Tag Archives: final project

Final Project: Water Glass

Working on an environmental issue close to home has shown me the importance of cleaning up our world. Now.

I first came across the pollution at Astoria Park, Queens earlier this semester. As I walked along the shoreline I noticed the rocks gleaming in the light in an unnatural manner. With a closer look I realized that shards of glass littered every inch of the land. It shocked me to see the severe contrast between nature and man-made trash. I knew something had to be done, and people needed to be informed.

The East River is a salt water tidal estuary. It serves as a receptacle for the city’s sewage and garbage, thus making it extremely unclean. Hell’s Gate Bridge was also a major cause for pollution as it was the route for numerous industrial shipments. Fortunately, over the years, it has been preserved to now be safe for fishing, boating, and swimming. To shed light on this corruption, I decided to collect shards of glass and create a collage. By doing so, I would be able to share it with residents and strangers and start a conversation about the water that surrounds us.

When I went to the shoreline to collect the materials, I was greeted with an abundance of trash. Every step I took was met with the crunch of broken beer bottles washed up on the shore. I ended up taking 1.75 gallons worth of glass and had to stop because my bucket became too heavy. As I was leaving, I talked to a girl named Tahia who was at the nearby bus station. I showed her what I collected and explained the project I was working on. She responded, “You’d think the government would do something, but everyone just ignores it. It’s disgusting.” She is currently a junior at Pace University studying mathematics, and was very grateful for my research. Seeing her passion and gratitude for an issue such as this reminded me that my generation is ready to make a difference, and has the power to do so.

Most of the beer bottle pieces I collected were green and brown, so I thought of creating a collage of the Earth. But I decided to stick to a river, because that’s what I researched and where the pieces had come from. On the back of my art piece I posted three pictures of the site for reference. I had also scooped up some of the East River in a container to show what the trash looks like in real life. I’m not a professional visual artist, but I’m pleased with how my final project came out. The image is clear, the patterns are neat, and it showcases exactly what I wanted to bring light to. In our final Green World class, one of the students brought it to my attention how insane it is that I was able to gather so many large pieces of glass. When she had heard what I was planning to do she assumed it would be a bunch of small pieces. But seeing the final collage was impactful by the sheer largeness and amount of glass I was able to get so easily.

So, what can we do to stop this? Riverkeeper is an incredible organization that fights to defend NYC’S waterways. You can help clean up the shores, donate, or take part in any of their numerous events to protect our water. And although NYC is is striving to invest in cleaning up the water over the next ten years, it is our responsibility to be conscious of our own actions. For example, disposing excess fats and greases, diapers, condoms, and personal hygiene products in the garbage can; using the drain can cause raw sewage to overflow. And as shown through the washed-up glass bottles in Astoria Park, recycle responsibly and consistently. The health of our world matters and affects everyone. Pollution is a man-made problem and now, more than ever, it needs a man-made solution.

 

 

Concocting Fabrics

For my final project I have decided to tackle the ever-growing footprint of pollution stemming from the fashion industry. As Eileen Fisher famously stated during her reception speech for her 2015 Riverkeeper Award, the fashion industry is the second-largest polluting industry in the world; only second to the oil industry. While that may seem like an over exaggeration, when considering all the input costs involved in each step of the garment production process–from the initial cultivation of crops, to the manufacturing of textiles, to the time we as consumers discard of them– this estimate doesn’t seem as much of a misjudgment. It has become a fact that most within the industry have taken note of, however, have only begun to take baby steps towards alleviating the current status of impact the industry as a whole.

While some have chosen to tackle the issues at a singular level, improving upon the existing issues at each individual phase of the lifecycle of a garment (such as improving the practices of farmers cultivating cotton or reducing or eliminating the usage of water in the textile dyeing process) a greater ambition would be to eliminate the footprint of an entire portion of the garment production process. That is what Bio-fabrics aim to do: capitalize on the production of fabrics from microorganisms in lieu of traditional crops and livestock, thereby cutting out most of the necessity of water, land use, waste byproducts, chemicals, emissions and energy usage, as procurement moves from a large farm to bio-experimentation labs. If fabrics were to be produced in such a way, a great number of the current issues plaguing the production and manufacturing side of the business would be mitigated.

This is the aim of my project, to refine the process of producing Bio Fabrics and figure out a sound way to advance the process of creating fabrics rather than cultivate them.

Bio-Fabrics, are a type of fabric originating from a chemical reactions of microorganisms. In the formula I am utilizing, the reactions lead to the production of a cellulose film, woven from the fermentation of a Symbiotic Culture of Yeast and Bacteria (or SCOBY). This recipe I have focused my attention on is the brainchild of Suzanne Lee, Fashion Designer and Director of the BioCouture Research Project, who noticed the potential for microbe-grown fabrics when interviewing a biologist for her 2005 novel, Fashioning the Future. Since then, Lee has taken many steps into the augmentation of the perception and overall realization of bio-fabrics, however, in the process has recognized many shortcomings of the current selection of grown fabrics.

(Watch: Suzanne Lee’s TED Talk Presentation)

Additionally, from my previous experience in producing bio fabrics, I have identified many shortcomings to the current abilities of this microbial concoction and realized key areas in the process to which I have the ability of improving upon. Two leading issues I have identified within the process revolve around the water solubility and possibility of production in scale for the SOCBY produced fabric. It is in these areas which I aim to refine and improve upon the existing models during the course of my final project.

Cellulose Film Out of the Bath
Cellulose Film Out of the Bath
SCOBY in Fermentation Bath
SCOBY in Fermentation Bath
Cardholder crafted with Bio-Fabric
Cardholder crafted with Bio-Fabric

In order to tackle these issues, I have several preliminary ideas. The first is the utilization of the waxy coating of fruit as a source of post-production coating for water-proofing. The other being the formation of growth bins that take the shape of clothing patterns. Through experimentation, I hope to aid in an overall improvement to the fabric and increase the feasibility of utilization of Bio Fabrics in larger scale, with the end goal of producing a fabric that can be a viable option for the industry use.

Apple Wax

Courtesy of Google+

“There’s No Honor In Waste” -Samara Swanston

Last Wednesday, October 12th, I was invited to join Peter and the core engine exhaust group for lunch. The group included George Pakenham, Isabella B. Silverman, Samara Swanston, Karl Storchmann, Peter, and myself. The afternoon comprised of an extremely productive and informative anti-idling campaign meeting, vigorous note taking on my end for my midterm and final project, and the icing on the cake was Peter covering my meal. Thank you again Peter!

In order to get a clearer idea of who all these people are that Peter and I met with, here is what they all do. George  is the notorious man-on-emissions; an environmental activist who focuses on idling and who made the film, Idle Threat (website: http://www.verdantvigilante.com/about/george.html). Isabella B. Silverman is also an environmental activist who starred in George’s film Idle Threat. Samara Swanston “is currently the legislative counsel to the Environmental Protection Committee of the New York City Council and an Adjunct Professor at the Pratt Institute Graduate School for Urban Planning and the Environment” (https://www.linkedin.com/in/swanston-samara-80923356). Lastly, Karl Storchmann is an NYU professor of Urban Economics who’s found a great response rate from his students when offering extra credit to report idling in NYC.

Samara Swanston built off this idea to give extra credit to students but in greater detail. She said it is imperative to write an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) to a government agency with the focus being on an environmental and public issue, as these issues impact everyone breathing the air in New York City. Samara ended her input with a new quote; “There is no honor in waste.”

Additional information I was given during lunch was that Karl has a youtube channel called “Idle NYC,” which closely resembles our first blog post assignment when Peter asked us to go notice idling and post some pictures or videos. Also, summer months such as June and July appear to be the peak times of year for idling due to higher demand for comfort and stronger air conditioning. What is more interesting is that idling in the summer heat and keeping the air conditioning on actually puts out even more heat into the atmosphere than the colder months of the year because the tailpipes get much hotter in the summer sun.

To wrap up our meeting, Samara and Isabella gave me two very important names to keep in mind and to share with friends, colleagues, and environmental activists. Thomas M Chan is the Chief of Transportation for the NYPD and Inspector Michael Pilecki, a commanding officer of traffic enforcement for the NYPD. Samara and Isabella told me to pass on these names to my peers and cohorts because these are the guys to write complaints to in order for something to be done in terms of law enforcement for idling in NYC. I imagine it is more productive to approach this from the top down than the other way around so that our voices have a greater chance of being noticed and heard. The most important factor in all of this is to vigorously stay on these guys and overwhelm them with complaints until something is done. Otherwise, they’re more likely to not take notice that people actually care about this crucial law and the detrimental impact it has on our environment.

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Photo credit goes to our awesome waiter who’s name I did not get but I wish I had!

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Me and Isabella B. Silverman, environmental activist and star of Idle Threat.
Me and the man-on-emission himself, George Pakenham.
Me and the man-on-emission himself, George (of the *concrete* jungle) Pakenham. 

Greenworld Greenthumb

For my final project, I chose to focus on gardening specifically urban gardening and even more specifically urban gardening for a small indoor space (like a dorm).  I believe in order to begin to make a change in the environment people need to simply care. I think a good way to encourage caring for the environment is gardening on a small scale. Seeing your plants grow gives you a real since of pride. You care for a thing and it is able to thrive.

My own plant's progress.
My own plant’s progress.

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I decided to have my subject take the form of a zine, a small self published booklet. I decided this was a good form for my final project because I’m not really social media savvy or have much of a social media presence. I thought I could do more with a physical form.

I began the process of making my zine by just brainstorming gardening topics I’d want to research and read about myself. 20160503_014234

Before diving into research I started work on a template for my zine on PowerPoint in order to know how many topics to include. Capture

I titled my zine “Greenworld Greenthumb”. My first zine covers the topics of “Plants to Purify the Air“, “How to Propagate Succulents“, and “Tips to Care for Your Succulents“. My second zine covers the topics of “Where to Find Plants in NYC” (I used my own research for this, visiting places all over Manhattan), “Making Your Plants Decorative” (I used my own experience and pots for this), and “Tips for Transporting Plants“. Besides the information present in my zines, a big focus for me were the images. I tried to include as many photos as I could fit and tried to use as many of my own images as possible. The first zine was mostly found images, which I credited in the zine or were creative commons, but I also included my own illustrations, plants, and polaroids. My second zine, because it was mostly my own exploration and experiences, had a majority of my own images.

The first edition.
The first edition.
The second edition.
The second edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I printed them in a little less than a half page size in order to be small and convenient. I printed them in black and white because it’s what I had available to me. One thing I included in my second zine that was not on my first is a QR code leading to my progress post. Once printed I distributed them in two ways. I put the first edition of my zine out at my dorm’s resource center (Rubin Hall) where residents could pick them up as they entered. They second way I distributed my zines (the second edition and a few left over first editions) was handing them out in Washington Square Park.

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I’ve learned a lot about plants in really diving into this project, and I came out with a couple new plants. I thought the zine making process was enjoyable and I could see continuing the process. I’ll definitely continue to garden in my window and care for my plants.

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Dani Schoffman – Final Project

I originally had planned on making videos with the tagline “Every Little Bit Helps.”  The idea was to influence people to do the little that they can to help the environment. Nowadays people don’t realize how they can help, and that if everyone did their small part it would make a big difference.  My goal for my final project was to create short videos that would make people understand just that.

After meeting with professor Terezakis, and talking about my project, he sent me these videos, but this video stuck out especially.  We also talked about it in our meeting.  I decided to change my idea for my final project.  The underlying concept stayed the same. The goal is to influence people to change the way they do day-to-day things, and help the environment more.  I wanted the videos to be short, so they fit into today’s internet culture of short attention spans and snapy style.

I created two 30 second videos with the objective of showing how “not cool” it is to not care about the environment.  The whole concept of what is “cool” is interesting to me, and I decided to challenge that in my videos, too.  The basic concept is that the guy is “cool” and doesn’t care about things, which turns the girl on, but then when he doesn’t care about the environment, he looses the girl.  Once I came up with the concept I had a very clear idea of how I wanted the videos to look and feel.  I drew up storyboards and a shot list to help with this.

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Save Water – storyboard
Recycle - storyboard
Recycle – storyboard
Shot list for both videos
Shot list for both videos

The first video I did is about saving water. Since we can only drink %1 of the earth’s water, and we waste so much of it daily, I think this is a very important issue that people can easily help with, as shown in my video- just turn off the water when brushing your teeth (or doing the dishes, or showering, etc.)

The second video is about recycling.  I think it is just as easy for people to do this as anything else, just do it.  Waste and production of more and more things in this world is one of the biggest environmental threats there are.  If everyone just recycled it would make a huge difference, and it’s not hard at all.  That’s what I hope to show in this video, along with how it’s not “cool” at all not to care about these things.

I myself ended up acting in the videos, which made it hard for me to direct the camera and see what the frame and shot was looking like as we were filming.  Later, when I was editing them, I was disappointed in how some of the shots turned out.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re in front of the camera and not behind it.  I should have been more particular and careful with my cinematographer, to really make sure I know what he will be doing in each frame and shot, and how it will look before we shoot.  This is a lesson I learned by doing this project.  Filming in my apartment also turned out to be more difficult than I expected, since it is so small, it was hard to get a lot of the angles I wanted.

Because of these constraints the videos did not come out exactly the way I imagined and planned them (as can be seen by the difference between the shot list and storyboards and the actual videos).  However, I am happy with how they turned out.  I do think they get the points I wanted across, and hopefully will make an impact on people who see them!

People are too apathetic about these issues, as if it doesn’t affect them or have to do with them.  We all live on here, on the same planet, together. It is all of our responsibility to take care of it.  If some people are too “cool” or don’t care bout it, it is just plain ignorance. That’s what I hope to change with my videos for my final project.

Continued Progress for Indian Point Doc… Not so much for the Power Plant Itself

Tucker and I have made excellent progress on our doc! We visited Peekskill, NY a town which overlooks Indian Point Power Plant. The walkway along the Hudson was quite beautiful, though the nuclear plant looming right over it was quite ominous. Here are some behind the scene pictures from our journey:

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iPhone photo of Indian Point presiding over the Hudson River by Georgia Krause.

 

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Tucker checking for tritium. 

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Tucker overheating in his unnecessarily large jacket as he shoots footage of Indian Point power plant. 

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Arriving at the Peekskill “Scenic Hudson Park”.

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Tucker on the train to Peekskill, stoked about filming the power plant!

 

Additionally we have officially secured the rights to use the Scott Waldman interview in my last post titled “5 Years After Fukushima, How vulnerable is Indian Point?”

I am also in the process of arranging several interviews. One of the individuals I am speaking with and hoping to record an interview with is Arthur Ginsberg who worked for Indian Point power plant for several years.

I am also arranging an interview with Dr. Irwin Redlener the director of Columbia’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness and Dr. David Brenner, who directs Columbia’s Center for Radiological Research.

We are also hoping to get an activist perspective and someone who is currently employed by Indian Point.

 

Indian Point Update (Continued)

Thus far on our project Tucker and I have done preliminary research on Indian Point, interviewed Alfred Meyer, and Tucker has gone to Peekskill, NY to document the SAPE2016 rally. While Tucker’s documentation is easy to show visually (though cold) my work has been predominantly on the research side. While Tucker’s research is much more hands on, my research looks more like this:

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But I have found quite a good deal of interesting archival footage and documents that we can incorporate (once we get permission) into our documentary. Including this WNYC interview with Scott Walderman.

This letter sent from Andrew Cuomo warning energy CEO and Commissioners of the dangers of Indian Point.

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Moving forward plan to collect more archival footage and documents pertinent to the Indian Point Energy Facility, and we plan to go shoot at the site itself this Wednesday. We are not sure what to expect, but we will do our best investigative journalism. We are also both working to secure at least two more interviews from experts in the area. Tucker is aiming to make a connection with some of the activists he met at the SAPE rally while I am reaching out to professional medical researchers at the NYU Langone Center for Medical Research. We will update with more behind the scenes action (process photos this time I promise) when we make our trek out to the power plant site itself.

 

 

Final Project Update

For my final project I have chosen to create a series of short clips in the style of BuzzFeed videos that demonstrate simple, eco-friendly ways to subtly change one’s lifestyle.  

“8 Eco-Friendly Bathroom Hacks”: An example of the type of video I would like to emulate by BuzzFeed.

Throughout my research I have come to see that there haven’t been many series of this type made specifically to raise environmental awareness, and that most articles are quite long, tedious, and don’t show people how to act upon what is happening to the world.

I’ve narrowed down my videos to touch upon the subjects of water, trash, food, and energy.  One source that did catch my attention is 50 Ways To Help The Planet, which is a series of green tips and explanations of why these tasks matter.  I have decided to weed through this list and extract the tips that strike me as the most simple, and non-invasive to people’s everyday lives, to then bring them to life via my videos. 

I have spoken to my friends about the project and many agree that it is a helpful idea as they are often confused by what is and isn’t eco-friendly.  They are willing to test out my videos and agree to give me their feedback on the efficiency of the tasks I will present. 

Update: Indian Point Plant

As mentioned, Tucker and I’s interview with Alfred Meyer went very well. We have reviewed the footage and though we will have to cut it down considerably (we have almost 25 minutes of interview for our 5-10 minute documentary) we got a ton of great information. But unfortunately we did not take any production stills. Alfred did wear the same outfit as he did during his talk about Fukushima, so the photo below is good reference. Additionally the bookcase in the second photo is the same one in Alfred’s apartment which used for our interview backdrop.

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Alfred Meyer at the “Global Health and Environment in the Post-2015 Agenda Talk.

 

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Alfred Meyer’s reference photo for the Physicians for Social Responsibility webpage.

Additionally my wonderful partner Tucker Pearson was able to attend an event sponsored by  Stop the Algonquin Pipeline (SAPE) where protestors addressed a variety of environmental issues. The event particularly revolved around the current implementation of a natural gas pipeline which will be installed less than 105 feet away from Indian Point infrastructure. Alfred Meyer touched briefly on this new development in Indian Point’s dangerous  history. Today, concerned citizens and activists alike gathered to draw attention to this pipeline (which many experts have asserted could lead to a nuclear disaster equal to or greater than to Fukushima meltdown of 2011.)  At the event Tucker shot B-roll of the Indian Point power plant itself, filmed some of the anti-nuclear power talks, and spoke to local activists. Here is some behind the scene footage of Tucker’s adventure:

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The crowd at the SAPE2016 Event.

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Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River.

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This cute doggie calls for the shutdown of Indian Point. 

 

 

#EveryLittleBitHelps

We are now living in the digital age where Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook take up the majority of our time.  People understand the scope of social medias and technologies, but they can’t grasp the ecological problems we are facing.  It’s true, it’s hard to understand how bad the world is doing right now.  It feels like it is out of our hands, since we are just the little people and not major corporations.  I am familiar with that feeling too, “What does it matter? So one more bottle won’t be recycled, big deal.”

That’s right, it probably isn’t a big deal, but what if EVERYONE said that?  Would that be a big deal?  And what if everyone thought the opposite?  What if each time someone thought not to recycle, or save water, or waste paper, they would, and they would think about everyone else doing the same thing.  Now does that make a difference?

The question is how do we get people to realize this, and think this way.  If people nowadays relate to things through social media and those platforms, why not use that to spread the word.  For my final project I want to make viral videos that show small actions making a big difference in social media, and relate those to recycling, water saving, resourcefulness, etc.  I plan to use the hashtag (#)EveryLittleBitHelps (or #ELBH), on all social media platforms.  With my background in filmmaking, I believe that this would be the best and most effective way for me to influence people.

My ideas for videos include:

  • Two friends trying to watch a video on YouTube, but it won’t load. One friend says he will disconnect from the WIFI so that the video will load faster. Even though it is a huge WIFI network, they agree, because #EveryLittleBitHelps. And it works, they video loads.
  • Someone on Facebook sees a post that says that if they get 1,000,000 “Likes”, something will happen. Of course, 1 out of a million is not a big help, but hey, he says, #EveryLittleBitHelps.

At the end of these videos there will be a voice over that explains the connection, how if every little bit helps in this case, why is it different in ecological cases? I will also add links to websites that can explain how to get involved more deeply if people are interested, and also links to videos of fellow classmates who teach how to be resourceful and how to recycle in the city.

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