23 December 2009

dianne glave's rooted in the earth



Dianne D. Glave's Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage is due out August 2010.

According to the Independent Publishing Group:

With a basis in environmental history, this groundbreaking study challenges the idea that a meaningful attachment to nature and the outdoors is contrary to the black experience. The discussion shows that contemporary African American culture is usually seen as an urban culture, one that arose out of the Great Migration and has contributed to international trends in fashion, music, and the arts ever since. But because of this urban focus, many African Americans are not at peace with their rich but tangled agrarian legacy. On one hand, the book shows, nature and violence are connected in black memory, especially in disturbing images such as slave ships on the ocean, exhaustion in the fields, dogs in the woods, and dead bodies hanging from trees. In contrast, though, there is also a competing tradition of African American stewardship of the land that should be better known. Emphasizing the tradition of black environmentalism and using storytelling techniques to dramatize the work of black naturalists, this account corrects the record and urges interested urban dwellers to get back to the land.

Glave is also the coeditor of To Love the Wind and the Rain: African Americans and Environmental History (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005).

16 December 2009

elephants, peta & ringling bros


If Richard Pryor were alive, he would smile and wince after reading David Montgomery's Washington Post article, "PETA, Ringling Bros. at odds over the treatment of baby circus elephants." Pryor was outspoken about the abuse of animals in circuses, serving as a PETA spokesperson on this issue. He would be happy that PETA appears to have solid evidence re Ringling's abuse of baby elephants. And he would wince at the photos of elephants being poked and pulled by Ringling trainers and at the fact that baby elephants are forcibly separated from their mothers.

I am also opposed to the use of animals in circuses and have participated in anti-circus demonstrations.

Read the article and tell me what you think.

15 December 2009

ny 2 dc, by bike!


In April 1928 (no, this is not a typo), Marylou Jackson, Velma Jackson, Ethyl Miller, Leolya Nelson and Constance White, cycled from NY to DC--more than 250 miles--in 3 days! I found the Washington Tribune article about them more than 10 years ago when I was researching my dissertation. I didn't end up putting them in my diss but every couple of years I think of them.

Their wheels are really squeaking in my ears now:

*yesterday, I did a 1-day trip to NYC & back via train
*i saw the tweed ride exactly one month ago
*i have been thinking about cycling again
*we are in the midst of COP 15

you get my drift.

so join me on my research and cycling excursions. share your questions, research ideas, cycling stories, photos, videos. and i will share mine. i hope to have a photo, taken by Addison Scurlock, of the five women soon.


Photo of the Tweed Ride in DC on 15 November 2009 by Evy Mages for the Washington Post.
If anyone knows the person in the photo, please ask her to contact me.

11 December 2009

'mine' tackles dogs, loss & ownership


Filmmaker Geralyn Pezanoski has produced a compelling narrative about the place of dogs during Hurricane Katrina. She follows New Orleans residents who lost dogs and want them back and others who made homes for those lost dogs and don't want to, in turn, lose them. Mine, due out in theaters in January and PBS on 16 February, opens up space for a dialogue about animals, humans, love and ownership.

Check out the trailer.




photo from 9 June 2009 Associated Press article by Michael Kunzelman.

10 December 2009

interview blast from the past


My sister, Tracye McQuirter, and I started blackvegetarians.org ten years ago. Tracye recently received a request for information about a 2004 interview we did with Kristin Candour and Tashee Meadows, co-founders of Justice of All Species (JAS), an animal rights organization run by folks of color. I reread the interview today and wanted to share it with you. Read it here.
And comment here!

09 December 2009

check the weather!


check out checktheweather.net for real-time updates on what diasporic young people have to say about COP 15.

07 December 2009

kari fulton in copenhagen


Kari Fulton, youth campaign coordinator for the Environmental Justice and Climate Change initiative, is attending the United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 7-18 December 2009.

Listen to her interview with Michel Martin today.

uncf receives $1.8m green building grant from kresge


The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) recently received a $1.8 million grant from the Kresge Foundation for a green building initiative. UNCF will offer a series of green building learning institutes, technical assistance and mini-grants. The goals of the grant are to increase the number of leed-certified buildings and to encourage presidents to sign the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

Read the UNCF press release about the grant initiative.

UNCF president, Michael Lomax, spoke with Michele Martin today. Listen below.

06 December 2009

stop going green!

This is what Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, advises in a Washington Post editorial today. He argues that "going green" is a largely ineffectual fad. Instead, we should be looking to the strategies and tactics employed by civil rights activists in the 1960s: appealing to morality and instituting laws.

Read it here.

03 December 2009

environmental justice & global citizenship conference


Mansfield, College, in Oxford, England, will host Inter-Disciplinary.Net's 9th Global Conference, "Environmental Justice & Global Citizenship," 11 July to 13 July 2010.

"This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary conference aims to explore the role of ecology and environmental thinking in the context of contemporary society and international affairs, and assess the implications for our understandings of fairness, justice and global citizenship. ‘Environmental justice’ is conceived broadly as reflecting not only justice in the context of human communities but also towards other species, ecosystems, habitats, landscapes, succeeding generations and the environment as a whole. ‘Global citizenship’ is understood as an awareness of individual’s relative responsibilities in the global context. Within this framework the 9th Global Conference on Environmental Justice and Global Citizenship will explicitly explore the role of science and technology in achieving sustainability."

Abstracts are due 15 January 2010.

click here for more information

02 December 2009

going green from the black perspective conference


Stony Brook University, in Stony Brook, NY, is hosting, "Going Green from the Black Perspective: The Significance of Environmental Issues in the Black Community," a one-day conference, on 25 February 2010.

The conference will explore the multiple ways that activists, scholars, agriculturalists, and politicians respond to environmental issues that impact African Americans. Conference organizers are especially interested in the following topics:

*impact of toxic dump sites in urban communities
*green initiatives from the grassroots level to the international stage
*relationships between environmentalism and activism
*educating children about the vulnerability of the planet.

Other topics will also be considered.

A 300-word abstract and cv are due by 15 December. Send to Dr. Tracey Walters, twalters@notes.cc.sunysb.edu, or Stony Brook University, Department of Africana Studies, SBS 257, Stony Brook, NY 11794.

24 November 2009

chef mara making vegan chocolate chip cookies



Chef Mara is demonstrating how to make vegan chocolate chip cookies from scratch. After she pressed all of the cookie dough onto the cookie sheet, she used her cookie cutter to form them into heart shapes.

they were delicious!


i shot this video with my iphone and uploaded it to youtube.


eva cassidy is singing "autumn leaves" in the background.

19 November 2009

zipcar 101


Most days, I use a Zipcar to take my 4 yr old to/from school--which has sparked quite a bit of interest from parents and friends. So here's a quick tutorial for the curious.

Zipcar is a car-sharing company, occupying a unique space between renting and owning. As Zipcar says, "it's wheels when you want them" and not when you don't.

After filling out an application*, getting approved and paying an annual membership fee*, you will receive your Zipcar card in the mail. *(Look for Zipcar fee-waiving promotions.) The Zipcar card is what you use to un/lock the car, by pressing it against a device on the windshield. Once inside, you are ready to go: the keys remain inside the cars right by the ignition.

The Zipcars that I use are about 2 blocks from my apt in someone's driveway. All Zipcars remain in their designated spots. So where you pick them up is where you drop them off. My cars du jour are either a Honda Civic or a Mazda 3--both brand new. On days when I want something a little sportier (can you say MiniCooper!) or need a pickup truck to haul things, I can go to the website and find the closest locations for those cars.

ok, so what are the costs? Zipcar charges by the hour (and also has day rates). For my school runs, I get the car for 1 1/2 hours, which runs me about $15 or $9/hr. (I also do food shopping, etc.) The cheapest rate (at least in DC) is $7/hr for a Prius. (The MiniCooper will cost you more, of course!) There are no insurance costs and gas is free. Let me repeat: gas is free. There is a gas card in every car.

So why do I Zipcar? It's a great middle ground between public transportation (which I do) and buying a car (which I don't want to do).

Read this for the green benefits of Zipcarring.


I would love to hear stories from others who have chosen Zipcar over purchasing a car.


photo by chocolate & arugula. feel free to use.

16 November 2009

re-greening africa initiative


The World Wide Web Foundation has initiated a project that will use technology to help farmers grow foods in challenging soils. Through the Web Alliance for Re-greening in Africa, W4RA for short, local developers will be trained to use Web-based platforms to share local innovations.

The idea for this initiative grew out of strategies employed by farmers in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger who raised crops during and after several droughts in the 1980s. Twenty-five years later, the success of their work is clear: more than half a million hectares of previously unusable land literally became fruitful again.

Learn more.

13 November 2009

sustainable spelman


Spelman College just launched its new website, Sustainable Spelman.

check it out!

05 November 2009

american studies association conf in dc


The annual meeting of the American Studies Association starts today in Washington, DC. The theme is "Practices Of Citizenship, Sustainability And Belonging." There are ample sessions on humans and the environment and a couple of papers exploring critical animal studies. Check out the full program here.

One of the most interesting paper titles is "Booker T. Washington's Ecofeminist Approach to the New South," written by Janice Tanemura, University of California, Berkeley. Tanemura is one of the panelists for "The Contradictions of Environmentality" panel, which is also an online session. So if you are unable to attend the conference you can be a virtual participant by reading and commenting on the papers in this session. Check out Tanemura's paper (retitled "Working with Hands: Race and Ecofeminism in the New South" for Social Text) and let's dialogue about it.

01 November 2009

happy world vegan day!

Today is World Vegan Day. I can't think of a better way to celebrate than sharing chocolate & arugula with all the people you know and love.

31 October 2009

ben harper: ecoist

Ben Harper on the cultural imperative of U.S. environmental activists:

29 October 2009

28 October 2009

kerry washington: ecoist

I found this video while late-night surfing on Hulu. Kerry Washington is quite thoughtful here.

26 October 2009

spelman's green dorm receives leed-certification


Spelman College's green dorm, The Suites, is officially leed-certified, making it the first hbcu with a leed-certified residence hall. The Suites received a silver rating.

Click below for a video tour of The Suites:
Eco-Change At Spelman

24 October 2009

350.org's international day of climate action


24 October is 350.org's International Day of Climate Action. People are gathering in 180+ countries at 5,200+ events to show their commitment to environmental activism.

Check out 350.org's website to find events near you and for photos and videos from around the world that will be uploaded throughout the day.


Photo of activists in Addis Ababa.

22 October 2009

hampton's 2010 green report card take 2


The 2010 Green Report Card has a new feature: online availability of survey responses completed by schools. Here are some highlights from the Hampton University surveys:

1. President William R. Harvey has not signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment.

2. The HU Green Committee is the principal group focusing on sustainability initiatives.

3. Hampton plans to convert to geothermal systems and has approved a green purchasing policy.

4. Hampton has installed highly efficient HVAC systems in new and renovated buildings.

5. There are signs on every light switch that state: Hampton University Goes Green, Please Turn Off the Lights.

6. Aluminum, cardboard, glass, paper and all plastics are recycled.

7. Strategies for Ecology, Education, Development & Sustainability, a student organization, focuses on energy conservation, recycling, beautification and ecological concerns.

8. The alternative-fuel vehicles include hybrid cars, electric vehicles and biodiesel trucks and buses.

9. There is a marine and environmental science major and minor, and an environmental science concentration in the biology and chemistry graduate programs.

hampton university's 2010 green report card


The Sustainable Endowments Institute released its 2010 Green Report Card on 7 October. Hampton University received a grade of "D+". (Hampton received a "D+" in 2009. It was not graded in 2007 and 2008.)

The overall grade was calculated from the individual grades listed in the following categories:

1. Administration--Examines sustainability policies and commitments by school administrators and trustees. "D"

2. Climate Change & Energy--Looks at energy efficiency, conservation, commitment to emissions reductions and use of renewable energy on campus. "D"

3. Food & Recycling--Evaluates dining services policies including recycling and composting programs. "C"

4. Green Building--Recognizes campus-wide green building guidelines and green building design for new and existing buildings. "F"

5. Student Involvement--Looks at student participation in sustainability initiatives and support for these activities by school administrators. "D"
"
6. Transportation--Focuses on alternative transportation for students, faculty and staff, as well as alternative fuel or hybrid technology for campus fleets. "C"

7. Endowment Transparency--Addresses accessibility to endowment investment information and shareholder proxy voting records. "D"

8. Investment Priorities--Considers prioritization of return on investment, investment in renewable energy funds, and investment in community development loan funds. "B"

9. Shareholder Engagement--Looks at shareholder proxy voting practices, including opportunities for student, faculty, and alumni participation. "F"

Hampton University, Howard University and Spelman College are the only hbcus graded by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, which evaluates the 300 colleges and universities in the U.S. & Canada with the largest endowments, as well as 32 additional schools that applied for inclusion.

Big apologies to Hampton University for erroneously stating in earlier posts that Howard University and Spelman College are the only hbcus graded by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.


Photo from Hampton University Admissions Facebook page.

21 October 2009

solar power in northern ethiopia

I just found this video.



Now I want to become a solar technician like Mena Himicheal!

19 October 2009

♫wind and wave together♫

CleanTechnica.com made a puzzling comparison between race and energy:

Somewhere in the U.S. there is a justice of the peace who still refuses to perform inter-racial marriages, but Principle Power, Inc. has no such backward looking qualms when it comes [to] marrying two different forms of sustainable energy.

hmmm....

While chocolate & arugula loves to find examples of the interplay between black & green in popular culture and, thus, is happy for the content, I am surprised by this comparative reference.

Tina Casey, the author, probably thought that this was simply a clever way to bridge two news bits. However, I think it reflects something deeper: the belief that energy technologies have identities which are rendered non-political by sustainability. That sustainability is a site where difference doesn't matter unlike the differences of race, gender and sexuality in human technologies such as the law, in which a white justice of the peace refuses to marry a white woman and a black man or when primarily heterosexual members of Congress refuse to work to enact civil laws that allow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals to marry.

But before we start singing ♫wind and wave together♫--freedom song style--we must remember that the deployment of sustainable energy technologies is not divorced from politics, especially in our post-Katrina moment.

16 October 2009

national museum of african american history & culture gets greener


The National Museum of African American History & Culture, which will be the Smithsonian Institution's first LEED-certified museum, will receive $10 million toward its capital campaign from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The construction phase begins in 2012 and completion is expected in 2015.

Four architectural firms teamed up to compete for and win the design competition: Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates, David Brody Bond & SmithGroup. The latter architectural firm will manage the LEED-certification process.


Photo from designbuild-network.com.

15 October 2009

african american studies & critical animal studies take 2

Just two days after (re)viewing Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep and engaging w/ Nijah Cunningham about Stan's culpability as a sheep killer, I start reading Richard W. Bulliett's Hunters, Herders & Hamburgers, as a virtual participant in the London Animal Studies Reading Group. His epigraph is a poem by Philip Levine titled, "Not This Pig", which includes a reference to the "pudgy white fingers" of a human pig killer. And then while blogging about Dead Prez, I came across their "Animal in Man" video, in which (male) pigs and (male) humans become (phenotypically) interchangeable. Chk out the Dead Prez video and Philip Levine poem below. I'd love to hear how you think these pieces are in dialogue.



Animals Are Passing From Our Lives

It's wonderful how I jog
on four honed-down ivory toes
my massive buttocks slipping
like oiled parts with each light step.

I'm to market. I can smell
the sour, grooved block, I can smell
the blade that opens the hole
and the pudgy white fingers

that shake out the intestines
like a hankie. In my dreams
the snouts drool on the marble,
suffering children, suffering flies,

suffering the consumers
who won't meet their steady eyes
for fear they could see. The boy
who drives me along believes

that any moment I'll fall
on my side and drum my toes
like a typewriter or squeal
and shit like a new housewife

discovering television,
or that I'll turn like a beast
cleverly to hook his teeth
with my teeth. No. Not this pig.


The poem is available in a book with the same title, published by Wesleyan Poetry Program.

14 October 2009

university of puerto rico @ solar decathlon

The University of Puerto Rico is representing the Caribbean in the 2009 Solar Decathlon on the National Mall in Washington, DC with CASH--Caribbean Affordable Solar House.



The competition began on 8 October and the public is free to view the houses through 18 October.



See video below to learn more about the CASH team.

CASH (Caribbean Affordable Solar House) from Maximum DC on Vimeo.

10 October 2009

chocolate & arugula @greenfestival dc

My diy chocolate & arugula t-shirt was a big hit at the green festival yesterday. (The wrinkles stretch out when I wear it!) Here are some photo highlights from the Green Festival and from the Blacks in Green dinner Friday night at Busboys & Poets.

Pandora Thomas, Global Exchange; her sister, Carla Thomas, left & Naomi Davis, Blacks in Green, right

Busboys & Poets, 5th & K, DC, Friday 9 October 2009

Cornel West. I wish I had also gotten a photo of the sister doing sign language interpretation. Can you imagine having to sign for Cornel West?!

Green Festival, DC, Sunday 11 October 2009

Lauren Von Der Pool, Chef

Green Festival, DC, Sunday 11 October 2009

Elijah Joy, the organic soul chef & Tracye McQuirter, byanygreensnecessary

Green Festival, DC, Saturday 10 October 2009

photos by Marya A. McQuirter. feel free to use!

08 October 2009

dead prez & majora carter @ power shift canada

@majoracarter tweeted that she will share the stage with Dead Prez at PowerShift Canada 2009 on Friday 23 October. She is excited because "these are the bridges that we need to build...." I wonder if Dead Prez will help her build a bridge to veganism. It is my understanding that Carter (like Al Gore, Van Jones & Obama) ignores the inconvenient truth that the animals-as-products industries generate more greenhouses gas emissions and contribute more to global warming than every mode of global transportation combined.



photo from wikipedia

07 October 2009

spelman's 2010 green report card take 2


The 2010 Green Report Card has a new feature: online availability of survey responses completed by schools. Here are some highlights from the Spelman surveys:

1. The Suites, pictured above, is the college's 1st green dorm, LEED certification pending.

2. President Beverly Daniel Tatum has not signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

3. There is a sustainability component in the strategic plan.

4. Sustainable Spelman is the committee that advises on/implements sustainability initiatives.

5. Recycles aluminum, cardboard, computers, glass, light bulbs, paper, printer cartridges & all plastics.

6. Sustainability Task Force is a student run organization.

7. There is an organic garden on campus.

8. Composting bins are available in dining halls.

9. Environmental Science and Studies major & minor.



photo from http://www.spelman.edu/administration/business/fms/greenbuilding.shtml

lower 9th ward's new floating house


A resident of the Lower 9th Ward, displaced by Hurricane Katrina (and federal neglect), will soon live in the country's 1st (legit) floating house. A collaboration between Brad Pitt's Make it Right Foundation and Tom Mayne's Morphosis Architects, the FLOAT house was designed with several goals in mind: to float in case of a hurricane, to reflect the pre-Katrina architecture of the Lower 9th Ward, to be affordable, sustainable and easily replicable. Read about how they did it and listen to an NPR interview with Tom Mayne.

spelman college's 2010 green report card


The Sustainable Endowments Institute just released its 2010 Green Report Card. Spelman College received a grade of "D". (Spelman received a "D-" in 2008 and 2009. It was not graded in 2007.)

The overall grade was calculated from the individual grades listed in the following categories:

1. Administration--Examines sustainability policies and commitments by school administrators and trustees. "C"

2. Climate Change & Energy--Looks at energy efficiency, conservation, commitment to emissions reductions and use of renewable energy on campus. "F"

3. Food & Recycling--Evaluates dining services policies including recycling and composting programs. "D"

4. Green Building--Recognizes campus-wide green building guidelines and green building design for new and existing buildings. "F"

5. Student Involvement--Looks at student participation in sustainability initiatives and support for these activities by school administrators. "D"
"
6. Transportation--Focuses on alternative transportation for students, faculty and staff, as well as alternative fuel or hybrid technology for campus fleets. "C"

7. Endowment Transparency--Addresses accessibility to endowment investment information and shareholder proxy voting records. "F"

8. Investment Priorities--Considers prioritization of return on investment, investment in renewable energy funds, and investment in community development loan funds. "C"

9. Shareholder Engagement--Looks at shareholder proxy voting practices, including opportunities for student, faculty, and alumni participation. "F"

Spelman College and Howard University are the only hbcus graded by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, which evaluates the 300 colleges and universities in the U.S. & Canada with the largest endowments, as well as 32 additional schools that applied for inclusion.

Photo from Spelman College Admissions Facebook page.

howard university's 2010 green report card


The Sustainable Endowments Institute just released its 2010 Green Report Card. Howard University received a grade of "D-". (Howard received an "F" in 2008 and 2009. It was not graded in 2007.)

The overall grade was calculated from the individual grades listed in the following categories:

1. Administration--Examines sustainability policies and commitments by school administrators and trustees. "F"

2. Climate Change & Energy--Looks at energy efficiency, conservation, commitment to emissions reductions and use of renewable energy on campus. "F"

3. Food & Recycling--Evaluates dining services policies including recycling and composting programs. "F"

4. Green Building--Recognizes campus-wide green building guidelines and green building design for new and existing buildings. "F"

5. Student Involvement--Looks at student participation in sustainability initiatives and support for these activities by school administrators. "F"

6. Transportation--Focuses on alternative transportation for students, faculty and staff, as well as alternative fuel or hybrid technology for campus fleets."D"

7. Endowment Transparency--Addresses accessibility to endowment investment information and shareholder proxy voting records. "F"

8. Investment Priorities--Considers prioritization of return on investment, investment in renewable energy funds, and investment in community development loan funds. "C"

9. Shareholder Engagement--Looks at shareholder proxy voting practices, including opportunities for student, faculty, and alumni participation. "F"

Howard University and Spelman College are the only hbcus graded by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, which evaluates the 300 colleges and universities in the U.S. & Canada with the largest endowments, as well as 32 additional schools that applied for inclusion.


Photo by David Nomack at Wikipedia.

06 October 2009

obama's executive order on federal sustainability


President Obama signed the Executive Order on Federal Sustainability yesterday. The executive order gives federal agencies 90 days to set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

"As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the Federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies," said President Obama.

Read the press release and the full executive order here.

Photo by Pete Souza

04 October 2009

african american studies & critical animal studies

Yesterday, I attended the Dialogues on Animality conference at the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia to hear Nijah Cunningham, a 2nd year PhD student in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, present on animality in Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep.

In his presentation, Nijah shared that while he initially assumed that the sheep were merely allegorical or a sign post for the senseless violence that blacks experienced in 1970s Watts, a deeper reading of Killer of Sheep suggests that the encounter between blackness and animality coalesces into a discourse of the human.

After the conference, I interviewed Nijah for my upcoming podcast on African American Studies and Critical Animal Studies, which will be a series of interviews with scholars working in both fields.

So go and get the movie. I was able to borrow it from the Silver Spring library!

Once the podcast hits, we can continue to dialogue here. We can also tweet about it under the hash tag #aascas. I'm @maryamcquirter.

Photo is a still from Killer of Sheep.

who's a green american? take 2

Back in August, I blogged about Green America's new t-shirt, "I Am a Green American."


I received a comment from a Green America member, who had bought the t-shirt, and wondered whether the folks at Green America had read or heard about the post.

They had!

Today, at the Dupont Circle farmers market, Green America staff member, Dana, was wearing the t-shirt and handing out flyers about the upcoming DC Green Festival. I told Dana that I had blogged about the t-shirt. And she asked me was my blog, chocolate & arugula! I was floored.

and excited that they had read it. let's see if the marketing folks take note.

01 October 2009

majora carter interviews wyclef jean



Vibing on the theme of restoration from the Bronx to Haiti, Carter will talk with Wyclef Jean about his YĆ©le Haiti foundation, through which he engages in humanitarian work.

View the live video webcast at Carter's The Promised Land NPR show or at The Greene Space at 6pm tonight.


Photo by Seher Sikandar for rehes creative.

23 September 2009

mario van peebles is not yet an avocado...

black on the outside and green on the inside! He shared this culinary identity flaw with Michel Martin today on her NPR show as he talked about his new reality tv show, Mario's Green House, which airs on TV One, this Sunday, 27 September, at 6pm (ET).




In 8 episodes, Mario, his spouse, Chitra Sukhu, and their five children green their home. His mother, Maria Marx, and his father, Melvin Van Peebles, also make regular appearances.





Check back next week for my review of the 1st show.

18 September 2009

van jones speaks

Dear Friends:

My family and I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support that we have received over the past week or so. I resigned from the White House on Sept. 6, and I have remained silent since then—in keeping with my promise not to be a distraction during a key moment in the Obama Presidency.

Over the past several days, however, many people have been asking how they can help and what they can do.

The main thing is this: please do everything you can to support both President Obama and the green jobs movement. Winning real change is ultimately the best response to these kinds of smear campaigns.

I ask everyone to:

1. Support President Obama’s efforts to fix our nation’s health care, energy and education systems. His victory last fall did not represent the “finish line” in the fight to renew America; his election was just the “starting line.” This autumn, it is time to make history again—with victories on health care and clean energy.2. Sign up to support groups that are working for green jobs.

As others seek to vilify or marginalize the movement for a clean energy economy, the leading groups deserve increased support. This is the year to ensure that the clean energy transformation creates good job opportunities for everyone in America.

3. Spread the green jobs gospel. The ideas and ideals of the green jobs movement are grounded in fundamental American values—innovation, entrepreneurship, and equal opportunity. My true thoughts can be found in my book: The Green Collar Economy. Check it out from the library—or order a copy and share it with a friend. See for yourself why clean energy and green jobs are good for our country.

4. Stay connected and speak up for me via your favorite blogs (e.g., Huffington Post, Grist, Jack & Jill, etc.), on message boards and all of your favorite social networking platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Supporters have set up a couple of them, to help you stay engaged, including: I Stand With Van Jones and I Love Van Jones.

In due course, I will be offering my perspective on what has happened—including correcting the record about false charges. In the meantime, I must get my family affairs in order and sort through numerous offers and options.

I want to be clear that I have nothing but love and admiration for President Obama and the entire administration. White House staffers are there to serve and support the President, not the other way around. At this critical moment in history, I could not in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. The White House needs all its hands on deck, fighting for the future.

Of course, some supporters actually think I will be more effective on the “outside.” Maybe so. But those ideas always remind me of that old canard about Winston Churchill. After he lost a hard-fought election, a friend told him: “Winston, this really is just a blessing in disguise.” Churchill quipped: “Damned good disguise.” I can certainly relate to that sentiment right now. :)

Nonetheless, we must keep moving forward. Let’s continue our work to make an America as good as its promise. These are historic times. And we have a lot more history to make.

Sincerely,

Van Jones

17 September 2009

uptown girls photos

Majora Carter's Uptown Girls fundraiser was held last night. Here are two photos from the event.

Majors Carter giving the opening address of the Uptown Girl! ... on Twitpic
Majora Carter

Kerry Washington & Joy Bryant at the Uptown Girl! Awards, it'... on Twitpic
Joy Bryant & Kerry Washington

16 September 2009

van jones out, leed-certification in

The White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Federal Management Program will collaborate to make the White House greener by seeking LEED-certification. This move was announced just 9 days after Van Jones' resignation. Although the desire for LEED-certification first made news in July 2009, it was renewed publicly yesterday in an apparent attempt to shift focus away from Van Jones.

11 September 2009

black & green animals

i love wikipedia! searching for all things black & green, i was led to the green-and-black streamertrail




and the green and black poison dart frog.



i couldn't resist sharing. it is also a heads up that chocolate & arugula will also explore (non-human) animals.

photos by dominic sherony and dirk van der made, respectively.
There's still time to Green the Block for Obama's National Day of Service, his answer to 9/11 remembrance. Green the Block, a collaboration between Green for All (the organization Van Jones founded) and the Hip Hip Caucus, actively engages low income individuals and people of color in the clean-energy economy. It's a national answer to Majora Carter's call to Green the Ghetto. (More on that phrase later.)

Go to the Green the Block website and check out what's happening in your neighborhood. Then type back and tell me what you decided to green.

06 September 2009

van jones resigns

Van Jones, special advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, resigned yesterday (Saturday 5 September) in response to primarily white Republican politicians and pundits critical of his past political actions and affiliations.

Jones started his appointed position on 16 March 2009. His task was to "advance the President’s agenda of creating 21st century jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources [and]...to shape and advance the Administration’s energy and climate initiatives with a specific interest in improvements and opportunities for vulnerable communities," according to the White House blog.

In an interview with Doug Pibel of Yes!, Jones was asked about the invitation to join the Obama administration. "Not only did I say I had no intention of going, when they asked the question, I burst out laughing because at the time it seemed completely ludicrous that it would even be an option. I think what changed my mind was interacting with the administration during the transition process and during the whole process of getting the recovery package pulled together. I began to see that there was an important role at the table, inside the process, to...make sure all the great things the president wants to do can get done well."

Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy (2008) and founder of Green for All (September 2007), an organization focusing on the green economy as the solution to the eradication of poverty, became committed to environmental activism in 2005. He quickly became an environmental leader and, seemingly, the perfect person for the new special advisor position.

Now, after barely 6 months, Jones is out of a green job.

What will he do now? And what will happen to the special advisor position?

04 September 2009

south bronx uptown girls: joy bryant, majora carter & kerry washington

Majora Carter will be joined by fellow Bronx natives, Joy Bryant and Kerry Washington, for a mural arts project fundraiser in the Bronx on 16 September. Bryant, Carter and Washington will "honor fellow Uptown Girls with art, community and LOVE" and work together to eliminate environmentally borne diseases, etc., that are too prevalent for girls and young women in the Bronx.

All three have (at least some) green cred:

Majora Carter founded Sustainable South Bronx and is a MacArthur "Genius Grant" recipient. Check out her TEDTalks lecture about South Bronx.



Joy Bryant spoke at this year's Earth Day Festival on the National Mall. Check out this interview with Sulinh Lafontaine where she talks about the green practices of her grandmother in the South Bronx.



Kerry Washington is good friends with Danny Seo, an eco-stylist. His green makeover of her apartment was featured in the June 2009 issue of Oprah magazine. Check out this ELLE interview in which she mentions her summers away from the Bronx enjoying nature.

29 August 2009

green like me?

Did anyone else read the title of Elizabeth Kolbert's New Yorker article, "Green Like Me," and automatically think of John Howard Griffin's 1961 memoir, Black Like Me?

Kolbert's article is a critique of the new spate of environmental "stunt" books, such as No Impact Man, by white writer Colin Beavan, that engage in what she calls nouveau-Thoreauvian conceit--the belief that a move from mere mortal with a heavy U.S. carbon footprint to supergreenhero No Impact Man for one year will actually have some impact. Kolbert says that it won't because it is all "gimmickry" and no engaged action.

Fade 2009. Cue 1959.

John Howard Griffin, a white writer in Texas, decides that he wants to experience life as a black male in the south to more fully understand racism and segregation. So he travels to New Orleans, takes an anti-vitiligo drug and embodies blackness for six weeks. He keeps a journal, the basis of his book, detailing the encounters he has with black southerners and white southerners. He is shocked by what he sees and feels. He first shares his experiences in Sepia magazine in March 1960 (the editor financed his journey) and there is an immediate white backlash in his hometown, as well as thousands of letters of support. But the terror unleashed against him, his spouse and children propels him to move to Mexico in order to feel safe.

I have not yet read No Impact Man (or seen the movie) and have not read Black Like Me since college (or seen the movie). I definitely plan to read both now because the comparative possibilities are ripe for further study.

Let's begin the discussion now. How is green like me like black like me?

23 August 2009

u.s. virgin islands & renewable energy

Energy is a terrible thing to waste. Unless you make energy from waste!

This is exactly what the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) will be doing. Governor John P. DeJongh's administration selected the Alpine Energy LLC, based in Denver, Colorado, to build, own and operate 2 waste-to-energy facilities in order to turn the waste created from 108,000 residents and 2 million tourists into renewable energy. This will be the government's first alternative energy project. The projected cost for the two plants is $440 million.

Construction will begin May 2010 and completion is expected late 2012. One of the facilities will be in St. Thomas, located at Long Point, on the southeastern shoreline known as Estate Bovoni. The second facility will be in St. Croix, in the Anguilla area near the Krause Lagoon. (USVIers, please email me some photos and videos!)

Relatedly...

On 6 July, DeJongh received $8.2million in federal stimulus money to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Once the DeJongh administration successfully implements its state energy plan and satisfies the requirements of the federal Recovery Act, it will receive $10million more.

14 August 2009

chocolate & arugula in baton rouge

Living or vacationing in/near Baton Rouge? If so, come meet me at the Greening African American Museums panel I organized for the Association of African American Museums conference next Friday, 21 August.

I will give a Green 101/Introduction to Sustainability presentation. Joining me are Pamela Green, executive director of the Weeksville Society Heritage Center, who's overseeing the construction of a LEED-certified building, and Dominique Hawkins, AIA, LEED-AP, Principal, Preservation Design Partnership, who specializes in green renovations of historic buildings.

See you there!

11 August 2009

hbcus' princeton review green ratings

As promised in my previous post, "are hbcus also cgcus?," here's a list of The Princeton Review's (TPR) 2010 green ratings for all hbcus. The rating "60*" denotes that TPR did not receive enough information from the schools to comparatively rate them.
  1. Alabama A&M University--62
  2. Alabama State University--60*
  3. Albany State University--60*
  4. Alcorn State University--60*
  5. Allen University--60*
  6. Arkansas Baptist College--60*
  7. Barber-Scotia College--no listing
  8. Benedict College--60*
  9. Bennett College--60*
  10. Bethune-Cookman University--60* (listed as Bethune-Cookman College)
  11. Bishop State Community College-Southwest Campus--60*
  12. Bluefield State College--60*
  13. Bowie State University--60*
  14. Central State University--60*
  15. Cheyney University of Pennsylvania--60*
  16. Claflin University--69
  17. Clark Atlanta University--83
  18. Clinton Junior College--no listing
  19. Coahoma Community College--60*
  20. Concordia College, Selma--60* (listed as Concordia College (AL))
  21. Coppin State University--60*
  22. Delaware State University--60*
  23. Denmark Technical College--60*
  24. Dillard University--60*
  25. Edward Waters College--60*
  26. Elizabeth City State University--60*
  27. Fayetteville State University--60*
  28. Fisk University--60*
  29. Florida A&M--60*
  30. Florida Memorial University--60* (listed as Florida Memorial College)
  31. Fort Valley State University--60*
  32. Gadsden State Community College--60*
  33. Grambling State University--60*
  34. Hampton University--60*
  35. Harris-Stowe State University--60* (listed as Harris-Stowe State College)
  36. Hinds Community College at Utica--60* (listed as Hinds Community College - Utica Branch)
  37. Howard University--60*
  38. Huston-Tillotson University--60*
  39. Interdenominational Theological Center--no rating (listed as Interdenominational Theological Center Graduate Programs)
  40. J. F. Drake State Technical College--no listing
  41. Jackson State University--60*
  42. Jarvis Christian College--60*
  43. Johnson C. Smith University--60*
  44. Kentucky State University--64
  45. Knoxville College--60*
  46. Lane College--60*
  47. Langston University--60*
  48. Lawson State Community College--60*
  49. LeMoyne-Owen College--60*
  50. Lewis College of Business--60*
  51. Lincoln University--69 (listed as Lincoln University (PA))
  52. Lincoln University of Missouri--67 (listed as Lincoln University (MO))
  53. Livingstone College--60*
  54. University of Maryland Eastern Shore--no listing for undergrad only for grad school
  55. Meharry Medical College--no rating
  56. Miles College--60*
  57. Mississippi Valley State University--60*
  58. Morehouse College--60*
  59. Morehouse School of Medicine--no rating
  60. Morgan State University--60*
  61. Morris Brown College--60*
  62. Morris College--60*
  63. Norfolk State University--60*
  64. North Carolina A&T State University--60*
  65. North Carolina Central University--60*
  66. Oakwood University--60* (listed as Oakwood College)
  67. Paine College--60*
  68. Paul Quinn College--60*
  69. Philander Smith College--60*
  70. Prairie View A&M University--no rating
  71. Rust College--60*
  72. Savannah State University--60*
  73. Selma University--no listing
  74. Shaw University--60*
  75. Shelton State Community College--60*
  76. South Carolina State University--no rating
  77. Southern University at New Orleans--no rating (listed as Southern University at New Orleans Graduate Programs)
  78. Southern University at Shreveport--60*
  79. Southern University and A&M College--64
  80. Southwestern Christian College--60*
  81. Spelman College--79
  82. St. Augustine's College--60* (listed as Saint Augustine's College)
  83. St. Paul's College--60* (listed as Saint Paul's College)
  84. St. Philip's College--60* (listed as Saint Philip's College)
  85. Stillman College--60*
  86. Talladega College--60*
  87. Tennessee State University--60*
  88. Texas College--60*
  89. Texas Southern University--60*
  90. Tougaloo College--60*
  91. Trenholm State Technical College--no listing
  92. Tuskegee University--60*
  93. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff--no listing
  94. University of the District of Columbia--60*
  95. University of the Virgin Islands--60*
  96. Virginia State University--60*
  97. Virginia Union University--60*
  98. Virginia University of Lynchburg--no listing
  99. Voorhees College--60*
  100. West Virginia State University--60*
  101. Wilberforce University-60*
  102. Wiley College--60*
  103. Winston-Salem State University--60*
  104. Xavier University of Louisiana--60*

10 August 2009

are hbcus also cgcus?

According to The Princeton Review's (TPR) 2010 green ratings, it's unclear whether most historically black colleges and universities are also currently green colleges and universities. Based on a ratings scale of 60-99, only 8 out of 104 hbcus received grades higher than 60:

Alabama A&M University (62)
Claflin University (69)
Clark Atlanta University (83)
Kentucky State University (64)
Lincoln University (69)
Lincoln University of Missouri (67)
Southern University and A&M College (64)
Spelman College (79)

The vast majority of the hbcus--82--received a rating of 60*. TPR assigned this rating to the schools that did not supply enough information to comparatively rate them.

For a list of the green ratings for all hbcus, see my 11 August post.

What's TPR's criteria for the green ratings?

The ratings are based on 3 main areas:

1. whether the school’s students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable;
2. how well the school is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world
defined by environmental challenges; and
3. the school's overall commitment to environmental issues.

Schools completed the following 10 survey questions:

1) The percentage of food expenditures that goes toward local, organic or otherwise environmentally preferable food;
2) Whether the school offers programs including free bus passes, universal access transit passes, bike sharing/renting, car sharing, carpool parking, vanpooling or guaranteed rides home to encourage alternatives to single-passenger automobile use for students;
3) Whether the school has a formal committee with participation from students that is devoted to advancing sustainability on campus:
4) Whether new buildings are required to be LEED (environmental certification of equipment/appliances) Silver certified or comparable:
5) The school's overall waste diversion rate:
6) Whether the school has an environmental studies major, minor or concentration:
7) Whether the school has an "environmental literacy" requirement:
8) Whether the school has produced a publicly available greenhouse gas emissions inventory and adopted a climate action plan consistent with 80 percent greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 targets;
9) What percentage of the school’s energy consumption, including heading/cooling and electrical, is derived from renewable sources (this definition included “green tags” but not nuclear or large-scale hydropower); and
10) Whether the school employs a dedicated full-time (or full-time equivalent) sustainability officer.

The colleges and universities that received the highest score of 99 were placed on the Green Rating Honor Roll. The 15 hwcus/cgcus are:

Arizona State University at the Tempe campus
Bates College
Binghamton University
College of the Atlantic
Colorado College
Dickinson College
Evergreen State College
Georgia Institute of Technology
Harvard College
Middlebury College
Northeastern University
University of California at Berkeley
University of New Hampshire
University of Washington
Yale University

Here's my take:

TPR partnered with ecoamerica, an environmental non-profit focusing on research and marketing, to create the survey. In the TPR press release, there are no details about the number of points given for each question. In fact, there are not many details about the real meaning of the ratings in the press release or in the individual school profiles. For example, there's no way of knowing the difference between Clark Atlanta's rating of 83 and Spelman College's rating of 79. Does one focus on vegan options more than providing Zipcars on campus? We know that Spelman was the first hbcu with a LEED-certified building. [correction: Spelman College is still seeking LEED-certification of its green dorm, The Suites. updated 16 September 2009.] But what has Clark-Atlanta done to receive a higher rating?

And, finally, what to really make of the fact that the majority of hbcus received a rating of 60*? That is a question that I hope to answer in future posts.

03 August 2009

who's a green american?

Green America (formerly Co-Op America) is currently promoting its newest t-shirt design:
"I AM A GREEN AMERICAN". (100% cotton, made in the U.S.) It is a clever, problematic, referential design that is ripe for deconstruction.

The artist chose the Statue of Liberty from the eyes up, apparently to obscure the racial and gender identifiers of the original statue and to emphasize the dark green outstretched arm--a clear reference to Tommie Smith's and John Carlos' raised arms at the Mexico Olympics in 1968. The torch, instead of a vessel for a flame, is a nest of flowers for a lone bird.

Using the Statue of Liberty makes sense as an easily identifiable referent to a popular narrative of Americanness--it was one of the first sights seen by white-skinned Europeans who immigrated to the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century via ships.

The artist was smart enough to know that relying on an icon that would equate Americanness with whiteness wouldn't cut it. Tattooing or grafting a deeply American iconic image of blackness--Carlos' and Smith's Black Power(ed) raised arms and black-gloved fists-- onto the the arm of Miss Liberty is artistically brilliant. And conceptually intriguing.

Where does green begin and American end? Does green refer solely to ecology (flowers and birds)? And American solely to racialized humanness? Or is the blurring of green and American intentional?

Here's what I see:

The pairing of the lone human with the lone bird, representing, respectively, growing and dwindling masses, alludes to a symbiotic relationship between humans and other animals within a contentious rights framework.

And the t-shirt design suggests that green is not solely about ecology. That it is implicated in the U.S.'s racialized and color-struck history. Therefore, green is not a neutral color (or movement) without a history or identity that somehow absorbs and neutralizes other colors in the current march toward a collective fight against climate change.

For these reasons, I love this t-shirt.

What I don't like is that the Green America marketers chose to advertise the t-shirt on a thin, white-skinned woman thereby implicitly making a green American a white American with a green tan.

31 July 2009

why chocolate & arugula?

black & green is everywhere: Obama has been called the 1st green president. (So is he triracial?) The National Museum of African American History and Culture building will be LEED-certified. Spelman College and Howard University are graded on their greenness by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. Bryant Terry creates vegan eco-soul. Black Enterprise jumped early on the green economy wave. And Danni Washington has a tv show about the beauty of the ocean.

It's the 21st century and the new color line appears to be green. So if green is the new black, what happened to the old black? Join me as I explore this potentially seismic shift. As I show how black & green intersect architecturally, intellectually, ethically, gastronomically, practically and in popular culture.