefully has taken on the more is best and bigger is better stand point. This economy based on growth has forced the changes I speak of … more money means success, so charge more and to do so we must go bigger. I am looking forward to reaching the part of the Post Carbon Reader that deals with economics.

      Lisa Kosek

      Reply
      1. tessalou

        Yes it seems to be a nation wide issue, in places where it is possible to capitalize on residential and commercial growth at all. I have a house near Canajoharie, like an hr from Saratoga, so I figured you might know it. In those parts we have almost the antithesis of this sort of gentrification issue. People struggle so dramatically to survive, that businesses are always closing and no one wants to invest much, because there is just not much possibility of a renewal of the agrarian based prosperity, that at times thrived in these small towns and regions. Farming is still very important here, interestingly. In the last years the Beach Nut factory closed it’s doors, in the town of Canajoharie. (Tax deductions drew it to another area.) The turn of the century factory, sits forlorn and abandoned. (Though I just heard that someone was buying it, we will see what happens.) It not only once employed hundred’s of locals, it is also deeply entrenched in the history of the town. Anyway, the only chains around are Walmart, Stewerts, Price-chopper and fast food stops. It is mostly white as well, but there is a little more diversity than there used to be. Anyway, I just find the comparison compelling.

        Great exchanging with you,

        Tessa Lo

    2. lynn

      Tessa states:
      “As I observe my neighborhood, including architecture, streets, waste disposal, people and their stories and so on, I am stuck by the deep divide. There is an economic divide between the onslaught of new development, seemingly inhabiting almost every free corner or lot that exits, ready made for high income New York transplants1, juxtaposed against Chelsea’s old life, which includes converted lofts housing art weirdos, brownstones, tenements and the projects on the West side.”

      Yes Tessa, I have witnessed this economic divide also, including on the community board and ”advisory” council for the Hudson River Park. There are no lower income & few middle income people on either. Board members are there to protect their interests. For instance, people buy a brownstone across from a park, join the community board, then get proposals passed to limit activity and sound in the park. (I have developed a very bad opinion of community level politics during my 22 year involvement. NO ONE here gets elected to any civic office unless they make deals with the right people. I have witnessed it.)

      If our recreational facilities, for instance, are to accurately represent the neighborhood population it must have representation from all income levels but if you cannot easily pay your monthly expenses how can you devote time to the community board?

      Another example of this is the Little League which took over our only multi-use field. The teams in the league are made up of children who attend private schools. The man who lobbied for building the ball fields in our district gets paid $40,000 a year from the league. At the same time he also chaired the parks/waterfront committee until conflict of interest charges were filed. It didn’t really matter as now he chairs the “land use” committee. He is a master deal maker & he does it because he can. The system, the way it is, supports this.

      And Tessa, I moved into my West Village converted loft as an artist (& painted for a living here for 20 years.) My building was full of artists, musicians, actors, singers, writers, etc.. And maybe you could call us “weirdos” (lol!) but it sure was fun & each others’ creativity sparked each others’ creativity, sort of like Steven Johnson’s book, Emergence, speaks about how the “whole” contributes to make something more than the sum of its parts. There was also a real sense of “neighbor”.

      Those days ended after the building went co-op. Now we have bankers & lawyers living here. I don’t have neighbors anymore because these people are basically looking out for their financial investment. Everything else comes second.

      Reply
  16. violetvague

    Hello From the North Country!

    My tardiness in posting has given me food for thought about what I wanted to focus on for this post. Heating issues in my c.1890 home have made it difficult to focus on writing because, well …it’s just been darn cold in here! But now that the heat is working again, I realize that our dependency on heating oil and a home heating system that requires it is relevant to our reading from the Post Carbon Reader. Author Richard Heinberg’s Five Axioms of Sustainability offer critical concepts to be addressed when defining and discussing sustainability. The third axiom states “To be sustainable the use of renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is less than or equal to the rate of natural replenishment.” In our region of New York state there has been a shortage of fuel and families have had to wait for delivery. The reasons have to do more with the fuel providers’ inability to access the fuel, but the fossil fuel that burns in my furnace is as costly to our environment (and our family budget) as the gasoline we fuel our cars with.

    So how does citizen journalism come into play in this scenario? A bastion of post carbon heating alternatives exist for those brave enough to make the leap from traditionally engineered heating systems that rely on oil or gas. My Google search of the phrase “off the grid heating” resulted in 10,500,000 results in .33 seconds! I selected the “images” tab and a myriad of photos depicting solar panels, wind turbines, stoves, battery units, and other designs I wasn’t immediately familiar with appeared. The ability for off the grid homesteaders to share their successes in finding alternative methods of providing heat and electricity in their homes is an excellent contribution to citizen journalism. These bloggers provide concrete ways of moving from the unsustainable practice of relying on fossil fuels to ushering in the post carbon era.

    Lisa Kosek

    WordPress.com / Gravatar.com credentials can be used.

    Reply
    1. Karyn

      Great points, Lisa.

      I have some land that, in the future, I hope to build a small off the grid house on, and I’m looking into passive solar heating and other means of energy efficient heating. There are a lot of neat old-new building strategies out there for accomplishing this. In some ways my task will be easier because I’ll be making a design from scratch, rather than modifying an existing structure. On the other hand, retrofitting an existing structure is often (if not usually) more sustainable than building a new one.

      That said, one “old” strategy that interests me is building with heat-absorbing thermal mass, have been around for thousands of years. We ditched a lot of those technologies when we discovered cheap oil, sadly. The “new” part of the old-new designs are represented by the kinds of fascinating research that is being done with solar and geothermal power.

      One building strategy that I learned from the Rocky Mountain Institute, has to do with using passive solar (sunlight directly on the building, often with tall south facing windows) where the light-heat is absorbed by a thick dirt floor. Because my land is on a hill, I might dig into the hillside and thereby allow the ground around the house to absorb heat all summer, and slowly emit it all winter. That’s a very simple explanation of a far more complex building design, but you get the idea…

      Your point is well taken, about bloggers sharing their strategies. That’s where I’ve come up with so many ideas.

      Karyn

      Reply
  17. tessalou

    This is so interesting, I have a house out in the country near Canajoharie (Upstate, NY) that I live part of the year in. A lot of people in the region use only wood stoves to heat their homes, mostly for economic reasons, and many local farmers (and others) stay afloat by “doing wood” in the winter. (We at this point, only have a wood stove and electric heaters for a huge rambling 200 hundred year old farm house, so we have to shut the house down for months in the winter so that the pipes don’t burst.) Anyway, I have always wondered about the environmental impact of the emissions of burnt wood verses the other types of heating. It can’t be as bad! But I really don’t know.

    Thanks,
    Tessa

    Reply
    1. Karyn

      Tessa,
      I have a farmette not far from you, then! Mine is a couple miles outside of Fort Plain, and I’m up there every weekend in the spring and summer, planting trees and trying desperately to cultivate a green thumb. I have an off-off the grid cabin, meaning an outhouse and no running water, but we catch rainwater off the roof. We heat with wood, too (though of course, we only have to heat a tiny cabin). Part of the question of how polluting it is, emission-wise, depends on what type of oven you use to burn the wood. For example, some types of stoves (like masonry ovens) have double chambers that, because they burn the fuel stock twice, emit very little.

      One thing I’m doing as an experiment is planting coppice trees–osage orange–so that I can 1) continue to harvest wood without having to chop down the whole tree, and 2) osage wood burns slowly and produces more heat per mass than many other types of wood (a high BTU, which refers to its heat output).

      Karyn

      Reply

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