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Cinema Verde Presents: In His Own Home
Cinema Verde Presents: In His Own Home

Now Playing | Heavily armed officers of the University of Florida police department in Gainesville, FL, responding to a 911 call from a neighbor who heard screams, break into the campus apartment of Ghanaian graduate student, Kofi Adu-Brempong. Clad in SWAT gear and ready to attack, they see the disabled doctoral student, sitting with a metal table leg in his hand and within a minute of entry, shoot the unarmed man in the face. Adu-Brempong, who because of childhood polio, needed a cane to walk, and had been suffering from mental illness, now has severe facial injuries, and is charged with resisting arrest. He is guarded outside his hospital door, his legs shackled together when going to the bathroom. The officer who shoots Kofi, and who had previously been caught cruising through town throwing eggs at residents of a Black neighborhood, is not suspended or fired. Student protests lead the administration to drop charges but calls for revoking SWAT-like teams on campus go unheard. Kofi’s shooting is not an isolated incident but part of an ongoing pattern of police brutality against Blacks and a stark reminder of the dangers of increasingly militarized campuses nationwide. In His Own Home came out of outrage by a small group of concerned community members committed to seeing social justice happen on a local level. This documentary is an educational and organizing tool, especially calling for our communities to be safe from violence by racist and over-armed police.

Cinema Verde interviews Malini Schueller
Cinema Verde interviews Malini Schueller

Cinema Verde presents an interview with Director Malini Schueller about her film "In His Own Home" in which heavily armed officers of the University of Florida police department in Gainesville, FL, responding to a 911 call from a neighbor who heard screams, break into the campus apartment of Ghanaian graduate student, Kofi Adu-Brempong. Clad in SWAT gear and ready to attack, they see the disabled doctoral student, sitting with a metal table leg in his hand and within a minute of entry, shoot the unarmed man in the face. Adu-Brempong, who because of childhood polio, needed a cane to walk, and had been suffering from mental illness, now has severe facial injuries, and is charged with resisting arrest. He is guarded outside his hospital door, his legs shackled together when going to the bathroom. The officer who shoots Kofi, and who had previously been caught cruising through town throwing eggs at residents of a Black neighborhood, is not suspended or fired. Student protests lead the administration to drop charges but calls for revoking SWAT-like teams on campus go unheard. Kofi’s shooting is not an isolated incident but part of an ongoing pattern of police brutality against Blacks and a stark reminder of the dangers of increasingly militarized campuses nationwide. In His Own Home came out of outrage by a small group of concerned community members committed to seeing social justice happen on a local level. This documentary is an educational and organizing tool, especially calling for our communities to be safe from violence by racist and over-armed police. Our full catalog of video interviews and streaming films is available to members at cinemaverde.org.

GoGreenNation News: Op-ed: Why academic journals need to embrace the youth
GoGreenNation News: Op-ed: Why academic journals need to embrace the youth

Academia has a youth problem. In the past few years, youth claimed more space in the climate change conversation. However, their participation in academic circles is still lacking. The three of us met at a student-intensive workshop designed to foster student engagement in emerging environmental issues and challenges associated with the pandemic, hosted by experts across government, industry and academia. Students from around the country developed recommendations concerning policy, science and technology investment gaps, and communication considerations for enduring change. We reported our recommendations, presenting a foundation for experts to build upon. However, our peers’ ideas were left on the table. Realizing our recommendations would not be followed up on was a great disappointment, especially because it included motivating ideas, like making academic articles freely available and understandable to the public, preventing social media algorithms from pandering toward political beliefs to drive engagement, fostering trust in the government by addressing and making reparations for historical traumas, welcoming international climate refugees and bridging the gap between science and government to solve real-world problems. We pivoted to try and publish our ideas in an academic journal. We were shocked when each journal we contacted indicated that they had no place to publish the unsolicited opinions of youth. We believe excluding our voices represents a major shortcoming of journals in environmental health and science. It obstructs the institutional change we need to achieve climate goals and further disenfranchises a group that is already pessimistic about their future. We’re tired of hearing leaders say we need creative solutions to climate issues, and then ignoring the creative solutions youth present. What place do youth voices have in academic journals?There is bias in academia toward original research over discussion and commentary on new knowledge, which excludes youth because we have yet to acquire the experience and ability to conduct original research. Yet the thoughts, ideas and experiences of people from diverse backgrounds and motivations — who are influenced by the findings of academic scientists — can enhance conversations otherwise dominated by experts, often stuck doing niche research.If we want to effectively address issues of climate change and health, the scientific community needs to make more space for those groups most impacted by their work. While holding an advanced degree can be portrayed as the superior path to knowledge, lived experiences can reveal powerful truths about greater societal patterns. The experiences of today’s youth are unlike any generations that came before us. Throughout history, marginalized groups have been excluded from institutions based on race, gender, sexuality, ability and age. Excluding any group of people from participation hurts the validity of academic research. The good news is space can be made for youth within academic publications. Journals often include shorter pieces that don’t require original research such as editorials, letters, reviews and commentaries. These sections provide a place to spark discussion on controversial topics and share unique perspectives, and have been recommended by experts conducting interdisciplinary work. Youth can and should be engaged in this way; as we can approach these topics with fresh eyes and creative ideas even from early ages. Why is it important to have youth voices in academic journals?Academic journals influence decisions across entities essential to addressing planetary and health crises, like government, industry and academia. As young scientists invested in the future, we want to be engaged and make an impact through well-trafficked academic journals and not solely relegated to separate “youth spaces.”We are not the first to argue that youth deserve a say in planetary health and health equity, as decisions in these domains will impact the majority of modern youth lifetimes. This is not a future problem, but an ongoing burden on our mental and physical health. However, youth do not deserve to be heard solely because we are highly invested in these ongoing crises — rather, we have the skills to address them. Youth’s tech savvy is an asset, having grown up engaging with technology that more experienced generations generally struggle to navigate with fluency. Studies show that youth are exceptional at creating social capital and cohesion by way of social media, an ability that could help build support for, and resilience into, planetary and human health movements. This is exemplified by social capital’s ability to predict recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and as well as natural disasters. Moreover, the unbridled creativity of youth is generally unmatched, having yet to internalize the many real and falsely perceived constraints that life experience teaches. What can you do to increase youth agency, opportunity and access?The aforementioned skill sets can complement those of more experienced generations. Carving actionable solutions needs both youth’s creativity, and older generations’ wisdom and lessons-learned. Accomplished professionals have also accrued valuable resources (such as equipment, spaces and funds) and participate in networks that hold power, influence and seats at the decision-making table.As youth engagement becomes more fashionable, it is important to discuss what constitutes engagement. The following are eight recommendations targeted toward youth’s inclusion in academic journals, but many are also applicable in other spheres of planetary and human health organizing.Make academia more accessible. Making existing resources more accessible allows us to bring fresh takes into a historically elitist and exclusionary institution. This should be done with all marginalized groups in mind and can look like dedicating resources within your university or organization to make academic publications and their findings more easily digestible, or committing to a simplified writing inclusive of a broader audience.Utilize the spaces that youth find themselves in to get us excited to participate in academia! You can associate science with play and creativity, with camps or other experiential learning that allow kids to get hands-on..With older youth audiences, utilize social media platforms (Hank Green and the work of channels like SciShow are good examples of making science more engaging for a youth audience).Dedicate resources to youth engagement by having a plan to put youth ideas into action, making your needs well-known and be open to new solutions and integrating it into the duties of academia, especially for employees of an institution that work with external communications or outreach.Elevate our voices by creating youth advisory boards or representatives that regularly meet with administrators to make recommendations. Make sure you create a clear, simple path to getting youth voices heard. Once these recommendations are taken into consideration and implemented, include youth in the implementation!Consider diverse thought. Use editorials, letters, reviews, commentaries and other valuable journal articles to spark discussion and share unique perspectives and experiences. Such formats make the voices of youth more accessible to project and listen to.Follow up. Being told that we are heard once is great, but hard to believe. It is consistent efforts of those in power that will yield engaged youth participation.Open the door and also give us the resources to walk through it. Devote resources to helping us navigate the complexities of academia. Give us the time and energy needed to effectively mentor us. Don’t assume we are, or treat us as, experienced professionals who have the same publishing knowledge as experts.Value our time and energy and set clear expectations for us so we can do the same for you. Don’t treat our time and energy as infinite or disposable.Want better for our generation and yours. Making the world better should result in greater equity and transparency for subsequent generations. Removing obstacles will benefit everyone; because feeling like one must struggle immensely to succeed is counterproductive.Emory Hoelscher-Hull (she/her) is an undergraduate student at Montana State University where she studies Environmental Health. She can be reached at emory.hoelscherhull@student.montana.eduJoey Benjamin (he/him) is an undergraduate Sustainability and the Built Environment & Geodesign student at the University of Florida, where he has written about student volunteerism in community gardens. View more of his work on his ePortfolio or contact him at joseph.benjamin@ufl.edu.Sierra Hicks (they/them) is a Systems Engineering Ph.D. student at Cornell University and an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Reach out to Sierra at sh2337@cornell.edu.The authors acknowledge the insights shared by Ayesha Nagaria (Texas A&M), Caden Vitti (Penn State), Octavia Szkutnik (Penn State) that inspired this work.

GoGreenNation News: Students prod colleges to let campus greens grow wild
GoGreenNation News: Students prod colleges to let campus greens grow wild

A new environmental movement has college students beseeching school officials to switch to organic lawn care — or let well-manicured campus quads grow wild.Why it matters: Concerns about pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and herbicides like Roundup have been upending landscaping, and the students' efforts could boost the move toward natural lawn care.An additional concern: drought, which has people ripping up their lawns in favor of succulents, wildflowers, and native flora.Driving the news: A young, small organization called Re:wild Your Campus is leading the charge.It's offering fellowships and encouraging college students to push administrators and groundskeepers to switch to vinegar-based lawn care products, embrace composting, and more.Its first victory came in 2018, when students convinced the University of California, Berkeley, to switch to organic land management. (It's now 95% organic.)A recent win at Grinnell College in Iowa involved restoring native prairie grasses on a 5,000-square-foot campus plot.Where it stands: Re:wild Your Campus has endowed 11 fellows on campuses in 10 states this year, including at Princeton University, Drexel University, the University of Michigan, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.Its first cohort of fellowships came from six schools, including Grinnell College, Emory University, and Brandeis University.The group just started offering a green grounds certification to qualifying campuses and released an impact report on its efforts.What they're saying: "Students are enthusiastic about this — they're excited about working on a tangible issue that connects to climate change and biodiversity loss," Sheina Crystal, the group's director of communications and campaigns, tells Axios.The goal is to get schools to "transition to organic land care with the integration of more rewilded spaces on campus."Organic land care "fosters biodiversity; protects the health of students, groundskeepers, and campus communities; supports pollinators; and has the potential to mitigate climate change," the group wrote in its progress report.The other side: School officials are "usually pretty resistant at first" and "have a lot of misconceptions" about the proposed changes, Crystal tells Axios.They perceive alternatives to conventional lawn care as ineffective, expensive, and ugly — potentially ruining the pretty campuses that attract students and alumni dollars.Groundskeepers, too, are skeptical of the students' suggestions and efforts to educate them — highlighting a town/gown divide between the typically young, female undergrads and the seasoned, often male grounds teams.Re:wild has already been skewered by a pro-industry group, which flamed the students' claims of "climate anxiety" and called the chemicals they're attacking "low risk."The backstory: The two founders of Re:wild Your Campus, Mackenzie Feldman and Bridget Gustafson, were beach volleyball players at UC Berkeley who were told by their coach not to chase the ball off-court because the grounds crew had just sprayed the area with toxic chemicals.That galvanized them to get the relevant chemical, glyphosate, banned from campus.In 2019, the year after they graduated, they campaigned to ban glyphosate on all 10 University of California campuses.That successful effort led to the creation of the Systemwide Pesticide Oversight Committee, housed within the president's office at the University of California, which is managing the groundskeeping policies.The big picture: There's a battle over lawns playing out nationally, as homeowners and communities try to balance aesthetics with health and environmental concerns.A first-of-its-kind Nevada law requires that certain patches of grass be replaced with desert-friendly alternatives.Programs like "No Mow May" encourage people to let their lawns go natural for a month to build habitats for pollinators.On the other side, a homeowners association in Maryland demanded that one family "rip out their native plant beds and replace them with grass," as the New York Times reported. Flashback: Harvard College was in the vanguard when it pivoted to organic lawn care in 2008.The effects were noticeable just a year later: "The organically grown grass on campus is now green from the microbes that feed the soil, eliminating the use of synthetic nitrogen, the base of most commercial fertilizers," the Times reported. The bottom line: Movements that start on campus often radiate more broadly into society."We're trying to make this an issue that's really at the forefront of people's consciousness when considering a college," Crystal said.

GoGreenNation News: Making an impact with environmental health: Yanelli Nunez, PhD.
GoGreenNation News: Making an impact with environmental health: Yanelli Nunez, PhD.

How does one discover their life's work in environmental health? The paths are numerous, but Dr. Nunez provides a compelling example.Dr. Nunez’s family migrated to the United States looking for job opportunities and a better life when she was a teenager. The transition from living in a small rural town in southern Mexico to San Diego, California, sparked in her an interest in learning about how our environments shape us and influence our lifestyles and health. In this video, learn how this first-generation college student discovered her passion for environmental health sciences and about her mission to contribute to creating healthy and sustainable communities where everyone has an opportunity to thrive. Yanelli Nunez, Ph.D.; Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Health EnergyYanelli Nunez earned her Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from Columbia University in 2020 after graduating with a Bachelor’s in biological sciences from San Diego State University and serving as a public health Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, West Africa. During her graduate studies, Dr. Nunez examined the effects of long-term exposure to air pollution on the aggravation of neurodegenerative diseases. She also worked on studies evaluating co-exposure to multiple environmental pollutants to more comprehensively characterize the totality of environmental stressors and their impact on health. During her graduate training, Dr. Nunez learned about the pronounced racial and social inequities in environmental exposures and the resulting health disparities, which drove her to focus her postdoctoral training on environmental equity. In the summer of 2022, Dr. Nunez completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University, analyzing air pollution emissions trends to investigate whether improvements in air quality throughout the United States have been equitable across racial and economic groups. Dr. Nunez is currently a scientist in PSE Healthy Energy, working in close collaboration with community-based organizations, policymakers and stakeholders. She is expanding her environmental health research in the areas of climate resilience, energy equity and environmental justice. Dr. Nunez is an avid runner and hiker. She loves the outdoors, trying new food and exploring new cultures. Learn moreFind Dr. Nunez on Twitter @yanelli_nunezExplore her website here.Cutting Edge of ScienceDiscover what exciting research other early-career scientists are up to in our exclusive series in partnership with the Science Communication Network.Learn more here.

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