Happy Birthday, Cesar Chavez! Check out this new film, day of service, and Dolores Huerta speaking at VC!

huertaVC2014Get ready to learn about Cesar Chavez through film and events! Be inspired to participate in service in his honor–if not on his birthday March 31, then how about for Earth Day April 22?



First, on Weds. March 26 from 6-9pm in Ventura College’s Guthrie Hall (4667 Telegraph Road), Dolores Huerta will be on campus to celebrate diversity in culture. If my students attend and write about it, they can earn extra credit.

A labor leader and civil rights activist, Huerta co-founded with Cesar Chavez  the National Farm-Workers Association which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW). 

Recognized internationally for her contribution to social justice, Huerta has received many awards for organizing and advocating for farm workers, immigrant rights and womens’ rights. She has been honored as the Eugene V. Debs Foundation Outstanding American; received the Eleanor Roosevelt Presidential Award for Human Rights; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In 1965 Dolores directed the famous National Boycott of Grapes, taking the plight of the farmworker to the consumer. The boycott resulted in the entire California table grape industry signing three year collective agreements with the United Farm Workers(UFW). Dolores is president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, which promotes leadership, and creates leadership opportunities for community organizing, leadership development, health, and education.

Friday, March 28, 2014  a film directed by Diego Luna and starring Michael Peña as Cesar Chavez will be in the theaters (see trailer). The film also features America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, John Malkovich, Gabriel Mann, and Mark Moses.

All this leads to Cesar Chavez Day, March 31, a day that many are urging be made a Day of National Service.

Chavez was a champion for workers’ rights and an American hero. Honor his legacy by serving on Cesar Chavez Day, March 31 and seek to take this a step further to a full Day of Service. Urge the President to declare March 31 as the Cesar Chavez National Day of Service. (Sign the Petition: http://bit.ly/1cqR49S)

And remember that in less than a month, we’ll have Alice Bag at VC for Earth Day!

Learn more about Cesar Chavez Day here.

Ventura College To Host Environmental Lectures


You are invited to attend guest lectures for ESRM1/BIO 10.

Guest lecture on fracking:  RL Miller

Wed. 3/12 at 1:30-2:45pm in rm: ECT-8

Guest lecture on SOAR: Steve Bennett

Wed 3/19  at 1:30-2:45pm in rm: ECT-8

Guest lecture on Climate Change: Don Price

Wed 3/26 at 1:30-2:45pm in rm: ECT-8

RL Miller

RL Miller is a climate blogger at outlets including DailyKos, Climate Progress, Grist, Calitics, and Takepart.com on climate, environment, and clean energy policy. And you can Follow @RL_Miller on Twitter. He has recently founded Climate Hawks Vote, a superPAC devoted to electing climate-centric candidates. He has spoken at Netroots Nation (coal exports and climate), Netroots California (led environmental panel, 2010) and locally on issues such as Proposition 23, nuclear power, & fracking, and has appeared on radio shows including Lila Garrett’s KPFK. Miller’s work has been written up in the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, and Guardian (UK). He is also chair of California Democratic Party’s Environmental Caucus. Current interests, in all that spare time, include practicing law, keeping chickens, and – on rare occasions – sleeping.

Steve Bennett:
Steve Bennett serves on the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, representing the citizens of District 1. He graduated in 1972 from Brown University with an Honors degree in economics. Before being elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2000, Steve was a teacher and high school administrator for 20 years at Nordhoff High school in Ojai. Steve served on the Ventura City Council from 1993 to 1997. He co-authored the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) that has made Ventura County a national leader in land-use planning. SOAR slows urban sprawl by requiring a vote of the citizens before greenbelt areas outside of the cities can be rezoned for development. http://www.ventura.org/steve-bennett/biography

Don Price

Don Price is a professional engineer now retired from the Ventura County
Air Pollution Control District. A graduate of Purdue University, he
has over 30 years of experience in the control of air pollution and has
been following global climate change since 2007.

Extra credit or make up an absence for my students who attend and write about these events!

Save the date: Earth Day April 22, 2014 Earth Day at Ventura College.

Find us on Facebook!

Actions for Bicycle Awareness + Safety

VCCool is leading three upcoming actions, starting with a ride tomorrow, Sat. Nov. 23, 2013:

1.) Bicycle Awareness Ride
Saturday, November 23, 2:00pm-4:30pm,
Starting at the HUB Community Bike Shop
1150 N. Ventura Avenue, Ventura

Wear signs about the SOLUTION!!
This is not a ride of silence. What’s our message?
Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Responsibilities.
“We’re all in this together!” or “Bicycling Makes Life Wonderful.”
Or “Coexist!”
The Route: Ventura Ave/Main St/Loma Vista/Then Back

My students can join the ride for extra credit or to make up an absence.

2.) Letters to the Editor
Share how our dangerous roads affect you, your family, and our community. What are some solutions that would serve all of us? What does the freedom to bicycle and walk in our City mean to you? Do you have a kind message that you think might educate readers?

Please take a few minutes in the next day or two to write and email or snail mail your letter in advance of the council meeting and to follow-up awareness after the ride.  My students can write AND SEND a letter for extra credit. Include the published letter in your portfolio.

3.) Bring the Issue to City Council
Monday, December 2
6:00pm- 7:30ish (come early to get a seat and fill out a PINK comment form)
Ventura City Hall
501 Poli St., Ventura, CA

Students can attend for extra credit–even more if you prepare something to say, speak, and include your notes/speech in your portfolio.

Read more details here. Students looking for extra credit or for a new research project might want to look into this more!

Why You Should Exercise Outside

According a recent article in the New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds argues that the benefits of exercising outdoors far exceed those of working out in a gym:

“While the allure of the gym — climate-controlled, convenient and predictable — is obvious, especially in winter, emerging science suggests there are benefits to exercising outdoors that can’t be replicated on a treadmill, a recumbent bicycle or a track.”
Hmn,  I wonder how working out outside might help with what Richard Louv has coined “nature deficit disorder”?
Read more here:

“GMO–Your Right To Know” Kicks Off Ventura College Holistic Health Week

It’s in Your Food!  
GMO – Your Right to Know!

Monday, Oct 8th, 7 pm (doors open at 6:30)
Dynamic talk about health risks of genetically modified (GMO) food by
investigative writer and educator Jeffrey Smith.
Ventura College Performing Arts Center (PAC) *newly remodeled and state of the art!
PAC is located in the North Central area of the campus on Loma Vista between Ashwood and Day Rd 
Main campus: 4667 Telegraph Rd, 93003 Map
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Key Note Speaker:  Jeffrey Smith 
Executive Director, Institute for Responsible Technology, author of the best-selling book Genetic Roulette newly released as a documentary film.

Other local speakers:
Dr. Robin Bernhoft:  Fellow and Past President of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and Director of the Bernhoft Center for Advanced Medicine (Ojai).

Catie Wyman-Norris:  Researcher, national tv and radio wellness advocate, and formulator of whole food supplements, who was inspired by her own family’s health problems to find a natural cure.

Steve Sprinkle:  Co-owner, Ojai’s The Farmer & The Cook, all organic farm, cafe, and marketplace and member of the Boards of Directors of Ojai’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture and The Cornucopia Institute.
Sponsored by: 
Ventura College Health Education Department and
Institute for Responsible Technology.Don’t miss this timely event! Bring lots of friends! 
You can RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/393681524035737/?ref=ts&fref=ts
Friend the campaign on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/LabelGMOsVenturaCounty
This is the first event of Holistic Health Week at Ventura College  See details on VC Facebook

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Additional screening of Genetic Roulette 
Wed, Oct 10, 5:30 pm
Performing Arts Center on Loma Vista Rd. 

This new documentary presents powerful evidence of potential harm from eating GMOs. Hear physicians tell why they prescribe nonGMO diets for their patients with predictable beneficial results. 

There are more events every day during Holistic Health Week! My students can attend events and write a thought paper for extra credit or to make up an absence.

Mom thrown in jail for letting kids play outside

Exploring the creek

Exploring the creek (Photo credit: Jeremy Cusker)

Mom thrown in jail for letting kids play outside on their front lawn–while she was out there with them!

This is why we have  what’s being called “Nature Deficit Disorder.”

We need to let kids –of all ages–get out and play in nature.

May = Bike Month:: May + 9 = Bike to School Day!

Just in time for April’s Earth Month, Safe Routes to School E-News March/April 2012 announces:

First-Ever National Bike to School Day

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 – in conjunction with National Bike Month

According to their newsletter:

Adding to the fun and excitement of National Bike Month in May will be the first-ever National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 9, 2012! “Celebrating Bike to School Day will increase the excitement surrounding 2012 National Bike Month,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists and National Partnership Steering Committee member. “Bike Month – including Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day – has grown year after year and we’re pleased to add a school-and kid-focused event to the celebration this year.” National Bike to School Day will be a great way to generate excitement about bicycling and reinforce safe bicycling skills; events can take place on May 9 and other days throughout May. Share your photos and stories with us on our Facebook page and for step-by-step guidance in planning your Bike to School Day activity, visit www.walkbiketoschool.org launching on April 9.

“The Obligation to Endure”–Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” Turns 50

Fifty years ago, in 1962, Rachel Carson published her landmark and highly influential book, Silent Spring. According to Wikipedia,

Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. Carson began her career as a biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her financial security and recognition as a gifted writer. Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the republished version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. Together, her sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life, from the shores to the surface to the deep sea. In the late 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation and the environmental problems caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented portion of the American public. Silent Spring, while met with fierce denial from chemical companies, spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy—leading to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides—and the grassroots environmental movement the book inspired led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency

What follows is chapter two from Silent Spring. It is still meaningful and relevant today, 50 years after it was published.

THE HISTORY OF LIFE on earth has been a history of interaction between living things and their surroundings. To a large extent, the physical form and the habits of the earth’s vegetation and its animal life have been molded by the environment. Considering the whole span of earthly time, the opposite effect, in which life actually modifies its surroundings, has been relatively slight. Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species — man — acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world. Continue reading

Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk: A Food Revolution

This semester, my college students and I discussed the Triple Bottom Line, a bottom line for businesses that goes beyond PROFIT to include people and the planet.

During the first third of the semester, we focused on the “people” part of the equation. Next, we looked at “food” as a way of seeing what we’re doing to the planet. Finally, for profit, we did some problem-posing and most of the students drew on their service learning experiences for their research papers to name, reflect and act on a problem.

Service learning goes beyond community service or volunteering. Students who engage in service learning maintain a reflective journal about what they do and what they’ve learned and to do research related to their service learning site.

As the semester comes to a close, I thought I’d post this TED Talk from Jamie Oliver–someone who has certainly made a name for himself when it comes to solving the problems related to diet related diseases in the US.

Here are some of my notes that I took while watching the above video:

Diet related disease is the biggest killer in the United States today, says Jamie Oliver, and we need a revolution. People are dying needlessly from obsesity and food related diseases.

Obesity costs 10% of health care bills and in less than 10 years this cost will double.

How to eat to save your life?

1) Avoid Fast food

2) Avoid Processed foods, eat instead fresh foods

3) Watch Portion size

4) Watch labeling

Home is not where food culture is created any more. So where will kids learn about food? asks Jamie Oliver. School? Where kids have flavored milk 2x a week? Chocolate milk has the same amount of sugar in it as a soda. What can we do? he asks.

Here are some of Jamie Oliver’s suggestions on how to decrease diet related diseases:

1) Have a “food ambassador” in every grocery store where someone will teach people how to cook

2) Fast food has to be part of the solution. We needed to be weaned off all the fat and sugar.

3) Kids at school need fresh food cooked on site, and that children know how to cook.

4) Corporations need to feed their employees responsibly.

Revolutionary if you ask me. Even more revolutionary if people get on board!

Jonathan Bloom Says “To Save The Earth, If You Buy It, Eat It”

In  a recent LA Times essay, Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It).” argues that wasting less food is among one of the best ways we can reduce our impact on the earth–

Let me guess: You’re concerned about the environment. You recycle, buy the right light bulbs, drink from a reusable water bottle (preferably one made of metal) and wish you could afford a hybrid. You try to remember your reusable shopping bags when you go to the market and feel guilty when you don’t.

But there’s something you could be doing that would make a much bigger difference, and it’s not one of those really hard things like carpooling to work or installing solar panels on your roof.

All you need to do is minimize your food waste. If you buy it and bring it home, eat it. That alone is one of the easiest ways to aid the environment.

Bloom says we need to follow these four guidelines:

1. Buy smarter.

2. Rethink portion size.

3. Love your leftovers.

4. Compost.

For more details on why and how, read on.

Do you agree with Jonathan Bloom? How does he convince you or not?

(Hmmnn…I think this just might make a good essay to use for an in-class final exam!)