Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eco-Olympics Podcast

listen to me talk about the eco-olympics

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Live Without Dead Time!

“Live without dead time; enjoy without chains.” This was the slogan Parisian University students shouted as they fought for a social revolution. In 1968, these students took over their campuses in the name of shaking up the establishment. The people who participated in this revolution were about as engaged as they come, yet as soon as they took over their campuses nothing overtly changed. The unquestionable lack of apathy that had accompanied their triumphs didn't lead to the leftist economic models proposed or even a change in government. For the large part these student revolutionaries failed to connect the real world with the ideals they had written about. Many of the grand idealists eventually abandoned their revolutions not because of lack of effort but because their effort was not sustainable. The only successes of the “May Revolutions” where were students were able to combine what they learned with pre-existing social issues.

In last weeks PioLog Mariah Sheilds asked if LC students could do better. Her concern is what seems to be a general lack of apathy on campus, students don't go to events, sports are a joke, no one really seems to care that our campus is abandoning its promise to reduce carbon emissions by canceling a significant portion of the shuttle service, people drink coca-cola... It is not at all difficult to find the “missed opportunities” Mariah talks about. Last week I hosted a movie night for the Eco-Olympics, however I found out hosting a movie night on campus might as well be called “watch a movie by yourself” because that is what I ended up doing when no one showed up. It would be easy to blame a lack of advertising or that students don't care about the environment but the issue is deeper than that.

Why is it that I can throw a movie night about a deeply thought provoking movie (Children of Men) and no one shows up, however, if I were to host a triple kegger with multiple games of beer pong and blast the same shitty music we listened to at our middle school dances, I would have so many people at my doorstep my doorstep would be made out of people? Student apathy is not about students not caring, it is about them caring about other things too. The apathy Mariah talks about is a result of there not being a connection between the two.

The divisions we create between our school life and our social life dictate how we spend our time. These lines are institutionalized in many ways. Fun is supposed to be spent drunk with your buddies. While drinking is pretty fun, advertisements also try pretty hard to make sure we understand what fun is. On the opposing side work is supposed to be about learning how society is going down the crapper because everyone is out drinking. Our teachers and academia do a good job at rewarding this kind of thought. However, the two are never connected. When was the last time any of us had a truly thought provoking conversation at a kegger? When was the last time someone had a kegger in their classroom? This separation “chains” us to a certain ways of thinking about how we spend our time. This is part of what the French were rebelling against and this is what we need to rebel against as well.

The “Paris Revolutions” only lasted for a little more than a month. The overarching leftist dreams were not sustainable, just like getting people to come watch an environmental themed movie with me is not sustainable. Events must reach out and combine already existing things that people do. We must find ways to put our messages into already existing social functions, otherwise they will never become permanent. How do we make a kegger sustainable? Anyone concerned about sustainability should be asking these questions and working to create solutions. “Sustainable keggers” should be a workshop our school offers, not movie nights with Kiel. It is only when we combine the knowledge we learn in school with how we see the world can change occur. Apathy is not about a lack of effort it is about how we institutionalize and reward effort. We must not be trying to reinvent the wheel constantly because we will never be able to move past the wheel and start working to building the rest of the bicycle.

Last year Focus the Nation was so successful because it combined school with environmentalism. For a day the teachers that we love took a day off from teaching classes and talked about global warming. Rooms were packed. Apathy is only apathy if we choose to see it that way. I hope that student leaders and the leaders of the school are constantly revaluing how we spend our time and money to revision how academics meet the social sphere. This is the only way real change can occur. The trick is not getting students to “Live Without Dead time” it is getting people to realize where deadtime ends and live time begins.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


By Dana Crane and Kiel Johnson

How we interact in our environment reflects the virtues we wish to uphold. Two weekends ago in one of the dorms this virtues seemed to be guided only by ignorance and selfishness. This may be an over-statement, but the evidence is appalling: someone went into a dorm and purposely left on all the showers and a stove. The attack could have been aimed at throwing a competition: forcing this dorm to waste energy during the start of the Eco-Olympics, or it could have been to make a statement that the Eco-Olympics are trivial. Since the prize is a party with the President it is hard to imagine someone sabotaging just to win. Whatever their reasoning the message was the same.
This attack was waged on two fronts. The unattended stove could have easily led to a fire and done untold damage to dorm and its inhabitants—this violation of personal safety is a blow against the trust we hold as a community to keep each other safe. The attack also made an ideological statement. The Eco-Olympics are the first time the entire campus has been asked to work together to investigate our connection to our resources and avoid wastefulness. By purposely wasting water and electricity the culprit is making the statement that this connection is insignificant. If this was the case any environmental action would be impossible. This attack should be taken seriously and make us question what would prompt such an action.
This person wasted energy while attacking the very values of what it means to be a community. A foundational value of any community is the interdependence of its constituency, which leads to the necessity of being mindful of each other’s personal rights. This incident is not only an embarrassment to the majority of us that share a respect for each other’s right to freedom of action, but a disappointing illustration of a deficiency in our common social upbringing. Our society teaches us to each strive for individual success but this lacks an appreciation of an individual role within a community. It is one thing to choose not to participate in an opportunity to do good, but it is the work of an egotist to ransack the good efforts of peers.
There is no doubt that 99.9% of people at Lewis and Clark would condemn this act of defiance and ignorance. However it’s very hard to deny that such an act characterizes at least a minority within our student body—it is hard to imagine someone doing this without at least believing their friends would get a kick out of it. It is difficult to imagine how the college environment, which is built on integrity and education could breed such blindness. However, we must forgive this crook because at the roots of the attack lie unawareness. This is what the Eco-Olympics and going to college is all about. This attack is a reminder that we must make sure that society provides an opportunity to make real connections with the sources of life that we depend on.
In order to avoid destructive mishaps such as these in the future, I urge you all to get outside and observe what surrounds and supports you. Then look inside at what it has created, and consider the relationship between the two! You are a product of your environment and it continues to be the source of every new cell in your body, idea in your brain, and pulse of your heart; respect it thus!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Flex your econess in the Lewis and Clark College Eco-Olympics. Go to the website to get more info and a calender of events. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The National Teach In and Letters from a Birmingham Jail

 The inherent problem with a sustainable world is that it requires everyone to consider sustainability to be a good idea. This does not make it a futile venture, just a difficult one. What is required is that the more people continue to be engaged. While you should never trust someone that compares their movement to Gandhi or Martin Luther King the scope of the tasks are similar. Sustainability requires a change in how we see the world. Just as Gandhi showed people that India could be an independent nation and Martin Luther King made people see the flaws of racism, environmentalism requires a shift in how we value our resources.

This past week Lewis and Clark hosted the National Teach In On Climate Change. While all of the talks were well attended and the speakers were engaging, something was missing from the day. For the most part all the people at the events were the same people at every other environmental event. It is almost as if there are about 150 or so people who consistently attend these events and who are also responsible for putting them on. I fear that the environmental movement at our school has become too entrenched within itself. It only serves to preserve itself and in the words of Trotsky, “that is what they become, dried preserves”. Preserving the values of environmentalism is not enough.

The National Teach In exceeded all my expectations and was without a doubt a success. However, these events cannot continue just for the sake of continuing. They must embrace larger goals and draw in people from all areas of the community. Where were the athletes? The cleaning ladies? The leaf blowers? If we are going to have a teach in on global warming solutions it must involve everyone. We must be creative in how we draw these people in, environmentalism must connect in a real way with not only people's existing values but their everyday actions. Otherwise all that is be accomplished is that we had another teach in.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

National Teach in on Climate Change

The National Teach In on Global Warming Solutions is happening this Thursday the 5th as well as the beginning of the Eco-Olympics. I'm going to be documenting the day and taking some pictures to put up here. If you see me at one of the events please say hi and let me know what you think.
Here is the link for the events calender