COVID-19 Updates: Fall Semester

2016 Theme: Urban Innovations, Sustainable Solutions

FEC 2016 Theme: Urban Innovations, Sustainable Solutions

Today's city is shaping tomorrow's world.
Our planet is urbanizing—fast. In 1950, just 30 percent of the global population lived in cities. Today, half of all humans do. By 2050, fully 70 percent will. From Detroit to Dakar, cities are quickly becoming hubs of innovation and resilience. Many Middlebury students hail from cities, and will establish careers there after graduation. What will this mean for the future of sustainability?
From storm intensification to mass migration, cities are complex ecosystems adapting to new environmental challenges. This year, through residencies, speakers, and programming, the Franklin Environmental Center will highlight the work being done in cities around the world to tackle climate change, transportation, social justice, design, food systems, education and other pressing environmental issues.  At a time of federal inaction, the real change-makers and path-breakers of the 21st century will be mayors, entrepreneurs, NGOs, and community organizers.  The interdependence of urban and rural communities and their impact on each other will also be explored.

Upcoming Events

Friday, October 7, 4:00-6:00p

Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest

Campus Tree Tour and Planting

Meet on the front porch of the Franklin Environmental Center (FEC) for the very popular Campus Tree Tour led by passionate Middlebury horticulturalist and tree expert Tim Parsons. This year, FEC is focusing on the theme Urban Innovations, Sustainable Solutions, which will include exploring connections between urban and rural. As part of the tour, Tim will explain why he manages our rural Vermont campus as an urban forest.

Stick around after the tour for a tree planting, complete with hot cider and fresh local donuts. Bring your willingness to learn about and to get a little dirty.

Friday, October 14, 12:15 – 1:30p

Anderson Freeman Resource Center

Racialization of Space: Debunking the Urban vs Nature Divide 

How are our ideas and experiences of space/nature/the environment linked to race and racialization and historically produced through segregation and exclusion?STUDENTS:  Join guest speaker Carolyn Finney, professor and author of Black Faces, White Spaces and Middlebury professors J Finley, Kathy Morse and Mez Baker-Medard for this lunchtime discussion.

Friday, October 21,3:00p

Robert A. Jones Conference Room

From Eco-Rap to Dreams Reborn: Environmental Justice, Tools of Urban Media Resistance, and the Prophetic Dimensions of Green Hip Hop

In this multimedia digital sound/video presentation, Northwestern University Professor Sarah McFarland Taylor explores the spiritual and prophetic “road maps” being created by contemporary “green hip hop” artist/activists. These artists challenge many of the standard images associated with the environmental movement.  Rather than images of redwoods, endangered species, rainforests, national parks, and majestic retreats for wilderness lovers, sportsmen, and hikers, green hip hop artists use the tools of “eco-rap” to reframe the aesthetics and moral focus of American environmentalism to center on asthma, cancer, toxics, and “food deserts” in minority neighborhoods.  

Sponsored by the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life, the Religion Department, The Newman Club, Gather – A Community for Progressive Christians and Friends, Franklin Environmental Center, The Environmental Studies Program, and the Anderson Freeman Resource Center. 

Monday, October 24, 7:00p

Robert A. Jones Conference Room

Innovative Strategies Towards a Low-Carbon Society in Japan

Dr. Gregory Trencher, Visiting Assistant Professor in Environmental Science and Policy at Clark University, will discuss Innovative Strategies towards a Low-Carbon Society in Japan.

The lecture will showcase innovative policy and technological measures in Japan’s planned transition to a low-carbon, sustainable society, focusing on 2 key initiatives: The Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City, near Tokyo, and the vision for a hydrogen economy. He will briefly discuss Fukushima’s impact on energy policy and CO2 emissions.

Dr. Trencher holds a Ph.D. in Sustainability Science from the University of Tokyo and an M.A. in Environmental Studies from Sophia University. His current interests include energy efficiency and retrofitting policies for existing buildings and smart city initiatives in Japan and China.
The Japanese Studies Department, the East Asian Studies Program, the Environmental Studies Program, the Franklin Environmental Center and the Japanese Club.

Monday, November 14, 4:30pm

The Orchard, Franklin Environmental Center 103

From the local to the global:  Asians and Asian Americans on the side of Racial Justice, Climate Justice, and Gender Justice

How should Asians and Asian Americans be relating to social movements of our time like Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, and Not1More?  How are grassroots organizers in Asian communities around the country pushing back against gentrification, discriminatory policing, environmental racism, and what happens when communities are hit with (un)natural disasters?  How do we understand what is happening in China and bring it back to what it means to organize with a racial and gender justice lens here in the US?

Helena Wong is a National Organizer with Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) Alliance and coordinates the US chapter of the World March of Women. She is the former executive director of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities in New York City and has organized in low-income Asian immigrant and refugee communities for nearly twenty years around gentrification, community development and land use, and police violence.  Helena has served on the national steering committee of the Right to the City alliance and was previously on the Board of Directors of GGJ.  She has led delegations to China, meeting with organizers who do work around land rights, migrant workers, environmental protection, and queer visibility.  Helena is a founding member of Grassroots APIs Rising and former coordinator of the Seeding Change National Fellowship for Asian American Organizing. Helena is queer, Asian, and a proud lifelong New Yorker.

Friday, November 18, 12:30 – 1:20p

The Orchard, Franklin Environmental Center 103

Land Trust Innovation in Service to Changing Urban Community Needs

Locally-sourced lunch will be served - please click to RSVP if you plan to attend.

Land trusts across America are engaged in new approaches to land protection, redevelopment and management in service to urban communities. Conservation attorney Jessica Jay will describe this evolving work of developing new approaches within the land trust community, their focus on new constituencies and different tools, and the effort of many organizations to better understand community dynamics and how those dynamics are at play in serving diverse populations.

Gil Livingston, President of Vermont Land Trust, will ground the discussion in a Vermont example: how Pine Island Farm, located on Burlington’s urban fringe, has been transformed from a conventional dairy into a goat and vegetable farm operated by and for the refugee community, and how this transition is trying to address flood resilience and land management in a changing climate, while focusing on the food security needs of New Americans by using land trust tools and resources.  Some of the many countries represented by farmers and customers at the farm are Bhutan, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Congo and Burma.

Thursday, March 9, 12:30-1:20

The Orchard, Franklin Environmental Center 103

Food Localization and Black Power in Contemporary Detroit

Erica Morrell, C3 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Middlebury College

In this talk, Erica explains how 21st century food localization in Detroit transformed from a white-led movement based in cultures of science to a black-led movement favoring experience—and what this means for our notions of knowledge, power, and environmental justice more broadly. 

Thursday, March 23, 12:30-1:20

The Orchard, Franklin Environmental Center 103

Thriving cities…trees are the answer!

Rich Cochran ‘91, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, President and CEO. Middlebury Parent, 2020. 

Rene DuBos famously wrote:  “Man shapes himself through decisions that shape his environment.” In his talk Rich shows how communities reflect two fundamental laws of biology:  all living things are a reflection of and are governed by their environment, and, all living things naturally move away from things perceived as toxic and towards things perceived as nutrients, if they can. He further discusses how trees are the essential natural asset for all healthy human communities, and how we can design enduring and prosperous urban areas by observing foundational laws of biology.

Monday, April 3, 4:30 – 6pm


Urban Growth and the Contemporary Housing Question: Recovering the Politics of Planning in Germany and the UK

Professor Ilse Helbrecht, Geography (Humboldt-Universität Berlin)

The aim of this presentation is to draw attention to the (re)politicization of planning through land-use, within the context of a contemporary “housing crisis.” Our goal is to set an international academic agenda for better understanding the role of developer contributions for providing neighborhood infrastructure, social housing provision, and ultimately contributing to “social mix”. Put simply, in which regard can developer contributions provide a (tentative) answer to the contemporary Housing Question?

Sponsored by Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, Department of Geography, Department of German, and the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest.

Thursday, April 20, 12:30-1:20

The Orchard, Franklin Environmental Center 103

Beyond the Kale: Urban Agriculture and Social Justice Activism in New York City

Kristin Reynolds, Critical Food Geographer; Lecturer, Food Studies and Environmental Studies, The New School; Lecturer, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; Distinguished Visiting Faculty of Food Studies, University of Southern Maine.

Urban agriculture is increasingly considered an important part of creating just and sustainable cities. Yet the benefits that many people attribute to urban agriculture— fresh food, green space, educational opportunities—can mask structural inequities, thereby making political transformation harder to achieve. Realizing social and environmental justice requires moving beyond food production to address deeper issues such as structural racism, gender inequity, and economic disparities. Beyond the Kale argues that urban agricultural projects focused explicitly on dismantling oppressive systems have the greatest potential to achieve substantive social change. Through in-depth interviews and public forums with some of New York City’s most prominent urban agriculture activists and supporters, Kristin Reynolds and Nevin Cohen illustrate how some urban farmers and gardeners not only grow healthy food for their communities but also use their activities and spaces to disrupt the dynamics of power and privilege that perpetuate inequity. Addressing a significant gap in the urban agriculture literature, Beyond the Kale prioritizes the voices of people of color and women—activists and leaders whose strategies have often been underrepresented within the urban agriculture movement—and it examines the roles of scholarship in advancing social justice initiatives.

Themes discussed on this page: