<![CDATA[SPARC - Blog]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2016 09:09:00 -0800EditMySite<![CDATA[Penn Sustainability Review:┬áTHE IMPORTANCE OF EATING SUSTAINABLY´╗┐]]>Wed, 18 Nov 2015 21:05:11 GMThttp://sparcsite.weebly.com/blog/penn-sustainability-review-the-importance-of-eating-sustainablyIt's been awhile since we've published a blog post, but SPARC has been busy with plenty of activity and collaboration over the past few months. So far this fall, we've welcomed a new cohort of Student Fellows, hosted a fabulous kick-off event at United By Blue in University City, and partnered with CUSP (Climate and Urban Systems Partnership) Philadelphia to host a Working Group Meeting + Training for our students at the Franklin Institute. We've been up to a lot, and we know a lot of our local campus sustainability groups have been, too!

Penn Sustainability Review (PSR) is one such campus group. I​n keeping with SPARC's mission to provide a platform for communication and resource-sharing to improve students’ impact on the sustainability of their campuses, we hope that sharing the work of organizations like PSR can inspire students on other local campuses to pursue related projects and initiatives. With Thanksgiving and other winter holidays fast approaching, the following PSR article might resonate with some of you as you are planning your holiday meals and festivities. Enjoy!
Full article also available at www.psrmagazine.org
Article republished here with permission of Penn Sustainability Review (PSR)
Figure 1: Average kg CO2 emitted per tonne km of transported food. Items transported through air are the most detrimental to the environment, followed by road (Wilson).
 Environmental advocacy groups often stress the impact that individuals can make by changing aspects of their daily lives to conserve energy.  The advice typically given by these organizations involves reducing the amount of electricity and gas one consumes by taking the initiative to turn off your faucet while brushing your teeth, or riding your bike more often than using automotive transportation.  While this type of instruction can be extremely helpful to minimize one’s personal carbon footprint, it often fails to mention a large part of our individual carbon footprint that comes from the food that we consume on a daily basis.

Food is an aspect of our lives that many take for granted--specifically, in areas where it is readily available, such as on college campuses.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the farming of livestock contributes to 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Livestock Environment and Development).  Note that this 18% does not include carbon emissions from agriculture grown primarily for human consumption or fishing.  

If this figure alone [above] does not give you pause, the fact that livestock produce 35% of human-caused methane emissions should (Livestock Environment and Development).  Methane is a dangerous greenhouse gas that contributes largely to climate change, in addition to many other compounds people routinely pump into the air by activities like driving and burning coal.  Moreover, the amount of carbon emissions produced during the production stages of food--including both plants and animals--is 85%, while approximately 11% of a food’s lifecycle from creation to consumption is from transportation alone (Wilson. See Figure 1).  While it constitutes a relatively small portion of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to the actual production of food, it is important to keep in mind that this “food” category includes meats, which require much more energy than animal byproducts (i.e. milk, eggs, butter), and even more so than plant-based foods (i.e. bread, vegetables, fruits).  By reducing the amount of meat manufactured and transportation of food products from one location to another, particularly by plane, food production would be much more sustainable for the long term health of our environment and resources.

The task of eating sustainably is not always simple.  In fact, it can be quite difficult because of our likes, dislikes, and the food that was introduced to us at a young age.  For this reason, I will be taking the initiative to explore local restaurants and eateries in search of delicious sustainable foods.  I will rate each food based on its relative sustainability value, and review the taste and service of each eatery.  As a food enthusiast and avid baker, my goal is to provide my readers with the best food reviews along with meals to select at the locations reviewed that will be more environmentally friendly than say, a hamburger with beef imported from abroad.

The Alberta Rural Sustainable Alternatives Network (ARSAN) has created a list of principles to determine ways in which any food can be sustainable, which I will use in future blog posts to determine the sustainability of restaurants in University City and local Philadelphia area.  This slightly modified version will determine my sustainability rating of meals in posts to come (Alberta Rural Sustainable Alternatives Network).

Principles of Food Sustainability

  1. 1. Must directly or indirectly (livestock) from a sustainable, healthy soil that gives and receives its nutrients in a cycle and over time grows its food-producing capacity rather than losing it
  2. 2. Production is in sync with the natural environment and supports the biodiversity on which food production directly or indirectly depends
  3. 3. Food can be produced at local climate conditions and with the amount of water available in the area
  4. 4. Production of food at all parts of the supply chain strives to maximize use of sun energy and minimize use of fossil fuels
  5. 5. Can be obtained from the wild if it is done without damaging the natural ecosystems
  6. 6. Livestock is an indispensable part of a healthy sustainable farm environment and its production is mutually beneficial to animals and the larger ecosystems of which they are a part
  7. 7. Production supports the diversity of both plants and livestock and  also diversity within species (different breeds and varieties)
  8. 8. Grown or raised and processed locally, avoiding the costs and environmental impact of transportation.  The closer it’s production is to the point of consumption, the better
  9. 9. Processed without industrial ingredients, complex industrial equipment and facilities that require excessive amounts of energy to build and operate
  10. 10. Requires minimum levels of processing; the less processed it is the better
  11. 11. Processing enhances nutritional qualities and/or preserves foods for off-season consumption
  12. 12. Best if eaten in season; if it is preserved, this should be done with minimal damage to its nutritional qualities and by using renewable energy
  13. 13. Sustains human health; first, it must not be harmful, but even more importantly, it has to provide nutrition that will allow people to stay healthy over generations
  14. 14. All groups involved in food production; farmers, processors, workers, business people, traders, etc. can sustain their livelihoods at the level comparable to other sectors of the society 
  15. 15. Produced by a very diverse and large group of local farmers and food entrepreneurs; together they form a co-operating, resilient and sustainable web of food supply
  16. 16. Needs to be tasty, cherished and celebrated when eaten
  17. 17. Contributes to, builds and helps sustain cultures which it is part of
While you ruminate over this list of qualities, please ruminate over my next post’s eatery of choice: Copabanana.  Due to the vast selection of meats and vegetarian options offered at Copa, the sustainability of the restaurant may be a surprise.  Stay tuned for the verdict to come in two weeks!

Alberta Rural Sustainable Alternatives Network. "Principles of Sustainable Foods." ARSAN. N.p., 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://arsan.ca.sustainable-foods/principles-of-sustainable-foods.html>. 
Livestock Environment and Development. "The Role of Livestock in Climate Change." Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. N.p., 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <http://www.fao.org/agriculture/lead/themes0/climate/en/>. 
Wilson, Lindsay. "The Tricky Truth about Food Miles." Shrink that Footprint. N.p., 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2015. <http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/food-miles>.
<![CDATA[Lincoln University Environmental Science Club Joins SPARC!]]>Fri, 20 Mar 2015 18:03:29 GMThttp://sparcsite.weebly.com/blog/lincoln-university-environmental-science-club-joins-sparcSPARC is excited to welcome Lincoln University's Environmental Science Club as our newest student group! Read below for some exciting updates from the club.

The Lincoln University Environmental Science Club, led by junior environmental science major Audrey Smylie, is delighted to be a part of SPARC. It's exciting to see active eco leaders all around the Philadelphia area with a common goal joining together. 

Here at Lincoln University the goal of our Environmental Science club is to service the Lincoln community and beyond while bringing awareness to environmental issues. We have participated in activities such as campus cleanup, sorting trash from recycle at basketball games, speaking about sustainability to the student body at campus wide convocation, attending the NYC climate march, and what has been proven to be our best event "Green The Runway" Eco fashion show. 

In the next 2 months our schedule is loaded with new opportunities. March 26-29 we will be attending an HBCU student climate change Conference in New Orleans. With transportation pending, we are hoping to be present during some activities at sustainability food week. April 10th a few of our members will be traveling to Atlanta for NWF HBCU Student Environmental Leadership Conference. Lastly will we close our semester April 16th with our second Eco Fashion Show "Green the Runway" featuring Bowie State University and Morgan State University. We would love to see you all here April 16th at 7pm, $1 admission with a recyclable item! The president of the club can be reached at audrey.smylie@lincoln.edu with any questions, comments, or concerns. Go Green!]]>
<![CDATA[PennEnvironment presentations on Fracking]]>Thu, 12 Mar 2015 20:02:20 GMThttp://sparcsite.weebly.com/blog/pennenvironment-presentations-on-frackingPennEnvironment will be coming to colleges and universities across Pennsylvania to give presentations about the dangers of fracking to both the environment and the residents of Pennsylvania, as well as provide information about ways that students can take action to prevent the further detrimental effects of fracking. Presentations will take 20 minutes, then we will discuss with students how they can get involved, or even train students in some specific campaign skills.

As you probably already know, the effects of fracking in Pennsylvania have been devastating --- there have been over 240 reported cases of drinking water damage, the storing of wastewater in open air pits has allowed contaminants to escape into the air, and the health of residents all over the state have been threatened. In light of this, we want to rally as many concerned citizens as possible to make it clear to our elected representatives that we will not stand for the continued destruction of our environment. 

If this is something that your student group would be interested in, please contact Lina Blount at lina@pennenvironment.org. Thank you for all the work you do on behalf of the environment, and we hope to see you soon.

<![CDATA[SPARC Hosts first Sustainable food Week!]]>Sat, 07 Mar 2015 15:17:05 GMThttp://sparcsite.weebly.com/blog/sparc-hosts-first-sustainable-food-week
SPARC has some exciting things in the works behind the scenes! One of the first that we're thrilled to announce is our Sustainable Food Week. The goal of SPARC Food Week is to bring together students and professionals from the Philadelphia area who are passionate about the intersection between food and sustainability. SPARC is excited to partner with student groups and Philly-based organizations to increase awareness and knowledge of sustainability issues and initiatives in food. We hope that our food week events bring together students to inspire them to create even more positive change on their campuses and in Philadelphia. 

While some of our events are still tentative, we're ready to start the buzz for the week. Most of all, we want to start a dialogue that brings together the many people who are passionate about this topic. Over the next few weeks, we'll be hosting social media challenges to get that going. To start, tell us why you're excited to #SPARCaconvo during #SPARCfoodweek! Use the hashtags and tag us on twitter @SPARCgreen. 

We are still looking for partners for discount day and to provide prizes for our social media challenges. If your company is interested, please drop us a line at sallan@sas.upenn.edu! 

We look forward to seeing you at Food Week! #SPARCfoodweek #SPARCaconvo
Join the Facebook event and spread the word.

<![CDATA[philly Student Sustainability Group Inventory]]>Wed, 11 Feb 2015 04:49:27 GMThttp://sparcsite.weebly.com/blog/philly-student-sustainability-group-inventory]]><![CDATA[Shalefield Justice Spring Break]]>Sat, 31 Jan 2015 14:27:40 GMThttp://sparcsite.weebly.com/blog/shalefield-justice-spring-breakPost by Rachel Leone

Shalefield Justice Spring Break (SJSB) is an organizing & action camp that will bring together members of extraction communities, students, environmentalists and concerned residents who are interested in learning more about fracking, other forms of extreme energy extraction and other environmental justice issues. Participants will learn about the history of resistance, and about plugging into and collaborating with current campaigns and projects.

Through 7 days of workshops, skill shares, speakers, hiking, music, films, direct action and more, participants will learn from and stand with shalefield communities in the struggle to maintain community determination and healthy environments for all species. All activities will occur within a framework that seeks to acknowledge disenfranchised groups and marginalized people.  SJSB is inspired by the Mountain Justice Spring Breaks (MJSB) that are hosted in the coalfields of Appalachia.

Where is SJSB going to be held?
SJSB will be hosted in Centre County, Pennsylvania* Located in a beautiful valley, surrounded by picturesque mountains, the site has a large retreat center for workshops, group activities and sharing meals. Lodging options include rustic bunkhouses and tenting. There are also options for those who prefer more formal housing in house-like settings. More details will be sent to registrants.

When is SJSB?
It will be March 6th-13th, 2015 to coincide with the spring breaks of colleges in the area. There is also Mountain Justice Spring Break in West Virginia for those who want to make it to their action camp.

Registration can be found HERE! We’re encouraging interested folks to register AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! The earlier we receive registration and payment, the better we can plan the camp! Please consider registering and paying right away. After you register, the organizing committee will send you periodic emails with important updates.

Be a workshop presenter!
We want you to lead your really awesome workshop at Shalefield Justice Spring Break! Please submit your workshop ideas here by February 15th.

Help us make this really big!
Become a SJSB organizer! If you are interested, check out the campus and community organizer page on our website . Ways to help include distributing outreach materials, helping to organize fundraising events, and recruiting folks from your campus or community to come to camp.

Support us!

Are you a part of or do you know of an organization that would like to co-sponsor SJSB? We want the funding of SJSB to be mutually beneficial. You can find our co-sponsorship program attached below or on our website HERE.

Energy Justice Shale Convergence right afterwards!
After Shalefield Justice Spring Break you can attend another camp: Energy Justice Shale Convergence.  It is in Susquehanna County and goes from March 13th to 16th. Find out more information here: http://energyjusticesummer.org/about-the-convergence/

Feel free to get in contact with  if you have any questions. You can also keep an eye out on our website for new information, or follow us on Facebook.

Take care,
Ray and the SJSB planning collective

* We  frequently use the term “so-called Pennsylvania” to acknowledge that as non-indigenous people we are settlers living on stolen land. PA is still inhabited by indigenous people, none of whom hold federal recognition or reservation land within the state. Indigenous people have been and continue to be violently displaced and brutally assimilated into the dominating culture in this country and around the world. Pennsylvania is the name that white European settlers gave this place.  We will be creating space to talk about indigenous history and decolonization at camp.
<![CDATA[Green Allies Conference Program Set!]]>Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:00:32 GMThttp://sparcsite.weebly.com/blog/green-allies-conference-program-setAfter planning and coordination by the SPARC team and the SAVE Alliance, the program for the Green Allies Conference 2015 is set! Spread the word!

Register at bit.ly/GreenAlliesReg
Facebook event at bit.ly/GreenAlliesFB
<![CDATA[The Big Green Party - The importance of Social Gatherings for the Sustainability Movement]]>Sat, 24 Jan 2015 18:06:16 GMThttp://sparcsite.weebly.com/blog/the-big-green-party-the-importance-of-social-gatherings-for-the-sustainability-movementPicture
Last night, I attended the Big Green Party put on my Green Philly Blog and the Sustainability Nexus at the CityCoho, and I think there was a unanimous decision that it was a huge hit! 

Max of the Nexus graciously let me take the mic for a minute to talk a little bit about SPARC, and several people came up to me afterwards to express interest in participating or partnering. I talked to some friends I've been working with for a couple of years, some new SPARC connections, and met new faces too. 

It was incredibly energizing and affirming for our mission and vision for SPARC. The level of genuine interest and excitement for SPARC thrills me every time, and after a hard week just getting back into classes, hard gymnastics practices, and the post-graduation job hunt, getting out of the Penn bubble and to this awesome party was just what I needed to be reinvigorated and inspired. 

I stayed almost the entire time, and finally left wishing these types of gatherings happened more often! Towards the end, I talked to the head of Green Drinks Northern Liberties, and we started thinking about a West Philly version sponsored by SPARC. For students over 21 who are working hard on sustainability on their campuses, a green themed happy hour could be a great opportunity to meet students from other campuses and talk informally about successes, challenges, and resources. 

This is just an infant idea, but I hope to make some type of regular social event a new aspect of SPARC this year. If you have ideas or suggestions, please let us know in the comments or the contact page!

<![CDATA[First SPARC Working Group MEeting - A Success!]]>Mon, 19 Jan 2015 18:25:53 GMThttp://sparcsite.weebly.com/blog/first-sparc-working-group-meeting-a-success On Monday, January 19, SPARC held its first open meeting for the new working group structure. 25 students and professionals working on sustainability around the city showed up to participate in a brainstorming and goal-setting session for our working groups on food, energy, and waste. 

Overall, the event was a huge success. We were able to formulate goals and get a sense of the best direction for each of our working groups. We have two more upcoming events already set that we hope to have SPARC members attend (and to attract more members) and we're looking forward to continuing the conversation! 

If you're interested in being part of SPARC, sign up for our newsletter to receive updates! 

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<![CDATA[December Updates]]>Mon, 15 Dec 2014 15:16:11 GMThttp://sparcsite.weebly.com/blog/december-updatesYou can now submit content for the SPARC blog and newsletter on our website here
If this email was forwarded to you from a friend, you can sign up for our newsletter here!

You're invited to our first working group meeting!

Monday, January 19, 2015 | 7-9pm 
CityCoHo | Philly Nexus

Meet students and professionals from the Philadelphia area who are working on sustainability in energy, food, water, transportation, and curriculum integration! RSVP and spread the word on our Facebook event

Call for Working Group Content
The mission of SPARC’s working group program is to coalesce material resources and facilitate collaboration among students and professionals on university sustainability initiatives. We are currently collecting resources from campus initiatives and looking for members of our working groups. To submit and join, visit our website hereThe Green Allies Conference, presented by the SAVE Alliance Foundation in cooperation with SPARC will be taking place on Saturday, February 7th, 2015 at Temple University. Learn more and register here

The Green Allies Conference, presented by the SAVE Alliance Foundation in cooperation with SPARC will be taking place on Saturday, February 7th, 2015 at Temple University. Learn more and register here