Currently Browsing: Blog

Beahrs ELP Blog

Is the selfie important for environmental leaders?

by Harutyun Gevorgyan, Armenia, ELP 2015
Written on August 13, 2015.

 
As with any program, the Environmental Leadership Program also needs an evaluation. By evaluating the program, we make an assessment, to analyze project objectives, development effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability. Actually evaluation can be different; it depends on the situation, project requirements, project context, etc.

The evaluation itself should cover not only all activities, which has been done during the program, but also some photos and other necessary illustrated materials should be added. In my understanding, one of the most highly used forms is photo reporting, when you can present photos from all your activities. And by doing so, the evaluator can understand the project and what kind of visible outcomes you had.

What is the difference between ELP and other projects? It was highly interactive with intensive participatory actions (all participants are actively involved in almost all processes, generally any academic lecture does not exist, but in contrary, more discussions took place) that were very diverse (almost all activities are different) and very fast-paced (we saw one process, but we should move forward quickly because there are so many other things we should see in the frame of ELP). So now the questions, if you want to participate, listen the lectures, and report all your activities, you should be very attentive and behave accordingly to the situation.

harry2harry1

Of course for your photo reporting you can take photos of the current activities and move forward, but I have a theory, that the quality is a bit different, when you or your face appears in the photos, which makes an effect of participatory actions. I understand this theory since in my professional activities I had an opportunity to lecture quite often and I saw from students’ and other participants’ feedback that if in your presentations you show just a photo of the exact activity, it can be fine, but when you show a photo where you are involved (your body or your face are in the photos), it gives a totally other taste to your presentation and makes it more qualified. After understanding this a few years ago, I always try to take photos not only for the presenting activities, but also taking selfies, getting photos with my face, because I know that when I use them I will have better presentations.

Besides that, you want to share your feelings and experiences in social nets for your friends and other people, which will make them learn and also think what’s going on around them. I like when I received comments and likes from my Facebook friends, which means that they are following me and I can share my stories with them.

harry3harry4

harry6

But what is another advantage of selfies? During the intensive learning process, all participants are very busy. They do not have time or are not in the mood to use their time for taking your photos anytime you need. But with selfies, you can do it alone and have the same outcome. And even more, if you ask someone to take your photos, he/she will take only one and will finish, and I can tell you for sure that the quality of that photo usually is not good. And therefore you need more, in order to get a better one. But at the same time you feel uncomfortable to ask for another photo. With selfies, you can take as many photos as you want and then later you can select the best one, which you like and which fits with your interests.

By saying so, during the 3 full weeks of the ELP, I took about 4000 photos (I counted all the selfie photos I took). Initially I got a lot of Jokes from ELP participants about it, but at the end I see that about 50% of participants started to do the same and even some more people, who never took a single photo, started to take selfies too.

To conclude, I just want to ask a question. What the lecturers do during their lectures, is that not a selfie of their knowledge? What specialists do during their job, is that not a selfie of their skills? And what the Earth does with us, is that not a selfie of its weather and climate change?

So, always take your selfie stick with you, learn, get practice and take photos.

harry7


The Rotten banana: Rural challenges in Denmark

by Mette Dam, Denmark, ELP 2015
Written on July 11, 2015.

 
On Monday morning, I participated in a workshop about rural development in South Korea and it made me think about how the challenges in rural Japan differs from the issues we face in Denmark.

In Denmark all of the basic needs such as roads, electricity, etc. have already been established in the rural areas for a long time. The challenges in the rural areas of Denmark exists of an overall negative tendency where rural areas become more and more isolated and lag behind the national average for a number of key indicators such as income levels, population and employment opportunities making the difference between the rural areas and cities more and more significant.

The areas where this negative tendency are most significant are metaphorically called the rotten banana as the shape of these areas looks like a banana and because things are not going well in these areas it is a rotten banana, see picture 1.

However this has not always been the case. 
Historically, industry heavily relied on uneducated people and used to be situated in the rural areas, but as the industry started to move their production towards the east because of lower labor cost, more and more jobs were removed from the rural areas without the creation of alternative job opportunities making it difficult to maintain economic growth at remote areas.

Figure 1: The rotten banana in Denmark (Source: https://www.youtube.com/user/DenRaadneBanan)

The Danish welfare system tries to address this problem by transferring funds from rich to poor regions, compensating for the income gap. Another plan which is not implemented yet but is on a proposal is the liberalization of the Danish planning act, making it possible to build recreational areas as vacation centers and large water parks on our seashores in order to generate economic growth in the rural areas. However, this idea has been heavily criticized.

Many people are against the plan, including me, as a clear seashore without buildings is something special for Denmark that many countries do not have, making it one of our main tourist attractions. It will be interesting whether the action plan will be enforced or not.

Figure 2 Drawing from a danish newspaper (source: http://politiken.dk/debat/kroniken/ECE2714457/lad-kysterne-vaere-frie-og-faelles/)

Figure 2 Drawing from a danish newspaper (source: http://politiken.dk/debat/kroniken/ECE2714457/lad-kysterne-vaere-frie-og-faelles/)


Salinas Valley: Lessons on sustainable farming for Nepal

by Birendra Rana, Nepal, ELP 2015
Written on July 16, 2015.

 
Our ELP 2015 field trip to the agricultural farms in Salinas Valley, California on July 11, 2015 was highly illuminative.

Salinas Valley, also known as the “the Salad Bowl of the World” or “America’s Fresh Farming Capital” for the production of lettuce, strawberries, broccoli, artichokes, peppers and wine grapes, contributes roughly $10 billion to the GDP. This excludes the highly lucrative fruit and dairy industry. We learned that agriculture is a highly competitive industry there and that it has been refined over several generations, taking out every element of cost. We also noticed that the intersection of agricultural and technical science has succeeded in improving yields and efficiencies. It was very impressive to notice the adoption of innovative uses of information in all aspects of farming — from yield optimization, to food safety and quality, to distribution, to water management, fertilizer management, connected vehicles and even whole new methods of growing food.

Farm workers picking up salads, Salinas Valley. California, USA

Farm workers picking up salads, Salinas Valley. California, USA

My findings were great and I am very positive that Nepal could learn a lot from Salinas Valley’s farming techniques. Agriculture continues to be the mainstay of the Nepalese economy and it generates roughly 38% of the GDP and supports livelihoods of over 75% of the population. Nepal produces rice, wheat, pulses, barley and oilseeds but these are barely sufficient to feed its growing population. Agriculture plots in Nepal are generally very small, with 70% holdings being less than 1.0 Hectares and constrained access to improved seeds, new technologies, and market opportunities.

Consequently, Nepal still finds itself struggling to produce an adequate supply of food for its citizens. This is the principal reason for the depressed rural economy and increased widespread hunger and urban migration. As per recent UNDP statistics, nearly 50% of all Nepalese kids under 5 are chronically malnourished.

birendra 2I had discussions with other ELP 2015 fellows, and I realized that Nepal’s issues are not unique to itself, but they are shared by lot of other developing countries all over the world. I personally believe that the lessons learned from Salinas Valley farming practices could be very useful to help solve this hunger crisis. For example:

  1. Crop selection: With too much emphasis on staple food grain production by the government of Nepal, I suspect that farmers in Nepal have almost never been motivated towards cash crops/fruit. Interestingly, the fruit (apples, prunes, plums) produced in the northern belt of the country have difficulty finding markets.
  2. Efficient way of farming – Drip water irrigation saves 20-50% more water than conventional methods. The use of mixed crop farming, plant-friendly insects (beetles and wasps) for better pollination, and adopting environmentally friendly pest control methods are cost effective and more sustainable.
  3. Embracing technology – effective use of machines/data and a strong partnership with research institutions for high yielding varieties of seeds. The National Agriculture Research Center (NARC) is doing its part, but we need more results.
  4. Product Differentiation – With a major shift in consumers’ preference towards organic foods/vegetables, Organic food is the next big thing.
  5. Economic policies – The government needs to introduce prudent economic policies to consolidate land holdings, making capital/agricultural resources more accessible and affordable to the farmers.

To conclude, the Salinas Valley farming methods have left a profound impression on me and I hope that my country could pick up few of the best practices so that we are better positioned to effectively address the longstanding issues of poverty and hunger.


Reflections and Summaries for Field Trips of ELP

by Zhe Sun, China, ELP 2015
Written on July 14, 2015.

 
1. Field Trip to Urban Adamah and Rene Zazueta’s Home
On July 2nd, we visited a Jewish urban organic farm and self-sufficient gardens directed by ideas of “resource-recycled utilization”. It was the first time for me to get in touch with a farm in person, because I have lived in an urban area of big cities my whole life, even in my childhood. I rubbed the goat that day. It is friendly, never afraid of us strangers.

Figure 1. Kihwan Kim is rubbing the goat

Figure 1. Kihwan Kim is rubbing the goat

Figure 2. Some plants grown in the Urban Adamah

Figure 2. Some plants grown in the Urban Adamah


 
The most impressive thing I saw that day was the anhydrously cultivated tomatoes. Water is necessary for all the living creatures on the earth, which is common sense known to all. It was rather astonishing that plants could survive without water supply!

Figure 3. Some plants in the greenhouse

Figure 3. Some plants in the greenhouse

Figure 4. Sunflower in the Urban Adamah

Figure 4. Sunflower in the Urban Adamah


 
Figure 5. Panoramic of Rene Zazueta’s home

Figure 5. Panoramic of Rene Zazueta’s home

Figure 6. Tomatoes under anhydrous cultivation

Figure 6. Tomatoes under anhydrous cultivation

Figure 7. Some vegetables in Rene’s home

Figure 7. Some vegetables in Rene’s home

The technique lay in the use of dead cactus stems and sawdust. The owner of the organic plant garden cut the dead cactus stems into small pieces and left them on the soil surface near the tomatoes. Dead cactus stems had plenty of water because of their strong water storage capacities when they were still alive, though they were dead when used as the water source for tomatoes. With the cactus stems turning rotten, the water stored would penetrate the soil surface and be absorbed by the tomato roots. However, that was merely an ideal model. The biggest challenge was that water would evaporate faster than be fixed by the soil, in which condition the tomatoes would be in lack of enough water. Considering the possible problem, the owner chose to use sawdust to help lead the water into the deep soil. He sprinkled the dry sawdust on the surface soil around the tomatoes, in order to make sure that sawdust could get in touch with both cactus pads and tomato stems, as well as to their roots. To conclude, the sawdust acted as capillaries which could make the water easier to permeate the rhizosphere soil.

I have to say, the tiny self-sufficient ecosystem is sure to be a miracle.

 

2. Field Trip to South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration
Another first experience for me was the trip to the South Bay Salt Pond on July 5th, because I have never seen any wetlands in my home country, China, in person, though there are several wetland nature reserves in China Mainland. Considering that I am studying environmental sciences, I have seen some wetland areas on the videos or textbooks, but I was still astonished at the first sight of the South Bay. It is extremely splendid, and remarkable.

Figure 8. Beautiful rocks at the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration near the wetland

Figure 8. Beautiful rocks at the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration near the wetland

Walking along the gravel road, with cool and fresh wind blowing around us, we saw the ecological habitats of many pretty looking birds, including the pelicans (Latin name is Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) as the most representative one. On the observation deck, all the participants enjoyed the beautiful scenery, as well as ourselves. We used the telescope to observe the seagulls meticulously in the distance, just like what the biologists usually do. That was quite interesting and unforgettable for us.

Figure 9. Wetland in the South Bay Salt Ponds

Figure 9. Wetland in the South Bay Salt Ponds

Figure 10. Some waders near the wetland

Figure 10. Some waders near the wetland

Then we had a lot of fun in taking pictures of ourselves by trying different combinations of participants and poses. The California South Bay acted as a really picturesque background, so no one wanted to miss the gifts from nature.

 

3. Field Trip to Muir Wood National Monument
Muir Wood National Monument was a brand new experience for me. I got in touch with numerous redwoods (also named sequoias) in the national reserves and breathed a lot of quite fresh air there, which was one of my initial targets of this Berkeley trip. The sequoias were really tall, and much taller than those growing in China, and therefore seemed more dignified.

Figure 11. Group photo at Muir Wood National Monument

Figure 11. Group photo at Muir Wood National Monument

Figure 12. Photo under sequoia

Figure 12. Photo under sequoia

Figure 13. Sequoia (redwood)

Figure 13. Sequoia (redwood)


 
There are large amount of sequoias planted in my hometown Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, and we have developed as an industrial chain of sequoia materials. Here, two other differences are revealed – one is the species, another is the treatment options of sequoias. The species in China are different from those in California, maybe due to the divergences of climate. Chinese sequoias are not only shorter in height, but their trunks are of lighter color than those in America. We Chinese regard sequoias as a ready source of money, while the Americans protect them, and thus have developed several reserves for them which subsequently become good places for tourism. The Americans gain profits by conserving them while Chinese gain profits by destroying them. So the Americans are more farsighted because they are proceeding a sustainable way on the use of natural resources.
 
 
 
Figure 14. Looking up at the monument

Figure 14. Looking up at the monument

Figure 15. Doorplate of Muir Wood National Monument

Figure 15. Doorplate of Muir Wood National Monument

 

4. Field Trip to Point Reyes National Seashore
In the afternoon of July 7th, we arrived at the Point Reyes National Seashore to enjoy the peaceful seascape. The sun shined mildly that day, making the offing sparkle charmingly. Waves were not fierce at all, different from those ferocious waves on the west coast of the Pacific Ocean – my hometown on the other side of the ocean, where I was born. Bathed in the sun, we all felt relaxed. Many of us embraced the coming waves, letting them take away our tiredness and worries.

Figure 16, 17. Sea waves at Point Reyes National Seashore

Figure 16. Sea waves at Point Reyes National Seashore

Figure 16, 17. Sea waves at Point Reyes National Seashore

Figure 17. Sea waves at Point Reyes National Seashore

 

5. Field Trip to Salinas Valley Agricultural Area
On July 11th, we went to the Salinas Valley for a visit to the agricultural areas there. I know little about agriculture, but I was still instantly attracted by the original ecological strawberry fields.

I have been to the strawberry fields in China several times, but never have I seen such big and brightly colored strawberries cultivated there. The professor told us that the farmers living there never used any organic or inorganic pesticides in order to avoid any potential harm to human health. They only used some kinds of innocuous biological agents for deworming. Under such circumstances, we visitors can pick up and eat the ripe strawberries directly, without any worries about the harmful pesticides remaining on them. All of us participants enjoyed ourselves a lot.

Figure 18. Vista of Salinas Valley fields

Figure 18. Vista of Salinas Valley fields

Figure 19. Non-pesticide natural organic strawberries

Figure 19. Non-pesticide natural organic strawberries

 

6. Field Trip to Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz was another field trip to the seashore. Probably because of the sea wind, the waves there were much more powerful than those on the Point Reyes National Seashore. The most memorable thing on the Santa Cruz seashore was my witness of sea lions. In my hometown, just as I referred before, located on the east coast of China, there are no sea lions coming and going on the beach, perhaps owing to the climate differences and ocean currents. The sand was soft, making me feel like I was enjoying a massage when I was walking on it.


Collaborative Leadership for Change is what we need

by Hervet Randriamady, Madagascar, ELP 2015
Written on July 27, 2015.

 
Randriamady, Hervet - Blog 2

Madagascar takes the lead on the environmental protection across the globe. In 2015, the Malagasy government adopted a decree that bans both production and imports of plastic bags. Most importantly, Madagascar President, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, has officially announced to triple Marines Protected Areas (MPAs) at the IUCN World Park Congress 2014 in Australia. Despite this great initiative, I am still very concerned about how the increase of MPAs will affect the livelihoods of the population. Could the increase of MPAs in Madagascar be detrimental for local communities’ livelihoods?

Randriamady, Hervet - Blog 3

A study carried out by Goefrey Mwanjela (2011) in the Mnazi Bay Marine Park in Tanzania, “The Myth of Sustainable Livelihoods,” has concluded that the implementation of the Marine Park did not lead to a positive result on the livelihoods of the local communities. Villagers rejected the Marine Park. Communication between villagers and park officials failed. Furthermore, park officials put more attention to the marine conservation rather than to the livelihoods of the local communities. I hope that the same issue will not happen in Madagascar with the implementation of the new MPAs in the coming years. Thanks to the Collaborative Leadership for Sustainable Change course to address the aforementioned issue. Indeed, throughout this course, I have realized how important a negotiation is when parties have different interests, and how difficult it is to find consensus. During Susan Carpenter’s lecture, we have been exposed to a negotiation scenario. Each ELP fellow has been assigned to a specific role representing stakeholders such as a farmer, park manager, and an ecotourism representative who all have an interest in a specific natural park. At the end of the negotiation, each of us made a concession and agreement with an exchange of promise.

Randriamady, Hervet - Blog 1

In sum, on the brink of the implementation of the new MPAs in Madagascar, the Malagasy government should organize a wide consultation for local communities living around those future MPAs. Most of the time, the implementation of any kinds of PAs—terrestrial or Marine—failed due to the lack of communication between stakeholders. A top-down decision usually happens without the consent of local communities. A negotiation must take place that includes all stakeholders, thus no parties would be left out. In other words, local communities should be part of any decision-making process thus the implementation of the new MPAs will succeed.


Page 5 of 28« First...34567...1020...Last »

Copyright © 2017 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. | Website by Computer Courage | Sitemap