Monthly Archives: February 2017

Charles Truong’s Project Ideas

I have been seriously conflicted in regards to deciding what creative mode I will pursue for my CNP project. I am interested in writing spoken word poetry and song lyrics, because they have always been unchecked boxes on my bucket list. Being an English major, I have heard from numerous successful writers and poets throughout my time at the university. However, I never was able to truly engage in the art of performance-based writing.

I am also interested in performing a variation of “Dance Your PhD“, where I would be using b-boying (breakdancing) and elements of modern dance to tell a story about pollution in inner cities. I teach and perform dance regularly, so I’m not sure if this would challenge me in the same way that writing would. I acknowledge, however, that there have been countless spoken word pieces in the CNP alone – and even more reflecting on the grand theme of climate change – but there has been little in terms of representation through b-boying. I don’t even think it has ever been done. This could be a way of showcasing the dance I have devoted my life to and how it can tell stories and be relevant in the conversation about climate change.

Cedar Rapids: Carbon Neutral Nature Center

Check out this Gazette report on the carbon neutral building at the Amazing Place at Cedar Rapids’ Indian Creek Nature Center.

Here’s a clip:

– Permeable patio pavers designed to capture rainwater.

– Locally sourced limestone and reclaimed wood from a barn in Marion.

– Insulation made from sand and recycled glass.

– Hundreds of solar panels and a geothermal energy system designed not only to power the facility, but add excess power to the grid.

It’s all part of an effort to create the only building in Iowa — and the only nature center in the world — certified under the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge.

“If we’re really going to change the trajectory of the way things are going on our planet, then we have to make big changes,” said Lindsey Flannery, business development coordinator for Indian Creek. “We feel as an educational institution with a history of sustainability that it’s up to us to be the pioneers.”
TAKING THE CHALLENGE

The Living Building Challenge was established in 2006 by the Portland, Oregon-based Cascadia Green Building Council. In 2009, the International Living Future Institute was established to oversee the challenge. To date, 11 buildings — all in the United States — have earned Living Building certification.

John Myers, executive director at Indian Creek, said attaining the certification would validate not only his organization, but the green building movement.

“Iowa has been progressive on a number of things,” he said, noting wind and solar developments in the state. “We need to continue to push not just the state but the nation toward sustainability. Us achieving this is a feather in Iowa’s cap that shows we can be leaders and the impossible is possible.”

Myers said 10 years ago, people weren’t even thinking about zero-energy buildings.

Turning Deadly Poop Into Fertile Soil

Due to lack of a proper sanitation system Haiti is fighting the worst CHOLERA epidemic in modern History. “Since 2006 a non-profit organization called SOIL has been transforming human waste into resources in Haiti. Through the use of ecological sanitation, SOIL is working to create a revolutionary business model for providing access to safe, dignified sanitation that produces rich, organic compost as a natural resource for Haiti’s badly-depleted soils, while also creating economic opportunities in some of the world’s most under-resourced communities”.

This ecological sanitation is a game changer, this is one of the most organic fertilizers, there are no chemicals added and is rich in nutrients and minerals, this is what allows plants to grow healthy and stronger. It also adds organic matter to the soil which may improve soil structure, aeration, soil moisture-holding capacity, and water infiltration. Plants that grow in a rich soil environment are stronger than those plants that grow in a soil full of fertilizers made in labs by humans, that have added chemicals and therefore need insecticidal because a plant needs more than NPK( Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) to be strong, and this manure fertilizer provides more of the nutrients that the plants and the soils needs.

For more details please see the following video, courtesy of AJ+:

Turning Deadly Poop Into Fertile Soil

Haiti is fighting cholera by turning human poop into rich fertilizer.

Posted by AJ+ on Sunday, February 26, 2017

Cities Move to Ban Cars from Center

Following up our workshop on walkability, check out these European cities that are moving toward banning cars in their city centers.

Here’s the plan for Madrid:

“Madrid plans to ban cars from 500 acres of its city center by 2020, with urban planners redesigning 24 of the city’s busiest streets for walking rather than driving.

The initiative is part of the city’s “sustainable mobility plan,” which aims to reduce daily car usage from 29% to 23%. Drivers who ignore the new regulations will pay a fine of at least $100. And the most polluting cars will pay more to park.

“In neighborhoods, you can do a lot with small interventions,” Mateus Porto and Verónica Martínez, who are both architects and urban planners from the local pedestrian advocacy group A PIE, told Fast Company. “We believe that regardless of what the General Plan says about the future of the city, many things can be done today, if there is political will.”

Red Lake Band to Go Fully Solar Within Five Years

Photo: Michael Meuers

Artist rendition of rooftop solar panels to be installed on Red Lake Nation’s major buildings.

This is the kind of stuff that I’m talking about!! The vision I’ve had for my community for years! Inspiring article I just wanted to share. Here is a great quote I got from the article:

“Renewable energy harnesses the natural forces of life, of nature, which provides the foundation for who we are as Native People,” McArthur said. “At the end of the day, our language, our songs, our cultural traditions are all based on the great gift of heat and light from Gimishoomisinaan Giizis (Grandfather Sun) and the many gifts of Gimaamaanaan Aki (Mother Earth). And as we move forward, we strive to utilize the many blessings from nature, with the utmost respect and adherence to the processes which preserve and conserve these precious gifts.”

Mothers, Babies on Navajo Nation Exposed to High Levels of Uranium

A child watches as 18 inches of contaminated soil is removed from the community in which he lives. The gray pile in the distance is mine waste from the Northeast Church Rock Mine, the largest underground uranium mine in the United States.

Check out this article about the high uranium levels that children are exposed to on the Navajo Nation. It’s an older article, but still goes to show how these mines were left many years ago, and the effects still remain.

Here’s a excerpt from the article:

This study is the first to look at what chronic, long-term exposure from all possible sources of uranium contamination—air, water, plants, wildlife, livestock and land—does down through the generations in a Native American community.

Since the study began in 2012, over 750 families have enrolled and 600 babies have been born to those families, said Dr. Johnnye Lewis, director of the Community Environmental Health Program & Center for Native Environmental Health Equity Research at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and NBCS principal investigator.

“We’re collecting a huge amount of data,” Lewis said. “At this point … all of our results are preliminary, [but] what we do know is that if we look at uranium in urine in the Navajo participants we see higher concentrations than we would expect based on the U.S. population as a whole… [In babies,] we are seeing a trend that uranium levels in urine increase over the first year.”

The Navajo Nation overlies some of the largest uranium deposits in the U.S. Between 1944 and 1986, miners extracted nearly 30 million tons of uranium from Navajo Nation lands. Navajo miners did not have protective suits or masks; they took their work clothes home for laundering; they and other community members used rocks from the mines to build their homes.

Daily Iowan: “UI Ready to Shun Coal”

Earlier this week, the Daily Iowan published an article detailing University of Iowa’s President Bruce Herrald’s announcement that UI will be coal free by 2025.

Here’s a bit of the article:

“University of Iowa President, Bruce Harreld, announced on Feb. 20 the UI will be coal-free by 2025.

According to a press release, Harreld said, ‘It’s the right choice for our students and our campus, and it’s the surest path to an energy-secure future.

‘In 2025, we expect to have diminished our reliance on coal to the point it is no longer included in our fuel portfolio.’

The UI will continue its efforts to advance energy programs to ensure there is ‘an abundant supply’ of alternative-energy sources, he said.

The UI has taken steps to reduce its dependence on coal — in 2008, the university established seven ‘sustainability targets’ to be achieved by 2020, according to the press release.

Since the 2020 vision’s inception, the UI has managed to reduce its use of coal by 60 percent.

This correlates with one of the sustainability targets, which seeks to derive 40 percent of the UI’s energy from renewable resources — a far cry from a university once dependent on fossil fuels, according to the UI sustainability website.”

The coal industry’s destructive tendencies towards global climate is well known, and this plan to shift away from using the energy source as a means of powering our university remains to be small, but important step in combating climate change.

Ideally, given Iowa’s inclination towards wind energy, we’ll see more institutions making the shift away from dirty fossil fuel.

Walkability: Jeff Speck on 4 Ways for the City

Urbanist and author Jeff Speck on how to get people out of their cars, and a-walking the city

In the American city, the typical American city — the typical American city is not Washington, DC, or New York, or San Francisco; it’s Grand Rapids or Cedar Rapids or Memphis — in the typical American city in which most people own cars and the temptation is to drive them all the time, if you’re going to get them to walk, then you have to offer a walk that’s as good as a drive or better. What does that mean? It means you need to offer four things simultaneously: there needs to be a proper reason to walk, the walk has to be safe and feel safe, the walk has to be comfortable and the walk has to be interesting. You need to do all four of these things simultaneously, and that’s the structure of my talk today, to take you through each of those.