April 26, 2006

Urban Research Workshop 2006 Findings: Sustainability in an International Urban Context (Mexico DF and NYC)

Posted in cu groups and events, cu official shenanigans at 1:18 pm by cuenv-main

Profs. Sudhir Venkatesh, Pablo Piccato, and Sumila Gulyani will co-host tonight's (4/26) presentation of the findings of this year's Urban Research Workshop at 6 PM in Wien Lounge:

Sustainability in an International Urban Context: Mexico City and New York City

Following a brief presentation of the research findings of the twelve workshop participants, Professor Pablo Piccato and Dr. Sumila Gulyani will address the research through an interactive panel discussion. Professor Piccato is an Associate Professor of History at Columbia and Dr. Gulyani is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning in Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

Light refreshments will be served.

The excellent and erudite Hannah Roth will be presenting, and in general I'm incredibly excited to hear about the findings.

– Six


Steven Pinker on “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature”

Posted in cu official shenanigans, people and interviews at 12:16 pm by cuenv-main

This may at first appear only tangentially related to sustainability issues, but–as many of you are no doubt aware–it is increasingly clear that understanding thought patterns on the individual and cultural levels is a critical part of raising the awareness necessary to achieving global sustainability. The work of Harvard evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker makes strong claims about the nature of these thought patterns that we would probably all do well to consider and understand–regardless of whether we agree with his ideas–and his resulting policy recommendations–or not:

Pinker argues that modern science has challenged three views that comprise the dominant view of human nature in intellectual life:

  • the blank slate
  • the noble savage
  • the ghost in the machine

Much of the book is dedicated to examining fears of the social and political consequences of his view of human nature:

  • the “fear of inequality”
  • the “fear of imperfectibility”
  • the “fear of determinism”
  • the “fear of nihilism”

Pinker claims these fears are non sequiturs, and that the blank slate view of human nature would actually be a greater threat if it were true. For example, he argues that political equality does not require sameness, but policies that treat people as individuals with rights; that moral progress doesn’t require the human mind to be naturally free of selfish motives, only that it has other motives to counteract them; that responsibility doesn’t require behavior to be uncaused, only that it responds to praise and blame; and that meaning in life doesn’t require that the process that shaped the brain must have a purpose, only that the brain itself has purposes. He also argues that grounding moral values in claims about a blank slate opens them to possibilty of being overturned by future empirical discoveries; and that belief in a blank slate human nature encourages destructive social trends such as persecution of the successful and totalitarian social engineering.

Wikipedia on The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.

He’ll be here tomorrow Thursday 4/27 to discuss his book and work at 7 PM in 104 Jerome Greene Hall (Proskauer Auditorium). Doors open at 6:30 PM; seating is first-come, first-serve.

Environmental Engineering Design Projects Presentation

Posted in cu groups and events, cu official shenanigans at 11:31 am by cuenv-main

The seniors in the Environmental Engineering department will be presenting their design projects in 918 Mudd from 1 to 3 PM this Friday 4/28. Like the environmental poster session last weeek at Barnard, this event should be a great way to (quickly) learn about some of the cutting-edge intellectual work that's happening on campus–not to mention to find out what the seniors will be up to when they go out into the world!

The Meatrix I And II!

Posted in other groups and events at 8:50 am by Aditi Sriram

Every day, more and more people are choosing to eat sustainably, from changing their buying habits to helping their whole community eat healthier, locally-grown food. Find out what you can do to get involved in this exciting movement!

Join the Meatrix Team! Every time you help the sustainable food movement – from talking to your friends to contacting your congressperson to hosting a sustainable dinner party – you can earn Pill Points. Simply register and join The Parlour, our online forum, to collect points. While there, you can meet other people from around the world who are also making the switch to healthier, sustainable food.

The first Meatrix film is still going gangbusters! In March alone, over half a million NEW people watched the movie. And we had over 23 million hits to the web site in March! Absolutely amazing for a film that’s been out for over 2 1/2 years. TM2 is coming on strong just after release with over 6,500 people a day and over 1 1/2 million hits since the beginning of April.

We’re currently working on a Mandarin and Cantonese version of the film, as well as a Kiswahili version of TM1. (If you know anyone in New York that speaks Kiswahili fluently, please let us know! We’re looking for people to be the voice of Moopheus and Leo.)

We’ve also released a Braziliain Portuguese version of the first film, which was the most popular page on our site in March. And we’ve already had a volunteer offer to translate TM2 into Portuguese. And the Italian TM2 is also underway.

Learn more about other organizations, such as LOHAS through the Meatrix website…

CUPID: Follow-Up To Urbanization Conference, And Other Final Events

Posted in cu groups and events at 8:27 am by Aditi Sriram

CUPID presents their final events of the semester:

1. Urban Planning Conference
(this is a great follow-up for those who attended, or those who
missed, our Conference on Urbanization in the Developing World)

“Searching for the Just City”

Saturday, April 29th
9:30AM – 6:00PM
Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall
Columbia University, GSAPP

Sessions include:

* Economic Development & Social Justice: Can the Just City Be a
Competitive City?
* Diversity and the Just City
* Planning New York City
* The Just City — Towards a New Urban Agenda?

Urban planning as a discipline has been strongly influenced by a
belief in social change and a desire to either diminish or
eradicate the manifold inequalities that characterize cities and
the societies in which they are embedded. Susan Fainstein’s
conception of the “Just City” encourages planners and policy makers
to embrace a normative approach to urban planning that combines
progressive planners’ earlier focus on equity and material
well-being with more recent concerns such as diversity,
participation, and sustainability to establish a better quality of
human and urban life within the context of a global capitalist
political economy. Organized by Columbia University’s Urban
Planning doctoral students, this one-day conference “Searching for
the Just City” aims to thank Susan Fainstein for her contributions
as a Professor and Director of our program, to honor her scholarly
contributions as one of the leading urban theorists of the present
day, and to critically discuss the question of whether her — or
any other — vision of the “Just City” can guide future planners to
make cities a better place.

Presented by: The Department of Urban Planning, the Graduate School
of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and Columbia University

2. Film Screening: China Blue

Wednesday, April 26 at 6:00 pm
SIPA Room 918, Weatherhead East Asian Institute
Snacks and drinks provided

Join us for a night of film, food, discussion, and action,

China Blue (2006, 87 minutes), shot clandestinely in China, is the
inside story of a blue-jeans factory where workers are trying to
survive the harsh working environment. The film paints a nuanced,
tender and ultimately moving portrait of the daily lives of the
young workers, mostly rural women, who make clothes for
multinational retail corporations. The film brings the complex
issues of globalization to the human level.

“China Blue makes a stronger case against worker exploitation than
any news item could.” =96 Variety. China Blue won the Amnesty Human
Rights Award at the International Documentary Festival in

Post-screening discussion and how you can get involved, featuring:

Andrew J. Nathan
Class of 1919 Professor; Chair, Department of Political Science,
Columbia University; Board Member, China Labor Watch and Human
Rights in China.

Christine Clarke
China Program Coordinator, National Labor Committee.

Moderator: Sara (Meg) Davis
China Action; Author of Song and Silence: Ethnic revival on China’s
southwest borders (Columbia University Press).

China Blue is co-sponsored by the CU Corporate Social Responsibility
Network, China Action, CU Partnership for International Development
(CUPID), and the Human Rights Working Group.

The Weatherhead East Asian Institute is located on the 9th Floor of
the School for International and Public Affairs (SIPA) on the
campus of Columbia University at Amsterdam Avenue and West 118th

2. Africa Townhall Meeting

Africa Townhall Meeting, A SPAN Initiative
Be a Part of Reform at Columbia University

When: Wednesday April 26th, 2006, 6-8pm
Where: Kent Hall, Room 413 (116th & Amsterdam)
Why: To revitalize the African Studies Program at Columbia

Did you know that the Institute of African Studies has not had a
permanent director since 2004? Make your voice heard!

In attendance: V.P. Nicholas Dirks (Vice President of Arts and
Sciences), Dean Lisa Anderson (Dean of SIPA), and more…


Supporting Student Organizations:
Africana (Business School)
African Law Students Association
African Students Working Group (TC)
Columbia University Partnership in International Development (CUPID)
Conflict Resolution Working Group (SIPA)
Humanitarian Affairs Working Group (SIPA)
Human Rights Working Group

Send an email to subscribe to the CUPID listserve. In the body of the email write: Subscribe cupid “your email address” (but no quotes)

April 25, 2006

New York City Local Jam: addressing social justice

Posted in other groups and events at 5:36 am by Aditi Sriram

Youth of New York City Unite!

Are you young and interested in social change? Do you believe that our generation has a historical opportunity to embrace diversity and join forces for social and political transformation? Join twenty of the leading young social and political leaders from the New York tri-state area for 5 days of exploration, celebration, and alliance building. The retreat culminates in the development of new and collaborative projects.

The New York City Local Jam
June 8-12, 2006
Apply now! Application Deadline is May 15…

The NYC Local Jam is an informal, five day gathering where participants share experiences, discuss organizing strategies, and build relationships with each other. The gathering removes people from their normal environments and inspires new opportunities. The New York City Local JAM Retreats build relationships based on trust and mutual understanding among diverse young activists in the city. Participants come from positions of influence and leadership in groups throughout New York working for peace, environmental protection, human and children’s rights and social justice. Together, we create a community where participants can be honest and authentic about race, gender relations, prejudice, the internal motivations and external factors that drive and influence their activism, the common problems facing youth in New York City and the challenge of global sustainability. We create an atmosphere of compassion where participants can view their work as an open, on-going educational and learning process and provide a platform for mutual sharing, learning, networking and community building among some of the young people who will shape the new millennium.

The word JAM was comes from the culture of musicians who gather and play unrehearsed, improvised music – communicating with each other in a universal language. The process leads to moments of inspiration, action, and power. During the Local JAM something similar happens. There is open dialogue, discovery, and most importantly an understanding of differences (and similarities) that celebrate and give value to human diversity.

Contact Jessica for info or apply here to attend this free retreat!

What are the objectives of the NYC Local JAM?
(1) To raise awareness and connect diverse, young social leaders of New York by sharing experiences and visions of the youth movement locally and globally;
(2) To launch a self-sustaining youth network in New York that integrates the diversity if the city and is active both face to face and virtually through the Internet;
(3) To develop new partnerships and collaborative projects, help them gain visibility and attract funding;
(4) To strengthen youth participation in local government structures

When and where will the NYC Local JAM take place?
June 8-12, 2006, at a retreat center in upstate New York (Participants will leave as a group by charter bus from Grand Central Station in Manhattan, New York, on June 8, at 9 AM, and will return to the same location at 6 PM on June 12.)

Selection Criteria
Leadership – Good candidates for participation in the JAM should have experience implementing a project that has measurable results. In their application they should show real personal leadership and not simply team participation.
Critical and analytical thought – Good candidates should have political consciousness, have specific points of view about local and international issues and be able to justify their opinions.
Commitment and Availability – Good candidates should be available to contribute and participate in the New York Youth Network.
Diversity – In the selection process, personality types, race, strengths/weaknesses, sexual orientation, religion, and socioeconomic diversity will be considered for the purpose of bringing together a diverse group.

Projected Results
• Stronger networks of New York City youth activists;
• New and collaborative projects;
• Ongoing dialogue open to social and governmental organizations that focus on the issues of youth, with leadership from Jam participants;
• Project Development Workshops for new and collaborative youth led projects around the city;
• A Fundraising Auction to direct funds and attract attention to new and collaborative projects.
• Greater unity and trust among local and regional youth groups;
• A website that reports about the discussions of the Jam process and links local youth efforts to the rest of the world

This event is for 20 young leaders, from New York City, between the ages of 15 and 35 that identify with one of the following topics:
– Develop action locally in diverse social areas (education, culture, health, civil/human rights, the environment etc.)
– Participate in the debate and articulation of socio-political and socio-economic issues nationally as well as internationally.
– Participate in the creation and implementation of public policies with emphasis on youth and a desire to create a just and equitable world.

Organized by: Global Youth Action Network
Date and time: 9:00am – 6:00pm June 08, 2006 – June 12, 2006
Admission: Free
Registration Deadline: May 15, 2006
Global Youth Action Location:
211 East 43rd Street, Suite 905,
New York, New York, 10017,
United States
Phone: 1-212-661-6111
Fax: 1-212-661-1933

April 24, 2006

Thursday: CERC Open House

Posted in cu groups and events at 10:32 pm by cuenv-main

The Columbia Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, home to such badass characters as Don Melnick and Maria Uriarte, will be holding an Open House in their department office on the very well-appointed 10th Floor of Schermerhorn Extension from 6 to 8 PM on Thursday 4/27.

Today: Screening of “Paradise Now” with Actor Q&A

Posted in other groups and events at 9:33 pm by cuenv-main

The New York Chapter of the Network of Arab-American Professionals is hosting a screening of the 2006 Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated film Paradise Now (IMDB entry; theatrical trailer):

Join us on Tuesday, April 25th for a special, one night only, screening of PARADISE NOW followed by Q&A with Lead Actors Kais Nashef and Ali Suliman!

The show is at 7 PM today, Tuesday 4/25 at the AMC Empire 25 Theater at Times Square (234 West 42 St bet 7th & 8th Aves). Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or online.

Article: Mapping Environmental Resources Near You

Posted in articles at 5:46 am by Aditi Sriram

Looking to connect with green groups, resources, and locations in your area? If so, then you might scope a green community map. Compiled by everyone from cartographers to community groups, these green maps are a growing phenomenon that can point you to local eco-hotspots you weren’t aware of. This piece from Grist profiles Wendy Brawer, who started the nonprofit that made New York City’s first green map. Read the article here.

April 22, 2006

Gentle Reminder

Posted in cuenv misc at 9:48 am by cuenv-main

You tell me that you will help other people after you have enough money to ensure your own comfort, and your family's. But how long will this project take? Chasing financial security is like writing on an oil slick with a felt-tipped pen: it is as misguided as it is futile. Someday you will die. What will you wish you had done?

Posted by Six Silberman.

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