Michelle's Earth Foundation
Newsletter - Summer 2016
Michelle's Earth Foundation, 801 S. 25th St., Arlington, VA 22202
Donations accepted via Paypal or by mail.
Dear Friend of MEF,

This summer has been an excessively hot one with extreme flooding and wild fires. Michelle's Memorial Fund for Environmental Studies is now helping to support students at the University of Vermont who are working and will work in the future on making our lives more sustainable.  We applaud them and their decision to help improve our communities. In this issue are two of their senior papers.
Produce at the Westover Farmers Market
Food Justice
by Sophia Hoffacker

Sophia Hoffacker
Sophia Hoffacker
In the fall of 2014, I took an Environmental Studies course with Professor Brian Tokar entitled "Land and Food Justice Movements". My first exposure to Migrant Justice was during this course, when representatives from Migrant Justice visited our class to tell us the story of their struggle for human rights in Vermont and how it fits within the frames of food justice that we were studying. I was captivated and immediately wanted to get involved. A few months later, as my final project for the course, I organized an event in which the Beehive Collective came to campus to present their graphic narrative
Mesoamerica Resiste . I invited members of Migrant Justice to the event to speak about their campaign and how modern day farmworker struggles in Vermont are linked to centuries of oppression in Latin America. We also collected donations for Migrant Justice at the event, which was attended by over 60 people--on the last day of classes before Thanksgiving break, I might add.

The night of the Mesoamerica Resiste event was the beginning of my journey to Spanish fluency. I resolved to do everything I could to learn Spanish while I still had the resources of a university available to me, in order to become an effective ally to the migrant farmworker community in Vermont as well as the myriad Latino communities in the United States. I rearranged my schedule for the next semester in order to enroll in Intermediate Spanish and Latin American Politics, and the following fall I studied abroad in Argentina with the School for International Training's Social Movements and Human Rights program. During my semester abroad, I lived with a host family, all of my classes were in Spanish, and I completed a four-credit independent study project with an environmental justice community organization in Patagonia, conducted entirely in Spanish. It was an immensely challenging and rewarding experience.. My Spanish improved extraordinarily over the course of the semester. Exactly one year after the Mesoamerica Resiste event, I had achieved my goal of becoming fluent in Spanish. I feel as if I have come full circle, and that completing a capstone internship with Migrant Justice is the most natural thing that I could do to finish my undergraduate career at UVM.

My self-designed Environmental Studies concentration is Environmental Justice, Policy, and Social Movements.I believe that an internship with Migrant Justice--one of the only community organizations in Burlington explicitly working towards racial, economic, and food justice--is a natural continuation of my academic studies, honing my abilities as an organizer, and my Spanish language skills. One thing I have learned through my courses in the Environmental Studies department as well as during my study abroad experience is that experiential learning is an incredibly valuable academic tool. Through my internship with Migrant Justice, I learned about food justice struggles in Vermont on a personal level, maintained and improved my Spanish language and translation skills, developed an anti-racist and anti-oppression praxis of allyship, practice logistical skills such as event organizing and support, effectively communicated to other community members about the importance of human rights in environmental movements. During my capstone internship, I was supervised by Marita Canedo, Migrant Justice's Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator. I spent many hours in the Burlington office, working on typical volunteer projects, and was able to attend multiple farmworker assemblies, site visits, and help prepare presentations. My main project, along with my Environmental Studies comrades Annalena Barrett and Ali Houghton,  was developing and organizing UVM Juntos, a campus farmworker solidarity organization that we hope to leave as our legacy in the university. . It was through Juntos that we were able to make the internship our own, work creatively, and work in a team to accomplish our goal. My internship experience was exponentially more meaningful due to our collaborative creation of Juntos and working with students. 
Factoid #1

Question: Where and when did the newest nuclear reactor come on-line?

Answer: On 5/23/16 the Watts Bar unit 2 reactor in the TVA, near Spring City, Tennessee came on-line. It will generate enough electricity to power 650,000 homes.
(Source: Washington Post 6/18/16 Chris Mooney)
Tire Garden at Church of the Covenant
caption 2
Tire garden producing tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and zucchinis
Anna Kashmanian is H-B's Environmental Award Winner

The Michelle's Earth Foundation award is given in memory of Michelle, an H-B Woodlawn alum, to a student who shares her passion for conservation and the environment. This year's winner is Anna Kashmanian who has volunteered her time at the Smithsonian educating others about the importance of natural history. Anna has achieved a very high average in AP Environmental Science and discovered potential benefits of the invasive Asiatic clam.

As a photographer, her lens is always seeking the beauty of this planet. Congratulations Anna, and good luck as you start your freshman year at William and Mary! 

Environmental Science Teacher Meghan French & Anna Kashmanian
Anna Kashmanian, Diane Gardner Quinn

Fracking Investigation

Dusty Horwitt, PFPI
The Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) just released a report based on a two-year investigation of EPA's little-known review and regulation of drilling and fracking chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act.We found that federal law enabled chemical makers to win approval of fracking and drilling chemicals by EPA with virtually no health testing and sweeping confidentiality claims that deny citizens even the most basic information on the chemicals' identity.  We also found that in its review these chemicals, EPA generally assumes that the substances never leak, spill, migrate underground or become airborne, contradicting a growing body of evidence that such accidental releases are common. Read the full report.

Here's a list of the chemicals used.
Factoid #2

Question: What month was the hottest month globally since instrumental records began 136 years ago?

Answer: July 2016
(Source: Gavin Schmidt, NASA )
A green nudge, or a green shove?
Unintended consequences when communicating Vermont's Universal Composting Law

Charlie Martin
Charlie Martin photo
Charlie Martin
Environmental Program
University of Vermont

Brendan Fisher
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
University of Vermont

Background - This study aims to investigate the effects of information framing and the elicitation of a positive social identity on attitudes around composting and a Universal Composting Law (Act 148) in the state of Vermont.  

Methods - 4,000 residents of Burlington, VT were sent one of four information sheets on Vermont's Universal Composting Law, which is being phased in through 2020. One treatment used neutral language ( Neutral ), the second included phrases emphasizing the consequences for failing to comply with the law (negative frame - Negative ), the third included phrases eliciting a social identity of Vermonters as leaders of positive environmental change ( VT ), and the fourth included phrases emphasizing monetary and environmental benefits of the law (positive frame - VT-positive ) while also eliciting the Vermonter identity. Participants then completed and returned a survey measuring attitudes of composting and Vermont's composting law.

Results - Against our hypothesis , participants in the VT-positive group reported significantly more negative views of Act 148 and composting in general when compared to the neutral and VT groups. Also against our hypothesis, non-composters in the VT and VT-positive groups reported more negative attitudes of the practice of composting, while Negative treatment resulted in positive attitudes. Neutral and VT messaging resulted in participants reporting a desire for the behavioral push of a composting law, while VT-positive and Negative messaging did not. In general, participants who already compost their food scraps reported not wanting this behavioral push, while individuals who do not currently compost did. The VT-positive frame was the only treatment that influenced participants to state that they would never compost, despite the composting law.

Conclusions - This study found that emphasizing monetary benefits of a composting law, while simultaneously attempting to elicit a positive social identity, resulted in negative views of the law and the practice of composting. It also shed light on a desire for regulation that encourages desired behavior that is currently inconvenient to demonstrate. Although some of these findings may be limited Vermonters, they indicate the importance of carefully customizing messaging techniques to targeted citizens when communicating policy.

Key words: Information framing, economic theory of identity, composting, environmental policy, money, public attitudes 
It is with mixed emotions that we realize it has been 10 years since Michelle left us. Some friends are thinking of having a commemorative event for all those who love and miss Michelle. As plans develop, they will be shared via this newsletter.