November 13, 2015: The UNH Divestment Campaign Continues to Rally Against Fossil Fuels

divestUNHIn November of 2012, the Student Environmental Action Coalition, SEAC, handed President Huddleston a petition with over 1,000 signatures urging UNH to divest from fossil fuels. Huddleston said no.

Last February, SEAC tried again, this time presenting Huddleston with 572 student signatures on Global Divestment Day. Less than a week later, in his State of the University address, Huddleston said that total divestment from fossil fuels was not the answer.

SEAC has not given up.

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Students write definitions of divestment and climate justice at a UNH Divestment Campaign teach-in.

This semester, the organization created a Divestment Campaign that meets Tuesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. in MUB 139, outside of SEAC’s general meetings from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays in MUB 302, to organize rallies and teach-ins to show Huddleston and the rest of the administration that UNH students still support fossil fuel divestment. The group held its first teach-in and rally on November 13.

“We have to show President Huddleston what we’re made of,” sophomore divestment coordinator and teach-in leader Robert Keefe said to begin the 11:30 a.m. teach-in in MUB 203.  “We have to be loud. We have to make sure everyone on campus hears us.”

Keefe then asked the 17 students gathered to take seven minutes to talk in groups about what “divestment” and “climate justice” meant to them. The students wrote their ideas on colored construction paper and taped them to a white board.

Keefe said all of their answers were correct, pieces that fit together to show the importance of the terms and the meaning behind them.

The students then practiced chants for the march before watching 350.org’s documentary “Why Divest From Fossil Fuels?”

At noon, the students gathered “Divest UNH” and “Pres. Huddleston, Don’t Be a Fossil Fool!” signs, a banner, and some windmills to begin their march through Union Court, past the MUB Ticket Office, across the MUB courtyard and onto Thompson Hall Lawn.

The students stopped in front of Thompson Hall to listen to divestment coordinators Keefe and Griffin Sinclair-Wingate speak out against investing in the fossil fuel industry.

According to Sinclair-Wingate, the rally’s goal was to show student support for divestment before campaign members meet with the administration officially later in the month. An official meeting date has not been made. By the end of the semester, the group hopes to meet with with the UNH Asset Allocation Committee to present its case for divestment.

“UNH cannot continue to invest in an industry whose business model is detrimental to the health of our planet,” said Sinclair-Wingate. “The fossil fuel industry’s reserves contain five times more fossil fuels than scientists say is safe to burn. We need to be investing in our future, not the destruction of it.”

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Students march across the MUB courtyard on their way to Thompson Hall.

At the end of the rally, students snapped a few pictures for social media and gave one final chant in front of Thompson Hall before bring their signs back to the MUB.

The campaign for fossil fuel divestment extends beyond UNH. Four hundred and eighty-four institutions world-wide, including the University of Hawaii and the University of Maine, have divested over 2.5 trillion dollars from the fossil fuel industry.

The global campaign extends to Twitter, with users adopting the #divestment and #divest to show support and efforts toward ceasing investment in the fossil fuel industry:

For more information about the divestment movement at UNH, check out  The New Hampshire’s coverage of the campaign’s efforts.

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Students give a last cheer in front of Thompson Hall.
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Inside a SEAC Meeting

The Student Environmental Action Coalition, SEAC, UNH’s first and largest student organization for environmental action and sustainability, meets every Thursday from 7-8 p.m. in MUB 302 to update members about upcoming events, discuss new campaigns, work on ongoing projects and learn more about local and international climate justice movements and how students can participate in them.

Here is a video, courtesy of the University of New Hampshire YouTube channel, describing the work SEAC does to raise awareness for environmental issues both on campus and in the larger seacoast community:

Even this late in the semester, SEAC continues to welcome prospective members, and those who are just curious about the group, to attend a meeting and get involved.

Here is a look into a typical Thursday night in MUB 302:

(Note: I reordered a few of my live tweets from the meeting for clarity and a more logical flow within the story. Visit my Twitter for the original order.)

Members met before the meeting officially began to get a head start on making posters for the various campaigns, including Trash 2 Treasure,   Choose2Reuse and Divest UNH. These posters will be kept in the SEAC office, MUB 139, for future campaign rallies.

Twenty-three students gathered for the meeting, which opened with a quick name-game icebreaker to make new members feel welcome and help other members learn their names.

Kaity Thomson, a 350.org organizer and climate activist, began the content portion of the meeting with an update on the 350.org’s “We Will be Heard: Music and Rally for Action at UN Climate Talks” event in Portsmouth on November 29, the day before the United Nations begins its annual climate talks in Paris, France. SEAC members refer to these meetings in Paris as the “Paris climate talks.”

And then the meeting went on a brief, but lively, tangent.

Sophomore Robert Keefe brought in an example of tar sands, the viscous back oil mixed with clay, sand and water, thatthe Keystone XL pipeline  would have transported.

However, the main goal of the meeting was to talk about what makes an effective campaign sign for rallies and other events. Thomson shared her favorite tips:

“We make handmade art so when people on the street see it they think ‘I can make that in my garage,'” explained Jordan Cichon, a local community organizer for 350.org in attendance. “It’s accessible.”

Students went around the room brainstorming strong sign slogans:

They then put their ideas onto cardboard:

Students lingered after the usual 8 p.m. close, leaving only when they’d finished painting and socializing.

Here is the full schedule of SEAC campaigns and their meeting times; new members are welcome at all meetings and other events.

SEAC campaigns

Entrap the Scraps: An Interview with Eric Petersson on the Fight for Bringing Composting at UNH to its Full Potential

Junior Eric Petersson, founder and a coordinator of Entrap the Scraps, a student-run composting initiative through the University of New Hampshire’s Student Environmental Action Coalition, talks about starting the group, current composting practices at UNH, the group’s goals for the semester and his personal vision for composting at the university.

If you’re sick of sending your banana peels to the landfill and are interested in joining the group, or are simply curious about what goes on at their weekly meetings, you can join them at 8 p.m. on Mondays in MUB 139.

Where Can You Find Sustainability at UNH?

UNH prides itself in being, and continuing to work toward becoming, a sustainability-conscious institution and community, and it has already won many awards for its strides thus far. But where are these efforts and their results seen on campus? Where can students, faculty and community members go to get involved in sustainability at UNH?

Here is a map of the different sustainability-focused initiatives, practices, programs and organizations on campus:

Campus map courtesy of the UNH website.

Hands on Chinese Food: How to Make Egg Rolls and Pork Dumplings

UNH’s International Education Week celebration of food and culture continued Thursday afternoon with “Hands on Chinese Food.”

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John Jin, owner of Happy Market Asian Grocery, demonstrates how to fold an egg roll.
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Xiangshu Hao, a Chinese student at the ESL Institute, hands out extra pork dumplings.

Students gathered in the MUB Entertainment Center at 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. to learn how to pinch together Chinese dumplings and roll traditional Chinese egg rolls. John Jin, owner of Happy Market Asian Grocery in downtown Durham, and Chinese students from the ESL Institute demonstrated how to stuff and fold the dumplings and rolls while students followed along, making their own snacks. After each demonstration, students brought their rolls to be fried and dumplings to be boiled by ESL Institute faculty members.

Students who attended the free event were encouraged to stay and enjoy their creations with soy sauce and chat with others at round tables set on one side of the room. Many of the ESL students stayed through multiple seatings, helping attendees and socializing with friends.

Here is what the students learned:

Part I: How to Make an Egg Roll

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INGREDIENTS: Spring roll paper, eggs (raw, beaten) and FILLING: shredded tofu, seaweed, lilli pads, broad beans and mushrooms.
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Place desired amount of filling on top of paper.

STEP ONE: SET-UP AND STUFFING

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Place one sheet spring roll paper on table with corner facing you.

STEP 2: FOLDING

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Using  your right hand, tuck in right corner of roll, covering and holding in filling.
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Using your left hand, fold the corner of the paper facing you over the stuffing and hold it down with your left thumb.
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Hold down right side with right hand.
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Fold right third of paper over stuffing.
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With left thumb, tuck in left corner of roll, covering and holding in filling as you did on the right side.
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Now fold left third of paper over the stuffing.
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Put a dab of raw egg on end of paper (to stick paper together) and finish rolling.
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Roll stuffed end away from you, leaving an inch-and-a-half paper tail.
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It should look like this.

STEP 3: COOKING

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Finished product should look like this. Allow to cool, add soy sauce (if desired), and enjoy.
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Fry rolls in canola oil till golden (about five minutes).

Part II: How to Make Pork Dumplings

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Students learning to make pork dumplings Thursday night. INGREDIENTS: DOUGH: flour, water FILLING: ground pork, Chinese chives

STEP ONE: PREPARING DOUGH

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Roll sections into circular disks, 1/8” thick.
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Roll dough into 2”-diameter cylinder, and cut into 1.5-inch sections.

STEP 2: FILLING AND FOLDING

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Fold dough in half around filling and pinch top edges together, holding dough inside.
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Place desired amount of filling in center of dough.
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Now pinch together sides till filling completely encased.
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It should now look like this.

STEP 3: GETTING FANCY

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The finished dumpling should look like this.
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Traditionally, the edges of Chinese dumplings are decorated with extra folds. Pinch sections of the edge together  horizontally, creating ridges.

STEP 4: COOKING

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Allow dumplings to cool before serving with soy sauce and enjoying.
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Boil dumplings till fully cooked but not breaking open. (About 7 minutes).
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If lack of leftovers is a sign of success, then “Hands on Chinese Food” succeeded in teaching students how to make and enjoy traditional Chinese Food.

International Poetry Night: Sustaining Cultures through Poems

University of New Hampshire students and faculty filled every chair in the MUB entertainment center at 7 p.m. on November 2 for a night of international poetry. They sipped hot chocolate and munched on Boston creme pie donuts while 20 students and ten faculty and community members read original and famous works.

The event poster and projector backdrop for the evening.
The event poster and projector backdrop for the evening.

Many of the student readers were from the ESL Institute and most shared their own poems, while faculty from the ESL Institute and and other UNH departments read famous works representing nations including Canada, Japan, China, Ukraine, France, Vietnam, Australia, Brazil and Lithuania. Community members included Lili Guo of the Confucius Institute, Plymouth State University professor of Japanese Sachiko Ikeda and violinist Abraham Freedman, UNH English professor Diane Freedman’s son, played a traditional Lithuanian folk song as a break between poems.

Here, Jeffrey Su, a student at the ESL Institute, reads an original poem:

ESL Institute Professor Elsa Upham, the event’s main coordinator, reads, first in French then in English, “Ode to Cassandra” by Pierre de Ronsarda:

Abraham Freedman plays a traditional Lithuanian folk song as a break between readings and a representation of song as poetry:

The event was part of International Education Week, which strives to give UNH students a taste of different cultures, while simultaneously raising awareness for the minority groups already present on campus.

For more information about all events on campus, visit Wildcat Link.

Five Days of Vegan: Watching Your Hidden Water Consumption

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For my five days of eating vegan, I switched to sweetening my morning coffee with maple syrup, instead of my usual caramel creamer.

Veganism and vegetarianism have become more popular in the United States in the past 10 years for health, environmental and animal rights reasons. Eating a vegan diet, often low in saturated fat and cholesterol, has been shown to reduce one’s risk for developing type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, while studies say that eating red meat increases one’s risk for heart disease, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, among other ailments. Additionally, animal cruelty and unsustainable farming practices, uncovered in documentaries like Food Inc., have drawn others away from purchasing animal products. On the most basic environmental level, the meat industry uses far more resources, such as water, land and fertilizers, to produce one pound of meat than are required to grow a pound of grains.

The water used to produce our food and other non-edible products is called “hidden water.” All of this water is taken from the earth’s limited supply of fresh water, which humans need to survive—we cannot drink salt water, nor use it to produce land crops. Oceans account for 96.5% of the earth’s water, leaving less than 3.5% of our planet’s water as fresh. Of this remaining fresh water, 68% is frozen in glaciers, ice caps and permanent snow, about 30% is in the ground, and more is in the atmosphere and therefore unusable. We get most of our water from surface water sources, such as rivers and streams, which account for about 0.008% of all water on earth. As our human population rises, our demand for fresh water, a finite resource, increases. We cannot exponentially increase our demand on a limited resource; it will soon run out.

This is where diet comes in. The average meat-eater consumes 1320 gallons of water each day. The average vegetarian consumes half that.

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For the answer and full interactive infographic, click here. 

If more Americans, the world’s largest consumers of meat, ate vegetarian or vegan even once a week, we’d greatly reduce our water use. I gave it a try.

For five days, I ate a vegan diet: no meat, dairy, eggs or other animal products. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

With veganism’s increase in popularity, more chain grocery stores have begun providing meatless protein options, including tofu, tempeh, edamame and other soy-based meat-substitutes. I stayed away from sodium-heavy, processed “fake meats,” and adopted a whole food, plant-based approach to veganism, which most vegans choose.

The tempeh and veggie pesto pasta I made could have benefitted from some Parmesan cheese, but besides that, I didn't miss meat and dairy for the week.
The tempeh and veggie pesto pasta I made could have benefitted from some Parmesan cheese, but, besides that, I didn’t miss meat or dairy.

My diet became very simple, lots of black bean burritos with salsa, tempeh and vegetable stir-fries with soy sauce, nut butters on whole-wheat bagels, pb+j sandwiches, and coffee sweetened with maple syrup (I normally enjoy creamer). Oatmeal with peanut butter or soy milk for protein and sweetened with dried fruit or toast with sun butter and a banana were my go-to breakfasts.

I didn’t miss bbq wings or cereal with milk for the entire week, though my pesto pasta with tempeh and sautéed peppers could have benefitted from some Parmesan cheese. My diet did feel carb-heavy, especially on busy days when I only had time to pack two bagels and a jar of sun butter for lunch. However, eating more veggie and tempeh or tofu stir-fries helped solve this problem. Overall, the experience was much easier than I expected. The hardest part was reading labels on veggie burgers to see if they contained egg or milk products, which most do.

So the next time you go to Holloway Commons, which has a full vegan bar and tofu options for stir-fries, or pick up groceries at Hannaford, consider how much hidden water you’re eating.

Even if you go meatless just one day each week, every gallon of water saved helps. Here are some additional tips for vegan cooking.

Photo Gallery: A Giant Bengali Party

Last Call: Climate Change is Here

University of New Hampshire students and faculty gathered at 7:30 p.m. in DeMeritt 112 on Wednesday October 21 for a showing of “Last Call: the untold reasons of the global crisis” and a presentation by UNH Professor Emeritus Dennis Meadows, an early proponent of climate action in the film.

I live tweeted the event and, using Storify, brought my social media posts together with others’ to give an overview of the event and how we can live more sustainably. Click here for the full story. 

Sustainability: The Beat

For the remainder of the semester, I will solely cover sustainability at the University of New Hampshire through a variety of multimedia posts, including audio, video, photo and social-media-generated stories.

However, before beginning to cover events and write profiles on those working toward a sustainable environment at UNH, I must define sustainability and why it is important and unique at UNH.

According to the UNH Sustainability Institute, the first endowed sustainability program in the country, sustainability is, at its core, what sustains humans as diverse communities and the conscious decisions those communities and the individuals in them make to aid in the survival of both local and global populations. The institute believes maintaining the long-term health of biodiversity, climate, food and culture, and where these areas overlap is vital to sustainability. Thus, sustainability encompasses more than just the biological environment and out planet’s climate but also human cultures and traditions within all communities.

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The UNH Sustainability Institute’s model of sustainability. Photo courtesy of the UNH Sustainability Institute website.

As an academic institution, UNH is a unique setting for understanding and promoting sustainability, as students and faculty are in an environment conducive to learning about and investigating the topic. A variety of student organizations, such as the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), run campaigns for environmental protection and sustainability on campus, in New Hampshire, nationwide and globally. Other organizations including MOSAICO, the Latino/Latina student cultural organization, work to educate all students about minority cultures while sustaining the groups’ traditions for UNH students in those minorities. Additionally, faculty members in the Environmental Conservation and Sustainability department and the UNH Sustainability Institute work to educate students on humans’ impacts on the planet and interactions between and within cultures to promote awareness and sustainable actions. These faculty members are simultaneously researching more sustainable practices in all four of the sustainability categories above. The Sustainability Institute partners with a variety of New England organizations to promote sustainability outside of the UNH campus and has created a sustainability dual major that will launch in 2016.

My coverage will be student-focused, reporting about events that teach students about each of the four sustainability areas and campaigns, especially those through SEAC, that allow students to join in and voice their opinions though different sustainability-centered causes.

I will begin coverage by live-tweeting the screening of Last Call, a documentary presenting “the untold reasons of the global crisis,” Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in DeMeritt 112. For live coverage of this event and others throughout the semester, follow me on Twitter.