Wednesday, April 30, 2014

World as Classroom: Documentaries Depict Environmental Battles

By Tiffany Liang

A comparison between Mann v. Ford and The Island President, two documentaries released in 2010 and 2011, respectively, reveals similarities between the two situations depicted. In the case of Mann v. Ford, the Ramapough Lenape Indians are seen suing Ford Motor Company for dumping toxic paint sludge on their land. In the case of The Island President, Mohamed Nasheed is fighting at the Copenhagen conference to save his country from the effects of climate change.

Mann v. Ford came out in 2010 and documented the court case of the same name which was filed in 2005 and settled in 2009. The Ramapoughs, with Wayne Mann as the main plaintiff, sued Ford Motors for damages. From 1967-1971, the company dumped toxic paint sludge from its plant in Mahwah, New Jersey into neighboring Ringwood and other locations. Ringwood was declared a Superfund site in 1984 and delisted in 1994. However, continued discovery of paint sludge in the area caused the site to be relisted in 2006. In the end, Mann et. al. settled their case out of court because Ford seemed to be on the verge of bankruptcy.

Mann v. Ford focused on the involvement of the Cochran Firm, which represented the plaintiffs. Even without the involvement of Ford, the Ramapoughs have had their share of environmental exploitation. The fact that mining had happened in the area decades prior to Ford’s involvement was simply convenient, since Ford decided to dump a portion of its waste into open mine shafts. In particular, a series of mine fires that occurred from 1973-1974 seemed to indicate that, in addition to the pollutants already present in Ringwood, dioxin from burning industrial debris had been deposited on the site.

This court case took place while the Ramapoughs were in the midst of fighting for further remediation. As of this writing, the EPA has not issued its final Record of Decision regarding further actions at the Ringwood site. While this case still has the potential to be properly addressed and appropriately resolved, the same cannot be said for the ex-president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed. The Island President, which was released in 2011, documented his efforts to combat climate change.

The Maldives is a small island nation located off the west coast of India. It is one of several small island states imminently threatened by the reality of climate change. The islands sit at sea level, and several have been losing land rapidly due to rising sea levels. Local fisheries have been adversely impacted, and the 2004 tsunami wiped out 50% of the country’s GDP. Whole islands had to be abandoned.

During the Copenhagen conference, Nasheed reiterated his country’s goals to become carbon neutral by 2019—the first country to declare so. He made valiant attempts to put 350 ppm and 1.5°C in the drafted resolution. According to organizations like, 350 ppm of atmospheric carbon dioxide is the level deemed “safe” for the planet. Current atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are hovering around 399 ppm. Ultimately, Nasheed’s efforts were unsuccessful. In addition, he resigned from his office in 2012 under pressure from supporters of the former dictator.

Both cases, in Ringwood and in the Maldives, show the extent to which third parties are often indifferent to the plight of smaller, afflicted parties. Ford dumped in Ringwood, where they knew a minority community lived. The company hired a contractor to remediate the area after being identified as a potentially responsible party under Superfund, but the work has dragged out since the 1980s. The Maldives, under former President Nasheed, pushed to protect the livelihoods of both their nation and the planet at the Copenhagen summit. Those efforts were largely ignored.

This raises the following question: how far is an environmental situation allowed to go downhill before the higher ups decided enough is enough?

World as Classroom: Visiting a Cypress Preserve in Florida

By Kaitlyn McCaffrey           

During my spring break I traveled down to Florida to the Ft. Myers area.  The land was blessed with bright sun, warm weather, and interesting wildlife.  I had to barely leave the trailer to spot a few brightly colored green geckos prowling the area. These lizards would often be prey to my grandparents’ cat Sea Ray, despite my disapproval of letting her out free  and unrestrained. But what we saw around the trailer was only a fraction of Florida's diverse wildlife.

To catch a glimpse of this wildlife, my grandparents and I traveled to the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, an environmental education center in Ft. Myers build with a boardwalk above the swampy earth where visitors can see and learn about the area's unique ecosystem.

There were Great Herons in the distance by the reservoir, turtles in the lake, and lots of interesting plant life, parasitic plants, heart of palm, cypress knees that stabilized the trees in the swamp.  All of those species, whether helpful or harmful, were a part of the ecosystem in the area. 

These six miles were preserved due to the efforts of dedicated students.  In 2001, they took the preserve as it was and expanded its purpose.  It moved from a simple preserve to an opportunity to educate people about the ecosystem of the Ft. Myers estuary.  The trees filter the water and keep it clear, allowing a variety of gators, birds and other animals to survive in this little section of Florida.

For more information:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Students to Report Their Assessment of Environmental Justice Issues


Ramapo College Students to Report Assessment of Environmental Justice Issues in Ringwood 

On May 8, the Environmental Assessment class of Ramapo College’s undergraduate Environmental Studies program will be presenting their Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public comment. The presentation will be at 10 am in Friends Hall, SC219, in the Student Center.

The DEIS was done at the request of Chief Vincent Mann of the Rampough Lenape Turtle Clan in Ringwood, New Jersey. It incorporates Environmental Justice as its main focal point in addressing further actions on the Ringwood Superfund site.

In the 1960’s, Ford Motor Company dumped toxic paint sludge in a former iron mining community in Ringwood, New Jersey and various other locations. In 1984, the site was added to Superfund’s National Priorities List, and remediation began in 1987. The site was delisted in 1994 but relisted in 2006—it is the first Superfund site to ever be re-added to the NPL. The Ramapoughs have many health problems which they feel resulted from the contamination and are additionally concerned that the paint sludge may be leaching into the Wanaque Reservoir, which supplies water to over two million people.

The class, organized into a firm known as RISE (Research and Investigation for Society and the Environment), analyzed the Environmental Protection Agency and Ford’s findings and compiled them into a DEIS instead of the customary Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study. It is their goal to have this document considered by the EPA as it readies to issue a Record of Decision regarding further actions on the Ringwood site.

For more information, contact: Prof. Michael Edelstein at

-- Tiffany Liang

Foraging for Edible and Medicinal Plants at Ramapo College

By Kyle Van Dyke

On Wednesday, April 23, Ramapo College's Masters Program for Sustainability Studies hosted an event with Wildman Steve Brill entitled "Foraging for Edible and Medicinal Plants at Ramapo College."

The event began in the Sharp Sustainability Center classroom, where Steve Brill, otherwise known as the Wildman, introduced the topic of foraging – seeking and gathering wild-growing food – and what drove him to become interested in this odd activity. One of the key points the Wildman made in the beginning of his lecture was that the activity of foraging is actually the least odd activity he could do.

“Humans have been foraging for thousands of years,” he said. “It's only been over the last several hundred years that we have become exclusively dependent on agriculture, which has now become a chemical and fossil-fuel dependent, genetically engineered, toxin and food-look-a-like producing, industrial machine owned by the capitalist elite.”

An extremely knowledgeable and theatrical 65-year-old man, he stood at the front of the classroom with his white beard and odd-looking hat, and explained his perspective and life story with the help of his young daughter Violet.

Following his lecture, the group of 40 left the classroom to watch and learn from the Wildman's foraging. The first plant Wildman noticed was called Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), which was found on the grassy median between lots B1 and B2 of the student parking lot. “Yarrow is mainly useful for medicinal purposes, and looks like a miniature fern,” he said. “This plant was used in ancient times to bind the battle wounds of soldiers, which is made possible by the chemical compounds in the plant that constrict body tissues, making it what is known as an astringent.”

With his daughter Violet's help, each plant that was noticed became another opportunity for teaching, and with the Wildman's humor, another opportunity for a witty joke. Other plants found include Sheep's Sorrel (Rumex acetosella), Field Garlic (Allium vineale), Whitlow Grass (Draba verna), Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana), Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva), Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris), Long Leaf Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), Bitter Dock (Rumex obtusifolius), Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), Juneberry Bush (Amelanchier sp.), Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Mullein (Verbascum thaspus), Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea), and Poor Man's Pepper (Lepidium virginicum).

More information on these plants, foraging, and the Wildman can be found at his website:

Silent Spring Timelessly Harrowing

By Devin Hartmann

“There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.”

Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, is the story of American pesticides and their relationship not only with our food or the pests that would eat them, but the effects the pesticides have on our land, wildlife and ourselves.

The book begins with a haunting representation of what chemical poisoning could bring about. In small rural towns life, without warning or explanation, stops. Birds too sickly to fly, children dying abruptly for unknown reasons, natural flora withering. Almost coming straight out of a fairy tale of a faraway land with an evil curse, Silent Spring shows us that the dangers of a lifeless land are very real. 

With every great story the curse needs to have been caused by something or someone. In this case the curse is pesticides and the villain behind the curse is the manufacturers and farmers who use these pesticides and insecticides on their crops, believing that these chemicals will only harm the insects. These chemicals are used without consideration of what else could be effected, the soil, the water, even animals and people.

Chemicals are introduced in the hundreds every year, many for the purpose of killing insects. Silent Spring was written to show the harmful effects of DDT, a major chemical in insecticides in the mid 1900’s. The book, published in 1962, tells of how the effects humans have had on the environment have increased rapidly within a few decades. The book tells of insects that have a natural immunity to certain chemicals that would otherwise kill them, this immunity could lead to a flareback in which the immune insects rapidly repopulate, leading to more insects with the immunity.

Through the food chain, the chemical DDT and other insecticides have been transferred to humans. Crops that are sprayed are fed to the population but also to chickens and cows. The chicken lays an egg or a cow produces milk and the chemical is transferred on. The chemicals are stored and magnified in the fat cells, increasing the amount of DDT in the organism.

Carson explains how these insecticides infect the water, either by seeping through the soil to groundwater or being washed into the runoff when it rains. The insecticides stay in the soil for decades, affecting the animals, living or dead who’s decomposition contribute to the soil itself. Carson talks about more environmentally friendly ways to keep insect populations down, through natural diseases, parasites or by introducing natural predators of the insects into the population.

Carson shows the effects of these insecticides on humans and insects. She shows examples of repeated poisoning of humans through these insecticides and explains the purpose of body cells and the negative effects the insecticides have on the cells. She links cancer, mental illness and even death to these insecticides.

Silent Spring shows a bleak future, and at times while reading it is easy to forget that this was written over 50 years ago. Even today we hear of negative effects of insecticides and genetically modified crops. Silent Spring opened the public’s eyes to the dangers of these chemicals. DDT was later banned, many citing this book as one of the main reasons as to why it gained attention from the government.

Humans started to think in long term effects of insecticides and what would happen twenty or fifty years down the line. It is this long term thinking that we need to incorporate when talking about the environment in any aspect. 

Climate Change Blows Hot and Cold

By Devin Hartmann

Here in the Northeast, the past winter seemed to have been one of the worst and longest in decades. While globally the winter was fairly average we seemed to have gotten the worst, seeing snow almost every week through January and February with snow showers up to late March. If this has been any indicator of what to expect for the following years we are in for some pretty cold winters.

On March 28, the Obama administration announced a strategy to reduce methane gas emissions.  While most of the emissions coming from the United States are from burning coal oil and natural gas in the form of carbon dioxide, methane makes up about nine percent of the greenhouse gas pollutants; it is over twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Release of the methane has recently been linked to hydraulic fracturing, with the gas leaking from drilling sites at 50 percent higher than originally thought. Within the past few years natural gas has become more popular, gaining support from the Obama administration for its reduced production of greenhouse gases. However, certain environmental groups including the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, oppose fracking, declaring that the methane released outweighs the benefits of the gas obtained from the process.

A White House official said that the Environmental Protection Agency would be looking into significant sources of methane and similar greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector starting this spring. The official added that by the fall the agency “will determine how best to pursue further methane reductions from these sources.” If the EPA decides to increase regulations it would complete them just before President Obama’s term ends in 2016.

While the United States is starting to address the methane problem, a panel was held in Yokohama, Japan addressing climate change. A report was released by the panel stating that the problem of climate change would grow worse at alarming rates unless greenhouse emissions are lowered to a more suitable level. The report and panel were held by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically evaluates climate science. Ice caps are melting, coral reefs are dying, heat waves and heavy rain are worsening, and these are just some of the conclusions the panel has made that can be linked to climate change.

Rising and more acidic oceans are effects of the absorption of carbon dioxide that has been given off by cars and power plants. Organic matter in the Arctic is starting to melt as well, which will eventually decay and add to the greenhouse gases released.

The report predicts population displacement and mass migration from the heavily affected areas. Conflict for land, useable water, and even food are all also a possibility as an indirect cause of climate change “by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.”

While this all seems like a perfect story for a disaster movie, the hard truth is that this is an actual possible outcome. As the water levels rise, coastal and island dwelling populations might have to be relocated, potentially causing overcrowding and poverty. Along with the acidic increase in the oceans that could cause migration and in some cases extinction for fish species, food sources would also start to dwindle.    

Recycling: A Sustainability Action We All Can Do

By Anthony Vigna

"Heavy Metal"  (photo: Jan Barry)

Did you know that we dump 100 million tons of garbage annually in the United States? Many of the things we use go through a very linear system, in which a product is made and then thrown out to be dumped in a landfill. In terms of world sustainability, this is incredibly dangerous to the environment and causes many pollution issues to this day.

Before we celebrated Earth Day and spread awareness about this issue, our waste problem was even worse than this and peaked at 150 million tons of garbage in a single year. That’s a lot of garbage!

However, once people became more aware about the environment, they began to understand that a linear disposal system would be extremely harmful. These people realized that they should be focusing more on a cyclical system in which a product is used and then reborn to be used again. In essence, this is exactly what recycling accomplishes. By engaging in this process, we are able to dramatically lower the amount of waste we create and maintain a more sustainable world.

It’s important to recognize the progress made since the 1980s, when recycling programs got underway, because we still have so much work to do. Just because people have recycled a lot more in the past doesn’t mean that we no longer have to worry about the process anymore. Again, we still dump 100 million tons of garbage every year in our country, so there is a ton of room for improvement.

So, if you have something that is recyclable, recycle it instead of just throwing it out. It may seem insignificant, but it helps make a huge difference.

There are a number of benefits from recycling products. For example, recycling prevents us from using up all of the world’s resources. If we reuse the same material, we can prevent this from happening. Also, using recycled material may take up less energy to make an item as opposed to using brand new materials. For instance, recycling steel would require less energy since it no longer needs to be mined, refined, and forged.

Plus, if we keep using the same material, our country will save a lot of money that would have been spent on wasting new natural resources.

So what are you waiting for? Go out and take a more proactive approach to recycling. Recycling helps us become more sustainable in a big way, and with numerous recycling spots designated around the world, there’s no excuse to ignore it.

So, please recycle and help make the world a better place to live.

For more information:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Water Conservation Vital in California

By Jesus Santos
“Water conservation is no joke in drought-ridden California” states an article by Haya El Nasser of Aljazeera America, which discusses the severe problems California is having in regards to water. The article opens with some startling facts. For instance, “Sacramento is requiring 20 to 30 percent cuts in water use. Folsom residents can’t water their lawns more than twice a week. Seventeen communities in this state could run out of water in two to three months, which might require running pipes from one area to another.”

What is so captivating about this article is that it deals with the way that this state is so overpopulated and yet they are being required to not use as much of the water facilities that they are used to normally using. The article states, “in a state in the midst of a drought so severe — on track to be the worst in 500 years — it might be tempting to scoff at emergency measures that may result in a brown lawn, shorter showers or upon-request-only water in restaurants,” which are a few of the ways that the state can control how water is being used. The rest is up to the people living there.

For instance, how much water is being used when brushing your teeth, how much water is being used when showering, and the amount of water used when planting or mowing the lawn? These are questions people  have to ask themselves daily and hope that others cooperate with them in order to help the state get through a drought. However, with higher temperatures and “by 2013, the numbers had jumped 90 percent, to 38 million” which only causes the state to be even more populated, coming up with a solution may be harder than this. However, the state is very positive about their residents, as Eileen Cross, a community relations specialist, says “It’s been extremely effective. We have a very motivated population pretty ingrained in conservation.”

In a state where water is taken for granted, people who read this article must understand the importance to conserve water now before we all become overpopulated and have to face this issue sooner or later. The residents of California have gotten accustomed to the way the state works and the rules they have to abide by, however they need to face reality and consider moving because the state has become overpopulated and the way it looks, it appears that the drought days have just begun. In a state where rain is not often seen, and fires happen because the state is so dry, these residents need to think thoroughly about their safety and the safety of their neighbors.

For further information:

Great American Cleanup Campaign


Great American Cleanup Campaign for Earth Day and Every Day

Keep America Beautiful is a website that promotes ways for Americans to contribute to making the world a better place to live. An article on the website, “Give Your Garbage Another Life On Earth Day (April 22),” is about a Hispanic organization that began in San Francisco, which focuses on items being recycled and how the world is suffering from not recycling.

The article states “the average American produces about 4.4 pounds of trash a day, which totals to more than 250 million tons of trash a year generated in the U.S.”. And that is why Hispanic channels began their own campaign that can be found at, which gives Americans ways of getting involved with recycling, nearby places to recycle, and connects people via social media on the inspiring things they have done which helps recruit people into recycling.

Ever since mainstream news found out about this, they have now created their own website called, which is the translation of the Spanish version. Along with this, Keep America Beautiful has created a campaign that launches on Earth Day and they are seeking for people across the nation to volunteer for the Great American Cleanup event. The goal for these daily activities nationwide is to bring people with the same interest and goals together to try to make a better America.

The campaign’s goals include “increasing recycling” and “events and education programs … designed to beautify parks, trails and recreation areas; clean shorelines and waterways; reduce waste; remove litter and debris; and plant trees,” all which will improve the world that we live in and will hopefully spark the next generation to be smart and active when it comes to taking care of our environment.

For more information:

-- Jesus Santos

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

World as Classroom: Greenland is Melting

By Joseph Farley
Most climate scientists have known for decades that Greenland is melting. However, the second largest ice-sheet on the planet is melting more rapidly than anyone could have anticipated. “We're seeing an acceleration of ice loss," Michael Bevis, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University and co-author of a new study on Greenland’s melting ice sheet, told USA Today. "Now, there's more ice leaving than snow arriving."

This is very dangerous, especially for global sea level rise. Between 2003 and 2012, data showed, the northeast region of Greenland’s ice sheet retreated 12.4 miles following a three-year stretch of particularly high temperatures. The melting ice dumped 10 billion tons of water into the ocean every year during that time.

Shane Smith, co-founder of Vice, recently visited Greenland for his documentary special that runs on HBO. What he witnessed shocked him, to see the sheets of ice breaking off in real time. Smith said, “People can understand the majority of the world’s cities being underwater. When you can see that happening, hundreds of tons of ice calving by the minute, then I think it gives a visual representation of what’s happening. The fact that Antarctica is following suit is terrifying.”

The scale on which it’s happening also amazed Smith, and we are six years ahead of the worst case scenario put out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC’s latest report also highlights the potential serious effects on our water, wildlife, and the sustainability of the world economy. Policy makers need to come to terms and agree that the worst is yet to come, and this should no longer be up for debate. In order to at least stall the dangerous results of climate change we need to cut our emissions in a major way. This is not what’s happening, however, as our overall emissions are going up.

Many people only believe something when they actually see it happening and the situation in Greenland is a great example of visual change. It’s not a matter of if at this point, as most climate scientists just aren’t sure of exactly when. If Greenland’s ice sheets melt away completely it’s predicted to create a sea level rise of around twenty feet, which would create devastating consequences for major cities near the coastlines and the way of life as we know it.

Hackensack Riverkeeper Hosts Earthfest at Overpeck County Park


Contact: Captain Bill Sheehan or Ms. Knight, 201-968-0808

Earthfest at Overpeck County Park on April 26

Hackensack Riverkeeper is sponsoring the first Earth Day celebration at Overpeck County Park on Saturday, April 26. The event opens at 9 am and runs until 6 pm. The park’s main entrance is at 199 Challenger Road in Ridgefield Park, NJ. Another entrance is off Ft. Lee Road in Leonia.

Earthfest Overpeck is open to all ages and will feature a recycled regatta of homemade boats, fishing derby, kayaking, recovery and rescue demonstrations, green vendors, live music, food, pharmaceutical take-back, beer garden and more. Come celebrate with us in the name of renewable energy and sustainability for a brighter future.

For further information:

-- Joseph Farley

Monday, April 21, 2014

Eric J. Fushs-Stengel: A Young Leader and Environmental Activist

By Kristen Andrada

“If there was a perfect way to do things, our problems would be fixed by now.”

Eric J. Fushs-Stengel, the executive director and founder of the Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO), reminded his audience of the difficulties of creating a sustainable world at the Expert Practitioner Series at Ramapo College on Thursday, April 10.

He said to embrace imperfection and face challenges head on. He introduced how MEVO came to be and the programs they do, but those details won’t be discussed here because MEVO has its own website that provides more detail:

Instead, this article will describe the values behind MEVO and re-iterate MEVO’s concepts on building a movement. Eric reminds everyone that every issue is interrelated, that finding the solution to one problem may relieve the difficulties of another problem. He believes that changing your values to join the environmental movement does not mean to change your shopping habits - he emphasizes that Americans need to reduce what we purchase because consumption is a root of many environmental problems. Eric supports collective action rather than the rally of “green” fairs because with collective action, people rally together to do cleans ups or plant gardens while green fairs, despite raising environmental awareness, still generate waste.

Eric provides the types of action within the environmental movement: advocacy, education, community service, politics, direct action, corporate greening, protest, and beautification. Rather than calling this an environmental movement, Eric states that these actions bring about change in society, an environmental revolution. He says that a person can choose an action and be proficient at it, because “it’s important to take action than inaction.” It is encouraged to address environmental problems in your own way and that could be expressed through many of these actions.

Activists are advised to engage with schools, government, and corporations, the “dark matter.” Eric reminds us that these institutions, this dark matter, created where we are and how we got here, to our present situation. “Insert yourself into dark matter. Agitate it.” In order for our environmental revolution to take place, we must interact with these entities and our influence will become their influence on the rest of society.

The young activist advises how environmental leaders and organizations can become successful. His first advice was to know what you can accomplish and adapt to changes. A person must be able to size up his challenges and be able to make do with the connections he or she has in order to make things happen. Second, start with no money. This actually startled a few people at first, but Eric explains that it makes it easier for an organization to start with no money because there are no restrictions and when an organization seeks to do something and asks for the cooperation with dark matter, he is certain that dark matter will provide the materials and resources you need.

His third advice was to be persistent through big wins and small victories. An example of this was his first MEVO clean up when no one else showed up, yet he still cleaned up despite he was the only person who attended the event. And now MEVO’s clean ups are as large as a hundred people in one place. Finally, his last advice was to dedicate yourself to it and others will follow.

The NJ Highlands and Political Schemes

By Kristen Andrada

Erika Van Auken, the Campaign and Grassroots Coordinator of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, came to speak at our Environmental Writing class on Thursday, April 10. She showed a documentary film on the New Jersey Highlands called “The Highlands: Rediscovered,” which explains the history of the region and why it became the source of clean drinking water for more than half of the State's population. The film explains how the ecological functions of the Highlands forests cleanse rain as it percolates into aquifers and ultimately into surface reservoirs. It also presents the challenges the Highlands region faces in retaining its important forests under pressures to develop the land.

After the documentary, Erika informed the class about the Highlands Protection and Planning Act in New Jersey. This law is important because this protects a water supply that supports 60% of New Jersey communities and this watershed only takes up a small area of New Jersey. A visual map was shown to class to indicate where the New Jersey Highlands are located and the areas that are considered to be preservation and planning. Five towns are entirely within the core preservation area, thirty six towns are within the outer planning area, and forty seven towns are found within both boundaries.

The Highlands Council represents the communities within the Highlands and governs both development and preservation in that region. Originally, the council had balance between members who are pro-development and environmentalists, such as activists in the Highlands Coalition. The council is made up of 15 residents who are from the Highlands: four of them Democrat, four of them Republican and the rest private persons who represent various entities (like schools and companies). However, over the years terms have expired and a shift in political parties disrupted this balance.

The New Jersey Governor appoints most of the members in the Highlands Council. When Governor Jon Corzine was about to leave office, he did not appoint any new members for the Highlands Council when terms ended and this gave Governor Chris Christie the chance to do so. The significance in this action, according to Van Auken, is that Christie is an anti-Highlands protection advocate and has been working to repeal the Highlands Protection and Planning Act. 

Fortunately, he does not have enough votes in the State House to take down the law. But, he used the opportunity to appoint members who are anti-protection and pro-development representatives in the Highlands Council to delay any environmental progress in the region.

I had no idea that we had a governing entity that oversees an important resource for New Jersey and I had no idea that there were people who are entirely against it and are working to abolish the law to protect the Highlands. Interestingly, the New Jersey Highlands Coalition headquarters is located on Main Street, Boonton, which is five minutes away from where I live. After the semester ends, I’m going to pay them a visit and see how I can get involved!

Earth Day at Utica Zoo


Utica Zoo Supports Earth Day

Earth Day this year is April 22, and events around the world will be held in support of the environmentally dedicated day and week. On Saturday, April 26, the Utica Zoo in Utica, New York will be holding events throughout the zoo’s hours of 10 am to 4:45 pm with major events taking place between 11 am and 3 pm.

The main events of this Earth Day celebration will include crafts and activities, animal presentations and tours, presentations and talks highlighting conservation. Some topics to be covered will include endangered species, species survival programs, animal rehabilitation, and positive pet practice.

Families can bring in used ink cartridges and cell phones to recycle to gain a 20% discount at the gift shop. The first fifty families will also receive a free pine sapling.   

The zoo will also feature local vendors and family owned farms and goods in a farmer’s market setting. Admissions as follows Child: $4.75, Adult: $7.75, Senior/Military/College student: $6.75. Further information can be found at the zoo’s website:
-- Devin Hartmann

Earth Day Rises in Africa


Earth Day in Africa and the Middle East

Earth Day 2014 is going to be a huge celebration in Africa and the Middle East. According to, many countries in the region will be celebrating such as Tunisia, Ghana, Oman, Iraq and many others. This will be one of the largest turnouts for this region in history.

For example, in Tunisia the Higher Institute of Applied Biological Sciences of Tunis is hosting the Go Greener Maya Competition. This event will work through universities by having students come up with project ideas to reduce, recycle and reuse product waste. The winners of the competition will be announced on April 22nd and they will receive an award. This competition is only one of the many environmental events taking place in the region.

For more information: 

-- Michael Seyler

NYC Green Festival: Something for Everyone


NYC Green Festival Opens April 26

The third annual Green Festival returns to New York City on April 26 and 27. The event will be taking place at Pier 94 from 10 am to 6 pm on both days. Pier 94 is at 711 12th Avenue.

The Green Festival will provide a day of eco-friendly, sustainable, healthy alternatives which the entire family can enjoy. The festival will offer 8 different stages, which will host various seminars or activities. These include the Business and Technology Stage, Good food Stage, Home and Community Stage and a main stage showcasing a variety of topics, including a fashion show. The non-seminar stages will play host to beer and wine tastings, yoga and family fun events including a variety of educational entertainment for kids.

In addition, there will be live music, local non-GMO artisanal food for purchase as well as a marketplace of over 300 exhibitors. This marketplace will express a vast array of products and services, all of which are eco-friendly, ranging from personal healthcare products to home design. 

For tickets & more information:

-- Rudy Reda

Annual Hudson River Revival Celebrates Grassroots Action with Music and Culture


2014 Clearwater Festival Opens June 21

Each year on the banks of the Hudson River, thousands of people come together at the United States’ oldest music and environmental festival, Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival. Also known as the 2014 Clearwater Festival, the event will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 21 and 22 at Croton Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Festival gates open to attendees at 9 am.

This annual gathering is produced by a nonprofit environmental organization, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. In conjunction with regional artists and activists, the organization works to provide cultural entertainment and environmental advocacy to continue Pete Seeger’s vision of the Hudson River.

In 1966, Seeger, a folk music legend and environmental activist who died in January at 94, saw the Hudson River’s once beautifully diverse ecosystem be declared “dead” from sewage and industrial wastes. Seeger decided to engage the public through music and creativity to restore the ecosystem to its natural beauty. Harnessing the aesthetic and cultural power of a 19th century replica of the grand sloops that once sailed the Hudson, he created a persistent, moving symbol of environmental education and cultural pride. To this day, Pete Seeger’s musical inspiration and the Clearwater sloop represent the flagship efforts of grassroots action to clean up and celebrate the grandeur of the Hudson River.

Those who visit the scenic festivities will enjoy seven sustainably powered stages with a variety of bluegrass and folk artists and culturally-inspired dances. There will be many themed events and exhibits to explore, such as the Handcrafter’s Village, the Green Living Expo, the Working Waterfront with small boat exhibits and rides, the Artisanal Food and Farm Market, and environmental education displays that illuminate the deeply-rooted history and cultural heritage of this festival. The event provides multiple services for mobility or hearing impaired guests with wheelchairs for use at no cost, as well as American Sign Language interpreters on main stages and by request.

Pursuing the commitment to environmental sustainability, The 2014 Clearwater Festival strives to achieve zero waste stream by composting and recycling on site and encouraging healthier consumption practices among participants. Camping and RV facilities on-site are available for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, and guests wishing to stay in local lodging can be referred to local listings. Guests are additionally able to purchase tickets to sail on the Sloop Clearwater and the Schooner Mystic Whaler. All price listings, time schedules, performances, and festival events are available on the festival website.

For more information:

-- Colin English

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mahwah Ecology Group Tackles Trash Cleanup on Stag Hill


Contact: Eric J. Fuchs-Stengel
(201) 316-4888
RSVP e-mail:
Join the Facebook group:

Stag Hill Trash Clean Up on Saturday

MAHWAH, NJ – Join MEVO (Mahwah Environmental Volunteer Organization) in the spirit of Earth Day with helping clean a local area that is subject to local dumping. This cleanup will take place on Saturday, April 19, at 189 Stag Hill Rd. in Mahwah, NJ. The event will begin at 10 am and will run until about 4 pm. 

Be prepared to sweat! It is important to wear appropriate clothing for this as you will be getting down and dirty! Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes, maybe some gloves if you prefer, and bring lots of water and snacks! The weather will be sunny with a high of 63 degrees. Get outside and enjoy the beautiful day while helping the community and the environment.

MEVO was formed in 2008 when Eric Fuchs-Stengel saw that Stag Hill was a community area where residents dumped unwanted items including hundreds of tires, furniture, mattresses, paints, toxic chemicals, and basically any unwanted substance or object that people just want to get rid of, and he knew he wanted to make a difference. By forming this organization, MEVO has made a major impact on the quality of Stag Hill.  The organization has grown over the years and has been active  throughout the community. 

Great things are coming from MEVO including an acre and a half area of land in Fairlawn, NJ that will be turned into their own community garden. This will provide the community with hands on farming experience, residents with locally grown food, as well as  education opportunities to those of all ages. MEVO bases their work on the idea that we need to “pop the suburban bubble” and provide opportunity to a wide variety of citizens.

--Brianne Bishop

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rachel Carson's Warning Was No Fairy Tale

By Jesus Santos

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is a great book that deals with what has happened to the United States to silence the spring season and how it was basically brought upon by human activities. The first chapter dealt with the author making the world seem like a perfect place; abundance of flowers and trees, then fruits and harvests from those trees.

The animals roamed around having a lot to eat and the world was a happier place, then everything became dangerous. The crops went bad, the people who went near the crops got sick or died and suddenly the United States took a turn for the worst. In my opinion the author tried to convey a satire through this story by saying that the world was a better place before chemical poisons.

This book also deals with the scientific history and background of chemical poisons and what started out as a fantasy story becomes very real, and by using numbers and scientific formulas the audience no longer see this book as a fairy tale, but as how the world may be if we continue to not take care of it.

The chapter “The Human Price” should be the chapter that readers look close at because it describes these poisons as being the new environmental hazards when decades before the major concerns were diseases or infections; now we have to worry about the chemicals in the air and throughout the environment. Also, the rise in cancer in the 20th century, which Carson described as having to do with the consumption of what is around us. Therefore, if people pay close attention to their environment they would better understand the reason for their sickness.

While this book was written in the early 1960’s, I think Carson would be happy to know that a lot of what she wrote about is actually happening. “Happy,” signifying that she was correct. For example, with the amount of deforestation that we face today could be described as the seasons going bad as she described in her book. Not long after the book was written, there was the issue of Agent Orange, a chemical poison sprayed on forests and other plants that caused people to get sick, much like how Carson’s book states.

And last, but not least, the eagles and other birds she described in chapter 8 as being in danger of becoming extinct is something that this generation is used to hearing since many birds and even polar bears seem to face a future of possibly being extinct soon. In the Twentieth Century it must have been hard to try making this point to a society that has not been informed much about environmental hazards. Therefore, what this book accomplishes is a foreshadowing of what can happen if we do not live our lives cautiously and try to take care of it for the next generation.

World as Classroom: Trashing Dogs in the Dominican Republic

By Jesus Santos

While serving with the Dominican Republic Alternative Spring Break team, my fellow volunteers as well as myself noticed how the country, even though covered with beauty, has a lot of improvements to do. The country is very poor and it is not shocking when we found children without shoes because of the bad economy, dogs without homes, and garbage at almost every square foot of the road.

(photo: Jesus Santos)
Every day on our commute to the school where we were volunteering, we saw the same dog under the same bench. Since the weather is so hot the dogs tried to lay in the shade so they can avoid the heat. This dog sometimes came out from under the bench and tried to find something to eat. Constantly, we saw dogs roaming around the streets, and a lot of them seemed to not have a home or food, therefore they tried to find it themselves.

The environmental issue in this country in regards to animals is that “every year stray animals are poisoned in communities, at hotel grounds and at beaches of the Dominican Republic (as well as on other Caribbean islands) because one believes that they may disturb the tourists,” stated a petition on“No more poisoned dogs at hotels and beaches of the Dominican Republic.”

However, what the country is concerned with is not the environmental factor of stray dogs, it is how much money tourists can bring to the Dominican Republic. By having a large tourist season it opens jobs for Dominicans, which sadly only lasts for a couple of months and the unemployment rates rise again.

What this country struggles to do is to be firm with a law that they have in regards to animal safety. While Trujillo was dictator, his “main concern was to elevate Dominican society to the standard of developed nations. The law carries a maximum 30 days imprisonment for offenders and 60 days if the offender is the animal’s owner or has committed a similar offense in the past. According to Mr. Polanco, the law has never really been applied in its entire 60-year history,” stated Idelisa Bonnelly de Calventi in her article “Animal Rights in the Dominican Republic.”

This article explained how Trujillo tried implementing a law and the law was not carried over, until one person was imprisoned because of it. However, this law does not protect those animals that are homeless, which is why hotels think it is acceptable to poison those animals.

What this potentially can lead to is to have the population of animals in only one place of the Dominican Republic and if they are not in one place they will start going extinct little by little. Also, these animals are threatened with the economy being so low that they do not have homes of their own, which ultimately can lead to diseases, hunger, thirst, and death.

A solution I propose to this problem is similar to how I volunteer with the DREAM project, an organization where children who are not financially able to go to school can still get an education; maybe an organization should be formed in regards to an animal shelter. If these animals can be rescued based on donations from advertisements to feed them, they would not roam around the hotel areas as much.

(photo: Jesus Santos)
Aside from this environmental issue I have also done research on how the country has poor recycling. You can see the littering that occurs throughout the streets and even in the grass. Since the streets are so narrow, garbage companies have a hard time picking up the trash.

However, the battle with recycling is a tricky one in Dominican Republic, because it benefits them as well. An article written by Erin Taylor states “Low wages and high unemployment rates in many South American countries have compelled many poor people to work as ‘garbage pickers’. These are people who go through municipal garbage to find anything that might be resold. Bottles, cardboard, and metal are the main items collected.” This article focuses on South American countries, but it also includes the Caribbean and states that “to Caribbean musicians inventing styles based on reworked oil drums” as an example to find useful materials out of someone else’s garbage.

A solution I propose to this environmental issue is to have people who usually volunteer experience these harsh living conditions and take it with them to their privileged countries. In doing this, they can spread awareness and a resource on how to help the environment. Since they realize that it is so hard to live in these countries and how people make everything out of nothing they can be more grateful to what they have in their home countries and prevent them from littering or at least help spread awareness on it. Little by little, we can make a change in our environment and ultimately help them.

For more information:

Silent Spring: An Alarming Awakening

By Kristen Andrada

Silent Spring is said to be the cause of the American environmental movement in the 1970’s because it asked the American people “Do you realize that life around you is dying?” In the scientific world, people were alarmed about the impacts of toxic chemicals that were carelessly used to kill pests without a thought of how those chemicals would affect their bodies and the environment around them.

Rachel Carson describes how it came to be when “Our attitudes toward poisons have undergone a subtle change. Once they were kept in containers marked with skull and crossbones; the infrequent occasions of their use were marked with utmost care that they should come in contact with the target and with nothing else. With the development of new organic insecticides and the abundance of surplus planes after the Second World War, all this was forgotten.” 

What I absolutely love about Carson’s writing is that she puts this (at the time) new scientific concept into language that everyone could understand. When she mentions a chemical that most people have heard of but didn’t really understand its impacts, she illustrates the body parts the chemical attacks and describes what it could do to the human body.

For example, she describes the physiological effect and symptoms of DDD: “it destroys part of the adrenal gland - the cells of the outer layer known as the adrenal cortex, which secretes the hormone cortin. DDD produced in dogs a condition very similar to that occurring in man in the presence of Addison’s disease.” In this passage, she describes what the adrenal gland is and its normal function in the human body for readers who are unfamiliar with anatomy (such as myself). Even though there was no direct case, no such person who became diagnosed with Addison’s disease after DDD exposure, Carson then makes that connection implying that may be a future case.

In addition to putting the issue into a broad language that wide audiences could understand, Carson also provides examples throughout Silent Spring so her readers can have a sense of that reality. Each chapter becomes a reason for understanding why pesticides are toxic to the environment and human health.

I think the chapter that best describes the relationship between all life on earth is “Earth’s Green Mantle,” when the chapter describes how spraying sage bush, an unwanted plant species in the west, caused an imbalance in the food cycle and affected other non-target species. Wildlife such as antelope, deer and even domesticated animals like cow and sheep fed on sage grass. Ironic how the people who didn’t want the sage bush there were farmers who wanted to make room by destroying the sage bush. The spraying also eliminated non-target species like willows which the moose and beaver feed on. In a chain reaction, the beaver couldn’t build dams to back up lakes and rivers, the trout were struggling to reproduce in lower waters, and birds that would have been attracted to these temporary lakes were forced to travel farther for migration.

Reading Silent Spring reminds us that our actions have consequence and we must think twice before we decide to treat something. We must ask, “Is spraying a living thing that seems undesirable really the only way to treat the problem?” I feel that most of the time, it really isn’t necessary to kill a species for us to live more comfortably. Does chemical warfare on other living things justify the “superior” human race to eradicate a population in the first place?

USA Should Go for Renewable Energy like Germany

By Anthony Vigna

In the United States, environmental advocates constantly fight about the use of energy. Often, those that oppose actions toward renewable resources speak as if a world run on wind, solar, or water energy is too utopian to ever become reality. However, the utopian society that critics think would never happen is already in the process of being created outside of the United States, as Germany projects that 80% of its energy will be renewable in 2050.

Germany’s progress with solar panels in the past couple of years strongly backs that goal up. In July 2013, Germany generated 5.1 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity solely from solar panels, a new record for a country that set their previous record of 5.0 TWh with wind turbines that January.

This is impressive for a number of reasons. Germany is a country that generally gets little sunlight since it’s generally cloudy in that area, yet it still generated a ton of electricity with its solar panels and even holds the world record for energy generated with them. Secondly, utilizing wind energy helped set their previous record. That shows that they used two different renewable sources of energy that both worked exceedingly well.

The most important piece of information to draw from this record is that it will be surpassed once again in the future. This kind of initiative will help Germany reach its alternative energy goal to be effective in sustaining the environment. This proves that alternative energy sources work and should be utilized all around the world; so its mind boggling to me that other countries are behind the times.

According to an article in ThinkProgress, “America’s own German-style solar boom may be just around the corner. Residential solar installations in 2012 reached 488 megawatts — a 62 percent increase over 2011 installations. Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently told Greentech Media that solar is growing so quickly, ‘it could double every two years.’ He continued that other renewable sources will supplement solar, ‘but at its present growth rate, solar will overtake wind in about ten years. It is going to be the dominant player. Everybody’s roof is out there.’”

People often say that solar power would never work, but it clearly works in cloudy Germany. If it works there, imagine what kind of energy the United States would be generating if they were widely adopted here, considering that we have exponentially more sunlight. Solar panels would be efficient in every way possible. In this regard, I want the United States to become more like Germany. They have proved that it is possible to create a utopian society with renewable energy, so it’s our turn to follow in their footsteps and head toward a sustainable future.

For more information:

Agent Orange Toxic Legacy Still Expanding

By Rudy Reda

Agent Orange was a deadly mixture of two dangerous herbicides known as 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T that was used by American forces during the Vietnam war. For many years millions of people in Vietnam were exposed to this deadly mixture, friendly and foe; but it was not only in Vietnam that people were being exposed. Here at home, so were many Americans. 

Companies like Dow Chemical, Monsanto and Diamond Alkali were producing vast amounts of this chemical concoction at various factories around the country. These factories contaminated the areas around them, as well as locations downstream from their toxic release into rivers such as the Passaic River in New Jersey.

Although today the U.S provides medical claims for veterans who have been affected by Agent Orange, the government still dispute many claims of expose purely based on location. According to the government, the key locations for Agent Orange exposure were in Vietnam, ships in the ocean off the coast of Vietnam as well as ships conducting operations nearby, the Korean demilitarized zone, Thailand military bases, test and storage facilities all over the globe including within the U.S, and lastly airplanes which were used in Vietnam that may still have chemical residue in post-war conditions.  If a person did not reside at one of these locations during the peak of Agent Orange use, the government is most likely going to argue that ailments have not been caused by Agent Orange exposure.

This lack of acceptance that there has been Agent Orange use elsewhere is causing significant amount of suffering for others who have been legitimately exposed to the deadly chemicals.  One such example of this situation is with members of the Maine Army National Guard who had been sent for training in Canada. These American soldiers report that there has been the use of Agent Orange at the base in they resided at and that this usage is the cause of their illnesses, yet the American government will not accept that idea.  The current governor of Maine recently signed a bill into law which calls on the federal government to investigate the situation so that these American veterans can receive disability aid for their exposure, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Today one half of this dangerous chemical, 2,4,5-T, is banned. While the other, 2,4-D, is in fact very much still in use around the United States. Even without its other half, 2,4-D is an extremely toxic and dangerous chemical. Despite this fact, the chemical companies which produced Agent Orange still wish to see an increase in the use of 2,4-D today but not on the battlefield, but on our food.  With the growing use of genetically modified crops throughout this country there is a push to approve the use of 2,4-D resistant crops. The impact of this could be detrimental to not just Vietnam veterans but all Americans alike. This chemical has a high ability to leach out of the soil in which is sprayed on and into the groundwater where it can spread.

The use of Agent Orange is not a shining chapter in American history, yet it is one in which we fail to close the book on.  Despite the years that have passed, we have yet to fully repay our debt to those who we have caused illness upon and have even taken an attempt to increase partial use on food despite knowing the risks involved. All that we need to do is look to the past and see the suffering that those who have been affected now face and realize that as a whole, our country has some serious work to be done to correct our errors in history. 

For more information:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Great Kills Park Radiation Cleanup Planning Underway

By Brianne Bishop

Great Kills Park on Staten Island is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. This area includes Sandy Hook, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refugee, Jacob Riis Park, Frank Charles Park, Hamilton Beach, Floyd Bennett Field, Canarsie Pier, Great Kills Park, Fort Wadsworth, and Miller Field.  The recreation area consists of many sections of land, separated by the Atlantic Ocean, spread around New York City and New Jersey.

Contamination at Great Kills Park was discovered in 2005 when a police flyover picked up radiation signals. Initial investigation proved that the land contained radium waste. A small piece of land was fenced off from the public for safety precautions. Much of the land that makes up Great Kills Park was the site of a landfill in the 1940s and 1950s. This landfill contained medical and sanitary waste, so it was no surprise that there was some type of contamination.

Initially, the radium was thought to consume a small area. Further investigations using a gamma survey showed otherwise. The process was nearly complete when Hurricane Sandy hit. The storm impacted a large portion of Gateway National Recreation Area and greatly delayed the survey process. The completion of the survey this year shows that the contamination is much worse than thought. The National Park Service is working with the EPA and United States Army Corps of Engineers to further investigate and test the area for more radioactive hot spots.

Out of 488 acres of parkland, 266 acres are now fenced off because they believe these areas are affected by contamination. According to the National Park Service website, the cleanup will be following CERCLA or Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as the “Superfund” law. This law states that the owners of the land must take responsibility in taking action to cleanup the site, enforce against the responsible parties, ensure community involvement, and ensure long-term results.

On-going investigations have been conducted on who is responsible for this contamination. “The National Park Service recently identified the source of at least some of the radioactive contamination: discarded radium needles that had been inserted into cancerous tumors,” the New York Times reported last fall. The park service is going to complete further investigation as well as draw up a plan of action for de-contamination.

Projected completion of the project is 10 years, due to the lengthy process and protocol that must be followed in ensuring the process is done thoroughly.

Residents who live around the area have increasing concerns about the growing radioactive activity. The nearby community is primarily made up of Russian-born citizens whom have strong memories of Chernobyl. The National Park Service has been receiving many concerned phone calls regarding the contamination and if it will put the surrounding community in danger. In order to tend to the needs of the people, the park service plans to involve the community with the cleanup as much as possible and allow them to have their voices heard. There will be a public meeting on May 15th to discuss cleanup plans.

For more information:

Ramapo College Earth Week Events

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kristen Andrada

A Compilation of News Releases for Ramapo College’s Earth Day Activities

Bee Demonstrations
From Monday, April 21st to Friday, April 25th
Every day from 12:00 pm-1:00 pm
Sharp Sustainability Education Center

During the week of Earth Day, the members of the Ramapo College Beekeeping Club (RCBC) will be giving bee demonstrations, which are open to all members of Ramapo College.
Click on the following link to make a reservation:

Those who cannot create or don’t have an OrgSync account, email to make arrangements. Reminders and additional information (hive visit guidelines and safety tips) will be sent to those who sign up via OrgSync/email.

There is a limit of 10 guests at the hive each day and a person cannot sign up for more than one demonstration. Reservations are required and the club will ask those who did not sign up to leave the hive area for their safety.

For more information on RCBC:
For contact information, email
RCBC poster for the event:  

Asian Pacific Islander Keynote Speaker - Jea Sophia Oh
Tuesday, April 22nd
1:00 pm-2:00 pm

As part of Asian Pacific Islander (API) Month, the API committee has invited Jea Sophia Oh, the author of “A Postcolonial Theology of Life: Planarity East and West,” to speak in the Pavillion at Ramapo College of New Jersey from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm for Earth Day. Oh is also Professor of Asian Philosophies at City University of New York Brooklyn College. Her research areas are constructive theology, eco-theology, post-colonialism, women's and gender studies, and comparative theologies and religions. She will give a lecture on "Delivering Peace Out of the Broken Womb: A Postcolonial Inter-religious Perspective.” This lecture is free and open to the public and it provides a unique opportunity to learn about the environmental philosophy of East Asia.

For contact information about the event, email Seon Mi Kim, the Assistant Professor of Social Work at Ramapo College, at

Urban Planning Earth Day Celebration with SWAG (South Ward Agricultural Garden Project)
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
2:00 pm-6:00 pm
343 Meeker Ave, Newark, New Jersey

SWAG is an Urban Farm, Food Justice and Community Building project in the South Ward of Newark. Their main goal is for people to gain exposure to SWAG and to learn something about food, fitness, environment or their community.

This year SWAG will have Earth Day in conjunction with Peshine School but the event also open to rest of South Ward. SWAG will feature dance classes, many activities for kids, information on the farm, dietary health, and a healthy foods potluck with samples for people. 1Step is sponsoring this event at Ramapo College of New Jersey so students are offered the opportunity to work with SWAG on Earth Day. Students will have a chance to learn more about the field of urban planning and instruction on sustainable gardening and farming.

Volunteers will participate by helping set up, station at tables in the garden/farm, break down stations, and clean up. Students will work directly with children from adjacent schools.

A bus will depart from the Bradley Center on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm to arrive at 343 Meeker Ave., Newark, NJ by 2:45 pm. The bus will leave promptly at 7:00 pm.

Students must get their free tickets from Roadrunner Central in order to go on the trip.

For contact information, email Dayvonn Jones, the President of 1Step, at or Angel Williams, the event coordinator, at
For more information on SWAG Project:  

Foraging for Edible and Medicinal Plants
Wednesday April 23, 2014
Sharp Sustainability Education Center

The Master’s Program for Sustainability Studies along with other co-sponsors 1-Step and Sigma XI are presenting speaker “Wildman” Steve Brill at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

Steve Brill is an environmental educator and has been doing foraging tours for almost 32 years! His first public tour was done on April 24, 1982 in Central Park. At Ramapo College’s Sharp Sustainability Center, Brill will take faculty and students out onto Ramapo campus and find edible wild plants. Click on the following link to register for free: Ramapo College Foraging for Edible and Medicinal Plants Eventbrite Event. Upon registering for the event, participants may also donate money for Brill’s efforts.

After Earth Day, his next tour will be on April 26, 2014 again in Central Park. To sign up for this tour, call (914)-835-2153 at least 24 hours in advance. For more information on the tour (including where to meet in Central park and expected plants to forage), click on the following link: Steve Brill's April 26 Central Park Tour

For more information on Steve Brill and his work:
For contact information on the Ramapo event, email Ashwani Vasisth at

Master of Arts in Sustainability Studies (MASS) Capstone Presentations
Thursday, April 24, 2014
6:00-9:00 pm
Friends Hall (Student Center, Room 219)

As part of this Spring’s Expert Practitioner Series, the students of MASS will present their capstone projects that they have been developing over the two years of the program. The Sustainability Program has hosted the Expert Practitioner Series for three years at the start of each Spring semester. This year, the program has invited speakers from diverse backgrounds from the locality of Ramapo College to small islands of Maldives, the lands of Russia, and the deep jungles of the Amazon. The series of presentations is free and opened to the public.

For more information, visit
For contact information, email Michael Edelstein, Professor of Environmental Psychology, Programs in Environmental and Sustainability Studies, at