Black History Month: Environmental Racism in Chicago and Hazel M Johnson

It’s been a minute since I have even looked at my blog. I started school shortly after the last post and have been incredibly busy with school work, extra curriculars, and job hunting.

But this month is Black History Month and, while it is almost over, I knew that if I wrote anything this month, it would have to be surrounding this topic.

Before I dive into my main topic, I just want to point out a couple of quick things.

In Utah, parents were able to chose to opt out their children from the Black History Month curriculum. Since the story has now gone viral, the Utah school districts have rescinded that option. But this instance brings to light an incredible point. Racism begins at home. What you say behind closed doors, what you whisper, what you chose to ignore/opt out of, is all noticed and is passed on to your children.

Racism begins and spreads at home.

Anyways, let’s begin.

I wanted to spend this blog post talking about an issue that hits close to home: environmental racism in the city of Chicago. For the many of you who are not Chicago natives/residents, after reading this, do a quick google search of “environment racism *your area*” and see what pops up. I’m sure it will be incredibly interesting and eye opening.

The environmental racism in Chicago is pretty well known. Chicago is the third most segregated city in the country as of 2018 according to the Census Bureau. However, most Chicagoans don’t need a formal study to know that. We see it every day. The Northside of the city, where all of the money and resources are, is largely white and affluent. The Southside, where none of the money and resources are, is largely Black and disenfranchised. The Eastside, where the lake is, is, again, very affluent. The Westside is not.

So what even is environmental racism?

First let’s define the environment.

Environmental justice advocates define the environment as anywhere we work, live, and play. Instead of separating ourselves from nature, this definition invites it in. It makes it apart of our community. Because, in this definition, the environment is now central to us, it makes it easier to see how people are affected by it. This is by far my personal favorite definition of the environment.

So, now what is environmental racism?

Environmental racism is the disproportionate effect of environmental hazards on people of color.

(From GreenAction:) Environmental racism refers to the institutional rules, regulations, policies or government and/or corporate decisions that deliberately target certain communities for locally undesirable land uses and lax enforcement of zoning and environmental laws, resulting in communities being disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste based upon race. Environmental racism is caused by several factors, including intentional neglect, the alleged need for a receptacle for pollutants in urban areas, and a lack of institutional power and low land values of people of color. It is a well-documented fact that communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by polluting industries (and very specifically, hazardous waste facilities) and lax regulation of these industries.

Environmental justice, then, is the response to these inequities. There are 17 principles of environmental justice and I invite you to look at them.

How does this all play out in Chicago?

Very poorly.

In January of 2020, the city of Chicago did an air quality study. They found that all over the county, the air quality was not great, but the air quality in the South and West sides of the city was life threatening.

Here is a map of their findings.

Staggering to actually have it visualized, huh?

This map is not an unfamiliar one. Throughout the years, there have been many maps that look the same on a variety of topics. The story always ends up being the same. The Black and Latinx populations living in the South and West sides of the city of Chicago face greater health risks than White populations in other areas of the city.

Environmental injustice has been occurring in Chicago for an extremely long time.

There was one woman who recognized it before most others.

Hazel M. Johnson.

When her husband passed away, young and suddenly, from cancer, Johnson began questioning why there were so many in her area, and other public housing areas in Chicago, experiencing inordinate rates of cancer.

Johnson and her husband lived in Altgeld Gardens, a public housing project on the far south side of Chicago. Its residents are 97% Black.

After researching, Johnson discovered that the area had 50 landfills, hundreds of hazardous waste sites, and underground storage tanks that were leaking. She called the community “the toxic doughnut” as it was completely surrounded by pollution and hazardous materials.

In 1979, Johnson established People for Community Recovery in Chicago, which aimed to help the community understand hazardous waste, demand cleaner environments, test for lead, and strengthen their own personal connection to the environment. Johnson also helped to create the 17 principles of environmental justice, which I linked earlier.

Because Johnson’s background was not science based, the media and politicians often painted her as the “angry Black woman” trope, as they thought she was too uneducated to know what was going on in her own community. Despite all attempts to silence Johnson, she pushed onwards, continuing to organize her community members and advocate for environmental justice.

Hazel’s influence in Chicago, and in the environmental justice fields, is still felt today. However, as seen from that map at the beginning of this post, the South side of Chicago still faces incredibly high rates of pollution. Johnson’s organization People for Community Recovery in Chicago, now led by her daughter, continues to fight for the rights and protections of minority and low income communities from environmental hazards.

Hazel is the mother environmental justice. Throughout her life, she dedicated all of her energy and efforts to the people of Chicago. She paved the way for what environmental justice was able to evolve into. Johnson continues to have such an incredible influence on a community so close to my heart.

Domestic Terrorism

Okay.

Let’s take a moment and reflect on what happened this week.

As we all know, domestic terrorists attacked the US Capitol building.

As CNN, Bill Wier, and Cory Booker pointed out, the last time this happened was in 1812 when the British attacked the Capitol building. This time it was attacked by white Americans.

US CITIZENS ATTACKED THEIR OWN CAPITOL BUILDING.

But we know this. We saw this coming. If you didn’t, you were just simply not paying attention. Over and over again Presidential Candidate, President Elect, President, and now Former President Donald Trump has incited violence against people and groups.

Vox published a time line reporting all of the times, from 2015 until the Capitol attack, that Trump has incited violence against different groups of people. The article is an interesting read and I won’t go through every incident (spoiler alert: its a lot), but I thought I would hit the highlights.

People have been using him to justify their violent actions for YEARS.

Vox reports:

August 19, 2015: Two Boston brothers invoked Trump when they were arrested for urinating on a homeless man and beating him with a metal pipe. While in custody, one of the brothers told the police, “Trump was right. All of these illegals need to be deported.” The 58-year-old Mexican American they assaulted was a permanent US resident.

Of course this famous line:

January 23, 2016: At a campaign rally in Iowa, Trump, in describing the loyalty of his supporters, notoriously said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

This frightening sentiment:

Trump would reiterate his support for waterboarding, a banned interrogation method. “They said to me, ‘What do you think of waterboarding?’ I said I think it’s great, but we don’t go far enough. It’s true. We don’t go far enough. We don’t go far enough.” At a February 6 Republican debate in New Hampshire, Trump said he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” if he were elected president.

His Muslim ban:

January 27, 2017: On the day the Trump administration instituted a ban against travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a Muslim Delta employee wearing a hijab was physically and verbally attacked at JFK International Airport in New York. The perpetrator told the victim “[Expletive] Islam. [Expletive] ISIS. Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you,” according to ABC. On the campaign trail, Trump said he was open to the idea of closing mosques and creating a database of all Muslims in the US, consistently saying that Muslims were a “problem” and a “sickness.”

August 5, 2019: A 39-year-old Montana man was charged with felony assault for choking, slamming, and fracturing the skull of a 13-year-old boy who didn’t take his hat off for the national anthem. The man’s attorney told the local newspaper that Trump’s “rhetoric” led to the violent act. “His commander in chief is telling people that if they kneel, they should be fired, or if they burn a flag, they should be punished,” the lawyer said, referencing Trump’s harsh words against athletes like Colin Kaepernick who protested for social justice.

That is a TINY SAMPLE of times he has incited violence in the last six years.

(Oh! Happy New Year! Surprise! All of the problems of the previous year do not magically disappear when the year begins anew. Time is a construct ppl).

The Capitol Police say that they had no idea that this was going to happen.

HOW?

This has been planning for MONTHS. Did you see how many people showed up? This was a coordinated effort that had been planned for months in advance. People came in from Hawaii, Florida, all over the freaking country.

There are threats that this is going to happen again before the inauguration. I would not be surprised.

In an article by The Nation, they provide a different look at the riots this week: the relationship between the Thin Blue Line people and the police.

A quote from that article that I believe should be published worldwide is this:

“This is not America,” a woman said to a small group, her voice shaking. She was crying, hysterical. “They’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.”

I think she said the quiet part out loud. Oops!

I just don’t even know how to respond to that.

Believing in basic human rights makes you the enemy apparently.

Before I jump into the BLM versus the domestic terrorists argument, lets continue to look at the reactions of these Trump Supporters to the police.

From The Nation’s article:

Never mind the Blue Lives Matter paraphernalia, anti-police sentiment was commonplace. “The state troopers where I live are assholes,” I’d heard someone complain earlier. “They’re totally fucking our state.”

“Pigs!” “Is this what we get for backing the Blue?!” “You just lost the only people in this country who stand behind you!” “You serve Satan!”

So it was never really about the police was it? It was just about your absolute hate of black people.

Got it.

Continuing down this disgusting rabbit hole, lets examine the argument saying the everyone involved in the BLM protests over the summer, myself included, should be arrested since the domestic terrorists who desecrated and TRESPASSED in the United States CAPITOL BUILDING are being arrested.

That is an awful argument. And let me tell you why.

Fighting to end the discrimination of Black people is literally not the same as a coup attempt to place a dictator in charge of our country. Yes there were protests this summer, and yes there was some carnage, but in all of the PEACEFUL protests, no one violated a government building.

AND YET, because we were marching for Black Lives, people were shot, and hurt, and abused by police officers.

When the Trump supporters broke windows and trespassed into the capitol building, cops took SELFIES with them:

They opened gates and let them in:

When they brought zip ties to take prisoners, participated in mail theft, trespassed in a federal building, desecrated a national office, stole, AND MORE, the police didn’t do ANYTHING like what they did this summer.

US Capitol rioters spotted with ZIP TIES in shock pics suggesting 'plan to  take hostages'
thesun.co.uk

Now I am TIRED of giving these people a platform like this, where we talk about them constantly for weeks on end and give them the publicity that they crave.

But we also HAVE to talk about this.

We have to realize why it is wrong and how it is deeply rooted in racism.

As I mentioned at the beginning, Donald Trump has been inciting violence for a very long time. This was only the natural progression.

He called them very special people after all.

It will happen again. This proves it.

Pay attention and call your representatives to kick him out of office so he does not get to enjoy any of the benefits of Presidency.

I am TIRED of the republicans going back and forth over him.

Supporting him one day and denying that support the next. I could do a whole other post about just that.

One beast at a time…

Tips & Tricks: Sustainable Gifts

Hello! It’s been a minute, huh?

I am finally done with the first semester of my junior year and am very much looking forward to taking a well deserved break. After being apart from family over thanksgiving, I was able to visit my mom and my brother for Christmas. The cat came with as she is moving back in with them now that my mom has moved. She was absolutely fantastic on the plane, which, let’s be honest, was a huge surprise.

Waffles in cat jail on the plane

It’s taken her a little bit to adjust to a new home, and she’s not fully there yet, but she’s doing pretty well. She loves the California sun and warm weather much more than the cloudy Chicago winter we left.

While staying inside, I have been taking time to wrap and decorate my eco-friendly gifts for my friends and family. I love wrapping presents and wanted to find a way to still make them look cute but be sustainable. Through listening to others in the sustainable community, along with my own ideas, I was able to do just that. So, I wanted to share the fun way I was able to make my gifts this year sustainable and cute.

Materials needed:

  • Citrus fruits of your choice
    • I ended up using two oranges as that gave me the perfect number of slices for all of my gifts. If you have a lot of gifts, use more, if not that much, use less.
    • You can use lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, any citrus you like
  • Recyclable brown paper or newspaper
  • Twine
  • Holly or Winterberries
    • If you use winterberries: keep them away from children and pets as they are toxic, but they look great!

(You can always do it differently by using scarfs or other ideas, but this is how I did it)

To dry the oranges:

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet or two (depending on your needs) with either parchment paper, a silicon baking sheet (which is the sustainable option!) or aluminum foil
  • Cut the fruit of choice into thin slices discarding any seeds
  • Put the slices on the baking sheet about a half inch apart
  • Back at 200 degrees, flipping every 30 minutes, for about 2 to 3 hours
    • Because they will be of varying sizes, take out the slices as they dry
  • (Optional: Sprinkle the oranges with sugar)

Cut the Winterberry or Holly into sizes of your choosing, then get ready to wrap.

Wrap your gifts in brown recycled paper or old newspaper and wrap with twine to give it some extra flare. Then decorate as you feel with the oranges and winterberry/holly.

They turn out really cute! And it is all sustainable! As they sit under the tree, I have received great feedback. People love how they look, and it’s so incredibly easy.

So! Now that you know how to wrap the gifts, what do you put in them?

I know, I know. Christmas is two days away and this is a little late, but everyone is always searching for last minute gift ideas. So here are some that I got for my family.

  • Wine
    • This is a great gift as you can find some great wine from sustainable vineyards. When purchasing, look to see if the vineyard is SIP certified.
    • You can also book a wine tasting at a local vineyard, which a great, low waste experience gift! However, in our current covid era, leaving the house isn’t advisable. So, instead you could buy different wines from the same or different vineyard and do a home wine tasting. Makes the experience come to the home and is a fun change from the usual routine. You can even make tasting sheets to rank the different wines you try!
  • Photos
    • Photos are a great sentimental low waste gift too, especially if you can get them printed on recycled paper.
    • I was able to make a little photo book for my family for the holidays (they already opened it, don’t worry) and they love it.
    • Photos are something that are not that expensive, can be a great sustainable option, have a lot of sentimental value, and are a great last minute gift idea
  • Experience gifts
    • I have talked about this before, and just mentioned it when I talk about wine tastings, but experience gifts are truly one of the most sustainable gifts you can give. They are low waste and just plain fun.
    • Gift cards to restaurants or the movies support local businesses in your area through covid and are a great sustainable idea
    • Tickets to a play or an amusement park which can be used once things open back up are great ideas
    • You can also give sustainable gear for people that spend time outside, like backpacks or sustainable cork yoga mats
  • Second Hand gifts
    • Regifting or gifting second hand items is something that we should normalize. Walk into any thrift or consignment store, or even scroll down eBay and you can find incredible stuff. Things do not always need to be new. Normalize getting things refurbished and second hand. Not only is it more sustainable, but it is often cheaper!
  • Buy a tree or carbon offsets!
    • I, again, have talked about this before, but carbon offsets are a great gift, and can easily be a last minute gift as it is done all online and you print or email the certificate. They supports companies and projects that are working to reduce carbon emissions. I bought one for my mom last Christmas, in fact, and funded the planting of trees, clean water initiatives, and several other projects
    • Gift a Tree! You can also plant a tree (or trees) in dedication to someone for Christmas. This is a great gift and that person is now tied to a sustainable project. This also a great last minute gift idea that is done all online! Treedom Trees is a great company that allows you to plant or dedicate trees. You get to pick your kind of tree, a farmer will plant it and photograph it, and you can follow its journey as it grows and follow the larger project it is apart of.
  • If you must shop, shop small, shop business of color.
    • It is so important to support small businesses and businesses owned by people of color every holiday season, but this holiday season especially. They typically do not operate on the same large scale basis that other corporations do, so it is a sustainable way to shop in its own right. Make sure your favorite business survive this pandemic. Don’t know what to get, buy a gift card. Everything helps.

This is just a short list of great last minute ideas and ideas for the future for the people you care about most in your lives.

I hope everyone has a great holiday season and it is spent with people you love, either in person or virtually.

Stay safe, stay home, stay wearing your mask. We’re not through this yet.

Happy Holidays

Nisolo Shoes: a Little Kinder to the Planet

It’s December! The final stretch of the crazy year of 2020, though I am not holding out hope for the beginning of 2021…

We’re now officially in the holiday season. I have a fake palm in my living room that is covered in lights. I decided that instead of buying a small fake tree, that I would just turn my palm into a tropical Christmas tree. I have small little ornaments and even a tiny tree skirt. Its pretty cute if I do say so, and it is a little better for the environment. I used things I already had, only buying when it was necessary.

Speaking of the holiday season, Thanksgiving looked a little different this year. Like I said, I spent this year away from my immediate family like a lot of people did. But I did get to spend it with my little covid bubble which helped make a sour situation very sweet.

We spent the afternoon chatting, drinking, eating, and enjoying each others company. I hadn’t been around anyone besides my cat for about a week and a half. It was fantastic to have conversations that were not answered with a meow or a tail flap. I also got to eat the most fantastic crab cakes.

Another highlight of the day was debuting my fantastic new Nisolo shoes.

Aren’t they stunning??

It is Emma D’Orsay Oxford in Brandy. I adore the side slits and nodes to French Fashion. While I would traditionally classify these as a dress shoe, back in my I-know-nothing-about-fashion-days (which I am just now growing out of), these are so incredibly versatile. Here I am wearing them with jeans, but I just as soon wear them with my plaid slacks, a skirt, or even a pair of shorts.

These shoes are beautifully made and incredibly high quality. They are a little tight fitting at first, but the shoe soon forms to your foot.

Photo Curtsey of Nisolo

When picking products to feature I try only to pick brands that produce sustainable products but do so in an ethical way.

Thats why I like Nisolo. Not only do they produce REALLY cute shoes, but they also pay their employees a living wage.

Nisolo publishes detailed information on everything they do: their factories, their wages, and their climate and social impact.

Nisolo has created 117 new sustainable jobs and their wages are 33% above fair trade wages. All of their employees are over the age of 18 and they have invest $3.5 million back into the Peruvian economy. Nisolo is also B-corporation certified. “B Corp certification is similar to fair trade, but determines environmental and social impact beyond product attributes or production processes. Rather, the assessment takes a deep look into a company’s leadership, governance, suppliers, employees, communities, etc. in order to determine (and ultimately score) the social and environmental impact an organization has on all of its stakeholders.”

Nisolo’s main factory is in Peru but they also partner with independent artisans. They make it a goal to empower women and pay them fair wages as well. They help their employees establish bank accounts and savings, and employees can also have a salary advance for big expenses to save themselves from the loan sharks.

Currently, the lowest wage in their Peruvian factory is $280 a month. That is for entry level positions. While it is low in consideration of our wages, it is actually much higher than the average wage in Peru for entry level positions.

I love the transparency in this company. Yes, there are improvements to be made. There are improvements everywhere, but the fact that they allow you to see the inner operations of their supply chain and show were they have made mistakes in the past is promising.

Nisolo also combats climate change by actively protecting trees from deforestation in the Amazon Basin.

These shoes are terrific. They do good for people, for the planet, and as a self confidence booster.

(Shoes received in partnership with brightly.eco scouts program)

Tips & Tricks: A Sustainable Closet

I am back! And this week we are going to be talking about tips for a sustainable closet.

I took a week off, not that I was very regular about posting anyways, because midterms had me swamped. But I am back, and we are going to dive right into ways to be sustainable in your closet.

You should know, I am not an expert on this. I am writing this as someone who is currently working on this herself and is trying every day to be better than I was yesterday. These are things that I have done to change my daily habits or to incorporate sustainable alternatives into my life that I know that everyone can do as well. The things that I suggest are not, by all means, exhaustive. There are a ton of alternatives out there, you just have to do your research.

On the docket for today: outfit repeating, shopping secondhand, and where to buy things when you absolutely must buy new.

Outfit repeating: what is it and why should you do it?

Our fear of outfit repeating is mainly an American thing, and it is tied to our full embrace of capitalism. There has been a call in the sustainable community to normalize outfit repeating, wearing clothes that you own more than once. It is a direct retaliation against fast fashion, which encourages a new outfit for every occasion.

Outfit repeating is sustainable. You are using what you already have and not needlessly using water and releasing carbon emissions for the sake a new outfit that someone will only see you wear once.

There has been growing popularity in the trend of capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is picking and choosing your favorite versatile clothes, remixing them and wearing them different ways. That way, you shop less often, and when you do, it is intentional. You also are more aware of what is in your closet and you have pieces that work together in different ways.

But you shouldn’t go out and buy all new clothes for your capsule wardrobe. Work with that you have, thrift what you need. If you can’t find what you need secondhand, buy it from a sustainable and ethical company that is transparent about what they do. Don’t fall for green washing.

A capsule wardrobe typically has less than 40 pieces in it, but what you have is incredibly versatile. Something to seriously consider if you are interested in being more sustainable in your closet. But remember, start with what you already own! This is not an excuse to go out and buy more clothes.

So if you do need to buy something, where do you go?

Thrifting!

Shopping second hand is the most sustainable way to shop for new clothes. Even though something has been worn before, it is still new to you. Depop is a great way to sell clothes and buy things from each other. I found adorable skort from a seller on there and I wore it all summer.

Another great place to buy online is threadUP. ThreadUp, according to their website, is the world’s largest online consignment and thrift store. Over the summer they came out with their personalized boxes, and I had the opportunity to get one (this is not paid, I promise. Not that big a blog yet). I filled out a questionnaire about sizes and style preferences, uploaded my pinterest board of style ideas and BAM! Personalized style box sent right to my door. I did return somethings, but I kept a skirt, dress, tank top, and shirt. You only pay for what you keep.

Of course they also have their traditional online shopping platform, which has more clothes than you could ever imagine. They also have all of your favorite brands. Love Anthropologie and Madewell, but hate their lack of sustainability? Thrift them. It is a sustainable way to get the brands you love.

So what happens if you can’t find what you need at a local thrift store or online? Where do you go?

I have a few recommendations, but let me also introduce you to this super cool resource. For a quick assessment of all your favorite clothing brands, check out the Good On You Directory, which rates brands on labor, environment, and animal usage. It will give you sustainable alternatives to your favorite, but earth killing, brand.

So, when you absolutely need to buy a new piece, this is a great place to find a small, sustainable business that can get you that product. Something to keep in mind, a lot of those businesses are based out of the country. So check to see if they off set their travel emissions.

Now, my favorite brands!

Again, I am not being paid for any of this, nor will I get a kick back if you follow any of these links. I am simply sharing these brands because I genuinely believe in the mission and the products of these companies and know that they are doing good for the planet.

I personally live in my yoga pants and have had terrible luck with them ripping in the crotch and being constantly covered in pet hair (remember that long haired cat I live with, there are remnants of her on every possible surface). I don’t love the idea of buying yoga pants second hand, and am okay with buying them new because I know that I will wear them until I can’t any longer. Girlfriend Collective is active wear made ethically. They have yoga pants, sport bras, track suits, sweatsuits, shorts (both run and bike!), and more.

I have the Paloma Bra, in plum, and the compressive high rise legging in black. For my short legs, I chose the 23in legging, and they don’t gather at the bottom at all, which I love. Here are some pictures of my loved pieces, both holding up incredibly well after being worn rather frequently.

Paloma Bra in Plum
Bra and Compressive legging combo, ft. miss cat

Could I have cleaned my mirror before this? Absolutely. But, we get stuck with my messy mirror. Again, I only include this because of how much I stand behind their products.

So what makes Girlfriend collective sustainable? They take plastic bottles and turn that into fabric, and they make sure to off set all the carbon used to create their products. On each product, they tell you how much water and carbon is saved by the creation of this product. I invite you to read about their sustainability here. They will also recycle their old clothes. You can ship back your pieces of theirs once you have worn them all the way through and they will recycle the fabric. How cool?

The other brand I want to dig into today is, Will’s Vegan Store. I LOVE this brand. Completely love it. They sell everything from tops, to shoes, to bags, to accessories. I have three pairs of shoes from them and love everything I have. It fits perfectly, it is all vegan, and all ethically made. They use sustainable packaging as well.

I have the deep tread Chelsea boots, NY sneakers in white (which is very on brand for me), and point toe boots.

Point toe boots and NY Sneakers in White

Other brands of worthy mention: Ocelot Market, Boyish Jeans, ABLE, Allbirds and Patagonia

I have only tried Patagonia and Allbirds (my fave tennis shoes omg), but the others are highly reputable and have reviews from sources I trust.

At the end of this I must acknowledge that I know not everyone can afford to buy from these expensive, sustainable brands, and often times they do not carry every size. With the current thrifting trend and people buying clothing not their size, it takes options away from people who are that size and have issues finding their size, forcing them to buy from fast fashion companies. Thrift responsibly, just like how you will now, hopefully, shop. Thrift and shop with the planet and others in mind.

The cat broke my bed… and other updates

I’ve been struggling with what to put on the blog lately. I’ve just been overwhelmed with school and homework as we are in the midst of midterm season, but!! that means that we half way through the semester!! That’s super exciting. Junior year has been full of opportunities so far and I have been fortunate enough to be involved in some really cool research projects and organizations this semester.

Currently I am the secretary of LUC’s chapter of IGNITE, which is a nonpartisan organization that works to encourage female participation in politics, whether that is running for office, working in politics, or just something simple like voting and being more informed in politics. Women make up 51% of the American population, yet only something like 25% of the seats in congress are women. That is not fair representation. So, IGNITE works to increase female representation and involvement.

I am also a member of the Kohima research project this semester! Loyola has partnered with a college in the Kohima region of India to help build their environmental science program and help the development in their region. I am SUPER duper excited about that one.

Anyways, that and school have been what has been keeping me pretty busy lately, but I’ve had some fun too. Instead of describing it all, I’ll just show you some photos of what else I’ve been up to.

Armin’s niece turned one! Funny story, they were born on the same day! So his sister planned an octopus themed birthday for the birthday girl that weekend and then arm and I celebrated on monday, his actual birthday.
ARMIN BIRTHDAY! We went to Homeslice and got to sit on the back patio for the first time!! We stuffed our selves with pizza and cookie dough balls. 10/10
I went home after I turned 21 and had a cocktail at Traverso’s, our family friend’s restaurant and one of my parents favorite places. It was really fun to be able to do that at a place I had been coming to since I was a kid.
Armin celebrated with his family at a Penrose Brewing in Geneva! They ordered a bunch of different pizzas from around the area and he got to try and rank them all. I think dominos was the winner?? also the shirts??
We played heads up and I learned how competitive some of the Nikravans are lol
My mom’s house went on the market in september.
She really likes the apartment! We were all afraid when she moved in like 3 weeks ago that she would hate it, but she loves it!! I like it too. Its nice to have somebody who always wants to hang out. I don’t love cleaning up after her or her smelly food, but it is what it is.
Now that Armin and I are twenty one it’s kinda fun to experiment with drinks now! These are a blueberry lemon vodka fizz recipe that I found on pinterest! Super yummy. We also went to binnys like a week or two ago and bought the funkiest thing we could find for under $30. I found Vikings Blod?? and he found a cherry beer, which if you know armin is not surprising, and a caramel and cinnamon cider that screams fall. We haven’t had either of his picks yet, but the vikings blod is suprising not bad??
My bed?? broke?? Honestly have no idea. I was doing homework on it like a week ago and one corner of it just collapsed. I have no evidence but I am convinced Waffles did it, because she didn’t even react when it happened and its easier for her to get on and off.
She’s literally the cutest thing?? How is she 120?? She is a baby!
Waffles is convinced that she is dating Armin. But like?? look at them!!!
Waffles and I went for a walk! (Armin not pictured. Honestly when in doubt just assume Armin was there too, if we’re being honest)
We have gone on 3 subsequent walks and none of them went as well as this one. I think she was just so shocked that It actually happened.
My Environmental Health professor used this graphic in one of his powerpoints and I absolutely lost it. You need some humor when your class starts at 8 am i think.
She was all tired out after waking me up at 4:30 :/

Anyways, that’s pretty much what I have been up to the past month or so. Nothing too crazy and just a lot of cat content.

Check out this article!

Hello everyone!
Today, I just wanted to share an incredibly interesting article I found that really goes into the topic of climate migrants. Its from the New York Times by Abrahm Lustgarten who is a senior environmental reporter for ProPublica. Lustgarten tends to specialize on the intersection of business, climate, and energy. Actually, ProPublica and the New York Times formed a partnership for this series of articles.

It is the first article in a two part series on climate migrants. This one looks at the issue internationally, and the other looks at it in the context of the United States. I found this to be one of the most comprehensive, yet fascinating articles on this topic and wanted to share.

Leave a message below and let me know your thoughts! I am curious if you find this as fascinating and as heart breaking as I do. It really served as a call to action for me. It shows that people really do need my help. I might be trying to fix a sinking ship, but better to work to the end than to bail out and let others die, am I right?

Anyways, off the depressing note, I’ll be back this weekend with a more standard blog post.

Will it be more about climate migrants? Or will it be about the second week of me living with my geriatric cat? We’ll see which infuriates me more in the next few days.

See you soon.

Climate Countdown Clock?

If you haven’t seen in the news, two artists, Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd reprogrammed New York’s Metronome clock in Manhattan. It now displays the amount of time we have left to act on climate change before it is too late.

Jeenah Moon for the New York Times

Last week, Saturday, September 20th, a message flashed across the screen that read “The Earth has a deadline”. We have roughly seven years to act, according to the countdown clock, which is based on numbers by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change. The goal of the project was to engage people who might not always think about climate change and the implications a warming planet has on our future. 

Because today is the last day of the installation in Union Square, I thought it was a good idea to take a closer look at this shocking piece of art.

While most people who recognize the irreversible effects of climate change were in support of the climate countdown clock, I have seen a few arguments against it. The critics say that it induces crippling eco-anxiety.

Eco-anxiety is a relatively new term that came about as more and more people began reporting anxiety, stress, or depression about the future of the climate. The American Psychological Association defines it as “a chronic fear of environmental doom.” Eco-anxiety is not a clinical disorder, but it can be a healthy response to the problem that is the climate crisis, Ciara Nugent discovered.

The arguments against the climate countdown clock say that we should avoid spreading eco-anxiety as it solely impacts low-income communities.

I think it is incredibly important to remember that the effects of the climate crisis disproportionately affect low income and marginalized communities. However, as Ciara Nugent found, I think eco-anxiety is a necessity. The countdown clock is placed in a very affluent area to target wealthier individuals who do not face the ill effects of climate change daily. It aims to bring awareness to the fact that this is a problem that equalizes us. We need to act together.

The critique of the project brings up another point that reminds us that 71% of all emissions are from 100 corporations. I recognize that individual action will never be enough; however, I disagree when the argument says that targeting individuals only induces eco-anxiety. While personal action may not have the desired impact on the climate, public lobbying to lawmakers is impactful. Once lawmakers are aware of the concerns of their constituents, they are more likely to vote in favor of or against certain issues. And if they don’t, we vote them out.

(Template for a sample letter to your lawmakers)

I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that the more people get involved in climate change and politics, the better. If protecting the planet doesn’t motivate you, then maybe protecting yourself will. The longer we wait and refuse to act, the more natural disasters will occur and the more diseases will spread. Be worried, be scared, but let that encourage you to act. Inaction’s only result is the end of the world as we know it.

References/Further Reading:

https://time.com/5735388/climate-change-eco-anxiety/

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/20/arts/design/climate-clock-metronome-nyc.html

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/03/climate-mental-health

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/b2e7ee32-ad28-4ec4-89aa-a8b8c98f95a5/

(Have a thought? Leave a comment! I would love to start a dialogue about your thoughts on the climate change countdown.)

I think introductions are in order…

Hello!

Hi and welcome to my new blog! 

I’ve always considered starting a blog, and my mom has always wanted me to do it. So, I indulged her, listened to some advice from friends, and decided to jump right in.

My name is Emily. I am midwest born and raised, aside from a small stint in South Carolina my freshman year of college and a few years on the West Coast, and I am currently living in Chicago. I am an undergraduate at Loyola University Chicago in my junior year, studying Environmental Studies and double minoring in Political Science and Global & International Studies. Environmental studies, for those who are unfamiliar, “combines a solid base of courses in the natural sciences with course work in the social sciences to prepare students for careers in government, business, education, non-profit organizations or the media. These students have strong interests in environmental policies; the relationships of those policies to local, national and international politics; issues of environmental ethics & advocacy; social change and its relationship to social justice; the history of human interaction with the environment; and the portrayal of nature in art and literature, ” according to the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola

Usually, after people ask what my major means, they ask, “Well, what do you want to do with that?” Well, I want to go into Global Health. No, not pandemic management, though we do desperately need that. I want to work with climate migrants in less developed nations. Climate migrants are people who are displaced because of the disastrous effects of the climate crisis. They are forced to leave their homes and migrate to urban centers. These urban centers become completely overpopulated. Diseases runs ramped as they do not have the infrastructure needed to control the outbreaks. I want to implement environmentally friendly public health programs to help curb these issues.

Lofty and specific goals, I know. 

This blog is a place I am going to document my journey into global health and the next phases of my education, but it will also be a place for me to document things happening in my life and to share what comes next.