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Solar Panels & Schoolyard Chickens: A Net-Positive Campus

When Seattle’s Bulitt Center—the "greenest office building ever"—opens on Earth Day it will symbolize a shift in 21st century priorities towards intentionality, stewardship, and service. It will soon be followed by a net-zero energy hotel in the Fall of 2013. But businesses aren’t the only entities striving to meet the parameters of the Living Building Challenge by implementing the most ecologically conscious design and technologies available. A net-zero energy public school in New York City will open in 2014, and at our school on the southwest side of Chicago, the Academy for Global Citizenship, we are building a net-positive campus to house our net-positive community.

While the Bulitt Center will encourage net-positive values through net-positive design, at the Academy for Global Citizenship, the net-positive energy campus is being created as a prototype for educational and community spaces and is designed to support a mindful lifestyle. Our students, parents, staff, and volunteers contribute to a culture of service and stewardship—values that are interwoven into every aspect of the school. Our edible schoolyard garden, zero-waste cafeteria, and community celebrations foster and empower stewardship among the many stakeholders in our learning community.

"We teach our students to be net positive," says Dan Schnitzer, AGC’s director of sustainability and operations, so that they’re able “to give back to their communities and their families. Therefore we think we have to operate in that way as well.”  

For the students at the Academy for Global Citizenship, this concept is not exceptional, it is expected. When you watch one of our students, 8-year-old third grader Patrick, explain the life cycle of the peach it’s clear that this is just life as usual on our campus. Patrick learned on the first day of kindergarten how to scrape leftovers into the green bin in the cafeteria marked "Compost," and what to sort into the "Landfill" or "Recycling."

We believe, however, that we can do more. There are 6,500 schools in Illinois and, on average, they spend more on energy than books and technology combined. Right now our school is split between two buildings, and, since we're adding a grade every year, we're outgrowing our space. So, we plan to build a new campus—the first of its kind in Illinois—that will serve as a model for sustainability in the education space.

To that end, we've identified an 11-acre plot of land in our neighborhood that will house a K-12 school for our students and it will create more energy than it uses. The campus will also be home to seven acres of urban agriculture—including fruit trees and a native forest—and will serve as both a hub for community collaboration and as a learning laboratory. Because we want to share this model with others—in education and in other fields—we plan to open it to the public for tours and educational collaboration.

Our students are enthusiastic about the idea, too. When Patrick's classmates found that their snack cups were not recyclable, they invented a enterprise called "Cup Creations" and initiated a fundraiser for AGC's Net Positive campaign. Patrick doesn't think twice about selling eco-crafts to raise money for his school's sustainable building project. "All we needed to do," Patrick explains matter-of-factly, "was collect all the cups that we used for snack and then we washed them and created things! We made bobble heads, maracas, bug catchers and ant farms." 

Projects like the Bulitt Center and what we're doing at AGC came about independently—not because of new technologies or available funds, but as the result of the same shift in collective consciousness. We are finally starting, as a people, to give back more than we take—we are learning to be net positive. These building projects are the harbingers of the movement to create a future where solar panels on office buildings and schoolyard chickens are the norm.

Arctic Ice Seals Win Protection

Another much-needed win for Arctic animals: Responding to a Center for Biological Diversity petition, the government has protected ringed and bearded seals under the Endangered Species Act. They're the first species since polar bears (also protected via Center action) to get federal safeguards because global warming is melting their sea-ice home.

Bearded seals, with their thick, beard-like whiskers, need the ice to give birth and raise their pups; ringed seals build "snow caves" on the ice to keep their pups warm and safe from predators. As the Arctic melts, the pups' shelters can collapse and kill them.

Arctic summer sea ice fell to half its average size in 2012, and the ringed and bearded seals' winter sea-ice habitat in Alaska's Bering Sea is projected to decline at least 40 percent by 2050, boding ill for these endearing, unique creatures. Endangered Species Act protection is urgently needed to help them survive.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times and learn about the Center's work to save Arctic seals.

Hurricane Sandy Recycled
Hurricane Sandy Recycled: From Despair and Destruction, Designers Create Furniture and Art
The proceeds from an upcoming auction of their pieces will benefit charity.

The Frankenstorm of 2012 left tons of debris in its wake, but a group of friends have devised a clever way to turn all that junk into cool design—and benefit victims of the hurricane at the same time.

Jennifer Gorsche, a design writer came up with the idea after seeing the masses of downed trees that were being cut up and cleared away. Gorsche enlisted her friends Jean Lin, the editor in chief of Designer Pages Media, and designer Brad Ascalon. The three then rounded up a group of designers who agreed to create furniture and artwork out of the storm’s debris and Reclaim NYC was born.

One of the first people they contacted was François Chambard, a furniture designer in Greenpoint, Brooklyn who is the founder of UM Project (for Users and Makers), a furniture design company. “I often describe UM Project's style and approach as Industrial Craft, with work transcending the qualities of both the handmade and the mass-produced,” Chambard told TakePart. “In many ways, UM Project draws inspiration from industry the same way others would be inspired by nature.

Hurricane Sandy Recycled

Check out this wonderful innovation:

A Pickup Truck Grows an Educational Mini-Farm

A Pickup Truck Grows an Educational Mini-Farm


A literal "food truck," Truck Farm Chicago is a nonprofit organization that uses a 1994 Ford F-250 named Petunia to chauffeur a miniature farm. The project, which revved into gear on Earth Day, is a collaboration between sustainable development nonprofit Seven Generations Ahead and eco-friendly book-printer Green Sugar Press, a recent GOOD Maker finalist whose co-founders Shari Brown and Tim Magner were inspired by King Corn director Ian Cheney’s first truck farm in Brooklyn, NY.

While Truck Farm Chicago is one of about 20 truck farms sprawled across the nation, it's set apart by its focus on educating Chicago youth and families about healthy eating. Visits to the truck typically last an hour and consist of a short tour of the farm, plant identification, taste tests, and sensory exploration. Off-truck activities include planting a seed in a newspaper pot to nourish at home and painting their favorite lessons straight onto Petunia.

A Pickup Truck Grows an Educational Mini-Farm


Defenders of Wildlife Aid Homecoming for Bison

In total, about 60 genetically pure, wild bison completed the journey. These are some of the only descendants of the historic herds that once roamed the Great Plains by the millions, and they are the first Yellowstone bison ever to be relocated to the Great Plains—the heart of their historic range– to start new herds.

Half of them will soon be moved to the nearby Fort Belknap Reservation once fencing is completed there. Both reservations will manage their new herds sustainably as a valuable cultural resource for the tribes.

Historic Homecoming for Bison

Bush Administration Finalizes Rule; Blocks Crucial Polar Bear Protections US Politics & Gov't  (tags: Polar bears, endangered species, Endangered Species Act, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Defenders of Wildlife, environment ) Maggie - 13 minutes ago - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FW announced today that it will deny the polar bear the appropriate and necessary protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). “This rule makes a mockery of the Endangered Species Act, our nation’s

Cat killer sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison
Animal advocates urged longer term
By John R. Ellement
Globe Staff / September 5, 2008
Email| Print| Single Page| Yahoo! Buzz| ShareThisText size – + An East Boston man was sentenced yesterday to 2 1/2 years in prison by a Suffolk Superior Court judge who had been urged by cat lovers to impose a tougher sentence on Luigi Epifania for killing a cat and setting its corpse on fire in 2007.

Epifania was convicted by a jury last month of the malicious killing of a domestic animal and arson for the death of Nunu, a neighborhood cat.

He confessed to detectives that he stomped the animal to death, set it on fire, and tossed its remains through the window of a Princeton Street apartment building.

In letters sent to Superior Court Judge Charles T. Spurlock, five cat lovers demanded the maximum sentence of five years in jail for the June 13, 2007, attack. One letter warned that Epifania could be on his way to becoming a serial killer.

Epifania did not address the court, but his lawyer, James N. Greenberg, told Spurlock his client was in the throes of a heroin addiction at the time of the cat's death and other acts of violence in which Epifania participated.

"The media is here looking for a monster," Greenberg said of his 25-year-old client in court. "He is not a monster."

Greenberg said outside the courtroom that Epifania was familiar with the cat and had often fed the animal.

Greenberg said he was convicted of the charge based on a taped confession coerced out of him by Boston police detectives.

Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Yaw Gyebi urged Spurlock to send Epifania to state prison for two to four years for the cat killing and the arson, which caused property damage.

Speaking from the bench, Spurlock acknowledged getting the letters and reading them.

One woman wrote: "It is up to humans to protect all animals on this earth. I beg of you to sentence him to the fullest degree."

Another woman urged Spurlock to ignore Epifania's assertions of heroin addiction and to keep in mind that FBI studies show men who abuse animals eventually attack humans.

"Clearly this man has a violent nature, one he needs to be punished for," she wrote. "Mr. Epifania has shown he fits this pattern of cruelty toward animals leading to violence against humans . . . Please in the name of Nunu, a harmless feline, punish Mr. Epifania to the fullest extent of the law."

The judge did not address the letter writers' requests in his sentencing. He told Epifania that his problem was chronic substance abuse and that he better change his ways.

"Drugs are his problem," the judge said from the bench. "He's got a problem and he's got to address it. He's got to stay clean."

The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals supported the judge's decision to imprison the East Boston man.

Epifania was also sentenced for attacking a man with a knife and a hot frying pan on June 11, 2007, in East Boston.

Spurlock gave Epifania five years' probation for the attack on the man with mandatory attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, along with drug testing once released from custody.

The judge warned Epifania that he will personally monitor what happens, and cautioned that he could be sent to state prison if he violates his probation.

With credit for the 437 days he spent at the Nashua Street Jail awaiting trial, Greenberg said Epifania should be released from the South Bay House of Correction in about three months.

"In this day and age we like pets more than people," Greenberg said.

Sunday, 20 May 2007
Mars has abandoned its plan to use animal products in chocolate,
apologising to vegetarians who organised a campaign against the

August 22, 2008
World's largest bear sanctuary welcomes two new residents

Max and Ursula, two blind bears who had spent their entire lives in captivity, are enjoying new lives of freedom at WSPA's bear sanctuary in Romania. Max had been taken from his mother as a cub and kept in a cage as part of a roadside tourist attraction for 13 years, while Ursula lived in a barren pen at the Bruhusi Zoo for 26 years. Both bears are now settling in at the sanctuary with the 32 other resident bears who have also been rescued from lifetimes of abuse and misery. Like the other bears, Max and Ursula will now be able to swim in freshwater ponds, forage for food, and climb trees for the first time in their difficult lives.

Read their stories and watch a video of Max's first steps at the sanctuary >>

OMG I just received this by email....sometimes it is good to hear good news too...

don't miss!:

Irish Otters'Tale

Natalie B.

Group History
Monkey Meat Eating
2 days ago
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Sandra C.

Group History
1 day ago
| Big Issues

I will never watch any of her films again, unless she stops wearing fur!

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Dominique M.

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5 hours ago
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eewww. since chris is a vegetarian you'd think his family would


Natalie B.

Group History
1 day ago
| Big Issues

Gwyneth Paltrow advertising fur line

The actress courts controversy in an ad campaign and puts her
relationship with Stella McCartney on the line
She is almost as famous for her green, holistic lifestyle as she is
for her film roles, but Gwyneth Paltrow has become the focus of angry
animal rights campaigners.

The actress is fronting the autumn collection of fur-lined boots and
bags from the Italian company Tod's – which also uses ostrich and
snakeskin in its products.

Photographs of the Hollywood star draped in fox fur feature in the
company's latest advertising campaign. Activists have branded the
35-year-old – who is married to the Coldplay singer and prominent
vegetarian Chris Martin – as stupid and say that she should be ashamed
of herself.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) went as far as to
criticise her parenting, saying: "Gwyneth Paltrow won't be the apple
of her daughter's eye if she continues to flaunt fur.

full story:
http://www.independ environment/ nature/fur- flies-as- gwyneth-paltrow- offends-her- animalrights- friends-899767. html

This post was modified from its original form on 19 Aug, 15:42

Natalie B.

Group History
2 days ago

Remember Michael Vick and his collection of fighting pit bulls? The Humane Society and PETA both lobbied to have Vick's fighting dog collection euthanized. However some intelligent pet lovers fought a little harder and won the right to rehabilitate these dogs. The result was nothing less than amazing. The dogs were provided with love and responsible training and are now loving family members living the life they deserve. Here's a link to a photo montage of Vick's rehabilitated dogs: ((http://hosted. files/spec. ..) .

To flatly give a death sentence just because of an animal's breed is not only unjust -- it is down right irresponsible and cold hearted. Animal Control Shelters that practice such breed discrimination (most do) are lazy and a useless waste of tax dollars. Your tax dollars not only pay the salary of the county Animal Control director who decides the shelter death sentence protocol and employees who kill without just cause, but your tax dollars also pay to have the remains of thousands of euthanized animals removed from the shelter.

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Wolf D.

Group History
2 days ago

Natalie for the link to the photos. Those dogs so deserve to have a good life!!! And thank God for the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for taking them in & proving that pitts are not that way naturally...people have to train them to be that goes so against their nature. No bad dogs just bad people!!!

I saw that a lot of people have posted very interesting news, which are important to share (the one about Gwyneth Paltrow was a shock   ) so I will gather them here. This post has gone unnoticed but I think it would be a good idea to post news here from now on, and to keep the petitions topics for petitions as much as possible,so to have an easier work when signing.

Thanks a million for your patience and understanding

Posting news was a great idea, keep it up!

Olympic Anti-Fur Protest


Gold Medalest swimmer supports Peta to bring the issue of fur to China.

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Please post here good or bad news relating to animal and environmental issues.


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