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Will We Make It Out Alive?
51 minutes | Aug 30, 2022
S3E7: Success Starts at the Root
Welcome to Season 3, Episode 7, Success Starts at the Root: all about the Roots of Success program! Season 3 features the Washington Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP), how they bring education, nature and training into the prisons to reduce recidivism and protect and enhance our environment. This is the seventh and final episode of Season 3. If you’ve missed any episodes, you can root around in our archives and listen. So far, we’ve brought you how it all started; a background on the prison system and an introduction to SPP; how SPP is a network of partners working to bring education and nature into the prison system; we’ve also learn more about the SPP Conservation Programs and the Native Plant Nurseries; and rearing endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterflies at the Mission Creek Correctional Facility; as well as some of the Peer-led education programs, including gardening and beekeeping.In this episode we will learn more about the Roots of Success program from Grady Mitchell, a former participant and current Corrections & Reentry Program Director at Roots of Success. Guests in this EpisodeEmily PassarelliEmily Passarelli is the Education and Outreach Manager at The Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP). She first worked with SPP as a graduate student from 2015-2017 as the Green Track Program Coordinator. While there she helped coordinate Roots of Success and helped develop the framework for the statewide Beekeeping Program. After she graduated, she went on to work with Centralia College at the Washington Corrections Center as their Education Program Manager. In 2021, she rejoined the SPP Team as the Education and Outreach Manager.Grady MitchellGrady Mitchell is the Corrections & Reentry Program Director at Roots of Success (ROS) Environmental & Job Readiness Curriculum. He is also a motivational speaker and consultant with Grady Mitchell Consulting. Mitchell has taught and mentored hundreds of students in the ROS program and trained men incarcerated in Washington’s prisons to teach ROS classes. Mitchell volunteers for the Washington Department of Corrections in developing volunteer and re-entry policies and continues to mentor.Roots of SuccessRoots of Success is a 10-module curriculum that teaches about the environment and prepares people for jobs. It is focused on those individuals who have traditionally been left out of environmental policy and planning, and is taught in prisons, juvenile facilities, schools, and youth and job training programs across the US. The program has even expanded to the UK and South Africa! It was developed by Dr. Raquel Pinderhughes of San Francisco State University. The program provides a green jobs and career pathways guidebook containing 125+ jobs students will be qualified for once graduating from Roots of Success. Graduates can not only obtain better paying jobs, but can improve their communities.Grady’s Story After Emily briefly explains what Roots of Success is, Grady shares his experience learning about Roots of Success and becoming a facilitator. He really believes in the program and has taught and mentored hundreds of students in the Washington State prison system. Grady tells us several stories of what it’s like in the classroom, how seriously everyone takes it, and how in his years of facilitating they have never had an incident in the classroom. He relates sharing knowledge he gained from the classes with his family to save on energy and to conserve water. They were able to bring their electric bill from $380/month down to $120/month! Many students shared their knowledge with each other, and Grady shares how some students even did a water-use study that led to a campaign to reduce water usage in prison.Re-entry can be a hard process and Grady tells us a bit about his current role as Corrections and Re-entry Program Director. So often people are on their own and don’t get mental health or other services to transition back into society, and Grady is here to help his contacts through the process, as well as to advocate for all people going through the re-entry process.Grady talks about a Yale sponsored conference he attended (I believe it was this one) where he learned just how many organizations are doing work similar to Roots of Success and SPP. He also mentions the Taking Nature Black roundtable with the Audubon Society and how much he appreciates nature now.We ask Grady to share what he wants us to know about re-entry. He wants us to know it’s traumatic on all sides. The only way to heal is for people to keep open minds. It’s important for formerly incarcerated people to hold each other accountable but help each other out. It’s one thing for volunteers or counselors to give advice or try to help, but to hear it from someone who has shared the same lived experience is much more impactful.“It’s one thing to tell someone they’re great, show them their greatness; and then to have it stifled by hate… always remember that hate is louder than love, but love is bigger than hate.” - Grady MitchellUntil Next Time…Thank you so much for joining us this episode!This episode featured Emily Passarelli, Grady Mitchell and the Roots of Success program. Roots of Success isn’t an SPP program, but SPP does help administer it in the 12 Washington prisons. Grady speaks passionately about Roots of Success and believes it is very empowering and magical. The peer-led education program promotes leadership, cooperation, and science and sustainability education in prisons. The program also fosters relationships, even across racial and political lines, with graduates helping each other during re-entry and throughout life, encouraging each other to stay successful.This season we learned about how the Sustainability in Prisons Project all started, to how SPP supports and facilitates their partnerships, to more of the details of some of the conservation and education programs. If you missed anything, there are six other episodes of inspiration just waiting for you! We also heard from SPP staff, partners, and former participants about how important science and sustainability education and programs are in prisons. The people we interviewed this season have all learned from their experiences with SPP, whether it was realizing they had what it takes to learn and be successful, or breaking down preconceived notions about incarcerated individuals and prisons. I know I have learned a lot this season, and I hope to be able to make time to become involved in the future. I’d really like to help bring GIS education into the prisons in some way! If you have similarly been inspired, contact email@example.com.Once again, we’d like to thank all of our interviewees this season. We are very grateful that so many people opened up and shared their lived experiences with us. It’s a testament to the impact of the SPP programs and we are glad that we were able to share this wonderful program with you this season. We will be taking a break before starting work on Season 4. If you have ideas for an upcoming season, please leave them in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest pages.Until next time, Will We Make It Out Alive?
49 minutes | Aug 16, 2022
S3E6: Letting Knowledge and Nature In
Welcome to Season 3, Episode 6, Letting Knowledge and Nature In: Science and Sustainability Education in Prison. This season is all about the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP), how they bring education, nature and training into the prisons to reduce recidivism and protect and enhance our environment. This season is seven episodes long. If you’ve missed any episodes, you can go back in our arc-hives and listen. So far, you’ve heard how it all started; a background on the prison system and an introduction to SPP; how SPP is a network of partners working to bring education and nature into the prison system; we’ve also learn more about the SPP Conservation Programs and the Native Plant Nurseries; and rearing endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterflies at the Mission Creek Correctional Facility.In this episode we will have our final interview of the season with Kelli Bush, SPP Co-Director and introduce Emily Passarelli, Education and Outreach Manager for SPP. We’ll be chatting with them about SPP’s science education programs in Washington prisons.Guests in this EpisodeKelli BushKelli Bush is the Co-Director of the Sustainability in Prisons Project. She helps bring nature, science and environmental education into prisons in Washington. She also leads staff from The Evergreen State College that coordinate programs in the prisons. She has a Bachelor's degree in Agriculture Ecology from The Evergreen State College.Emily PassarelliEmily Passarelli is the Education and Outreach Manager at The Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP). She first worked with SPP as a graduate student from 2015-2017 as the Green Track Program Coordinator. While there she helped coordinate Roots of Success and helped develop the framework for the statewide Beekeeping Program. After she graduated, she went on to work with Centralia College at the Washington Corrections Center as their Education Program Manager. In 2021, she rejoined the SPP Team as the Education and Outreach Manager.SPP Education ProgramsKelli Bush starts us off by explaining what the Education Programs portion of SPP is. While all of SPP’s programs include education, there were some programs they weren’t sure how to categorize so they created a catch-all Education bucket. Some of the programs in this bucket include peer-led gardening and composting, beekeeping certifications, and the environmental engagement workshop series. Education in Prison Offering education in prison definitely has its challenges, because prisons weren’t designed with education in mind. Finding classroom space, accessing technology, lack of internet, and the difficulty of bringing traditional science labs into prisons are some of the major barriers. SPP is creative and is developing science curriculum and labs that work in a prison setting. They are also looking into ways of developing secure internet within prisons, as other states have done. Having hard copy materials is the most resilient way to deliver content, because it can be broadly shared and even consumed by incarcerated individuals who need to be separated from others and are unable to attend regular classes.The workshop series is a program where scientists, professors, nonprofits, and others with knowledge to share come into the prisons to share 90 minute presentations on a variety of topics the incarcerated population is interested in learning about. The program has been very popular and workshops were always filled to capacity. The program has unfortunately been put on hold due to the pandemic, but SPP hopes to start it back up in the future. In the meantime, SPP is working to develop education modules, which are presentations of 5-20 pages that can be delivered through printed materials. We wanted to tap into our listener hive mind, so if any listeners (or blog readers) feel like they have science or sustainability educational content they would like to share, SPP welcomes idea pitches! If they are interested in your idea, they will even guide you through creating content by providing the format and tips on making the content most effective for the prison audience.Kelli rounds out her time with us by telling us about a new composting curriculum currently being developed and giving us an update on how those individuals participating in some of these science education programs can earn college credit. They are working to offer college credit for more of the programs and to offer transferable credit while still incarcerated rather than individuals getting a certificate that they can “redeem” for college credits if they attend Evergreen.We’d really like to thank Kelli for being such a big part of this season by not only being interviewed for 5 out of the 7 episodes, but also for helping us produce this season and introducing us to all of our amazing interviewees. She is the bees’ knees! We really couldn’t have brought you this season without Kelli Bush!Gardening Program Emily Passarelli joins us next to talk more in depth about some of the Education Programs offered by SPP. The Foundations in Gardening Course has a robust manual and can be taught in a peer-led classroom environment, or through self study. Peer-led education means classes are facilitated by other incarcerated individuals, and can take different forms. Classes can have one peer instructor, or they can trade off and each teach a different module to each other. This model really draws people in and shows them that if their peers are learning and teaching that they can see themselves doing the same and people start to bee-lieve in themselves.Emily shares that there are gardens in each of the 12 prisons. These can take different forms, such as flower gardens, food gardens, native plant gardens, gardens with culturally significant meaning to different populations, and planter boxes people can rent in some of the prisons to grow anything they want (within reason). There are huge therapeutic benefits to gardening, or even seeing gardens (I can personally attest to this) and studies have shown that gardens can reduce stress and tension and improve cognitive ability, among other benefits. In this vein, there is a Nature Imagery program where incarcerated people who are in intensive management units (or IMUs) can go into a room with a television for an hour and view nature imagery. These people are stuck in a cell for 23 hours a day (luckily not for punishment anymore) and aren’t able to experience nature directly, so at least being able to view images of nature can have similar stress-reducing effects. Emily shares a lot more information about gardens, including who can participate in gardening, how much time incarcerated people who work in the gardens spend there, and what happens to produce grown in the gardens.Beekeeping Program Some of the prisons in Washington have beekeeping programs. These are offered in partnership with local beekeeping associations. Expert beekeepers train new beekeepers and help facilities get new hives and materials. Washington has certified 507 beekeepers! Emily “schools” us on our misconceptions of prisons being gray, concrete behemoths and educates us on the beekeeping program. We learn that bees eat lots of sugar, not just plant nectar! We are also shocked by the fact that a lot of the hives are lost over the winter. They are always trying new things to try to make the hives more successful, so hopefully they will make strides and be able to share that knowledge with others. If they are successful, they hope to start a queen rearing program! Emily shares that the incarcerated beekeepers unfortunately don’t get to keep any of the honey, but they are very creative and each program has designed their own labels and logos! Sometimes they can try the honey during tasting workshops. Other times it is given out to staff or special guests, or even sold and the proceeds go back into more beekeeping materials or other educational programming for the incarcerated.Emily’s Master’s thesis was on the effects of environmental education on incarcerated students. Emily shares more about her research and findings with us. She had some expected results, but also some that were more unexpected. It turns out that working with living things has huge impacts on incarcerated individuals, including shifts in empathy for other beings, other people, and themselves.After making me feel like my heart was growing three sizes bigger hearing about people learning their self-worth, Emily regales us with the time she started a fire in prison. Ha!Until Next Time…Thank you so much for joining us this episode! We hope you have learned more about learning in this episode…at least pertaining to education in the WA State Prison System.All of SPP’s programs include education, but today we focused on those that SPP puts into their “Education” bucket. SPP is great at finding ways to make science education happen, even with the many hurdles in front of them. They have found the peer-led education model to be very effective in prison settings, particularly during a pandemic!Gardening and beekeeping are two programs under SPP’s broad “Education” bucket. It’s great to hear that all of the Washington prisons have gardens since they have been shown to reduce stress, and I imagine prisons can be a very stressful place for all involved. There is even a special garden for “lifers”! It’s also encouraging that they have beekeeping programs, because we need bees to pollinate most of our food. It was eye-opening to hear about some of the struggles, especially with keeping the bees alive over winter, and hopefully some of the things they are trying will lend itself to saving more hives in and out of prisons.As Kelli mentioned, the highly popular workshop series has been suspended due to the Covid pandemic and we’re not quite sure when it will be starting up again. However, if you have an idea for a workshop or training, you can still pitch your ideas and develop educat
53 minutes | Aug 2, 2022
S3E5, Why did the Caterpillar Cross the Road? To get to the Artillery Range
Welcome to Season 3, Episode 5, Why did the Caterpillar Cross the Road? To get to the Artillery Range. A story about the metamorphosis of a prison into a butterfly rearing facility for endangered species recovery. This episode is all about the Sustainability in Prisons Project’s (SPP) Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Program. In this episode, we learn more about the program with Mary Linders, endangered species biologist and we talk with Liz Louie, former butterfly technician, about her experience rearing Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies. This season is all about the Sustainability in Prisons Project (otherwise referred to as SPP), how they bring education, nature and training into the prisons to reduce recidivism and protect and enhance our environment. This season (we now know) is 7 episodes long. In the first episode we got into how it all started; Episode 2 provided a background on the prison system and an introduction to SPP. Episode 3 was all about partnerships, which is really what SPP is, a network of partners working to bring education and nature into the prison system. Last episode provided an overview of the Conservation Programs at SPP and then we got into more of the details of the Conservation Nursery Programs and how they are involved in prairie restoration.We start off the episode with a few fun facts, including:A group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope, although sometimes referred to as a flutter, flight or swarm. A group of caterpillars is called an army.According to the Smithsonian: There are about 18,500 butterfly species worldwide (except Antarctica). Of those, around 750 are found in the US.Interviewees this EpisodeMary LindersMary has worked as an endangered species recovery biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) since 1994. For the past 18 years she has worked to protect and recover populations of five at-risk prairie and oak-associated species in the South Puget Sound region. As the lead biologist overseeing captive rearing and population re-establishment of the federally endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, Mary has grown the project from a captive rearing test trial to a program with two captive rearing facilities, 14 field sites, and nine conservation partners. All told, this effort is transforming 1000s of acres of degraded grassland to high quality native prairie benefitting a multitude of other species. Mary holds a Master’s degree in Wildlife Science from the University of Washington-Seattle and a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.Liz LouieLiz is currently the manager of the FareStart Restaurant Program. She was previously a butterfly technician with the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Rearing program. According to their website, “FareStart transforms lives, disrupts poverty and nourishes communities through food, life skills and job training.” We hope to have a future mini-sode where we share more about Liz’s experience with the FareStart Program. Stay tuned for more info on that!Taylor’s Checkerspot ButterflyAccording to the WDFW Website:“Taylor’s checkerspot is a Pacific Northwest endemic butterfly. It is currently restricted to a small scattering of 8 populations in Washington, a single population in British Columbia, and 2 populations in Oregon. The decline of this butterfly has accompanied the loss of open, prairie and grassland habitats…it has declined dramatically due to widespread habitat degradation and loss of prairie-oak ecosystems from development, invasive species, and loss of beneficial disturbance mechanisms. Habitat enhancement efforts for Taylor's checkerspot since 2006 have been significant, however, the amount of fully-restored habitat relative to need is low, and the configuration of habitat remains fragmented and isolated.”TAYLOR'S CHECKERSPOT BUTTERFLY ON BALSAMROOT - PHOTO CREDIT: USFWS/K. REAGANTaylor's Checkerspot was listed as an endangered species by the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2006, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in 2011, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2013. The federal listing means that basically that no harm can come of the butterfly.Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) includes the largest remaining intact prairie (which happens to be a live artillery range) in the South Salish Sea Basin. The artillery impact area at JBLM contains some of the highest quality prairies in the Pacific Northwest and some of the few remaining natural populations of Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies. Out of all of the glacial outwash prairie that previously existed there is only 3% remaining and of that, JBLM is home to about 95%. If you want to learn more about butterfly identification in the South Salish lowlands, check out, A Region Specific Guide to Butterflies of South Puget Sound, Washington.The Cascadia Prairie Oak Partnership has a lot of great resources related to prairie oak restoration in the Salish Sea basin and Willamette Valley, including various field and landowner guides.WDFW asks that you share Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly observations on their WDFW wildlife reporting form. Providing detailed information such as a photo and the coordinates will improve the confidence and value of your observation.Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly ProgramIn this episode, Mary Linders shares more about the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Program. She talks about their lifecycle and their unique ecological niche within the Salish Lowland Prairies. The ultimate goal of the program is to rear butterflies to be reintroduced into the wild to help restore the few remaining native populations. The easiest way to do that is to try to reduce their mortality in captivity. Mary says that one of the biggest challenges to rearing Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies is weather. On the habitat side, it means that they may or may not get green up after a fire, or germination, which is impacted by weather and management techniques. While on the butterfly side of things, it is very plastic in its behavior to the climate; if there is an early spring, it will shift its flight habits.We learn that in the wild, the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly has a survival rate of 1-5% from egg to adult, while in captivity they see about a 65% survival rate. They try to keep every stage at 90% survival rate.While GPS and GIS have not been used on the incarcerated side, Mary does share how GIS and GPS are used for all aspects of conservation from habitat assessments to recording release locations and tracking movement.This project is having an impact on species recovery. Where they were down to a single population, they have now established two other populations and there is a third that is doing okay. There are also a couple of sites that have not fully taken off yet.Mary discusses some of the benefits of bringing a project like this into a prison setting. One of the benefits is that you get an intimate look at captivity and another is that they have been very successful at minimizing mortality in captivity. She says one of the drawbacks of having a program like this in a prison is that it is a very dynamic situation, where you might face lockdowns or other circumstances that might not happen outside of prison. She shares that there was a lot of risk involved, especially at the beginning, since they had to build a dedicated facility, but that the women in the prison took it on and made it their own. One aspect that helped them get this project off the ground, is that the Oregon Zoo was able to help guide the rearing details.Mary shares how collaborating with SPP has impacted her. She says it’s the ultimate feel good, where you can heal the environment and society at the same time.Rearing Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterflies in a Prison SettingNext we talk with Liz Louie about her experience as a butterfly technician. She shares more about how she got started with the program, including going through a traditional interview process, which is not typical for positions in prison. She talks about how she had some skills that were helpful for working with the butterflies, like experience working with data. Liz says that she was fearful at first, because the butterflies are such sensitive little animals! She also shares how it was great to be able to participate through four rearing seasons and that they were able to surpass the prior year’s survival rates.We ask Liz about the benefits of working in a program like this. She says that every year the technicians had the option to apply for credit from Evergreen. She talks about how impactful it was for those individuals that had never been to college before or had that kind of an experience and that it pushed participants to pursue further education and gave them confidence to apply for other programs.Liz also explains what butterfly rearing looks like in the prison environment. She talks about the various life cycle stages. She says that the butterfly phase was her favorite part, because you get to handle them a little more and you have to feed them. She also talks about how they have various families or lines and they have to keep track of them so they are breeding different families together. According to the Oregon Zoo website, this is what their recovery project looks like (they provided guidance to the SPP project):“Spring: Adult females and eggs are collected in the wild at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Olympia, Wash., and sent to the zoo for hatching and rearing. The hatched caterpillars are fed leaves grown on grounds at the zoo.Summer: The caterpillars continue to eat and grow until June when they go into a mostly inactive phase called "diapause." The caterpillars are then placed in earthenware pots in a sheltered outside area and periodically inspected.Winter: In February the larvae are brought back into the lab where they begin to eat again.Spring: In March most of the caterpillars are released at sites with suitable habitat to continue growing until they pupate and eclose (or emerge) as butterflies.”You can learn more about the specifics of rearing in the Oregon Zoo’s Taylor’s Checkerspot Captive Rearing Ove
53 minutes | Jul 19, 2022
S3E4 - Plugging Away at the South Salish Lowland Prairies
Welcome to Episode 4, Plugging away at the South Salish Lowland Prairies, all about conservation programs with the WA Sustainability in Prisons Project. In this episode we will learn a little about the umbrella Conservation Programs with Kelli Bush, and then we chat with Carl Elliot about the Conservation Nursery Program.This season is all about the Sustainability in Prisons Project (otherwise referred to as SPP), how they bring education, nature and training into the prisons to reduce recidivism and protect and enhance our environment. We now know that this season is at least 6 episodes long and it still could be 7 episodes long. In the first episode we got into how it all started; Episode 2 provided a background on the prison system and an introduction to SPP. Episode 3 was all about partnerships, which is really what SPP is, a network of partners working to bring education and nature into the prison system.According to an article “Conservation Projects in Prison,”“The pace of habitat destruction and loss of biological diversity globally exceeds the current capacity of societies to restore functioning ecosystems. Working with prison systems to engage inmates in habitat conservation and ecological science is an innovative approach to increase our ability to reestablish habitat and at-risk species, while simultaneously providing people in custody with opportunities for reciprocal restoration, education, therapeutic activities, safer conditions, and lower costs of imprisonment. We present the benefits of working with prisons to conduct habitat conservation through nursery production of plants and captive rearing of animals, combined with educational experiences...”Interviewees this EpisodeKelli Bush is the co-director of the Sustainability in Prisons Project. She helps bring nature, science and environmental education into prisons in Washington. She also leads staff from The Evergreen State College that coordinate programs in the prisons. She has a Bachelor's degree in Agriculture Ecology from The Evergreen State College. Carl Elliot is the Program Manager of the Conservation Nursery Programs with the Sustainability in Prisons Project. Carl has a B.S. and a Masters of Environmental Science from The Evergreen State College. Prior to his work with the Sustainability in Prison Project, he had over twenty years of experience in horticulture and sustainable agriculture. He was a founding board member of the Seattle Youth Garden Works, which trains homeless children and other at-risk youth in skills for employment and healthy living. He began working for SPP in 2011 as the Conservation and Restoration Coordinator and has expanded the Conservation Nursery Program from one to four prisons in Washington.SPP Conservation ProgramsIn this episode we chat with Kelli Bush about the overarching Conservation Program, its goals and some of the different types of programs. She also shares a little about some conservation programs on the horizon; like the Sagebrush in Prisons Project, which grows sagebrush in prisons to help restore sagebrush habitat. We get off on a little tangent, but it leads us to talking about another potential partnership with UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science.Next we talk to Carl Elliot about the Conservation Nursery Programs. He starts with some background in the South Salish Lowland Prairies (say that five times fast!) and the work over the last 20 years or so to restore this habitat. He also shares how he got his start with SPP and why he was ultimately the ideal candidate to help further develop the Conservation Nursery Program (spoiler alert, it was because he was not just looking at it as cheap prison labor). He also talks about what is grown at the nurseries and why. He also shares about how biological technicians participate in the program, including a discussion about how ideas are shared and how he fosters and encourages new ideas from all people involved. He shares some of the benefits of participating in the program; technicians are learning, they can get college credit and in the end those things ultimately benefit our communities. He also shares about his personal experience working with a program in a prison and what working with incarcerated individuals is like.“I rarely meet an incarcerated individual that can not add something to the conservation community.” -Carl ElliotCarl provides a solid foundation to the restoration of South Salish Lowland Prairies. This includes discussion about some of the locations of remaining prairie near Olympia, WA.Wolf Haven is working with many partners to help restore 36 acres of Mima Mound Prairie found on their property.JBLM includes the largest remaining intact Prairie in the South Salish Basin (which happens to be a live artillery range). The artillery impact area at JBLM contains some of the highest quality prairies in the Pacific Northwest and some of the few remaining natural populations of Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies. Out of all of the glacial outwash prairie that previously existed there is only 5% remaining and of that, JBLM is home to about 95%!!!Glacial Heritage Preserve, a 1,134-acre preserve, including 650 acres of grassland, located in Thurston County south of Olympia, Washington. In 1988, Thurston County purchased the land, recognizing the potential for restoring several native ecosystems on the variable site. The Nature Conservancy began managing the land in 1995, a role that was taken over by the Center for Natural Lands Management in 2014. Today, CNLM sees to all aspects of maintenance on this private preserve: managing controlled burns, removing invasive plants by pulling or herbicide use, and reintroducing native plants through seeding and planting. They open up the prairie each spring to the public for Prairie Appreciation Days.Did you know that there’s a Prairie Landowner Guide for Western Washington?!Western Washington Prairies BackgroundDid you know? Prairies are one of the rarest ecosystems in Washington State! Only 3% of the original prairies remain.Prairies west of the Cascade Mountains were created by glaciers. When the glaciers started to recede about 15,000 years ago, they left behind dry gravelly soils perfect for prairies. These prairies were a natural landscape habitat in this area during the earlier dryer and warmer climate. Between 6000 and 5000 years ago the pollen signature shifted to a wetter and cooler climate, resulting in a natural plant succession that shifted the ecosystem to oak and then Douglas fir dominated forests. However some of the prairies persisted and this has been attributed to the Coast Salish tribes, who likely grew to depend on the prairies and so they continued to maintain them through burning. This type of landscape management was used to maintain prairie areas from Vancouver Island south to Eugene. The prairies in the South Salish Lowlands were traditional use areas for the Nisqually, Squaxin Island, Upper Chehalis and Cowlitz tribes. Prairies in the South Salish Lowlands have faced many ecosystem pressures. Current restoration efforts are as varied as the sites they are trying to restore. Typical methods include invasive species removal methods (mowing, herbicide, hand pulling), prescribed burning, and native plant restoration (seeding, plugging, planting). Adaptive management is the name of the game as they try to improve their restoration techniques. Until Next Time…WE HOP TO SEE YOU NEXT EPISODE!Thank you so much for joining us this episode! We hope you learned more about the SPP Conservation Program and the Conservation Nursery Programs and how they impact our communities and our environment. We think the biggest take away from this episode is that bringing nature and education into prisons can be rewarding for all involved, from the individuals, to the ecosystem, to the community. Maybe most importantly, these programs often change the way that people view themselves. We also want to reiterate that these programs are really about bringing education, nature and training into prisons. We hope you also learned more about prairie ecosystems and some of SPP’s conservation and restoration efforts both for the prairies themselves and for endangered species like the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. Carl also shared what it’s like to grow plants in a conservation nursery and what it looks like to bring this kind of science and education into the prison. This episode showcases what a big partnership with SPP might look like. While this might not be the right fit for every organization, it certainly seems to be very beneficial for those who have a big idea about bringing science and nature into prisons.Please join us on August 2nd for our next episode which will be all about the SPP Conservation Partnership for the Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Program. We will let Kelli rest for one episode and chat with Mary Linders (again) and introduce Liz Louie, former butterfly technician. Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
53 minutes | Jul 5, 2022
S3E3: If You’re not a partner of the solution, you’re a partner of the problem!
Welcome to Season 3, Episode 3, If You’re not a Partner of the Solution, You’re a Partner of the Problem; Partnerships and Programs with the Sustainability in Prisons Project (aka SPP). This season is all about the Sustainability in Prisons Project, what they do, why they do it and how you might be able bring your skills and knowledge to incarcerated individuals. For this episode, we interviewed Kelli Bush, the Sustainability in Prisons Project Director; Mary Linders, WDFW Wildlife Biologist; and Carolina Landa, a former butterfly technician. In this episode we dive into the complex web of partnerships that SPP maintains for their various, changing and growing programs. At the heart of this whole organization is a web of partnerships that keep everything moving forward and also ensure that projects are safe and appropriate for the prison environment.Interviewees’ Background and ExperienceKelli Bush is the co-director of the Sustainability in Prisons Project. She helps bring nature, science and environmental education into prisons in Washington. She also leads staff from The Evergreen State College that coordinate programs in the prisons. She has a Bachelor's degree in Agriculture Ecology from The Evergreen State College. Mary Linders has worked as an endangered species recovery biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) since 1994. For the past 18 years she has worked to protect and recover populations of five at-risk prairie and oak-associated species in the South Puget Sound region. As the lead biologist overseeing captive rearing and population re-establishment of the federally endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, Mary has grown the project from a captive rearing test trial to a program with two captive rearing facilities, 14 field sites, and nine conservation partners. All told, this effort is transforming thousands of acres of degraded grassland to high quality native prairie benefitting a multitude of other species. Mary holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s degree in Wildlife Science from the University of Washington-Seattle. This background has served her well in a field where conservation values mesh with competing human values. Outside of work she enjoys gardening, hiking, camping, paddling and playing music with her husband and son. Carolina Landa MPA, identifies as a Mexican-American woman. She currently works at the Office of the Corrections Ombuds as the Assistant Ombuds focused on Gender Equity and Reentry. She is a graduate of The Evergreen State College where she received her Bachelor’s degree with a focus on Law and Policy followed by her Master’s degree in Public Administration. Her three areas of specialized work are in Social Justice, Disabilities and Immigration. She currently serves as a member of the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council. She strongly believes that people with lived experiences have the power through voice to impact the most effective change in our society. Partnerships and Programs, oh my!This episode is all about partnerships and programs in the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP). When we first started researching this topic, Amy the Poop Detective was amazed at the breadth of different organizations and project types that fall under the SPP umbrella.SPP was initially formed as a partnership between The Evergreen State College (Evergreen) and the Department of Corrections (DOC) to bring science, nature and education into prisons in Washington State. It has since grown to almost 200 partnerships. The breadth and depth of the programs that they help facilitate is impressive, to say the very least. While we are most interested in conservation, nature and education programs, we learn that there are so many other types of programs/projects.SPP Perspective on Partnerships and ProgramsIn this episode, Kelli Bush shares more about how partnerships form and function. One of the main points that she makes is that these programs can be started at any level, whether it be an idea from an incarcerated individual, DOC staff, Evergreen graduates or partners in the community (that could mean you!). She also describes how each project is evaluated to make sure that there is benefit to all involved parties. They especially do not want projects that are just looking for free or cheap labor. The primary types of benefits to incarcerated individuals are educational, therapeutic and/or job skill related. She also shares more about how new projects also must be vetted by the DOC to ensure that they meet their safety and risk reduction considerations associated with the prison environment. We chat about how some projects are relatively easy to implement, for example education programs, where other programs are more difficult to implement such as the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly program, which required a greenhouse to be built and potential risks to be considered. She uses the composting program at the Monroe Correctional Facility as an example of how programs can start and grow. In this example, incarcerated individuals worked with DOC staff to develop an internal composting program. Over time, this program has grown into an award winning composting program and they have expanded their composting methods to include Bokashi composting (basically fermenting compost) and Black Soldier Fly Larvae composting, similar to vermicomposting, where the larvae eat through and break down food waste quickly. Here are some additional links to learn more about the SPP Bokashi and Black Soldier Fly Larvae composting programs.She shares more about several programs that are not so science based, including:A dog training program, where dogs live with and are trained by incarcerated individuals. They train dogs for children and adults for a variety of conditions. They also host foster animals, sometimes difficult to adopt animals, from many different agencies including the Kitsap Humane Society and Purrfect Pals.A bike refurbishing program, which reduces waste by salvaging and restoring bikes that otherwise might be headed to the landfill. Then those newly tuned up bikes get awesome paint jobs and they are donated back to someone in need in the community.There are lots of other cool partnerships that we did not get into. If you want to learn more, head over to SPP’s website and you can look through the many partners and projects.Kelli shares a little about potential project gaps. One of the projects she hopes that the Magical Mapper might pursue is bringing more technology, like GIS, into the prisons. The other one that she feels is important is a program that supports successful reentry, and that includes housing and employment opportunities. She discusses how she initially thought this work might be done outside of the prison by another organization, but now she thinks it might be something that SPP should help develop. She wants partners to consider if organizations are willing to invest in previously incarcerated individuals once they are outside of the prison as well; helping them grow their environmental careers once they are released.We talk about some of the barriers to new program development such as:A general lack of space; prisons were not set up as educational facilitiesTechnology, computer and internet accessGeneral capacity at SPP to take on and facilitate additional projectsKelli also discusses how a big part of SPP’s work is to try and identify the roles and responsibilities for the involved partners. She talks about how communication, clarity of roles, community time investment and who gets recognition for the work are all important aspects to making the partnerships function and ensuring that all partners feel valued and needed.She also shares a little bit about a new program on the horizon, the Evergreen Coalition for Justice, which just received funding for a year that starts this July. It will provide an opportunity to expand support for incarcerated individuals post release. They will partner with community colleges and other organizations to help fill the gaps where needs have been identified and to complement existing programs. They are pitching the idea to develop a program with current community organizations that are involved with SPP to work with previously incarcerated individuals post release.Outside Organization Perspective on Partnerships and ProgramsNext we get Mary in the hot seat to learn more about her experiences with partnerships and programs and in her work with WDFW. Mary shares more about how she partners with SPP to help recover the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. We’re going to focus more on the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Program next episode, but this interview with Mary is more about the partnership and program with SPP. Mary shares some of the ins and outs of how the partnership started and how difficult it was to get support from WDFW for the project. She talks about some of the other partners in the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly recovery program and what their roles are. Partners in this program include Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Department of Defense, the US Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Zoo, and SPP (which includes Evergreen and the Department of Corrections), and the butterfly technicians. We also dive into some more details of the program.Next Mary talks about some of the things that potential new partners may need to consider if they want to develop a new SPP project or program. Some of the things that she mentions include that you have to really know what goals or products that you need, you also need to have critical and detailed planning, and in the end you need to be creative and flexible. She also shares a little about the impact this work has had on her and how it has been one of the most rewarding things she has ever done.SPP Butterfly Technician Perspective on Partnerships and ProgramsFinally, we bring in Carolina Landa to share her lived experience as a Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly technician. She discusses her experience with partnerships and how the SPP program helped her find her voice, move
62 minutes | Jun 21, 2022
S3E2: Reducing Recidivism Through Education, Science and Nature
Season Three is all about the Sustainability in Prisons Project (or SPP), and how they bring education and training into the prisons to reduce recidivism and protect and enhance our environment. In this episode we interview James Jackson, who serves as an education reentry navigator at The Evergreen State College. He shares some of his experiences with the prison system and the importance of education in breaking the cycle of incarceration. We will also hear again from Kelli Bush, Co-Director of the Sustainability in Prisons Project, who shares more about what SPP is all about. Interviewees James Jackson James is the Education Reentry Navigator at The Evergreen State College. He works to match formerly incarcerated students with colleges in the South Puget Sound that best meet their needs, and helps them transition from prison to life on campus. Kelli Bush Kelli Bush is the co-director of the Sustainability in Prisons Project. She helps bring nature, science and environmental education into prisons in Washington. She also leads staff from the Evergreen State College that coordinate programs in the prisons. She has a Bachelor's degree in Agriculture Ecology from The Evergreen State College. The Prison System James (JJ) Jackson was formerly incarcerated in the US Federal prison system. He graciously shares some of his experiences with the prison system and with education in and out of prison. James starts out by providing some statistics indicating that formerly incarcerated people who earn a college degree are much less likely to recidivate. Similar reports can be found here and here. He then talks through his experience and motivations while incarcerated, including education he had access to and programs such as the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) that he could have participated in (listen to the episode to find out why he chose not to participate in this program). He also shares a bit about his experience with reentry and some of the challenges people face with reentry, including housing, substance abuse, and jobs. James says education is something the Washington corrections system is doing well. Washington is unique in hiring education navigators to help incarcerated students navigate the college system and the transition from prison to college campuses. Federally, education grants, that were stripped during the Tough on Crime legislation in the 1980’s and 1990’s, for all currently and formerly incarcerated students are scheduled to be fully reinstated in 2023. We discuss some of the systemic changes needed to improve outcomes for formerly incarcerated people, some of which Washington has implemented including removing the felon checkbox on college applications. James mentions a book, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. He discusses several of the author’s ideas, including how being charged with a felony follows people throughout their lives, even after they have served their time and paid their debt to society. We have a great discussion about language and how certain terms like convict, offender, and inmate can cause stigma and bias and dehumanize people. Using terms such as incarcerated individuals can help change the narrative and reduce stigma, while making it harder to treat people as numbers and distance yourself from other individuals. What is SPP (and what isn’t it)? Kelli talks about some of the benefits participants receive, such as exposure to nature and science, education, training, networking, and college credits. The program also benefits the community, particularly by breaking down barriers. It brings community members inside the prisons and helps break down biases by letting them interact with and get to know incarcerated people. Kelli discusses what SPP is (environmental education and training for incarcerated individuals) and what SPP isn’t (cheap labor or sustaining the prison system). She shares that the program does have some constraints, namely that the prison system isn’t designed for programs like this so the infrastructure just isn’t there. SPP don’t let these constraints stop them; they had around 199 projects or programs last year! Some of these are led by the Department of Corrections, and some are led by Evergreen. Others have unfortunately been suspended because of Covid-19 but will hopefully be brought back soon. A large portion of the programs are funded through grants and donations. We encourage our listeners to start thinking about potential projects that might be a good fit for SPP and listen to future episodes for ideas on how to plug in! Coming up next Join us in two weeks (July 5) for our next episode, where we will hear more in depth about some of the great partnerships at SPP. We will be talking to Mary Linders, a SPP partner and scientist at WDFW, and Carolina Landa, a former butterfly technician with SPP. We will also hear more from Kelli Bush because she’s awesome. Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox, Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
35 minutes | Jun 7, 2022
S3E1: From the Tree Canopy to the Prison Grounds
Season 3 is all about the Washington Sustainability in Prisons Project (otherwise referred to as SPP). SPP brings education and training into the prisons to reduce recidivism and protect and enhance our environment. This season will be six or seven episodes long (we’re not sure yet because numbers and math or something) and we will be interviewing a variety of people from SPP, as well as partners and individuals that have participated in the program. Unfortunately, we are missing the Department of Corrections perspective because we were unable to connect with them. In this episode we are honored to interview Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, whose curiosity and out of the box thinking led to the formation of SPP. She’s so amazing she even had a TreeTop Barbie made in her likeness! We will also hear a little bit from Kelli Bush, current Co-Director of SPP. Kelli will be joining us most, if not all, episodes this season. Kelli helped us out a great deal this season, helping us make connections with interviewees and providing a lot of background information and assistance. We couldn’t have created this season without Kelli! Thanks Kelli!!! Interviewees Nalini Nadkarni Nalini is currently a professor of Biology at the University of Utah, and is a former professor at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. According to her website, “Nalini’s research interests are on: community and ecosystem ecology of tropical and temperate forest canopy organisms and interactions; the effects of forest fragmentation on biodiversity and community function; and the development of database tools for canopy researchers.” She has also “pioneered bringing science education, conservation projects, and nature imagery to the incarcerated.” Kelli Bush Kelli Bush is the co-director of the sustainability in prisons project. She helps bring nature, science and environmental education into prisons in Washington. She also leads staff from the Evergreen State College that coordinate programs in the prisons. She has a Bachelor's degree in Agriculture Ecology from The Evergreen State College. Sustainability in Prisons Nalini talked about the origins of SPP, which started with an idea of having incarcerated people help her learn how to grow moss, so sustainably grown moss could be used for horticultural purposes instead of gathering moss from the wild. This idea came about because of Nalini’s scientific work, as well as that of Pat Muir from Oregon State University. It turns out people don’t know how to propagate moss, even in the famous moss gardens of Japan! After shopping the idea around to several prisons, she got a bite from Dan Pacholke, who was the prison superintendent at the Cedar Creek Corrections Center at the time, and the two of them founded SPP. This has led to more scientific study, seminars, environmental training, and education in prisons in Washington State. Nalini has since moved on to Utah (where she’s started a similar program called INSPIRE), but SPP has continued to grow. Nalini remains involved with SPP and often collaborates with Kelli Bush and others, including writing peer-reviewed papers published in scientific journals. One of these describes a collaboration between NASA, SPP, INSPIRE, as well as similar programs in Ohio and Florida, where NASA brought astrobiology education to prisons. Since we forgot to ask Nalini, we had Kelli join us to explain what an IRB is. She also shares more about some similar programs around the US and around the world that SPP shares ideas with and learns from. Coming up next Join us in two weeks (June 21) for our next episode, where we will be hearing from James Jackson, who works with SPP and the Department of Corrections as an Education and ReEntry Navigator. We will also hear more from Kelli Bush about what the Sustainability in Prisons Project is (and isn’t). Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox, Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
35 minutes | Mar 1, 2022
S2E5: A shady way to use your skills for good!
Welcome to Season 2, Episode 5, A Shady Way to Use Your Skills for Good. Season 2 has been all about our food system and some ways that alternative food systems can help our communities be more self-sufficient and sustainable while growing local, culturally relevant food. We’ve also discussed lots of ways that you can get involved in these types of projects in your own communities. For our final episode this season, we interviewed GIS (and all around) superstar Tonya Kauhi. We chatted with her about how she volunteered to help her community with her GIS skills. While on the surface, this episode appears to be pretty GIS focused, it’s also about thinking outside the volunteer box to identify unique projects where you can share your skills to make your community a better place. We talked to Tonya about how she volunteered her GIS expertise to help Hilltop Urban Gardens in Tacoma. She also shared more about other volunteer activities she is involved with.Tonya KauhiTonya has a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Washington Tacoma and over 20 years of experience with GIS and geospatial analysis. She recently moved from working as the GIS Programs Manager with the Port of Tacoma to becoming a GIS Developer for the City of Tacoma. She also spent many years working with the private consulting group GeoEngineers as the Senior GIS architect, working on a variety of GIS and data analysis projects. When she’s not busy working, she is still out there sharing her love of GIS. Tonya manages the Washington Women in GIS and Technology Group, volunteers to teach GIS and has taught girls to code in an after school program. Hilltop Urban GardensHilltop Urban Gardens (HUG) is located in Tacoma, Washington. The gardens are located in the Hilltop neighborhood and their HUG Farm is at South 19th Street and S Ainsworth Avenue. We had hoped to interview someone with Hilltop Urban Gardens, but unfortunately were not able to connect with them. To be honest, we are not sure of HUG’s current status. Unfortunately, their last Facebook post was in October, 2020. However, we still wanted to provide a little more information about their organization. The following information was gleaned from their Facebook page:HUG was founded in late 2010 by long-time organizer Dean Jackson. Hilltop Urban Gardens is a community-based urban agriculture, justice, and equity organization. Their mission is to develop systems for food sovereignty and create racial and economic justice. HUG uses an Urban Farm Network to help those most impacted by food insecurity to grow, eat, share and control their food supply. The Urban Farm network consists of a farm owned by HUG, neighbors donating a portion of their yard, and the use of parking strips. HUG builds and manages the gardens, and these garden sites make up an urban farm. In the past, HUG shared the produce through the HUG Grub farm stand. Anyone from the community could come and pick up a bag of HUG produce. They asked that you share something in exchange; that something could be time, treasure or talent. Some of the things that have been exchanged in for HUG produce in the past included work hours at the Farm or at HUG Grub, hosting a HUG garden site, monetary donation, letting neighbors pick blackberries, love for the community, or cooking a nutritious meal for one's family instead of fast food. In 2019, HUG shared over a ton of healthy produce from 12 Urban Farm Network Sites, they served 18 households weekly, engaged over 300 volunteers and held 64 community and service events. Check in with HUG through Messenger for current programs, hours or volunteer opportunities.Using Shady Skills for Good - Performing a GIS Sun/Shade Analysis for the Hilltop Urban GardensIn this episode we learned more about how Tonya Kauhi got involved in volunteering with Hilltop Urban Gardens and how she figured out a way to share her skill sets for good. She helped HUG identify and prioritize garden growing areas, based on the hours of sunlight the yards, parking strips and gardens received each day. She also created maps that shared location information with garden volunteers. If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of a new ESRI solution for sun shade analysis, check out Jen’s write-up on that. Tonya shared how her own involvement in her neighborhood community garden is where she first became more interested in community gardens. She originally created simple site maps that showed access, hose bibs, garden beds and plantings and later performed a sun-shade analysis to identify and prioritize areas for planting. If you aren’t looking on a neighborhood or city-wide level and don’t want to go to the trouble of using GIS software, we found some other resources on the web that may help you determine where the sun shines on your property. SunCalc doesn’t provide the shade from buildings and vegetation, but does show the course of the sun over the day and the year.We also found this great permaculture website that helps you plan out how to determine sun/shade on your property. Sun Surveyor and Sun Seeker are apps that use your phone's GPS and compass to display an accurate representation of the sun’s path through the sky at your location.How do Hilltop Urban Gardens and Food Sovereignty Tie Together?Being able to grow food in your own community, especially when there is a lack of access to land, is a great way to help develop community and help minimize the environmental impacts of industrialized agriculture. Hilltop Urban Gardens is a great example of food sovereignty. It puts growing, harvesting, and processing fresh produce in the hands of underrepresented residents in this urban area. It keeps decisions about what food to grow locally. It helps build community through gardening. Tonya found a way to contribute her skills, first through the development of simple maps and later with the sun/shade analysis to identify best places to garden from the properties that they had access to.Other Ways to Be CoolIn addition to talking about her volunteer work with Hilltop Urban Gardens, Tonya also talked about other ways she volunteers in her community and shares her love for nerding out…er, um, I mean GIS and technology. And I think one of the most important messages in this episode is finding ways to share your skills to make your community better.Tonya shared how she helped start and currently leads the Washington Women in GIS and Technology group. According to their website, “The Washington Women in GIS and Technology (WWGT) group empowers women to learn, teach, and promote GIS and technology.” They host monthly meetings to network, learn and be social.She also talked about volunteering with Girls Who Code, where she participated in an after school program that taught girls how to code. She even said she was no coding expert at the time, but was able to get the girls excited and engaged. Tonya has also helped teach elementary aged students about GIS. She tells a story about talking to the teacher to try and find a way to connect GIS to what they were currently learning about. Since GIS is very diverse, this typically does not present much of an issue, but in this case the students happened to be studying sound. At first she was a little perplexed, but then found that the National Park Service has a Sound Map Project and that there are noise level monitoring apps that could be used in the classroom and on the playground, so students could collect their own data. She was able to add value to what the students were already learning about and teach them about GIS at the same time. Just another WIN = WIN for Superstar Tonya!All these examples are just to show the variety of ways that Tonya has found to use her skills and knowledge to improve her community, while sharing her love and knowledge of GIS. Hopefully, these ideas will inspire you to find a new and different way to share your skills and knowledge to improve your community.Until Next Time…Thank you so much for joining us this season! We hope you learned more about our food system, food sovereignty, and food insecurity, and how these things impact our communities and our environment. We think the biggest take away from this episode is that we all have skills that can help make our communities better, we just need to identify where to plug in. That makes the last episode of this season a crossover between GIS and community involvement. We believe that all people deserve access to healthy, culturally relevant foods and we hope that some of the ideas shared this season will help us all move towards that goal. We’ll be taking a short break and in a couple of months we will return with Season 3, which will include 4 episodes about the Sustainability in Prisons Project based in Washington State.Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox, Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook page. We have had a great time and can’t wait to be back next season. Until then, Will We Make It Out Alive?
33 minutes | Feb 15, 2022
S2E4: Bartering With Slugs
In this episode we learn more about community gardens with a twist. We speak with Holli Prohaska from the Urban Farm Collective in Portland, where you don’t have to own land or even rent a community garden spot in order to participate in growing your own food, and where you may have been excited to see slugs in the past. We say, bring back the slugs!
42 minutes | Feb 1, 2022
S2E3: If You Were A Fruit...
Welcome to Season 2: Episode 3, If you were a fruit…you’d be a fineapple. Season 2 is all about our food system, food access and food justice. In this episode we are joined by Tiare Gill and Jordyn Egbert from City Fruit in Seattle to talk about gleaning, Seattle’s historic fruit trees and orchards, and what trees drink. To quickly define gleaning, it is the act of harvesting excess produce that would otherwise go to waste and redistributing it throughout the community. If our local food is wasted, this has a lot of environmental impacts! Gleaning is a very important piece of the food sovereignty puzzle, and we discuss these topics and more in our interview. As with the previous episode, we recorded the interview in May of 2021, so a few of the items are a tiny bit out of date. Again, any references made to ‘last year’ mean 2020, while ‘next year’ indicates 2022. A couple of updates are in the notes below. Interviewees Tiare Gill is from Oahu, but has spent time in Washington over the past 6 years. She graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA with a bachelor's degree in Biology and Environmental Policy and Decision Making. Post graduation, she was an educator and volunteer mentor at the Slater Museum of Natural History. She currently works for City Fruit as the Community Growth and Impact Manager. In addition, she is currently enrolled as a Master's student in Urban Environmental Education at Antioch University in Seattle. She believes that food is not only a vital component of individual identity, but also community identity and hopes to be able to contribute to food sovereignty efforts in the community. Jordyn Egbert is from both Leavenworth and Seattle, WA. She received a Bachelors of Arts in Environmental Studies from Western Washington University and is pursuing a certificate in Fundraising Management from the University of Washington. She became interested in working with organizations dedicated to addressing food insecurity and reducing food waste while working for the gleaning program at Upper Valley MEND in Leavenworth, and is currently working with City Fruit as the Development and Fundraising Specialist. Jordyn believes access to healthy food is a human right and should be available to every member of our community. PS - you can see actual pictures of Tiare and Jordyn on City Fruit’s about us page. City Fruit City Fruit is a gleaning organization in Seattle, WA. They do a lot of work to maintain Seattle’s public orchards as well as harvest 45-50 thousand pounds of fruit each year from the public orchards as well as private fruit trees (although they harvested closer to 37 thousand pounds in 2021). They distribute the harvest within the community to both food banks as well as their Fruit-for-All, free fruit pop-up stands. Due to increased demand they went from 16 free fruit pop-up stands in 2020 to 19 in 2021. They also try to distribute fruit within 5 miles of where it was harvested, keeping it hyper local. The free fruit stands are placed in areas that are federally designated food deserts. They also offer education on food systems and STEM. In addition to the free services they offer, private fruit-tree owners can hire City Fruit staff for mulching, pruning, and tree trimming services which helps them fulfill their mission to maintain the health of Seattle’s orchards. Tiare and Jordyn define gleaning and talk about why gleaning groups are so important. We discuss the environmental and social impacts of gleaning and how this practice fits in to our larger topic of food sovereignty. Jordyn mentions a 2016 study performed by Ample Harvest discussing just how much food from private gardens is wasted each year in the United States (11.5 BILLION pounds!!!), and how many millions of people that wasted food could feed each year if it were shared (28 million!!!). We’re just talking about garden produce here, which is a little mind blowing. Tiare shares bit about the history of Seattle’s fruit trees and the stories are fascinating! Some people may not even be aware that Seattle has public orchards. Tiare recommends visiting Piper’s Orchard in Carkeek Park to see their wide variety of heirloom apples. The Poop Detective’s mind is also blown by the fact that an orchard isn’t always a large group of trees planted in rows. We also learn that Jen and Amy never argue… I mean discuss… :) Tiare talks about a mapping project the City of Seattle is working on tracking the location of fruit trees and the Magical Mapper maybe gets a little too excited about the human geography of it all. City Fruit is a small nonprofit organization. Funding comes from their private tree care services, individual donations, and their membership program. City Fruit relies a lot on volunteers, so if you’d like to help out you can find more information or sign up here. There are not only options for harvesting, but for peer-to-peer fundraising, tabling at farmers markets and other events, and becoming community ambassadors. If you live inside Seattle city limits, you can register your tree with City Fruit which helps them track historic orchards and document the abundance Seattle’s fruit trees. If you’re interested, you can offer your fruit tree for gleaning. If your tree is registered it may or may not be harvested, based on staff resources as well as community demand for the type of fruit you have. If you’re not in Seattle, there are gleaning groups all over. There’s even an interactive map to find a group near you! There’s also an app where you can share your excess bounty with local hunger relief organizations - it’s called Fresh Food Connect. To wrap up and tie things back to our topic this season; in Seattle, this program alone saves about 45-50 thousand pounds of fruit from going to waste each year (closer to 37 thousand pounds in 2021); it is hyperlocal so uses fewer resources for packaging, transport, advertising, and other environmentally harmful aspects of the traditional commercial food system; fruit is typically distributed within 5 miles of where it was harvested, and is distributed in federally recognized food deserts; and food that would otherwise go to waste is now making it to people experiencing food insecurity. By the way, you’ll have to listen to the episode to find out what trees drink! Please join us on Tuesday, February 15 for episode 4 of this season. We’ll be talking to Holli Prohaska of the Urban Farm Collective in Portland, an organization that turns vacant city lots into urban farms where volunteers can barter their time for fresh garden produce. Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Also, if you have story ideas please feel free to share them on our Facebook page or in the comments below. If you heard (or read) anything in this episode that doesn’t mesh with science and facts, please let us know and we will make a correction in a future episode and in the blog post. Because we care about facts and don’t want to spread misinformation.
39 minutes | Jan 18, 2022
S2E2: Love your Mother...Earth Farm
Welcome to Season 2: Episode 2, Love your Mother…Earth Farm. Season 2 is all about our food system, food access and food justice. For this episode, we interviewed the previous farm manager of the Mother Earth Farm, Liam McNamara, about the Emergency Food Network and the unique niche that the Mother Earth Farm plays in providing fresh local food to those who need it. We recorded the interview last May, so a few of the items are a tiny bit out of date; covid-19 references were pre-delta and omicron variants. Also, references to last year, would be 2020 and next year would be 2022. Hopefully this isn’t too confusing. Since sometimes we do our episodes out of order, we didn’t think this would be too big of a challenge for our listeners…Liam McNamara, (previous) Mother Earth Farm ManagerLiam graduated from the Evergreen State College with a BA in Environmental Justice. He has been involved with sustainable agriculture for 11 years and as of last year was in his 8th full season of farming. He also has 4 years of experience working with the Washington State Department of Agriculture as an organic certification regulator. Liam left Mother Earth Farm after we recorded this interview and returned to working for the WSDA in 2021. He worked with Mother Earth Farm for two seasons. Having grown up in Puyallup, he felt blessed to be farming in the beautiful Puyallup Valley and working to support his community by growing produce or neighbors in need.Emergency Food NetworkThe Emergency Food Network is a non-profit food bank in Tacoma, Washington that provides services to Pierce County residents. They are responsible for providing food to various food pantries and other food distribution locations throughout Pierce County. They are trying to increase their capacity to improve overall food security and provide fresh, nutrient rich, culturally appropriate foods to their community. Programs like this are so important in the role they play to provide fresh, healthy produce to underserved communities and in providing a space for community building.According to an article in the Journal of Community Health, “Food banks play a major role in the food aid sector by distributing donated and purchased groceries directly to food insecure families. The public health implications of food insecurity are significant , particularly as food insecurity has a higher prevalence among certain population groups.” In their review of existing studies performed to evaluate the effectiveness of food banks for providing food security it was, “found that while food banks have an important role to play in providing immediate solutions to severe food deprivation, they are limited in their capacity to improve overall food security outcomes due to the limited provision of nutrient-dense foods in insufficient amounts, especially from dairy, vegetables and fruits.”The Emergency Food Network, a food bank, is able to help address the limited provisions of nutrient-dense foods by having their own farm and that’s a big reason why we wanted to include them in our discussion about food sovereignty this season.Mother Earth FarmA special part of their program is the inclusion of an 8-acre farm in the Puyallup River Valley called Mother Earth Farm. From the farm they are able to provide an average of 100,000 pounds (that’s 50 tons!!!) of fresh produce annually that contribute to their hunger relief programs. They are also able to work with their community to identify specific desired foods and adjust what they are growing to their community’s needs. They are able to provide fresh greens throughout the winter to select food pantries that would otherwise not have access to them. Most of the food from the farm is available to their neighbors in need within 24 hours of harvest! There are opportunities to volunteer with Mother Earth Farm to help with seeding, weeding, composting, irrigation and harvesting. At this time they ask all volunteers to submit a volunteer application and be registered for a volunteer date. Usually volunteer times are available on Fridays and Saturdays in the morning or afternoon.While Mother Earth Farm operates within our traditional food system, it embodies most of the principles of food sovereignty.They focus on food for the people, working to provide healthy and culturally appropriate foodsThey value the food providers, those who grow, harvest and process the food from the farm manager, to all of the volunteersIt localizes the food system, by allowing the farm to work with their consumers to make joint food decisions that benefit and protect allIt allows for local control of what they grow and how they grow it and they are able to be responsive to input from the community about what to growIt helps the community build knowledge and skills by providing a place for growing food and communityMother Earth Farm is working with nature to avoid costly and toxic inputs and improve the resiliency of local food systemsEmergency Food Network VolunteeringOne of our favorite parts about the Emergency Food Network, besides helping ensure that everyone has food to eat, is all of the opportunities to volunteer. Jen and Amy have both participated in the Repack Program and we highly recommend it. We had fun turning giant pallet boxes full of frozen carrots into more household level packages. It might have helped that we volunteered with a great group of employees from the Port of Tacoma, but we think you could turn this into a fun activity regardless of your company. The Repack program redistributes over 1.5 MILLION pounds (that’s 750 tons!!!) of food annually!They also started the Grow Your Food seed program, in part as a response to the pandemic. This program provides free seed starts so people can grow their own food at home or in a community garden. Last year they grew 15,000 seed starts and they were available on a first-come, first served basis at various locations throughout the County in April!!! They also have resources and master gardeners available to help people grow their seed starts.It looks like both the Brewer’s Night and the Wine and Weeding volunteer events are still on hold, but hopefully will be back soon, as these are great ways for people to volunteer on Mother Earth Farm. However, if you want to get a little bit of a feel for them, here’s their last post (from 2019, sad face) about a Wine and Weeding event.If you live in Pierce County and need assistance accessing food, you can check out the Emergency Food Network’s Resource Page, which includes information on food pantries, meal sites, shelters and home delivery. And just like we mentioned last episode, calling ‘211’ in Washington and Oregon (and maybe all states?) will help you connect with many services, including rent and utility assistance, counseling and mental health services, food and clothing resources, shelter and affordable housing, employment and education services, military and veteran resources, and transportation.To learn more about the Emergency Food Network, you can sign up for emails or on their website. You can also “Like” them on Facebook. Events, volunteer info, donation campaigns and general news are shared in their email newsletter, The Feed, and on social media.Finally we thought we would share the Emergency Food Network’s latest guidance on masking when volunteering with them:“Volunteer Mask Policy (as of January 1, 2022): Due to the increasing instances of Covid-19 cases in Pierce County, we have updated our volunteer mask policy. All volunteers will be asked to wear a KN95, or to double-mask, with a surgical mask and a cloth mask on top. Masks are to be worn over your mouth and nose, the entire time you are in the EFN building. We will provide these masks upon arrival if you do not have your own. Breaks for eating and drinking will take place right outside our door. Individuals that are vaccinated will not be required to wear a mask when working outside. By volunteering with EFN you are agreeing to follow this policy.”Other Programs to Help Ensure No One Goes HungryDoes a program like the Emergency Food Network exist in your community? Probably. We highlighted a few other food access programs in our local areas, but the best place for you to volunteer is right in your own community. We challenge you to find your Food Bank and see what volunteer opportunities exist.In Eugene, Oregon, we highlighted the Burrito Brigade, which provides weekly free vegan burritos to those in need. In addition, they have a few other programs including free pantries and a no requirement/ no questions asked food program called Waste to Taste. In addition, Food for Lane County works to reduce hunger by engaging the community to create access to food. Meanwhile, Thurston County Food Bank, based in Olympia, Washington, is working to eliminate hunger within their community. They have lots of volunteer opportunities, a gleaning program, and you can donate excess produce from your garden.Until Next Time…Please join us for our next episode in two weeks on February 1, 2022. In Episode 3 - If you Were a Fruit, we interview Tiare and Jordyn with City Fruit in Seattle to learn more about gleaning and how you can help keep food from going to waste.Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc).
54 minutes | Jan 4, 2022
S2E1: What the heckin heck is up with our Food System?
We’re so eggcited to finally be back! Thank you so much for pudding up with our long absence. We missed you a waffle lot! (Please don’t leave…I’m sorry!) We’re doing something a little bit different after our time off and are breaking our episodes up into seasons of several episodes on one topic. This season is all about food systems, food access, and food sovereignty. This season will be five episodes long, and a new episode will be released every other Tuesday. We’re also actually talking to real people this season (even though Jen is terrified by real things) and we can’t wait to bring you those interviews! This episode we’re introducing the topic of food systems and food sovereignty and defining some of the main concepts. We are then joined by Nichole Garden, with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, to talk more about food access and different programs the State offers to help people access food resources. Food Systems Overview Jen and Amy talk about our current food system and some of the social and environmental problems that often crop up in it. We discuss some alternative food systems, as well as introducing the concept of food sovereignty. Amy starts us out with a quote from the future of food website. We define several parts of the conventional food system, including production, processing and packaging (see Season 1 Episodes 18 and 21 for more on plastic), transportation and distribution, and consumption and food waste. We then go into some of the environmental impacts of our conventional food system, including wasted water and other resources, livestock waste management and pollution (the Poop Detective’s favorite topic!), and climate impacts from food production. We also talked a little about some of the impacts COVID-19 has had on food access (we referred to a news release from the University of Washington). But what are these things we’re talking about??? We finally define and discuss concepts such as food justice and food sovereignty. We don’t talk about the six pillars of food sovereignty in the podcast, but you can find them here. Interview Nichole Garden is a program specialist for the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s (WSDA) Food Assistance programs. She graduated from The Evergreen State College with a focus in Food Systems Policy and Education. She has experience in community garden management, school produce procurement, as well as nutrition and garden based education. She has been with WSDA since 2015, first working with organic farmers and food processors, and now working to connect hunger relief organizations to local farmers. Nichole is committed to ensuring that healthy food choices are accessible to all Washington State residents regardless of income. Nichole and her colleagues administer a variety of food assistance programs, and she introduces us to several. Her pet project is the Farm to Food Pantry initiative (scroll down on the linked page to see the seal Nichole talks about). She cereal-sly loves this initiative. Nichole breaks down food insecurity to its simplest form, and states that if you’re in a situation where you have to decide between buying food and paying bills, that’s food insecurity. We talk about how easily people can fall into food insecurity, how much of an issue this is in Washington, and some of the indicators and populations at risk. Nichole shares a lot of statistics and information from Feeding America. She also references a Seattle King County report from 2019 (links to the full report and slides are listed towards the end of the article we linked to here). We then talked about some of the barriers to accessing food, including how people with income even up to 400% above the federal poverty level are experiencing food insecurity! There are several other barriers that WSDA is trying to break down. One surprising fact was that COVID-19 actually increased access to food (through more funding, more food access programs, and fewer regulations on who could access services). If you need access to food or other resources such as cash, child care, or health care, some resources available include Washington Connection and 211 WA (211 is a phone number you can call to access community resources and is available in all states). Nichole also mentions a relatively new movement of community resources such as little free pantries and freedges. The rest of our conversation revolved around food justice, food sovereignty, and food security, with some great examples about why these topics are important and why having strong local food systems is critical and what we should be moving towards. And as promised, here are some awesome TikTokers we follow (even though we’re too old to be on TikTok): Black Forager is a funny woman who reminds me a little of Amy with her singing especially, and she forages in urban areas and when she travels and sometimes shares recipes: @alexisnikole (she’s also on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and basically all over!) Crime Pays but Botany Doesn’t is a funny (and sweary) guy who likes to talk about plants and rocks (NSFW): @crimepaysbutbotanydoesnt Dumpster Diving Freegan provides a lot of interesting information about dumpster diving, plus shares her finds: @dumpsterdivingfreegan Linda Black Elk is an ethnobotanist who speaks about food sovereignty and indigenous foods: doesn’t post on TikTok but is on Facebook and Instagram @linda.black.elk Wheat love you to join us next time for our interview with the former farm manager for Mother Earth Farm (part of Emergency Food Network)! Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think in the comments below or at facebook.com/WillWeMakeItOutAlive.
7 minutes | Nov 17, 2020
Episode 23: Intermission Part Deux
We're coming back, we promise! Just... not quite yet. We'll be back sometime next year for Season 2.
23 minutes | Jun 16, 2020
Episode 22: Just Say No (To Plastic)
In this episode we will learn more about Moledemort, AKA he who must not be maimed, and how you can ditch plastic this July. It’s going to be a short episode this month, but we wanted to get this information to you so you can prepare for Plastic Free July! Also, we are taking a break for the rest of the summer! Episode 20: Just Say No (To Plastic!) Will We Make It Out Alive? Download We spoke briefly about the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racism. We stand with Black Lives Matter. Environmental and social justice are inseparable. One resource that Jen shared was the Black Girls M.A.P.P. group, which is a group of and for black women in GIS, who are doing great work. Cats are cool, but so are other critters! Staying home for months on end has led us to find a new appreciation for urban wildlife. A friend of ours is obsessed with a mole living in her backyard, who she has named Moldemort (AKA He Who Must Not Be Maimed). Amy is making her squirrels magical. And Jen has rediscovered television. Oh wait… that’s not wildlife… Ditching Plastic (for July and beyond?) This episode we introduce you to Plastic Free July. You can sign up to take the challenge on their website, and you can set your own goal based on your comfort level. If you’re brand new to the idea, you can start small and focus focus on the big four takeout items (bags, straws, coffee cups and bottles), and you can sign up for just one day or one week. If you’re more comfortable, you can try to ditch all single-use plastic, or all plastic altogether! Jen took the challenge last year for the first time with the goal to not use single-use plastics for the month. She discusses how her journey went, including strategies she had going in, struggles she had, and where she failed. She also discusses things she’ll be thinking about this year before beginning the challenge. Some of these practices are becoming more difficult to implement during the pandemic, but get creative. The whole idea is to become more aware and start making small, permanent changes where you can. So head on over to plasticfreejuly.org to sign up for the challenge and to get ideas. They send out a weekly newsletter during the challenge with more tips and stories from the community. Follow along with us on our social media channels in July to see how we’re doing. Good luck! We also announced that we’re taking a break for the rest of the summer. We’ll still be around a little bit on social media (especially during Plastic Free July). We’ll be back probably in September, but we’ll keep you informed! Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think in the comments below or at facebook.com/WillWeMakeItOutAlive. Also, if you are more visually inclined, check out our YouTube page!
71 minutes | May 5, 2020
Episode 21: Trashing Plastic Recycling!
In this episode we will learn more about the the human and environmental health impacts of plastics, the history and future of plastics, the great recycling myth, a little bit about the zero waste lifestyle, and how to use Cartography to better display information on your maps, which will include my critique on a map that the Magical Mapper is designing. Most importantly, we talk about how You Are Loved!This is part two of our Plastics spotlight. Three months ago we shared some background on plastics, how plastic recycling isn’t working, the plastic ban from China, oh and a bunch of depressing plastic facts. So, if you haven’t listened to that episode and want a little more background before we delve into this episode check out Episode 18 first. Yes, we did this 2-part series in the correct order, just to keep you on your toes, then we added some episodes in between to see if you were paying attention. But before we get started, happy news! Here’s a link to an article about the grey whale we mentioned getting untangled.Environmental and Human Health Risks Associated with PlasticsPlastics pollute at all levels; during its manufacture, use and disposal. The poop detective gets right into some more depressing facts about plastic, starting with its manufacture. Plastic production can release airborne toxins and also cause fires and explosions.Many of the chemicals found in plastics are known endocrine disruptors. Amy drops a lot of facts, but if you want to go down the endocrine disruptor wormhole, check out the half hour video, Our Chemical Lives. Unfortunately 96% of Americans have endocrine disruptors in their blood, but there are all sorts of sources including the food we eat, oh which also has microplastics in it.Environmental ImpactsThe presence of plastics, particularly microplastics, within the food chain is increasing. In the 1960s, microplastics were first observed in the guts of seabirds, and since then have been found in increasing concentrations. There are estimates that around eight million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans annually. Amy bums us out with a lot more depressing plastic facts, which I won’t repeat here, although you might see some of them if you follow us on Facebook.Ok, I’ll share one very depressing report from 2018; a survey by the Global Oceanic Environmental Survey (GOES) Foundation found that the ecosystem in seas and oceans may collapse in the next 25 years, potentially causing failure of terrestrial ecosystem and "very possibly the end of life on Earth as we know it"; the main agents of this prediction were hypothesized to be plastic, ocean acidification, and ocean pollution. In order to prevent such a catastrophe, experts have proposed a total single-use plastic ban, wood burning bans while planting "as many trees as possible," "pollution-free recycling of electronics, and by 2030 all industries have zero toxic discharge."Climate Change ImpactsAlthough plastic is often seen as a separate issue from climate change, both its production and afterlife are in fact major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, the Center for International Environmental Law published a new report on the impact of plastic on climate change, which Amy digs into. Finally, the disposal results in additional emissions.Also, an estimated 12% of all plastic is incinerated, releasing more greenhouse gases, as well as dangerous toxins, including dioxins and heavy metals. Industry is actually promoting an expansion of incineration in waste-to-electricity plants, which it describes as a source of renewable energy.The History of Plastic and Recycling and the Rise of the Single Use Disposable Consumerist SocietyThe mass production of plastic started about 70 years ago. Since then approximately 6.3 billion tons have become waste, clogging our oceans and landfills with a material that take potentially hundred to thousands of years to break down. Plastic might sit for hundreds of years without decomposing, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces.Amy goes over the history of recycling in the US. She also relays some interesting facts about plastic bags.In 1907 Bakelite was invented. It was the first synthetic plastic, which contained no molecules found in nature. Global production of plastics increased annually from two million metric tons in 1950 to over 400 million metric tons in 2015, outgrowing most other man-made materials.The Future of Plastics is Tied to the Oil IndustrySo now, we have major oil companies getting ready to ramp up plastic production as consumers try to be more savvy with their plastic purchases. The World Economic Forum predicts plastic production will double in the next 20 years. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste was founded by major petrochemical companies. They’re simultaneously promising beach cleanups and recycling campaigns, while its key members, including Shell and ExxonMobil, announce plans to build new multi-billion-dollar polyethylene and petrochemical plants that produce inexpensive, plastic products.According to a Mother Jones article on the origins of the anti-litter campaigns: the entire anti-litter movement was initiated by a consortium of industry groups who wanted to divert the nation’s attention away from even more radical legislation to control the amount of waste these companies were putting out. In 1953 the packaging industry teamed up with other industries including Coca-Cola and Dixie Cup to form Keep America Beautiful, which still exists today. Keep America Beautiful was basically a campaign against individual bad environmental practices instead of the businesses taking responsibility for their waste.“By pushing for curbside recycling, you’re mobilizing a nation to do a lot of labor for you, bring [trash] back to you at low cost and invest in a lot of infrastructure for you —infrastructure you don’t build and don’t own.”— Bartow J. Elmore - environmental historianRecycling, Circular Economy and Zero-wasteSo, is it time to trash recycling? The reality is most plastic is not recycled. We have been fed the idea that plastics are recyclable, but between the inability for many plastics to be recycled to the high level of contamination in the plastic recycle stream, much of it ends up in the landfill, or worse somewhere in our environment. According to a story on treehugger.com, for the last dozen years recycling has been described as a fraud, a sham, a scam perpetrated by big business on the citizens and municipalities of America.In the end, recycling is a poor substitute for meaningful solutions, such as reducing the number of materials and products we consume and ridding ourselves of our reliance on products with an end of life, which is oftentimes called a zero waste lifestyle within a circular economy. Amy discusses our current linear economy and how moving to a circular economy would be beneficial. Our happiness should not be predicated on purchasings goods.Is there any good news?Some countries have big plans to curb plastic waste, such as Indonesia, which aims to cut marine plastic waste by 70% within five years and be entirely plastic pollution-free by 2040.Companies are starting to listen, but only take baby steps to commit to less plastic. The American Chemistry Council aims for all plastic to be recycled or recovered by 2040, although critics dismiss the goal as unrealistic greenwash. Many of the major companies, like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle have made plans to include 25-50% recycled material in their plastic packaging between 2025 and 2030. But it seems these goals in no way match the severity of the issue.What can we do?The bottom line to really make change, we have to change the way we view our society. We need businesses to innovate their practices to move towards a circular economy that does not produce waste.To fix this, we need to quickly stop the idea of the throwaway culture being normal. But of course, changing it is going to be far more difficult because it permeates every aspect of the economy. Remember that we vote each time we make a purchase.We should all strive for a zero waste lifestyle, where individually, we attempt to minimize or eliminate waste and therefore avoid recycling altogether. The best way to start is just to buy less, and guess what, our stay at home orders should be making that easier to do!GIS - Cartography!After all of that depression, we finish out the episode on a high note! Jen finally gets to talk about maps! Head over to the GIS Tools blog for some helpful cartography resources, and to see the amazing map Jen created.Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think in the comments below or at facebook.com/WillWeMakeItOutAlive. Also, if you are more visually inclined, check out our YouTube page!
36 minutes | Apr 7, 2020
Episode 20: Surviving the Sound, and the Pandemic
In this episode we’re bringing you the second part of an interview we conducted last fall with Joy Waltermire from Long Live the Kings, where will learn more about the organization Long Live the Kings and their mission, and how to survive the sound. Before we dive in, we would like to acknowledge this extraordinary time that we are in. Boy has a lot changed since last month. Hopefully you have the luxury of staying safe at home. We’d also like to remind everyone that April 22nd is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day - watch our Facebook page for ways you can participate social distance style. Interview, Part 2 Now for part two of our interview. The first part of the Interview can be heard in Episode 16 - Why did the Salmon Swim Upstream? That episode focused on salmon in general, and today we’re going to get more specific about Long Live the Kings and some of their projects. If you haven’t heard Episode 16 yet, you may want to go back and listen before continuing with this episode. In this second part of the interview, Joy talks about the Hood Canal Steelhead Project and drops a lot of very interesting (oops…drink) facts about things like hook & line sampling, Bertha the Steelhead, hybridization of steelhead, how they are using hatcheries to recover stock of endangered fish while not having a negative effect on genetics, the Lilliwaup Conservation Facility and how it’s different from a traditional hatchery, otolith marking, and adipose fin clipping. She also talks about how they work with NOAA Fisheries. Joy discusses the Long Live The Kings mission before talking about their initial project, the Orcas Island Terminal Fish Hatchery. Joy also talked about a project where Long Live the Kings is partnering with Tacoma Power & Skokomish Tribe to reintroduce several salmon species into the North Fork of the Skokomish River. We asked Joy about any potential volunteer opportunities and she told us about a couple of possibilities throughout the year. Some of these are currently affected by Stay-at-Home orders. At Glenwood Springs on Orcas Island, there is potentially a spawning opportunity. A couple times a year they also partner with Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group out of Belfair to offer volunteer opportunities, including counting fish both when the salmon return, as well as when juveniles head out to sea. Survive the Sound! Although we talked about survive the sound in Episode 16, we are going to talk a little bit more about some of the program changes this year and most importantly how you can join us on the Will We Make It Out Alive team!!! This year’s race will be from Monday May 4th to Friday May 8th. Here’s our fish team so far! Long Live the Kings’ Survive the Sound is an online game/contest that tracks steelhead migration as they make their journey out of several river systems into Puget Sound or Hood Canal. They use cute fish avatars that represent real steelhead (a fish similar to a salmon) and their movements are based on real fish that are released into these rivers as juveniles on their way out to the ocean. The goal is to see which fishes make it out of Puget Sound alive and which one makes it out the quickest. This event is free to join and a great way to learn about the potential perils of the steelhead. That’s part of the reason that this tracking data is collected, so scientists can better understand why fish are dying. This is a great social distancing activity that you can still enjoy remotely with friends. So pick your fish and join our team (or start your own!) by May 3rd. You can even change your fish right up until May 3rd. There’s also new fish this year! Also, share this link with anyone you know that might be interested in fish and Puget Sound, you can join from anywhere you have internet connection. A larger team increases our chances of winning with the most surviving fish. If you’d like to do even more, consider donating or signing up to volunteer with Long Live the Kings! We would love to make the top 3 donation list!!! Join us to help save the Pacific Northwest’s iconic salmon and steelhead – the fish orca need to survive! Join us next month for Episode 21: The Great Recycling Myth! Please don’t forget to rate, review (you guys, we finally got our first review!!!) and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think on our feedback page or facebook.com/WillWeMakeItOutAlive. Also, if you are more visually inclined, check out our YouTube page!
47 minutes | Mar 3, 2020
Episode 19: Surfriding to a Cleaner Environment
Welcome to Episode 19, Surfriding to a Cleaner, More Plastic Free Environment. In this episode we share more about impacts of plastics seen in remote places 20 or so years ago and then we meet up with Liz, the Volunteer Coordinator of the Olympia Surfrider Chapter, discuss a little background of Surfrider and their programs, the impacts of plastic bans on plastics in environment, and opportunities for you to connect and volunteer! Although we had planned on going right into part two of our spotlight on plastics this month, after we interviewed Liz with the Surfrider Foundation, we decided we had enough juicy bits for a whole episode, which is Surfrider focused, but we still talk a lot about plastic pollution! We learned a lot from Liz and Amy learned that Jen has a problem saying, “Can you tell us more about your volunteer programs,” which is almost as difficult as Amy saying synthetic. Amy laugh cried as Jen struggled for a good five minutes of the interview and I’m sure we both impressed Liz with our verbal agility. In Jen’s defense, we were having a real life echo created from our long distance recording with three mics. But you’ll just have to wait for that amazing blooper reel, cause it also got edited out…one day. Next month we are planning on focusing on Long Live the Kings so we can remind you all about Survive the Sound, which has their sign-up in April with the actual “competition” in May. Then in May we will finally get to part two of our plastic spotlight, getting deep into plastics and their impacts on environmental and human health. There is no GIS segment this month, but hopefully that will pay off big time with a sweet Jen designed map in the future. Last month we shared some background on plastics, how plastic recycling isn’t working, the plastic ban from China, oh and a bunch of depressing plastic facts. So, if you haven’t listened to that episode and want a little more background before we delve into this episode check out Episode 18 first. We shared a correction to Episode 17: The State of the Sound. We do make mistakes and we want to share corrected information when we become aware of those mistakes...because that’s how science do. If you catch a mistake we’ve made, please let us know so we can correct it! You will get all of the gold stars!!! Before we get to our fun interview, Amy brings us down, yet again, with some stories of plastic and beach trash ruining some of her vacations 20 years ago (you know, before she was born…because she’s so young now). Most of the pictures accompanying this blog post were taken by Amy the Poop Detective on Sunset Beach, near Trujillo, Honduras in 2004. The problem has been around for a long time, even though plastic has only been mass produced for less than 60 years. Interview Time! You’ll have to listen to the episode to get all of the juicy, laughter inducing details, but below are some of the sweet resources we that were referenced from Liz. Thanks Liz! Olympia Surfrider: Check out the Olympia Surfrider Chapter Website for more about who they are and what they do! Beach cleanups, butt pickups, meetings, movie nights and more are posted on the Events calendar. Events and other relevant information are also on their Facebook page and Instagram @OlySurfrider. Want to be more involved? Sign up for for the Surfrider Newsletter (scroll to the bottom) for a monthly email about upcoming events, legislative updates, and other local Surfrider news. Come to a chapter meeting, the last Wednesday of every month, 7:00-8:30 p.m, see their website for the location (rotates every month, but usually at an Ocean Friendly Restaurant). Eat at one of our local Ocean Friendly Restaurants and tell them why you're there and how much you appreciate their efforts to reduce our use of disposable plastics. Or encourage one of your favorite establishments to become Ocean Friendly! Become a Surfrider member and support their work locally and nationally. Attend a cleanup, help them table an event, or join our Executive Committee and help Oly Surfrider continue to grow and improve our coastlines - email OlySurfrider@gmail.com for more information! Call your legislators and tell them to support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act. Join the Blue Water Task Force and help collect samples to monitor local water quality . Marine debris resources Beachapedia is a Surfrider Foundation-produced online resource collection house of coastal environmental topics from experts and activists. It’s full of great information and a great place to get lost for a while. Surfrider’s Cleanup Tool - we count and weigh everything we pick up at our cleanup events and enter it into this database. Check out the real-time results of Surfrider efforts worldwide. Ocean Conservancy’s Clean Swell app - allows you to easily track your own cleanup efforts and contributes to the worlds largest marine debris database. Jen and Amy definitely plan to check this out! Surfrider's 2019 State of the Beach Report - annual Surfrider report evaluating beaches nationwide on criteria like sedimentation, armoring, Sea Level Rise, and development Join the Marine Debris listserv, moderated by Open Communications for the Ocean (OCTO), which provides several marine science focused services. They also host a great webinar series, and the next one is Fighting Marine Debris on the US West Coast – Effective Actions and Tools If you live on the coast and love seabirds, the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) uses community scientists to conduct trash surveys on beaches (with transect lines and quadrants) in addition to their seabird work. Thanks for joining us! Please don’t forget to rate, review (we’d really love and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think in the comments below or at facebook.com/WillWeMakeItOutAlive. Also, if you are more visually inclined, check out our YouTube page!
50 minutes | Feb 4, 2020
Episode 18: What Up With Recycling
In this episode we will learn about funny costumes, what’s up with plastic recycling, how to optimize routes in GIS to save time, fuel, and emissions, and how to recycle those odd items in your area if you can’t reduce your consumption in the first place. Before we get into the meat of the episode, we wanted to remind everyone that February 2nd is World Wetlands Day. Okay, that was two days before this episode dropped, but there’s good news! There are events all month long to help celebrate. If you can’t make it to an event listed below, you can always find a wetland near you and visit or learn more about it! February 6 - Talk on Wetland Carbon Storage - Newport, OR February 15 - Wetland Day & Treatment Plant Tour - Olympia, WA (HIGHLY RECOMMEND!) February 20 - WTA Oaks to Wetlands Work Parties - Ridgefield, WA February 23 - Oregon Wetlands Half - Eugene, OR February 26 - Wetlands Exploration Days - Hillsboro, OR This episode is Part 1 in our series on Plastic. Amy starts out by dropping a bunch of plastic facts. She had tons of sources, so I’ll just list them at the bottom. Once she tells us a bit about plastic, she then lays out the 6 types. I learned that Amy has a problem saying the word “synthetic,” and after a 2 minute long laugh-cry session while Amy repeatedly tries to say it (which I’m sure she edited out), we get on with things. Some day we’ll release a blooper reel… Speaking of which, there’s a cool drinking game you can play while listening to this episode. You need two teams/players. One drinks every time Amy bonks her new microphone and the other one drinks every time Jen says, “Interesting”…It makes the episode way less depressing and way more fun!!! We then learn all about plastic recycling. Amy is a nurdle… I mean she tells us about nurdles, which are little plastic pellets that are melted down and made into things. We mentioned a ship container full of nurdles (not a whole ship!), fell into the ocean, causing a little environmental havoc. We also learn about some products made from recycled plastics, and find out that we’re not that great at recycling compared to other countries. Amy then tells us some other problems with plastic recycling. We get into China’s ban on our dirty plastics, and how this has affected other countries in SE Asia, as well as the worldwide recycling market. Not to be completely depressing all the time, Amy talks about some innovations in plastic recycling. She mentions a map of states that have recycling bans vs states that have bans against recycling bans (yes, you read that right.) There have been a few million dollars in grants awarded to private companies in Portland to improve the recycling infrastructure in that city. There are also a couple of trials of curbside plastic film recycling happening in the US, and one is in Washington! Speaking of bans, the European Union is banning several single-use plastic items and China plans to reduce all single use plastic by 2025. She ends the segment with some actions we can all take. Like knowing where and what to recycle. Here’s where you can find a plastic bag or plastic film drop off locations near you for recycling. In the GIS segment, I talk about routing and how optimizing a route for a recycling collection truck could save time, fuel, emissions, and more. For more on that, see the GIS Tools blog. If you want to find out what you can recycle in your area and where you should take it, try out the iRecycle app. Better yet, try reducing your consumption! I briefly mentioned a couple of ways I reduce consumption, but we’d love to hear your ideas! Please mention them in the comments, or share them on our Facebook page. Depressing fact sources and other “interesting” recycle tidbits: Plastics at a glance from the EPA. How were’s actually getting (a lil) worse at recycling plastic bottles. How Much Plastic Trash is Littering the Earth? All the depressing facts on plastic bags Making Plastic Recycling Easier with science. Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think in the comments below or at facebook.com/WillWeMakeItOutAlive. Also, if you are more visually inclined, check out our YouTube page!
57 minutes | Jan 7, 2020
Episode 17: The Partnership and the Sound
The Partnership and the Sound: A Love Story of Recovery. In this episode we will FINALLY share the story that birthed the term backdoor style, we dive into the Puget Sound Partnership and the 2019 State of the Sound Report (we will not be recovering Puget Sound by 2020, since it’s already here), how GIS dashboards make life easier and the Call to Action from the State of the Sound report...even though it’s not gonna be recovered by 2020, that’s no reason to just give up and the Partnership has lots of suggestions for actions. So, get settled in, cause we are going full NERD on this episode. And it’s our longest yet.State of the SoundThe 2019 State of the Sound is the Puget Sound Partnership’s sixth biennial report to the Legislature on progress toward the recovery of Puget Sound by 2020. The document reports on both the status of the Partnership's recovery efforts and the status of a suite of ecosystem indicators. The report is intended to help partners and decision makers better understand how well the recovery effort is going, ecosystem health and progress toward Puget Sound recovery goals, and the role each partner can play in achieving Puget Sound recovery. It also responds specifically to state statute (RCW 90.71.370(3)).There are two parts to the State of the Sound; the website or the PDF report. (You can also download a shorter brochure.) The PDF report includes additional information on the status of the Puget Sound recovery effort, including detailed information on funding, near-term actions, on-going programs, legislative and policy developments and a summary of citizen concerns. The website includes other stuff that isn’t in the PDF.The State of the Sound opens with the overall status and progress of conditions in Puget Sound as “Mixed.” But first…Who is the Puget Sound Partnership, what do they do and why?“The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency leading the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. The Puget Sound Partnership brings together hundreds of partners to mobilize partner action around a common agenda, advance Sound investments, and advance priority actions by supporting partners”— Puget Sound Partnership WebsiteIn 2007, the then Governor of WA, Christine Gregoire, birthed a little Puget Sound Partnership baby, which she gave the tiny task of recovery of Puget Sound by 2020, and I mean, that is 13 years… anyways, they were legislated to work towards 6 goals. They build a shared vision for recovery through the Action Agenda, which identifies the top priority actions or programs to stay on course for recovery. Really what it all boils down to, is they are trying to better understand all of the great work that is going on out there, what challenges groups are facing in relationship to recovery of Puget Sound and prioritize and ensure effective funding.WHACK FACT! The Action Agenda is a recovery plan based on science and developed by a regional partnership. The plan describes local and regional strategies and highlights specific actions needed to protect and restore Puget Sound. These strategies and actions provide opportunities for federal, state, local, tribal, and private entities to better invest resources and coordinate actions.The bulk of the Partnership is funded through the Puget Sound National Estuary Program. For the 2015-2017 biennium, the Partnership had a budget of 18.8 million, including 9.9 million from the US EPA, 7.5 million from Washington and 1.4 million from NOAA. However, the cost to implement all of the near term actions of the 2018-2022 Action Agenda is estimated at over a billion dollars!!! Sufficient funding remains one of the biggest barriers to the recovery of Puget Sound. The 2018-2022 Action Agenda includes 631 near term actions that are ready to get underway, if there is funding available.The Puget Sound Partnership has six legislated goals:Healthy human populationVibrant quality of lifeThriving species and food webProtected and restored habitatAbundant water quantityHealthy water qualitySo no big deal, just a few small tasks that the Puget Sound Partnership was legislated to do!Now, what’s up with the State of the Sound?The State of the Sound shows the progress (or lack thereof) towards the recovery of Puget Sound, using 2020 target goals for recovery and indicators of the Puget Sound Vital Signs. The Puget Sound Vital Signs are basically a measure of ecosystem health, which then guide future efforts for Puget Sound recovery. The Partnership has worked with numerous partners and stakeholders to develop the indicators and target goals and they continually assess and try to find the best ways to support partners in the recovery of Puget Sound.The indicators are broken out into the six legislated goal categories defined above, with 25 sub-categories (or Vital Signs) and 52 indicators. Vital Signs include things like Freshwater Quality, while the indicators include number of freshwater impairments. Thirty-one of the 52 indicators have target goals set for recovery by 2020, most of which, unfortunately, have not been met.Progress of the indicators is based on an evaluation over time compared to a baseline reference. The State of the Sound breaks out the progress into five categories.While we do go into (great) detail on some of the indicators in the episode, we recommend you check out the Vital Signs website.GIS TOOLS In this episode we talked about a couple different dashboard tools, check out the GIS Tools blog to learn more! Take home message: Informational dashboards are better with maps! To see a related Tableau dashboard (without maps…), see the 2016 Puget Sound Report Card.State of the Sound Call to Action“The primary barriers between us and more food for orcas, clean and sufficient water for people and fish, sustainable working lands, and harvestable shellfish are funding and political fortitude. The single greatest step we could take to ensure a durable, systematic, and science-based effort to recover Puget Sound is to fully fund the implementation of habitat protection and restoration, water quality protection, and salmon recovery programs.”— Laura Blackmore, the Partnership’s DirectorOne of the main take home messages of the current State of the Sound is that although much of the data is bleak and we are far from recovery, there is still time to recover Puget Sound. And each of us has a role to play in that recovery. The State of the Sound Report resounds this call for action: “Let us be bold in our intent and actions to build a healthy, resilient, and economically prosperous Puget Sound for all!They have broken out specific actions for various groups and partners that are critical to Puget Sound Recovery. These groups include recommendations for action from the State Legislature, State Agencies, Local Government, Congress, Federal Agencies, The Puget Sound Partnership, non-governmental organizations and the Public. They also have tribal recommendations but acknowledge that their tribal partners are sovereign nations and invite them to continue to work together in specific ways. If you want to see all of their recommendations, visit the Call to Action website.Here’s what you and I can do (credit goes mostly to the Puget Sound Partnership, with a few modifications by us):Get involved.Volunteer on a habitat restoration project or in a citizen science program. See orca.wa.gov for links to organizations to join, or check out the Citizen Science sections of our past episodes.Quiet the waters of Puget Sound to help orcas find food.If you’re a boater, give orcas space. Follow the BeWhaleWise guidelines for whale watching. And please use pump-out stations to keep sewage out of Puget Sound.Drive less.Support efforts to improve alternative transportation options in the Puget Sound region, and try some yourself! A few ideas are to bike, carpool, combine trips, telecommute, or take the bus or the train.Keep plastics and toxic chemicals out of our waterways.Recycle (or better yet, reduce your consumption). Use environmentally friendly products in your home and on your landscape, fix vehicle leaks, use a commercial car wash, and have your vehicle oil changed by a professional.Speak up for Puget Sound.Vote. Tell a friend. Make sure your local, state, and federal representatives know how important Puget Sound is to you.Listen to our previous episodes, educate yourself, and take action!Tell a friend about the podcast as well. In previous episodes we’ve discussed many topics raised in the report.Salmon - Episodes 16 & 15 & 8Shoreline armoring - Episode 13Marine debris removal (which relates to toxins in the water and their impacts on fish and other species) - Episode 12Drought (or the opposite of abundant water) - Episode 11Keeping human waste out of the Sound - Episodes 10, 7 and 2Fire (which has an impact on air quality) - Episode 9Nonnative species - Episode 3Thanks for joining us!Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think at outalivepodcast.com or facebook.com/WillWeMakeItOutAlive. Also, if you are more visually inclined, check out our YouTube page!
32 minutes | Dec 3, 2019
Episode 16: Why Did the Salmon Swim Upstream?
We bring you part 1 of our two part salmon series! Part 2 (Episode 15: A Culvert Affair) was released last month. That’s how we do. This episode we interview Joy Waltermire, a steelhead biologist with Long Live the Kings. She’s an expert on salmon, and we ask her all sorts of ridiculous questions, like why does she never talk about king salmon if her organization is called Long Live the Kings, (she does, king is the nickname for chinook salmon…) and why did the salmon cross the road? (Follow our Facebook page - link below - to see a picture of salmon actually crossing the road!) We also discuss the salmon lifecycle, the uniqueness of steelhead, and why salmon are important in our Salish Sea ecosystem. We have a great conversation about one huge salmon barrier - the Hood Canal Floating Bridge. Our citizen science segment isn’t called out specifically in this episode, but we talk about Survive the Sound, which is Long Live the Kings’ game where you choose a salmon and then watch it migrate out of the stream in early May and see if it survives the sound and makes it to the ocean. We talk about reasons most of the salmon don’t make it. Be on the lookout in April for the signup! Please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts (like Tune In, Castbox Himalaya, iheartradio, etc). Please let us know what you think on our feedback page or facebook.com/WillWeMakeItOutAlive. Also, if you are more visually inclined, check out our youtube page!
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