Posts Tagged ‘education’
Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on January 14th, 2013
Source: Urban Milwaukee, via Tim Beatley
Photo by Alec Brooks from Urban Milwaukee website.
From ‘Rise of the Urban Ecology Center‘ by Peggy Shulz
How a small non-profit in a trailer in Riverside Park rose to become a major player with centers erected in three county parks. “Save the park.” That was the single, not-so-simple goal of a very loosely organized group of concerned residents of Riverside Park in the early 1990s. Little did they know that two decades later, a trio of nationally recognized ecology education centers would grow out of their efforts. Today, school children in three distinct neighborhoods — Riverside Park, Washington Park and Menomonee Valley — boast an Urban Ecology Center where children learn about ecology and their environment through a wide range of programs and activities, including “outdoor laboratories,” a full year of trips for students at nearby schools, after-school programs and preschool programs. [...]
The site of the original UEC, Riverside Park, was designed in 1865 by Frederick Law Olmsted as the western anchor of Newberry Boulevard, with Lake Park serving as the eastern anchor. In the years since the park was created, it had fallen into disrepair. With the intent of building an MPS middle school, a square block and a half of homes to the south of the original Riverside Park were torn down, beginning in the late 1960s. That land then stood mostly vacant for decades, with the exception of occasional garden plots. Even before all the homes were demolished, though, MPS changed its plans. By 1991, the entire expanse had become crime-ridden, including the area between what was by then a bike trail (but had earlier been railroad tracks) and the Milwaukee River. It was filled with trash and invasive plant species.
It was time to reclaim the park, but the concerned neighbors weren’t at all sure how they were going to do it. After a lot of thought, they decided to begin by cleaning it up, with the ultimate goal of using the park to teach neighborhood children about ecology and being friends of the earth. Litter and crime would be replaced with learning. A doublewide trailer was placed just north of Park Place and east of the bike trail. [...] It wasn’t until 2004 that the award-winning Riverside Park location of the Urban Ecology center opened. [...] The center now manages the county-owned portion of the parkland with volunteers. A capital campaign followed shortly thereafter, based on the long list of schools that already had asked to have their students participate in UEC activities. The early goal of saving Riverside Park was realized. “We essentially turned a problem into an asset,” [executive director Ken] Leinbach said. “The land was healed with volunteers, and kids were learning about their environment.”
Just as the Riverside Park location grew out of a desire to save the park, the Washington Park and Menomonee Valley sites were “natural” areas in the city that needed restoration. According to Leinbach, in planning all three locations UEC took certain factors into account: a nearby body of water, woods and fields; proximity to schools; and some measure of wealth in the surrounding neighborhood. “We knew we needed the neighbors’ help to sustain our program economically,” Leinbach explained. The mission of all three UEC sites can be boiled down to “intentionally/institutionally getting kids connected to nature with adult mentors,” Leinbach said. The founders never intended the center to be a model for anyone else. “I think you do something and it can become a model, if it works,” Leinbach said. “You don’t set out to create a model.” But it has turned into one, even internationally. [...]
Dennis Grzezinski, a UEC board member, describes three aspects of the center that have contributed to its success: environmental education, a community center and a nature center. The variety of programming is based on just a few primary concepts, Grzezinski said. “Proximity of the students to the center promotes deeper relationships between the students and the educators as mentors or models,” he said. Schools that participate must be within a 2-1/2 mile radius. That makes it easier for the students to return to the center over and over and establish a connection to a natural place that has different seasons, where they can plant bushes and trees and watch them grow over time. [...] “This organization … comes from humble, common-sense, low-budget origins,” Grzezinski said. “We do things on a shoestring budget. Environmentalism is about using resources carefully and not wasting them.”
When Leinbach was studying environmental education in graduate school, he recalls thinking that the world is a fragile place and we humans weren’t helping. Through the Urban Ecology center’s three locations, many humans are helping —reclaiming, rebuilding and maintaining fragile, natural places for the long term, and creating a stronger sense of community in the process.
>>> You can read the full article on Urban Milwaukee.
>>> You can learn more about the Urban Ecology Centers on their website.
Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 27th, 2012
Source: polis blog via Sustainable Cities Collective
From “The Changing Face of Urban Farming in London” by Idroma Montgomery:
Recently I’ve noticed that London embraces urban farming in a way I haven’t seen in other cities. Last month, I attended the Oxford-Cambridge Goat Race at Spitalfields City Farm in East London, a popular annual event that raises money for the farm. It is housed on a side street off the trendy and boisterous Brick Lane, and like many other city farms in London, offers a study in how to effectively utilize small amounts of urban space.
Spitalfields City Farm resides alongside a small park and a residential area, including council flats and primary schools. The sound of the Overground is ever present as trains rush past, visible behind the small playground and vegetable patches. The farm contains a small menagerie of rare breeds, a weekend community market, a greenhouse and small plots for non-professional gardening. It is a farm that is connected to its community and surroundings. Throughout the week, people can easily buy a range of eggs, plants and compost, as well as other locally made goods. Most of the other urban farms in the area follow a similar template, acting as hubs of community activity and knowledge exchange across central and greater London.
The presence of Spitalfields and other farms not only demonstrates ways in which Londoners are attempting to remain connected to how food is sourced and produced (as evidenced by the rise of boutique markets such as Borough and Brixton), but also serves as a means to maintain a multicultural identity and re-establish communal urbanism in a city that increasingly isolates its citizens. Most farms were built in the 1970s and 1980s by local community groups to provide community space and help people provide for themselves and take responsibility for their area. Built amongst rubble on unused land, these farms were the physical manifestations of people attempting to resist the destruction of their neighborhoods — a symbol of activism. Communities were able to reclaim neglected spaces and create stable alternative environments that subverted expected ideas of what these neighborhoods needed and wanted. Most continue to be run by community committees and volunteers and require donations and council funding in order to survive. Their continued existence underscores the fact that they remain significant to their areas.
Many London farms are located near deprived or marginalized areas. The Spitalfields farm —located in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets — has targeted events at local residents to help them learn how to grow fruits and vegetables (including Asian vegetables, in a nod to the large local Asian population) and cook using seasonal produce. Through these activities, marginalized and under-represented families are able to contribute to farm activities, learn about food production and care, and reconnect the relationship between the food that they eat and the animals that are cared for in the farm. It also allows them to think critically about the sustainability of food production, how and what they eat, and how such food practices affect their families and communities. These connections change the spatiality of neighbourhoods and how they are navigated, creating spaces of interaction and production between residents and the land, as well as among residents.
Read the full article by Idroma Montgomery.
Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 25th, 2012
Source: The Atlantic Cities
From “The High School Curriculum Every Urban Planner Wishes They’d Had” by Nate Berg:
City Semester is an immersive, city-focused course that combines classwork and field studies for juniors at Fieldston. It’s like other semester away programs run by the school, but instead of sending kids out to the Rocky Mountains or the Maine coast, students in the City Semester program turn their attention to their own neighborhood and city. Meyers has compiled a broad range of teachers from the school to participate, including teachers focusing on history, ethics, language, theater, literature, film, photography and music.
The program is divided into four main sections: sustainability, immigration and difference, power and conflict, and neighborhood and community renewal. This last section is centered around the Bronx River, located a couple miles from the school.
“We wanted to talk about neighborhood formation, and chronologically to talk about the recovery of the Bronx,” Meyers says. “We use the Bronx River as a means of discussing both human and non-human communities.”
One of the main parts of this section of the program consists of a two-day canoe trip down the river. The students collect scientific data about the water and the ecology and make presentations about both the history of the neighborhoods and the development of the river habitats. Meyers says this approach pulls in what the students are learning and relates it to things they see in their day-to-day experiences and the neighborhoods around them.
“Adolescents are at a place in their lives where understanding the relevance of what they’re learning can make an enormous difference in terms of their engagement,” Meyers says.
The program looks broadly at the city as a subject, even looking into the policies and politics that are driving change in New York. Meyers took the class to meet with officials from the city’s Department of Transportation to hear about the planning and implementation of bike lanes throughout the city. Then they rented bikes and rode the lanes. Meyers says this hands-on approach helps students to see the various ways what they’re learning can be applied in real-life situations.
And if delving into city politics isn’t enough to add a little more stress to high schoolers’ lives, one of the sections of the course had students role-playing and problem-solving their way through some not-too-far-off disaster scenarios brought on as a result of climate change. Rising sea levels create a flood in lower Manhattan that causes a blackout, in this scenario. During the power outage, a rumored hostage situation at the United Nations causes the whole subway system to shut down. Students had to imagine they were stuck in their school for 3 days – and to cope with all the logistical and psychological impacts such a situation would cause. They even engaged in community design charrettes to come up with feasible retrofit ideas that can help communities handle the potential threats they’ll face as the climate continues to change.
This section of the course was taught earlier this year by Alec Appelbaum, a journalist who’s covered urban planning for years. He says that high schoolers are maybe the ideal audience for this sort of lesson.
“They’re going to be living with the consequences of the misdirected debate that’s gone on about climate change,” says Appelbaum. “The carbon overload in the atmosphere is something that young people didn’t particularly cause and will have to survive.”
Read the full article by Nate Berg.
Source: Core 77
© Buckminster Fuller Institute via flickr
From “The Key to Sustainable Product Creation: The Marriage of Engineering and Design” by Dawn Danby:
These days I spend a lot of time with students and brand-new grads. They’re fired up to make an impact, and are impatient with solutions that don’t directly take on big issues like e-waste and energy scarcity. Many of them know what greenwashing is, even if they don’t know what it’s called. Young designers have been vaguely led to believe that designers hold the power. But when they set out to create green product solutions, they often fail—it’s just not work that can be done alone.
Many of the best sustainable design student projects I see come from interdisciplinary teams. A colleague and I recently coached a team of students who were designing a new refrigerator. Half of the team was made up of UC Berkeley engineers, the other half product designers from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. The engineers investigated technologies like thermal battery innovations, essential for creating a high-efficiency appliance. But they were developing a mass-market product, not simply a new technology. The designers focused on user behavior, cultural context, aesthetics and ease of use. To succeed in the Mexican market, any environmentally friendly technologies had to be affordable for everyone. The biggest waste in fridges, though, isn’t necessarily solved by new technologies: it’s in addressing the huge amount of cold air that pours out when the door is held open. The team’s final design incorporated an insulated window and quick access tray that allows users to ponder, and then to pull out the food they use most, without opening the full door. All of this keeps the fridge closed longer, which saves energy by preventing the cold air from escaping.
Technical solutions can be dreamed up by scientists and clean tech engineers, but the viable projects incorporate beauty, form and human factors. Consider the BioLite stove, which addresses the in-home air pollution problem faced by half the world’s population. In aggregate, this is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Their HomeStove reduces fuel consumption by half, cuts smoke emissions by more than 90 percent, and improves the health of the whole community by nearly eliminating black carbon soot.
Design researcher Dan Lockton has made an exhaustive study of how to understand and adjust behavior, with an emphasis on social and environmental benefit. Lockton’s free, downloadable Design with Intent Toolkit is full of provocations for rethinking a product’s interface, such as “How simply can you structure things, to make it easier for users to do what you’d like them to do?” This is where design can excel: make it easy to switch a computer into a low-power state; make it obvious how much water is being used to fill a bath; or eliminate the option of having a TV remain in standby, “vampire power” mode.
You can design for more complex behavior, too; designing for product lifetime can help slow waste streams and allow recyclers to recover valuable materials. By providing product teardowns and guides on how to fix most common electronics and mobile devices, iFixit’s entire mission is encouraging repairability and long life for electronics, all of which is determined by the way that they’re designed.
I signed up to study industrial design in 1997, in a fit of inspired frustration. I’d freaked myself out on tours of landfills and road trips through forest clear-cuts. Squinting into the future, the design community seemed like it secretly held the reins. I believed that ecological design could change the world—all we seemed to need was the will, and some better data. As a student, I worked on projects that hooked into ecology in obvious ways: salt marsh conservation, degradable food packaging. Looking around at the time, there wasn’t much to see. Bamboo furniture, and a meltscape of recycled plastics: sustainability seen only through the lens of picking greener materials. “You’ll never find work if you’re interested in the environment,” said one well-intentioned teacher. And that’s the main difference between then and now. Engineers develop the technology for green products, and design makes them sing. For this generation of designers and engineers, this is the work worth doing.
Read the full article by Dawn Danby on Core 77.
Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on October 18th, 2011
Graphic by Leah Davies
WaterShed, the University of Maryland’s [winner of] the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2011, is a solar-powered home comprised of systems that interact with each other and the environment. A home that harvests, recycles, and reuses water, WaterShed not only conserves but produces resources with the water it captures. Inspired by the rich, complex ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the home displays harmony between modernity, tradition, and simple building strategies, balancing time-trusted best practices and cutting-edge technological solutions to achieve high efficiency performance in an affordable manner. The home was built by a multi-disciplinary team of students over the course of two years.
About the Design:
WaterShed is a solar-powered home inspired and guided by the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, interconnecting the house with its landscape, and leading its dwellers toward a more sustainable lifestyle. The house is formed by two rectangular modules capped by a split-butterfly roof that is well-suited to capturing and using sunlight and rainwater. The spacious and affordable house features:
- constructed wetlands, filtering storm water and grey water for reuse
- a green roof, retaining stormwater and minimizing the heat island effect
- an optimally sized photovoltaic array, harvesting enough energy from the sun to power WaterShed year-round
- edible landscapes, supporting community-based agriculture
- a liquid desiccant waterfall, providing high-efficiency humidity control in the form of an indoor water feature
- a solar thermal array, supplying enough energy to provide all domestic hot water, desiccant regeneration, and supplemental space heating
- engineering systems, working in harmony and each acting to increase the effectiveness of the others
- a time-tested structural system that is efficient, cost-effective, and durable.
About the Solar Decathlon:
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition challenging 20 student teams from universities around the world to design and build houses powered entirely by the sun. Over ten competition days, the teams compete in ten different events such as architecture, engineering, and affordability. The team with the highest overall score is the winner. Each day the winner of one of the ten contests is publicly announced, providing the opportunity for individual recognition among the decathlete teams. The winner of the 2011 competition will be the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. This year’s competition [was] on public display in the solar village at West Potomac Park, Washington, DC from September 23 – October 2. The house entries will be judged in subjective contests such as market appeal, communications, and home entertainment, and objective measured tests such as comfort zone, hot water, and energy balance. The houses are on public exhibition with the intent of educating visitors about environmental issues, emerging sustainable technologies, and energy-saving measures.
Hosted by our wonderful South Australian Ambassador Maggie Beer, our first-ever South Australian schools tour visits established Kitchen Garden Schools throughout Adelaide that have been running the Kitchen Garden Program for several years and are now reaping the benefits. Join Maggie to view kitchen and garden classes in action, speak to Foundation staff and school staff, and enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch. This is an inspirational day that showcases the beautiful and productive school gardens as well as the home-style kitchens, and gives participants a chance to get closer to the Program in action. The tours are suitable for staff from interested schools and new Kitchen Garden Schools, as well as our Subscribers and interested members of the public.
8:45AM – 4:45pm, 10 Nov, 2011
Program Schools: $44.00
Kilkenny Primary School, Jane Street
West Croydon SA 5008
Click through to register for the tour.
From “Edible Hackney” by Edward Platt:
“I’m always amazed by the way that professional planning fails people,” Mikey Tomkins says, as we stand beneath a 17 storey block of flats called Welshpool House, near Hackney’s Broadway Market. Even on a bright, sunny afternoon in August, the area is not particularly inviting: people have congregated around a bench on the far side of the road, but the concrete terrace beneath the building and the three adjoining areas of fenced-off grass, are empty.
Tomkins, who is an expert on urban agriculture and a bee-keeper with hives on the roof of a nearby building, is incensed by the sight of so much wasted space. Last year, he produced a map called Edible Hackney, which imagines how the streets and estates of a small area of E8 could be turned to food production. He drew beehives on the roof of the 17-storey building and placed raised beds of vegetables and fruit trees around its base. The garages on the far side of the road became mushroom farms, and London Fields was the venue for an annual festival of local produce. The map offers a beguiling vision of a district recently ravaged by riots, and yet it isn’t entirely wishful thinking.
When Tomkins had greeted our small group half an hour before with a pot of his London Fields honey, he had explained that the tour we were about to embark on would not only take in the places where food might be produced, but the places where it was already in production.
Read the full article by Edward Platt on the Guardian.
Via Food Climate Research Network (FCRN)
The Sustainable Restaurant Association is a not for profit membership organisation helping restaurants become more sustainable and diners make more sustainable choices when dining out. We help our member restaurants source food more sustainably, manage resources more efficiently and work more closely with their community. Our independently verified star rating system means diners can choose a restaurant that matches their sustainability priorities. We recognise restaurants as one, two or three star sustainability champions depending on how they rate against a wide range of criteria covering 14 areas of sustainability. So, whether a diner’s main concern is animal welfare or carbon reduction, the SRA and its members are committed to a change for the better. We also help keep sustainability on the news agenda at a local and national level, running campaigns on issues such as finding more sustainable fish supplies, food waste and energy efficiency.
Ways in which we’ve helped restaurants be more sustainable.
Since our launch in March 2010 we’ve provided restaurants with hundreds of practical, cost saving, sustainable solutions across our three sustainable categories. Here are just a few examples of the varied ways in which the SRA has helped our members:
- Society – Ping Pong, with 12 sites in London, wanted to engage with a local charity working with homeless people – we put them in touch with
St Mungo’s and now they are working together.[UPDATE Feb 29, 2012: Ping Pong ended up working with a different charity, according to a St Mungo's rep who contacted SCN.]
- Environment – Quo Vadis, in Soho, asked to us solve their waste problem. The restaurant recognised it was sending too much to landfill. We introduced them to Harrow Waste. Now nothing goes to landfill, they have installed a glass crusher, cardboard and glass is separated from the rest and they are starting to recycle paper and plastic, saving thousands of pounds in the process.
- Sourcing – In early 2011 all 11 Leon restaurants introduced a new item on its menu – the fish finger wrap and wanted to be sure that the cod was from a sustainable source. Our extensive research proved positive and now the wrap is Leon’s bestseller – making it sustainable in every sense.
Well worth reading the SRA 2010 Report for more detail on the way it’s been working. KA
Source: Forum for the Future newsletter
Graphic taken from the PDF, “O2 Eco Rating Brief“.
From “O2 Eco rating – one year on“:
Eco rating, the UK’s first scheme rating the sustainability of mobile phones, has won three major coups since it launched nearly a year ago.
Eco ratings appeared in O2’s shops in August 2010, scoring handsets out of five for their sustainability. Since then the project has become a brilliant example of how a measurement approach can drive innovation into many elements of a system, rather than just one pocket. Or in other words: how an organisational change project can become an enabler of system change.
In the UK, O2 uses the Eco rating assessment scores to engage its international supplier base of mobile phone manufacturers on the sustainability agenda. But on top of continuing to drive change within the O2 UK business and its supply chain, the Eco rating scheme is now being rolled out to the wider Telefónica Group. Telefónica O2 Germany, for example, uses the Eco rating methodology and launched it in its stores (as Eco Index) in May.
Coup number two is the success of the ‘functionality’ element of the Eco rating project. By this we mean mobile phone functions and pre-installed software (such as point-to-point walking maps) that encourage users to behave in ways that are good for the planet. The inclusion of consumer behaviour elements in the Eco rating assessment pushes sustainability boundaries, so we are very pleased to have the opportunity to propose this aspect of the Eco rating scheme to the European Commission. We’re currently updating the EU Green Public Procurement guidelines for mobile phones in the light of the Eco rating project, with the revised GPP guidelines due to be published in November 2011.
The icing on the cake has been three recent award nominations for Eco rating, including one from the Ethical Corporation Awards and one from the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards. Even though O2 UK didn’t win, we’re very happy that Eco rating has been recognised as a success.
We’ll continue to observe and learn from how Eco rating, which started as a humble measurement project, can reach further into the Information and Communication Technology industry and the public sector, and help to engage consumers.
Source: The Fifth Estate
From “Resilience planning for wild weather and climate change” by Leon Gettler:
Queensland, the state of floods and cyclones that devastated property, has become Australia’s laboratory for sustainable building, for creating resilient homes, offices and structures in the face of climatic volatility. In a radical scheme, Grantham residents who had confronted a deadly mountain of water in the floods, have been invited to apply for land swaps to higher ground after the small southeast town was declared the first designated reconstruction area under the new Queensland Reconstruction Authority’s powers. The local council is working with reconstruction authority to create the land swaps.
Green Cross Australia, the non profit group working with developers, insurers and the Property Council of Australia to encourage sustainable thinking, plans to launch a Harden Up portal in August.
The scheme is a world first. Using social media, it aims to makes people aware of the history of the weather patterns in their region, helps prepare them to protect their homes, families and communities and encourages them to share their insights. People will be able to tap into the portal to assess the weather patterns in their suburb or town over the last 150 years, using data from the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO. They will be taken on interactive multimedia tours and encouraged to share their insights through a page on Facebook. The exercise is not only about creating awareness, it’s about empowering communities and giving them the know-how and information needed to create more resilient housing.
Green Cross Australia has also run Build It Back Green workshops that seek to reduce household greenhouse gas emissions, improve community resilience through good design and engagement, invest in green school infrastructure, invest in commercial, government and public buildings, invest in green infrastructure projects and develop solutions for low income residents that reduce energy, water and waste.
Significantly, the Build It Back Green model is now being used by 7000 Victorians whose homes were destroyed in the Black Saturday fires. It is also now being taken up by residents in Perth who faced the bushfires there in January.