J500 Media and the Environment

Coursework in the Community by beccan

Have you ever heard the saying that Lawrence is the next Boulder, Colorado?

Personally, I love Colorado and think that there is just such a great respect for the environment in the state. Every time I land at Denver International Airport and step off of the plane, I can’t help but give a sigh of relief. The feeling is like no other; it’s fresh, crisp and pure air invades your lungs, unlike stepping off of the plane in any other airport. Being the next Boulder is such an amazing complement and I have learned that Lawrence is making an effort to add truth to that saying.

Beautiful Kansas

Kansas, courtesy of flickr.com


This class has opened my eyes to information that I had never taken the time to investigate and has truly changed the way I think about food and the environment. I honestly did not even know that food is such an environmental issue that affected everyone. Before this class food was strictly something that helped sustain me, period. If I was hungry then I’d eat and if I wasn’t hungry then I wouldn’t and it was that simple– until fourteen weeks ago. Now, every time I think about food, I not only think about calories, as any woman does, but I think about what my food is made with and how it was made. I would have never thought that a class, lasting a mere fourteen weeks, could change me and help change the community. I was wrong.

The Douglas County Food Policy Council has been a great addition to this class, giving us the opportunity to help create a change in Lawrence that will last for years to come and positively affect so many people in the community. Creating a local food system is a difficult task, but is more easily attained with the help of students. Engaging one class full of students in the issue of local food and the environment is a step in the right direction. Lawrence is setting the bar in this important matter and soon people will be saying that their town is the next Lawrence, Kansas.

Becca N.

Howdy, y’all by KaylaReg
February 8, 2010, 7:10 pm
Filed under: Society + Media | Tags:

Simran asked me to share this piece I did for Kansas Free Press. It’s nothing specially, I basically just recap Al Gore’s introduction to Silent Spring (click here for the full article) and at the end I asked readers to answer a few questions. One of the responses I got on facebook was from a gun slinging libertarian friend of mine who said the book Everything I Do is Illegal completely changed the way she bought food. Has any one heard of or read this book? The most interesting response was from Ken Polan, a semi-retired farmer and what he had to say really reminded me of the discussion we had with Frank Morris. Below is his response.


I’m a semi retired farmer, one of those guys who has used herbicides, pesticides, and commercial fertilizers ever since they became available. I was also in the livestock business and used insecticides and medications of all kinds.

Yes, I think all of those inputs have been grossly over used. I was never one who thought if a little was good a lot would be better. But, if anyone thinks we could feed the world population without those inputs, they are very much misinformed.

Now, do I think man can alter the environment? He most certainly can and has. I was born in the early ’30s (dust bowl days). If we had continued farming practices of that day, western Kansas would certainly be an arid wasteland of sifting sand that wouldn’t even sustain the roaming herds of buffalo and nomadic Indian tribes. If you know the area and history of certain fields, you still see the evidence of man’s abuse and neglect of those fields. Look at the air quality reports for the metropolitan areas. Sometimes that environment is certainly less friendly than it was before concentrated masses of mankind took over the terrain. Imagine what that air quality would be today, if all energy resources were still limited to fossil fuels.

Do we need the radical extremes of those who think we should go back to a lifestyle that would require God to provide manna every morning like he did for Moses and the wandering tribes in the desert? Do we need the radical extremists that say, forget the environment because God’s in control and man can’t permanently alter nature? That may work for that generation, but their children or grandchildren will have a drastically modified lifestyle as a consequence of the short term success of their predecessors.

Do we need regulation and enforcement to control society? I’m afraid we do. Do we need sensible and realistic approaches? I’m quite sure we do. Do we need radical extremist on both ends of the debate to make those regulations and enforce them? Certainly not!”


-Kayla Regan

It’s not a small world after all… by denah

As I look back on the last few months and about this particular class, I can’t help but have a flashback to my childhood. I’m sitting in Disney World on the ride “It’s a small world after all” with little mechanical people from all different parts of the world dancing, singing and playing with one another. A part of me wants to believe that everybody in the world can dance, sing and play with one another…but it is really not so easy.

If anything, this course has taught me to open my eyes just a little more to what is going on in our world. The world is truly a big, big place…with so many opportunities. There is still so much to learn about the environment, about going green, about the polar bears and polar ice caps, the meat industry, landfills and recycling. I have learned that I need to step out of this small shelter that I have had myself in for most of my lifetime and I need to learn about what is happening in and to our world.

Since I am realizing how big this world truly is, I have to wonder where my place is. Where do I fit into this enormous world? This course has taught me that it is okay to not be radical, but to take these small baby steps. I know I don’t need to be a vegetarian to make a world a better place, but I do know that maybe an alternative would be to eat organic, local meats. I have to thank my classmates for accepting me as somewhere in the middle of all of this.

After spending time in this class and working at the Center for Sustainability this semester, I obviously think about what it even means to be sustainable anyway. I thought our class discussion about the definition of sustainability was the perfect way to sum up the reasons for “why are we here?” and “why do we even care?” We’re here and we care because this is about us, the people. It is about ways to make ourselves happy and to make the world happy. It is about compromise and sacrifice of ourselves in order to put someone else’s and the world’s needs first. We really need to ensure our survival and the world’s survival. What better way of doing that then working together?

So now what? I want to thank Simran and the entire class for such an eye opening experience. I am so glad I chose to take this course because I have really learned so much. Thank you for helping me open my eyes to the world. So what do we do with all of this that we have experienced this semester? Educate others and yourself.

I will end this post with a quote from one of my favorite movies, Airplane:

“Just want to let you know, we’re counting on you.”

-Dena Hart