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Moving off to college is so exciting but can be hectic with all of the packing and traveling. Fortunately for all you FYSOPers, we try to make the transition as smooth as possible! Please take one minute to fill out the mandatory FYSOP travel itinerary form. If you’re moving in from around the corner and just bringing one suitcase, or flying in from abroad and shipping all of your life’s belongings, we need to know your story! Where are you coming from? How are you getting here? Do you need to be picked up from the airport? Help us make Move-In Day on August 26th a fun and exciting day by filling out your travel itinerary at http://www.fysoptravelitinerary.eventbrite.com. This way, we can welcome you to campus right when you arrive!

Site Visit – Boston Nature Center!

We’ve got a week full of site visits ahead of us, and first up was Boston Nature Center in Mattapan, MA. Surrounded by residential neighborhoods, this urban sanctuary offers educational classes and activities, summer camps, trails, gardens, and a wide array of wildlife. The Center has maintained its 67 acres, two miles of trails, and a large community garden through the help of volunteers and full-time staff for the past eleven years.

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The George Robert White Environmental Conservation Center is the center’s main building. It was the first municipal green building in Boston, and uses a variety of environmentally-friendly practices including: renewable energy technologies like geothermal heat pumps and a solar panel hot water system, advanced insulation, high performance glass, tight building “envelope,” and recycled, locally-sourced materials. One of the sheds near the community garden even has a green roof!

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Site Visit – City Growers!

Hey y’all! Today Alex and I went on our second site visit – City Growers, which is only a few short miles from BU. It is a small farm in the midst of a very urban environment (fusion!) that is planted and maintained, without the use of machinery, by farm managers and volunteers throughout the year. The produce is then sold at farmer’s markets in Egleston, Dorchester, and Roxbury.

Our site contact showed us around the two gardens where volunteers will be working during FYSOP, and talked about the jobs they might do – everything from harvesting and weeding to mulching and sampling “the best mixed lettuce in Boston.”

City Growers’ mission is to, “…combine the resources of community organizations, neighborhood associations, and local markets for fresh produce to accomplish our major goals: to create employment for community members at livable wages; to address food security issues by increasing local agricultural production capacity; to increase local access to affordable, nutrient-rich foods.” They also have awesome projects going on that include working to extend their growing season, and converting more lots into farmable green spaces.

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For more information, you can check out their Facebook and WordPress pages, or this Boston Globe article that was published recently!

FIRST SITE VISIT, THE FOOD PROJECT!

HEY GUYS! Last tuesday Ashley and I went to the Boston Food Project with our friends Ben Suehler and Laura Kakalecz (The Hunger Coordinators), because, well,  you all know… FUSION. This will be one of our sites this year and let me tell you sumting…IT IS SO MUCH FUN. Volunteers will be helping harvest the crops from the farm, weeding to protect the plants, and having tons of fun with really great people.

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The Food Project is a great place that loves to see volunteers and always has great work for everyone. Not only do they grow tasty tasty food but they also grow this food in a very sustainable way. They compost pretty much everything they don’t use, they have created a farm in a major metropolitan area, and they sell the produce at a reasonable price at local markets. They are pretty much the bee’s knees.

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If you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, this is a place for you!

Visit their website for more information: http://thefoodproject.org/

Seven Reasons to Bike to Work

Hey Everyone! I follow this great website called Levo League and the other day they posted an article about biking to work rather than driving or taking mass transit, which I consolidated a little here. Especially on beautiful days like today, I love riding my bike to work – I also ride it to class, FitRec, the library, over to MIT for gymnastics practice, down Newbury to Georgetown Cupcakes (my ultimate weakness)….THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER! Because:

  1. It’s great for the environment! But you already knew that ;)
  2. It’s fast. Late for class? Headed to yoga? Feel like studying at Blue State? No need to take the T! It takes only five minutes to get from East Campus to Allston by bike, making this beautiful city even more accessible.
  3. It’s a solid workout, especially if you have a long commute. With working out comes a parade of health benefits, including increased cardiovascular fitness and decreased risk of heart disease, increased muscle tone, and improved mental and immune health (see here.)
  4. It boosts your energy and can therefore improve your mood and productivity. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” Or fall asleep in class!
  5. It saves money. You no longer need to pay for parking, gas, flat tires, or oil changes. If you’re a poor college student like myself, this is rullz nice – more money for Sunset Nachos!
  6. Accessories. There are so many bike accessories out there, ranging from hightech to just weird. A few of my favorites are this bike-powered charger, a mini flower pot, battery-less lights, an amazing amount of storage, and a bicycle mounted squirt gun systemFun Fact: our most important bicycle accessory – a helmet - can actually be picked up free of charge at the Office of Judicial Affairs at 19 Deerfield Street. If you haven’t in the past, also look out for Bike Safety events hosted by the Boston University Police Department (BUPD.) They typically give out helmets, reflectors, and sometimes a new bike!
  7. You don’t actually have to own your own bike. Thanks to the installation of Hubway bikes throughout the greater Boston area, you can pick up a bike in one location and drop it off at another and eliminate the need to find a spot to lock it up.

 

FYLove

Ash

FYSOP 24!!

Enviro PSHI GUYS!!!!!! WE ARE ASHLEY AND ALEX ,THE BEAUTIFUL AND PHOTOGENIC ENVIRONMENT COORDINATORS!!!!

We are so excited to be working with you and for you this summer!!!

You can find more about us and your lovely Staff Leaders under the “Coordinators” and “Environment Staff” pages

Environmental Restoration

A few weekends ago, I (Sarah) headed for the hills and went hiking, swimming, and camping up in New Hampshire in the White Mountains with some fellow coordinators. I think I’m addicted to the White Mountains, I definitely have a new favorite National Forest. Being above the treeline on a mountain is one of the most exhilarating experiences.

the trail while hiking Mt Lafayette (yes, this was instagrammed…photo cred to Tanner, one of the Homelessness and Housing Coordinators)

Fysoppers who are new to New England- get yourself up there! The BU Outing Club has trips for all sorts of hiking and camping adventures almost every weekend, and if you are willing to shell out a small fee for gear/food/gas (and it’s SO worth it) you can get out of the city to get some fresh air and meet other people who are into the outdoors. Check out their website: http://buoutingclub.com

Our hiking and river-trekking took us into the Pemigewasset Wilderness. From the top of Mount Lafayette, looking across the Wilderness, it’s just trees, mountains, rock faces, rivers, and small lakes in the valleys. There is no sign of development, and the wilderness looks untouched, pristine, and, well, wild. The trail is heavily used as far as wilderness trails go, but all the same you could hike for miles and see nothing but moose, black bear, coyote, fox, and other New Hampshire wildlife.

View of the Pemi from Little Haystack! Photo cred to Tanner http://fysophomelessnessandhousing.wordpress.com

Between 1890 and 1940, many different logging camps placed throughout the region and connected by railroads removed almost ALL of the forest cover. Fires burned out of control, uninhibited by natural ecosystem cycles and regulation.

Many hillsides mirrored this devastation, in this case from fire

It’s hard to wrap my mind around that when I think of the term “wilderness.” But, it’s the same place, and a really powerful story of restoration. The Pemigewasset was designated a Wilderness in 1984, and since then the regeneration is astounding.

Seeing images of environmental degradation and devastation, or doom-and-gloom statistics can be overwhelming.

Through FYSOP, we want to raise of awareness of the need to save the environment. There is a place for scary facts and depressing images- they are a reality check, a wake-up call. It makes us aware. But by themselves, they can be crippling. Whenever I see images like this, I feel pretty powerless. Raising awareness can be pretty useless if we don’t find an outlet for action or figure out how we are connected to the issue. But we are empowered when we realize how we are in a position to do something about the injustice we are witnessing, or seeing that something so lost was restored.

When it comes down to it we believe that change happens through building relationships and connections — through community. (I mean, hey, we are at the Community Service Center).

For the Pemigewasset, restoration came through community activism. Local New Hampshire residents saw what was happening to the forests, witnessed the Pemigewasset river polluted from soil erosion and logging, and they became angry and demanded change. So they did what they could, and rallied for change. Support expanded to Boston, New York City, Washington D.C., and around the country.

The Weeks Act of 1911 enabled the government to buy private land and turn into public land, and White Mountains National Forest was established in 1918 through this process. These processes set the stage for the The Pemigewasset Wilderness to be formally designated a Wilderness Area by the federal government in 1984. Today, the Pemigewasset is managed by four different government agencies, but the restoration wouldn’t have occurred or reached the federal level without the activism that began at the grassroots level.

How could massive deforestation have been acceptable and even encouraged? In the mindset of 19th century Manifest Destiny, of a wild, new, “uninhabited,” continent with unlimited resources, it was the norm. But, it seems obvious in hindsight that cutting down an entire virgin forest is a bad idea.

Seeing the story of the Pemigewasset Wilderness destruction and then restoration makes me think of the question, what injustices are occurring today that we are not aware of simply because we are surrounded by it all the time and can’t imagine things any differently? What systems are we a part of that we accept as normal but are actually completely illogical and destructive? The restoration points out that things can be different if we choose to shift our perspective, get inspired, and be engaged in our communities. That’s what FYSOP is all about.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” – Aldo Leopold

“Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand.”
-Ancient Chinese Proverb

Article about the 100th anniversary of the Weeks Act and the Pemigewasset:

http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/269900/woodland-adventure?SESS66d12d2887fbdb9dfb557e6778a2d61d=google&page=full

Learn more about White Mountain history:

http://www.plymouth.edu/museum-of-the-white-mountains/category/protecting-the-forest/

Plant Trees, Grow Trees, Sell Trees, No Trees

I’ve been seeing something on television recently that’s been really frustrating me. No, it’s not Glee – I’ve already gotten over that.

I keep seeing ads for the home release of The Lorax. Am I the only one seeing the supreme irony of this?
I mean, sure, every theatrical movie gets put out on Blu-ray and DVD eventually. In this case, my frustration with The Lorax is just an aftershock of what I was feeling when the movie came out this past March.

A little backstory: The Lorax was originally a book written by Dr. Seuss in 1972. Seuss is known for his veiled social commentaries masquerading as whimsical, innocent children’s stories, but his message with this book was far more direct. It tells the story of the eponymous creature who lives in a forest that gets ravaged by a greedy entrepreneur. It was adapted into an animated television special in the same year. 

In March, Universal Pictures released a computer-animated re-imagining of the story. With Hollywood production values, a star-studded cast, and a 70 million dollar budget, it’s no surprise that the book’s original message was watered down — buried beneath elaborate musical numbers and 3D nonsense. And, being a huge Hollywood-backed children’s film, of course there were tons of promotional tie-ins with a multitude of companies, the least of which being a disposable diaper company, Hewlett-Packard (for their printers, no less), IHOP, and Mazda. Really?

This kind of cross-promotion is a huge example of  greenwashing — a style of PR and marketing which seeks to make a company look more environmentally friendly than it actually is to win over consumers. Printing pictures of the Lorax on the waistband of diapers doesn’t actually change anything, except for my disdain for the people who green-lit these marketing decisions. (It does add the nice imagery of the film’s marketing being filled with something other than greenwashing, however.)

To add insult to injury, the movie was released on Dr. Seuss’s 108th birthday! No doubt he’s rolling over in his grave.

 

In hindsight, I’m guessing that the people who spearheaded the production of this movie didn’t do it with intent to make some unfortunate decisions, disgracing the original intent of Seuss’s book. But the mis-management of the creation and release of this movie is very indicative of the surface level understanding of the environmental movement, but with a deeper ignorance of what values actually come with that movement — like a parrot repeating words without actually knowing what it’s saying.

I guess what I’m saying is, it’s healthy to be skeptical of “green” companies. And don’t get distracted by the bells and whistles of PR and marketing departments…they’re really only thinking of a different kind of green.

Speaking for the Trees,
Kevin