Monday, January 24, 2011

Looking for a way to be a "green" part of the economy?

This invitation to a "Green Careers Symposium" just came in from Penn State's Center for Sustainability:
The Symposium will take place on February 15 from 7:30 am to noon. At the event, a small group of employers will have the opportunity to discuss their sustainability-related career opportunities with a small group of invited students. After a facilitated personal networking session, there will be a panel discussion on green careers open to the entire Penn State community.

Large and small for-profit companies and non-profit organizations will be attending this event. Most, but not all, of the participating organizations/companies will also be participating in Spring Career Days.

Green Careers Leadership Symposium Itinerary:

7:30am - 8:30am: Arrival and breakfast, informal conversation

8:30am - 9:30am: Speed networking event, during which each employer will have the opportunity to chat briefly with each student in attendance (the format will be similar to speed dating). This portion of the event is by invitation only.

9:30am - 9:45am: Break; doors open to all interested individuals from the PSU community

9:45am - 10:45am: Panel Symposium on green careers—open to the public
Participants include Penn State alumni who are in green careers. Panelists will speak briefly about their own green career journey, or some larger issue in green careers. The floor will then be open for questions from the audience.

10:45am - 12:00pm: Open networking opportunity
Some employers will leave immediately for the Spring Career Fair, which begins at 11:00 AM. Others will have enough time to stay and converse with students until as late as noon.
If you are interested in participating in the Speed Networking portion should contact the Center for Sustainability by using this contact form.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Eat. Play. Love.

The sustainable food movement's roots are branching.

In June 2010, The American Dietetic Association, American Nurses Association, American Planning Association, and American Public Health Association met to develop a set of shared food system principles.

For the first time, national leaders in the nursing, nutrition, planning, and public health professions worked collaboratively to create a shared platform for systems-wide food policy change.

Endorsed by coalition members, the principles were written to support socially, economically and ecologically sustainable food systems that promote health — the current and future health of individuals, communities and the natural environment.

You can read their combined statement here (pdf). What are your thoughts on educating for a sustainable food system? How can we support it?

Lately, I've been wondering if gardening is enough. Sure, it gets our hands dirty and keeps us working out there with ourselves and our power instead of being plugged into this machine in front of me and eating crummy industrialized potato chips. I'm not in a car. Kids are working and playing and learning at the same time and using their senses, assuming they're actually doing what's asked of them. The potential richness of experience of place is right there. But is it enough?

A friend of mine, a fairly experienced English teacher and avid wilderness explorer, went to Norway last year and visited schools. He talked to teachers there about environmental education (EE). They don't have much of what we would call EE and this perplexed him. It is a highly industrialized nation with an incredible standard of living, healthy and happy people, a fairly high rate of consumption, but has incredible environmental conservation. Maybe it's not even fair to call it conservation because it is part of Norway's identity to preserve wilderness.

People in Norway do much of what their leisure outside. They recreate in action with the wilderness. According to the United States' Official Norway site, "adoration of nature is a vital ingredient in the country's national identity." This is part of schooling, with annual ski jaunts at school. Out you go. Can you imagine? Status quo is cross country skiing, hiking, going to the lakes, or playing outside in nature. Playing in nature breeds love of nature instead of an outdoor-phobic people who don't see the relationship between them, natural resources, and the more-than-human environment.

So gardens are a start. A great start that connects us to a particular place and its cycles and system. It lets us work and play right there and experience growth; growth we hope is external and internal. But I think that we need more than that. We need, I think desperately almost, to bring children and adults into nature where they are and beyond where they are.

Who wants to go hiking? We can bring some food from one of our local farmers and breathe in the air given to us by the hemlocks deep in Allen Seeger or walk the deer paths in the local game lands (wear your orange). Sustain food systems and sustain yourselves. All the while we'll be playing and learning. And maybe, if you're lucky, you can start to love a place and want to be in it and with even more.

Who's game?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Teach children to be good stewards

I (Peter Buckland) was recently invited to write an opinion piece for the Centre Daily Times on my vision of education. It is a broad appeal for democratic place-based education. I wrote:
There are three ways to retool school and society for a sustainable future: First, most schools are not democratic. Children generally do not have meaningful influence on school policies. But the sustainable future will require people to fully participate in civic life, to make the decisions that affect their lives. Given opportunities to help govern their schools with caring adults working with them, children will have an opportunity to learn the skills of self-governance by self-governing: informing themselves of issues and perspectives, persuading others to adopt new points of view, negotiating compromises and implementing solutions.

Second, most schools reflect the biases of the larger economic system, minimizing the crucial historic and current roles of indigenous people, nonwhite immigrants and women. We need to honor and focus on those roles and live into their cultural practices and beliefs. By grounding ourselves in part in movements for justice and how they changed society in the past, the sustainability movement can build on those successes.

Third, schools should better connect children with the places where they live. Here in central Pennsylvania, our children can learn the histories of Penns Valley, Bellefonte and surrounding towns. They can learn how the stream water in Galbraith Gap Run flows from Bear Meadows to meet Spring Creek. They can come to know the subtle changes in tree stands in Cooper’s Gap,learn to recognize by sight and sound the myriad birds that cohabitate with us and understand the cyclical seasons of the wild and domesticated plants and animals we live among.
Read the entire piece at this link.