Welcome to Green Gal's blog, where you'll find stories, recipes, gardening updates, and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems. This blog is written by a young woman entrepreneur who is also a beginning farmer-gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Ned Blackhawk and the Indigenous West of Mark Twain

Here's another, shorter paper I wrote last year in my Native American studies class at UCSC. I attended a lecture and wrote this for extra credit.

On Thursday, March 03, 2011, a room-full of students and professors gathered in Humanities Building 1, Room 201 to listen to Ned Blackhawk speak about famous American writer Mark Twain, his “overland narrative” Roughing It, and what his representations of the western United States during and after the Civil War have to do with Native peoples, imperialism and anthropology. Blackhawk is the author of Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West. His lecture was based on a section of his book about Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens. Twain’s Roughing It tells the story of his journey west with his brother that began in 1861, right when the Civil War was beginning. The two traveled through what Blackhawk said is ethnographically called the American Great Basin between the Colorado Rockies and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In the Utah-Nevada borderlands, the brothers encountered the Goshute Shoshone Native Americans. He describes them in his books as the “wretchedest type of humans” he “ever encountered.” In his view, they were the most inferior race of humans, and the only other race that came close to their low rank was the Bushmen of South Africa.
American writer Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) viewed Native Americans, particularly the Shoshone, as an inferior race
Similarly, anthropologist Julian Steward studied the Goshute Shoshone and had a view that aligned with Twain’s. His “legacy looms large over this region,” and over the descendants of the people Steward studied and classified. Blackhawk remarked that Steward’s work also tells us a lot about the history of the field of anthropology. At a time when cultural relativism was beginning to take hold in the field, Steward directed his students away from it, though his advisors were such anthropologists as Alfred Kroeber. Like Twain, Steward believed the Goshutes to be unlike the romantic image of the “Indian” that he expected them to be and championed against their federal recognition, arguing that to recognize them as a tribe would be “antithetical” because such a recognition would “baffle” the Shoshone. At the time that Steward was studying and regarding these people in this way, John Collier was working to make changes that would help Native Americans. The Merriam Report and the Indian Reorganization Act took place during this time. The IRA was created to provide recognition and land bases for Native Americans, but Steward was denying this to the Goshutes, whose treaty agreements with the United States were unfulfilled. Collier consulted with anthropologists like Steward, who were supposed to know the Native peoples best. Clearly, these anthropologists were viewing the Native Americans through a narrow lens that was measuring them according to a European standard that led to representations of them as “savage” and uncivilized.
John Collier was a American social reformer and Native-American advocate.
Blackhawk commented that we have to look beyond the “primitive” classifications and representations of Native Americans in order to historicize and see the complicated historical transformations that were taking place during the Civil War and later during Reconstruction. The Native peoples that Clemens and Steward encountered had endured violence and disruption from the Spanish as early as the 1500s. There had been European influences, such as a Mormon settlement, in this region for a long time before the major wave of Anglo-Americans settled there and before these views were created by people such as Clemens and Steward. Blackhawk also discussed Clemens’s experiences in Hawaii and how his visit there under the direction of his editors is significantly linked to Reconstruction, which influenced expansion of the United States at that time into Hawaii. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Going to the woods is going home

Going to the woods is going home.
― John Muir
Living at UCSC, this is certainly true. I'm unfortunately spending my day indoors today, writing a paper, but I just have to look out a window to remind myself that I'm in a forest. Perhaps later, I'll walk down to the Knoll to enjoy the sun and the view of the bay.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Resurrection for Recognition: The Spanish Missions, Anthropology, and Muwekma Ohlone Federal Recognition

I'm currently writing a History of Art and Visual Culture essay on Native American photographic representations in the early twentieth century, so I've been reading through old essays and notes I have from various American Studies courses I took last year. As I was reading through this paper I wrote for a Native American studies class, I realized I hadn't posted it to my blog, so I figured I'd share it now.

When the Ohlone Native Americans of the Monterey and San Francisco bay areas first encountered Spanish explorers like Captain Pedro Fages and missionary Juan CrespĂ­ in the 1770s (Brown 1), they had never before seen such “light-skinned creatures” (Margolin Ohlone 158), nor their glass beads, metal or mules; they concluded that the Europeans were “children of the Mule—a…powerful animal-god” that “had blessed them with stupendous magical powers” (158). Years later, the Ohlone recounted this initial impression to missionaries. By then, they had for years been virtually enslaved in the Spanish mission system, struggling against the conversion of their spirituality and lifestyle, straining to hold onto their traditional culture. Christian Eurocentric methods enacted by the Spanish and later by European-Americans to eradicate indigenous ways led to a modern-day Ohlone culture largely composed of “faint images” (Yamane v) and “faded traditions” (vi) that are becoming more vibrant as the struggle for cultural survival continues. This resurrection is fueled by the collective and personal need of Native American individuals and communities throughout North America to revive their traditions and cultural identities before they “disappear from the earth,” only to be found in the stagnant world of “written texts” (Margolin Way 203). The Spanish mission system devastated many aspects of Ohlone culture; these losses and subsequent anthropological classifications have made it difficult for the Ohlone people to gain federal recognition of tribal sovereignty.

To begin, the term “Ohlone” is actually a broad linguistic classification that was created by anthropologists in the early 1900s and encompasses several different tribes that experienced “similar post-contact histories” in the missions (Field, Cambra and Leventhal 35). The anthropologists that categorized Native tribes in California used language similarities to geographically delineate political territories, an inaccurate representation of their complex identities and relations (35). The compartmentalization of tribes in this way “reflects the world those anthropologists lived in,” and this “ethnic naming and boundary making…has played an important role in federal Indian policy” (Field, Cambra and Leventhal 29). One tribe under the classification of Ohlone, the “contemporary reorganized tribal entity” of the Muwekma Ohlone, which is composed of descendants of Native people from the “San Francisco peninsula and the South and East Bay, as well as interior regions around modern-day Stockton and farther inland” (20), is one of many tribes across the United States struggling to gain federal recognition (21).

Prior to Spanish control of California, the Ohlone people, as well as all Native tribes, possessed tribal sovereignty, or the ability to govern themselves with no external authority from which they needed to request recognition (Kickingbird 2). However, the Spanish did gain control, and the lives of the Ohlone were irrevocably altered in the following centuries. Spain acquired California in 1769 and sent various expeditions to traverse the landscape (Field “Complicities” 196). These explorers encountered Native Americans, like the Ohlone, along with the verdant abundance of the New World. With these explorers came Catholic missionaries, who established twenty-one missions throughout the coastal areas of California over the next fifty years (Margolin Way 160). The Spanish viewed the Ohlone and other tribes as uncivilized “heathens” (Brown 6), who they soon “enculturated” into their mission system (Bean xxii); in time, more than 50,000 California Natives would be baptized into Catholic “neophytes.” In the perspective of the Catholic Fathers, the Native peoples were rescued from their “heathen” culture in order to save their souls and replace their “savage” ways with the “civilized,” “good” ways of Europe (Berkhofer 10-11). This was the first of a series of encounters with Europeans in which the Native way was “wrong,” and the European way was “right.” Beginning with the Spanish, the dominant value system of Europe has historically been the basis for the “standards of measurement” used to evaluate Native Americans throughout the United States (Berkhofer 11). The Native peoples in the missions were forced into a European framework that attempted to convert them to a new religion and teach them the European lifestyle.

In 1816, Russian artist Louis Choris observed of the neophytes at Mission Dolores in San Francisco, “I have never seen one laugh, I have never seen one look one in the face” (Castillo 276). Life in the missions placed “psychological stress” on Native peoples like the Ohlone, who had “undergone a coerced transformation into a slave society” (276). The original “Utopian” goal of the missionaries was to “set up the perfect Christian community of which the Indians were to be the beneficiaries” (Margolin Ohlone 159). They were to be “weaned away from their life of nakedness, lewdness, and idolatry” to learn proper conduct and obtain skills in the “civilized arts” (159). The Ohlone and other Native peoples did not submit to mission doctrine as effectively as the missionaries had hoped, and strict disciplinary policies were used to try and force conversion of the Natives to Christianity and European ways (Castillo 280-281).

Native Californians were “often drawn to the missions by the desire for technology, food, or protection from disease” (Beebe 260), but once they entered the mission and were baptized, they became subject to the complete authority of the Spanish Fathers, “who felt directly responsible to God for the souls of the newly baptized Indians” (Margolin Ohlone 160). For the Fathers, baptism meant “a permanent commitment, an irrevocable choice for Christianity” (Beebe 261). When neophytes escaped from the crowded, diseased missions, soldiers or converted Natives were sent to retrieve them (Margolin Ohlone 160). Those who escaped repeatedly were “whipped, bastinadoed, and shackled” (160). There was no permanent return to traditional life for those who became baptized as long as the missions were in place.

In the missions, Native peoples experienced greatly altered lifestyles, in which they had to endure major alterations to their diet and live in “barracks-style” housing (Field, Cambra and Leventhal 20). The missionaries attempted to replace their neophytes’ traditional beliefs with Christian religious ideas and European political and social ideas (Bean xxii). Additionally, the missions “were designed to settle and defend the lands” Spain had obtained, as well as supply “detailed information on new lands” and “[encourage] migration of Spaniards to the empire’s frontiers” (Rawls 14). The land that the Ohlone had depended on for subsistence for thousands of years was therefore used by the Spanish for agriculture and cattle grazing, which stripped it of resources (Castillo 280). These practices “depleted” (280) the Native peoples’ food sources. Simultaneously, Native populations greatly declined due to deaths from introduced diseases, such as measles, smallpox and syphilis (Margolin Way 163), which were worsened by unsanitary conditions in the densely-populated missions, “dietary deficiencies” from their altered diets, and a “lack of medical care” (Rawls 18). These factors led to the “collapse” of villages that had once been “independent…economic and civic centers” (Castillo 280).

In addition to the physical collapse of Ohlone society, children in the missions were restricted to learning European methods of making clothing and tools, and they practiced agriculture and brick-building, among other skills considered useful by the Spanish (Margolin Ohlone 162). Had they been raised in Ohlone villages, instead of “spinning and weaving cloth” (162), they would have been making traditional “capes of woven rabbit skin” and tule skirts (4). Essentially, the neophytes were in many cases, “Hispanicized not only in religion but also in social organization, language, dress, work habits, and virtually every other aspect of their lives” (Rawls 14). The missions were successful in altering the lifestyles of the neophytes in the system, such as the Ohlone, who were subsequently forced into labor on Mexican rancheros following the secularization of the missions in 1821, at which time Native peoples could finally leave the missions (20). Far from being free under Mexican control, many Native peoples, who had been taught discipline, were exploited for the skills they had obtained, and their ability to return to traditional life was further diminished in this continued coercion (19). The methods of their traditional culture were not passed on to new generations as fully as they had been in the past, and overtime, many customs were lost, only to be found in the records of white anthropologists who were attempting to “salvage ethnography from the last living members” of the cultures they believed would soon be entirely “dead” (Berkhofer 30).

One such anthropologist was Alfred Kroeber, who worked in the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley in the early 1900s (Field, Cambra and Leventhal 20). He once said of the missions: “It must have caused many of the Fathers a severe pang to realize, as they could not but do daily, that they were saving souls only at the inevitable cost of lives” (Rawls 18). Not only were many Native lives literally lost, but culturally, they were all severed from their roots. In Kroeber’s Handbook of the Indians of California, he declared the Ohlone an extinct group, which led the United States federal government and the California state government to deny them and other such anthropologically classified tribes any recognition (Field, Cambra and Leventhal 20). Anthropology and the response of the government have led to “many decades of collective social and cultural invisibility” for those tribes Kroeber classified as extinct (20). Kroeber made his classifications based on the scarcity of “material culture and knowledge about daily lifeways” (20) that was first caused by the missions, and subsequently caused by many other factors resulting from westward expansion and policies of the United States government.

The process of applying for and obtaining federal recognition from the United States is challenging, expensive and time-consuming, and the Muwekma Ohlone tribal entity has been working toward it for about twenty years (Field, Cambra and Leventhal 21). The Verona Band, the ancestors of the present-day Muwekma Ohlone, was federally recognized until 1927 (28), after Kroeber’s Handbook was published in 1925 (20). In order to gain recognition today, the tribal entity must prove to the Branch of Acknowledgement Research (BAR) of the Bureau of Indian Affairs that there have been “historic continuities” from 1927, when the Verona Band lost its recognition, to 1982, when the Muwekma Ohlone tribal entity was established (28). The evidence does exist and the BAR “substantiated” it, but ultimately in 2002, the BAR denied the entity’s petition by “dismiss[ing]” the most critical evidence of these continuities (28). They continue to fight for their recognition.

For the Muwekma Ohlone, repatriation of material culture that is currently stored in museums and claiming its “cultural patrimony” can “increasingly characterize the Muwekmas’ relationship to aspects of their history” (Field, Cambra and Leventhal 44). This is often difficult, however, because the identities and relations between tribes were undocumented or inaccurately depicted by early anthropologists and thus, proving “continuous patrimony” (37) is more difficult for groups like the Ohlone, who did not receive extensive documentation (36-37). Despite these barriers, the Muwekma have continued their “struggle against more than two centuries of cultural dismemberment” (43). To challenge Kroeber’s “verdict of extinction”, the tribal entity created a cultural-resource-management firm to provide evidence that their culture is not extinct (22). These efforts have exposed the extant vitality of Ohlone culture, whose supposed extinction was widely-accepted “by the public, anthropologists, government officials, schoolteachers and others” (23). Ironically, present-day Ohlone have had to search through the records of the same people who sought to extinguish their culture in order to relearn forgotten traditions and provide evidence of their continuous cultural survival. The often racist and biased records of Spanish missionaries contain details of Ohlone life at the time of contact, and the ethnographic records of anthropologists have preserved their traditions in writing and recordings.

Though the missions and anthropological classifications have been two major hindrances to cultural stability and recognized tribal sovereignty of the Ohlone, it is important to recognize the historic prevalence of similar Eurocentric practices. The missions are only one example of many ways that European society has attempted to “destroy the ‘Indian’ in the ‘race’ in favor of the ‘man,’ as [Captain Richard H. Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School] was fond of saying” (Berkhofer 171). Another example is the boarding school system of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that removed “uncivilized” Native children from their tribal homelands and taught them “submission to authority” and “vocational” skills to become useful, Americanized, though still second-class, citizens (Lomawaima 81-82). In both the mission and boarding school systems, those in power measured the Native people according to the European value system without regard for the inherent value or importance of Native culture.
Carlisle School

Still today, much of European-American society measures other cultures according to this scale, where white American culture is considered normal and non-white American culture is abnormal or intolerable. For example, the Christian religion in dominant American culture is viewed as a standard, normal belief system, but the traditional beliefs of the Ohlone and other Native peoples are often considered “make-believe,” “primitive” and mythological (AnzaldĂșa 59) to many people raised and firmly entrenched in popular American culture and dominant discourse. It is unfortunate that these views are still prevalent because this continues to make it difficult for tribes like the Muwekma Ohlone to gain federal recognition of their tribal sovereignty; this sovereignty is inherently theirs as an indigenous culture that recognizes its power and celebrates its continually vibrant and fully alive cultural identity (Kickingbird 1-3).

Works Cited

AnzaldĂșa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. 1987. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 2007.

Bean, Lowell John. “Introduction.” The Ohlone Past and Present: Native Americans of the San Francisco Bay Region. Ed. Lowell John Bean. Menlo Park: Ballena Press, 1994. xxi-xxxii. Print.

Beebe, Rose Marie, and Robert M. Senkewicz, eds. Lands of Promise and Despair. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2001. Print.

Berkhofer, Robert F., Jr. The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present. New York: Vintage Books, 1978. Print.

Brown, Alan K. “The European Contact of 1772 and Some Later Documentation.” The Ohlone Past and Present: Americans of the San Francisco Bay Region. Ed. Lowell John Bean. Menlo Park: Ballena Press, 1994. 1-42. Print.

Castillo, Edward D. “The Language of Race Hatred.” The Ohlone Past and Present: Americans of the San Francisco Bay Region. Ed. Lowell John Bean. Menlo Park: Ballena Press, 1994. 271-295. Print.

Field, Les. W. “Complicities and Collaborations: Anthropologists and the ‘Unacknowledged Tribes’ of California.” Current Anthropology, 40:2 (1999): 193-210. JSTOR. 27 Feb. 2011 . Web.

Field, Les W., Rosemary Cambra, and Alan Leventhal. “The Old Abalone Necklaces and the Possibility of a Muwekma Ohlone Cultural Patrimony.” Abalone Tales: Collaborative Explorations of Sovereignty and Identity in Native California. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. Print.

Kickingbird, Kirke, et al. “Indian Sovereignty.” Native American Sovereignty. Ed. John R. Wunder. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1999.

Lomawaima, K. Tsianina. “‘You’re a Women, You’re Going to Be a Wife.’” They Called It Prairie Light: The Story of Chilocco Indian School. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994. Print.

Margolin, Malcolm. The Ohlone Way. 1978. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2003. Print.

Margolin, Malcolm, ed. The Way We Lived. 1981. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1993. Print.

Rawls, James. J. Indians of California: The Changing Image. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984. Print.

Yamane, Linda. “What Does It Mean To Be Ohlone?” The Ohlone Past and Present: Americans of the San Francisco Bay Region. Ed. Lowell John Bean. Menlo Park: Ballena Press, 1994. v-vii. Print.

This paper was written for American Studies 80E, taught by Professor Renya Ramirez at the University of California, Santa Cruz. It was turned in March 3, 2011 during Winter Quarter.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Earth Day Planning and Sunny Skies!

It is a radiantly sunny day here in Santa Cruz, and I couldn't be happier that I live in this wonderful forest on the top of a hill.

I just enjoyed a nice, meandering walk through a redwood trail on my way to Kerr Hall from Oakes College. I was in Oakes for an Earth Day planning meeting this afternoon, enjoying the sun from the panoramic view at Oakes Lower Lawn. (If you go to UCSC and you've never been to Oakes Lower Lawn, you have not experienced the beauty of our campus in its entirety... I know many people never venture into Oakes, but it is worth it!) I'm so glad I've gotten involved with this year's Earth Day planning as a representative for Path to a Greener Stevenson and a co-representative for Friends of the Sustainability Office. It's fun and exciting to brainstorm and vision the UCSC Earth Day Festival 2012, especially since Earth Day is the same day as my birthday, April 22. So far, our plan for the day includes healthy food, live music, and workshops and tables from as many organizations as we can fit on the lawn. We hope to close the festival with a drum circle, because what's a UCSC event without a drum circle? The website for signing up for Earth Day just went live, and I cannot wait to see what ideas organizations have for workshops and interactive tabling.

My question for all of you is, what would you hope/want/expect to see at the world's best, most exciting, interactive and inspiring Earth Day Festival? Have you been to any festivals that had particularly intriguing or fun activities or elements? Share your ideas for what Earth Day 2012 should look like at UCSC, no matter how far out your ideas seem. Post links, share experiences, share ideas--I'd love to hear from you all!

My office hours here in the Sustainability Office in Kerr Hall start soon, so I'm about to switch gears and continue working on my third issue of the Greening UCSC Sustainability Office newsletter, which is being sent out February 28. Are you interested in hearing about UCSC (and the broader community and world's) sustainability efforts, opportunities, events, achievements and news? Join our mailing list by clicking here, and each month, you'll receive our newsletter, compiled by yours truly!

Thanks for reading, and have a magnificent day--don't forget to comment with your ideas!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Van Jones at UCSC

Earlier this afternoon, UC Santa Cruz student leaders from a unique selection of campus groups gathered in the Stevenson Event Center to talk about sustainability, environmental and social justice, democracy, the green economy, and the future with a "globally recognized, award-winning pioneer in human rights and the clean energy economy," Van Jones. There were students in the room with a variety of different interests, but all were drawn to the event by the promise that Van Jones would be an inspiration to hear from and speak with, and at least in my opinion, that promise was fulfilled. But before I go into what he said earlier today, let me share a little about Van Jones.

He is the best-selling author of The Green Collar Economy and served as the green jobs advisor to President Obama. He is currently a senior fellow at the Center For American Progress and a senior policy advisor at Green For All... Jones is the founder of Rebuild the Dream, an engine helping to drive the movement to renew the American Dream. They harness the power of media and technology to mobilize, organize, and broaden the base of people working to fix America’s economy and restore our democracy. " (UCSC News & Events).

Van Jones was invited to speak at UCSC in celebration of Black History Month through a collaboration between the UCSC African American Resource & Cultural Center; Cultural Arts and Diversity Center; American Indian Resource Center; Student Environmental Center; Education for Sustainable Living Program; Friends of the Sustainability Office; Brain, Mind & Consciousness Society; and Engaging Education. Thus, the students at this afternoon's luncheon were from these groups.

Upon first reading this list, it seems a little strange to have students from ethnic resource and diversity centers coming together with environmental organizations, and to have those groups coming together with groups whose interest is the mind, consciousness, and education. Aren't those three separate types of organizations? Why would they be interested in working together, and what does Van Jones have to say that will be of interest to all of these groups?

Around 1 PM, Van Jones began speaking to the group of students who had gathered, some of whom had shared what group they were with and what work they do on campus. Snacks had been served--fruits, vegetables, tea with reusable glass cups--and everyone was seated in a circle so that everyone could see one another. After a man who works with the American Indian Resource Center had reminded the group that in discussions about America and democracy, it is vital that we don't forget the first people who lived on this land, Jones started his discussion with a breakdown of the different "waves" of environmental work that have taken place over the course of history.

The first era, he said, was an era of conservation. When we think of "conservation," our first thought is Teddy Roosevelt and the protection of National Parks and other natural features in the United States during the twentieth century. But going off of what the man from the American Indian Resource Center had mentioned, the era of conservation in America began 10,000 years ago with the conservation efforts of Native American people, leading up until the colonization of the U.S. The pristine beauty of America at the time of colonization was a "deliberate expression of a worldview" that sees all nature as sacred and worth protecting, Jones said. Bird migrations used to sound like thunder. Trees used to extend from the Pacific coast to the midwest. Nature used to thrive in abundance.

The second wave of environmental work began with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which raised awareness that "it is not just creeks and critters" that must be protected: it's also people. The use of "poison on the ground to grow food" was not regulated, so the government stepped in and created laws. Unfortunately, with regulation came not environmental justice, but social injustice; the regulation moved the pollution and poisons to poorer communities, communities where people of color lived. A society that had experienced racism for so long turned environmental regulation into environmental racism. From these issues stemmed another wave, that of environmental justice in the 1980s.

Jones discussed that these two waves--conservation and environmental justice issues--have been divided along lines of race since the beginning and that this needs to change. The conservation movement is often considered a "white man's" movement, and the environmental justice and equality movement a movement of "people of color." The way I understood this was that those who have historically (since the time of Teddy Roosevelt's conservation) had the means to visit places like national parks and have time for outdoor recreation have been wealthier people and typically white. Of course, this is not true of all people who visited the outdoors, and it certainly is not as true today, but those, like Teddy Roosevelt and Rachel Carson, working toward conservation have often been white people. On the other hand, those affected by the pollution and degradation in poorer communities have typically been people of color who may not have the resources to visit national parks and develop a sense of relationship with nature, and thus issues of racism and inequality in the environmental movement have largely been spearheaded and supported by people of color. Again, not the case for all people and this has changed over time.

The most interesting thing about this is that before the colonization of this country, the American Indian people here were the conservationists. Before the colonization of Africa and introduction of the slave trade there, the African people were conservationists. When white European imperialists came to America, they stole the land and told the people there that the land was not valuable in itself and that it should be sold: "That isn't a tree, that's timber." The people who respected the land were "pagan, heathen, worshiping nature," just as the "witches" in Europe who respected nature and saw its healing powers and beauty were burned for their "pagan" beliefs. The African people who encountered imperialists also believed in the sacredness of their land, but they too had their land stolen from them. Jones pointed out that with African American racism issues, people tend to focus on the stolen labor issue, but it's also a matter of stolen land. Many generations later, the children of the colonists and imperialists are turning back to the American Indians and African Americans and telling them that they should protect the environment, that we do need it, and that nature is not simply something to be sold.

But according to Van Jones, many people of color don't want to deal with the "white" stuff of conservation, even though it was their ancestors who told the colonists the same thing the colonists' descendants are telling them now. It's collaboration like the collaboration that happened today that needs to take place for these issues of environmentalism and equality to come together and happen. Without one, you cannot have the other.

The newest wave of environmental work is innovation, which combines conservation and regulation. It isn't just preventive, but creates solutions and new ways of solving issues. This new wave is our generation's challenge, and it can only be achieved through the collaboration between the various groups working in the environmental movement, for conservation of our planet and for justice for all people.

After this discussion, students asked questions and Van Jones responded, referring to his book and his work in the White House. The take-home point that I got from the whole conversation this afternoon was that working together between organizations is not only necessary, but opens up possibilities that we cannot foresee. Jones recommended that at least once a quarter, we collaborate on an event together to bring us all together for collaboration.

He reminded us all this afternoon that we must be patient because the kind of work we're doing takes time. We must collaborate and realize that our goals and aims are not that much different, and that in fact, they require each other in order to be fully achieved. W
e must create a "green wave to lift all boats."

Monday, February 20, 2012

College Dorm Tip #1: Say No to Paper Towels

If you live in a college dorm, chances are that your bathroom has paper hand towels in it. This seems normal and acceptable, right? But wait--Does your bathroom have paper towels for you to dry your body off with after the shower? No, you're expected to bring your own.

Certainly convenience is a major factor, and expectation plays a role as well. In public restrooms, there are always either paper towels or hand dryers. But dorms aren't exactly public, and it isn't as though you can't simply walk back to your room and dry your hand off on a towel there... or better yet, bring your own hand towel into the bathroom.

Green Gal's College Dorm Tip #1 is to just say no to paper towels. Bring your own cloth towel, air dry your hands, dry your hands on your jeans, enjoy the coolness of the water--just don't pull one of those paper towels from the dispenser. It simply isn't worth it. At UCSC, 33-40% of the waste that goes into the landfills comes from paper towels (Source: UCSC Sustainability Office Zero Waste Team). You can be part of the solution to waste production on your campus and everywhere you go--why not air dry your hands after washing them in every restroom, or bring a hand towel in your backpack or purse and use it to dry your hands. Do you really need paper towels in your life?
You can also order these stickers from TheseComeFromTrees.com and put them up on paper towel dispensers!

At UC Santa Cruz, we have paper towels in all of the dorm bathrooms. Students in Path to a Greener Stevenson (PTAGS) environmental club at UCSC's Stevenson College are working to eliminate paper towels from the dorm bathrooms in an effort to reduce waste and encourage more sustainable living practices by students. I'm a member of this environmental group, and I think this is a great idea that, if it can be accomplished, should be spread nationwide. Progress is being made to speak to those who have the power to make this idea a reality. In any case, we're working on creating signage to put up in the dorm bathrooms to draw attention to the waste created by paper towels. We're working on getting funds to purchase hand towels to give to students when they move in so they can use those to dry their hands instead of paper towels.

I'm curious--has anyone heard of this sort of an effort on other college campuses? Have any other green tips related to paper towel use that you want to share? Want details on PTAGS's efforts? Leave a comment, or send me an email!

Thanks for reading!
Green Gal

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