J500 Media and the Environment

Zoos: Sources of wonderment or “Pitiful Prisons”? by bendcohen

I open myself to teasing sometimes, and I’m perfectly fine with that.  When I received an onslaught of jabs from friends about a month ago over Facebook for my fascination with the application/game Zoo World.  For the uninitiated, Zoo World is like Farmville, but for cool people, but I digress.

I and most kids I knew growing up loved the real life zoo.  When you are nine years old, a zoo seems like a magical place with strange creatures that you don’t get to see anywhere else.  With that sense of juvenile wonderment, you don’t really consider that the place with the animals is still run by people who are prone to mistakes and bad habits.

Even I tended not to consider this fact, having not been to my hometown’s self-proclaimed “World Famous” Topeka Zoo in several years. The zoo had clearly lost its luster some time ago, having lost national accreditation almost  a decade ago due to mistreatment of animals, something which was supposedly rectified a few  years later.  Sadly, one of my occasional trips to the Topeka-Capital Journal’s website (nostalgia, I suppose) revealed this to  not be true.  A few offenses listed include poor safety procedures to both keep people protected from dangerous animals, and vice versa; elephants not having their feet examined on a regular basis; and a hippopotamus not being allowed in its pool for periods of up to eight hours, extremely difficult for an animal that has no sweat glands and is accustomed to spending most of its time in or near water to keep cool.

I thought this picture, purportedly from a zoo in China, was awesome at first. Lately, it's occurred to me that it's rather sad.

Environmental stewardship can mean a lot of things.  We tend to think about recycling, energy use, land conservation, etc. as ways of protecting our planet, but we all have to learn the value of it sometime.  To give somebody, a child or otherwise, some sense of a connection to the world outside of their hometown, it is well and good to stir their imagination with examples of the wondrous things they can find hidden in the trees.  This is why I still believe in zoos as valuable to communities, and why I would like to see the one I used to love as a kid hold a higher standing than it apparently does now.  It infuriates me to no end that PETA might be on to something when they refer to zoos as “pitiful prisons“, partially because PETA in general annoys me, but if we can’t maintain the wildlife (a term I suppose I’m using loosely here) we use to exemplify the more amazing aspects of nature, we really can’t expect people to understand the value of protecting it.

~Ben C.

A different perspective by tylerw09

I didn’t grow up eating local food.

My mom would make wonderful meals for our family, but I did not have a very big relationship with my food. I would eat fast food from time to time and I never questioned where my food came from. 

For a short time my mom had a garden at our house in Topeka. I remember that she grew strawberries and that I didn’t like having to pull weeds.

The readings and discussions of this class, as well as my experience with the KCCUA has totally changed my perspective.

I now am developing a better understanding with my food and want to start a garden as soon as I can. troostwood-300x200

The kids who work at the Troostwood Youth Garden  are growing up understanding where food comes from and learning from an early age how to eat healthy.

I am moving to New York City at the end of the month and want to start an urban garden. Seeing the many different places that food can be grow makes me very optimistic that I could actually grow my own food. 

Working with the KCCUA has also taught me more about the seasons. It never occurred to me that it was a bit strange that I could buy broccoli all year. 

I think that this disconnect with the food I eat and with the seasons is horrible. 

Now that I have more knowledge I feel like I should try to help educate other people.

I think that actually creating an urban farm will help me learn more about the food that I eat and help me learn more about myself

-Tyler Waugh

Love on two wheels by tylerw09

I think it’s the warm weather that did it. I’ve decided to start riding my bike again. Before I had a car I had my bike. I would visit my friends and ride to coffee shops or restaurants.

I rode a lot less once I got my car.

I always thought it was strange that my mom was more concerned with me riding my bike then driving my car in Topeka

but now I understand.

Topeka is a not very bike friendly city and I would often get yelled at by motorists or ran off the road. This led me to take long trips though side streets and alleys to get to my destination.

This should not be how cyclists are treated! I am doing my part to drive my car less and I deserve some respect!

I am lucky that Lawrence has a bronze-level status as a bicycle-friendly community. I feel comfortable riding on most rodes and most motorists are act courteous and safe. There are also bike lanes and trails for cyclists.

5 American cities were on the list of the 11 most bike friendly cites in the world. I wonder if the state of the economy and gas prices will change this? I know I try to only use my car to drive home to Topeka.

There is already an international ride your bike to work day, but has regularly riding your bike to work become a stigma?

I hope not, because there are few things I like more than riding my bike on a beautiful Kansas day. The wind is splashing my face and hair and I forget all my cares, at least until the ride is over.

-Tyler Waugh

Photo Credit: Earcos on Flickr

For the love of landfills by tylerw09
March 6, 2009, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Society + Media, Waste + Recycling | Tags: , , , ,


I feel at home in a landfill. I love everything about it, all the different colors, textures, shapes and especially the smell. The smell that stays with you all day. The smell that gets on your clothes and your shoes and completely overwhelms you.

I love going to landfills because I can actually show people how awful they are. I could list staggering statistics like how Americans throw away around 40 billion bottles and soft drink cans and 25 billion Styrofoam cups each year, but I feel that these numbers can be expressed better in a visual way.





These photographs are from a project I did on mass consumption a few years ago. I tried to show the tremendous amount of waste and how are society makes these products readily available to consume and throw away. As has been said many times “away is a place” and this place is a landfill.

I am the youngest of 4 children, all boys. Most of my clothes are hand me downs, I’ve never really lived any other way. This is a good way to reuse old things, which is the second step to the good old phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle.” I reduce my wardrobe by not having many clothes in the first place, and donate all my clothes to goodwill to reuse them. Every American throws away over 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year, and this could be dramatically reduced if people shopped more at second hand stores or the goodwill and reused old clothes. The photographer Chris Jordan has also done some wonderful work on mass consumption.

I will continue to document the horror of landfills. If people see where “away” is then maybe they will start reusing things and think twice before throwing things out.


– Tyler Waugh

About Me: Bryan D. by j500

Good evening,

For some reason, typing a description/about me online always makes me think I’m applying to some date finding web site:  My name is Bryan; I have brown hair; Pisces.

But seriously, my name is Bryan. I’ve been studying English at KU for three years now and actually think I can finish my undergrad in four. If all goes well, I’ll be the first in my extended family to do so. I’m interested in English mainly because I love writing and talking about writing.  After graduation, I’d like to apply for Teach for America or a similar program and help children all over abandon the ideas that essays are five paragraphs and topic sentences are the all mighty guardians of said paragraphs.Lauren and Bryan

I became interested in the environment and especially food when I made the switch from omnivore to herbivore almost 6 years ago. Being a vegetarian naturally extended my thoughts into the environmental realm and after reading Peter Singer and listening to Paul McCartney, I’ve started to actually form my own thoughts and ideas about the connection between diets and the environment. Oh what a tangled web!

Sorry, that was kind of heavy.

Aside from that, I’ve previously spent the last five semesters on The Kansan but retired this semester and am currently interning for Senator Hensley at the statehouse in Topeka, researching and writing about the Senate Judiciary and Education committiees — talk about heavy!