Category Archives: Sustainability

A Plant-Based Thanksgiving

Due to environmental pressures, family health concerns, and growing awareness from information learned in a health psychology course this semester, I have been meat free for nearly 3 months.  This health psychology class, instructed by Professor Donna Axton, specializes in awareness of the importance of nutrition, diet, education, and environmental stressors which impact a variety of different health outcomes.

Diathesis Stress Model – Predispositions to negative physical or psychological diseases are activated by the presence of environmental or psycho-social stress.

Did you know that the food pyramid or “plate” represented as a healthy meal, is not necessarily what we should be ingesting?  Those same government programs are often funded by milk and dairy corporations which have existed for decades.  There is no doubt a need for farming in this country.  Especially at a smaller level which can increase community collectivism and decrease our environmental footprint.  However, major farms could do their part to stop focusing on maximization of profits and instead switch to sustainable and healthy alternatives.

Did you know that consuming meat is extremely unsustainable for the planet and can not continue at the rate that it is occurring?  Meat production and consumption is one of the largest environmental risks and contributes to fossil-fuel energy consumption.

Did you know that dairy has been linked to many detrimental cardiovascular outcomes, clogged arteries, higher blood pressure, cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal issues and even exposure to the same hormones and chemicals that the animals are treated with?

Due to some of these facts (and many other ones) I attempted to have my own Vegetarian dinner.  And I’m happy to announce IT IS POSSIBLE!!!

We had vegan butter and used almond milk to make mashed red potatoes.  Vegan stuffing, vegan sweet potatoes (couldn’t find vegan marshmallows on time but they do exist) Home-made vegan gravy with vegetable broth that was amazing.  The green bean casserole was also vegan.  It’s pretty easy to eat an all vegetable diet.  Humans evolved to eat meat in colder climates when food was less available, but due to modern advances we do not need to eat meat anymore when we can find anything and grow anything we would like.

The hard part was the turkey substitute.  I will not lie to you, while vegan butter and cream cheese may be better than the real thing, and vegetables and fruits never get all, the Tofurkey we purchased was not that tasty.  The stuffing on the inside was good (and vegan) along with the included brownies which were to die for.  But the Tofurkey tasted like a wet crouton honestly. I still just felt good that I didn’t contribute to the harm of animals or the environment though, and I felt light and energized instead of stuffed like I usually am after eating.

Upon later investigation I found out that Tofurkey is the cheapest (it was 24 bucks) and most flavorless substitute to get.  Quitting meat and dairy consumption is pretty easy with all the alternatives.  Especially when you take into account the health detriments, hormonal imbalances, environmental stress, animal abuses, and in-sustainability of meat and dairy consumption.

I included pictures of dinner and some vegan ingredients you can find at places like Natural Grocers and Trader Joe’s (some I have even found at Walmart).  All in all it was an amazing Thanksgiving.  I hope you see from the pictures that it is possible!  I’m super proud of myself for accomplishing this for the first time ever and can’t wait to improve next year by being prepared with vegan marshmallows, vegan pies, and a better turkey substitute…

The only major downside I can say is there wasn’t any scraps to give the puppy!

 

Author: Ryan Knuppenburg (Senior Intern)

Sustainability Film Festival

Last Friday, April 22nd, SNC Senior Marina McCoy hosted a film festival event to highlight Earth Day and raise awareness about the topic of food waste.

The first film showing was “Dive! The Film,” which follows filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and friends as they dumpster dive in the back alleys and gated garbage receptacles of Los Angeles’ supermarkets. In the process, they salvage thousands of dollars worth of good, edible food – resulting in an inspiring documentary that is equal parts entertainment, guerilla journalism and call to action.

The second film was “Just Eat It! A Food Waste Story,” where Canadian filmmakers and food lovers Jen and Grant explore the issue of waste from farm, through retail, all the way to the back of their own fridge. After catching a glimpse of the billions of dollars of good food that is tossed each year in North America, they embark on a six month journey to quit grocery shopping and survive only on foods that would otherwise be thrown away.

The event was a large success – after the film, the room buzzed with passionate conversation as students, faculty and community members cycled through all their new knowledge.

McCoy is working to develop a composting system at SNC in order to combat waste on campus.

A big thanks to Marina for putting on an awesome event!

Lost Sierra Hoedown: SNC alumni teach sustainable event production to students

By Justine Nelson

The third annual Lost Sierra Hoedown commences this weekend from Thursday to Sunday (Sept.24-27). The original spark of inspiration to support the Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl has transformed into a must-have experience! This four-day event features local music, simple and sustainable living, and the natural excitement of spending the weekend lost in the woods.

Drew Fisher on the left as one of the founders of the Lost Sierra Hoedown. It began as a Service Learning project in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Drew Fisher on the left as one of the founders of the Lost Sierra Hoedown. It began as a Service Learning project in Interdisciplinary Studies.

This third annual Hoedown has come a long way. Drew Fischer, one of the founders and now an alumnus to SNC, is teaching a one credit interdisciplinary and sustainability class focused on non-profit music festival production and is using the making of the Lost Sierra Hoedown as the example.

Topics covered in the class include sustainable practices, land management, social media coverage, stage management and event operation. Students not only get to learn about how to successfully plan an event, but get the chance to actually run an event as well. The students will help facilitate the hoedown and get hands on experience beyond what taught in the classroom setting.

Supported by six local companies and in association with four local organizations, the Lost Sierra Hoedown is a prime illustration of what SNC’s students are capable of, and continues to push the limits of achievement.

For tickets and more information visit the website at lostsierrahoedown.com

Having fun at the Hoedown!

Having fun at the Hoedown!

Holistic Sustainability Film Night creates awareness

1495267_10154860394870232_9097612480930717245_oDuring the 2014 fall semester, senior Rachael Blum added a honors component to the International Environmental Issues course. She chose to host a short-film film festival with discussions between each film. The project came to fruition through the course, after instructor Brennan Lagasse and Blum were discussing how the rest of the SNC community  does not have access to the Sustainability curriculum. This idea was also acknowledged at a Justice Club meeting with current and former students at the time. The students agreed that a discussion-based space must be made accessible to the entire campus.

The Holistic Sustainability Film Night was created, featuring a variety of short films highlighting biodiversity, desertification, capitalism, and welfare with discussions between each. Faculty Brennan Lagasse, Samantha Bankston, and Bob King were present as experts in the topics and aided in facilitating the discussions.

Approximately 23 people attended, and the event was cut short after 3.5 hours spent viewing and discussing the films. Those in attendance were happy to have a space made available to ask questions, express views, and learn about these issues. Snacks were provided by Uncommon Kitchen and the Justice Club. This also benefitted Kelly Benson’s coat drive for Project Mana. Overall, the event was successful.

Films that were shown include: Forest Man, Freegans: Living Outside of Capitalism, Love and Capitalism, How Welfare Does Not Work the Way You Think.  All movies can be found on Films For Action.

 

SNC organizes warm winter clothing drive again

A winter clothing drive, which was an idea born in the Social Justice Club, contributed over 150 warm items for underprivileged families in North Lake Tahoe.

Sierra Nevada College Senior Kelly Benson has organized the coat drive for the past two years. After collecting items for six weeks at five drop-off locations, the warm clothing was distributed by Project Mana on Dec. 17.

Kelly is majoring in Global Business Management, but has a strong interest in sustainability and social justice.

“I thought that it would be really interesting to learn about even if it’s not the career path that I choose, because it includes things that you can implement into your daily life,” Benson said.  “And so, coming here and having that be a major, and knowing that I could just learn what it means to be sustainable. Then, my mind was blown when I learned about Social Sustainability, because I didn’t even think about that before I got here. I started thinking holistically about the term, the environment and the people.”

Justice Club adviser Brennan Lagasse hopes to rally enough students in the fall to continue Kelly’s work for next year’s warm clothing drive.

Ecowatch publishes articles by Sustainability students

Arctic-Sustainability-2014-450-1

Professor Brennan Lagasse and six students from Sierra Nevada College had a once-in-a-lifetime cultural experience with the Gwich’in tribe in August 2014 in Arctic Circle, Alaska.

SNC students who visited the Gwich’in Tribe in the remote town of Arctic Village, Alaska last summer, are sharing their experiences through a series of articles on Ecowatch.

Two of the six articles have been published at this point, detailing the sustainability issues the Gwich’in tribe faces as proposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would threatens the “Caribou people’s” way of life. The first article, “How Drilling in ANWR would threathen the Gwich’in People’s Way of Life,” was written by Rachael Blum and published Feb. 9. The second article, “Trash or Treasure?,” was written by Aaron Vanderpool and published March 5.

Students experience Gwich’in culture

Six students were able to stay in the village for a week and learn about the Gwich’in culture because Gwich’in Tribal Elder Sarah James invited SNC Adjunct Professor Brennan Lagasse to come and visit the tribe in Arctic Village, Alaska. Lagasse jumped on the rare and precious invitation to stay a week in the Alaskan village with James and her tribe, and the students traveled to Alaska in August 2014.

SNC is university partner

Brennan Lagasse, adjunct professor in Sustainability

Brennan Lagasse, adjunct professor in SustainabilityUniversity partner

Ecowatch has chosen Sierra Nevada College as one of its university partners and will showcase work by Sustainability students at the college. Ecowatch is a website reporting on environmental news, green living and sustainable business. As portion of its coverage, the website says it features content from students around the world, providing a venue for the millennial generation to voice their environmental concerns.

Lagasse said the affiliation with Ecowatch is a great way to:

  1. Show off the work the Sustainability program is doing.
  2. Encourage students that their work can make a difference in the “real world” as well as get published.

Sustainability in the Arctic

Arctic-Sustainability-2014-450-1The Gwich’in town of Arctic Village lies north of the Arctic Circle and just south of the border of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), often called “the last great wilderness.”

In August, six SNC students met SNC Professor Brennan Lagasse in Fairbanks AK and took a bush plane to Arctic Village, to share the traditions of the Gwich’in Tribe and experience firsthand the majesty and vulnerability of ANWR. Those students will be sharing their experiences at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, in Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences Room 106. The event is free and open to the public.

The once in a lifetime opportunity for SNC students resulted from tribal elder Sarah James’s respect for Professor Lagasse’s previous work with Indigenous peoples, and the tribe’s commitment to make “friends in the south” to advocate for their environment and way of life.

During their time in Arctic Village, students went hunting and fishing with their hosts; participated in elder celebrations, and many interviews and discussions with local tribal members; ate traditional meals of caribou, fry bread, and ground squirrel; and hiked and camped amongst the rugged peaks of the Brooks Range.

The experience is one that excites Lagasse about the sustainability program at SIerra Nevada College. He was quote in an Eagle’s Eye story as saying, “What we did in Alaska, that’s it man. I guarantee any liberal arts school, any progressive sustainability program, anybody sees that and knows what’s up in the sustainability world would look at that say ‘Wow, that’s cool.’

Field Experience to take students to remote Alaskan village

Chandalar_River_near_Arctic_Village

The Chandalar River near Arctic Village, Alaska. Photo by William Troyer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Students will be camping in the Arctic Village of the Gwich’in Tribe, while learning about the potential impacts of petroleum exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) during a Sustainability field course in August.

Sustainability Instructor Brennan Legasse will lead a group of 5-7 students to Alaska on Aug. 6-15. This field trip intends to immerse students in the Arctic environment to help them better understand the traditional and contemporary lives of Indigenous people living in Arctic Village, those that advocate for ecosystem health in the local bioregion, and how the world’s dependence on a finite, polluting resource compromises the attainment of holistic sustainability.

Besides exploring the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, the students will be meeting with tribal elders about climate change and tribal members about socio-cultural issues born from colonization and proposed resource extraction plans.

The Arctic Village Visitor Center.

The Arctic Village Visitor Center.
Photo by Wazefaire via Wikimedia Commons

The cost of the course is just under $3,000, including airfare, food, a one-night stay in Fairbanks, camping fees, and a tribal donation. The course number is Sustainability 381 for those interested in signing up.

Students will live in Arctic Village, camping during their trip and will have daily interdisciplinary engagements that touch on Outdoor Adventure Leadership, Sustainability, and Environmental Science. This is a special opportunity to live with members of the Gwich’in Tribe, visit the wild landscape of ANWR, and address issues of sustainability through an intimate experience in a unique place.

 

Soraya Cardenas speaks at DRI

Soraya Cardenas

Sustainability Professor Soraya Cardenas speaks at the Desert Research Institute on Feb. 21

Sustainability Professor Soraya Cardenas visited the Desert Research Institute Feb. 21 to discuss how collaboration with various agencies can help obtain competitive grants. She used a case study from Fort Kent, Maine about a $97,000 grant, funded by a National Science Foundation Sustainability Initiative.

Turnip the Heat Tuesdays organized by SNC senior

Senior Samantha Van Ruiten continues to be a huge asset for the Tahoe-Truckee community as she works with several area nonprofits organizations on community events. She has created an event for the Tahoe Food Hub called Turnip the Heat Tuesdays.

She began working on a community soup night last semester for her Service Learning project and is now continuing this semester for her Senior Portfolio. The goal of Turnip the Heat Tuesdays is to create a more food-focused community, using fresh, sustainably grown ingredients.

The first Community Soup night was held Feb. 11 at Spice. The next one will be from 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at Full Belly Deli in Truckee’s Pioneer Center. Cost is $5 for soup and bread, and the event includes a raffle, music and drinks.

The next event will be March 11 at Coffeebar in Truckee.

Go have some soup and support Samantha!