Ten Square Miles

An Environmental Activism Resource

Author: cledbetter (page 1 of 2)

One Step Foward


As young adults who are probably are still dependent on our caretakers it would be hard to make a change regarding what we personally eat or buy.  So I believe the role that we have is awareness, to be aware ourselves and to spread awareness.  In addition to the fact that majority of my classmates are “Parkies”, our generation as a whole is tech savvy.  In America, we are one of the first generations to grow up in a world where the internet, computers, smart phones, and cameras were all around us from birth.  To be perfectly honest, most of us middle-classed young adults spend more time than we should on our devices which means we have no excuse for saying we can’t use them to raise awareness.  We are a generation that has Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., at the tip of our fingertips. We are a generation that has the ability to connect to not only to our own communities but communities from around the world.  So even though we don’t have the funds to buy organic GMO-free food or all American-made appeal, we do have the power to spread awareness to the people that possibly can.

What is “Compost”?

Most of us know about recycling and that it’s good for the Earth.  From a very young age recycling was drilled into us and we knew the entire process by the time we were adults.  (Recycling is when old products are used to make brand new products).  However, up until recently, I’m not afraid to say that I personally had no idea what compost was. I knew it was good for the environment but the exact process was a complete mystery to me.  So what is “composting”? Composting, it’s actually quite similar to recycling if you think about it. Although compost material doesn’t go towards new commercial products, compost materials are still being used again- instead of sitting somewhere in a dump. Compost materials are broken down and used to give nutrients to soil, like fertilizer.  When the same materials are in dumps, since there is a lack of oxygen, they produce harmful greenhouse gases. Unlike when you compost, when you compost there is oxygen so it doesn’t emit greenhouse gases.  Meaning that composting is better for the Earth, and also works as a great fertilizer! However, like recycling, not everything can be composted. Things that can be composted include (lists provided by getcomposting.com):




Tea bags

Grass cuttings

Vegetable peelings, salad leaves and fruit scraps

Old flowers and nettles

Coffee grounds and filter paper

Spent bedding plants

Rhubarb leaves

Young annual weeds (e.g. chickweed)



Crushed egg shells

Egg and cereal boxes

Corrugated cardboard and paper (scrunched up)

Toilet and kitchen roll tubes

Garden pruning

Twigs and hedge clippings

Straw and hay

Bedding from vegetarian pets

Ashes from wood, paper and lump-wood charcoal

Sawdust and wood chippings


Woody clippings

Cotton threads and string (made from natural fibre)


Vacuum bag contents

Old natural fibre clothes (cut into small pieces)

Tissues, paper towels and napkins

Shredded confidential documents

Corn cobs and stalks



“How to Compost at Home.” Get Composting. Straight Ltd. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.

Taylor Graham & Taming the Teesta Visit Reflection

I found the speaker today fairly inspiring. I found his work to be remarkable, especially considering that he was still in school. He’s an example of how much of a resource Ithaca College can be if someone puts forth the effort.  To have a piece of work out there that already has recognition before even graduating is a big deal.  I found that his determination to finish his project and to show the truth behind his topic was outstanding. Ithaca College can only do so much with students that don’t apply themselves but when students take advantage of their programs, and teachings, beautiful work can come out of it. As for the documentary itself, I thought the cinematography was great and it made me want to use my own DSLR more.  DSLR’s have more power than they’re given credit and they’re a lot cheaper than studio cameras.  I also thought that he had a lot of courage to film where he wasn’t supposed to, which means he really was passionate about portraying as much of the truth as possible. Although personally I don’t see how I can do anything to fix the dams, I think his approach was successful because it got recognized by people that are higher up and that can potentially do something to help.


To see Taylor Graham’s Documentary please visit here: https://vimeo.com/128624202

The Truth Behind “Caged-free”

Traditionally animals such as hens were raised for eating in battery cages.  Battery cages are really small and animals inside are usually jammed in to the point that they can’t move.  The average battery cage for a hen is 67 square inches, which is smaller than the average printer paper.  Battery cages prevent animals from doing their normal functions and it prevents them from socializing with other animals, this can cause physical, mental and emotional trauma for the caged animals.


In recent years “caged-free” meat and eggs has been popping up. Most people think caged-free and imagine animals running in a valley.  That is far from what caged-free means.  Although caged-free is significantly better than battery-caged, it still isn’t healthy for animals.  Caged-free animals are able to do more natural functions, for example, hens are able to spread their wings, nest and walk.  However, the problem is that caged-free animals still never get the chance to go outside and they are surrounded by thousands of other like animals. Caged-free should never be taken as a cruel-free or healthy option, because caged-free living situations definitely are not good for the animals’ well-being.


In addition, both battery-caged and caged-free facilities do their fair share of mutual cruelty. Both battery-caged and caged-free facilities prematurely slaughter animals around the age of 2, which is much shorter than a natural lifespan. Both battery-caged and caged-free facilities will transport the animals for long periods of time without food or water.  Both battery-caged and caged-free mutilate and burn birds’ peaks.  Not to mention, both battery-caged and caged-free facilities get their hens from places that kill the males as soon as they hatch (which adds up to more than 200 million a year in the United States).  It is rare nowadays, because the practice is slowly starting to be abandoned, but some battery-caged and caged-free facilities still starve the animals in order to molt them.


“Caged-free” is just one of the many terms that are thrown at consumers.  These terms are good marketing tools because most people don’t know what they actually mean. Before you buy a meat or dairy product thinking that it’s healthy or the humane option, please get to know the facts.




“Cage-Free vs. Battery-Cage Eggs.” Humane Society. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.





If A Tree Falls (2011)


If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front is an awarding winning documentary that was directed by Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman.  This documentary follows the story of Daniel McGowan, a man who got arrested because he helped commit arson with the extremist environmental group ELF (Earth Liberation Front).  At one point ELF was considered America’s number one terrorist group, as said by the FBI, due to the group’s violent nature and numerous arsons against certain businesses.  The film focuses on Daniel’s reasoning for his actions and his time awaiting his final sentence. Daniel is followed throughout the documentary and he explains why ELF felt the need to take extreme measures. This particular documentary is associated with many production companies such as British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Independent Television Service (ITVS), Lucky Hat Entertainment, Marshall Curry Productions LLC and P.O.V./American Documentary.  If A Tree Falls was first released January 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival in the United States.  Since then it has been nominated for ten awards, of which the documentary has won six out of those ten nominations.


Official trailer for If A Tree Falls (2011): https://youtu.be/WRwN-crcQrI




“Company Credits.” IMDb. IMDb.com. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.


If A Tree Falls. Dir. Marshall Curry. Oscilloscope Laboratories, 2011. Film.


“If a Tree Falls.” If a Tree Falls. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.



Wasteland (2010)

Wasteland, directed by Lucy Walker, is a documentary that was released in 2010. It featured Vik Muniz, an artist that combines photography with everyday objects and materials to create multidimensional art.  The entire documentary focuses on one of Vik Muniz’s projects involving the workers of the largest garbage dump in the world, Jardim Gramacho, which is in his native country of Brazil.  In Brazil, Muniz discovers and learns about the people who pick through the garage to find recyclables.  As the documentary goes on, it shifts from the artwork to each individual as s/he tells his or her own personal story.  Tiaõ, Zumbi, Suelem, Isis, Irma, Valter, and Magna, all let the filmmakers into their homes and hearts. At the beginning of the film Vik Muniz states his mission with the project; he vows to try to help change the catadores’ (garbage pickers) life through art. Together with the filmmakers, along with the production companies Almega Projects and O2 Filmes, Muniz sets out to make this mission a reality.

This film has a chronological structure, starting with the Vik Muniz’ thesis and ending with a conclusion on his mission.  The documentary starts out by introducing Vik Muniz along with his background and previous art projects.  As the documentary progresses it introduces Muniz’s new project idea to use garbage in his upcoming art pieces.  It shows Muniz’s point of view by showing him not only explaining his project to other but also debating about whether his mission to change lives through artwork was actually plausible. By doing this the documentary subliminal encourages the audience to see the world through Muniz’s shoes, in other words, to feel connected to him.  It is a powerful approach because it appeals to the audience’s emotion and gets them invested before the documentary’s main story even starts. The beginning of the film also included Vik Muniz’s first impressions of the catadores, he predicted that most of them would be depressed and drug addicts.  This was important to include because it contrasted with what many of the catadores personal stories.  Most of the catadores had pride in their work because it was honest and didn’t involve drugs or prostitution. Vik Muniz at first generalized them based off their situation and location; however, the documentary proved that the catadores weren’t perfect, they weren’t exactly overjoyed but they weren’t terribly depressed. They were just people, people trying to make a living like everyone else in the world. So the juxtaposition of those two narrations were important because it emphasized the point that at the end of the day people are just trying to survive, and that everyone has a range of personal obstacles and experiences.

Wasteland (2010) has a good mixture of shots.  Although the frames were obviously planned out, the cinematography as a whole was simple, and this allowed the audience to focus entirely on the interviewed catadores. The filmmakers captured the reality and entirety of dumps while complimenting those shots with shots of the homes of the workers.  This style allowed the audience to see the catadores for their entirety; it didn’t just show their work but also their homes, neighborhoods, families and hopes.  As a result of this, the catadores aren’t dehumanized as workers that go unnoticed but instead as whole human beings who are relatable. Unlike Home (2009), directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, which portrayed groups of people as nameless masses without a voice, in Wasteland (2010) the people were up close, outspoken and real.  Since the objective of the artist was to change the catadores lives, the fact that he focuses mostly on their stories is effective because it helps others sympathize and want to help as well.  Watching Muniz’s journey, hearing the people’s voices and seeing their faces of joy when the artwork was finished was inspirational.  It is obvious by his reaction that Vik Muniz felt good about helping them and the film makes other want to reach out as well. This documentary portrays helping people as rewarding, which motivates audiences to follow suit.

Official trailer for Wasteland (2010): https://vimeo.com/16290358 







White Hawk Ecovillage & Steve Woinoski Visit Reflection


Steve Woinoski was interesting and he really seemed to enjoy living in the White Hawk Ecovillage community.  Although the idea seemed cool and I give all power to them, I wouldn’t want to live in one of these communities myself.  It seemed like it would have a very “small town” feel to it and I personally enjoy being around a lot people.  My future more realistically would be in the suburbs or a city.  It was nice to hear about it though, because I wasn’t aware that such environmental driven communities existed.  It sounds like a nice quite place to rest a family and settle down if a family wants good old-fashioned neighborly love and peace.  However, like he said himself once more people come into play the community probably will start to feel a bit crowded. These type of communities are good for some but not all; I believe that someone can be just as equally environmentally aware outside of certain communities and groups.


To learn more about the White Hawk Ecovillage and other communities like it, please visit: http://whitehawkecovillage.org/   or https://youtu.be/g81b-pdFXto


Faith Meckley Visit Reflection

From her presentation I could tell that Faith Meckley is very passionate about the causes she supports.  It’s interesting to hear about someone protesting at such an age young, especially when there is a threat of being arrested.  I found it interesting that when she was arrested with a group that they only held them for less than a day, I would have expected it to be longer.  It was also interesting to learn that her father also was a protestor in his time and it brings up the intriguing question of whether or not her activism was influenced by his. I can imagine the stress and agony she must have been feeling when her possibly facing jail time, so I admire her for her ability to stand up for what she believes in no matter the cost.  It was also nice that she talked to us as a peer and not as an authority figure because it made it easier to relate to her. In relation to the protests on campus, I have an unpopular opinion about them so I’d like to keep that to myself.  However, I am impressed that some teachers actually cancelled class or let out early in order to allow students to express and show their concern regarding recent unfortunate incidents.


To learn more about Faith Meckley’s activism please visit here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mkjvGRRMEw



The Corporation (2003)

The Corporation is a Canadian documentary that was directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. It was inspired by the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power which was written by Joel Bakan. The documentary focuses on the nature of corporations and how they’ve negatively impacted their surroundings.  This negative impact is explored through comparing corporations, a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law, to psychopaths.  Psychopaths (in the media) are usually stereotypically portrayed as people who lack the ability to empathize and form healthy loving relationships with others. These two definitions lead into how corporations have continued to pollute the Earth without a second thought about anything but its own benefit.  The Corporation’s production company was Big Picture Media Corporation and the documentary was first released in 2003 (Canada) by Film West Associates.

This film is an expository documentary because it utilizes authoritative voice-overs and titles to directly persuade viewers that corporations are toxic.  Although the entire film is an overall theme of comparing corporations to psychopaths, the documentary structurally breaks up into specific categories that focus on not only the negative environmental effects but the negative effect it has on animals and humans.  The footage shown is a montage of archived footage, old commercials, and the interviews of 40 people.  The interviews include “CEOs and top-level executives from a range of industries: oil, pharmaceutical, computer, tire, manufacturing, public relations, branding, advertising and undercover marketing; in addition, a Nobel-prize winning economist, the first management guru, a corporate spy, and a range of academics, critics, historians and thinkers are also interviewed” (About the film).  Since the production and post-production team did a good job of breaking up concepts and explaining them with visual examples, this documentary is very educational.

          The Corporation defines all specific terms and ideas before going into depth about them while using historical content to provide background information.  Some of the visuals used were very graphic, such as the mutated animals and severely deformed children.  Although these images are hard to look at and process, it forces the consumer to realize how grave the current situation surrounding corporations is.  The documentary also shows how helpless people feel against corporations since corporations are “gigantic mortifying, money-hungry” beings that are internationally stronger than even a country’s government.

This was done by interviewing people that are, or used to be, in corporations. One clip that is incredibly powerful shows people protesting in front of a man’s house because he was part of a corporation.  The man and his wife provided them with simple hospitality on the lawn as they both listened to the protestors’ concerns.  Through this discussion both parties realized that they had the same exact fears, but the man didn’t know what he could do about it as an individual.  Since corporations are legally bound to put the “bottom line” first, even the individuals inside the corporations feel powerless to the system.  Although this may seem discouraging at first it has a significant amount of potential to be inspirational once the consumer looks past the surface.

If people both inside and outside of corporations think that corporations are toxic then they can band together and change the system.  At the end of the day, corporations are only as strong as the silence of the people among them.  As soon as people start to actually speak up and realize that they’re not the only ones concerned then they can destroy corporations. At the end of the day, even if a corporation is legally a person, it’s not; it’s a concept, a concept that can be redesigned.  Since the film shows the concern on both sides it took one step towards uniting people with common cause.


Official trailer for The Corporation (2003): https://vimeo.com/ondemand/thecorporation10/128316649


Works Cited


“About the Film.” The Corporation. Amani. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.


The Corporation. Dir. Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. Filmwest Associates, 2003. Film.

Article Written  by Crystal Ledbetter

“Going green” isn’t a term that’s foreign to America. Ever since ego-friendly campaigns started the popular phase has been a clever representative.  Majority of the campaigns encouraged alternative energy sources, energy-efficient appliances and technology made from environmentally friendly materials.  For many, buying special electronics and alternative energy can be pricey, if not completely financially unrealistic.  If you want to do your part, but simply don’t have the money, there is a simple solution.  Gardening.  Things such as energy efficient gadgets cost hundreds to thousands of dollar but a few seeds only cost a couple of bucks at most.

With cities popping up everywhere sometimes it’s easy to forget that we should make up for the plant life we’ve destroyed. Not only do plants produce oxygen, which many living organism need to live, they also provide food for creatures and regulate the atmosphere.  Plants emit water into the atmosphere when the climate gets too hot.  It is important to note that carbon dioxide is the one of main greenhouse gases that is contributing to global warming because plants actually use carbon dioxide to produce their nourishment.  This means that planting a significant amount of plants around the world may actually help slow down the global warming process.

Plants aren’t only good for the environment they’re also good for us as well. There are many studies that explore the positive impact that plants have on humans.  It has been proven that being around plants is therapeutic because it naturally elevates mood while relieving stress.  As a result, people that are around plants generally have better mental stability and health than people that aren’t. Being around plants also increases creativity, learning and concentration.  The color green itself signals to our brains to be more productive.

If that’s not convincing, then gardening can be looked at also from a business and community point of view.  Businesses would benefit from planting trees and flowers around their business because people subconsciously associate beautiful scenery with a better perceived quality of life and happiness.  So plants would automatically attract people to the business.  Communities with more plants tend to have less crime.  This is due to the fact that plants encourage people to come outside and interact with each other more, which would strengthen the community while fostering people’s natural compassion for each other.

When it comes to building a sustainable future, the big picture can easily overwhelm people into doing nothing.  It’s common to feel as though you’re too small to make a difference.  If this is a feeling you’re familiar to, thinking about the Butterfly effect may help.  One butterfly flipping its wings has the potential to become a major variable in the making of a hurricane on the side of the world.  Your individual actions do affect the Earth, even as little as they seem. You can use this power to take on small step for good or one small step for bad.  No matter what you do, you’re influencing the world around you just as it is influencing you.  The Earth belongs to everyone, which means the health of our Earth is a collective responsibility.  It may not seem like much, to plant a tree or a flower, but think of it this way: if everyone plants just one plant each then, collectively, we’d all be heading towards a healthier path together.





Arbor, Ann. “Going Outside-even in the Cold-improves Memory, Attention.” Umich. Michigan News, 16 Dec. 2008. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.


“Benefits of Green Plants.” Green Plants for Green Buildings. Green Plants for Green Buildings. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.


“Health and Well-being Benefits of Plants.” Ellison Chair. Tamu. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.


“How Plants Can Change Our Climate.” Earth Observatory. Nasa. The Earth Observatory. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.


Sparks, Jennifer. “New Behavioral Research Demonstrates Flowers in the Home Make a Positive Impact on Our Lives.” Magnet Mail. The Flower Promotion Organization, 26 Sept. 2006. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.


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