Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Unseen Cost


I look forward to presenting my skit, which addresses the “unseen cost” of consuming meat. It takes place in a restaurant with three characters–a server, a meat eater and a vegan. The meat eater orders a burger, and along with their order comes all the resources that went into the process. An accompanying power point with charts and graphs will show the factual side of things.

Women Witness to Climate Change

I’m excited to present my series of poems chronicling how women are affected by climate change and their power to address it. I’ll be presenting women’s perspectives on climate justice from different places and different points of life. Here is an excerpt from one of my poems about motherhood and the task and challenge of raising a generation of environmentally conscious individuals:




You must understand

the patience of putting seed into the ground,

of tending, of maintaining,

the wonder of  life unfurling before you

into ripe red returns.

You must understand

your home and your sustenance,

the finiteness stretched between this deep molten mass

and the kaleidoscope of sky spinning above the

infinities of each dawning day, the possibilities.

You must understand

the cycles and the time you are a part of,

where you have come from,

the fires and the foreheads you have sprung from

and the inheritance that must be yours to give away.

How to teach you to choose a life

of living, not surviving,

not by the one-way straight-path one-size-fits-all

taking in taking in consumption line

but instead that curious equation of wisdom and compassion

with the emphasis in the equal sign.


The Secret Ingredient

2009 Attached is the cover to my cookbook! Once I get every recipe the cookbook will be done. I currently have a partial script for the cooking show with a premise of two unwitting cooking show hosts try to make two different recipes and as they are cooking the ingredients are disappearing. Currently trying to figure out the best medium to display facts about the ingredients disappearing! Hope I can portray how recipes, which are central to every culture, will disappear as we know them if climate change gets worse.


Road Trip Across Iowa

Neal Smith NWFThis weekend I made a trip across Iowa from Johnson county all the way to Plymouth county and back across the top. During my journey I visited 10+ prairie, wetland, and wildlife areas across Iowa. I gathered over 600 photographs, some of which will be used to create the imagery in my children’s book about Iowa’s tallgrass prairies. There are too many photographs to share but I have included one of my favorites from the trip. The current season is a transition period for virtually all prairie grasses in Iowa and it was challenging to find much color beyond golden brown, grey, and tan. Unfortunately, after my CNP final project is presented is when Iowa’s tallgrass prairies will really show their true colors. Nonetheless, I did not let that stop me from photographing what Iowa currently has to offer. One thing that I learned on this journey is how little land is left to remnant, native, and reconstructed prairie in Iowa (beyond the numerical value of 0.1 %). Seeing is really believing (and fully understanding). Driving throughout Iowa, it is easy to see why >92 % of land is devoted to rural cropland. This trip helped solidify my goals beyond completing my CNP project to continue to volunteer and help restore Iowa’s stunning tallgrass prairies.

The link here compiles the prairies in Iowa that you can visit by county and was used in creating my itinerary.

Fire Brings New Life to the Prairie

IMG_6085This weekend I had the opportunity to photograph a prescribed fire prairie grass burn in Solon, IA. One of the folks I interviewed, Liz Maas (Director of Bur Oak Land Trust), invited me to witness and document the action up close. It was a great experience and will become a neat part of my Children’s book for my CNP final project.

Iowa was once covered with over 80 % prairie grasses. To put that into perspective, if we envision the entire planet Earth as Iowa, prairie grasses would have covered more surface area than our vast oceans! However, only 0.1 % of Iowa’s original prairie remain today. What might seem counterintuitive about this is why burn the prairie grass we are trying to save? By performing a controlled area burn of prairie grass it helps eliminate competing invasive grasses, and has occurred in balance routinely for thousands of years to prevent invading tress species onto the prairie. There is more than meets the eye as well with prairie grasses because they have deep root systems that contain upwards of 75 % of the plant’s biomass below the surface. What’s more is that what we see above ground is a 3-10 feet plant but its roots can grow upwards of 10-20 feet below ground! So when the prairie is burned, the remains serve as natural fertilizer for the next generation of prairie grass and encourage growth.

So before you run to throw some water on burning prairie grass, remember it is a vital prairie management method that without a doubt gave (gives) Iowa some of the most fertile soil in the world.

For more on Iowa Prairies check out the Iowa Prairie Network.

Will Health Dangers Get Public Engaged on Climate Action?

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 8.11.54 AMWriting in the Conversation online magazine, Professor Mathew Nisbet from Northeastern examines the role of public health issues in making breakthroughs on climate change awareness and action, drawn from “a series of studies that I conducted with several colleagues in 2010 and 2011,” where Nisbet examined “how Americans respond to information about climate change when the issue is reframed as a public health problem.”

Here’s a clip:

“In comparison to messages that defined climate change in terms of either the environment or national security, talking about climate change as a public health problem generated greater feelings of hope among subjects. Research suggests that fostering a sense of hope, specifically a belief that actions to combat climate change will be successful, is likely to promote greater public involvement and participation on the issue.

Among subjects who tended to doubt or dismiss climate change as a problem, the public health focus also helped diffuse anger in reaction to information about the issue, creating the opportunity for opinion change.”

Read the full story here:

Poet Crystal Good Visits Climate Narrative Project

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 9.51.07 PMNationally acclaimed poet Crystal Good, author of Valley Girls, read her work to the Climate Narrative Project fellows, and led a discussion on the role of poetry, spoken word performance and art in the field of climate justice. A resident of West Virginia, Good has been active in various clean water campaigns, as well as the movement to end mountaintop removal strip mining.

More on Crystal’s work can be found here:

Climate change threat to public health worse than polio, White House warns

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.06.07 AMWhite House officials showcased a new study this week on the looming health impacts of climate change. In a line: Climate change poses a serious danger to public health – worse than polio in some respects – and will strike especially hard at pregnant women, children, low-income people and communities of color, an authoritative US government report warned on Monday.

Read the full story at the Guardian. Here’s a clip:

The report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, formally unveiled at the White House, warned of sweeping risks to public health from rising temperatures in the coming decades – with increased deaths and illnesses from heat stroke, respiratory failure and diseases such as West Nile virus.