Posts tagged “Italy

My Generation: Matt bounces from Italy to Egypt and over to Costa Rica

A Boat in the Nil River ,Zamalek , Cairo

Image via Wikipedia

Where did you study abroad, live,or have lived that you would like to share for the Sustainability Project?

In the fall of 2008 I spent 3 ½ months living in Milan, Italy and traveling around Europe and this past summer I spent 3 weeks traveling through Israel and Egypt. I am currently living in Costa Rica for 11 weeks (2 down 9 to go) and hope to keep traveling the world in the future.

What do you think was/is the most exciting thing about these l ocations?

For me, Italy was very exciting because it was my first time experiencing Europe and the culture is just so different than in the US. Italians care much more about family and being happy than working. Milan serves as the business and fashion capital of Italy so there is a lot going on all the time, but I would imagine that other parts of Italy are even more relaxed and family oriented. They would never bring you a check until you asked for it, and you could spend 3 hours at a restaurant eating a meal and you would never be rushed.

The Middle East is such a fascinating place to visit because it takes such a large role on the world stage of politics and current events. For me, it was also a chance to learn more about my ancestry as a descendent of the Jewish people. The vast amount of history that has taken place in the region was what inspired me the most. I was also able to visit Cairo during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan which was a hectic and memorable experience as well.

Costa Rica is a very relaxed and family oriented society as well. In the first town I visited, it was full of tourists and partying with jacked up prices, however the town next door (where all the locals lived) was quaint and much cheaper. I was told that the majority of people in the town could be traced back to two or three families, so nearly everyone was a cousin or grandchild or of some relation to the people around them. Entire blocks would be populated by a bloodline. Costa Ricans are happy and friendly people for the most part, but their society has its problems too!

Was/is there anything related to environmental awareness or sustainability worth sharing?

–              Like most major European cities I visited, Milan had an excellent public transportation network. It consisted of buses, trams, and a subway system that was very efficient and widely used. Seattle could definitely take a lesson or two from Europe. Another thing that stood out to me as different than in the US, is the lack of many common appliances in households. Electricity and water are much more expensive in Italy and appliances using lots of these resources are reserved for only the wealthiest individuals and most luxurious living quarters. I was the envy of all my friends because my apartment had a dishwasher, so we didn’t have to hand wash our dishes. No one in my program had a dryer, as we were all expected to line dry our clothes, either out the window or on a drying rack.

–              I was very disappointed with the level of environmental awareness and ideas of sustainability in the Middle East. Both in Israel and in Egypt, trash littered the land. In streets, parks, nature reserves, beaches, it didn’t matter where you went, you were guaranteed to see plastic bags and bottles. It was very sad and made me wonder how horrid places like India and China must be if we hear about them all the time, but never about trash in the Middle East. The Red Sea was phenomenal; however much of the coral I saw was dead which was disappointing as well. The water was very clear for the most part, but not quite like the lagoons in the Pacific Islands we see on TV. When it comes to transportation, the places I visited are behind the US in some regards. Cairo was an absolute mess. With a population of around 20 million people they need a complete overhaul of their transportation infrastructure if they ever want to become a world class city. It is impossible to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time (except if you go right a sundown during Ramadan because everyone is eating so the streets are empty!). Traffic was a mess, everyone drives like maniacs and no one follows or enforces any type of driving rules.  The Nile River was also disgusting and more likely than not very polluted.

–              In Costa Rica, the environment plays a huge role throughout the country. Many, if not all, of the main tourist attractions in this country are related to the environment. There are numerous natural parks, breathtaking beaches and lush mountainsides all full of a diverse array of wildlife and flora and fauna. It is not uncommon to see monkeys outside your window in some towns, or to see beautiful birds and butterflies going by. Recycling is commonplace as is the conservation of energy and water. Organic and local food is also big because of the rich natural resources and fertile land that Costa Rica possesses. Cars are a luxury here, and many locals take advantage of a well-run bus system throughout the country. As for tourists, with roads being quite horrid, it is very common to take the buses as well, or to use private shuttle companies that use 10 or 15 passenger vans to transport groups between cities.

Is there one thing that you do in your daily life that can be attributed to sustainability?

Having grown up in Seattle and attended a more-liberal-than-most college I have adapted my habits considerably to the point where I try hard not to buy lots of material goods that I know I won’t use, such as trinkets and toys. I also normally carry my groceries out without a bag, or use a reusable bag if needed (plastic bags have polluted this planet more than anything I have ever seen!). I also try not to eat red meat (I prefer the taste of chicken too! But it is also way friendlier on the environment than beef) and I try to eat locally grown foods as much as possible. I got into a good habit of riding my bike a lot this past summer, but in all reality I won’t be riding much during the winter unless the roads are dry.

Why do you think Sustainability or environmental awareness is so important to our generation?

There are many reasons why sustainability and environmental awareness are important to our generation, the least of which is the fact that our generation is going to inherit one hell of a mess if we don’t change our ways soon. At the current rate our society (the world in general but especially Americans) consumes resources, there won’t be any left for future generations. We might even run out for ourselves. We only have one planet to live on, and if we mess it up we aren’t going to get a second chance. Costa Rica is only as pristine and lush as it is because the Spaniards couldn’t find gold or other resources here so they  decided to go destroy some other society. I can only imagine how beautiful the United States were 100 years ago, and I try not to imagine what our world will look like in 100 years because I fear that I won’t be able to recognize anything. It will be like Wall-E, plants won’t be able to grow!

What degree, have you received or are currently seeking, or what field of work are you looking to jump into?

I recently graduated with a degree in business management and a minor in economics but I’m not sure if that is what I want to do with my life. I really enjoy traveling and watching soccer, so if I can find a way to make money by doing those two things I would pursue that option.  Once I return from Costa Rica I am going to try and get into the world of finance but it is a difficult field to enter in the current economic climate, and the working conditions are not always the best. I hope to find something that makes me happy and can support me in the long run!

If you could travel to one place in the world where would it be, and why?

I have been fortunate to do more traveling than the average 22-year-old in the last few years, but if I got to pick another place to visit it would either be South America (Argentina and Brazil) or back to Europe (to further explore Spain, Portugal, and Scandinavia)

If you could be one animal in the world what would it be?

I really like penguins but I don’t know if I’d like to be one. Sloths lead a pretty sweet life, at least down here in Costa Rica, as do monkeys which are quite entertaining to watch. If I had to pick one animal though, it would have to be a dolphin. I love the water and dolphins are very smart and sophisticated animals which would suite me well.


My Generation: Kyle Roams Rome

Rome Metro lines map existing, under construct...

Image via Wikipedia

Kyle, tell us where did you study abroad?

I studied abroad in Rome, Italy winter quarter of last year and found some differences in this city’s layout that may be interesting to talk about in terms of sustainability.

What do you think was the most exciting thing about Rome and Italy?

I would say the most exciting part of this city was its rich history and the astounding number and diversity of preserved monuments and artifacts that can be seen ranging from thousands of years ago to modern day.

Was there anything related to environmental awareness or sustainability worth sharing?

I would say the most notable environmentally positive establishment in this city was its extensive public transportation system as well as the numerous smaller smart cars in use.

Is there one thing that you do in your daily life that can be attributed to sustainability?

I personally try to use public transportation and walk as much as possible, I make a point of recycling when possible, and I try to limit my use of plastics like grocery bags and plastic water bottles.

Why do you think Sustainability or environmental awareness is so important to our generation?

I believe both sustainability and environmental awareness are important issues to address because current habits of overconsumption in this country and the world are leading the earth down a path which will jeopardize future generations’ opportunity to live a sanitary and healthy life and enjoy the awesome wonders of our natural environment.

What degree, have you received or are currently seeking, or what field of work are you looking to jump into?

I am currently majoring in Community, Environment, and Planning and intend on potentially pursuing a career in sustainable development or sustainable business consulting.

If you could travel to one place in the world where would it be, and why?

I would like to travel to Australia because I’ve heard it is an amazing place to explore for those interested in the outdoors.

If you could be one animal in the world what would it be?

I’d be a tiger.

MY GENERATION: Jack on Perugia Italy

W here did you study abroad, live, or have lived that you would like to share for the Sustainability Project? :

“Studied abroad in Perugia, Italy”

What do you think was the most exciting or interesting thing about Perugia, Italy? :

“Perugia itself is a college town and one of the most regarded international Italian Schools is located there. Foreigners from all over the country come to learn Italian from this school.

The night life was pretty exciting and vibrant in the center of town. The masses would come to relax, chat and have a drink on the steps, and hangout infront of the church and government building.”

Was there anything related to environmental awareness or sustainability worth sharing? :

“I noticed while I was in Perugia that Italians live a life of constant frugality! When it comes to electricity and water at least, because electricity is highly priced and they have always had to value their commodities due to an imbalance of high consumptions from oligarchs and politicians. Perugia especially is a city that is small enough that hardly anybody  uses a vehicle. There are however trams and elevators in the city to help the citizens easily travel between the establishments where they run errands and their homes. If someone needed to travel to another Italian city most likely they would take a train rather than drive a car.”

Is there one thing that you do in your daily life that can be attributed to sustainability? :

“I don’t think there is any one thing I do in my daily life that can be attributed to sustainability. Mostly, I believe growing up in the northwest has given me the opportunity to view sustainability with such familiarity-the ‘duh’ factor. Recycling is a no-brainer, right? …This country is so big and so diverse and people don’t realize that just east of California, in Arizona, there is a possibility, any chosen stranger you ask has no interest in recycling.”

Why do you think Sustainability or environmental awareness is so important to our generation?

“I don’t think it is a generational thing. I think we have just been the generation to fall into the mix as the scientific timeline pushes forward in making its recent discoveries-if that makes sense. In other words, our generation is crossing paths with scientific discoveries regarding sustainability.”

What degree, have you received or are currently seeking, or what field of work are you looking to jump into? :

“Almost have my B.A. in International Studies.”

If you could travel to one place in the world where would it be, and why? :

“Back to Amsterdam because it is my favorite city in the world!”

If you could be one animal in the world what would it be? :

“I would be an elephant, because I am envious of their memories and would like to have better control of my nose.”

High-Tech Bus Stations

~ MIT Sensable Lab

The major issue with mass transit for many people is the uncertainty of it all. Taking that away makes it more appealing and more efficient for its users. Over in the German city of Hamburg, the public has pushed for electronic bus stations. GPS correlated schedules allow the public to know if their bus will be 2 minutes early or 15 minutes late. While Seattle is not perfect, I think we too should have electronic bus schedules at every stop,  METRO does have an automated bus schedule via telephone. People waiting for the bus or planning to take the bus may call the number and check on the timing of their bus route by punching in the route number. (Automated METRO line # 206.456.0609) In Italy, where things are always fashionable, the city of Florence has announced that it will try to be fashionably on time. The city will install 1,000 Eye Stop poles and 200 Eye Stop bus stations. These bus stations named “bus stations of the future” are solar-powered, change colors when the next bus is nearing the station, interacts with users phones, plans routes, allows video advertising capability, and can even twitter the status of a neighborhood bus route. The only thing the bus stop cannot do is check the surrounding air quality, oh wait, it does that too!

100 Places

100 places to remember before they disappear is an exhibition of 100 locations that are at risk of vanishing or are currently threatened by climate change.The first international exhibition opened in Copenhagen, Denmark, with the Danish Capital topping the list at number 100. Advocates for the project include: Joss Stone, Desmund Tutu, Peter Garrett, and Dave Stewart. The exhibition was produced by CO+Life marketing company. Aside from the amazing photography and digital media, “100 places” also provides climate change solutions to curb the effects of CO2.


Chicago: 54

“In the last 30 years, the city has seen an average temperature rise of 1.5°C. In 1995, a severe heatwave killed 700 Chicagoans. In 1986, 1996 and 2008, it experienced severe flooding, with torrential rain shutting down highways and railroads, causing damage to streets and bridges and flooding properties in much of Chicagoland.

Throughout the rest of the 21st century, Chicago could experience a gradual, dramatic increase in heatwaves and flooding due to global warming. Prolonged summer droughts and heavy rainfall would have a grave effect on its infrastructure and transport system.

An increase in hot summer days with temperatures rising above 43°C, combined with unpredictable heavy rain and flooding, could cause more heat-related health problems and damage Chicago’s tourism industry. By the end of the century, the climate in Chicago could be similar to that of southern states like Texas and Alabama today.”

Great Barrier Reef, Australia: 31

“The Great Barrier Reef consists of some 400 different species of hard and soft coral in every imaginable colour. It is home to 1,500 varieties of fish and thousands of different shellfish, whose existence depends on the coral.

Higher water temperatures are very likely to have devastating consequences for the reef, as will increasing acidification of the oceans. If the water temperature rises 1.5°C2°C, many more parts of the coral will bleach and eventually die. An increase of 3°C would wipe the reefs out completely.

Global warming is expected to raise the temperature of the water in the area by at least 2°C by 2100. In other words, it is highly probable that the Great Barrier Reef will disappear from the surface of the Earth.”

Venice, Italy: 24

“Venice was built on wooden poles hammered deep into the muddy ground. The network of picturesque canals earned it the soubriquet the city on the water. By it’s very nature, Venice has always been extremely vulnerable to flooding.

Over the centuries, the city has been slowly sinking by 23 cm in the last century alone. In November 1966, the worst flood in recorded history raised the water level 1.94 metres above the norm and caused widespread damage to many historic sites.

To avoid similar incidents in future, a barrier comprising a number of mobile floodgates is now under construction. Known as MOSE (a play on Mosè, the Italian for Moses, who parted the Red Sea), it is designed to withstand a maximum flood of three metres and to safeguard Venice from storms and rising sea levels until the end of the century. At that time or sooner if climate change accelerates faster than predicted new measures will have to be taken to protect this Adriatic gem.”

Kauai, Hawaii: 1

“Hawaiian Honeycreepers Hiding in the Clouds

High in the cloud forests, where the climate is cool, live the beautiful and colourful Hawaiian honeycreepers. These rare birds use their long, downward-curved bills to sip nectar from flowers, hovering like hummingbirds and emitting a variety of sounds, from nasal squeaks to clear, flutelike calls.

The species of honeycreeper that is endemic to Hawaii lives at an elevation above 1,500 metres where the climate is too cool for mosquitoes to survive. Most of the Hawaiian honeycreepers are only 10-13 cm long and weigh no more than eight grams. They are extremely vulnerable to diseases like avian malaria.
The Hawaiian cloud forests make up one of the ecosystems that is most at risk due to climate change. Relatively small shifts in patterns could cause major local changes, putting the islands distinct ecosystems under pressure.

Deforestation and non-indigenous species like pigs and goats have decimated the honeycreepers habitat in recent years, and it is now an endangered species. With the projected rise in temperatures, mosquitoes are likely to gain a foothold at higher elevations in the Kauai mountains, slowly driving the honeycreeper to extinction.”

– Visit for more information