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Archive for the ‘social movements’ Category

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More on building better nutrition through the active engagement of kids

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Sarah Henry has a nice article in the Atlantic that follows up on my post earlier this week about failure of the American diet and why people just don’t seem to eat enough healthy food.

I argued that it’s no surprise people don’t eat well despite (1) decades worth of top-down, government nutrition campaigns and (2) the increased availability of affordable, healthy food through venues like farmer’s markets.  Rather, nutrition literacy should be complimented by bottom-up approaches, including active engagement of people learning how to grow and cook healthy food, starting with elementary school kids.

Henry’s piece provides evidence supporting these kinds of approaches, building on the successful work of Alice Waters:

Finally, some scientific support for what those of us who have watched kids pick spinach, cook kale, and chew on chard have known all along: Children who grow their own food (and prepare and eat it too) make healthier food choices.

For the past five years I’ve been a volunteer in the kitchen at the Edible Schoolyard, the much-admired organic garden and kitchen program founded by Alice Waters at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California. I’ve also taught afterschool cooking classes to elementary-age kids (and their parents) in Berkeley public schools.

Over the years I’ve witnessed many wonderful things take place in cooking classrooms and out in the field when children are exposed to an edible education. A child discovers kiwi fruit. A student asks for sprouts at the farmers’ market. Leafy greens are dished up and chowed down with gusto.

But until now, school cooking and gardening advocates haven’t had hard data to back up this soft science. A report released today reveals a victory for the vegetables (particularly those of the leafy green variety). “We realized we needed to present numbers and facts to support what is so clear to us from our experience working in the Edible Schoolyard and through the transformation of school lunch in Berkeley,” Waters says. “We knew validation of the work was important in order to reach a wider public. This is one of our first steps in reaching new audiences—particularly the scientific and academic community—and of course we hope it has implications for public policy.”

…Among the key findings of the research, which was commissioned by the Chez Panisse Foundation and is one of the first such studies to evaluate an integrated approach to food education:

(more…)

Posted in behavior, food and agriculture, health, K-12, social movements | 1 Comment »

American environmentalism: Distinct flavors, porous borders, and effective action

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

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Earth First.  Greenpeace.  Sierra Club.  Apollo Alliance.  The Nature Conservancy.  The Wilderness Society.  National Resources Defense Council.  Sustainable South Bronx.  350.org— Organizations that share a common interest in the environment but with fundamental philosophical differences.

In an earlier post, Can’t we all just get along?, we looked at a paper by Clare Saunders, who suggested that social movements like environmentalism are comprised of many different organizations, each fostering a collective identity that is often incompatible with other organizations in the same movement.  Ordinarily, we think of the overall movement goals as having a binding effect among these subgroups.  Apparently not.  Her work suggested that people form identities with other individuals cut from the same ideological cloth rather than the identity of the social movement itself.

In a recent issue1,2 of Organization and Environment, Debra Salazar designed a study that lets us look at this problem in more detail.  Specifically, to what extent are environmentalists identifying with different flavors of environmentalism, and to what extent are beliefs shared across individuals?   Where disputes arise, what’s driving them? How can coalitions be built, and why might certain groups be better positioned to lead, given the circumstances of particular environmental problems?

Here’s how she approached this challenge and what she found…

(more…)

Posted in environmentalism, nature and culture, race and class, social movements | 1 Comment »

Bono: The idea of America

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

538829461_434f4e9f0dIn Bono’s latest column in the NY Times, he argues that it’s time for the U.S. to take the lead in dealing with what he calls “the three extremes — poverty, ideology and climate” beginning to come together.

Excerpts:

In dangerous, clangorous times, the idea of America rings like a bell (see King, M. L., Jr., and Dylan, Bob). It hits a high note and sustains it without wearing on your nerves. (If only we all could.) This was the melody line of the Marshall Plan and it’s resonating again. Why? Because the world sees that America might just hold the keys to solving the three greatest threats we face on this planet: extreme poverty, extreme ideology and extreme climate change. The world senses that America, with renewed global support, might be better placed to defeat this axis of extremism with a new model of foreign policy…

Americans are like singers — we just a little bit, kind of like to be loved. The British want to be admired; the Russians, feared; the French, envied. (The Irish, we just want to be listened to.) But the idea of America, from the very start, was supposed to be contagious enough to sweep up and enthrall the world.

And it is. The world wants to believe in America again because the world needs to believe in America again. We need your ideas — your idea — at a time when the rest of the world is running out of them.

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/u2005/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Posted in nature and culture, policy, social movements, sustainable development | No Comments »

No Impact Man: Finding the middle ground

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Colin Beavan is probably better known these days by his blog alias, “No Impact Man.”  For the last year, he and his family have undertaken an experiment to live as low impact as possible in New York City.

MSNBC is running a story on the family’s reflection on the past year, highlighting the lifestyle changes they will sustain and the behaviors and consumption to which they will return.  It’s one family’s take on striving for middle ground between the status quo and radical lifestyle alteration.

And in case you missed it, Beavan challenged Stephen Colbert to go no impact.

Update (10/22): Elizabeth Kolbert critically analyzes Beavan’s approach in The New Yorker: Green Like Me: Living without a fridge and other experiments in environmentalism.

(more…)

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Posted in behavior, environmentalism, nature and culture, social movements, sustainability | No Comments »

Can’t we all just get along?

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

If you’re an environmentalist, the answer is apparently “no” and for an interesting reason suggested in a recent paper1,2 by Clare Saunders in the British Journal of Sociology (subscription required).

She suggests that the social movements like environmentalism are comprised of many different organizations, each fostering a collective identity that is often incompatible with other organizations in the same movement.  Ordinarily, we think of the overall movement goals as having a binding effect among these subgroups.  Apparently not.  People are forming identities with other individuals cut from the same ideological cloth rather than the identity of the social movement itself.

This may not be surprising given the radically different approaches of groups like Earth First, Sierra Club, the Apollo Alliance, 350.org, and Shellenberger and Nordhaus.  It’s also apparent with all of the lines drawn in the sand regarding

  • cap and trade vs. carbon tax and dividend (make carbon expensive)
  • either of the above approaches vs. subsidizing and making renewable energy cheap (Shellenberger and Nordhaus)
  • strict and immediate reduction (350.org) vs. slower emissions reduction trajectories

The bad news is that this kind of animosity can be paralyzing to the social movement, leading to little being accomplished, especially when polarizing debate turns off the public.

(more…)

Posted in behavior, environmentalism, social movements, social science | 2 Comments »

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