SouthCoast Rail – Something Worth Supporting

Apr 14 2014 • Posted by

during this past wee, Lucas and I attended a local community event in support of the South Coast Rail project.  I have  never been to a meeting like this and I tough it was going to be comedically bad, perhaps due to the  amount of Parks & Recreation  that I watch.  I was so glad I was wrong. The sense of community in the room and support of the local project, the police, and the state representative, was off the charts. I learned so much about the projects underway and how crime had dropped in the area due to increased patrols.

The Rail project itself has high hopes for bringing in much needed revenue to the South Coast areas like Fall River and New Bedford. We have so much to offer on this side of the state that no one up north seems to be aware of. The area itself will grow exponentially once the project is complete.

To learn more about the actions of the South Coast Rail, visit www.southcoastrail.com

Next week I will be updating with more info on it after I have thoroughly researched it.

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A Positive Outlook

Apr 01 2014 • Posted by

Sometimes I get overwhelmed when I think about the impact everyone has on the environment. It seems like day to day living and existing leaves an irreparable impact on the planet humans are supposed to be living on indefinitely? When I consider everything that I’ve done that’s been detrimental to the environment (i.e. the amount of plastics that I’ve consumed and disposed of,  eating meat that contributes to the release of methane and other noxious gases into the atmosphere, driving and gas consumption), I get really sad. When I multiply this impact by, say, I don’t know… 7 billion? I get even sadder.

This uphill battle towards saving the world sometimes feels like it’s just too much. That in itself is an issue, and probably the reason a lot of folks simply refuse to take action towards changing the way they live. This pessimistic way of looking at things is taking over, acting like a virus. The hopelessness makes people feel like they are such a small speck on the face of the planet that their personal lifestyle choices couldn’t possibly change the ways things are going. Now, if you multiply that feeling of helplessness and despair by 7 billion, you have 7 billion people remaining stagnant, refusing to conserve energy and reduce pollution because they feel like the task at hand is impossible.

That is what needs to change. There needs to be an attitude change among people of the world. This mentality of “Gee, I’m just a drop in the bucket” or “Well, it kind of stinks, we’re killing the world as we know it, but there’s nothing little old me can do to stop this destruction” needs to be put to an end. Not only does it need to be put to an end but it needs to be replaced and converted into positivity!

What we have going on right now is a general consensus that there is nothing we can do to stop the inevitable. But if we change that to the idea that if everyone hops on board with sustainability initiatives we can turn things around, our impact on the environment will lighten up a bit. If we multiply the positivity and desire to make changes by 7 billion, we’ll be all set.

So with all of that said, what needs to happen next? I think one of the most important things is educating people on how simple it is to make positive lifestyle changes that not only save the environment, but save them money. People should be focused less on what will happen if they fail to make changes and focused more on the positive things that will happen in response to multiple people making sustainable and healthy choices. This is the age of media. There should be more education and media attention helping people learn about sustainable and healthy choices. And as an artist I feel very compelled to create things that will help push people in this direction. So, no more imagining apocalyptic scenes and crying about a future comparable to the one Pixar showed us in WallE. It’s time to be positive and grow.

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Michael Broadbent’s Efficient Dorm – Week 5

Apr 01 2014 • Posted by

(Long story short, I was on spring break this week and thus didn’t really have the opportunity for any ‘efficient dorm’ progress.  Thus, I decided to get a bit… creative with my blog post.  Enjoy.)

Spring break.  An entire week off from college.  No worries about homework, classes, and even the magic of dorm living for a full 9 days.

I lie in my bed at home, looking forward to the days of rest that will soon come.  All is quiet and peaceful, except for the quiet hum of the heating system.  For a moment, all is bliss.

“MICHAEL ,WAIT!  HOLD ON! DID YOU REMEMBER TO UNPLUG THE MICROWAVE BEFORE YOU LEFT?” my brain suddenly screeches, jolting me awake.  I pause for a moment in thought.  Did I remember to unplug my microwave?  I know I emptied my fridge, turned off my clock, and brought my laptop home with me.  But the microwave.  Surely I didn’t forget something so obvious?

My room was closed for break, and thus I have no choice but to resist the urge to go check.  But for all I know, my microwave could be sitting there in my dorm, leeching energy.  ’Do microwaves use that much electricity while idle?’ I wonder. ‘Surely they wouldn’t have to use that much, since they really only have to power the clock on the front, right?’   I quickly shake my head and shove the thought away.  No, it doesn’t matter how much energy it is really using.  It’s the principle of it!  I had gone through all that effort to make myself more energy efficient, and now I simply leave an appliance plugged in for over a week!  It’s unacceptable!

I get out of bed and begin pacing around my room.  There had to be a solution.  But what?  I quickly think of a couple plans.  One would be to break into the school, sneak into my dorm, and unplug the microwave.   That, however, would be both difficult and illegal.  Another, more rational, plan would be to call a friend who was able to keep their room over spring break and ask THEM to unplug it.

I reach for my phone, but stop just before dialing.  No, that wouldn’t work either.  They didn’t have my keys, and driving over to give it to them could potentially use more energy than I’d save.

It is at this point I realize that there is no way out.  I am simply a failure.  It is now the future, and I have failed.  The Apocalypse will not be averted, and it is all my fault.

Days pass.  I spend the rest of my spring break in agony.  Unable to think about anything other than the incredible amounts of energy waste which I was no doubt creating.  Any and all joy and relaxation is sapped from my being, my stay at home no longer being a paradise but a prison.

Finally, the ‘vacation’ comes to an end.  Not wasting any time, I gather my things and speed off back to my school, dashing up the stairs of my building faster than any would believe possible.  I ram my key into the lock and swing open the door to my room.  In one swift movement, I step inside and slide over to my microwave.

It is unplugged.

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Michael Broadbent’s Efficient Dorm – Week 4

Mar 24 2014 • Posted by

This week, we aren’t really going to talk about my sustainability goal.  I’m pretty sure all one of you reading this are already quite familiar with my struggles of stagnation, and nothing has really changed since last week.  Instead, we’re going to talk about CORN. KING CORN.

King Corn is a documentary following the decision of two guys who want to grow an acre of corn to see why so much corn is in our diet these days.  Not because we eat a lot of corn itself,  but because of corn syrup and other food additives made from corn.  As a result, we’re essentially “made” of corn, since most of the cells in our body are made from what we eat.  (It’s a little disingenuous to word it that way, since some of the atoms in our body came from the atoms in corn, and beyond a very basic chemical level no longer resembles corn in any way…)

The film showed the usage of corn in the livestock industry.  A lot of our beef comes from corn-fed cows and cows actually cannot survive for very long on a diet of just corn.  Over time, they get sicker and sicker until they can barely move and, eventually, succumb to death. However, since corn is cheap, cattle are fed nothing but corn for up to one year before slaughter.  This even makes the resulting beef more unhealthy.  I found it somewhat surprising that cows were able to last even a year on a purely corn diet.  Since corn is something they were never meant to eat, I would normally expect the negative impacts to appear much faster.

Corn syrup is interesting in a different way.  It’s bad for us, yeah, but not in the “slowly poisoning us” kind of way a lot of other food additives are.  It’s just really sugary and fatty.  I actually felt somewhat relieved at that, which says something about the state of food and nutrition in our country today.  I was actually happy that something was only really unhealthy in the normal sense, and not actively killing me as the days go by.

So, long story short, it turns out corn is evil now.  Who knew, right?  Even vegetables are being turned against us.  I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, considering what potatoes have done to our diet.  I wish there could be one industry where the machinations of an evil corporation weren’t actively ruining everything for everyone, but I suppose that’s a bit too much to ask for.

Sadly, “not eating corn” isn’t really feasible (unless I go on a strictly organic diet, which could be problematic in other ways), so the only real form of protest I have is writing negatively about it on the internet.  Better than nothing, I suppose.

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Portable Solar Panel

Mar 24 2014 • Posted by

I wanted to share this great solar product that I just purchased, Solar Restore. It is a small portable solar panel for charging USB powered devices. It can be attached to a backpack so that you can charge your cell phone or iPod as you walk. For me, this is a great solution for campers. One thing that annoys me when I’m camping is the sound and smell of a car engine running for fifteen to thirty minutes, so that a cell phone can be charged. This portable solar panel would greatly reduce both noise and air pollution for everyone trying to enjoy the great outdoors.

Overall, this is a perfect way to reduce the use of electricity needed to charge any electronic device with a USB port. I highly recommend this solar product. It is well worth the fifteen dollars!

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Collecting the Water You Don’t Use (continued)

Mar 24 2014 • Posted by

I have been great at collecting the cold water I don’t use for plants. But even though the process is easy, some members of my family still neglect to do it. Maybe they don’t find it attractive to use an old, ugly milk bottle to store the water for better use. From my observations, my grandmother and I are the only ones using this water conservation method. I’ve been doing this simple task regularly, but my real goal was to get my family to do so as well. This feels like a failure because I use my family as a test for what society is willing to put up with. I just have to re-evaluate and think of something that would interest them in storing water. Maybe I could buy decorative matching watering pots.

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King Korn: My Response

Mar 24 2014 • Posted by

King Korn is a documentary that anyone who eats things other than what comes directly from the security of their own backyard should watch. With that said, I’m pretty sure that covers just about anyone. It’s really a shame that people seem to have less and less control over their food choices. The industrialization of large-scale food harvesting and preparation have lead Americans, along with other citizens of developed countries, to grow the economy and boost production. This is great, but there comes a point when people need to question how much is too much? How much are people willing to sacrifice (their health and nutrition) in exchange for cost of production?

This film made it very apparent to me that people and corporations are willing to completely lose sight over the things that make them and their valued customers healthy, if they can achieve growth or save money along the way.  Saving money will allow customers to spend their money on other things to make their life “great.”  I wonder how people are able to enjoy these things in life if they are medically and mentally unhealthy after consuming cheap, highly processed, and nutrition-deficient food?

This is where my sustainability goal comes in to play. I want to find out what it means for my body physically as I begin to avoid foods that are not only deficient in nutrients, but come with a high carbon output. Pretty much anything processed means it takes more energy to produce it, ultimately resulting in higher carbon emissions. Everything, from the tractors that harvest genetically-modified corn, the factories that produce products like high fructose corn syrup, and the slaughterhouses that warehouse cattle, add to a packaged item’s carbon footprint. Pretty much anything you consume out of an individualized package has a story behind it of how it got to that point.

By avoiding consumption of these things, I’m not only creating a lot less waste but lessening the demand for processed foodstuffs. My body is benefiting and so is the environment. I just hope more people are able to hop on the bandwagon. It hasn’t exactly been easy to start eating healthier, but I’m noticing some changes, mainly changes with the amount of money being spent on junk food.  I don’t think my consumption of junk food is dramatic enough for my body to feel healthier, but I’m hoping that that is coming next.

I’ve been pretty bad about getting Frosty’s at my school’s Wendy’s every so often, but now whenever I eat beef or dairy products I imagine the plight of those cornfed cattle. I imagine the amount of disgusting, sawdust-like corn they eat, and imagine it going into my body. That’s enough to discourage me from eating it.  Yick. Thank you, Diana, for encouraging me to sit through that documentary! It was really difficult to stomach at times, but I feel that it will assist me in achieving my goals of a healthier environment and a healthier lifestyle. My body thanks you.

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Is That a Hamburger or a Corn?

Mar 24 2014 • Posted by

Upon recently watching the documentary, King Corn, I realized very quickly how much corn is in our everyday diet. This film pointed out how corn ends up as different by-products in foods, how inexpensive it is to grow it, and how much surplus is grown as well. One fact, however, disturbed me the most throughout the film. The cows that are bred to become meat to feed the U.S. are fed on a strict grain (corn) diet. It is inexpensive, make the cattle fatter even quicker, and therefore reduces the cost of beef.

What most people don’t realize is that cattle are not supposed to be on a grain diet eating that much corn for as long as they are. A cow’s stomach needs to be at a pH of 7 for it to be normal and healthy. When a cow is on a corn diet the acidity level skyrockets and causes acidosis in the stomach. Now that the cow is sick, it requires medication, which raises the likelihood of the meat to contain antibiotics. Grain-fed diets also increase the risks of E.Coli in the animal. So not only is the cow suffering from this diet but it is creating potential risks for its consumers.

That isn’t even the sad part about this whole situation. The fact that fast-food companies are the top users of corn or corn by-products as fillers or sweeteners for their food is the shocking part. They have corn in their hamburgers, they use corn oil for their french fries, there is even high fructose corn syrup in their breakfast sandwiches! The overuse of corn in  meat and other products is one of the leading factors in risks for diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart problems in the U.S.

Both Americans and the cattle we raise deserve better! We need better products, whether it be the corn or the meat. It’s a never-ending cycle of bad nutrition and blindsided individuals. So think twice before you bite down into your “100% beef” hamburger patty.

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South Carolina = A Whole New World

Mar 24 2014 • Posted by

During my recent visit to Hartsville, South Carolina, I experienced a whole new atmosphere. Not only were the people friendlier, their clean way of living was unique as well. I saw a lot more recycling in that small town than I have seen in mine back home.

There was a waste system set up in the school so that each dorm had one trash basket for regular trash and one for recyclable items. The cool thing was that if the trash bin was full and the recycle bin was empty the students would get a warning. My friend – who I was visiting – told it me it was the school’s way of keeping students on their toes to remind them to recycle.

To me, this is a great idea. Everyone keeps saying that college students and high school students are this country’s future, so why not start with us when it comes to saving this country from pollution?

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King Corn – It’s looming over us

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

Earlier this week, I saw a documentary on the corn industry in the American Midwest called King Corn. These two regular guys from Taunton, my hometwon, went off to find out more about how the corn industry works. What they found was extremely shocking. For just growing the corn, the government gives massive subsidies. You make more from the government than you do selling the corn itself. That was the first part that made me angry. The next part was the way the cows were handled and treated at the ranches. Their 80% diet of corn makes them extremely sick. Cows stomachs are not designed to digest that amount of starch, therefore giving them ulcers and open wounds that go straight into their stomachs.

Not only are the cows getting sick, they have literally no room to move around. That is by design to fatten them up as quickly as possible to get to the slaughterhouse faster. Not only does the corn make the cows sick, it is making us sick as well especially through diabetes. The amount of high fructose corn syrup that I found in my own pantry made me panic. I feel overwhelmed by it. The documentary did not leave a good taste in my mouth and I know, from now on, I will be actively avoiding high fructose corn syrup as much as possible. This documentary also strongly inspired me to keep to my “no more soda” decision. I’ll try to get as many people as I can to watch this because this is something that is not OK anymore. Not even the farmers who grow the corn want to eat it and people need to be aware of that.

Personally, however, I am comforted by the fact that the milk we get comes from Monroe Dairy in Rhode Island. If you haven’t tried their milk or other products, I highly recommend you do as soon as possible. Their cows sleep on WATERBEDS. These cows are less stressed and produce better products. If there is any hope,  it is from places like Monroe Dairy.

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