Category Archives: Global Climate Change

The End… Final Posting

As I am wrapping up my project, I can surely say that I have accumulated a deeper belief and point of view on the importance of keeping our environment healthy, especially our New York City environment. As you all know, my project was focused on green space within urban environments. I focused on why they are necessary for our personal health and for the overall health of the city. I have always loved the outdoors and nature. That is what initially pointed me in this direction, but after spending a lot of time creating and investigating this topic and coming up with a final piece, I have a different relationship with the parks in our city. I have discovered that they are more than just a place for wildlife and trees to thrive, they are also a place for us to exercise, play and essentially escape. They hold so much importance.

Initially my idea for the project, was to interview several people about our green space and create a video montage of their responses. As I was in that process, I realized that it was turning out to not be the most creative or effective way to get the point across.

SO I kept the footage I took but instead of filling the video with interviews, I filled it with a mix of my voice, breath and music that I placed over the video clips. I wanted to find the more creative edge, to really capture the audience and catch them off guard. The video leaves space for the audience’s interpretation, but requires them to think introspectively and openly about what our inner city environment is doing to us. We call ourselves the Big Apple, but our red delicious is in fact rotting at the core. I took this idea and translated it by relating it to the body’s breath patterns.

The music I chose for the piece is from a site called “Epidemic Sound.” This site is created for video makers to choose from the music library provided. The songs are all 100% royalty free and content ID safe and cleared for all multimedia projects. The song is called “Nonchalance and Fabulance 2” created by Marc Torch. It is under the film category and sub category beautiful.

This was an exciting and grueling experience for me, since I am new to working with Adobe Premiere Pro 2015 and took this as an opportunity to challenge myself and create an artistic piece in a medium that was somewhat foreign to me.

Here is the finished piece…

 

“Embracing All Kinds of Nature”

Since my last update, I have changed a piece I previously made, and created a few new garments. Below are pictures I took of the clothes on a friend of mine. I tried to start to think about how we may want to frame the pieces through photography. And now that I have seen them on someone, I can begin to create an idea of styling or how each piece might connect to a larger scene. Some of the fabric used was found in a recycling container at Parsons, and some of the other fabric was left over from previous projects and costumes. I have not been finishing the edges on most of the pieces because I like having an allusion to the idea of incomplete, or unsolved. I believe this quality is echoed in the state of our environment and the choices we now get to make.


I listened to a podcast recently that has shaped my idea of what is occurring to our planet and what role we play in the destruction, preservation, and reshaping of the natural earth, animal species, and plant diversity. I came across the podcast while listening to the TED Radio Hour sponsored by National Public Radio. The topic: Age of the Anthropocene, or a new geological age, defined by humans and their unprecedented impact on Earth. It is broken down into six segments answering, “What’s The Anthropocene? How Do We Embrace All Kinds Of Nature? Are We Headed Into Another Mass Extinction? How Can Dinosaurs Help Us Understand Our Own Species?” and “Can We Preserve Seed Diversity For The Future?” The topics discussed were varied and allowed me to question the environment in ways beyond how we usually approach our consumption crisis. The podcast balances hope and concern well as well as addresses topics we may not know about and deepens topics we may know well.
In this new light, I continue with my final project, thinking of ways to deepen its impact and meaning. Finding out where I can express concern and where we can find hope and activism in the project. Alex and I are in talks right now about how to frame the garments and I know the ideas that have stuck with me must be interwoven. Especially, what I have gained from the segment Emma Marris did on embracing all kinds of nature. Marris brings us back to being a child and experiencing the wonders of life beyond us through the lens of raising her own children. The ideas that the younger generations will hold of the environment will inevitably be different from ours. But, it is still our responsibility to foster a care within them for the same thing we have loved, and lost in some cases. She brought light to something I too often lose sight of, nature in an urban setting. I know that at the very least, this is something that will come through in my final project.

Final Project Update

Throughout my time in Greenworld, I’ve become extremely uncomfortable knowing and witnessing firsthand how common illegal idling occurs every day in New York City. I will be writing and directing a short film concerning the urgency of addressing illegal engine idling on a local level in New York City, especially now that America has a new President-elect. This matter has never been more urgent than right now. The President-elect’s notions regarding climate change or preserving and protecting our environment are pitiful and terrifying. I am not one to claim someone is wrong. However, scientific facts exist to prove his statements are based on opinions, not facts and are therefore incorrect.

Anyway, back to the project… I first learned from George Pakenham that there has been an anti-idling law on the books in New York City since 1971 and has gone almost unenforced, all the more emphasizing the blatant disregard and terrifying indifference this important health and environmental issue brings to light. Ultimately, I will be using this filmmaking platform to make idling enforcement more of a priority as well as to educate people of Bill 717, an anti-idling bill currently being proposed and reviewed in New York City, the monetary incentive New Yorkers could receive by reporting illegal idling if Bill 717 passes (which happens to be a comfortable yearly salary), core traits and reasoning behind human behavior (specifically why people do not take action when they know what they’re doing is wrong or is not helping a good cause), and finally, distributing information on how to continue moving forward with this issue, which is by going from the top down and inundating specific members of the NYPD with statistics regarding the immediate action necessary to make anti-idling enforcement more prevalent in NYC and to begin discussing this issue more around the internet to increase awareness of what tremendous damage this is contributing to the environment.

My new friend, Isabelle B. Silverman of the Core Fuel Engine Group has been kind enough to discuss my final project with me and she’s provided me with some excellent places to start taking action prior to knowing whether Bill 717 gets passed or not. For instance, anyone could send countless email to the NYPD Chiefs Michael Pilecki and Chief Chan.  Chief Chan is the head of the NYPD Transportation Unit and Pilecki is his Deputy. Isabelle also suggested reaching out to Mayor DeBlasio and asking him to make idling enforcement more of a priority especially given the thousands of 311 calls on idling that’ve resulted in no action. Here are their two emails:

thomas.chan@nypd.org

michael.pilecki@nypd.org

Webpage where submission for Mayor DeBlasio can be made:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/static/pages/officeofthemayor/contact.shtml

We should also be tweeting about this and posting on Facebook. Any social media presence helps!

Inundating them with these emails, tweets, and Facebook messages should help tremendously because they will have to start talking about it. There is also the possibility that students could start a social media campaign, even write a Care2 petition and get it signed online. Here’s some of the text from Isabelle. She believes it could be sufficient to be emailed, tweeted, or posted on Facebook:

“Illegal engine idling considerably contributes to bad air quality and noise which is why, since 2010, 40,000 New Yorkers have filed 311 idling complaints. Idling is clearly an important issue to New Yorkers but the 311 complaints don’t lead to tickets because the vehicle is gone by the time the DEP gets the complaint. The NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agents (TEA) are the city agents that are best suited to hand out idling tickets. Currently, TEAs only issue about 2,500 idling tickets compared to 9 million expired meter tickets.  Given that issuing idling tickets is more confrontational because the driver is usually in the vehicle, please dispatch a few hundred TEAs in pairs and make it their main focus to issue idling and double-parking tickets. Often, double-parked vehicles also idle so they should get two tickets. This law has been on the books since 1971 and has gone almost unenforced. Thank you very much for your consideration to this important health issue!”

Leverage Points & Paradigms of the System

“In the end it seems, that power has less to do with pushing leverage points than it does with strategically, profoundly, madly letting go.”

The cases of Hayes, Carson, and Kelsey are all extremely similar in that each of them discovered incriminating information about drugs and chemicals used by large corporations.  Each of them began to be plagued by paranoia that they were being watched by the companies.  Meadow describes Leverage Points as places to intervene within a system where a “small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.”

9. Length of delays, relative to the rate of system changes

This also relates to the way that Hayes’, although choosing to cut ties initially after discovering the negative effects of Atrazine, with held this information for the sake of reputation  and therefore began to risk his own credibility as Syngenta began to build their case against him risking his reputation even more.

6. Structure of information flow

This is used particularly within Hayes’ case as he seeks to disseminate information by publishing his studies, which is later discredited by the corporation with their own false studies.

5. Rules of the system (such as incentives, punishment, constraints)

The rules of the system are vital to the cases of Hayes, Carson, and Kelsey as it is clear that large corporations are able to create these rules while independents are forced to follow them without any shift to transcend these paradigms.

Large Corporations Vs. Independent Thinkers

The two readings compliment each other in that they both explore the relationship between ethics and original scientific ideas versus the blindness of larger corporations.

A Valuable Reputation

Leverage Points

Leverage Points authored by scientist and environmentalist Donella Meadows, explains her twelve ways in which to intervene within a greater system. The topic of ‘growth’ with attention to slower growth was featured in her scientific argument. In A Valuable Reputation scientists Tyrone Hayes was struggling with his own discoveries and facts clashing with the ideas of large corporations. He focused on the effects of atrazine as a herbicide that results in birth defects in humans and animals. He conducted extensive experiments on frogs which showed that a frog’s hormones are identical to human hormones  and the effects of atrazine in their ecosystem was causing birth defects in male frogs. He was exploring if the influence of this chemical shared the same negative effects on humans. When he wished to re-do the experiments, in order to double-check his findings, the larger companies would not allow the extra money or time so Tyrone conducted the experiments on his own time without their influence. Meadows touched on an idea that the large companies such as NAFTA and GATT and The World Trade Organization whose strive to make the world work better are actually pushing us into the wrong direction. They were focused on fast growth in order to fix the problems in the economy, population and environment. What Meadows and Hayes have in common is that they fight for slower more steady or even no growth whatsoever when it comes to these topics of interest.

I believe that essentially what Meadows argued was that in order for the world to become further successful it must not yearn for more growth in order to fix the problems, but to maybe not even focus on growth at all but rather focus on the problems which we have currently environmentally and economically and stop the rapid growth all together. By allowing for her twelve system leverage points to work, we can not only rely on the intuition of what we think would be the best alternative or answer to our global problems. We must look at the facts that we are faced with and sort out steps or leverage points in order to regulate them. Similar to Hayes’s chemical discoveries, and battles with larger corporations trying to pull him down. He fought against the quick harsh decisions made by companies such as Syngenta or the EPA and continued to spend the time needed to fully investigate the harmful chemical disasters.

Donella Meadows' basic diagram of parameters, stocks, delays, flows and feedback
Donella Meadows’ basic diagram of parameters, stocks, delays, flows and feedback.

Tyrone Hayes’ ending words. 

 

Updated Pieces

I wanted to post an update on my sustainable style midterm project. So far, I have been working off of the idea of upcycling old garments into new pieces, as well as creating original garments out of scrap materials leftover from previous projects. I have created a new pair of jeans from an old, oversized pair. The pants were originally black coated denim, but through wear became a charcoal color. I dip-bleached the color out of the bottom to get the two-tone effect. I then altered the fit through two seams running up the front of the legs. The design of the pants, was inspired by the imagery I found in my visual research of the large pools of wastewater created through the process of fracking.

This process also inspired the top that I have paired with these pants. I have created a shirt in four panels, using the grain lines to create converging lines in a downward formation. The fabric and construction plays into the ideas of the geological formations, gas, oil, and ground water, which are interrupted in the process of fracking.

I wanted to allude to the process of fracking as outlined by the EPA, which consists of 5 stages. The stages are as listed: Water Acquisition, Chemical Mixing, Well Injection, Flowback and Produced Water, and Wastewater Treatment and Waste Disposal. I believe this look beings to explore the ideas of fracking and the damage that it does to the environment. By connecting this form of consumerism of fossil fuels to the consumerism of fashion, I hope to begin a conversation about sustainability.

 

I cannot wait to see how Alex will frame these garments with his photography.

A Note on Process

With my compiled and expanded research, I sat down to brainstorm how my concept of merging environmental image and clothing might manifest in the made garments. I envisioned upcycling denim, using recycled and leftover fabrics, and adding in unconventional materials in order to create these looks. They will mirror aspects of the environmental imagery they renderings are imposed on through color, silhouette, texture, or material. I have begun to find old garments that I will be using as well as excess materials I have found to recycle. I am curious to explore the deconstruction and reconstruction aspects of this process and how they may tie to relate to our connection to the environment. Pictured below are my initial ideas.

Before the Flood Documentary

This weekend, I had the opportunity to see Leonardo DiCaprio’s new film, Before the Flood. Following DiCaprio’s journey through places and phenomena shaped by climate change, the film features many familiar faces we’ve seen in documentaries about environmentalism and climate change.

As a recently appointed UN Messenger of Peace with a focus on climate change, DiCaprio has been using his stardom for quite a while to bring attention to issues on climate change. However, dissenters evenmoreso attack climate change supporters because of DiCaprio’s appointment to the UN, saying he has no scientific background and as a Hollywood actor is just as superficial as climate change is.

The film also examines climate change denialism funded by fossil fuel industries, including the Koch Brothers. Like Merchants of Doubt, the film explains that all these corporations have to do is divide the public, not win the debate; corporations find people with fairly reasonable credentials to speak lofty on climate change. This is enough to create a two-sided debate amongst the public.

But, this film brought to my attention the fact that a large percentage of US leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives are connected, in one way or another, to fossil fuel companies and halt progress on preventative measures.

Another issue the film examines is the issue of lifestyle and consumption. People argue that these issues must be put at the center of climate negotiations. American consumption of energy has increased dramatically and seemingly exponentially, and compared to the consumption of other nations is completely ridiculous. But, Dicaprio argues that consumption is never going to change; Americans are not going to want less, spend less, or expect less. Rather, what needs to change is the type of energy used: from fossil fuels to renewables.

But currently, the US is hypocritical in telling other nations to use renewables when they don’t even push it on themselves. A major question the film posed is: Why can’t the US lead by example when it comes to renewable energy and climate change provisions? Is it not our responsibility to help the world transition before it’s too late?

Besides for renewable energy, the film looks at melting glaciers in Iceland, rising sea levels and its effect on small island countries and even here in the US, the effect of palm oil throughout the world, air quality and toxicity in China, coral reef destruction, “carbon bombs” in forest fires, and methane release from cows, among other topics. This film certainly tries to tie all of these topics into one large discussion on climate change, and while overwhelming, it certainly brings to awareness many issues that I’ve known about and many that I hadn’t learned about.

Ending the Paris Climate Accord Signing and serving as the ending of the film, DiCaprio powerfully declared to world leaders: “Now think about the shame that each of us will carry when our children and grandchildren look back and realize that we had the means of stopping this devastation, but simply lacked the political will to do so. Massive change is required right now—one that leads to a new collective consciousness, a new collective evolution of the human race inspired and enabled by a sense of urgency from all of you. You are the last best hope of earth. We ask you to protect it. Or we, and all living things we cherish, are history.”

If you have time, I highly recommend seeing this film in theaters, on Hulu, or on YouTube.

Transparency through Fashion

Within our day-to-day lives, it can be difficult to see past what is only visible on the surface. We choose to investigate, dig deeper, and find out how the world around us is functioning. Often times, we rely on visual cues to set us into question. Through connecting these visuals to our investigative work, we aim to find answers that connect with our bank of knowledge. Once we find transparency, we often want to share this with others and make it more accessible to them than it was to us.

The film, “Merchants of Doubt” set me into thinking about this idea of transparency between consumer, company, and in this case, our third party, the environment. The tool used by these big CPA’s was doubt. The doubt acted as a layer of opacity, blocking the consumers from being able to pull back the curtain, and view the truth of the situation. This idea of transparency is a driving force in the concept of my midterm project in which I would like to explore the lines of capitalism and the environment through clothing.

The article, “The Fashion Industry and Its Impact on the Environment and Society” brings a level of awareness to the destructive impacts the fashion industry, specifically fast fashion, has on the environment globally. It is claimed “that the garment industry is the world’s second biggest world polluter” although it is hard to decipher exactly what impact it is having as the production process is much larger than one might think. The process spans the agriculture of fibers, manufacturing textiles, dying, printing, bleaching, construction, and shipping and that is only up to the point of the sale of the garment. In this line of manufacturing is the demand for water, fertilizers, dye chemicals, and waste in product.

Past its life on the line of manufacturing, a garment may be worn and then discarded as the next style comes in. A garment is either then resold, or disposed of. Only 15% of discarded clothing is resold or recycled. As highlighted by the article, the resale of clothing may not be a globally conscious act. It states, “not only does the availability of such a great quantity of second-hand clothes create unemployment within the garment sector of developing countries, but it also negatively impacts economic growth and destroys the designs inspired by local cultures and traditions.” This is not something the average consumer would know or be expected to infer even though it is something they interact with daily.

Fashion is not only a form of expression, but it is a form of communication. We send a message to those around us with our dress. I want to tap into this tool for communication to bring the issues discussed about capitalism and the environment to the forefront. Bringing these topics into our every day through dress allows it to be more visible. Placing it in context of our own bodies brings a point of interest to the closeness of these issues.

The looks will be created through styling, constructing new pieces, and altering old clothing. I plan to use the process of upcycling, taking an old garment and creating something new from it, as a key part of these conversational pieces. Putting these larger devices in conversation with one another, I hope to create curiosity and questioning. I aim to use my visual tools to set others into question and find a new level of transparency.

 

Shown below is the beginnings of my visual research aiming to begin a vocabulary of the organic, inorganic, human, non-human, industrial, and natural and how they may manifest themselves in art and fashion.