Today, we're thrilled to participate in Blog Action Day, a project in which bloggers around the world join together to discuss one subject on all of our respective sites. This year’s theme is “The Power of We,” a “celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around the world.” What a terrific fit for us at Ecocentric, given our commitment to highlight heroic people and projects doing their part to change our food, energy and water systems. Our blog team chose several we're proud to spotlight today in recognition of the positive differences they all bring to bear on different parts of our global community.
I was inspired by 350.org’s Connect the Dots project which kicked off on 5/5/12 with Climate Impacts Day. The goal of this ongoing project is “to shine a spotlight on the connections between extreme weather and climate change.” In the words of 350.org, this action was planned “because climate change is not a future problem. It is happening right now, and it is devastating communities around the world. The world needs a wake-up call, and there’s no time to lose.” I hope that others take away that climate change is not just tomorrow’s problem – it’s here today. And in order to tackle the challenges that climate change present, we need to work together to achieve a cleaner energy future. This effort led by Bill McKibben and 350.org inspired me to fight even harder for renewable energy and energy efficiency AND find new ways to further reduce my personal carbon footprint and my indirect impact on water resources associated with my energy use.
Recent studies have found that seafood in the United States may be mislabeled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time. This seafood fraud creates a market for illegal fishing, makes it hard for consumers to make sustainable choices and in some cases can even threaten public health. Oceana has been leading an effort to expose seafood fraud by conducting studies and alerting consumers to the fact that the fish we order in a restaurant or select at the market may not always be as advertised. The solution is traceability, meaning it should be easier to know where a fish comes from and exactly what species it is. The easiest way to get that information is to cut out the complex international fish distribution system and buy directly from local fishers, or go to restaurants that buy from sustainably-minded distributors like Sea to Table. Not only does this eliminate seafood fraud, it supports local fishing families.
The New Orleans Urban Farming and Food Center is a collaborative effort between the Recirculating Farms Coalition and the Food and Farm Network. For all its diversity in restaurants, New Orleans is actually one of the worst food deserts in the country. Hopefully the Center will help to change that by using and reaching cutting-edge growing techniques for urban settings that can be located anywhere – oddly shaped lots, paved lots, etc. The Center hopes to bring the community of New Orleans together through classes and demonstrations and by sourcing food to local markets and restaurants.
Circle of Blue, a water and environment news organization, is making a positive difference in the world by putting an “intense focus on water and its relationships to food, energy and health.” We need this commitment more than ever considering the problems arising in the US and around the world as water resources are constrained by population increases, economic development and climate change. It’s also admirable that Circle of Blue has found a successful business model as their type of in-depth, on-the-ground journalism and analysis is becoming harder to find.
Vote Solar is a nonprofit grassroots organization working hard to help us fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream. To help pave the way for a transition to a clean energy economy, Vote Solar’s inspiring work brings together communities in order to remove regulatory roadblocks and promote programs and policies that support solar power.
I'm always inspired by the unsung heroes who work quietly outside the spotlight, tirelessly endeavoring to promote positive change. Doug DeCandia, whom I interviewed as part of Ecocentric’s Our Heroes series, serves as the Food Growing Project Coordinator at the Food Bank for Westchester, managing five gardens where he trains at-risk youths to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for those who are hungry. The project addresses food insecurity in a smart, innovative manner – and Doug’s efforts remind me that patience, optimism and quiet, tireless hard work go a long way toward changing the world.
A few weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Yoni Landau, co-founder and director of CoFED (the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive) - a network and training program that empowers students to create ethically-sourced, cooperative food service on college campuses. The CoFED currently supports over 40 student teams in regions across North America that have started an incredible number of food co-operatives, cafes and other collectives. Their organizational network works to directly support students with training events, educational resources and coordination of regional networks. What inspires me about Yoni and co-founder and director Danny Spitzberg’s vision is their unwavering faith in the student body. They saw an opportunity to tap into an incredible resource —America’s impassioned youth — and work to provide them with the tools they need to build sustainable businesses and manifest a sustainable future for themselves, their schools and their communities after they graduate. As a semi-recent college graduate who entered into the working world facing a recession that caused many of my peers (and myself) to question our agency and ability to self-sustain and create, I am inspired by Yoni and Danny’s intuition and trust that my generation has the intrinsic power to change our world – and their foresight to give us not only the tools, but the confidence to do so.