Archive for the 'Activism' Category

Karin, Jaime & the Trash Talkers

One outlet to act on your devotion to environmentalism is to get involved in a community group that aims to create change. Sioux Falls, SD harbors a prime opportunity to do so. I found Karin and Jaime at a Sioux Falls Green Project (SFGP) meeting. SFGP is a local movement educating and inspiring Sioux Falls to build a greener future, and focuses on recycling, water conservation, energy, and design.

Jaime, Karin

Both students at Augustana College, Karin and Jaime decided to intern for the SFGP because they believed in its mission and wanted to educate Sioux Falls residents about what they can do live more sustainably. To do this, they keep their own blog and run certain community events. The SFGP The meeting I attended was to orchestrate a Trash Talkers effort. Trash Talkers are a group of Sioux Falls residents who help out at large events to help others throw their trash and recycling in the right bin. The event that they are planning for, is a large festival centered around motorcycles that usually attracts a huge crowd and generates a lot of trash. So who are the Trash Talkers? I found the crew to be a range of residents from bank tellers to restaurant workers, and accountants to Cub Scout leaders.

Trash Talkers meeting

A couple cub scout troops are always involved, says one troop leader at the meeting. After the event, the kids sort through it to root out any recycling that might have gotten thrown out. The testimonial is that the kids have a blast and become very passionate about not letting bottles and cans go to the landfill. Perhaps it is in their blood- in 1997 South Dakota was #1 in waste management per capita in the Nation. Now they have fallen below the national average, and the SFGP wants to get back to where they were. They recognize that collectively the city can make significant strides to reach their goals, and Trash Talkers is an example of that. My own career in waste sorting got off to a late start, so I was happy to hear about kids getting involved in waste sorting early, and learning to talk some trash.

http://www.siouxfallsgreenproject.org/

Alec Hill

catalyst-logoBefore he was out of High School Alec knew there were things worth changing in the world, and somehow he was going to work to be that change.   Currently he is facilitating and working with CatalystNow, a non profit that works toward bringing about social change for the better.  The website, catalystnow.org contains various components all working toward achieving social and ecological harmony.

One such component is the Bioregional bulletin, a media outlet where information about nonprofits, activists, and organizers can be shared with everyone. The idea is to give people a chance to see what is being addressed in their own bio-region.  If anyone would like to begin a bulletin for their area, Alec can share an online template to start one up.

Another one is the Peoples Voice Initiative, which gives everyone a chance to share their vision of society and focus abstract ideas to provide a world vision to work towards.  His own lifestyle reflects a vision of harmony more than most people I know…

His happiness comes from helping people when they need help, smiling, listening, and saying ‘hello’ to people he sees.  His yurt does not have too big a footprint, and getting around means taking a bike or sharing a ride.  He usually fixes or patches things that need mending, but when he does buy things he shops at ecologically responsible stores.  He brings jars and bags to the grocery store, or otherwise things with no or minimal packaging.

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Helen Dechtiar

Helen outside the garden with the compost

Helen outside the garden with the compost

Helen is the organizer of a community garden in the heart of Burlington, VT where she serves as a liaison between students and their neighbors. The program is the result of the efforts of the University of Vermont Community Coalition and the Neighborhood Alliance Program. Routinely surrounded by temporary student neighbors, Helen had been interested in improving the image of the community to one that reflects a consciousness for the health of the environment. There was a sense of belonging that was missing from the community, so with permission from the land owner, the Buell Street Neighborhood Garden began selling their plots three years ago. Currently all 12 plots are sold to a combination of student and non-student community members. Each plot sells for $10 which covers most of the cost of operations.

Helen can say that over the three years that the garden has been there it has stimulated awareness that her community is one that cares, and nothing but positive relationships have come from working in the garden with neighbors. She has also learned a tremendous amount. Gardening was not something Helen had much experience with in the beginning, but since then she has realized how fun and easy it is and ‘obsessed’ is the word she chose to use to describe her involvement with her plants.