>The Mystery of Squirrels on Governor’s Island

>(By Jenna Kelly)

Shane Snipes is in New York and interviews Katherine, an art fellow at the Governor’s Island Summer Program. Katherine incorporated nature and the environment into her artwork. She explains to Shane that she was raised by scientists and was always really interested in the scientific aspect of life. Although, catering to her creative side, she needed to combine art with her love for science, as research would not have been fitting for her. She says her art is always a mix of research tools. Katherine feels that the combination of science and art is a confusing abstraction at times but this confusion has the beautiful capability of creating a new relationship with which we can all look at and understand the world. Katherine talks a lot about squirrels in her interview. She has done a lot of research about squirrels and how they came to be on Govenor’s Island. She has conducted some fascinating studies and incorporates interesting features of their habitat, food, and lifestyle into her art. 
Shane picks up on the importance of observing the seemingly ordinary things around us with a new sense of fascination and wonder. Shane also mentioned that he feels as he is picking up a pallet of color all over the country as he learns about the beautiful things people are doing in the US to try to make it a better and greener place. 

>Affordable and Green Housing Initiative!


(By Julie Markowitz)

As part of his visit to Utah, Shane spoke with Emily Niehaus of Community Rebuilds.  This organization provides energy-efficient and affordable homes for low income families. The homes they build are constructed primarily from straw bales and plaster, using as little concrete as possible.  The homes Community Rebuilds provides replace these low-income families’ pre-1976 energy-inefficient single-wide trailers with homes that cost significantly less to heat and cool and are made from sustainable materials.  The success of Community Rebuilds shows that being sustainable doesn’t have to cost more, and can even save you money. 

>GREEN: Greg Peterson and Messages from Mother


(By Julie Markowitz)
Everyone has t-shirts with clever or funny messages, promoting everything from classic cartoons to classic candy brands. Why not use your clothing to make an environmental statement? Greg Peterson of YourGuideToGreen.com has created a line of organic t-shirts and tank tops with messages from “Mother Nature.” They say things like “I don’t care who started it—I said STOP!” and “When you have your own planet, you can make the rules.” These shirts are funny, thought-provoking, and a great way to remind everyone around you of the importance of being environmentally conscious.

Shane Snips was able to interview the creator of these t-shirts while passing through Arizona.

>Hazan Works to Connect Religion to Sustainability


(By Priyanka Kotadia)

Religion is deeply rooted in our society and religious leaders have profound effect on their followers. People especially follow religious preachers when structuring their everyday life. With such knowledge young religious leaders are beginning to integrate messages of ‘green living’ into their religious practices. Jake Wilkenfeld-Mongillo and Molly Dunn, rabbis and founders of Hazan, discuss their take on environmental issues with Shane Snipes.

 Hazan is a Jewish organization based in New York City; its primary purpose is to educate and assist Jewish communities in living a sustainable life. Mr. Mongillo and Ms. Dunn assert that any type of movement must begin from within and in a smaller scale to ultimately have a larger impact on the world. Therefore, their organization has a primary focus in the Jewish community, which the directors are personally connected to. They note that people are divided into groups, and conveying messages to them becomes less challenging when one paints the message into the group’s perspective. They have attempted to redefine the meaning of Kosher for the Jewish community. Mr. Mongillo states that Kosher means, “ritually fit,” but the popular media often construes the practices of Kosher preparation with non-sustainable ways. Hazan grants loans to farmers around the state to educate their followers about how their food is prepared and its source. The organization directly relates such measures to the messages in Torah, which stresses the importance of knowing the source of one’s food. It is smaller changes like this that will make people think about their actions and their immediate impact on the environment.

They effect change in three ways: 

1.  Through the direct human impact of our programs; 
2.  By supporting the American Jewish environmental movement and the Israeli environmental 
3.  Through thought-leadership (writing, speaking, teaching, campaigning). 

The following values underpin their programs: 

1.  A strong commitment to inclusive community; 
2.  A strong commitment to volunteer involvement and leadership development; 
3.  Multi-generationality; 
4.  Being Jewishly serious and deeply engaged with the world around us; 
5.  We believe in reaching people where they are and not where we might like them to be.

The message of saving our earth and environment is simple. Every one of us can paint the message in our language to make every single person understand it. 

>Drilling for Marcellus Shale– What are the Consequences?


(By Matt Connolly)
Marcellus Shale, a sedimentary rock comprised of untapped natural gas reserves, has been accumulating approximately 7,000-10,000 ft. below the earth’s crust for over 300 million years. Only recently, however, drilling companies intent on securing the precious resource have been offering landowners high prices for the right to drill on their land. But is drilling so deep beneath the earth’s crust safe for the environment?
Drilling companies depend on a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a method of directional drilling that allows access to deposits of deep shale from a horizontal position. Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of water and sand and sometimes up to 600 different chemicals into a well at high pressure in order to fracture shale deposits and facilitate natural gas flow through fissures in the rock. Drilling companies of the natural gas industry are not required by law to disclose the chemicals they use in the drilling process. However, scientists have found compounds such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene near well sites. These compounds are classified as VOCs or volatile organic compounds, and pose threats to drinking water supplies. Wastewater polluted with VOCs is constantly evaporating as drilling takes place, mixing with diesel exhaust from trucks and generators; together, the VOCs and diesel exhaust form ozone plumes that pollute the air and can travel over 200 miles.
Gas wells have sprung up throughout Pennsylvania and Southeastern New York, and companies continue to secure drilling locations dangerously close to Delaware River and the Catskill Watershed, the main provider of New York City’s drinking water. The government has not addressed the potential harms involved in drilling for natural gas. While natural gas is important for our energy needs, we must ensure that the way we reach shale deposits does not have a negative effect on the environment and human health. 
Filmmaker Josh Fox spent some time traveling around the U.S. to document the effects of drilling on everyday citizens and the environment. He has captured his interesting and shocking experiences in his documentary “Gasland,” winner of the Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival:
“When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND.”
Visit Catskill Mountain Keeper’s website for information on drilling in the Catskill region:

>Eco-Friendly Construction in PA


(By Priyanka Kotadia)

There is a large movement towards purchasing and investing in eco-friendly household items, but people tend forget that the constructions of houses/buildings is not entirely green. Josh Willis, a construction consultant from Philly, was interviewed for the Sustainable 1000 project.  He discusses the setbacks and progress in the construction business.  Concrete serves as the foundation for construction; stones and cement serve as the foundation of concrete. The problem is cement is not a renewable material and few innovations have taken place to replace it. American construction businesses have attempted to use recycled concrete, but the percentage of such companies is smaller than 25%. Willis disappointedly admitted that in an ideal construction world companies would use 100% recycled material, but they do not because people fear that the quality of such material is incomparable to newer ones. Is this a reflection of our society’s century old mentality that old cannot be renewed or reused for better purpose? Or is this just another capitalist justification used to make people feel less bad about being eco-enemies?
In either case, every progressive part of our society has to move towards making green decisions. European government accepted this fact almost a decade ago; they have implemented laws that require companies to reuse EVERYTHING from the waste of demolished buildings.[1] In fact these laws have generated many think tanks whose sole purpose is to innovate different ways to use recycled material in construction. People always quote the European laws when it comes mandating recycling or innovating recycled materials; the fact is European government is less fearful of its giant corporations compare to the States. Thus, the EU government makes policies that serve to brighten the future of its people and not its corporations. 
Maybe today we will stop giving excuses for being so reckless with our environment and take some responsibilities for the damages we have caused. As for the construction businesses – one can always recycle and reuse with the right percentage of creativity.

[1] To read a detailed version of what the EU government has done read: www.iscowa.org/members/reccon03.pdf

>The Greater Memphis Greenline

>(By Julie Markowitz)

Memphis, TN has jumped on the green bandwagon with the creation of the Greater Memphis Greenline.  A series of trails that cut through various Memphis neighborhoods, the Greenline utilizes an abandoned railroad already in place across the county.  So far, a 7-mile trail has been completed that connects to Shelby Farms, the city’s largest park.  The next steps in the Greenline project include improvements to the existing trail (benches, trash cans, bike racks, etc) and expansion into more neighborhoods.

The Greenline is ideal for walking, running and biking.  Greater Memphis Greenline hopes that the trails will encourage some Memphians to ride bikes in lieu of driving, a trend has been slow to reach Memphis, due in part to the lack of bike lanes.  Memphis won’t make any real strides in cutting air and noise pollution until it has a public transportation system that is safe, efficient, and accessible for most of its citizens, but the Greenline is a solid first step.