Environmentalists: What are they? Am I one? Can I be one?

According to Merriam-Webster, environmentalism is advocacy of the preservation, restoration, or improvement of the natural environment; especially:  the movement to control pollution.

I am always up for advocating for those whose voices are not heard.  The Earth is a special case because she has been trying to warn us with rising temperatures, mass extinction, and increased infections/illnesses due to smog, but we are not listening!!!

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me hugging a very big tree

When someone says “environmentalism,” many people think about tree-huggers, “extreme” vegans, bicyclists who don’t shower, “hippies” who don’t shave, a crazy lady who yells at you for not recycling, and any other stereotype that may or may not be true about me.  It turns out plenty of people fit into those categories who aren’t concerned about environmentalism and plenty of environmentalists don’t fit into those categories!  You don’t have to be all (or any) of these people in order to start on your path to advocating for the natural environment.  Your path does not even have to be towards these descriptions!

 

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me hugging a not so big tree

Questions have circulated such as “Can you call yourself an environmentalist and still eat meat?” and “Can you call yourself an environmentalist if you have kids?”  I definitely think you can and I think you can do a lot of good!  I am not arguing that reducing meat consumption and population would not have a positive impact on the environment.  It definitely would, but that should not stop someone from having access to the environmentalism community.  There are so many more things we can do together such as recycle, take shorter showers, not buying fast fashion, reduce storm water runoff with bioswales, grow fresh food, reduce energy consumption, research renewable energy options, use reusable shopping bags, plant trees, and literally so much more!  You don’t have to do everything as long as you’re not doing nothing!

As an environmentalism community we should ask for change from each other and expect change from ourselves. We should advocate for a shift towards environmentally friendly actions, but also be welcoming and accessible to those who are not ready or even able to make big changes. Each positive action or reduction of negative actions add up!  No two environmentalists are the same so our goals may not be the same.  Regardless, we need to support each other!

Let me know your current goals below!  And let me know if you agree that meat-eating, children-having, car-driving, (anything else-doing) people are members of our community.

Meatless Mondays: Gumbo!

Meatless Mondays are a great way to lower your carbon and water footprint!

Growing up near New Orleans, gumbo was always my favorite home-cooked meal.  Time to try a new meatless version for Fat Tuesday tomorrow!

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 3 chopped stalks of celery
  • 3 cups diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen green beans
  • 3 sliced carrots (not baby carrots!)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen sliced okra
  • Spices. I suggest:
    • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
    • 1 Tbs. paprika
    • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
    • 1/3 tsp. cayenne pepper

Now, let’s get started:

  1. Stir together oil and flour in your biggest pot until smooth.  Cook over high heat until roux turns a dark caramel color (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly.
  2. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery until vegetables are softened (about 5 minutes).
  3. Stir in all remaining ingredients.  Add salt and pepper.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until carrots are tender (about 40 minutes).
  5. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Let me know if y’all try this or what other meals I should try!

University of Mississippi Adventures in 2017

I might complain about how boring Oxford and Mississippi in general tend to be, but living here has exposed me to quite a few adventures. Some might not consider these ventures, but I’m not one who is naturally inclined to speak up. My talent is blending in so participating in each of these events was definitely adventurous for me!

Being involved with activism, foreign language/international education, and the LGBT community on campus and in Oxford has opened my mind and filled my days. Here are my Top 5 University of Mississippi Adventures in 2017!

1.) Sexpert Training at the University of Mississippi

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Planned Parenthood from Memphis gave us the sex education that I’d always wished for. I definitely would have understood more as a young person if I could have had this at a younger age.

Sexperts is a sexual health peer education program for young adults in the area surrounding Memphis (West Tennessee, Crittenden County, Arkansas, or North Mississippi). The training is fun, comprehensive, and equips us to be leaders among their peers and friends in sexual health education. After going through eight hours of training, Sexperts are able and encouraged to implement programs and events on their campus and in the community after the training.

I know not everyone supports Planned Parenthood or sex education, but I think it’s important to be well versed on the physical and mental impacts of various activities for lack of a better term. Whether one is already active, will be in the future, or is just curious and doesn’t want to rely on the internet and gossip as their education, programs like this are a great place to learn!

2.) Take Back the Night at the University of Mississippi

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This was an event that I helped plan. I did this through an organization that I’ve been active in my entire undergraduate career, Rebels Against Sexual Assault.

The event meant a lot to me and was definitely a cause for growth and more self-acceptance in my life

Take Back The Night (TBTN) represents the earliest world-wide stand against sexual violence, especially violence against women (although at the University of Mississippi, we did not put an emphasis on any one group of survivors). TBTN events began happening in the 1960’s. These events grew into hundreds of events on college campuses and in communities of all sizes and locations. The unifying theme was protest of sexual violence and support for survivors.

Luckily, the University of Mississippi has many resources, but that does not mean that our students are not affected by these issues.

3.) World Passport Event from the University of Mississippi

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I was the president of German Club last semester and we partnered with other international and foreign language organizations to bring international education to schools in rural north Mississippi. For this event, we visited Oakhurst Intermediate School in Clarksdale today for our World Passport event! We taught fifth and sixth graders there about world German culture and language! There were also tables representing Tanzania, China, Jordan, and Australia!

I am hoping to participate in more World Passport events like this one. We intend on increasing the representation at these events and reaching more young people in our surrounding communities!

4.) Pride Parade in Oxford, Mississippi

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Before the flag capes were on.

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Outfits complete.

This was Oxford (and my) second pride parade. It was just as good as the first!

During the second year of celebrating sexual and gender diversity in our Southern college town, a University of Mississippi professor said, “Everyone should come. This is for everybody. If you’re LGBTQ, you should come. If you’re an ally, you should come. If you just like parties and parades, you should come. Everybody is welcome.”

I think this is a great message that is not always heard. I hope for a future where “everybody is welcome” is the default.

5.) Out of Darkness Suicide Walk at the University of Mississippi

Members of the Oxford community and the University of Mississippi came together Sunday, Oct. 15, to shed light on suicide awareness and prevention for this year’s second annual Out of the Darkness Walk. I wrote messages on the balloon to send to my friends who are no longer with us due to their own battles with suicide.

Hosted by the Mississippi Chapter of the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, the walk offered participants an opportunity to make friends and find emotional support. The walk was created to raise funds for education, advocacy, research, and support programs for those impacted by suicide.

We raised a lot of money, which was great! I know we had an immeasurable impact on all attendees because of the unending support and love at this event.


All of these opportunities and the wonderful people I’ve met through them are part of why I love living in Oxford so much. Of course I love to venture far and wide, but I’m glad to call this place home right now.

How do you adventure in the place you call home?