Sharing Center Stage
Food for Comfort
A Corps Beyond
Fashioning a Future
At the Charlotte Campus, instructor Brian Mooney’s Environmental Science
class raised money to support African villages. At the Providence Campus, Associate
Professor Mark Hengen’s Honors Environmental Science class did research for
a sustainability project in Providence. Both teachers found socially conscious ways
for students to learn outside the classroom and consider their world community.
Mooney’s class chose to raise funds for Oxfam America, an advocacy agency
fighting poverty and injustice. For as little as $300 Oxfam can help build a well to
provide enough clean water for one village in Africa. The class’ campaign slogan
was “Give a Dime.” By setting a goal of collecting a dime from each of the nearly
3,000 people around campus, they could help one village. It was also a way for
people to make a “tiny little change and a tiny commitment by saying, ‘This is
important,’” Mooney says.
The students, divided into groups, set out on their own. “I felt 25 minds
working on it and being responsible is better than one, and they would learn the
most that way,” Mooney says. Groups held bake sales on and off campus, collected
money during student events, and walked around campus with collection cans.
They raised $902.
Students concluded that it isn’t hard to raise money — especially if you only
ask for a dime, says Mooney. Most people gave more. They also learned that “the
bulk of environmental problems are small and if each of us made small behavior
adjustments, we could solve the problem or at least make the situation better.”
On the Providence Campus, Hengen’s class made trips to the Southside
Community Land Trust’s City Farm, in Providence, a community garden about
two blocks long. The class conducted research on the ecological, economical and
social aspects of the farm that contribute to its sustainability.
One group took inventory of all vegetation, reviewed farm data on levels of
nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the soil and applied information to
carbon dioxide readings. Another collected housing and census data from city
records for the surrounding neighborhood. Densely packed space could create a
more adverse impact on the environment, while more open space would likely
lead to a healthier environment, Hengen notes.
The third group looked at the economic value of the garden’s produce to local
businesses and organizations. Students also considered the possible effects of the
farm on the neighborhood’s housing prices. Though living near a park can raise
values, the high density of low-income housing could lower them.
Research concluded that the vegetation was beneficial because it helped air
quality by filtering out particles. Growing and selling products locally with the
help of volunteers had economic benefits. As for social benefits, “I think quality
of life increases; the social networks may be stronger,” Hengen says. “It seems like
there’s a new awareness of being able to grow food in the city and be successful
and regain attachment to the land.”
Online > www.oxfamamerica.org and www.southsideclt.org