Project Impact

So, how did I do? In short, not very well. This section will answer questions to provide an overview of my project and the results.

1. What was your environmental practice?

The intention of this project was to have a POSITIVE impact on the environment by staying informed and connected to what’s going on in the world. I was to read environmental and related news articles three times a week, for about 30 minutes.

2. What did you think you would learn? About the environment? About yourself? About other people?

In the past, reading the news has made me depressed, confused, skeptical and generally hopeless. This is bad! In theory I think it is extremely important to know what is going on in the world, observe how it is being portrayed in the media, and engage in what’s happening outside my daily life. I hoped with this project I would be more inspired to ignite change and get involved in our environmental crisis. By reading three times a week I thought I would start to understand more complex issues beyond the surface level and begin to recognize what is “media” and what is fact (this applies to environmental news groups, too). I thought I would gain insight into what kinds of people care about which issues, and renew this idea that people really do care about more than who NASCAR’s latest hero is or what outfit Nicole Kidman wore to the Oscars.

3. What ways did you set up to track your practice? (Qualitative, Quantitative)

I set up this blog to track my practice, with the intention of putting out a new post three times a week. The blog would leave room for lots of reflection on both articles read and the practice as a whole, and allow me to post various types of media.

4. How successful were you in keeping your practice? (E.g. What was your success rate. When you
didn’t do your project, what reasons did you give? What challenges did you overcome to do your
project?

I wouldn’t be shy to say I was probably about 30% successful in keeping my project. I often times forgot about it and when I did read I didn’t put a lot of effort into the posts. I honestly did not anticipate it would be such a struggle to do something I do every day – spend time on the computer browsing new and interesting stuff. I tried to find loopholes in my own guidelines, like dropping the need to post each time I “practiced” and instead making sure I posted at least once a week. Since I attend a lot of environmental events and discussions on campus and around Boulder, I also justified my lack of reading and blogging with my involvement in other ways. For example, I have one post in which I share my thoughts on a documentary I saw in a class of mine. Another is a recap of a seminar I attended titled “Junk Science Policy”. Both definitely count as far as getting informed on environmental issues, and I felt really passionate about the topics afterwards. But they weren’t articles, which was an original criteria for my project. I felt like I was accomplishing the same thing, but in a modified way.

When I did follow my guidelines, my most common challenge was simply switching tasks to focus solely on news for thirty minutes. I’m a culprit of intense multitasking on the internet and often have ten or more webpages open at the same time. Once I had that focus, however, I found myself spending much longer than thirty minutes exploring websites and reading related articles. That part was always really fun. I was hoping to capture that experience more frequently in the past two months, but I found that I had little conscious control as to when that motivation would kick in and when it wouldn’t.

5. What quantifiable effect did your project have on the world? (Quantitative: Primary measure (e.g.
KW/h) Secondary measure (e.g. lbs. ofCO2). You will need to research and EXPLAIN this. Show your
work!

My project had virtually no quantifiable effect on the world, besides increasing the amount of traffic to news and media sites by 1 person (me). “Scientifically”, the increase in traffic to the sites could better be expressed as 2 +/- 1, accounting for the fact that I posted some of the links on facebook, and I’d be surprised if more than 2 people other than myself clicked on the links.

6. If other people adopted your project what would the effect be? (5? 1000? 10000?)

According to Allen Hershkowicz, an environmental spokesman for major sports organizations and speaker at the Conference of World Affairs at CU last week, 60% of Americans follow sports while only 9% follow science. If more people at least made a conscious effort to read the news more frequently, I think the integrity of our governments and industries would dramatically improve, more people would get involved both locally and beyond, and THE WORLD WOULD BE A BETTER PLACE. Even on a small scale, taking a personal interest in current affairs supports journalism and keeps the spirit of curiosity alive.

7. What qualitative effect did your project have on the world? (Qualitative: What interactions did you
have as a result of your project? How did doing or not doing your project make you feel?)

My project definitely had more qualitative results rather than quantitative. About halfway through, I figured out that the only way I was going to keep doing the project was if I read local news. I began reading the Denver Post, Daily Camera and other local newspapers, and really felt like I had a voice and could make a change. This empowerment led me to join Boulder Food Rescue, a local non-profit that “rescues” perishable food (and LOTS of it) from grocery stores and delivers it to people who need it and can eat it now. I don’t think the project made quite the positive impact on the world as I had hoped, but it empowered me to make this more quantitative impact.

8. What did you learn from your practice? (About the environment? About yourself? About other
people?

The biggest thing I learned was how hard it was for me to change. Amidst re-acclimating myself to Boulder with a new living situation, new classes and a fresh start at college life, I found it very difficult to take time out of my day for something that didn’t directly benefit myself nor others. I made an effort to read a balance of positive, upbeat articles and more the more dismal articles, but the majority of the time I was not looking forward to spending time on the project because worried I would end up hopeless and upset. I also found that many of the environmental articles from local newspapers were all copied from one another, which frustrated me because I had trouble getting diverse perspectives.

9. Relate your project to one of the readings for the semester.

Making a positive environmental impact doesn’t happen from behind a screen, or a desk or a meeting room. And you can’t do it in a classroom or by watching a documentary, either. The environment is everywhere, and we are amongst it. Just as Warwick Fox has argued in his article on deep ecology, I believe change comes from experiencing the oneness with everyone and everything. We need radical change, at least in the developed world, if we are to see any lasting positive impact and this can only be accomplished if people really experience what their policies and philosophies mean in nature. What does lowering carbon emissions mean? What does transitioning to solar energy mean for the desert ecosystem? What does environmental education in K-12 look like? My project further supports that education and information presented in abstract environments like an enclosed classroom or the virtual internet reality are not nearly as powerful as stepping outside and experiencing the natural world mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. There is no substitute for nature!

10. In what way did this project affect your personal environmental ethic? Do you think you will
continue your practice now that the assignment is complete? Why or why not? Do you think you will adopt any new practices? If so, which ones and why? If not, why or why not?

Even though I was unable to carry out my project 100%, I still feel strongly that it is important for a population to take it upon themselves to be informed on what is happening in the world around them. This was a humbling experience, in that it reminded me that even though I’m passionate about environmental change, I can’t expect everyone to be. The news often felt irrelevant to me, as I’m sure it does for people who have less of an interest than I. Getting informed shouldn’t be a treacherous task or a sacrifice. It should be exciting and invigorating. My environmental ethic remained pretty stable fundamentally, but the project helped me to understand that our current state of journalism and media aren’t effective tools in captivating my interest and desire for change. In the future I will continue to strive to read a physical newspaper at least once a week, focusing on local issues. The blogging was simply to keep track of the project, and since I don’t particularly like writing I do not plan on keeping up this blog. I will continue to read and learn via the internet, but it won’t be any more of a habit than it already is. In other words, I was not inspired to spend more time for the sake of staying informed, rather, I will continue to read about the issues that I care about.

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