RecycleMania: The Results Are In!

by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor

RM_logo_2013Montgomery County Community College  finished the national 2013 RecycleMania competition with some promising numbers!

The College placed 2nd among all higher education institutions in Pennsylvania in the competition’s Waste Minimization category, collecting 15.292 lbs. of combined trash and recycling per capita. Nationally, this ranked MCCC 17th in Waste Minimization among public two-year colleges and 25th overall.

In the Per Capita Classic category, the College finished 12th among public two-year institutions nationally, with 4.252 lbs. of recycling per capita, positioning it as 20th in PA and 303rd overall.

In the Grand Champion category, MCCC scored a 27.803% cumulative recycling rate, positioning it 9th in PA, 17th among public two-year institutions, and 143rd overall.

Overall, the College collected a cumulative 34,132 lbs. of recycling over the eight-week competition, ranking it 14th among public two-year institutions nationally, 18th in PA, and 271st overall in the Gorilla Prize category

RecycleMania is an eight-week nationwide competition, held Feb. 3 through March 30, during which colleges and universities competed to see who could reduce, reuse and recycle the most campus waste. Montgomery County Community College has participated for six consecutive years.

According to the U.S. EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM), MCCC’s recycling efforts during the competition resulted in a greenhouse gas reduction of 48 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E), which is translates to the energy consumption of four households or the emissions of nine cars.

To learn more about RecycleMania or to view the full list of results, visit recyclemaniacs.org.

PHOTO GALLERY: Earth Day 2013

Check out photos from Montgomery County Community College’s week-long Earth Day celebration!

Photos by Matt Carlin, Diane VanDyke, John Welsh and Sandi Yanisko

College Gears Up for Earth Day 2013

by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor

Montgomery County Community College will host a week of educational programs and activities April 22-29 in observance of Earth Day 2013.

On Monday, April 22, the College will join communities across the world in celebrating Earth Day 2013, themed The Face of Climate Change. The day begins with free tire pressure checking stations from 8-10 a.m. in the Morris Road parking lot at the Central Campus in Blue Bell and in the South Hall parking lot at the West Campus in Pottstown. From 12:20-1:20 p.m., both campuses will host a series of displays in College Hall (Central) and South Hall (West). Exhibits include Environmental Club, RecycleMania, Green Office Initiative, GVF/SEPTA transportation options, Campus Bookstore green items, and Siemens ESCO information, as well as a CulinArt Farmers Market.

At 12:30 p.m. in College Hall and South Hall, entries from the Student Sustainability Film Contest will be screened, and awards will be presented. The Climate Council received a total of 16 submissions!

Ceramics Club President Galen Graham spearheads the bowl-making process. Photo by Matt Carlin

Ceramics Club President Galen Graham spearheads the bowl-making process. Photo by Matt Carlin

As a special treat, the Central Campus Ceramics Club will hold an “Empty Bowls” event to raise money for a local soup kitchen  and for the club. For $10, Earth Day participants can receive a brand-new, handmade bowl, filled with fresh soup and baked bread supplied by on-campus food services provider CulinArt. Read more about this project.

On Tuesday, April 23 at 12:45 p.m., the College will screen the film Thin Ice: The Inside Story of Climate Science in College Hall and South Hall.  The film is a collaboration between Oxford University, United Kingdom, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand (VUW), and London-based DOX Productions. Debuting on Earth Day, the film is being screened globally free of change on April 22 and 23. Watch the Thin Ice trailer.

On Wednesday, April 24 from 12:30-1:30 p.m., the College’s Dean of STEM Dr. David Brookstein will offer a presentation on “Alternative Fuel Vehicles– Environmental Opportunities and Challenges” in College Hall at the Central Campus with a video simulcast to South Hall at the West Campus.

On Thursday, April 25, author Chari Towne will discuss her book A River Again, which focuses on the environmental cleanup of the Schuylkill River in the 1940s and 1950s. The discussion will take place at 12:45 p.m. in the South Hall Community Room at the West Campus, with video simulcast to the Advanced Technology Center room 101 at the Central Campus. Towne’s book is available for purchase from the Schuylkill River Heritage Area or can be downloaded as a free PDF from Delaware River Keeper.

gasland_posterOn Monday, April 29, filmmaker and activist Josh Fox will visit the College’s Central Campus to discuss hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking,” following a free screening of his Sundance Award-winning and Academy Award -nominated documentary, GASLAND. The screening (107 minutes) will begin at 12:30 p.m., followed by Fox’s presentation and a question and answer session. Both the film and talk will take place in College Hall Room 144. The event is sponsored by the College’s Environmental Club. Read more about GASLAND.

In addition to the above events, cell phone and battery recycling stations will be available all week in College Hall and Parkhouse Hall at the Central Campus, and in South Hall at the West Campus. The Office of Student Leadership & Involvement will also be holding its “Service Rewind” celebrations for students on Tuesday, April 23 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the South Hall Lobby, West Campus, and Thursday, April 25 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the College Hall Lobby, Central Campus.

All Earth Day activities are free of change (except for the Empty Bowls project) and are open to the public.

~ Robert Gardner and Amy Kolsky contributed to this article.

Ceramics Students Prepare for Earth Day ‘Empty Bowls’ Project

by Robert Gardner, Think Green Correspondent

As part of Montgomery County Community College’s Earth Day celebrations on Monday, April 22, the Ceramics Club will be holding an “Empty Bowls” event to raise money for a local soup kitchen (TBD).

Guests of the Earth Day Empty Bowls event are invited to a modest soup-and-bread meal.  For $10, donors will receive a brand-new, handmade bowl filled with fresh soup and baked bread supplied by on-campus food services provider CulinArt.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of homemade ceramic bowls will also be reinvested in the club, which consistently makes use of recycled materials, thereby reducing waste as well as MCCC’s overall carbon footprint.

“More than half of the clay is re-processed from student waste clay,” said Galen Graham, club president.

On Saturday, April 6, Ceramics Club hosted a “glazing party” for MCCC students, faculty, and staff.  The glazers shared refreshments while creating between 180-200 individual pieces of pottery.  The variety of participants ensured a variety of artistry. Check out photos of the glazing party below.

“Someone might think to use colors or do something that I never would,” Graham said.  “And that’s always a good thing.  The veteran members of the club have so much experience and they were willing to help anyone just starting out.”

According to Assistant Professor and Ceramics Club Advisor Michael Connelly, the kiln was loaded and fired on Tuesday, April 9 and was unloaded by the club on Thursday, April 11.

Empty Bowls is an international movement determined to battle hunger.  The group invokes the powerful image of an empty bowl to remind those with enough to eat:  There are far too many empty bowls across the globe.  In true grassroots spirit, these events enlist local potters, artists, and other citizens to provide assistance to the hungry in their own communities.

The Ceramics Club thanks the following partners for supporting the Earth Day fundraiser:

Photos by Matt Carlin

Earth Day 2013: The Face of Climate Change

Earth Day Network Sets Global Theme to Highlight Growing Impact on Individuals Through Interactive Digital Campaign

WASHINGTON – The global theme for Earth Day 2013 is “The Face of Climate Change,” Earth Day Network announced last month. Earth Day Network, the group founded by the organizers of the first Earth Day to coordinate the annual day of action that builds and invigorates the environmental movement, said that this theme was chosen because of the need to highlight the mounting impact of climate change on individuals around the world.

“Many people think climate change is a remote problem, but the fact is that it’s already impacting real people, animals, and beloved places all over the world, and these Faces of Climate Change are multiplying every day,“ said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “Fortunately, other Faces of Climate Change are also multiplying every day: those stepping up to do something about it. For Earth Day 2013, we’ll bring our generation’s biggest environmental challenge down to size – the size of an individual faced with the consequences.”

The Earth Day Network is collecting and displaying images of people, animals, and places directly affected or threatened by climate change and tell the world their stories. The organization will mobilize its extensive global network of Earth Day event organizers and other partners to help collect the images. But they’re also asking ordinary people to become “climate reporters” and send their pictures and stories that show The Face of Climate Change.

On and around Earth Day – April 22 – an interactive digital display of all the images will be shown at thousands of events around the world, including next to federal government buildings in countries that produce the most carbon pollution. The display will also be made available online to anyone who wants to view or show it.

The campaign is focusing heavily on social media. Organizers are asking people to tweet using the hashtag #FaceOfClimate, and “climate reporters” can also post photos to Twitter and Instagram using that hashtag for inclusion in the digital display.

“The Face of Climate Change will not only personalize and make real the massive challenge that climate change presents, it will unite the myriad Earth Day events around the world into one call to action at a critical time,” said Franklin Russell, director of Earth Day at Earth Day Network.

2012 was marked by many climate change milestones. Arctic sea-ice cover reached a record low in September, a new high-water mark in a long-term decline. The United States experienced its hottest year ever; this, after the World Meteorological Organization announced that the first decade of this century was the hottest on record for the entire planet. Public perception of extreme weather events as “the new normal” grew as unusual superstorms rocked the Caribbean, the Philippines and the northeastern United States; droughts plagued northern Brazil, Russia, China, and two-thirds of United States; exceptional floods inundated Nigeria, Pakistan, and parts of China; and more. Meanwhile, international climate change talks stagnated. But glimmers of hope for a political solution began appearing in recent months, perhaps most notably in U.S. President Barack Obama’s high-profile promises to tackle climate change during his second term.

This is why organizers say that 2013 is ripe for a major push to confront climate change.

Each year, more than one billion people participate in Earth Day-related activities, making it the largest civic observance in the world. On and around April 22, communities across approximately 192 countries voice their concerns for the planet and take action to protect it.

“We’ll harness that power to show the world The Face of Climate Change,” said Russell. “And we’ll call on our leaders to act boldly together, as we have, on this critical issue.”

To learn more about Earth Day 2013 and The Face of Climate Change, go to www.earthday.org/2013.

Earth Day 2013

Filmmaker/Activist Josh Fox to Discuss ‘GASLAND’ Following Screening

by Amy Kolsky

Will the growth in natural gas drilling around the Delaware River contaminate the Philadelphia region water supply?  Filmmaker and activist Josh Fox will visit Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) on April 29 to discuss hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking,” following a free screening of his Sundance Award-winning and Academy Award -nominated documentary, GASLAND.

Watch the Trailer

The screening of GASLAND (107 minutes) will begin at 12:30 p.m., followed by Fox’s presentation and a question and answer session. Both the film and talk will take place in College Hall Room 144 at MCCC’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike Blue Bell. The event is free of charge and is open to the community. For more information, call 215-641-6581.

In GASLAND, Fox embarks on a cross-country journey, including Pennsylvania, to meet individuals who have fallen victim to contaminated water due to natural gas drilling around their property. Variety magazine calls GASLAND “one of the most effective and expressive environmental films of recent years.”

In addition to an Oscar nomination and several film festival accolades, GASLAND premiered on HBO in June 2010 and won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Direction for Nonfiction Programming. The sequel, GASLAND 2, is due out this year.

The screening and presentation are part of MCCC’s week-long celebration of Earth Day 2013, which is April 22. MCCC’s student Environmental Club is sponsoring the event.

BLOG gasland_poster

Join the Schuylkill Scrub!

Throughout the month of April, individuals and organizations are joining efforts to clean up the Schuylkill River Watershed. Collectively dubbed the Schuylkill Scrub, these projects stretch from Philadelphia to Schuylkill County and focus on removing trash and debris from  streams, roads and parks.

To join the movement, find a Schuylkill Scrub event near you or register your group’s event!

Groups that register with the Schuylkill Scrub will also be registered with the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, a statewide effort. Gloves, safety vests, outreach literature, and trash pickup is available for groups through PennDOT’s Keep America Beautiful program and private landfill sponsored Pick It Up PA Days program.

Schuylkill Watershed Map

PHOTOS: St. Patrick’s Day ‘Think Green’ Parade Float

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Check out photos from Philadelphia’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, where the  Environmental Club and representatives from Siemens Industry Inc. accompanied a “Think Green” float showcasing some of the College’s green efforts. Photos by Sara Calcinore

‘Think Green’ Takes to the Streets for Philadelphia Tradition

by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor

Montgomery County Community College will join Siemens Industry Inc. in bringing its “green” message to the streets of Philadelphia on Sunday, March 10 during the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Members from the College’s student Environmental Club — decked out in “Think Green” hoodies — and Siemens representatives will accompany the “Think Green” float, which showcases some of MCCC’s green efforts.

You can check out the parade in person or on CBS 3 (on TV or streaming online) from 1-4 p.m. An encore of the parade will air on Sunday, March 17 from 1-4 p.m. on CWPhilly, and it will also be available via Comcast On Demand “Local” starting Monday, March 11.

Last year, MCCC entered into a Guaranteed Energy Services Agreement with Siemens Industry Inc. for the implementation of a self-funding energy conservation project. Click on the above link to learn more about the GESA project.

Digital rendering of 'Think Green' float

Digital rendering of ‘Think Green’ float

Students, Community Introduced to Hunter’s Brand of ‘Activism 2.0′ During Annual Lectureship

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photos by Anita Jerva

by Robert Gardner, Think Green Correspondent

After much anticipation, Montgomery County Community College held its annual Richard K. Bennett Distinguished Lectureship for Peace and Social Justice on Monday, Feb. 25.  Special guest speaker Emily Hunter addressed a crowd of more than 500 students, staff, and local residents first at MCCC’s West Campus in Pottstown, and later at the Central Campus in Blue Bell, on what she calls “Activism 2.0: The Rebirth of the Environmental Movement.”

College President Dr. Karen Stout opened the main, afternoon event in Blue Bell by stressing the importance of the Bennett Lectures to the school—particularly its student leadership.  She noted the addition of three  new clubs on campus: Veterans Student Organization, STEM Club, and Environmental Club.  She also spoke of the many sustainability events and programs undertaken at MCCC.

“I’m sure that we are creating the next generation of eco-warriors[at the College],” Dr. Stout said. “I’m very proud of our students.”

Dr. Stout then introduced environmental sciences professor Jerry Coleman, who described some of his own “vague memories of the first Earth Day.”  After a quick laugh from the audience, Coleman shifted gears by highlighting both the dynamic nature of environmental activism as well as the need for the movement to change and grow while mirroring the social climate.

“Education is key,” he said in closing.  “But so is questioning.”

With that, Coleman brought to the podium Emily Hunter, the twenty-nine year-old daughter of a famous environmental activist.  She took the stage amid tremendous applause before stating what an honor it was to be, as she put it, “here at a college that takes environmentalism seriously.”

“Activism is a far-off world, inaccessible to most of us.”

This sentiment had dominated the field for too long.  Young people, she explained, comprise a new and exciting trend in activism—millennials who see into the future and want to initiate change.  Now.  They  are writing a new narrative: hope in a hopeless time.  The time has come to redefine activism; to create something “we can feel a part of.  That’s Activism 2.0.”

Hunter will admit, she was born into activism.  Both her mother and her father helped create the environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Emily’s journey began at the age of nineteen when her father Robert sent her to join Sea Shepherd.  With family friend Paul Watson at the helm, Sea Shepherd became the star of Whale Wars, a reality television program.

“This kind of activism,” she recalled, “isn’t for everyone.  I found that out as the cameramen were snapping pictures on me getting seasick.”

Though she can laugh now, the experience caused her to question whether she had what it takes and what activism really was.  The loss of her father to cancer left a void in the younger Hunter, but it also left a “void in the movement itself.”

“I thought the same old banner waving just isn’t working anymore,’” she said.  “’So It’s time for a rebirth.’”

She began to research and document a new generation of activists who were changing the game of what it means to be an activist.  What she found was a new story.  A new normal.  2012 was the warmest year on record; over half the arctic ice shelves have melted.  The world before us is uninhabitable.  Generation X is busy raising families and Gen Y is entering adulthood.

“My message is for everyone, but specific for this generation.  Thomas Jefferson said that every generation needs its own revolution.  This is our revolution.”

She quickly spoke about the history of activism, which took place in four stages: awakening, spark, loss of innocence, and system change.

  • The awakening began in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with the lobbying of the lumber industry.  Around this time, the Sierra Club was founded.
  • The spark happened during her father’s time, the 60s and 70s, coinciding with the advent of nuclear testing, the specter of nuclear war.  Following the lead of great civil rights activists, Greenpeace used new tactics—civil disobedience.  They embraced the new media culture.
  • In the 1980s, the movement witnessed its loss of innocence.  A new, radical form of activism began eco-sabotage campaigns.  Acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer dominated headlines. For the first time, environmental justice linked itself to social issues.

From 2006 through 2009, a global alarm bell began ringing.  The internet emerged as a useful tool for organizing and educating.  Environmentalists placed all their hopes into the Copenhagen Climate Conference of 2009.

“It was, finally, a chance for change,” Hunter said.  “But Copenhagen missed badly.  It went from Hopenhagen to Flopenhagen.  We were stuck in stage three, wondering ‘what’s next?’”

“We have to use our own identities and our own tactics,” she concluded.

Today, there are 3.5 billion people under the age of thirty on the planet.  Hunter noted key trends which  show that system change is slowly taking place, despite stout opposition from the corporate and political powers-that-be.  The first trend is the interconnectedness, building bridges across continents and cultures.  Second, change requires a root cause in order to join movements.

“We cannot survive in isolation.  We can now connect the dots between  environmental issues and social issues.  350.org attempts to take action now, forming a network of resources.”

The economy and the environment are inextricably linked.  The former “infinite growth model” cannot continue unchecked.  What is needed, according to Hunter, is a new economics based on sustainability.  This economy will favor usership over ownership, collaborative over individual need, access over excess.

“This [proposed} society is not utopian in nature.  It is a way to reduce waste and redefine economies.  The Earth cannot support the way we live currently.”

Some of the areas in which change can be made immediately include biodegradable packaging, sustainable art and fashion, green buildings and technology.  “With the proper dedication of effort and resources,” Hunter said, ” the possibilities are truly endless.”

“Activism is not about going barefoot and having dreadlocks,” she said, eliciting a laugh from the audience.  Though she broke the dire mood, Hunter maintained a confident sincerity.

“My activism is storytelling.  Our world is not hopeless.  We are not hopeless…

“Our story is hope.”

Following the lecture, Hunter participated in a brief Q & A session, offering personal answers to some pointed questions.  She talked of how near  these issues are to her heart.  She even sports a “Love is the Movement” tattoo on her arm as a reminder of why she does all of this.  With fondness, she told a story.

According to her father’s wishes, his ashes were to be scattered into the ocean.  His death, as mentioned, had left Emily feeling emptiness.  As the ship took to the sea and Robert’s ashes reuniting with the world from which he sprung, a pod of blue whales followed nearby.  The emotion carried her voice as she remembered with a smile.

Emily Hunter is not just Robert Hunter’s daughter.  She is the next generation.  She is an activist.  2.0.