You are invited to meet with Middlebury’s partner The Nature Conservancy (TNC) GLOBE program and their Youth Programs Coordinator, Shawneece Hennighan this Wednesday, November 14 for an information session on campus from 4:30 PM in CCI’s Adirondack House Library. Please RSVP HERE on Handshake for the event.
Middlebury has 3 specific internships earmarked for our students for this 2019 summer focused on: climate change and clean energy policy in Washington, DC, GIS research in Alaska, and urban agriculture in Chicago. The TNC GLOBE program provides undergraduate students with diverse backgrounds with paid summer internship opportunities in the environmental sector across the country. The internships range from science-based education to communications to public policy to geospatial research—a whole range of opportunities for our liberal arts students.
Recreation Capacity Intern — The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation has been collecting a variety of data linked to usage of the public’s recreation-based resources. This information is a key tool in supporting the development of the recreation aspect of Long Range Management Plans, determining how resources are allocated to maintain recreation infrastructure, and to make decisions related to trail network growth or alteration.The intern must have proficiency with ArcGIS 10.x software and using hand-held GPS units to gather and transfer data into GIS. The intern must also have a strong foundation and interest in analytical statistic and be able to use Excel. The intern must be comfortable hiking alone over various terrains to collect trail data in the field, for up to 8 hours in a day. For more details, see listing on Handshake: https://middlebury.joinhandshake.com/jobs/1291979/share_preview
Universal Recycling Outreach — This internship will focus on addressing the current and upcoming challenges of implementing the Universal Recycling Law in Vermont. It will involve substantial engagement with the public, as well as some in-office work. The intern will set up a table at farmers’ markets, fairs, or other public venues to provide information about recycling, composting, and the requirements of the Universal Recycling Law. A gregarious, friendly personality, composure, and strong communication skills are necessary. The intern will learn and communicate about recycling, composting, and other materials management topics. For more details, see listing on Handshake: https://middlebury.joinhandshake.com/jobs/1291499/share_preview
Otter Creek Mapping Intern — This intern would assist with field data collection along the Otter Creek primarily by paddling nearly 100 miles from Mt. Tabor to Lake Champlain. Field data collection will consist of identifying both natural and manmade features along the creek as they relate to fishing, hunting, paddling, or historic resources. The intern would help identify the appropriate data to collect as well as develop data sheets for use in a future mapping project. Some of the opportunities afforded to the intern would be to work with a variety of staff working on everything from outdoor recreation to law enforcement.
NOTE: The ultimate goal of this project is to create an Otter Creek Fishing Trail that highlights all river features, public access, and any possible points of interest to anyone boating on the Otter Creek. Once all the field data is collected, I would like to explore turning this into a semester or thesis project (Middlebury’s GIS program?) so that we could actually create the fishing trail map. For more details, see listing on Handshake: https://middlebury.joinhandshake.com/jobs/1291553/share_preview
Compensation: All of these internships come with $3,000 stipend. If you are offered and accept this internship, please be aware that your funding for this position is provided by CCI, and therefore you will be required to complete funded internship paperwork.
Back? Good. The site was The Daily Wing, an outdoor blog focusing on winged creatures, such as birds and dragonflies. (that’s an odonatist, if you were lazy and not terribly curious, a person interested in dragonflies, of the Odonata group. Good luck using that in your next conversation.) Bryan Pfeiffer, the author, writes all of the posts, and shows some of his amazing photography. It’s a gorgeous blog.
And like my blog, it seems like many things interest him. (Unlike my blog, he updates his more frequently. No excuses here-I got my house painted this summer.) What caught my eye was a post on the new Vermont Geological survey map, with the awesome title of “A History Expressed in Stone”. The map, published by the state Vermont Geological Survey, is over 30 years of work, and shows major bedrock formations across the entire state. I want to get the paper copy, but our house lacks wall space for the 3 6 foot by 5 foot sheets, and my cave of an office wouldn’t even fit one.
So I’ve downloaded it, and the three PDF’s would blow my entire Papercut budget for the year, so I’m holding off on that. I’ve also download the shapefiles for Google Earth and ArcGIS, but am waiting to really delve into that this winter.
As a landscaper, something I’ve learned the hard way is that you just can’t fight geology. I’ve tried over and over to grow rhododendrons, holly, and other ericaceous plants on the MIddlebury campus, but our high pH soils just won’t let me. And the reason for that? The bedrock.
Keith W. Reeves, a public policy expert from Swarthmore College, was at Middlebury for two days as the guest of the Howard E. Woodin Environmental Studies Colloquium and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity.
Reeves grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania, an industrial city just outside Philadelphia, and opened his talk on “The Problem of Proximity: Black Male Incarceration and the Urban Environment” with a touch of irony. Chester was highly regarded for generations as the city where Martin Luther King Jr. attended Crozer Theological Seminary in the early 1950s, and yet today it is known for the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Chester that opened in 1998 and houses thousands of black male prisoners, Reeves said.
Chester’s transition from a “major, bustling economic engine” of the mid-20th century to an impoverished city of crime and empty storefronts has Reeves, an associate professor, “worried, stressed, and struggling for years.” The decline of Chester, he said, was a key factor in his decision to leave the faculty at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1999 and accept an appointment in the political science department at Swarthmore. Now that he teaches just five miles from downtown Chester, he directs a number of Swarthmore-based initiatives—including his own research that combines department of corrections statistics with GIS mapping—to revitalize his home city.
Keith Reeves spoke rapid fire for 45 minutes on October 13 to a crowd of about 75 students, faculty, and staff gathered in The Orchard at Franklin Environmental Center.
He said, “Incarceration in the urban environment has grown to the point that it now produces the very social problems on which it feeds, which also explains the enormous recidivism rate we see in these communities.”
Black males returning home from prison today face the same problems and challenges that caused them to be in jail in the first place, he said. “Neighborhoods plagued by family trauma, stress, high drop-out rates, interpersonal violence, drug and alcohol abuse, drug dealing, gangs, hunger, and social isolation provide a context that puts [black males] on a trajectory in which they are making very problematic decisions” that lead to arrest, conviction, and re-incarceration.
To start reversing this trend in American society would cost $17 billion dollars a year, Reeves estimated. He advocates for national policy reforms that would: 1) reverse the high drop-out rate in urban areas, 2) create a dependable “job engine” in America, 3) reduce the number of prison admissions annually, 4) reduce prisoners’ length of stay, 5) provide effective mentoring, case management, and support services to ex-convicts, 6) “ban the box,” and 7) make military service a viable option for Americans who have served time in prison.
Reeves’s campaign to “ban the box” seeks to eliminate the check box on job applications that asks, “Have you ever been arrested or served time in prison?” That question creates “a barrier that often prevents a wonderfully bright guy from getting connected to work [because he] happened to have made a serious error in misjudgment that landed him in prison.”
The guest lecturer’s final point about offering military service to convicted felons is a source of controversy among his Swarthmore students. “My students hate this,” he said, “but I refuse to put it away. We should allow the military to recruit formerly incarcerated black males.” Reeves (left) advocates for this because, in his interviews with incarcerated black males, between one-third and one-half of them say they would join the military upon release from prison if the option were open to them.
“The military would have saved them from the streets,” Reeves believes. “It would have given them a bit of discipline, it would have given them an opportunity for education, it would have given them a chance to work and aim toward something bigger than themselves. And we also know from African-American history, that the military is an enormous avenue for social mobility, i.e., Colin Powell.”
While Reeves’ first book focused on racial politics in America, his second book—not yet published—called “The Declining Significance of Black Males” will examine the “alarming” incarceration rate among black men and the impact of their return on inner-city families and neighborhoods.
In the Q&A that followed his talk, a student asked Reeves to define the target audience for his current research and impending book. “I am trying to get to the policy makers. I am trying to get to the governors who make appointments to judicial and correctional facility commissions. And I am trying to put a human face on the problem of black male incarceration and prisoner re-entry [because] not everyone who commits a crime is evil.”
Black males are going to prison, Reeves said, because they grow up in an environment where crime is the norm, where family support is minimal, where schools are lacking, where there’s no access to health care, and where peers and family members are part of the criminal justice system too.
“I have been blessed with wonderful educational opportunities, so I have to do something to change the world in my space.” For Keith Reeves, who has a PhD from Michigan, his “space” is Chester and all the other cities in America where black male incarceration is a fact of life today.
This coming weekend is the Bill Koch Ski Festival, so in honor of the weekend I’ve made something for the kids to play with, if yours are anything like mine. I’ve converted some Arc GIS files to a Google Earth File, so now you can fly around Rikert in Google Earth and see where you went skiing for the day. Chester Harvey in the Geography department has made a new trail map for Rikert based on this shapefile, and I’ve taken the trail names both off of that new map, as well as the older traditional map. So the Google Earth file is still a rough draft, and some of the trail names may be a little off, but it’s still fun.
Right click here, and choose Save As, then don’t forget where that is. Clicking on that file should open it in the right program. Naturally, you will need Google Earth installed on your computer. I’ve been having bad blog luck, and just clicking on the file itself will probably lead to a page of gobbledigook.