Posts tagged “My Generation

My Generation: Ty says “Bonjour” to Montpellier

Where did you study abroad?

“Montpellier, France in the southern French region, Languedoc-Roussillon”

What do you think is the coolest, most stimulating, most exciting thing about Montpellier France?

“I was there during the summer, and the Mediterranean Coast of France is beautiful, the weather, the people, the culture, the food and the history. The region has such a rich history and culture to learn about and enjoy.”

As for sustainability, anything worth sharing?


“There are bicycles to rent as a sort of alternative transport sharing system. They’re cheap and have racks of bicycles all around the city where you can drop a few Euros and rent it for a few hours or the day. There is also an electric tram system with two lines in service and two being constructed.”

What do you do to live a more sustainable way of life?

“I try to recycle as much as possible and use as many reusable products as possible to eliminate needless waste such as cloth grocery bags and water filters instead of bottled water. I also compost organic waste products.”

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

“With a global community constantly growing and the even steeper increase of resource consumption and waste production, it is important that we become as mindful and responsible as possible with every resource we have for future generations and the global environment.”

What degree are currently seeking?

“I have received my bachelors in Psychology and will be attending law school in the fall.”

Where else would you be interested in visiting?

“Mali, because it’s a French speaking country and the home to the music group Amadoe et Mariam.”

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

“Snow leopard”

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My Generation: Interview with Maxim Home Town Hottie Aja Dang

“So Aja, what school did you attend and what field of work would you ultimately like to end up in?”

“I received my BA in marketing from University of San Francisco and am currently working towards my MA in broadcast journalism at the Annenberg School of Journalism at USC. My ultimate goal is to have my own travel show, which will explore the various cultural, dating and religious aspects of each city or country. Traveling is a passion of mine and I hope to give people a more in-depth look at different cultures other than our own. I also think that when people see the natural beauty the world has to offer, they will want to stop destroying it by making a conscious effort to save our environment and natural resources.”

What is it like running around conducting interviews for Neon Tommy covering stories from, Celebrity filled events to Sustainability planned initiatives? What was it like to be in Campus Girls and Maxim?

“Working for Neon Tommy has been a very eye opening experience. I have covered topics ranging from California politics, sustainability initiatives, red carpet events and the LAUSD. I recently started a weekly column called Blacklisted, which explores the most bizarre stories in popular culture. Conducting interviews continues to be a nerve wracking experience, especially with topics I am not too familiar with, but doing research before hand and preparing questions ahead of time always makes the interviews go as smoothly as possible. Covering red carpet events is not as glamorous as one might think! There is a lot of down time and normally you only have a couple of minutes with celebrities and have to try to hold their interest. The most fascinating topics, to me, are always the ones dealing with sustainability and the environment. People are very passionate about the issue, which makes for a more engaging story.”

“Being in Campus Girls was a great experience. As I previously said, I love to travel, and being able to shoot a swimsuit calendar in the Virgin Islands was quite the treat. The locals are so kind, it reminded me of being back home in Hawaii. Being a semi-finalist in Maxim’s Hometown Hotties has been a great experience so far. It’s never fun having to compete for votes against 99 other beautiful women, but I feel that I have unique characteristics, which will take me all the way to the top 10!”

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 You have covered a few stories related to Sustainability in the Los Angeles area, why do you think sustainability is so important to our generation?

“Sustainability is very important for our generation because we simply don’t have any other choices. We are using non-renewable resources at an alarming rate and although people are aware of this I don’t think they fully grasp the gravity of the situation. Although there are initiatives in place to help decrease global warming and increase awareness of sustainable options, the government can only do so much. The responsibility is on the community.”

Los Angeles is known to have some of the worst air pollution in the country, what is the city doing to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly?

“The city is doing quite a bit to help alleviate the air pollution in LA. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA) is the first major transit authority to run its entire fleet completely off of natural gas. This reduces carbon emissions by 300,000 pounds a day and cuts smog forming chemicals by 90 percent. The city also passed a new master bike plan, which boasts 1,680 miles of interconnected bike ways all over the city. Along with increased driver awareness and safer cycling roads, the plan pledges to add 200 miles to the path every five years. Both of these initiatives are helping to reduce gas emissions from cars and trucks by giving the community healthier and greener transportation options. The LA County Board of Supervisors also passed the plastic bag ban last year but I haven’t really seen that being enacted or reinforced.”


Would you say that the attitude to being more environmentally conscious is picking up in LA?                     

“I can’t really tell whether or not LA is becoming more environmentally conscious. I know that there are various environmental groups trying to set the stage for a greener city, but I don’t think most of the people can be bothered with worrying about the issue. Although air pollution is a major issue in the city, I think that LA is too much of a driving city for people to want to get out of their cars and use different means of transportation. It is just more convenient for everyone to drive. There are cities, like San Francisco, that are extremely conscious about the environment, and while I hope LA will get there one day, the city is definitely not there yet.”

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

“There are many things I do in my daily life to help this situation. Only using natural sunlight during the day and turning off lights in rooms I am not in at night is a simple way to not only save energy, but to decrease your electricity bill. I try to walk every where, which unfortunately is hard to do in LA, but I am going to buy a bike soon so I can go to the grocery store or gym without having to jump into my car. And instead of buying Tupperware, I keep the containers I get from ordering out or grocery shopping so I don’t have to dirty the landfills with more plastic. Everything from using reusable tote bags, to carrying around a stainless steel water bottle helps.”

If you could travel to one place in the world where would it be, and why?
“I would love to go to Greece or Croatia. Culture, food and ocean-what more could a girl want on a vacation?”


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

“I would be a dolphin because they are super smart and really graceful.”

Make sure to vote for Aja in Maxim’s Hometown Hottie contest! You can see more of Aja here and the awesome stories she covers for Neon Tommy!


My Generation: Vasilies and Athens

Where did you study abroad, live, or have lived?

Athens, Greece

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

The Metro was great, underground subway, fast, reliable, cheap along with the above ground tram which was, informative and interactive. I took part in a research project that measured the UV rays, among other things during peak sun hours of the day, as an awareness to the public.

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

I would ride my bike, take the public transportation, and go to the local food markets.

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

Sustainability is important for our generation because we need to work hard at restoring what our elders have successfully destroyed.

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

I am receiving a bachelors in arts with the University of Washington’s College of the Built Environments, under their urban planning department, titled “Community Environment Planning”.

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

I would travel to Ios, an Cyclades island in the Mediterranean, Greece. Why? I was born in Athens, but the real greece, lifestyle, climate, topography, food, etc. lies in IOS. There is a cliff overlooking the bay and the endless blue Mediterranean waters, a hammock, and a gentle breeze. here, I could die.

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

I would be the Great White Shark.


My Generation: Nicole Masters Mastatal, Costa Rica

Where did you travel to Nicole?!

I spent two months in 2010 living and working on an organic cacao farm in Mastatal, Costa Rica as a WWOOF volunteer (Willing Workers on Organic Farms).

What do you think was the most exciting thing about this location?

Mastatal is a small community of only 150 people hidden away in the steep mountains and pristine rainforest of Costa Rica. There is no running hot water, no pavement, no garbage take-out, and one road, which while I was there during the rainy season was washed out. What surprised me most about Mastatal is that the people there own very little; yet despite their isolating, rural environment, they manage to make a steady income and live healthily and, above all, happily.

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

Mastatal welcomes travelers to come and volunteer on one of four WWOOF farms in the area, all meant to teach and promote sustainable, organic agriculture. I chose to stay on the organic cacao farm because after having worked at an organic chocolate factory in Seattle for three years (Theo Chocolate), I wanted to truly understand and experience the effort required to cultivate and harvest cacao organically.

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

I eat local. There is no daily habit more delicious than to enjoy the fruits of the harvest.

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

Sustainability and environmental awareness have been important values for many people and cultures throughout time; unfortunately, our Western culture is only just beginning to appreciate their significance. The problem is, it’s too late. Many damages done to the environment are irreparable at this point. It is the requirement of our generation to realize and live as a part of the environment we have been exploiting.

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

In 2010 I graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Environmental Studies.

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

Just before I graduated college I asked myself that question. Then I took out a world map and marked all the places. Now I am in my 7th month of my round-the-world trip. I have been to Costa Rica, Colombia, Uruguay and Argentina. I hope to also spend time in Brazil, France, Spain, Italy and England. I just can’t choose one place!

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

A sea turtle, to experience and better understand the mysteries of the ocean.

 

Checkout more on Nicole and her adventures! She has her very own blog called “Our World in Food”. From organic farming to Cows and c-sections, it’s an awesome site!


My Generation: Interview with Rap/ R&B artist Scribes, as he talks about “Green” controversy and equity

~ Shout out to an old friend. Scribes is musically talented and unequivocally one of Seattle’s next best up and coming R&B artists. All the best. (Go to Scribesmusic.com to hear more! and download his work)

When did you begin your music career?

“I started writing raps when I was 15 or so. I had been a fan of hip hop since I was probably in the 3rd or 4th grade. I had always been kinda hesitant to start rappin cuz I was white haha and I didn’t wanna look like a fool. But during high school I remember seeing a bunch of different freestyle battles and I couldn’t help but get involved in it. It started with free styling just goofin off, then developed into writing raps, then to recording songs, and then to cutting entire albums. I’ve kept progressing ever since. I dropped my first album in August of 04 before going into my junior year of high school. By the time I was finished with the album my mind was set on pursuing rap/music as a career.”

When is the next release?!

“I’m hoping to release my full length album sometime between Nov. 2010 and Feb. 2011.”

What is your take on sustainability? Is it just a buzz word, or is it important?

“I would say that the word sustainability is kinda beyond me. I understand what it means and its significance but I don’t feel like I’d ever personally use it in a casual conversation or even in an intellectual conversation. Haha I would probably just say “doing shit that’s good for the environment”. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for it and I do think it’s a very important issue if not the most important but it’s a really complicated one.”

“It’s obviously important to help preserve the environment and echo system for this generation and generations to come just for the simple fact that we as humans won’t survive without it. But, actually successfully going green and reversing some of the negative things we as humans have done to the environment is a complicated and difficult task.”

Photo Credit: Powell Images

Click Photo to view link ~ Photo Credit: Powell Images

Is there any talk about the music industry trying to become more “green”?

“People talk about going green in the music world but to be completely honest it is not really in my genre of music. In general rock artists (haha and just about everything not rap) are more willing to talk about the environment. And I definitely feel em. I’m all about it too. It’s just that i see the issue as being a little bit more complicated than just going green. I personally don’t live a green lifestyle at all. I mean don’t get me wrong I don’t own a car but that’s ‘cuz’ I’m too broke. Before I got rid of my car I was ‘whippin’ a 92 gas guzzling ford explorer. I recycle or whatever but that’s about it. Really to be completely honest I don’t pay attention to news on the environment or going green cuz frankly I don’t have the luxury to. I’m morally all about improving the environment in a black and white sense but I feel like because of the economic level I’m at I don’t really have very good access to the necessary resources. The problem is that there are too many people who gotta go work entry level positions for big business who exploit the environment.”

“Here in America we talk shit about big companies while much of our economy is held up by those businesses. But there are few people here who are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. If we are going to successfully improve the environment we have to make “going green” more accessible to normal folks. A lot of companies have made tremendous strides. For example, one of my jobs is being an assistant manager at an apartment building. The company has replaced all of the toxic cleaning supplies that are bad for the environment with cleaning supplies that are less harmful. That’s a step in the right direction. But it’s too often that folks like me have to work for business that don’t care about the benefit of the environment. Then with the little bit of money we are paid we put the money back into businesses similar to the ones we work for by buying the cheapest products available on the market, anything from food, to clothes, gas, cars, whatever else. If u are struggling financially are u gonna support an organic company that costs bank or are u gonna buy some cheap food?!?”

“So when it comes to rap music specifically u gotta remember that although it’s become one of the dominating genres of the world it still comes from the hood. Cats in the hood have too many struggles in their day to day life to rap about shoppin at whole foods or whippin a prius (Not to mention to few of the people in the hood gain access to higher education. Education is very important when it comes to informing people about the environment.) Hopefully it will change but it won’t change until environmentally friendly products become more accessible to blue collar people (which certain companies have done, I believe the Prius is surprisingly cheap). And yeah it’s arguable that some of those rap artist who have been successful should be rapping about the issue but a lot of those artists are still carrying the scars and pressures of the street. A lot of cats overcame huge obstacles and struggles. Just about anybody in their shoes would have came out the same (some worse). The rap game isn’t all about being politically correct it’s about surviving. Few people are strong enough to maintain their morality and survive. The rap game is honestly an animalistic game. That’s largely the reason that it for a long time hasn’t been understood by middle and upper class white America. But at the same time, it’s starting to change. Things are becoming less gangster. Folks are beginning to expand and have a little more room to be themselves as artists in hip hop. People from all different ethnic and economic backgrounds are involved in the music. I think because of it more rappers will be promoting going green. I think it’s tight. It’s kind of exciting to see but at the same time it’s a trade off. People have to pay fewer dues to the street to gain success in hip hop so therefore more artists come out lacking a real understanding of the struggle that hip hop came out of. But whatever the case is something has to change. The world as we know it won’t survive without change. And the world is a big thing to throw away. I think change starts with improving the lives of working folks. Like I said improving the environment might very well be the most important issue we face but there are so many other issues tied to it.”

photo by Canh Nguyen

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

“I don’t know specifically where I’d travel to if I had the option to go anywhere but in all honesty it would probably be a place where I could relax and get my mind off of the day to day work of my life. Some place where I could have fun.”

If you could be any type of animal in the world what would it be?
“haha, I have no idea what animal I’d be. Maybe a bird? Flying seems like it’d be fun. I like being a human.”


My Generation: Jordan Digs around in Denmark!

(above center)

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

I am currently studying in Aalborg, Denmark. It’s on the northern side of Jutland. It’s a small industrial/university city of ~120,000.

What do you think is the most exciting thing about this location?

Overall, Denmark has a heavy beer culture and it is used to promote socialization. The school allows the student organizations to host ‘bars’ in the canteen and classrooms. They really stress the concept of bonding and enjoying life outside of school/work and see alcohol as a means. That said, it’s easier to casually meet other students than in the States where you have to find friends on your own or join a club.

There is a street called Jomfru Ane Gade, which has a long street of bars and cafes. Between midnight and 6 it’s all bars and night clubs. The younger people in Denmark (16 for drinking, 18 for bars) pack out that street every weekend. There is a bar for every vibe along that street.

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

Denmark has many great sustainable aspects about it. The government is more socialist (universal health care, students PAID while they attend universities, money for retirees, free state-run kindergartens, etc) and has a huge influence. Taxes are heavy on income (make more…taxed more) and purchasing goods. 25% tax is a starting Value-added-tax on all goods you buy. I don’t recognize big ‘class issues’ since taxes really level everybody out. Gas will cost you over 7 dollars (~rough calculation) and with heavy taxing, buying a car will cost you almost twice as much than in the states. The surprising thing is there is no outrage. The culture here is to not drive.

People bike everywhere. There are bike paths (separate from sidewalks) that span throughout the city. There are bike paths that parallel every major street, and some highways. This allow a bicyclists access to anywhere a car can go. The country is VERY flat. The countries highest point is a man-made hill 170m above sea-level. This allows easy biking without challenging hills. Most people in the city center bike the 4.5 kilometers (~3 miles) each way to the University everyday. During the day, it is very common to strap your baby into a bike seat, bike to the kindergarten, and then bike yourself to work/university. In the evening people like me bike into the city center to party, then bike home drunk. (still illegal, but not as big a deal as drunk driving).

Danes are heavy into renewable energy. They have about 20% wind energy (US is around 1.5%) generation for all electricity created. They also use bio-gas. They have a lot of pigs here – maybe 5 pigs/person here. Pigs make waste. They are collecting waste from cooperatives of multiple big farms, processing that shit, and making bio-gas and sending it to a CHP (Combined Heat-Power-Plant) to generate heat and electricity for their homes. This is similar to using natural gas, but it utilizes a renewable ‘waste’ product. The heating here is ‘district heating’. Rather than have a heater in individual homes, there are pipelines for the whole municipality that provide heat for the people. Individual users can turn on the steam into their heaters at will. This limits waste from individuals. In Aalborg the district heating steam is captured from the local cement factory. If you can’t understand that here’s the main point: Rather than having each house have a furnace/heater…they route all the excess heat created from a local cement factory into individual homes around the city.  Lastly, all the energy utilities are state owned. It is worth noting that although we can borrow a few points…this energy policy would absolutely NEVER function in a capitalistic society such as the US.

Finally, they are similar programs to us in recycling plastics. Cans and bottles are charged deposits of 1, 2 or 3 DKK (depending on size of bottle/can). This is significant …5.5 Dkk/1USD. They have high recycling rates. Also, when you go to a grocery store, people bring their gym bags and backpacks for groceries. To get a plastic bag costs you 1 DKK/bag.

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

I bought a bike at a police auction and bike a few kilometers everyday to get to school, buy groceries, go out, etc. I never biked in Seattle.

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

If we do not curb the irresponsible consumption of natural resources, there will be a resource war within our generation. Economically extractable oil (Peak oil) will decline within 50 years by most scientific agreement. Those with oil reserves will be in a position of power, and those without may become desperate. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. We need to become more sustainable and aware of our consumption because we need to buy time for our scientists and engineers to figure out better solutions. I see us at a point where we are going to prolong this ‘war’ and hopefully avoid it all together with the use technology.

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

I have a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering with an Energy and Environment concentration. I am pursuing my MS in ME. I am studying a semester abroad at Aalborg University in their Sustainable Energy Management and Planning program. I would like to work as an Energy Engineer and work to retrofit commercial buildings to improve their energy efficiencies.

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

Hawaii. Never been there and I have never eaten Hawaiian food I didn’t like.

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

Curious George. He gets away with anything.


My Generation: Interview with Music Producer Ryan Lewis!

When did you begin your music career?:

“It’s tough to distinguish when a “career” actually begins, cause’ really that’s the moment you decide you’re going to become a professional. Or try, haha. I started making music when I was just a little kid on the guitar. That quickly developed into me forming my first band at age 12 and going through a heavy rock phase up until my mid-teens. Around the time I was 16 is when my musical interests broadened widely and I wanted to start producing records as opposed to just playing an instrument. This was really the beginning of working on a craft that lead up to this point now. I’m a firm believer in Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours theory. It takes 10,000 hours to truly become a master of something. I’d like to think it was when I bought my first belt-driven turn table to sample some records that my 10,000 hours began. Not sure I’m a master yet, haha.”

– What is it like to work with some pretty successful artists, right now Mackelmore, Blue scholars, …etc?:

“It’s awesome. I’m grateful for who my family is, i.e. who I’m working closely beside and who have become significant comrades in this little Northwest bubble. Over the past year the Scholars have been nothing but supportive and undoubtedly helped “Mack” and I reach the point that we’re at now. To have the biggest hip-hop duo in Seattle co-sign the art your making, inviting you on the road and providing opportunities across the board is really amazing. We are infinitely grateful. From the moment the Scholars emerged in Seattle out of Beacon Hill they’ve always had a genuine loyalty and support for this regional music scene. Helping Mack and I grow is only a reflection of the leaders they choose to be in this city, advocating the music in the region even as Seattle remains lesser known in the greater international spotlight.”

“Working with Macklemore is like working with my best friend. I met him back in early 2006, when we were both in very different places of life. Our real collaboration began in mid 2008 around the time he got sober. There isn’t a person I know better in life than him right now. To collaborate musically and make something of impact is a common and powerful thing. To collaborate with someone you respect as a person and are growing with on a day to day basis outside of the music, is a whole different dynamic that few get to experience. In a current music industry of constant mixtapes, leaks, quickly made collaborations and collapse of LP’s, I feel blessed to be in a duo that is trying to make full-length records where every song is good. And not be selling beats for some quick cash.”

When is the next EP/CD/Concert gonna be?!:

“The VS. Re-Release (which dropped at the Paramount) was a more significant release than we were anticipating. The lead single “Otherside Ft. Fences [Ryan Lewis REMIX]” was leaked on Monday, followed by Jake One’s REMIX of Crew Cuts. The whole REDUX project is now available on iTunes. It was basically just an idea we had to re-release our old EP from last year, touching up some of the mistakes I originally made, re-doing the album art and passing acapella’s over to some of our favorite local producers to remix. The flagship of the project was re-doing Otherside. Something special happened working with Fences, Zach Fleury (guitar, bass, drums, vocals) and Andrew Joslyn (violin)… and in my opinion it does justice to an acapella performance I never felt the original beat was living up to.”

We’re from Seattle, I think it is safe to say we are pretty progressive. What is your take on sustainability? Is it just a buzz word, or is it important?:

“Sustainability is absolutely important.”

“You have had the opportunity to travel around a bit, is there one place that you think, personally, is more environmentally conscious?

“What’s kind of sad, is that I can think of 3-5 places right off the bat that are LESS environmentally conscious than Seattle, more easily than I can think of one that is more. I’m not sure that means Seattle is killing the game when it comes to the environment or if cities in America have a lot of room to grow. Definitely feels good to get back home off a plane and smell that Northwest air, after getting used the smell of garbage in New York.”

Is there any talk about being sustainable or going “Green” in your line of work? When I think of music I don’t think of it being synonymous with the environment, but just curious?

“I think the biggest opportunity for a musician to support “going green” is in beneficiary shows for primarily non-profit organizations working toward the environment. What’s difficult is that benefit shows are one of the most frequent requests artists get, and you can’t always take them. A show is one of the only sources of income we have, and this is our job. Organizations think you’re cold hearted if you turn down a benefit show, but what people don’t realize is that artists are asked to play these shows ALL the time. 3-5 times a month. That being said, it is a great way for the artist to give back and I know in Seattle hip-hop, we try to take as many of these type of benefits as we can.”

Why do you think it is so important in today’s generation to try and live a sustainable lifestyle? Is there one thing that you do in your daily life to be more sustainable?

“Well, it’s clear in all things that our generation is the future. We have redefined how just about everything works as technology has advanced so drastically in the past 10 years. From how we get our music in nontraditional ways, how we watch TV on our lap tops, how we have 5 different disposal cans depending on what you’re throwing out, how we read our books on LCD screens, where our cars get energy, the list is endless. The question is how well we’re using these new technologies to better the world, and whether we’re willing to take advantage of new techniques that better the environment even when they’re less convenient. If I’m being honest with myself, I think that just like a lot of people I have room to grow in being environmentally conscious. I’m a cigarette smoker, and it’s hard to want to find a trash can every time I finish a smoke. It’s truly deciding what things your going to choose to value in life and whether helping to keep the environment clean is one of them.”

Want to hear more of Ryan Lewis check out his website: Ryanlewisproductions.com


My Generation: Where in the World is Ally?

Where did you study abroad, live, or have lived that you would like to share for the Sustainability Project? I studied abroad in Rio de Janeiro, have traveled extensively all throughout Europe, traveled to South Africa, a small island off Honduras, wandered through a few countries in the Middle East and Egypt, and recently returned home from a three week adventure in East Africa. As could be expected, all of these countries’ programs and attitudes towards sustainability varied as much as their respective landscapes and cultures. For the purpose of this blog entry I will speak mostly to my experience in Rio de Janeiro, a stunningly beautiful city (think mountain-like hillside meeting tropical beach with a city fit snuggly in-between) located in a country blessed with abundant natural resources.

What do you think was/is the most exciting thing about this location?
The music! The fruits! The dancing! The colors!! Of the water, of the people, of the flowers and the trees…The hustle and bustle of metropolitan people mixed with the flavor of Brazil.

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

Every day we would hop on the subway which would take us to the other side of the city for class. It was a breeze even though the tube would get stifling hot and crowed during the height of work-day commute. There were plenty of busses as well; though we called them “death coaches” because the roads are incredibly dangerous due to lack of traffic law enforcement. Unfortunately the quality of air in Rio is often poor and I developed temporary asthma while training for a marathon while I was down there. I would run every day along the water, which unfortunately ran alongside a frequently used highway. The cars spewed exhaust and I rarely saw a vehicle which would pass an emissions test in the USA.
On the flip side, every day I would walk to a fresh juice stand (they could be found on every corner) which would have every Amazonian fruit imaginable which they received daily. The grocery store only carried what was in season. This aspect of sustainability is very important though not often thought about or discussed. The toll importing mangos or pineapples to Seattle takes on the environment is enormous. In Rio, people ate what was grown, raised and cured locally. This seems to be the norm in most developing nations. Perhaps this is due to local palates, though I am more inclined to assume it is because imported foods are much more expensive than local products. Local produce stands and grocery corner shops only carry what is sourced from nearby. (Of course exceptions of this always exist…I was just in Ethiopia and found myself frantically searching for chocolate bars. While they had been abundant in Kenya (presumably thanks to colonization) they were nowhere to be found in Ethiopia. I was finally able to locate at the “import grocery store” where the shelves were stocked full of Italian balsamic vinegar, Russian Vodka and Cadbury chocolate bars)

Is there one thing that you do in your daily life that can be attributed to sustainability?
My little sister does a much better job paying attention to her carbon footprint and living a sustainable lifestyle than I do. I do my best, though often times will drive to my evening restaurant job in order to avoid taking the bus late at night for safety reasons. I try to bike to closer destinations or if I don’t mind getting a little sweaty. Composting and trash sorting is the easiest thing I have programmed myself to do automatically. All it took was training myself to think about where to place my old Starbuck’s cup or banana peel. I know pick my roommates shampoo bottles out of the trash, remove the caps and place them in the recycling, autopilot style.

Why do you think Sustainability or environmental awareness is so important to our generation?
It is important because the livelihood of future generations depends on it. In my opinion, at the most basic level we all must acknowledge that the Earth is only so large, and only contains so many natural resources which we cannot renew at the rate our world population is growing, if at all. If we deplete them at the rate which we are now, I fear for what kind of environment our grandchildren will be living in. It’s easy to forget this though; we live in a bubble in the PNW surrounded by abundant wildlife and stunning natural resources. Its only once we see how the rest of the world lives (both for the better and the worst) will we understand how much we actually consume, where it comes from, and how much less we really need to live happy and productive lives.

What degree, have you received or are currently seeking, or what field of work are you looking to jump into? I am currently finishing up my degree in International Studies at the Jackson School at University of Washington, Seattle.

If you could travel to one place in the world where would it be, and why?
I am DYING to go to Cuba, The music, the dancing, the food (if you have not been to Paseo in Fremont…stop reading this and go immediately!!!) the culture and most of all the history. It is so different from most places in the world. And it’s sunny, I love to snorkel and swim in warm water.

If you could be one animal in the world what would it be?
A dolphin! Snorkeling and swimming all day in crystal clear waters!? Yes please!


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: Katrina hits Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii, paradise of the U.S.!


What do you think is the most exciting thing about living in Hawaii?

The beach is always five minutes away! Since Hawaii is a great melting pot of different cultures and people, the food is honestly the best you can get anywhere in the United States. The people are so chill and really friendly. Because of the AMAZING weather we have all year round, it’s always a great day to do something outside. You can usually find me hiking, swimming, fishing with my brothers, or sitting on the beach when I’m home.

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

Each house is provided with a free recycling bin and compost bin. As of right now Honolulu is in the process of developing a transportation plan for public rail. The public transit by bus is pretty intricate and very accessible.  Hawaii also has a can and bottle deposit for every can and bottle bought. You can get that deposit back when you take your cans to a recycling center.

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

I like to recycle and I try to buy local products and produce when I can. I like to eat organic food. I ride public transit everywhere and I use a tote bag at the grocery store to cut down on plastic. Just recently, I installed a low flow shower head and have put a water bottle in the tank of my toilet to reduce water.  My boyfriend is incredibly sustainable and gives me great tips on how to be more “green” in my daily activities. He’s going to save the world one day. ❤

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

I feel as though we are at a time in our life, our generation, in the earth’s history, that we will not have enough natural resources abundantly available to sustain the earth’s human population. Biodiversity is dramatically decreasing and I don’t think people understand that variation in our ecosystems is incredibly important.  It affects ALL aspects of our lives. The extinction of one species can lead to the extinction of a hundred more species, and the repopulation of a species is expensive and risky.

What degree, have you received or are currently seeking, or what field of work are you looking to jump into? I am currently seeking a degree in Biology, and I’m hoping to enter the field of medicine.

If you could travel to one place in the world where would it be, and why? I would travel to Paris, France because it is the city of romance, and I am a hopeless romantic at heart. I’m also a huge sucker for bread. Caaaaarrrrbs.

If you could be one animal in the world what would it be? I would be a hippo because they are quite possibly the cutest un-cute animals EVER. They’re fat and spend a good amount of time lounging around in the water, but they are ridiculously vicious as well. I’m basically a hippopotamus in human form now.