Archive for May 2013 | Monthly archive page

posted by | Comments Off on EcoHour With Lisa Friedman – ClimateWire

The following post was written by DC EcoWomen blogger Dawn Bickett

Over just a few years, the way people find and consume news has changed dramatically, and so have the environmental problems that the news covers. At the May Ecohour, seasoned journalist and Deputy Editor of ClimateWire Lisa Friedman detailed her experience in the world of environmental journalism, and shared her thoughts on making environmental news relatable.

Early in the evening, Lisa surprised the crowd at Teaism with the details of the unusual path she took to her position at a climate-focused policy publication. While she currently covers the business and politics of climate change for ClimateWire, she spent years on the prison and crime beat in California and Nevada. Even her first move to Washington, DC was to be the Washington bureau chief for the Oakland Tribune, not to cover environmental issues.

But in making the transition from reporting on crime and politics to writing stories about international climate negotiations, Lisa made the discovery that her new beat was not so distant from her previous ones. “Sometimes I don’t feel like I am writing about climate change at all,” Lisa explained, pointing out that climate news lays at the intersection of many different policy areas, from immigration law to trade.

The trouble with environmental beats, she noted, was not that they weren’t relevant, but rather that they had always had a difficult time being valued.

What remains most meaningful for Lisa in her reporting, and what she feels turns climate change into a story people connect with, is the ability to go to places and talk to people about their problems. Lisa has interviewed a community downhill from a melting glacier in Nepal and met families trying to pick up their lives after floods in Bangladesh. By being able to report on conditions in the communities most vulnerable to the impacts climate change, Lisa finds she is able to make a compelling story without a PowerPoint presentation or science lecture.

After Lisa finished her talk, the audience was full of questions about her travels how to find and tell a good story accurately and powerfully. Lisa left us with two fundamental lessons from her 14 years as a journalist:

1. If you are respectful, people are responsive.

2. People want to tell their stories. Don’t be afraid, just ask!

To read some of Lisa Friedman’s work on climate change, check out her articles in The New York Times and Scientific American and follow her on Twitter at @LFFriedman.

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You can be a leader. You already are a leader.

These words of wisdom were heard from Keynote Speaker Dr. Betty Spence at the  First Annual DC EcoWomen Conference: “I’m Here, What’s Next? Building Your Sustainable Career.” Betty spoke to a roomful of women, full of infectious anticipation, about why women need equality in the workplace, and how they might get it.

Dr. Spence said that in her experience, women only want to bring other women up. We all face certain barriers, but we have a network of support to overcome them. This network is of utmost importance, especially in a city like Washington D.C.  The network can include mentors, sponsors, and even just acquaintances from networking happy hours.

Betty’s words coordinated well with the final event of the day:  a networking workshop with Suzy Mink, Director of Principal Gifts for the Mid-Atlantic region of The Nature Conservancy. Suzy touched on several things discussed in the Networking for Introverts post on our blog, and gave even more helpful tools and resources to help women excel at networking.

We were all there to support each other.  But one of the lessons learned that day was that women should not be afraid of the other side of that equation, to ask for favors – even from someone you’ve only just met. In order to create change and parity for women in the workplace, we need a network of support. This network has to start somewhere – someone has to ask first.

If you weren’t able to attend the conference, we’d like to provide you with some support!

Here are Dr. Spence’s 10 Strategies for Success:

  1. Perform beyond expectations – get things done before they are due, do more than what is asked
  2. Build expertise & credibility – make sure you’re getting experience that builds your skills
  3. Take the initiative – if there is an opportunity, don’t hesitate to jump for it
  4. Take risks, step outside of your comfort zone
  5. Diversify your experience. Learn the different parts of your field.
  6. Meet a Mentor. Some say mentors are key to success. In any case, they can only help.
  7. Get known. Talk about what you do, make your successes known.
  8. Find a Sponsor
  9. Network! Meeting people is the only way to break into some careers in D.C.
  10. Take responsibility for your career, own your strengths
Suzy Mink also left us with several insights on networking:
  1. Practice good etiquette
  2. Be willing to engage, to be the one extending a helping hand
  3. Persevere, be resilient in creating contacts
  4. Believe in yourself, be confident
  5. Talk about your aspirations – people like to hear what gets you excited!
  6. Listen. Ask questions that can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes or no.’
  7. Use the virtual world, whatever means you have, to keep in touch
  8. Anyone you meet can be helpful if you make the connection

 

At the end of the day, the EcoWomen were left with feelings of connection, excitement, and empowerment. That excitement was taken to McGinty’s for the networking happy hour, to practice the newly learned skills and discuss the workshops.

Stay tuned for more updates on the workshops themselves! And don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and make a new connection. You never know who could be the person to lead you to your dream job.

posted by | on , | Comments Off on Why You Should Care about This Thing Called ‘Professional Development’

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Professional Development’ at work, at EcoWomen events, and just about everywhere you can think of.  To someone just starting out in a new job, it might not seem like a big deal.  Why be concerned with your professional development when you’ve finally secured yourself a job? If you’ve been in your job for awhile, why put in the effort to go above and beyond what’s required for your current job?

There’s a lot of good reasons why you should care, and why finding professional development opportunities can be helpful. Here are 5 reasons to work on professional growth :

  1.  You learn new skills. Learning new skills doesn’t just keep you up to date on the latest developments in your field, but it also can give you an edge if you decide to change positions.  Maybe that new management position is about to open up, and you just happened to have just taken a management course recently.  Edge acquired. Plus, learning new things can be fun, and can open up new possibilities for you.  Maybe that new skill or class opens you up to a new career path.
  2. Having a background in a lot of different areas makes you flexible.  Having transferable skills could mean being able to smoothly transition to a new position at your company if the company restructures, or it means being able to cast a wider net if looking for a new job.
  3. It can help you meet new people. Professional development doesn’t have to mean sitting in a training for 8 hours.  It can be volunteering with DC Ecowomen at Casey Trees, or shadowing a colleague.
  4. It’s an excuse to read all those books you’ve been meaning to read. Professional development can be reading new books on subjets related to your job.  Need some ideas on great books to try? Check out our Book Club resources.
  5. Practicing networking can help you feel more comfortable speaking up at work.  If  you’re an introvert like me, the worst thing in the world is talking to people.  But practicing talking to strangers at happy hours can help you feel more confident about your work and the things you’d like to do. Practice so you don’t feel afraid to speak up!

The most important thing to think about when thinking about professional development is to think about where you want to be. Then you can decide what would help you to get there, and what kinds of professional development you might want to look into.

What kinds of professional development are you looking for?

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The following is a cross-post from Penny Catterall’s blog Order Your Life. Penny presented the “Organizing Your Life” workshop at the DC EcoWomen Conference on May 18th, 2013.

I recently had the pleasure of giving a presentation on the topic of Eco-Friendly Office Organizing at the DC Ecowomen’s first all day conference in Silver Spring, MD.  It was so popular that I thought it would make a great topic for a blog post, as it is something that comes up more and more often in our society today.

Whether organizing your work or home office, the three main areas that most affect the environment are paper, plastic and electronics.  In the first part of this two-part post, I will be focusing on paper, the area that has the biggest impact both environmentally and organizationally.

First, a few startling statistics about paper:

  • According to the EPA, paper waste accounts for up to 40% of total waste produced in the United States each year, which adds up to 71.6 million tons of paper waste per year in the United States alone.
  • The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among the United States manufacturing industries.
  • Worldwide consumption of paper has risen by 400% in the past 40 years leading to increase in deforestation, with 35% of harvested trees being used for paper manufacture.

Not only does paper have a hugely negative impact on our environment, but it also contributes the most to office disorganization.  We are all flooded with too much junk mail –  too many memos and printed emails, coupons, flyers – paper in all its forms.  When paper piles up, it is hard to see what’s important and focus on what really needs to be done.

The first and most important step in office organizing is to take a hard look at your paper and decide what really needs to be there and what doesn’t, and start reducing the influx of paper into your workspace. This will not only clear your mind and desktop, but will help the earth at the same time.

First, start by unsubscribing from catalogs, magazines, and mailing lists you don’t need or read that add unnecessarily to clutter. You can always go online to order things, and you can read your favorite magazines on line or on your tablet as well on apps like Flipboard.

There are some great free apps out there to help you unsubscribe from junk mail and catalogs – my favorite is PaperKarma, which works on both Apple and Android based products.  According to PaperKarma, each US household receives about 850 pieces of unwanted junk mail per year.  This adds up to more than 100 billion pieces of mail per year for the US, about 44% of which goes into landfills without even being opened!

The free PaperKarma app enables you to simply snap a picture of your unwanted mail, press “Send”, and get unsubscribed.  It works best for catalogs, magazines, credit card offers and yellow/white pages.  They do not sell or rent your information to anyone, and all webserver activity is done via SSL (strong encryption).

To opt out of all those pre-screened credit card and insurance offers that seem to constantly come in the mail, you can go to optoutprescreen.com and while you’re at it, get yourself on the Do Not Call list for those pesky telemarketers who always seem to call during dinner.

Next, you need to think hard about what paper you yourself physically bring into your home or office.  Do you really need that flyer from Whole Foods, or can you take a picture of it on your smart phone to refer to later or look it up online?  Do you need to clip paper coupons, or is there a coupon app you can use instead?  CVS, Staples and most other major retailers all make their coupons available on apps these days. You can even snap photos of business cards with apps such asWorldCard Mobile which will then transfer the information directly into your address book. The less paper you bring in, the less visual and mental clutter you have.

Controlling paper outflow is also vitally important in organizing in the office.  You don’t want to create more paper to just put in piles or to have to file.  Think twice before printing, and try not to print temporary pieces of information like emails.  If it is an email you need to refer to later, flag it and look it up in your smartphone, or create email folders by topic and archive them there for future reference.

Instead of printing documents, save them as PDFs on an electronic folder on your hard drive.  You’ll end up saving on both paper and printer ink, which as we all know can really add up cost wise.

Another way to go paperless is to use cloud-based systems like Evernote to digitally capture all the bits of random information that you want to remember instead of writing it down on sticky notes or memo pads. You can scan, take photos or webclip everything from recipes, to travel plans, to useful household reference information, and save it directly into your Evernote account.

You can think of Evernote as an online bulletin board with virtually unlimited capacity and perfect organization capabilities. Evernote makes it so easy, that even if you don’t use their system of notebooks or tags, you can still find any note you entered by doing a search for any word that might be in that note.

Even with all the tips above, our use of paper is not going to disappear any time soon. So when you do use paper, you can reduce your impact on the environment by purchasing recycled paper. Paper made with 100% recycled content uses 44% less energy, 38% less greenhouse gas emissions, 50% less waste water, and of course, 100% less wood!

And for when you are done with your paper, make sure you have a recycling bin in your office – preferably right under your desk. It doesn’t have to be large or bulky, just something to separate paper from trash. And a cross cut shredder is key as well to shred anything with personal information on it. Shredded material can be recycled as well.

Penny Catterall offers professional organizing services for clients in the Washington DC Metro area.  If you missed her workshop on Saturday – “Organizing your Life” – check out her page on facebook!

posted by | on , , , , , , | Comments Off on Making Strides: A DC EcoWomen Bicycle Journey

This post was written by DC EcoWomen Board Member Lina Khan, who overcame her fear of biking in roads in honor of National Bike to Work Day

Little By Little


The first time I biked on roads was in my last summer of college in Kirksville, Missouri.

Most students went home for the summer, including my sister. She let me borrow her bike. Since it was a college town in summer, there weren’t many cars on the road, so biking to my campus job or to my friends’ apartment was pretty fun. I could catch a breeze on a hot day – and cut my traveling time in half. After I scraped my bare toes on a brick wall, I just made sure to wear shoes.

But when the summer ended, so did biking. Earlier that year, I bought a bike of my own for $2 at a bike auction – but it was heavy and not easy to carry over stairs or curbs. I decided not to take it with me when I moved away in the fall.

It took me another 3 years before I bought another bike. By then I was living and working in Washington, DC and found Craigslist fairly useful. I finally found a bike with a 15” frame (just like my old one). And this bike was a hybrid – a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike – so it was lighter. I metro’d to Alexandria and paid $150 for it, even after bargaining.

I liked this bike because the pink and blue colors reminded me of a wild berry poptart.

After I brought it home (also on the metro), I promptly put it away in the shed. The first time I went for a real ride on it was a few weeks later. I felt more comfortable with the idea of using it on the streets of DC.

But then my boyfriend suggested we bike to an Indian restaurant for an anniversary dinner (I know, how totally young and creative) in Adams Morgan, about a 10-minute bike ride from home.

We biked through crowded streets and crossed busy intersections, but the autumn air felt nice, and I liked how bright my borrowed bike lights were. But then we rounded a tight winding section of road between parked and moving cars, and I was terrified of running into one or getting grazed.

My boyfriend (I’ll call him Calvin) sped up, and I couldn’t catch up at the speed I had settled on. I got frustrated and pulled over, he doubled back. I said I hated this, we got back on and continued until we finally made it to the restaurant.

For most of it I was thinking how much I’d rather metro or take a bus home—it meant less danger or vigilance. In the end, we walked home with our bikes. Calvin noted, after some self-reflection, that it took him months to work up to biking on busy roads with cars. Also it was nighttime. Also I’m a scared-y cat. I didn’t bike again for a long time.

Fast-forwarding another 2 ½ years to this week, my now husband Calvin offered to ride with me to work so I could write this blog. By I now have my own bike lights and have biked in my new neighborhood to get to the post office before it closed on a Saturday (so five minutes before lunch time because the post office didn’t really want to be open). By this time, I’ve also biked to another restaurant (Thai) and various other places taking trails and side roads, so theoretically I’m more familiar with the whole thing. But I still didn’t know how to use the gears—I kept forgetting. Also I still don’t like riding it.

Anyway, Tuesday morning my tires needed to be pumped (they weren’t as firm as overstuffed couch cushions) and I couldn’t use my bike pump because an old roommate’s boyfriend had run over it with his car. Luckily Calvin had one. So if you’re keeping a tally for bike parts, that’s bike lights, bike pump, and should also include sturdy bike lock, and if it’s a relatively nice bike, tire screws that can only be removed by a special wrench.** We biked from Hyattsville into DC, taking less busy roads that Calvin mapped ahead of time. He took my bike around for a bit and concluded that the short gear on right slowed the bike down, while the longer gear eased it up, and that it was the opposite on the left. When I was on it I tried it out, and started to say he was wrong until I realized I was using the left side.

After a few minutes of riding uphill, my legs got tired and I noticed a sign for Brookland metro station. I was also running late for work. Good thing I’d had breakfast and a full night’s sleep, otherwise I would have felt hopeless. But I still wanted to bike to Brookland instead.

We did.

Calvin noted that I needed to raise my seat up higher, so that my pedaling would cover more ground and I wouldn’t need to work my legs so much. I like being able to put my feet on the ground for emergency stopping, so this will take getting used to.

Since, to be honest, I’m happiest metroing into work, I will give it another try on a weekend, when trains and buses run less frequently. But I still remember how to use my gearshifts, and I breezed by quite a few cars on Tuesday without almost no fear (maybe just a little). So I’d say little by little I’ve made strides. Although it has taken me 5 years to get to where I am, I promise I won’t quit.

**I’m not sure my bike warranted one, but I was living in Takoma at that time and there were 2 bike shops on the same street that promised nice people and interesting equipment.

Did you participate in Bike to Work Month or Day? Tell us your story!

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on Celebrate National Bike Month – The Case for Biking to Work

The following is a guest post by DC EcoWomen Board Member Alison Alford

May is the perfect month to ride a bike – it’s National Bike Month, and in Washington DC, Bike to Work Day is on Friday, May 17. The National Bike Challenge kicked off on May 1, with the goal of uniting 50,000 people to bike 10 million miles throughout America. Regardless of the reason, swapping out a trip in a car for a ride on a bike is always a great choice!

Why should we commute by bicycle? According to the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey“25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet more than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle.”

The average vehicle emits nearly a pound of carbon dioxide (CO2) per every mile driven, and studies show that shorter car trips release more emissions than longer trips. By commuting to work by bicycle, or using a bike to complete errands, major sources of pollutants are kept out of the air.

Cycling also incorporates exercise in an otherwise sedentary commute, and provides the health benefits of adding a low-impact form of exercise into a daily routine.

More than half of 1 percent of American workers commute by bicycle. That may seem like a small number, but it is growing fast and the potential is huge. A survey completed by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in 2000 found that 41.3 million Americans use a bicycle for transportation, and every year more commuters are opting out of driving to work and opting into cycling. The United States’ 70 largest cities have seen the largest percentage of growth in bikers, with a 63 percent growth in new bike commuters from 2000 to 2010.

Not only does commuting by bicycle save money by not having to rely on gas-powered vehicles, it is also a zero emission form of transportation that is easily accessible to people of all fitness and socio-economic levels. Bicycles cost far less than a car or truck, and other than a good helmet and periodic maintenance, bikes do not incur additional expenses after the initial purchase price.

Many communities are becoming more bike friendly. For example, Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare program has over 1,800 bicycles available at 200 various stations around the D.C. metropolitan area. Many city buses and subway systems allow cyclists to bring their bike on-board, and organizations have the option to apply for bike commuting benefits for their employees. Associations and non-profits like the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and the League of American Bicyclists offer great on-bike courses to help cyclists become more confident while riding.

Regardless of your reason to bike, be sure to try it out this Friday, May 17 and join your fellow cyclists by celebrating Bike to Work Day!  It’s a fun way to get outside and try a new spin on your commute!

posted by | on , , , , , , | Comments Off on DC EcoWomen Success Story: Jamie Carson

This post was written by DC EcoWomen blogger Dawn Bickett

Welcome to the second installment of DC EcoWomen Success Stories! This month’s success story spotlights Jamie Carson — Founder & Director of C.C. Global, a small business that specializes in environment, resilience & sustainability communications. C.C. Global has most recently launched Envirorun — a running and networking opportunity for the environmental community in Washington, D.C., and other city chapters will be launching soon.

What role has DC Ecowomen played in your career path?

Having a robust network is step one in launching a business, and the DC EcoWomen group empowered my focus. There have been several instances where I have been looking for answers, a connection, a friend in the sector – DC EcoWomen has been there. It is a constant mobilizer for the community through its list-serve, events and workshops.

In one instance, I was planning a press conference before a major event, and I needed to find out – quickly – who was available to attend from the Washington, D.C. area. I sent out somewhat of a environmental journalist S.O.S. and was overwhelmed with the feedback. I thought I may not get a response, and it was the complete opposite. EcoWomen has been an empowering group in so many ways, and I am thankful for this confident group of women helping to back each other, especially when we most need it. Some of these women that reached out that day have remained my closest confidants.

What were the steps you took to get to where you are?

Being a Nebraska native, I grew up surrounded by an environmental-based economy whether it be agricultural practices, conservation research or energy/development projects. In college, I studied environmental journalism, and was most interested in energy issues and the challenges that are associated with resource scarcity.

I received good advice from someone when I got out of school: You’re not going to get your dream job right way. You’ve got to start somewhere and always shift your path back to your passions. When I graduated I first worked at a small local newspaper, but I ended up finding my next job with a company that did journalism and was focused in the private sector. I would cover stories about matters that were important to industrial work. Later, I moved up to a management role, which introduced new skills to learn.

Anywhere I had an opportunity, I would filter my environmental background into what I was working on, whether talking about sustainability on the railroad or how moving freight by train can be more fuel efficient than by truck. And all the while I was building important skills in communications. It’s important to take every opportunity that you’re given and think of it in an optimistic way. Down the road, you can always center your path where you really want to be.

I went from there to Washington, D.C., and started working in the nonprofit world. I worked for the Global Adaptation Institute as director of communications for three years before launching my own small business.

Were there any major hurdles that you faced to get where you wanted to be?

We will continuously experience hurdles, but the most important thing is staying focused on the things that make you happy in your career, and make sure that even if your path goes off in a different direction for a while that you come back.

I really wanted to work right away in the environmental field, but when I think about how my career has progressed from a 1,000-foot-view, I’ve realized that I could not be doing what I am now if I hadn’t had those opportunities. Running my own business is probably one of the most challenging and exciting things that I’ve done to date, and it was those past experiences coupled with the support of my family and my network that have made all the difference.

It’s not just about what you’ve done, but all the people who helped you along the way. It’s important to remember that all of the relationships you create, every job you’ve had, come full circle.

Do you have any advice for women just beginning their work in an environmental field?

It’s all about your knowledge base, vision and projection. Always continue to learn, read and follow the news. If you believe in yourself, as well as your work, expertise and colleagues, you will evoke a confidence that makes boundaries and differences insignificant.

Can you tell us more about Envirorun?

Envirorun is a running and networking opportunity for the environmental community – bringing together all players in the space from academia and science, multilateral, media, NGOs, public and private sector and foundations. D.C. is rich in environmental discussion, and is even more so since the State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama mentioned climate change as a top U.S. priority. The time is ripe to do something about it, and getting people together and talking is a big step.

Envirorun

Jamie Carson can be reached via email at j.carson@ccglobal.US. Visit C.C. Global online at www.ccglobal.US, @ccglobalUS (Twitter) and C.C. Global (Facebook). Anyone interested in receiving information about Envirorun events, please subscribe at envirorun.com/subscribe and for more information visit envirorun.com/dc, @envirorun (Twitter) and Envirorun (Facebook). 

posted by | on , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Farm at Walker Jones

The following is a guest post by Courtney Hall Gagnon

Walker Jones Educational Campus

On April 27th, volunteers from DC Ecowomen enjoyed a sunny Saturday morning of volunteering at The Farm at Walker Jones. Walker Jones, an educational campus located at the corner of New Jersey and K Streets, was transformed in 2010 into an oasis of urban agriculture.

Between the green roof on the school and the farm on the ground, the farm produces over 3,000 pounds of food annually that for local neighborhood residents, students, and DC Central Kitchen. Eight beehives also occupy the farm and the green roof on the educational centers. DC HoneyBees, a local nonprofit, set up and maintains the hives.

Nineteen DC Ecowomen shared the farm space with several other volunteers during a Servathon. The main task of the day was weeding the herb and tea garden and open space that will eventually become home for more food grown at the farm. Working together in the perfect spring weather of DC provided plenty of opportunities for networking, and good conversation to pass the time.

Tea Tree Bud

The tea garden might have been the most surprising section of the farm. Tea trees are an unusual sight, even on an urban farm. Their leaves will be ready for harvest next year by students and they will make their own varieties of green and black tea using ingredients grown only on the farm.

During lunch, volunteers had a mini book club discussing six articles that focused on eating and growing local food versus the more typical supermarket diet. This led to an interesting and educational discussion about alternatives for growing food in the often tight living quarters of the city.

David Hilmy, the Farm Lead Teacher, gave volunteers plenty of clear instruction and spent time during lunch explaining the many functions of the agricultural activity at Walker Jones Educational Campus. He’s the physical education teacher at Walker Jones, but also a trained botanist, and has taken on the agriculture activities at his school as part of his curriculum. His enthusiasm for his students, teaching, and the farm was evident, and it is clear how much the farm could benefit from his management.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Farm at Walker Jones, contact him at david.hilmy@dc.gov.

Volunteers gathered for a lunchtime Q&A