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Food-Energy-Water Nexus; Urban Systems Analysis

Brad GaolachBrad Gaolach Describes how our food, energy, and water systems are inextricably linked. Changes in one system result in changes in the other systems. Management decisions in one system also change the other two. With an increases in population and the impacts of climate change, the world needs to address this grand challenge by finding both global and local solutions. Brad describes how this FEWS nexus plays out in the Puget Sound region.

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‘E-waste’: Getting grip on a growing global problem

apple productsA look around a reporter’s desk turns up eight items that will end up as e-waste one day: a printer, keyboard, computer screen, laptop, mouse, and phone charger, as well as mobile and landline phones. And a swivel of the desk chair brings into view a digital camera, television, and cable TV box.

E-waste is an informal name for what is also called waste electrical and electronic equipment, or WEEE for short. It encompasses any household or office item at the end of its useful life that has circuitry inside, or electrical components drawing on a battery or power supply. Beyond the things in an office, e-waste denotes refrigerators, toasters, washing machines, stereo systems, electric toothbrushes, and the sort of toys that do things on their own.

Worldwide, people threw away about 49 million tons of such stuff in 2016 – about 13 pounds for each inhabitant of the Earth. By 2021 that figure will have risen to more than 57 million tons, according to a study led by the United Nations University (UNU). It’s going up because more and more people can afford mobile phones and other electronic doodads and also because products do not last as long as they used to.

At the moment, only 20 percent of global e-waste is properly recycled and documented as such, says Pascal Leroy, head of the WEEE Forum in Brussels, an umbrella group for European producers and recyclers of e-waste. Nobody has a clear idea of what happens to the other 80 percent, though it is probably dumped, traded, or recycled dangerously in a developing country.

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Meet the Farmworkers Leading the #MeToo Fight For Workers Everywhere

Time’s Up Wendy’s MarchFrom farmworkers to fashion models, worker-led social responsibility sets out to protect basic human rights.

“Never again will we allow ourselves to be silenced as women … We will not permit our children’s lives to be limited by the greed of others because our children deserve a better future.” ~ Lupe Gonzalo, Coalition of Immokalee Workers leader, at the Time’s Up Wendy’s March

Raquel,* 12, is the daughter of tomato pickers in Immokalee, Florida. In March, she and her sister Maria* travelled to New York City with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) five-day Freedom Fast, where they joined 100 farmworkers and 24 children of farmworkers in an effort to bring attention to the group’s campaign to urge Wendy’s to sign on to their Fair Food Program.

The group fasted on Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, sometimes chanting loudly, sometimes silently, some with their mouths covered by wide black tape. Even while hungry in the snow and rain, the fasters displayed bravery, conviction, and a grounded strength.

Raquel and Maria don’t work in the fields, although they did try it out when they were eight and 10. Their father disapproved of the idea, but the girls persisted and went to harvest tomatoes one day. “I thought I would like it but after the first day, I was like ‘No. I can’t believe people are doing this,’” Raquel says. “It’s like a nightmare.”

But the girls aren’t just disturbed by long days spent doing back-breaking labor. “Rape is one of my biggest fears,” says Raquel. “I’m haunted by the idea of it.” Maria says she is, too. And they’re not alone.

Sexual Violence in Agriculture

An estimated 500,000 women labor in U.S. fields. On many of the farms where Raquel’s parents worked up and down the East Coast, farmworkers describe coercion, catcalls, groping, and assault from crew leaders, supervisors, and even fellow workers as their “daily bread” in the fields. A studyfound that four out of five female farmworkers experience sexual violence at work. Women are often dependent on male supervisors for employment, housing, and transportation. Claims against harassers are largely processed by male managers, police officers, and judges, and retaliation for complaints is the norm.

Isolating physically and socially, the informal work environment of commercial agriculture on many farms creates a “hustle culture” that threatens workers’ immediate safety and long-term health. In crop work, for example, portable toilets are often placed far from the fields, a tactic that keeps them from taking breaks, said Nely Rodriguez, a CIW leader. Workers must obtain permission to use the bathroom, which creates uncomfortable situations as women find themselves alone with crew leaders. “It’s easy for unwanted things to happen between the rows. You’re in their territory, so it’s easy for them to find and entrap you. I saw this in my own case,” Rodriguez says, who felt corralled because her former boss carried a pistol.

The advent of CIW’s Fair Food Program has changed that culture significantly; alongside the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, the Fair Food Program is sparking change for workers and women in many industries.

Continue reading in Civil Eats

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Metro Center Director, Brad Gaolach speaks at the Next Generation Extension – Learning for Leaders Series

Key Insights To Leading an Urban Extension Program

March 2018. Dr. Brad Gaolach discusses how both Washington State University’s and his county’s expectations of an urban Extension program changed the focus of their efforts and the choices they have made to stay relevant in an urban setting. A few questions from colleagues included: “How do you handle salary commitments in the context of short term projects vs long-term programmatic commitments?”; “Are staff responsible for obtaining a certain percentage of their salaries thru grants and/or contracts?”, and “What pushback have you received from urban stakeholders who were involved in direct education in the past and no longer serve through your policy/system approach.

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Seattle Approves Plan for Tax on Its Largest Businesses to Help Pay for Housing, Homeless Services

The Seattle City Council Monday afternoon chose a smaller, simpler, “reasonable” compromise to create a new tax on the city’s largest companies to help pay for affordable housing and homelessness services.

In a 8-1 vote, the council — some reluctantly — chose a new version of the plan introduced as Amendment 24 during the afternoon full council session with sponsorship from eight of the nine members — all save Capitol Hill’s District 3 rep, Kshama Sawant.

“I’ve been really struggling with how I feel about this compromise because I’ve been really, really focused on the spending plan and the dire needs of our communities,” co-sponsor of the original legislation Lisa Herbold said before the vote. But she said she was proud the plan for a new tax had “evolved more towards progressivity” and would do things like protect the city’s small businesses.

Friday, a council committee approved a veto-vulnerable $500/employee version of the tax.

Monday’s $48 million compromise legislation avoids a collision course with a Mayor Jenny Durkan-threatened veto and will implement a $275 per full-time employee tax on companies reporting $20 million or greater in annual “taxable gross receipts,” eliminated the proposed transition to a payroll tax, and gives the tax plan a five-year window after which it will be evaluated and will require new legislation to continue.

Meanwhile, the smaller tax plan will be accompanied by a smaller housing and homelessness services spending plan including enough money to build an estimated 591 affordable units in five years, and around 15 million per year for services including rental subsidies, shelters, “innovative temporary housing,” and more than a million a year for “city-wide sanitation and garbage services such as but not limited to Seattle Public Utilities’ Clean Cities program” —

Continue Reading in South Seattle Emerald

Originally written by JSeattle

Local Investment Networks


Build an investment network that connects local businesses needing capital with local community members who want to invest. LIN establishes a wealth building strategy that helps keep local dollars rooted and circulating within the community.

Workshops include the following:

Activities include: Information Sessions with Community Members – Investor
Trainings – Business Pitch Trainings – Investment Network Launch


About the Facilitator

Anthony Gromko, is an assistant professor of community and economic development with WSU’s Metro Center and is a certified trainer for the Ice House Entrepreneurship program. Anthony has worked extensively with entrepreneurs and students throughout the Pacific Northwest region over the past 10 years.

Contact information:

The Metro Center Awarded: Innovative and Creativity – Team for 2018

Metro Center staffThe Metropolitan Center for Applied Research and Extension was recently announced as a national award winner by the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP).

The award, ‘Innovative and Creativity: Team for 2018’ recognizes the Metro Center for their community development work, program accomplishments, research effectiveness, and their collaboration with others to help meet community development needs.

All awards will be presented during the NACDEP Conference, June 10-13 in Cleveland, Ohio. The national awards will be presented at the banquet on Tuesday, June 12 at 7 p.m. Regional awards will be presented during the regional meetings on Monday, June 11 at 4:15 p.m.

learn more about the NACDEP Conference.

Our Lack of Paid Leave Is a Public Health Crisis

SethescopeStudies show having time off to recover, without worrying about money, is key to maternal and infant health, and so much more.

“My experience of having a child was so destabilizing,” says Clarissa Doutherd, now the executive director of Parent Voices Oakland. “As a new mom running my own business, paid leave was not an option. The pressure to immediately go back to work, for survival, moved to the center, instead of caretaking for my son and ensuring he was healthy.”

Within months of her son’s birth, Doutherd’s independent bookkeeping business had folded and she found herself without a home or stable employment, and with a sick baby. “I couldn’t just bond with my child and I couldn’t take time and enjoy him. It was very isolating. He had many health issues in those early years, and I have no doubt my stress, and inability to be with him was a factor.”

The birth of a child should be filled with excitement and the natural worries that come with caring for a newborn. But for too many families in the United States, this time is weighed by heavy economic burdens. After delivery, parents are torn between providing the best care for their child versus earning money to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Mothers push through postpartum pain and ignore doctors’ recommendations by returning to work too early. An investigation featured in In These Times found that about 25 percent of women in the U.S. return to work within 10 days of delivery, a time when they are still literally bleeding.

It’s not like this in other countries. Of the 193 countries in the United Nations, the U.S. is one of two (along with Papua New Guinea) that does not provide paid leave for mothers. Brazil provides 17 weeks. Norway provides 25 weeks. The United Kingdom provides 52 weeks—a full year.

Mounting evidence shows the social and economic benefits of paid leave. Paid leave increases women’s labor participation and boosts overall gross domestic product. And paid leave is an urgent health issue. It carries many public health benefits for moms and children, including reducing postpartum depression and improving breastfeeding initiation and duration. Paid leave is an urgent health issue.

Continue reading in Slate

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The Top Jobs Where Women Are Outnumbered by Men Named John

men and women in a circle

In the corridors of American power, it can be as easy to find a man named John as it is to find a woman.

Fewer Republican senators are women than men named John — despite the fact that Johns represent 3.3 percent of the population, while women represent 50.8 percent. Fewer Democratic governors are women than men named John. And fewer women directed the top-grossing 100 films last year than men named Michael and James combined.

These comparisons come from our updated and expanded Glass Ceiling Index, in which we counted the women and men in important leadership roles in American life — including politics, law, business, tech, academia, film and media.

Of the groups of leaders we examined, chief executives and directors of last year’s top-grossing films have the lowest rates of women. Top venture capitalists and House Republicans were next, followed by groups of politicians from both parties: Republican senators and governors, and Democratic governors.

Continue reading in the New York Times

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The staggering environmental footprint of all the food that we just throw in the trash

Colorful produceThe mass quantities of food Americans waste every year has staggering environmental consequences, according to a study published Wednesday.

“Our data suggest that the average person in the United States wastes about a pound of food per day,” said the University of Vermont’s Meredith Niles, one of the study’s authors, along with researchers at the Department of Agriculture and the University of New Hampshire.

That totals about 25 percent of all food, by weight, available for consumption in the United States — or about 30 percent of all available calories, the researchers estimate — a figure that’s larger than previous attempts to measure food waste.

The environmental costs of that wasted food are tremendous: 30 million acres of cropland (about the land area of Pennsylvania), 4.2 trillion gallons of water and nearly 2 billion pounds of fertilizer. Fertilizer contains compounds that can run off farm fields and compromise water quality.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, did not calculate the resulting greenhouse gas emissions. But prior research has suggested wasted food, like all food production, also contributes to the warming of the planet, because agriculture is a key source of the fast-warming gases methane and nitrous oxide.

The report is the latest evidence that if the world is to manage a growing population and the massive changes that population is making to the global climate, it will have to significantly reshape its food system to use fewer resources to feed more people — efficiency that probably would require wasting far less food.

The new research is based on a massive survey of Americans’ eating habits, cross-referenced with other federal data sets and amplified by modeling tools, so as to determine how much food we waste and how much environmental input that translates into.

The amount of total food wasted is undoubtedly larger than the researchers calculated, as the study focused only on waste by consumers at home or when eating out. Waste within the agricultural system before food reaches a home or restaurant was not included, nor was food wasted at supermarkets.

“What we’re reporting is about 25 percent of the food that’s available for consumption gets wasted,” said the Agriculture Department’s Zach Conrad, the study’s lead author. “And there are some other data sets that are showing, that across the entire food system, it’s about 30 to 40 percent.”

Continue reading in The Washington Post

Originally written by Chris Mooney