Video from CHN Fourm: “Questions for a Resilient Future”

This is a video of a panel discussion addressing “Questions for a Resilient Future” at the Spertus Institute in Chicago this past February (2014), an event co-sponsored by the Center for Humans and Nature and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.


Posted in cities, conferences, ecology, ethics, events, humanities, presentations | Leave a comment

Social Media for Small Projects (like Microcosm)

by Jordan Ewbank

You have a small project and want to help get the word out about it. So, why bother with social media? Connecting with people in the days of utter interconnectivity that we are living in is the first and arguably fasted way to get your name out into the world. By connecting with peers and people with similar interests, you are able to gauge everything from the desirability of your program to seeking help for funding through programs like Kickstarter. Social media can help gather attention for your events and fundraisers, and helps to secure loyalty for your project. Ultimately, social media is a form of advertising, but unlike traditional billboards and newspapers it allows you to build your own community and connect with it more effectively.

While many in the current generation of students consider social media a necessity for personal interactions, professional social media is often overlooked as a part of corporate culture and advertising. While this is not necessarily true across the board, what is frequently overlooked is the ability for social media to create a strong online presence for small projects that may not otherwise have large funding. This is particularly true for sustainability projects that tend to form tight-knit followings of people who are willing to help spread the word about the projects. In the case of Microcosm, the documentary film project by Roosevelt SUST adjunct professor Michele Hoffman Trotter, one well-connected person inviting her friends on Facebook to like our page has turned into a 50% increase in the number of likes in less than two weeks.


Image of microscopic plankton from the Microcosm film project (M. Hoffman Trotter)

Social media is not at odds with small projects, as shown by the CTA Jackson stop Red/Blue line performers, Mark and Adrian Duet, who have garnered over 1,300 likes by simply putting out a sign with their Facebook handle when they play. Their example shows that while no money is necessary to gain popularity via social media, it pays to have a plan in place even when this plan is as simple as a handwritten sign. Using social media to market yourself allows you to inform your readers of the big things like events and shows, all the way down to little things like new or exciting things happening in the office.

The key to social media is persistence. It can be a frustrating experience where you seem to be only throwing your words at a wall to see what sticks. At the same time, it can be an exciting thing to wake up one morning and discovered you have doubled your followers overnight. Be it text-based like Twitter and Facebook, image-focused like Instagram or Tumblr, or video-centric like Youtube and Vine, the important thing is finding something that works for you and sticking with it. It’s no fun for you or your followers if you are making tweets and hate the restriction of the characters or to try and make a Youtube channel if you’re uncomfortable in front of a camera.

Lastly, it never hurts to experiment and play. Writing and reading the same format over and over is boring for everyone. The most successful social media plans involve some form of spontaneity and entertainment value for your followers. By trying new styles and new formats, you find out what better fits you and your peers. After all, you never know what will capture someone’s attention until you try it out. So, what are you waiting for? Go explore, and most importantly have fun with what you do!

Jordan Ewbank is currently an undergraduate majoring in Sustainability Studies at Roosevelt University and the social media manager for the forthcoming film documentary on marine biodiversity and conservation, Microcosm.

Posted in arts, biodiversity, education, internships, Roosevelt, students | Leave a comment

Chicago Network of Sustainability in Higher Education announces first Bike2Campus Week

The Chicago Network of Sustainability in Higher Education (CNSHE) will host its first Chicagoland Bike2Campus Week April 21-25.

Bike and ManThe Chicagoland Network for Sustainability in Higher Education (CNSHE) is a network of higher education institutions working to advance sustainability and accelerate climate action. CNSHE does such by working with students, staff and faculty to share best practices and by collaborating to achieve institutional and common goals which benefit the region and society at-large.   As a result of collaboration CNSHE will launch the initiative Bike2Campus which will focus on engaging students.

Bike2Campus is a five-day alternative transit challenge to get Chicagoland university and college students on their bicycles. The event encourages students to reduce emissions, practice healthy lifestyles, and learn about bike safety issues.

Much like other commuter challenges, this event is geared towards educating college-level students on cycling as a safe mode of transit. Bike2Campus is part challenge, part competition. It will allow students to track their trips to and from campus while the supporting institutions will track their students’ trips through an online survey and social media platforms. At the end of the week, the school with the highest percentage of participation for their institution will be selected as winners. Prizes will be awarded, with a grand prize of a 4-year DIVVY membership and a feature photo of the winner on Divvy’s website.

Bike and GirlStudents can also participate via social media in two ways: by taking a photo of themselves on or with their bicycles and tagging #bike2campus, AND/OR taking the Illinois Bicycle safety quiz and posting their certificate,, students will be eligible to win prizes.

Throughout the week, each campus will plan safe, fun and engaging events around the city. Students can find these campus-centric events listed on our website as Bike2Campus approaches. The week will end with Chicago Critical Mass, a ride that takes cyclists through downtown Chicago on the last Friday of each month.

Participating CNSHE institutions include Roosevelt University, the City Colleges of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, Dominican University, Northwestern University, Illinois Institute of Technology and the School of the Art Institute Chicago.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This program has received generous support from sponsors DIVVY Bikes, Chipotle, and the Chicago Department of Transportation. For more information visit

Photo credit: The above images are from “A Visitor’s Guide to Biking in Chicago,” by John Greenfield (7 Sept 2011)

Posted in activities, biking, education, events, Roosevelt, students, transportation | 1 Comment

Today Is Environmental Lobby Day in Springfield IL; Advocate for Environmental Progress Online

Jen Walling of the IL Env Council appears on the Mike Nowak Show in Chicago

Jen Walling of the IL Env Council appears on the Mike Nowak Show in Chicago

A message from Jen Walling, Executive Director of the IL Environmental Council:

It’s Environmental Lobby Day here in Springfield and our nearly 200 environmental advocates are about to head over to the Capitol.  Last night, we had 70 people for our training and reception and the rest will get to Springfield later this morning.  I’m excited by all these amazing people who have joined us and I hope you’ll take a moment to support their work by contacting legislators about the issues on our agenda.

Fix the RPS! Our renewable energy portfolio standards which require 25% renewables by 2025 need a fix.  Unfortunately, the 2007 statute doesn’t work well in today’s energy market and a fix is neededto ensure a stable market for Illinois renewable energy developers. Take action to fix the RPS.

End Coal-Only Education for Kids.  Our state runs a coal only education program for kids.  An evaluation paid for by DCEO found that this program is outdated and contains inaccurate information about energy and the environment.  Further, it’s the only energy source out of the many in the state and we need to make sure our kids are well informed enough to think critically about all energyThis program is not a good use of taxpayer dollar and we’d like to see it removed. Take action to ask your legislator to end this program here.

Protect Cougars, Bears, Wolves, and Bobcats. SB3049 adds cougars, bears, and wolves to the protected species list.  This bill makes it illegal to shoot these animals without cause.  HB4226 allows bobcat hunting in Illinois.  Populations of these animals have recovered significantly, but not all over the state.  Let’s not risk their further recovery. Take action here to ask your legislator to vote against bobcat hunting.

Ban fracking on public lands. SB3424 would ban all oil and gas drilling (fracking included) on or under state and federal natural areas.  This an important and common sense bill that needs to be passed before fracking regulations are complete.  Action alert coming soon!

Protect all Illinois communities from pet coke. Petroleum coke, or “petcoke”  is a waste product of tar sands oil refining—that is increasingly being refined in the Midwest—and blowing through communities across the state. Chicago is cracking down on the petcoke and coal storage problem on the southeast side with lawsuits by the state, regulations, and a proposed ordinance to restrict bulk petcoke and coal operations [though this legislation has some important loopholes, as noted by the Tribune's Michael Hawthorne earlier this week]. It is important that the state act swiftly in passing HB 5939 to protect communities so no person has to contend with petcoke or coal dust coating their neighborhood.  Action alert coming soon!

Please take action on as many of these bills as possible by using the links to e-mail or call your legislators in support of our 200 citizen lobbyists.  This is one of the days where we make the biggest gains on environmental issues and I’ll hope you’ll be a part of it.

Jen Walling
Executive Director, Illinois Environmental Council

Posted in conservation, Illinois, policy, social justice

IPCC Report Stresses Impacts of Climate Change

From the 31 March 2014 edition of the New York Times by reporter Justin Gillis: important news from the International Panel on Climate Change about the serious impacts of global warming and rising GHG levels on the earth’s climate, natural communities, and human economic and social systems.

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported on Monday, and they warned that the problem was likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.

The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth, the report found.

Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting, allowing it to decay into greenhouse gases that will cause further warming, the scientists said. And the worst is yet to come, the scientists said in the second of three reports that are expected to carry considerable weight next year as nations try to agree on a new global climate treaty.

Play Video


Credit Christopher Jue/European Pressphoto Agency. Rajendra K. Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Christopher Field, the co-chairman of the group that wrote the report, discuss its warning.

In particular, the report emphasized that the world’s food supply is at considerable risk — a threat that could have serious consequences for the poorest nations.

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernmental panel, said at a news conference here on Monday presenting the report.

The report was among the most sobering yet issued by the scientific panel. The group, along with Al Gore, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its efforts to clarify the risks of climate change. The report is the final work of several hundred authors; details from the drafts of this and of the last report in the series, which will be released in Berlin in April, leaked in the last few months.

The report attempts to project how the effects will alter human society in coming decades. While the impact of global warming may actually be moderated by factors like economic or technological change, the report found, the disruptions are nonetheless likely to be profound. That will be especially so if emissions are allowed to continue at a runaway pace, the report said.

It cited the risk of death or injury on a wide scale, probable damage to public health, displacement of people and potential mass migrations.

“Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger,” the report declared.

The report also cited the possibility of violent conflict over land, water or other resources, to which climate change might contribute indirectly “by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.”

The scientists emphasized that climate change is not just a problem of the distant future, but is happening now.

Studies have found that parts of the Mediterranean region are drying out because of climate change, and some experts believe that droughts there have contributed to political destabilization in the Middle East and North Africa.

In much of the American West, mountain snowpack is declining, threatening water supplies for the region, the scientists said in the report. And the snow that does fall is melting earlier in the year, which means there is less melt water to ease the parched summers. In Alaska, the collapse of sea ice is allowing huge waves to strike the coast, causing erosion so rapid that it is already forcing entire communities to relocate.

“Now we are at the point where there is so much information, so much evidence, that we can no longer plead ignorance,” Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, said at the news conference.

The report was quickly welcomed in Washington, where President Obama is trying to use his executive power under the Clean Air Act and other laws to impose significant new limits on the country’s greenhouse emissions. He faces determined opposition in Congress.

“There are those who say we can’t afford to act,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. “But waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic.”

Amid all the risks the experts cited, they did find a bright spot. Since the intergovernmental panel issued its last big report in 2007, it has found growing evidence that governments and businesses around the world are making extensive plans to adapt to climate disruptions, even as some conservatives in the United States and a small number of scientists continue to deny that a problem exists.

“I think that dealing effectively with climate change is just going to be something that great nations do,” said Christopher B. Field, co-chairman of the working group that wrote the report and an earth scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif. Talk of adaptation to global warming was once avoided in some quarters, on the ground that it would distract from the need to cut emissions. But the past few years have seen a shift in thinking, including research from scientists and economists who argue that both strategies must be pursued at once.

A striking example of the change occurred recently in the state of New York, where the Public Service Commission ordered Consolidated Edison, the electric utility serving New York City and some suburbs, to spend about $1 billion upgrading its system to prevent future damage from flooding and other weather disruptions.

The plan is a reaction to the blackouts caused by Hurricane Sandy. Con Ed will raise flood walls, bury some vital equipment and conduct a study of whether emerging climate risks require even more changes. Other utilities in the state face similar requirements, and utility regulators across the United States are discussing whether to follow New York’s lead.

But with a global failure to limit greenhouse gases, the risk is rising that climatic changes in coming decades could overwhelm such efforts to adapt, the panel found. It cited a particular risk that in a hotter climate, farmers will not be able to keep up with the fast-rising demand for food.

Tracks were flooded at the South Ferry subway station in 2012, after Hurricane Sandy hit New York. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

“When supply falls below demand, somebody doesn’t have enough food,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University climate scientist who helped write the new report. “When some people don’t have food, you get starvation. Yes, I’m worried.”

The poorest people in the world, who have had virtually nothing to do with causing global warming, will be high on the list of victims as climatic disruptions intensify, the report said. It cited a World Bank estimate that poor countries need as much as $100 billion a year to try to offset the effects of climate change; they are now getting, at best, a few billion dollars a year in such aid from rich countries.

The $100 billion figure, though included in the 2,500-page main report, was removed from a 48-page executive summary to be read by the world’s top political leaders. It was among the most significant changes made as the summary underwent final review during an editing session of several days in Yokohama.

The edit came after several rich countries, including the United States, raised questions about the language, according to several people who were in the room at the time but did not wish to be identified because the negotiations were private. The language is contentious because poor countries are expected to renew their demand for aid this September in New York at a summit meeting of world leaders, who will attempt to make headway on a new treaty to limit greenhouse gases.

Many rich countries argue that $100 billion a year is an unrealistic demand; it would essentially require them to double their budgets for foreign aid, at a time of economic distress at home. That argument has fed a rising sense of outrage among the leaders of poor countries, who feel their people are paying the price for decades of profligate Western consumption.

Two decades of international efforts to limit emissions have yielded little result, and it is not clear whether the negotiations in New York this fall will be any different. While greenhouse gas emissions have begun to decline slightly in many wealthy countries, including the United States, those gains are being swamped by emissions from rising economic powers like China and India.

For the world’s poorer countries, food is not the only issue, but it may be the most acute. Several times in recent years, climatic disruptions in major growing regions have helped to throw supply and demand out of balance, contributing to price increases that have reversed decades of gains against global hunger, at least temporarily.

The warning about the food supply in the new report is much sharper in tone than any previously issued by the panel. That reflects a growing body of research about how sensitive many crops are to heat waves and water stress. The report said that climate change was already dragging down the output of wheat and corn at a global scale, compared with what it would otherwise be.

David B. Lobell, a Stanford University scientist who has published much of the recent research and helped write the new report, said in an interview that as yet, too little work was being done to understand the risk, much less counter it with improved crop varieties and farming techniques. “It is a surprisingly small amount of effort for the stakes,” he said.

Timothy Gore, an analyst for Oxfam, the antipoverty group that sent observers to the proceedings in Yokohama, praised the new report as painting a clear picture of the consequences of a warming planet. But he warned that without greater efforts to limit global warming and to adapt to the changes that have become inevitable, “the goal we have in Oxfam of ensuring that every person has enough food to eat could be lost forever.”

Posted in climate change, news, policy, pollution, science

Friday is Writing Day at Roosevelt

Roosevelt University’s first annual RU Writing Day will take place on Friday, April 4 on the Chicago Campus. The day includes four writing-themed activities and is a celebration of writing at Roosevelt, in all its forms. The event is open to all students, faculty and staff.

11:30-12:30, Library, 10th floorInterdisciplinary Faculty Panel on Writing and Research
Our first event of the day, the interdisciplinary faculty panel on research and writing, includes faculty members from psychology, sociology, music history, math, organizational leadership, and environmental science, as well as librarian Geoff Greenberg. It will be a good way for students to understand and appreciate how research and writing function in various disciplines, especially non-humanities disciplines.

12:45 -1:45, Library, 10th floor — Keynote Speaker Steve Davenport
Steve Davenport is a writer of poetry and essays and the Associate Director of Creative Writing at U of I Urbana-Champaign. His talk will discuss how his personal and professional interests are represented in the various genres of writing he practices, and how social justice plays a role in his writing. You can read more about Steve and his work here at

2:00 – 3:00, Library, 10th floor — RUWP Journal Launch
Celebrate the launch of RU’s new online journal of undergraduate student writing, the Roosevelt University Writing Project, for which editors been gathering submissions this semester. The chosen submissions and winners will be announced this week. The launch is mostly a celebration, but we also hope to have a reading of the chosen submissions and preview the journal itself.

2:00 – 4:00 – Writing Center, AUD 442 — Revision Open House
Students can drop by the Writing Center during this time for help on writing assignments from any class, and to pick up some quick revision strategies. We also plan to have librarians available in the WC to help students with research.

Contact Amanda Wornhoff at  or Mairin Barney at for more info. Join us at

Posted in activities, arts, education, events, faculty, humanities, Roosevelt, students

Spring Is Here! Chicago Conservation Corps Events and Volunteer Opportunities for April 2014

C3 April-2014

Image | Posted on by