Message from the Director

We are in the in betweens: the time between the end of the academic year and the new year that begins in August. Time for reflection, refreshing minds and bodies, and time for continuing the connections that we fostered through our shared effort to build a more sustainable future.
At our 10th Annual Earth Day Reception in April, we heard from many voices who have helped to grow and develop the Center. Students, alumni, faculty, award winners, and current student workers all spoke of the connections they made with other people in the context of sustainability that had helped them grow, develop, and succeed.
When I asked them all to speak, this was not what I expected. I thought they would talk about the academic material that helped them understand challenges and apply solutions. I thought they would share how they had found new avenues for professional growth through research or recognition. I thought they would talk about the projects they were doing and the impacts they were making. I thought these things because this is what I had heard from them thus far: what they could do, understand, apply, and alter because of their training and grounding in a systems approach to addressing some of our most challenging issues. Their accomplishments had inspired me, and so I asked them to share their stories to celebrate a decade of sustainability in action at IU South Bend.
The stories they told were overwhelmingly about finding their tribe. They were about not feeling alone or disconnected from what they felt was important and necessary to do, but were about growing internal and external networks of support. Their short stories were passionate and joyful, and brought tears to my eyes.
Image from https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow-hierachy-of-needs-min.jpg
Realizing that the academic work is not the most important thing that we do affirmed lessons from history and psychology:The importance of social belonging, developing self-esteem through the positive affirmations of friends and family; the self-actualization of people discovering the most that they can be; and, the ability give oneself to a higher outside goal of growing a sustainable future.
What I learned from our guest speakers is that we are doing something right, at a most basic level. Offering the tools, skills, and support to transcend what can be a lonely drudgery drag through life, we are providing a path towards health, wellness, and sustainability.
We need connections to build community and to grow peace. It begins by listening and supporting and sharing. As local peace builder Kathe Streeter recently wrote in the South Bend Tribune as she advocated for listening, “Find the stories. Hear them. Let some go like the seeds of a dandelion —spreading joy or releasing sorrow without harm. Let us be shelter to each other. Now, in real time. Start today.”
As I look back on the year, and ahead to the rejuvenating powers of a university summer, I could tell tales of projects started, completed, dropped, and revitalized (see our Annual Report for this info). As I look forward to the new year, I could focus on outlining projects to accomplish. Indeed, I am doing those things. However, my priority has shifted to consider how to share and hear stories so that we can continue to support and grow our beloved community so that we may live together in healthy, happiness, equity, and sustainability.
“Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.”
― Bell Hooks, Killing Rage: Ending Racism

Message from the Director

The Power of One. All it takes is one person to care enough to share, to learn, to engage, and to involve others. One voice can be lifted by the power of collaborative concern. One action can be magnified by a community fueled on compassion and determination that a better world is possible.

Lately, we have seen a lot of collective response taking place after the record breaking floods in our area and in response to the seemingly never ending series of gun violence in our schools. One person raising an idea, a question, a solution – a way to respond that will ease the shock and pain – can bring us together. There are so many ways to join our  bodies, minds, and spirits towards a new day: walking out to show up; writing letters; sharing stories; or, working together to clean up after the literal or figurative waters subside.

At the Center, we have been voicing our shared concern about the lack of awareness, about innovative and engaging solutions, creatively expressing the challenges we share as a community, and supporting one another in facing our individual obstacles. We are looking forward to spring…

We are looking forward to new growth as we come out of this winter of discontent. We will be educating on recycling, growing food for the campus Unity Garden, getting out and enjoying the natural world, creating a buzz on campus, and working to promote the possibilities that climate change, weather weirding, and apathy present.

We are wrapping up another amazing set of speakers in our Sustainability and Innovation Lecture Series, our classes are hard at work on community projects designed to address tough sustainability challenges through creative design, and we are enjoying a few films with community partners as a fun way to learn and connect.

Coming up April 26 is our 10th – yes, 10th – Earth Day Reception and Award Ceremony. We hope that all of you who have been part of our lecture series by presenting or attending, attended a sustainability workshop or taken classes in the program, supported us with time or money, served on our Advisory Board, taught classes, earned sustainability degrees, or come to a sustainability event on campus will join us. So much has shifted for the better over the last 10 years thanks to our collective efforts to share, to learn, to engage, and to involve others. We are excited to reflect and celebrate and prepare for another impactful decade by working with you and for a more sustainable future.

The Power of One.

 

 

 

 

 

All it takes is one person to care enough to share, to learn, to engage, and to involve others. One voice can be lifted by the power of collaborative concern. One action can be magnified by a community fueled on compassion and determination that a better world is possible.

Lately, we have seen a lot of collective response taking place after the record breaking floods in our area and in response to the seemingly never ending series of gun violence in our schools.

One person raising an idea, a question, a solution – a way to respond that will ease the shock and pain – can bring us together. There are so many ways to join our  bodies, minds, and spirits towards a new day: walking out to show up; writing letters; sharing stories; or, working together to clean up after the literal or figurative waters subside.

At the Center, we have been voicing our shared concern about the lack of awareness, about innovative and engaging solutions, creatively expressing the challenges we share as a community, and supporting one another in facing our individual obstacles. We are looking forward to spring…

 

We are looking forward to new growth as we come out of this winter of discontent. We will be educating on recycling, growing food for the campus Unity Garden, getting out and enjoying the natural world, creating a buzz on campus, and working to promote the possibilities that climate change, weather weirding, and apathy present.

We are wrapping up another amazing set of speakers in our Sustainability and Innovation Lecture Series, our classes are hard at work on community projects designed to address tough sustainability challenges through creative design, and we are enjoying a few films with community partners as a fun way to learn and connect.

Coming up April 26 is our 10th – yes, 10th – Earth Day Reception and Award Ceremony. We hope that all of you who have been part of our lecture series by presenting or attending, attended a sustainability workshop or taken classes in the program, supported us with time or money, served on our Advisory Board, taught classes, earned sustainability degrees, or come to a sustainability event on campus will join us. So much has shifted for the better over the last 10 years thanks to our collective efforts to share, to learn, to engage, and to involve others. We are excited to reflect and celebrate and prepare for another impactful decade by working with you and for a more sustainable future.

Message from the Director

Hurricanes, fires, and mudslides: that is a lot of mess to wrap our heads around, let alone live through one or more of them. From a sustainability perspective, it has been additionally disturbing to see that the media is not making connections between each event and the larger forces at play. Yes, I am talking about Climate Change.

A recent report by the Public Citizen’s Climate Program (PCCP) shared results from their review of the news in 2017. They looked to see if connections between dramatic weather events and climate change were reported. The results indicate that the media is not making the connections needed in order to foster an understanding of what is going on and how to enact change. For example, a third of the stories about record-breaking temperature did make the connection, but only 9% of wildfire and flood stories did, and a mere 4% of hurricane reports dared to do it. I wonder: Is it “fake news” if it is reported without all relevant and available facts?

Not only did these events have dramatic and deadly impacts on people’s homes and communities, they did major damage to the landscape, and in total will cost us a never before achieved disaster bill of at least $306 Billion. The PCCP’s conclusion:

“For the public to be well-informed about climate change, it is critical that the media connect everyday coverage to climate where it is relevant, as well as cover the climate crisis directly, including developments on how we can mitigate it.”

Yes, the media should do better, and so should we. Conclusions such as these inspire me to educate and inspire others to do what they can to make a positive impact. My understanding is that when we care, we learn; when we learn, we can do. If we can do something, we need to know what that there are positive moves we can make, and that we can do them. Not doing anything only makes matters worse.

Thankfully, this year the news is already taking a different approach. One of our affiliated faculty, Dr. Henry Scott, Chair of the Physics Department, shared recent research that glacier melt is likely causing the ocean floor to sink. This means the math on sea level rise and its impact has been off. Way off. Newsweekin its coverage of the report, pointed out that by 2100 sea levels could be one to three feet higher than today.

For me, this is a weird sign of hope that the conversation is turning a bit. Next, we could use more news about solutions beyond donating to relief organizations, praying, and hoping for the best. Here is where the Center for a Sustainable Future can help. For example, we are featuring another round of speakers in our Sustainability and Innovation Series who who have unique and interesting approaches that uplift solutions and community engagement. There are so many, in fact, that we have several events that feature two or more speakers. If you want to learn more, and learn how to do more, to make the world a better place, I hope you will join us at one or more of these events and join the conversation.

If you want to learn even more, you could always enroll in one of our face-to-face, online, or remote attendance courses at the undergraduate or graduate levels.

I’d love to work with you to create a more sustainable future.

Seeing, Hearing, and Doing Sustainability

As the Director of the Center for a Sustainable Future, I get asked the question, in one way or another, – What does sustainability look like?
The easy answer is that it doesn’t look like anything in particular, but I know it when I see it. I also know it when I hear it, and I can tell you what it means to “do sustainability” at IUSB. But what does sustainability look like, and how do folks know what it is?
For example: Sustainability does and doesn’t look like a recycling bin. In fact, these can actually be difficult to discern on our campus, where we have several types of bins in a range of locations. It is also the simplest, but often most difficult, thing to do in terms of making smart use of our monetary and
natural resources and creating a healthy place to live, work, and play.
In terms of the sustainability planning principles we teach, it looks like efforts to reduce the amount of materials we extract from the Earth, the amount of synthetic materials we put out on the Earth, the impact we have on our natural
resources, and the negative impact on people’s ability to meet their needs. This could look like a LimeBike, someone eating a locally sourced organic meal or apple, efforts to reduce water pollution, or providing fair wages to workers.
Perhaps you are wondering how I know it when I hear it? Ever heard a hybrid car pull up behind you? Me neither! Ever heard students talking about creating initiatives to move us toward big audacious goals like “clean water for everyone” or human rights? What about the sound of wind through the leaves of the thousands of trees on the IUSB campus? These are all hopeful sounds, sounds of progress and sounds of a growing movement for a more sustainable future.
Over the last few months, I have been able to see, hear, and do sustainability in South Bend, in Costa Rica, where I went over the summer with study abroad students, and in San Antonio, Texas, the site of this year’s Sustainability in Higher Ed conference. I saw thousands of people gathered at the conference
to share what is working best for them when teaching and learning sustainability as well as implementing projects that produce a positive triple bottom line impact. I heard neighbors and family members talking and interacting on the streets of Nicoya as they walked and biked through town on
their daily errands to pick up fresh bread or go to and from school and work. I have done a lot of listening, learning, and shared planning with students, faculty, and community members as we collaboratively craft ways to educate and engage our campus and community.
Sustainability looks like something different to all of us, as we all travel along a sustainability continuum that begins with where we are, what we can do, and what we will do.
What can you do? Consider for yourself how you impact the sustainability principles I mentioned. How can you reduce and eventually eliminate what you use that is extracted from the Earth, what you put onto it, and how your actions can more positively impact the people around you and the people across the world?
It might sound like a lot, but each little action creates inspiration and the possibility to do more, and create more good in the world.
Why not start today?

Center for a Sustainable Future Announces 2017-2018 Sustainable Fellows

Indiana University South Bend’s Center for a Sustainable Future is pleased to announce its 2017-2018 class of Sustainability Fellows. Each year the Center selects Fellows who work with the faculty, staff, and community on a variety of sustainability projects and initiatives.

Fellowship Partners Angela Huff & Roy Saenz will work together on a project to designate the IU South bend campus as a “Bee Campus USA” by Bee City USA®. Roy has been a beekeeper for several years, and Angela has done extensive research on the effects of systemic pesticides on honeybees as part of her graduate coursework. If successful, the IUSB campus would be the second in the IU system to attain this status. Their activities will address the requirements of the program including forming a Bee Campus USA Committee, developing a habitat plan, hosting awareness events, and offering pollinator focused courses or workshops.
Therese “Theri” Zimmerman- Niemier of Bertrand Farm in Niles, MI, has 20 years of experience operating Bertrand Farm, an educational farm whose mission is to connect people to local food production in order to promote sustainable agriculture, health, and earth stewardship. Her Fellowship will focuses on small farming and environmental stewardship education. Plans include creating a small farmer hub on the 5-acre plot of land owned by Good Shepherd Montessori School (GSMS) off Eddy St between Jefferson and Colfax in downtown South Bend. Participating farmers will enter into a contractual relationship both with each other and with GSMS. Food for Thought Farm (GSMS Jr. High) will be a participating farmer in the hub relationship.

Chris Cobb will build on the work of Jennifer Betz and Kristi Haas, Fellows in 2016-17, who had a vision for a Michiana Environmental Coalition. The result was the formation of the Environmental Network of Northern Indiana (ENNI) to facilitate the relationships, skills, and other foundations for a network of individuals, groups, and partnerships committed to action. This year, Chris will focus on establishing ENNI as a functioning organization, developing organizational infrastructure, and outreach to environmental organizations and interested individuals in the region. The initial aim will be to convene a general meeting of environmental organizations active in northern Indiana in early 2018 to set an environmental policy agenda for that year.

 

During the course of the year, Fellows will collaborate with Center faculty, staff, and students, as well as one another.  Each fellow is provided with financial support from the Center to cover some of the expenses associated with their projects.  Previous fellows have worked on projects such as The Local Cup, Unity Gardens, Shirley Heinz Land Trust, and Green Bridge Growers.

Sustainability Challenges & Systems Based Solutions

Sustainability is an issue that has garnered a substantial amount of attention over the course of the past decade due to the increased visual effects of global warming, and vocalization of proponents of sustainability. Environmental sustainability is defined as the actions and processes that seek to elongate the natural resources of the earth, and minimizing human impact on our environment. Although policy makers, environmentalists, and laypeople alike have all attempted to contrive a solution that meets the demands of the triple bottom line that encompasses people, prosperity, and the planet, they have failed in reaching solutions that are feasible considering all matters at hand. However, common knowledge and wisdom suggests that the most sensible way to bring about a more sustainable future is creating a system wherein actions and processes that emit harmful agents to our environment are reduced and replaced with more environmentally conscious actions and processes.

For example, instead of relying on fossil fuels and cars for transportation, we should collectively push for a system that is reliant on carpooling or more energy efficient cars that are electric powered. In order to create a more sustainable world that will sustain a systems approach to life, it is imperative that we use a “bottom-up” grassroots approach that aims to influence the actions and beliefs of individuals on the micro level with the hopes that their collective change in behavior will disseminate amongst the masses. Therefore, the most essential change is not one of physical substance or policy, but is instead rooted in changing the ideology and philosophy of individuals so that they may implement a systems based approach to thinking, and take into consideration the fact that their actions will affect not only themselves, but individuals across the globe for generations to come.

As we step back, and look upon the issue of sustainability from an outsider’s perspective, it is readily apparent that the most pressing issue that is inhibiting the growth of a sustainable future is the lack of awareness of the issues that concern sustainability and the systematic processes that revolve around them amongst the general population. We must start at the community level, as each respective community has their own specific set of needs based around their primary way of life in order to initiate meaningful change. In regards to our community, specifically IU South Bend, there are many actions and behaviors that are occurring that are harmful to our environment today, and will continue to harm our environment in the future. In order to remedy the aforementioned actions and behaviors, students, faculty, and administrators must all become aware of the issues at hand, and implement a systems based approach. IUSB prides itself in its mission and vision statement, which include the importance of civic engagement. Through civic engagement, systems based thinking, and education we will be able to create a more sustainable campus.

There are several actions and behaviors that are taking place on IU South Bend’s campus that are not environmentally or economically sustainable, and can be solved through the use of systems based thinking.

The first issue that comes to mind is that The Grill, IU South Bend’s cafeteria, utilizes an excessive amount of disposable utensils. Not only do disposable utensils fill up landfills, but they also helps incentive the production of plastic utensils by companies due to the markets demands while presenting itself as a fixed cost for IU South Bend’s food service department that can be lowered. In order to reduce IU South Bend’s contribution to local and regional landfills and decrease the market’s demand of plastic utensils, the university should purchase biodegradable utensils that decompose instead of filling up landfills, while shifting business to a more environmentally conscious utensil manufacturing organization. Another possible solution to remedy the waste produced by plastic utensils would be for the IU South Bend food service department to purchase utensils that can be washed. If the university purchased utensils that can be washed, they would not be contributing to landfills at all with unnecessary utensils.

Another action exhibited by IU South Bend that is not sustainable is that lighting around the university is always kept on to some degree, even when nobody is around. In order to combat this, the university could purchase motion sensored lights or lights powered by solar panels, or better yet motion sensored lights powered by solar panels. Although this would come with a hefty upfront price, it would greatly reduce the university’s electric bill over a set period of time and reduce the university’s output of light pollution.

However, the biggest sustainability issue facing IU South Bend is that over 7,000 students commute to campus, at least one time during the week. Assuming that the majority of individuals ride alone to school, and that the majority of the individuals who ride to school drive vehicles powered by toxic fossil fuels, negative the imprint of IU South Bend on the environment is astronomical. At the same time, the biggest complaint of students at IU South Bend is the lack of parking. IU South Bend’s carbon emission rate and students unhappiness with the current state of parking could be remedied by incentivizing carpooling to the university. In order to incentive carpooling the university should offer a carpool parking contract that is split between at least 2 students, up to however many students a given car can fit. The aforementioned carpool contract should offer carpool parking passes at a reduced price that is able to be split between students. This reduction in price would convince students to ride with their fellow classmates, therefore reducing the negative environmental impact, and the amount of cars in the parking lot which would therefore increase student happiness.

As previously mentioned, the most substantial issue facing sustainability today is the lack of awareness regarding the issues at hand. In regards to IU South Bend, there are many actions and behaviors that are being exhibited without second thought by the majority of students, faculty, and administration such as the university’s use of disposable utensils, overuse of street lighting, and the massive amount of toxins being emitted into the air by commuters to campus. In order to implement the aforementioned suggested system based approaches it is crucial to actively engage the campus in the efforts. In order to do this, students and faculty on campus should push for expansion of the Sustainability Studies program, and the implementation of sustainability as a general ed requirement, so that all students on campus may be aware of the issues, so that they can objectively look at them and move to make change.

My First Week at Bertrand Farm, Inc. Part 1 By Emily Mann

Sustainability was best described by the Brundtland Commission as “the kind of development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  This idea is what pushes sustainable activist to educate the public in the implementation of radical shifts in social paradigms that place the conservation of the natural world at the forefront of decision making.  This long term planning and strategizing is what drew me to sustainability, specifically the idea of sustainable farming.  I’ve always been interested in food–from cooking to industrial agriculture.  I believe that understanding such a vital part of our existence is an element of being a responsible member of the planet.  With the amount of food waste, starvation, and land degradation/destruction happening in the last century, I feel driven to join the movement of radical, sustainable farming.  I’ve been inspired by local farms and food co-ops to give my part to the sustainable revolution.  As a result of that, I took on an internship this semester at Bertrand Farm, Inc.  After hearing a little bit about how Bertrand operates sustainability within their community and the farming doctrine they follow, I knew it was the place for me.

I’ve been working at Bertrand, shadowing their field manager, and all I can think to myself is “why isn’t everyone doing this?”  Then I got into a regular routine at the farm and realized, its hard work to adhere to sustainable principles and it doesn’t necessarily make financial sense.  Luckily, Bertrand has a stable community of supporters that give money to maintain the farm in return for harvest.

In my first week of this internship, I’ve been excited to apply sustainable principles to their operations.  From the very start, I was able to see how Bertrand upholds the four main principles of sustainability in the following ways:

 

  • They are actively decreasing the amount of fossil fuels extracted from the Earth.

At Bertrand, they have seriously limited the amount of petroleum used at the farm.  Tilling, seeding, mulching, and mowing is done by hand–in fact, I learned how to master a scythe on my first day (just perhaps not the sharpening aspect. I have the injuries to prove I could use a little more practice with that.)

  • They limit concentrations of manmade substances (i.e. substances that don’t exist in nature).

At Bertrand, they don’t use any chemical pesticides or fertilizers on their crops.  While they are not certified organic, their crops are on par with the quality of organic produce.  They still use plastics when packaging harvest and transplanting seedlings.  I am excited at the opportunity to find alternatives in order to eliminate the use of plastics on the farm.

 

 

 

 

CSA members receive boxes of high quality harvest every week!

 

  • They actively work to limit land degradation.

One of the most unique aspects of Bertrand’s crop rotation process is their work to eliminate the necessity for tilling.  This is a radical notion, but is important to explore as tilling disrupts important ecosystems that exist right below the top layer of soil.  They also rotate small farm animals to help keep pastures usable and lessen the chance that land will be damaged from grazing.  The newest idea they have implemented is allowing many crops to live harmoniously with native vegetation (aka, weeds).  This supports biodiversity and encourages crops to grow to be the strongest organism within a system.

  • They make it possible for all members to meet their basic human needs.

The active CSA at Bertrand is in a unique position to not only access healthy, local produce, but learn how to imitate a sustainable food growing operation.  Their “working member” volunteer time working on the farm in return for weekly harvest. The director has also implemented educational programs for surrounding schools (including high school and college internships), people interested in small farming, and those looking to promote local food.  You can see all of the programs they offer here: http://bertrandfarm.org/programs/.

Good Shepherd Montessori 4th, 5th, and 6th graders harvesting vegetables to eat at their upcoming “farm intensive” class.

 

 

 

 

It’s been truly fascinating to receive a crash course in how Bertrand Farm is putting in the time and effort to sustain the planet, the local community, and the local economy.  I’m incredibly excited to become an active member of the farm!

My First Week at Bertrand Farm, Inc. Part 2 By Emily Mann

In hardly three weeks at Bertrand Farm, I feel like I am already overflowing with specific knowledge about how to operate a sustainable farm. I’m developing practical skills, like how to drive a tractor and how to cook great compost, but I’m also gaining insight into what it takes to flourish personally, socially, and sustainability.

I certainly expected the practical knowledge–it’s 99% of the reason why I chose to intern at a place that aligns with my personal goals and interests so closely.  An example of this was this past week when I learned about the importance of preparing raised beds for winter.  In the process of doing such we unearthed some long forgotten about turnips!

The idea of learning in such a hands-on setting thrills me.  Everything I learn at Bertrand, I get to simultaneously DO.  The unexpected was the incredible realization of being a part of something much larger than myself.  I’ve quickly come to believe that normalizing sustainable farming is single most important thing we can do for mankind.  What I want the most out of this internship is to gain the skill sets I need to help initiate feasible methods of cultivating a sustainable community, wherever that may be.  I’m seeing more and more that small groups of people doing hard, honest work are what will spark the change.  A collection of friends, neighbors, and CSA members put massive amounts of time and effort into keeping Bertrand producing, sustaining, and supplying them with low impact food sources.

I’m very excited to have been given the opportunity to manage social media at the farm in order to extend that community network.        While this was not a project I had planned to take on, I have a lot of experience using social media to drum up interest and organize volunteers.  It’s fun to be able to bring some of my own personal talents to the table.  Other than keeping up with posting on Bertrand’s Facebook page, I will also be bringing back their blog!  I will talk about how to use and preserve some of the produce that Bertrand supplies, as well as discussing sustainable farming practices.

In the upcoming weeks, I expect to be doing more practice with farming equipment, learning the ins and outs of preparing farmland for winter, harvesting new fall crops, and being able to record all of these experiences at www.bertrandfarm.wordpress.com 

Feeling Good Using New Tools

Cheri Gray
Sustainability and Wellness
Professor Krista Baily
24 April 2016
Blog 3 of 3

I am feeling good about reconnecting with my sister. I have talked with her a couple of times since last week and this feels great! My family is mired in dysfunction with many of us not talking for years. I realize that no one has a “normal” family but sometimes I really crave normal. Reconnecting with my sister has helped very much with Right Tribe and wanting to make the effort to stay connected with my friends and reconnect with my friends who I have disappeared from their lives.UntitledCG1
Today, I reconnected with a friend who I have not seen in a year and we discussed walking together. Both of us discussed supporting each other on our path to a healthier way of life. Sometimes what you cannot have with your family you can build in relationships with your friends.  It’s time for me to unlearn my detachment behavior and reattach to my friends. Relationships are work and I have to work at them in order to allow my friendships to flourish and not keep restarting the relationships over and over again. This has been an eye-opening experience which I have taken to heart. I am feeling a bit more grounded…like I have a bit of a foundation to build upon. Right Tribe has grabbed a hold of my heart.

Both the reaction I am getting from my family and friends are pretty much the same. I feel good and am getting good reactions. Although, I am still struggling with trying not to drive as much and taking my walk to the Garden Patch (which I haven’t done yet). I am pleased I have not put myself down for not achieving my goal of walking to the Garden Patch. I realize that the store isn’t going anywhere and I will be there when I take my walk.UntitledCG2
Also, I am quite pleased that I have not freaked out too much about all the projects I have due in my classes. Last week, I had a huge project due, and I was able to calm myself down and get the project done long before the 11:59 p.m. due date.
Most of my friends don’t realize the pressure that school brings to your life and have no conception of what the final’s week means. Downshifting has been critical in the area of keeping calm related to my school projects. I am hoping that I will be able to call upon these new tools next week in the middle of final’s week.

My feelings are inspiring me the most. UntitledCG3I don’t know if this is because I don’t really count upon my family and friends for support or because I feel like I have a foundation to grow upon in the Right Tribe area. Either way, I feel good and am inspired to keep on the Right Tribe path. Maybe I will be able to learn to be vulnerable and let my friends support me when I need it.

 

Right Tribe, Downshift and Moving Naturally

Cheri Gray
Sustainability and Wellness
Professor Krista Baily
17 April 2016
Blog Two of Three

This past week I reconnected with my sister. I talked with my sister on the phone for two hours discussing our family and life in general. We had been estranged for three years and it has been nice reconnecting with her. We are taking small steps but this long conversation was a little bit of a bigger step because we actually discussed the trigger for the estrangement. UntitledWhen I have had issues with my family in the past, we have a tendency to not discuss what triggered the estrangement and this makes it difficult to move past the issue we have had. This time my sister and I had a level-headed discussion and resolved the issue. Also, I spent the weekend driving my niece around town for her softball training. We had a nice talk about teenage life which I confess is quite foreign to me. Since I have been blue zoning, I am making the effort to stay connected with my friends and get to know some new people. I have trouble staying connected with people, and the Right Tribe has been the most difficult area for me for me to make changes.

To Downshift I continue to use the “Stop, Breath, Think” app at bedtime, and I have also started to use the app while I am walking. There is walking mediation that makes you aware of the nature around you. Untitled2This is quite nice because it keeps you in tune with the sounds and sights of nature.
This week when I was studying and became overwhelmed, I left my apartment and took a 20-30 minute walk. It was a great weekend for walks! I am trying to stay in tuned with the stress signals my body is giving me which is something I have never been able to do (so far I’ve been able to do this four times). In addition, I found that on my phone I have a function that tracks stress via my heart rate. So, this weekend, I started tracking my stress.

I planned to walk to the Garden Patch but was not able to make this goal as I helped my brother transport my niece around town for her softball training. I will say that I was a little relieved that I didn’t have to walk to the store as I have been very nervous about this goal. I may have to rethink my moving naturally goals or at least add another goal until I can walk to the Garden Patch which is totally out of the box for me. Untitled3I have started to make a conscious effort to walk more by tracking my steps, time and miles on my phone. My goal is 60 minutes a day and 7,000 steps. I used to easily walk 10,000 steps a day but right now I need to work back up to 10,000 steps. My goal is to take a walk twice a day and move more the rest of the day. I will say that I have been walking around my apartment more in the evening to make the 7,000 steps. I am keeping the habits that I already have by parking further away and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Overall, I have been quite proud of the changes I have been making especially in the Right Tribe area as everything I have done in this area has been different for me. Untitled4To keep developing the Blue Zone habits I believe I will have to keep myself focused on changing my behavior and make conscious decisions to keep on track toward my Blue Zone goals.  Also, I believe that after I have one change down, I will need to start working on a new change. I think I need to make slow, gradual changes and concentrate on making these changes into habits. If I try too many things at once, I have a tendency to shut down and stop. With slow, gradual cognitive behavioral changes, I believe my Blue Zone goals will become habits.