Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The corner of the world that I have inhabited for over 21 years (my whole life with exception to the 3 and half years I spent in College Park) have been in a Silver Spring, MD enclave known as White Oak. I attended White Oak Middle School. I have bought the vast majority of my groceries at White Oak Shopping Center. I was raised on books from White Oak library. By all means I am a native White Oakian.
Despite my upbringing and obvious connection to this mighty tree, I never understood the magnificence of this hardwood until recently. Historically, the White Oak (Quercus Alba) has been an important source of lumber for Americans of all walks. It's acorns are an important food source for many different types of native animals. The acorns are even edible to humans if prepared properly. I have yet to eat acorn pancakes, but I know that if we plan to localize and diversify our food source in the eastern United States we must make use of all edible foods inherent in our ecosystem.
My desire to increase the use of ecosystems as a source of local resource wealth has led me back to my metaphorical roots. Last week I was taking a walk at the confluence of the northeast branch of The Anacostia River and I noticed a germinated acorn. With further inspection I noticed that a great abundance of germinated acorns had littered the path beneath my feet. Like the radicles reaching from the acorns an idea sprung.
What if I could transplant these germinated acorns across the watershed to increase the abundance of a tree that will provide multiple ecosystem services for future generations. In doing this I would combat climate change via reforestation, help wildlife by providing a food source, increase the abundance of an untapped local food source, get other people engaged in environmental conservation by giving them acorns to grow, and have fun!!! I grabbed as many as I could (only the acorns that were on the path) and stuffed them into my front pocket. I bought some row pots and planted them in my house for spring transplants.
Now if the idea stopped there, it would not have come from my mind. So I went back to the confluence and gathered more acorns to give as holiday presents. Again I only took acorns that were on the path. These acorns would get eaten and/or the saplings would ultimately get trampled. I collected about 100 germinated acorns and organized them into categories for distribution to friends, families, and other environmental advocates across my watershed. If you can promise a safe to place to grow a white oak ask me for an acorn.
The acorns will grow long taproots very rapidly need atleast a foot of soil depth beneath them to prosper if they are grown indoors. Some can be planted outdoors now and will lay dormant over the winter before prospering in the spring. Other's can grow indoors if they have proper soil depth and be transplanted as saplings in the spring. Ultimately, all the acorns need adequate moisture and acces to nutrients so they can thrive. They are a very hardy species that have distributed across much of the Eastern United States.
By acting as a vector for acorn distribution The Harvest Collective will act as a catalyst for positive community growth and reforestation. I would like to replace every non-native bradford pear in the watershed with a White Oak. (sorry for being a spicieist) If you would like to be as happy as Eric J. Lewis is, send me an email to get an acorn. I can get you an acorn that is either ready for planting now, or one that could use some TLC before planting in the spring.
Monday, November 30, 2009
The mission of the Harvest Collective is to develop sustainable culture in communities by nurturing the abilities of individuals to proactively solve the stresses posed by climate change and overconsumption of natural resources. Through programming, artistic development, and coordinated outreach campaigns the collective will provide a voice encouraging the general American population to become stewards of their local environmental and social communities. Members of the collective will create and implement programs that build community around local environmental stewardship and creative expression. Initially, these programs will use creative expression to heal individual scars left from generations of exploitation of people and resources. Eventually, the programs will guide individuals into their local environments to maintain their communities ecosystem services. Ultimately, the collective hopes to sustain and nurture a culture capable of manifesting positive social and environmental endeavors.
The Harvest Collective will employ numerous tactics to inspire community empowerment. The first step to community empowerment is a celebration of present assets. The collective will work with the innovation of local leaders to develop the stewardship paradigm within the community. The tactics used will work to implement the ideal of community resource coordination. The coordination of resources will be wholly determined by ideas generated from community members. The collective will act as a catalyst for individuals to decide what they believe to be the most pressing issues they are facing. By creating dialog with the intent of generating sustainable culture, the collective will allow communities to sponsor their own actions to generate positive social change. Once individuals determine their priorities the collective will provide programming templates and information that can guide individuals and communities to their stated goals. If no resources regarding a communities stated goal have been generated, a local community resource coordinator will work with individuals within the community to develop a programming template to reach the determined goals.
The centralized control of The Harvest Collective will act to manage a comprehensive network of resources that encourage the ideals of community innovation and stewardship. The coordination of the entire Harvest Collective will work to generate programming templates for communities; maintain a database of proven programming techniques; provide monetary assistance to community resource coordinators; support artists who promote the sustainable paradigm; facilitate dialog between communities with similar aspirations; sponsor public awareness campaigns about conscientious resource consumption; and encourage all members to celebrate the splendor of creativity and the natural world.
Our church can't be confined to one building.
America is already ripe with sustainable endeavors. In communities across the country momentum is mounting to recognize the collective spirit. A fusion of these effort within local, folk culture will provide a community health initiative that can ameliorate future environmental stresses. Innovation and environmental stewardship are integral to successful, thriving human civilizations. Many cultures throughout the world have lived closely and successfully with with this paradigm. Programs of the collective will fuse an appreciation for the natural with individual creative ingenuity to maximize the full potential of a community's given resources.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Edmonston's new "green street" is a proactive response from the City of Edmonston to address how their local municipality will address the burgeoning issue of treatment of stormwater runoff. This project will line Edmonston's own Decatur Street with wind powered LED lighting, rain gardens catching and filtering stormwater runoff, native trees to provide shade, as well as light colored permeable pavement. The environmental benefits garnered by this type of project are noted to be the first of it's kind in the State of Maryland. With a price tag of roughly 1.3 million dollars the project will employ 50 construction workers from the town of Edmonston on a local, sustainable project.
Simply put, this initiative is a glimpse of the future within The Anacostia Watershed. It is a template for sustainable economic stimulus in modern economic woes. It is an example of what visionary leadership and proactive coordination can provide communities. In this case the vision being provided by Edmonston Mayor Adam Ortiz.
The chance to brush shoulders with Lisa Jackson is an opportunity of a lifetime for young, outspoken environmentalists such as myself. Thus, Matt Dernoga and I jumped at the chance to somehow help influence the most powerful administrator ushering the sustainable future we hope to manifest. We drafted and delivered the following letter to Lisa Jackson. Our coordintated, informed and proactive action use some of the same ideals that Mayor Adam Ortiz proves possible with the redevelopment of Decatur Street.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson
Dear Administrator Jackson,
Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to participate in the groundbreaking of Edmonston’s green street. As environmental activists and alumni from the University of Maryland, it is great to see the administration promote efforts to make the way we develop locally more sustainable.
We also want to thank the administration for its support of clean energy spending in the stimulus, green jobs, new fuel economy standards, and a move to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Compared to past efforts, the steps taken in only eleven months have surpassed those of all previous administrations. However, compared to what is necessary to solve the climate crisis and transition to a just clean energy economy, these steps do not go far enough.
We feel that leaders in the White House and President Obama himself need to be more outspoken publicly about the need to address greenhouse gas emissions. Right now, the focus is largely on one half of the debate, which is that developing new clean energy sources and becoming more efficient with our current use will create jobs and save money. This is important, but by leaving out the urgency surrounding catastrophic climate change, we cede ground to the deniers of the science and the delayers of fast action. Please consider being more vocal about the vital need to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a clean energy economy.
We are also concerned about the impact Mountain Top Removal Mining is having on the ecosystems and communities of Appalachia. This type of coal extraction is undermining the efforts to create a just and sustainable future for all communities. The valley fills performed as a part of this mining bury head water streams are continually permitted by the West Virginia Department of the Environment appear to be in contradiction to the Clean Water Act. Furthermore, the impoundment or injection of coal "slurry" in areas near homes poses a potent threat to the health and safety of communities in West Virginia.
As concerned citizens we ask that the EPA reclaim the authority for permitting Appalachian coal mining from the West Virginia Department of the Environment and enforce the Clean Water Act. We also ask that you, Lisa Jackson, take a flyover of the coal fields to grasp the severe effects that this type of coal mining has on nearby communities and ecosystems.
Thank you for your consideration of our concerns. We can be reached at email@example.com
Matt Dernoga, Campaign Director of UMD for Clean Energy,
Laura Calabrese, Organizational Director of UMD for Clean Energy
Hilary Staver, Political Liaison of UMD for Clean Energy
Davey Rogner, The Harvest Collective, UMD for Clean Energy Alum
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
This past Monday and Tuesday I helped facilitate an education panel at two local Universities. The panels, which were attended by over 70 students at The University of Maryland and American University, aimed to educate student activists about the challenges facing opponents of a Mountain Top Removal; a common form of strip mining occurring throughout Southern Appalachia. Attending students were given perspective as to why this form of resource extraction is highly contested by environmentalists and advocates for community rights alike.
I will do my best to provide some information that I learned by attending these events.
To date this form of strip mining has leveled over 500 mountains in the coal fields of Appalachia. As the nomenclature conveys, this form of mining displaces the portion of a mountain located above coal seams by using explosives. The thin seams of coal laden within the mountain are then extracted by using drag lines. Using bulldozers, the rubble of mountain that remains is pushed into adjacent valleys, a practice known as valley fills, burying vital head water streams. It has been estimated that 1500+ miles of headwater streams have been buried in Appalachia since this form of strip mining began.
In order to prevent toxic particulates from entering our atmosphere when the coal is burned, the extracted coal is washed on site before it is shipped to regional coal burning power plants. This washing produces "slurry ponds" which are either stored behind earthen dams or injected into the earth through abandoned mine shafts. This injection of coal slurry deep into the earth is responsible for polluting the well water that so many Appalachian communities are dependent upon for quenching their thirst. The slurry ponds sit precariously overlooking Appalachian communities.
The panelists cite occasions when these dams have breached and buried communities. Last January, a coal fly ash pond in Tennessee burst open burying over 400 acres and 12 homes. This fly ash is slightly different from MTR slurry ponds as to how it is generated, but essentially it is the same toxic soup laden with mercury, arsenic, iron, and sulfates. This begs the question that even if we prevent toxics from coal entering the atmosphere, does it make sense to concentrate these chemicals in water when they are a direct threat to community health? It also begs me saying in bold: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CLEAN COAL!!!!!!
Mountain Top Removal mining not only provides a maximal yield of coal (estimated that 98% of coal is effectively removed), but it is also the most profitable for coal companies. Companies that fight tooth and nail to ensure Mountain Top Removal continues. Companies that finance the campaigns of Appalachian politicians to ensure "cooperation" from local and federal government. Companies syphon the wealth derived from natural resources out of appalachia undermining local economic stimulus. Simply put, these coal companies exploit the health of appalachian communities and ecosystems for the sake of their own profit.
The panel was a small act done by The Harvest Collective to bring attention to this issue in the most powerful city in the nation. By reaching out to other concerned citizens we will build a more comprehensive and informed movement around Mountain Top Removal. University of Maryland students have already set up a lobby meeting with Senator Barbara Mikulski to talk about an end to Mountain Top Removal. They are also drafting a letter to Lisa Jackson that voices their concerns with EPA priorities that we hope to hand deliver at a local event in Edmonston, Maryland next Tuesday.
As one of our esteemed panelists, Andrew Munn, noted the movement to end mountain top removal needs multiple facets. The Harvest Collective and UMD for Clean Energy are two local groups committed to ending this form of strip mining and will take the neccesary means to organize our communities in coordination with the Appalachian efforts to end this practice. If you would like to get involved in the DC area to end Mountain Top Removal, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get you plugged in!!
I'd like to thank our panelists Kate Rooth, Andrew Munn, Delta Merner, and Joe Overton for their time and information. Below is a picture of Joe performing a fantastic song called "Black Water" at American University.
If you would like to learn more, please visit the following organization's websites.
Appalachian Voices- ilovemountains.org
Mountain Justic Summer- mountainjusticsummer.org
Coal River Mountain Watch- crmw.net
Rain Forest Action Network- ran.org
Monday, November 9, 2009
In March of 2010 I am going to leave on the journey of a lifetime. One of the first active campaigns of the Harvest Collective will be to walk from Assateague, Maryland to San Francisco, California to catalyze discussion on the sustainable paradigm within American culture. For every mile I walk, my colleagues and I will be performing roadside clean ups. We will leave a trail of clean roadsides and streams from the Atlantic to the Pacific. During the walk, aptly titled- "Pick Up America"- we will be inviting local community groups help clean and to participate in evening potlucks. Through social media we hope to document the beautiful folk culture endemic throughout the American countryside. Through active community participation in roadside clean ups and conversations on the environment we hope to develop ideals of environmental and social stewardship within the communities we travel through.
This past Sunday I led a group of roughly twenty-five students from The University of Maryland, College Park on my first stream clean up with The Harvest Collective. I was joined by Engineers without Borders, a student group dedicated to sustainable development through engineering assistance and training internationally responsible engineering students, to clean the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia. They were an enthusiastic bunch; I couldn't ask for a better group to start "The Pick Up America" campaign with.
Using the money I raised with a concert in October, I bought fresh latex gloves and trash bags for the clean up. I met EWB in the parking lot of the engineering building around 11:30. I briefed them on the mission of The Harvest Collective, the importance of watershed maintenance and how stream cleaning benefits local communities. With a a four car convoy, I led them over to the clean up site about 3 miles away in West Hyattsville.
After about an hour and a half of cleaning we had filled over 40 bags with glass bottles, beer cans, plastic bags, wrappers, styrofoam, tennis balls, and soda bottles. The plethora of garbage we collected represents the litter discarded or ignored; the trash that eventually washes into our streams and floodplains when transported by heavy rains. It is affirming to know that by picking garbage out of the floodplain of the Northwest Branch we prevented 40+ bags of garbage from washing into the Anacostia River, The Chesapeake Bay, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean.
It's been estimated that every year 20,000 tons of garbage flows down The Anacostia River. In 2007 The Anacostia was only the second river (LA River is the other) in the country that the United States Environmental Protection Agency declared to be impaired with trash. These problems stem from generations of human neglect for their natural resources within the Anacostia Watershed. Trash is just one visible problem amongst many water pollution issues that are undermining the biotic and community health through continued neglect of our watersheds.
In this interconnected world it easy to see the effect of watershed neglect compunded in our ocean and ocean fisheries. Research has shown that plastic is accumulating and moving through the food chain as it is absorbed after ingestion by fish and wildlife. This "bioaccumulation" is a threat to our fisheries and to our own health as we can accumulate dangerous toxic chemicals such as DDT and PCB from eating fish who may have previously ingested plastics in the raw form or broken down into other organisms they feed on within the food chain. A primary solution to this problem is to work locally within communities to develop watershed and ecosystem ethics through experiences such as cleaning a stream.
In the grand scheme of people combating the plastics and pollution in our water ways, The Harvest Collective and Engineers with our Borders won a small battle in Chillum, Maryland last Sunday. Changing people's attitudes about watersheds and how we package and dispose of our goods is the ultimate war. If we act accordingly and structure our society by valuing the same building blocks that are essential to our biotic being, we will become stewards of our own health, our watersheds health and ultimately community health. The new green economy that will appear will value these ideals equally. With the belief that all great movements begin locally; we act in accordance to the greater potential of humanity.
I hope to perform stream clean ups every Sunday until I leave for my walk. If you would like to coordinate a clean up with me in your community please send me an email.
Davey via The Harvest Collective
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Dear internet world,
This is my first blog. Here we go!!!!!!
My good friend and comrade Matt Dernoga, of the Dernogalizer blog- madrad2002.wordpress.com - asked me to come speak at an election rally in College Park, MD on Tuesday. I wrote a speech the morning of and attempted to deliver it in the afternoon. The lack of practice showed. Regardless, I think the content was good. I feel bad for not letting Andy Fellows, College Park's newly elected mayor speak. IF I WAS to truly forge student and city bonds I would've let Andy forge it himself. There is always next time I suppose.
We'll here is the speech. For better of for worse. I think I hit on some good themes that I hope to pronounce clearly to the world through the Harvest Collective. The enunciation has begun.
We are gathered today for many reasons.
First --to exercise our democracy by voting. To exercise yourselves physically by marching. To exercise solidarity with great Americans who have sought to restore, preserve and further our freedoms and democratic process. We march in solidarity to the fallen compatriots who fought valiantly in past wars to stop fascist threats and with those who fought to end slavery during the civil war. We march with the spector of American history behind us. We march with the spirits of Mickey Schwermer, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney who were brutally murdered at the hands of Ku Klux Klan members for working to register African Americans to vote in the heart of Mississippi in 1964. We march in solidarity to the sacrifices that have been made to preserve your and my right to vote. To these people we pay homage.
We march in solidarity to those who have fought tirelessly to reform our government—those who still tirelessly work to remove corrupt special interests from the pockets of politicians and fill those same pockets with compassion for all cultures, creeds and beliefs. Our votes give power to that reform. Through our votes we will steadfastly change the way our politicians operate to bring the power back to the people. Through our congregation and our votes we will replace those who operate on greed and exploitation, those who have the ears of the politicians to become the real caretakers of OUR DEMOCRACY.
I don't know if you have been attuned, but we are going through a revolution in this country. This peaceful revolution is a revolution of how we view our role in democracy. This revolution represents American people knowingly becoming CITIZENS of this great democracy through informed voting, compassionate reform and non-violent direct action; it is the working and middle class not acting solely as consumers; what we know to be merely puppets of the corporate media and economy. An unsustainable economy that already imploded a year ago and that as we continue to inflate it we must conscious as to not make the same mistakes of allowing greed and corruption to rule our elected officials.
This sustainable revolution begins first by connecting with the environment and the community you live in. That is College Park and the University of Maryland community. We here at the University are still young and we hopefully are still unjaded by the corporate economy. I see in your eyes, through UMD for Clean Energy's efforts that we are the future and that we have the creative prowess to shape our future economy, democracy and environment. We are the forerunners of the green economy. We are the forerunners of this new compassionate democracy that will not allow the wealthiest to pollute our water and air undermining our health for the sake of profit.
The Green College Park campaign led by Clean Energy for UMD as well as the revolving loan fund plan to make College Park more energy efficient show that students are ready to connect with the citizens and the government of College Park. A connection that could have potentially halted development on the wooded hillock if it had been forged earlier in time. A connection that will give students a voice in one of the most important environmental issues locally and globally-- local zoning and land use planning. Imagine if community's could stand up to preserve the natural resources in their given geographic area. The compound effect would improve the health of our air, our water, our mental stability, and our physical health, while locally combating the threat of climate change.
This connection you have forged by voting and participating in this campaign will ultimately make the future of College Park, the future of Prince George's County, the future of Maryland more Green. Here at this University we know that “going green” is not just about saving plants and trees- although preserving biodiversity is a must for our own sanctity as humans- it's about preserving our rights to a healthy community by replacing the antiquated polluters in our local economy with clean, just and efficient enterprises and technologies. We have the chance to lead in the State of Maryland. We have a chance to lead on the east coast. If the City succeeds with the revolving loan fund next year which your votes will help to manifest, an idea originally proposed by members of Clean Energy for UMD, the city will be among the first on the east coast with such a program. We will be the example that other municipalities look to. And at the heart of this program lies your participation. Your participation in the future of our green economy of College Park and the state of Maryland and ultimately the nation as a whole.
Before we march and before I beat this conga to oblivion. I leave you with some anecdotes. The first being that a constant and unyielding force can erode the most entrenched and established of the status quo. We, the youth, this green revolution, POWERSHIFT, Clean Energy for UMD, Community Roots, the Student Sustainability Council, the Campaign to Save the Wooded Hillock, Engineers Without Borders, TERP CHANGEMAKERS, Students for a Democratic Society, members of your undergraduate student government have shown through direct, informerd and impassioned action that we are that force!!! And that we shall never let up until we have a just world! That we will never fail and that we will never let down for we know that what we are doing is right.
Even if the apathetic mock you, you know that they will either get left behind or that ultimately you will help them through your actions and that fells good in your heart. We will remain headstrong in our commitment to shaping this country to our collective conscience that dictates our actions through compassionate ethics and scruples.
I end by only saying that this gathering in one local municipality represents the hopes and wishes of those across our nation and across the globe. By acting local we will change the power structure of this world to bring the power back to the hands of our communities. Out of the most wealthy that are able to influence federal politicians. The sustainable revolution is underway. Lets flex our power!!
Davey VIA The Harvest Collective