Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Service Learning Project

I believed it would be best for me to create a service learning project that was socially sustainable and just but also something I relate to well.  Snowboarding has been a passion for me for over a decade now and it has even assisted me to my major of Ski Business & Resort Management from Sierra Nevada College.

I would like to create an that will be  a great organization to work with and an extremely worthy cause.  I would like to be able to bring together high school students and adult mentors from a broad range of academic, cultural and economic backgrounds. All of the people involved would engage in activities rotating between intensive service-learning projects and snowboarding. The demanding program addresses three core competencies: ethic of service,  job-readiness, and civic leadership. Music, snowballs, fresh food, and a sense of community are common threads that tie the program together.

The adults in the program would be engaging in leadership through leading the groups of high school students.  I think it would be beneficial for many college students to mentor the high school students and I believe that Sierra Nevada College would have a wonderful pool of students to choose from.  The leadership and organizational/managerial skills of the college students will be built through the civic leadership which ultimately creates job-readiness.
The high school students would benefit and flourish their social skills while engaging in leadership of their own.  The program would teach them to lead on the mountain (taking turns leading runs), and also in the classroom where they can apply leadership and social skills with a better ethic of service.  The students will also partake in learning on the mountain.  The students will learn about snow science and what conditions will trigger avalanches.  Possibly sponsors could be brought into the organization to help pay for all of the students to get AIARE certifications.

My Service Learning Project empowers youth to overcome obstacles and build strong community through snowboarding, public service, and a curriculum of social justice.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

From First to Worst

From First to Worst explains the California state school funding with a central focus of economic justice.  California did once have a booming economy and great educations were possible to be attained. In the 1950’s and 60’s, California’s schools were the national model. “There was a commitment to excellence,” author Peter Schrag says in the film.“California was the land of new opportunity and there was a wonderful historical tradition in that.” Today, California’s schools rank near the bottom.
One fact from the film that truly stood out to me was that the state of California was spending, on average,  $27,000 dollars a year to support each prisoner while each student was receiving $9,000.  Using a new system for tracking dropouts, California discloses a rate considerably higher than previously reported. About 1 in 3 students in Los Angeles Unified left school.
A sad fact for me growing up in Los Angeles is that California ranks 50th of 50 states in staff-to-student ratios.  There is 68 staff for every 1,000 California students, 22 below the national average. Not only that, but California schools staff made an average of $24,134 a year in 2005/06.

California has more than 6.2 million students, almost 2 million more than Texas, the next most populous state. Besides dealing with the complexities of running a school system of this magnitude, California educators face other challenges. The state is near the top in the proportion of children living in low-income families.

I believe the true situation of economic justice in From First to Worst can be explained by taxes and what the public was misinformed about. The mismatch between who votes in california and who is served by public schools caused the beginning of the problem. Then the working class hoodwinked into thinking
taxes are bad. Finally it was not economically just because the distribution of wealth was unfair not everyone is paying their fair share of taxes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Post for 3/1/12

My reflection of the presentation of the movie has many positive and negative outlooks at what the film presented. It showed valid points and a view of how people can have a place so sacred taken from them. My feelings for the people of the tribes involved place me on their side of the argument. They had a wonderful place that has been considered a sacred ground since before the white man came into America and it was taken, then used to build a ski resort. On the other side, the argument and video was made in favor of the Natives and the video was not presenting both sides clearly.
The tribes case was shown very well from many different views from many members of select tribes. It even shows how they were completely left out of most of the processes during the snowmaking expansion. Certain tribes that live further from cities didn't even receive notice of what was going on until just a few short days before the deadline. This would never be an ethical thing for a party to do in any business situation, so why would was it okay in this one? There was a blatant disregard for the Native Americans and I believe it was on purpose to help their own situation. The last part that I thought was unfair was how certain individuals said they were fighting for the Indians and truthfully they were just looking to make money in the long run. It shows how one man was close with the Natives and helped them, but ended up working with the ski resort, a major conflict of interests.
On the other side, the video's storyline follows along with a speech that the General Manager of the ski resort is giving and pauses at each point that he presents and proves him wrong. I believe that he may have been misinformed because the studies could have been done by officials different than the ones in the video. The video was clearly attacking him when I saw someone trying to run a business that was getting approvals from the right agencies. The video focussed heavily on how the General Manger was acting when I think the real problem relies with the agencies signing the papers that allow the resort to act in an unethical manner.
In conclusion I believe that it is not okay for the ski resort to act in the unethical manner in which they went about their snow blowing project. Yes, the argument was somewhat one sided in favor of the Native Americans. But, there were many valid points presented showing how their was negligence and unethical behavior from many parties that discriminated against the Native Americans.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Since last week I have been much more up on current events. This is something that I have come to enjoy from this class because I typically do not watch the news on TV because of the amount of unhappy news. I have many more online resources lately that allow me to filter the news to things I think are more important.
One news story that I found particularly interesting was that Malaysian authorities have deported a Saudi journalist accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a tweet. We have recently spoken of what has been going on in this area of the world and the influence that social media has been playing in it. I felt that this is one of the more intersting stories I have heard about the government taking action due to Twitter. Police confirmed to the BBC that Hamza Kashgari was sent back to Saudi Arabia on Sunday despite protests from human rights groups. Mr Kashgari's controversial tweet last week sparked more than 30,000 responses and several death threats. Insulting the prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam and is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. I think it would be outrageous for the government to kill a man simply based on a 140 character comment on a social media site.
Mr Kashgari apologised and deleted the tweet, but when he continued to receive threats, he left for Malaysia. The two countries do not have a formal extradition treaty but Malaysia has good relations with Saudi Arabia as a fellow Muslim country, says the BBC's Jennifer Pak, in Kuala Lumpur. Mr Kashgari's lawyer obtained an injunction on Sunday to allow him to stay in Malaysia until his case was heard, but it was too late, our correspondent says. "The nature of the charges against the individual in this case are a matter for the Saudi Arabian authorities," Malaysia's home ministry said in a statement. Amnesty International has warned that Mr Kashgari could be executed in Saudi Arabia if he is found guilty of apostasy. "If the Malaysian authorities hand over Hamza Kashgari to Saudi Arabia, they could end up complicit in any violations he suffers," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty's Middle East division.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Class Reflection From 2/1

Chapter 3
This chapter focuses on environmental racism and explains a situation where toxic waste is being disposed in communities with higher African American and Latino populations. This story seemed very similar to me like the previous chapters how certain communities were targeted because of their economic status. Through our study of environmental justice I find this quote from the book really stirs up questions "that people of color are not protected as vigorously by enforcement of environmental laws as whites". Not only are the white communities not targeted for toxic dump sites, they are put on priority lists for clean up crews. Since when do social practices and social structure decide why your town should get trashed?

I would like to be able to discuss market dynamics in class to be able to best understand it before elaborating on the subject.

Biomass Plant
After our last class period I was interested in finding more information on the biomass plant being built in Kings Beach. Prior to our last class period I had no knowledge of this being a possibility. I thought that it is odd that anyone would consider building one in lake Tahoe to begin with because I believe it would bring down the quality of life in what ever community it resided in. So I got into some research on the subject. Upon my research I found that there are many organizations that were working with the citizens of Lake Tahoe to aid in the fight against a biomass plant being built. But to my relief I saw on a website titled " No Lake Tahoe Biomass Plant!" that the biomass plant will not be built.
I also reflected on what we had spoken about in class about how lower classes and/or races are discriminated against constantly in cases of environmental justice. I feel like that fit perfectly with this case of a Biomass plant because I feel, although they may never admit it, were targeted because of the high level of Hispanics living in that community.

In conclusion, I feel like the biggest question or issue that I am left with is why corporations feel like they can get away in cases of environmental justice. These corporations would never be able to come to Incline Village and build the same plant, the community would be in outrage. In all of the cases of environmental justice that we have studied thus far seem very unfair and I am glad to see that all of the issues have been questioned. But I wonder why this is acceptable to target groups or communities in situations of environmental justice, but if it was full written law it would never fly.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Class on 1/25

Hey All!

We talked on many different topics in class last Wednesday and this is simply my reflection on that.

One of the major topics that we spoke on was the status and content of the SOPA/PIPA bill. The main agenda of the bills will cause major websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to be forced to patrol user content to ensure it doesn’t contain links to pirated content. New Internet start-ups will be more reluctant to locate in the US when they can choose countries with less restriction. Could potentially push jobs overseas when US Internet companies relocate to avoid strict regulation. The three cons above are important, but the main protest point is that SOPA and PIPA represent the government extending its reach into our lives at a previously unseen level. Basically, it starts the US on a slippery slop of censorship with the question being: if they can control our Internet, what can’t they do?

Tuesday’s scheduled vote on the PIPA anti-piracy bill has been postponed by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, handing a defeat to Hollywood and a major victory to Internet companies that launched online protests to battle the legislation. "In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the Protect IP Act," Reid said Friday. He is now asking sides to work together to resolve legitimate issues raised about the bill to crack down on foreign websites that traffic in movies, music and other Internet goods.

"Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices," Reid said. "We made good progress through the discussions we've held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks."
Wikipedia led a 12-to-24-hour blackout by more than 10,000 websites last Wednesday in protest of the PIPA. The sites directed people to contact their members of Congress, flooding Capitol Hill with calls and emails.

The bills are strongly backed by the entertainment industry and had been on a fast track to approval, with the Senate set to hold a key procedural vote on Tuesday. But the protests led several key people along with numerous other lawmakers vowing to oppose the legislation in its current form out of concern that it could squelch free speech on the Internet and lead to the shutdown of legitimate sites.

This is a video that I found very interesting on the subject and think all should watch it. See everyone in class!

First Post

Hey All!
This is my first post to the blog for our Sustainability class and I hope it proves to be useful for people outside of our class as well. It shall be full of meaningful headlines and information I find parallel to what our curriculum presents. Blogging isn't totally new to me but it will be interesting to produce content that is not my own. I am used to building blogs totally totally driven by my own material. This blog will have posts with content from other places, but have my opinion on the matter and a little of my flavor! Here is a little video to make people smile and break the ice!