Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

[This post was written by Megan Rice, Jamie Price, and Angelina Peters in response to viewing three short videos, Greening the Ghetto, 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World, and Tabor Tilth]

In class today we watched three short videos that pertained to sustainability in three different aspects. The first video was Majora Carter‘s February 2006 TED presentation “Greening the Ghetto.” In this presentation, Carter explains the many benefits of turning industrial riverfront land into a public park. She came across this idea when she was walking her dog in a heavily industrialized neighborhood in South Bronx and discovered an old road that lead to the river. She was motivated to make a change. She brought up overwhelming statistics that show Blacks and Latinos being five times more likely to live in a neighborhood within walking distance to an industrial factory. People who live in these heavy-polluted neighborhoods are more likely to develop respiratory disorders and other health issues. She raises a great question: who would be motivated to go outside and exercise when one lives in area where the air is toxic?

What really struck us about her presentation was (more…)


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[This post was written by Megan Rice, Jamie Price, and Angelina Peters in response to viewing the documentary Foodmatters]

The documentary Food Matters discusses the diet of most Americans and how unhealthy we are as a group. The ultimate message of this documentary is that if you eat well you will live well. It seems simple enough. It does seem simple enough, so why did the filmmakers spend thousands of dollars creating the film? Within ten minutes of watching the film, one of the premises of the filmmakers focus is clear—advocating for a raw food diet.

When one looks back to our hunter-and-gatherer ancestors, raw foods were a major staple of their diet. However, society today cannot hunt-and-gather as our ancestors did millennia ago. A point that the film brings to light is the importance of eating foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins. In spite of the billions and billions of potential profit in the diet and medical industry, most of the initial statements seem like common sense.

Yet, the documentary also goes into lengths explaining that our medical system is not diet-oriented. Many of our doctors are trained to treat medical problems with drugs rather than proper diet. The creators of the film bring up an important and fundamental point: With the proper diet, many illnesses can be avoided and even reversed. Our society relies too much on drugs for treatment which only relieve the patent of the symptoms they do not fix the problem. The creators of the film argue that cleaning your body of toxins and replenishing your body with antioxidants, vitamins, and good diet can lead to better health and fewer doctors’ visits.

This documentary shows a sustainable lifestyle that leads to fewer doctors’ visits and a better, longer, and happier life. Also this raises the question that if we as a society could have a healthier diet, would it lower our health costs? According to the film makers, we are facing a epidemic, and medication is not going to be the answer.

We have a few critiques and questions . . . (more…)

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[This post was written by Megan Rice, Jamie Price, and Angelina Peters in response to viewing the documentary Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home]

    Yuck! Stinky!
    Honey, take out the garbage!
    Honey, let’s keep our garbage in the garage for 3 months! Huh?

Retaining the family’s garbage in the garage is not generally an option couples discuss during dinner or when getting ready for the day. However, one couple did in fact take on this task. Asked by a friend who wanted to ask a question about how much garbage do we create and where does the garbage go after it leaves the curb. All great questions, but really keeping garbage and recycling for 3 months—some might call this a little crazy but this family did just that. They even brought garbage home from work, school, and parties—either really dedicated to the project or crazy. Perhaps a little of both.

Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home tackles this issue. A bold and respectable documentary that asks a family of five to keep all of their garbage and recycling. They weighed and put their wet garbage on the curb to avoid health department calls but everything else they kept in their garage. The primary purpose of the film is to make people aware of the impact each individual has on our environment in regards to our consumption (especially in North America).

Some things that stood out in our mind when watching this film were (more…)

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[This post was written by Megan Foster, Grant Russ, and Sara Scott in response to viewing the documentary Foodmatters]

The documentary Foodmatters is shocking and revealing. The film brings up several points that the public should be aware of but are not. Most people are aware that fast food and processed food is bad for them, but are not aware of how much healthier they can be with raw foods (i.e. fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds). Many people do not realize that what we eat is what is causing many diseases that several thousand people die from yearly. This documentary really puts a new spin on the phrase “you are what you eat.”

Not many people are aware how effective nutrients and vitamins can be to our bodies. Yes, some people take vitamin supplements, but do they really know what those vitamins are good for? Do people even stop to think that instead of taking supplements daily, they should instead change their diet? America’s society is so fast-paced that it is hard to be able to eat healthily. Unfortunately, our way of living is costing us our health, therefore, our lives.

The film pointed out that vitamin deficiency is most likely the cause of many ailments, so when someone takes vitamin C to help fight a cold, they are really just giving their body the vitamin it already wanted. If that person did not have a vitamin C deficiency, there is a good chance they would not have gotten a cold in the first place.

Some interesting facts: (more…)

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[This post was written by Megan Foster, Grant Russ, and Sara Scott in response to viewing the documentary Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home]

The film Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home addresses some compelling issues relating to recycling and social awareness. One interesting topic that comes up in the film is the general lack of knowledge relating to what really can and cannot be recycled. In addition, there are many packaging materials that are not recyclable but should be when considering how often consumers buy products packaged in those certain materials.

Reflecting on the first point, do people really know what they can put into the recycling bin? It is frequently assumed that all forms of plastic can go into the recycling bin, or that anything that is not compostable can be reused. Unfortunately, however, this is not the case. For example, plastic wrap, plastic bags, and Styrofoam cannot be recycled. These forms of packaging are generally used to package meat and other foods.

Another significant point along these lines (more…)

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I have often heard that cities are the bane of modern society because of the resources they consume and the pollution they produce. Henry David Thoroeau seems to hold this perspective when he writes:

    The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the world. Every tree sends its fibres forth in search of the Wild. The cities import it at any price. Men plow and sail for it. From the forest and wilderness come the tonics and barks which brace mankind.

I have also heard just the opposite: That cities are inherently more sustainable because they concentrate populations in a given area and allow for rural and undeveloped lands to continue to be used for food production, natural resource extraction, and recreation.

Economist Edward Glaeser asserts this latter point, and has written a book to support his position: Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.

This morning, Glaeser appeared on KUOW’s Weekday program with Steve Scherr: “Is City Living Better than the American Dream?“:

    The American dream has typically been owning a home in a leafy suburb with a white picket fence, a well–mowed lawn and an apple pie cooling on the window sill. The reality is over two–thirds of Americans currently live in cities. Is the American dream changing? Is living in an apartment in a dense urban neighborhood actually better than owning your own home in the suburbs? Economist Edward Glaeser argues that cities magnify human strengths. We’ll ask him what he means.

In what ways is increased urbanization more or less sustainable — in terms of economics, environment, and equity?

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Old AM radio tuner, photographer Claudio Divizia, 123RF Stock Photos (www.123rf.com)

Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud radio program this morning was on the topic “Sustainable Oregon and Iraq.” This program featured discussion of two recent developments in regional sustainability efforts. The first was on the five-year agreement that Oregon State University and the government of Iraq entered into help Iraq’s universities in developing sustainable engineering and design programs. The second topic of discussion was on “EcoDistricts,” a new and evolving urban planning concept that seeks to coordinate various existing environmental, equity, and economic strategies in a particular neighborhood to foster cohesive, mutually-reinforcing positive outcomes.

This program this morning got me interested in reviewing other segments of two regional radio programs that I’ve found highly informative over the years, OPB’s Think Out Loud and KUOW’s Weekday. See below the fold for this list.


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[The post below is an extra-credit assignment written by B. Bazsó, with notes by James V. Hillegas]

Multnomah County Office of Sustainability together with the Green Team has started the Multnomah County Sustainability Film Series, with films and panel discussions at Bagdad Theatre on a quarterly basis.

The films, or rather documentaries, are all related to topics of concern to sustainable development. The event I attended on 17 October 2010 focused on the issue of water supply; locally, globally, sustainably. The film shown was “Blue Gold: World Water Wars” (2008) by Sam Bozzo , narrated by Malcolm McDowell, is an informative work of art that, which for the most part, paints a dire picture of our fresh water supply—present and future. As any work of art, including documentaries, Blue Gold is clearly geared toward raising public awareness of the economic and political facts behind the current fresh water supply situation and getting private persons in motion to defend against corporate robbery of this precious natural resource.


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Below is a selection of a few online videos relating directly and explicitly to sustainability efforts in Portland. Of all the videos available, I chose the ones that had the best audio, video, and informational characteristics while also representing as diverse a range of topics as possible.

For a more complete list of video works, including documentaries and films only available on DVD, see the SHP’s Film & Video page.

Suggestions are most welcome, in the comments section.


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This post is in response to the same student comments and questions spurred by the assignment outlined in On Sustainability, Summer 2010 (pt. 1 of 2). I found myself writing more and more in reply to this particular issue, so I opted to make a stand-alone post.

I’ve seen a pattern, both in these courses I teach and in our broader culture, that suggests to me that a great many (most?) people seem first to think of environmental issues when they hear the word “sustainability.” Members of the Brundtland Commission perceived this pattern as early as 1982, when they began their work on Our Common Future, so my relatively limited sample size seems more than anecdotal.[1]

One student’s reading response this quarter flipped on the light bulb for me. This student found that her/his definition of sustainability focused on environmental concerns, and, when comparing this definition to the Brundtland Commission’s definition, suggested that this was “mainly because that’s what everyone hears in the media or news.”



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