Category Archives: convervation

Indigenous Iowa breaks ground on Earth Mother Camp, an environmentally progressive think tank

Indeigenous activist Cheryl Angel speaks at the site of the new Earth Mother Camp. Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. — photo by Zak Neumann.

Indigenous Iowa, a social and environmental justice organization rooted in indigenous culture, welcomed the first visitors to the Earth Mother Community Education Camp near Williamsburg, Iowa on Sunday, Feb. 26.

The ceremony began with a song to welcome water protectors from Oceti Sakowin, a camp at Standing Rock, North Dakota resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Cedric Goodhouse was

invited to start the ceremonial fire, setting positive intentions for the camp. There were speeches by Oceti Sakowin, Indigenous Iowa and Meskwaki speakers at the ceremony.

Click here to read the full article.

Kate’s Outline


C  N  P    O U T L I N E

Theme : will be based on the concept of oil and crude materials and their destruction of nature and society as a whole. The idea is the spilling of oil will have an effect everywhere with its drips touching everything.

General storyline I (maybe with someone else) will walk up representing humanity/Big Oil. Will admire this beautiful piece, and then spill all over it. Subject matter/ pieces in the whole canvas: forest, ocean, desert, cityscapes, possibly Iowa City, polar ice caps, human health, and how our culture is impacting these elements.

Main characters me, the piece, humanity. 

Interviews / Research Erica Damman (arts medium), Richard Priest (oil background), online research of artists of inspiration

Arts Medium  slanted canvas with acrylic subjects. Then real oil or a replacement will be spilt over it, dripping on ceramic/plastic figures of humans on a map.

Creek CNP Outline 11/2/16

Creeks of Johnson County

Theme: Restoration and Conservation and reconnecting with the land

General storyline: The four seasons will be analogous to the development of the destruction of our land and resources and will be threaded together with my families land and the waterway running through it juxtaposed with the greater area surrounding it. Spring is a time of birth and great opportunity and I will explain how the land we see today was shaped by natural process and then utilized as a partner by the Native People of The Americas. Summer is a time of agitation and preparing for the future survival in winter. I will use this verse to illustrate where man went wrong and what we still do wrong. Fall is a time of reflection and will be used to promote possible solutions to our wrong-doings as well as how we impact the entire globe all of its inhabitants. Winter is a time for huddling together and staying alive or being left in the cold to freeze to death. This will be an opportunity to predict what will be of our future if we stay on our current trajectory or if we merge together as one and begin to respect nature as a fellow, not a foe. As Thoreau said, “Alert and healthy natures remember that the sun rose clear, it is never too late to give up our prejudices.”

Main characters: Creek Hoard, Old Man’s Creek, Mother Nature

Interviews / Research: I will be interviewing a few scientist from campus to attain a clear understanding of what has happened as well as what my come in the future, as well as possible solutions. I will also be interviewing my family members to get an idea of what the land means to them. Research will be done to gather historical information about the area and what it has been used for in the past.

Arts Medium: I will write and read live a prose poetry, essay and short story. I will also include a visual medium and Music for thought throughout the reading.

Addicted to Oil

From the beginning I have been interested in the question, “if we know our current system is bad, and there is a better option, why don’t we do it?” This seems to be at the heart of every activist; trying to understand why change is not happening. What I have come up with is that Americans are plain addicted to their ways. I want to use the metaphor comparing Big Oil companies to Drug Dealers, as they facilitate quick, easy, dirty oil into our system and make almost all our products that much easier to access. Companies understand that using fossil fuels is damaging our environment, but “we must support ourselves and using Big Oil is just what our company does.” But isn’t that the same thing as providing something you know is bad because “its a part of my job”? Drug dealers don’t make you buy their product, but they are readily available when you need a fix.
As a part of my project, I would like to explore this metaphor in depth and come up with parallel examples of how the two are similar. I could put this into an art form using painting, sculpture, or a fictional short film.

Here is one example of a glass sculpture piece I would like to do.

The idea of this piece is the funnel-like quality for one thing to impact everything there after. This sculpture form could play with the idea of drugs by using objects associated (powder, oil, syringes, etc.)


I am also concidering a film that documents a drug dealer’s choices and decisions, and comparing that to a figure affiliated with Big Oil.

Iowa Environmentalism: A Narrative of Identity?

PHOTO: a landscape of my lovely backyard in the spring in Iowa City, IA.

Should I accept the very convenient styrofoam take-out box, handed to me by my waiter? Am I worried about my footprint, or do I need that tank of gas now?  Do I care if my job is environmentally responsible, or do I need to prioritize making a living? Can I eat this hamburger knowing that beef spews methane in excess?

These are the intrinsic questions that affect human behavior on a daily basis — in the contemporary time, these thoughts come as often eco-conscious, but “foiled” by human needs and desires (annoyingly unoriginal).

But how aware are we of the sociological factors that influence whether or not people answer that call to action — change their habits to align with their principles, participate as climate activists, move to manage pollution and waste, or vote to enact regulatory standards, etc?

If we analyze environmentalism using, for example, race as a critical factor, we see that there are many paradigms that associate people’s wants/needs, the natural world, and altruistic duty (responsibility to a broader humanity).

I believe that effective solutions to climate change require investigating these paradigms and seeking multicultural conversation.

For my project, I want to explore notions of environmentalism in Chinese-American immigrant or first-generation and second-gen communities in Iowa. I’ll talk about some stereotypes, some history, some local stories and some unsung heroes…. What I’m hoping will come out of this is a better idea of what it means to have an accessible and inclusive environmental justice movement.

My inspiration comes from an essay by Julie Sze, an Assistant Professor in American Studies at the University of California at Davis. Her full research paper can be found here. She writes in the Peace Review:

The perception of Asian immigrant community activism within the environ- mental justice movement is another example of the gap that still exists between rhetoric and reality. While virtually all of the people and organizations that identify with the environmental justice movement recognize that EJ should be multiracial and multiethnic, far fewer would be able to cite examples of Asian immigrant environmental justice activism. This illuminates the problem of Asian invisibility in progressive multiracial activism, which this essay hopes to squarely repudiate. In reality, Asian immigrant communities are taking the mantle of community activism and of the EJ (Environmental Justice) issues that affect them in their own localities. These range from urban issues to occupational concerns, but in general they are linked through the prism of exclusion based on race, culture, language and citizenship issues, all of which affect the ability of Asian immigrant communities to fully participate and achieve full justice.

While there are numerous studies on Asian American communities in California, there is still an overwhelming lack of similar projects in Iowa or in other parts of the Midwest.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Before the Flood”


Go Leo!!
Here is the link to his new documentary “Before the Flood” where he travels and talks to other countries about the United State’s big oil addiction. “The climate change documentary sees the Oscar-winner traveling around the world, giving an address an the U.N. and meeting with the likes of Pope Francis and Elon Musk”

It Should Be Pretty Neat

Neature Walk – Episode 1

Last Wednesday the Climate Narrative crew got together and did the three things we usually do:

1) become more aware of some huge issue that seems unsolvable
2) see people who are making great strides in solving the issue
3) discuss ways we can tackle them

It changed a bit this last week, when our fearless leader, Jeff Biggers, asked us to talk about where we were on our projects. Many of us had the same topic in mind, which caused me a bit of panic BUT it also caused a surge of ideas, which brings me to my actual topic.

I plan to explore the effects of deforestation on the tree systems, surrounding animals, other plants, and air quality of the once forested area through the lens of a nature walk. Last week we discussed many issues surrounding deforestation and, like every other topic, I had a desire to learn more.

I have always had a small fascination with congregations of trees. Forests and I have a beautiful connection, in that I have never spent any time in a true forest. Being from the deserts of Southern California does not lend itself to much forest time, but I have longed for the lush green scene. Maybe that is why I came to Iowa.

Intentional Cooperative Agriculture

Dan Barber, a famous chef from New York City, talks about his profound experience of seeing the best foie gras in the world being cultivated by a rancher in Spain. This talk highlights the missing link between our food and our lives. Many people think that food comes from the store and heat comes from the furnace. As a former chef, I can attest that most do not know and do not want to know where the they eat comes from… especially fine dining. A process like gavage is a prime example of humans manipulating nature to attain a product that is made naturally if one has the patience.



An Interview with Tim Orme

10308351_1604037703212654_3958934087937845044_nLast week, I had the opportunity to speak with Tim Orme, an experienced writer and filmmaker in the process of completing a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry and Film at the University of Iowa. His previous work has been showcased around the world, with his film Afterlight receiving the Best Animation award at both the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival and the 2013 Toronto Urban Film Festival.

Tim is currently in the process of creating an animated myth of mortality entitled, The Three Siblings. This is a captivating tale about two brothers and a sister living in a time before men were mortal. They are a family of hunters who mindlessly consume all that the forest has to offer, unaware that its resources are finite and desolation is near. The Three Siblings explores themes of overconsumption while subtly revealing the environmental limits faced by humanity.

Below is a portion of my conversation with Tim where he discusses his intent in making the film, as well as his thoughts concerning the use of narrative as a means to shed light on complex topics such as mortality and humanity’s relationship with the environment.

Listen here: