J500 Media and the Environment

Discerning service learning by jmuselmann

Sula Teller, food manager at The Merc, just after our interview.

Up until recently, it was difficult to put the scope of my involvement with the Douglas County Food Policy Council in perspective. Our class, Media & the Environment, has been a fusion of journalism and environmental studies departments, and each week we have been blogging about food as a way of getting our feet wet  with both these issues.

But a big part of our class was also to work for the newly formed food council as an interlocutor, surveying different stakeholders in the community as well as Lawrence residents to report back our findings — along with some research — to the council. The goal was to the “What,” the “Why” and the “How” of a local food system for Lawrence. Our group tackled the “Why” aspect.

In going out and interviewing local stakeholders as well as residents, I really started to realize how much of an impact the DCFPC could have, and how important these issues are to everyone, whether they take the time to think about it or not. Simply the act of putting everything else on hold and sitting down to talk about everyday things that most people don’t pay much attention to made me realize the pervasiveness of food attitudes that permeate other aspects of life. Calling attention to these seemingly mundane details about their work, food, and sustainability helped me see the importance of the DCFPC, and also why I had initially written it off as something bureaucratic whose goals I already had the gist of.

Wrong! It’s now apparent to me that the DCFPC is striving to be as vital as the issues it is fighting for. It really hit home when I spent a day in the Section 8 affordable housing district in north Lawrence. There I got to see and hear about how food accessibility (or rather the lack thereof) is directly affecting the lives of entire families. Hearing about families’ struggles made abstract goals of the DCFPC become very real, pertinent and necessary.

All in all, I’ve loved working for the Douglas County Food Policy Council. Working in small groups with a specific goal was rewarding. It felt good to know that we were making a difference and doing work for a task force that really needed our help. That kind of learning and satisfaction transcends earning grades in a grade book — it is immersive, substantial and can meaningfully affect the lives of many people for the better.

—Jacob Muselmann


Reflections on the semester: The whole enchilada by jmuselmann

Food is at the fiber of our very being. It is passed around piping hot with potholders, it is handed to us, self-contained, through the car door in paper sacks and divvied accordingly. It’s what we eat because our family does, our friends have tried, our mothers can afford. We throw it away, and we raise it high above our heads for to honor a friend or deity as an intentional sacrifice. Boxed up, it is heaved and flown across the world, passing some to bless others.

One way or another, people get their hands on food. And then we all have the decision of what to do with it. Some have the luxury of waiting to eat it, others use it as currency or a positioning of power, while for many others, who have not been able to make the decision in quite some time, it is always this: Put it into the holes in our faces in time to prolong death.

Of course by this point, we know we aren’t just talking about food. But rather, how food passes and intersects with our needs for a healthy environment and body whole. The need for change is dire and yet lingers on. The idea of going green is gaining unprecedented momentum, and yet, in many ways, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. People can easily eat their organic cake and not recycle, and we let them. But even within the green universe, there lies a wad of inconsistencies and tradeoffs to be sifted through and decided upon. It’s a voyage that has caused more than one breakdown in the grocery store, where I’m stunned into inaction, clutching my wallet in front of the onions, biting my lip at the global repercussions. Often I leave almost empty-handed. Pressure too great.

People say, “the choice is up to us” as consumers, but it sure is hard. Without good legislative infrastructure to guide food ways, it shouldn’t be surprising that it veers toward the same reckless trajectory as other things in this country, trailing irreversible damage in the wake of progress and profit.

Take me, for example: At least in some point in my life, I have recycled. I have also littered. Oh, and I have been the one calling into report the tags of those I see throw things out of their cars while driving: approximate time of infringement, rough location, type of violation, what kind of model and the company make. I guess this class has shown me that maybe I don’t need a number in my glove box to bring about change, I need only open my fridge instead.

—Jacob Muselmann

About Me: Jacob M. by jmuselmann
January 22, 2010, 12:53 pm
Filed under: About Us, Society + Media | Tags: , , , ,

My name is Jacob Muselmann (pronounced like the applesauce, but sadly without the relation). I am from Tulsa, Okla. and have been to many different schools before landing in Kansas: Tulsa, Tulsa Community College, Haskell Indian Nations, and Belgrano (in Argentina). I’ve settled down on journalism with a minor in sociocultural anthropology.

I am currently a news designer for the Kansan, a restaurant reviewer for Jayplay magazine, and a copy editing intern at the Lawrence Journal-World. That doesn’t leave me with much free time, but I remember once enjoying drawing, riding my bicycle, exercising, and eating (especially cookies).

The premise of this class got me thinking about my own views on environmentalism: What does it look like? What should I expect from myself and from others? What are the feasible ways to be more sustainable? In addition to answering these questions, I hope to effectively convey what I have learned, because, as you could guess, I have never written about any of these issues.

“Going green” has always been a vague, trendy phrase that made environmentalism seem to me at once lofty and cheapened. I would like to demystify it, engage it, and be able to add something the next time the conversation comes up. To do this, I reckon honesty and a raw approach is the only way to get anywhere. So I’ll start by saying this journey could be a scary undertaking—but a beneficial one, too.

Fact: Mollie, one of my three, younger sisters, and I can feel trapped in even the most freeing of places whenever our parents require family photos. And it shows.

—Jacob Muselmann

About me: Lauren Cunningham by Lauren Cunningham
January 17, 2010, 8:36 pm
Filed under: About Us, J500 Week 1


I’m Lauren Cunningham, a senior at the University of Kansas from Silver Lake, Kan. I plan to graduate in May with a degree in journalism and a minor in English. Currently I am the managing editor of Kansan.com, the Web site for the University Daily Kansan, which I just began at the beginning of this year. So far I’ve really enjoyed the position because I’m interested in multimedia journalism and Web-related communication.

In my previous years at the University, I have been a correspondent, designer, multimedia producer and copy editor for The Kansan. I have also traveled to London over spring break as part of my western civilization course I took in Spring 2008.

I spent last summer in New York City for an internship with NBC Mobile. There, I helped clip, edit and produce pieces to be sent out to mobile devices, as well as assisted with video shoots, etc. This was my first in-depth experience with broadcasting or video editing, but I really enjoyed learning everything about it. Of course, I also enjoyed being in New York for the summer. I hope I can live there someday again, at least for a little while in my life.

I’m excited about taking “Media and the Environment” because I am trying to be more conscientious about what I buy and eat in effort to adopt a healthier, greener lifestyle. I really want to expand my knowledge on sustainability because I believe I don’t know enough about it. I think that by knowing more, I can make better decisions and hopefully affect my friends and family.

Besides all of the preceding formal information, to get to know me better you should know that I love cooking (when I have time, which is rare), reading and catching up on TV that I miss. I also love searching the Internet for cool multimedia tutorials and examples that inspire me.

— Lauren Cunningham

About Me by Victor Vijayakirthi
June 15, 2009, 9:42 am
Filed under: About Us, J840 Week 1 | Tags: , , , , ,

I’m Victor Vijayakirthi and I’m working on my MBA at the Business school. I’m almost done with the program and I’ve learned a lot about what makes a for-profit organization tick, from new products development to marketing, finance, accounting, organization behavior, corporate strategy, etc. What I haven’t learned much about yet is how to give back, how to run a successful business while still being good stewards of the environment.

While I was thinking about how I can learn more about the environment and sustainability in a formal way, I heard about this course and it seemed like just what I was looking for. In this course I’m hoping to learn how I can apply these concepts at my work, and how to communicate this, within and outside the organization.

I work at Sprint, in IT. IT is among the most energy-consuming organizations in most companies today. Being one of the bigger companies in the Kansas city area, in an industry that by several accounts contributes to over 3% of greenhouse gas emission, Sprint IT has taken some serious initiatives to reduce its impact on the environment, including server consolidation and switching to energy-efficient hardware. Sprint as a whole has also invested in energy savings programs like installing a wind turbine at its campus, and actively pursuing a cellphone recycling program, among other things.

I live in Lenexa with my wife and 3 cats. I like reading non-fiction (and occasionally the ABA journal), traveling, and watching old movies. I’d like to travel to South America sometime in the next 2 years.

-Victor V

About me: Jenni Brown by jennibro
June 11, 2009, 7:25 pm
Filed under: About Us, J840 Week 1 | Tags: , ,

“Passion will make you crazy, but is their any other way to live?” -Howard Hughes



My name is Jenni Brown. I am 24 years old and I live in downtown Kansas City. I am a recent graduate of, The University of Central Missouri. In May 2007 I recieved a Bachelors of Science in Commerical Photography with a specialized minor in Advertising Design.

Upon graduation I diligently interviewed for various companies in the Kansas City area, and I found my home at Burns & McDonnell. I am the Corporate Photographer, and a Graphic Designer, for Creative Services in Corporate Marketing. I photograph project sites, company events, sustainability initiatives, public outreach events, interviews and press conferences. My company has a strong faith in sustainable design and have constructed numerous sustainability initiatives on our World Headquarters campus. My job has given me the ability to document the construction and execution of a green roof, pervious pavement parking lots, a bioswell, rain garden,smart grid and a photovoltaic system. I have attended, and documented our sustainability summit that brings in the leaders of the industry to address sustainable ideas and the technology that is behind them.

Our entire company stands behind leaving the world a little bit better than we found it, and works to help correct the mistakes of the past. The Creative Services department has attended numerous workshops and webinars all dealing with sustainability in the paper industry. Because of these classes we can honestly say that we use 100% recyclable papers. We can say with confidence what percentage of our papers are post-consumer waste and which are pre-consumer waste. We know our footprint, and we work with mills that provide something back to the environment that they are taking from.

My boyfriend and I just purchased our first house and will be moving in a few weeks. I can’t wait to plant a little garden in the backyard and ride my bike through the neighborhood. We are also gaining a 3rd member of our little family. She’s 5 weeks old now, has a wet nose and bg ears.

Our lil' bugWe bring her home the first week of July. For those that wonder, she’s a papillon.

On the weekends I love getting fresh vegetables at the Farmers Market and making fresh salsa to munch on all weekend, going for walks through the park and just sitting inside with a good book letting the breeze blow in through the window. I adore photography and am rarely seen without a camera in hand.

I look forward to class and can’t wait to expand my knowledge of being green!

PS-I turn 25 on July 24th. See you in class!

Jenni Brown

About Me: Trey Williams by TreyW

“Clowns”…”Bees”…”Those creepy twins from ‘The Shining'” That’s a sample of the answers my friends gave as we sat in the north dining hall of the University of Notre Dame reflecting on our biggest childhood fears, one of the many mindless dinner conversations we had in our college years. Given their relatively reasonable answers, I guess I should have been less shocked by the awkward looks I recieved upon revealing my biggest childhood fear.

“Global Warming” I said without even looking up from my flank steak. As the words left my mouth, I was so busy thinking of the scrawny boy in the early 90s who literally hyperventilated as he listened to Nick News’ Linda Ellerbee describe the rising tides and diminished food supplies that would result from Global Warming that I didn’t even notice the slack jawed gazes of friends. Had they known the boy rather than the man (not that they are all that different) they wouldn’t have been so surprised.

Nick News with Linda Ellerbee circa 1992

Nick News with Linda Ellerbee circa 1992

I spent most of my elementary school years on a military base near coastal North Carolina. With two working parents, my younger brother and I were free to run amuck in the pine tree forests and grassy fields of the not-so-deep south. When our parents were around, the four of us spent a lot of time breathing the salty air on the shore. It’s no wonder that I developed a love for nature before I was even 6. That love is what made the animated images of Global Warming on Nick News all too terrifying to a kid already prone to panic attacks and led him to form the “Clean Up Kids” at school and get his family to recycle…before it was cool.

Now 25, my fear for our world lingers. I’m too young to think that the world of the future is “not my problem.” God willing, I’ll still be alive when the world takes the turn that experts predict. Even if I weren’t around, I love my sister, only 12, too much to be ok with leaving her a pillaged planet.

Me and my sister at her dance nationals competition, Myrtle Beach, SC

Me and my sister at her dance nationals competition, Myrtle Beach, SC

I hope that my fledgling career in interactive marketing leads me to opportunities to innovate the way companies communicate. Though only a small piece of the puzzle that is reversing Global Warming, corporations have a civic duty to make the necessary adjustments to their operations to protect the planet. At least, that’s what Mrs. Ellerbee told me.

*Trey Williams*