Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Maya Angelou Charter School students volunteer at East Capitol Farm

On Friday, December 4, nearly 50 volunteers including students from the Maya Angelou Public Charter School's Young Adult Learning Center (YALC), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Groundwork Anacostia and UDC volunteered, continuing construction on and the beautification of East Capitol Urban Farm. Volunteers learned about urban agriculture and green infrastructure under the leadership of site managers Dr. Kamran Zendehdel and Harris Trobman, from the CAUSES Center for Sustainable Development (CSD), and constructed 20 raised beds and planted the remaining shrubs and trees. Read more about the progress of East Capitol Urban Farm from Dr. Dwane Jones, director, CSD.

A first time user, Kenyatta turned out to be a natural with the drill.

The mission of the Maya Angelou Public Charter School is to create learning communities in lower income urban areas where all students, particularly those who have not succeeded in traditional schools, can reach their potential and prepare for college, career, and a lifetime of success. The following testimonials demonstrate the benefit of community service projects like East Capitol Urban Farm:

Joshua, YALC 
student volunteer: "We've had some disagreements before, but we came together and got over it when planting the tree. Today gave me the opportunity to talk to some of my schoolmates who I normally don't talk to, which is a good thing. I also learned that cooperation is more likely with a single goal. I think a lot of people will enjoy this and what we're doing here--making a difference."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Harris Trobman's water thesis design becomes a reality in Haiti

UDC CAUSES Center for Sustainable Development Green Infrastructure Specialist, Harris Trobman, traveled to Haiti November 19-23, 2015, to provide his design expertise for an advisory consultation with a group of twenty America’s and thirty local Haitians stakeholders. He shares his experience:

For someone who has not visited Haiti it is difficult to even begin to describe. Miles and miles; street to street piles of garbage stern out from the villages of the city. Skews of children and women walk miles carrying, 5-gallon pails of water to their homes for basic needs: drinking, cleaning, and washing clothes. As the poorest nation in the western hemisphere and one of the most disadvantaged in the world, Haiti has to deal with issues of poverty including water and food scarcity on a daily basis. Life in Haiti is not easy.

Despite the strong efforts and billions of dollars invested by many international aid agencies and governments, aid remains far away from having uniform basic needs. Sponsored by the Brethren Global Crisis Funds Mission and Service arm of the Church of the Brethren, the focus of the project was learning about the building bridges of partnerships among the Haitians and with the U.S. leaders.

Brethren Global Crisis Funds recognizes the need to have good technical expertise married with good intentions. Over the past couple years, as a graduate landscape architecture student at University of Maryland, I have collaborated and provided technical guidance of water and agriculture projects for the Brethren Church Global Funds Mission. I was joined on the trip by my former professor and now colleague Dr. Christopher Ellis (University of Maryland's Plant Science and Landscape Architecture) and we presented our ongoing work and research collaboration with the Church of the Brethren. 

 Watch Harris discuss the project. Continue reading for more on the project design.

Free healthy cooking classes for the new year

(click to enlarge)


-Ambassador Andrew Young visits UDC
-Limited beekeeping classes available for UDC stakeholders
- Bell Architects win award for UDC green roof
- 4-H Visits White House Office of Science and Technology 

Ambassador Andrew Young visits UDC
Ambassador Andrew Young visited UDC, where he received a tour of the green roof and demonstration kitchens, both components of the Ward 3 Urban Food Hub. Ambassador Young was the first African-American ambassador to the United Nations, mayor of Atlanta and served in Congress. He was also active in the Civil Rights Movement, working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is pictured to the right with CAUSES Dean Sabine O'Hara and Dean Sepehri. 

Limited beekeeping classes available for UDC stakeholders
The Beekeeping Certification Training program will be offered Jan. 26 - March 15 at the University of the District of Columbia. The DC Beekeepers Alliance is offering a limited number of seats to UDC faculty, staff and students. The introductory course provides the resources and knowledge needed to successfully and responsibly keep bees in the District. Students attending all eight classes will receive a certificate of completion. Contact for more information.

Institute of Gerontology Update

By Claudia John, project director, Institute of Gerontology

In November, the Institute of Gerontology launched a winter coat drive. I am pleased to share that we collected 45 new coats. The Institute of Gerontology donated 40 of the coats to Life Pieces to Master Pieces, a non-profit organization that serves African American boys in Ward 7. I had the opportunity  to attend their Holiday Celebration and it was a wonderful event. There were over 130 young men in attendance, several of whom asked for a hug. One young man in particular gave me a big hug and he said “thank you for the coats." The young man was seven years old. I was so touched by the genuine love of the young men, they are an awesome group of young men. In addition, the president of the organization, presented me with a piece of art created by the young men. The piece is on display in the reception area in IOG. I am very grateful for the opportunity to partner with such an organization. 

The Institute of Gerontology recently held its end of the year In-Service Training for nearly 70 senior volunteers. UDC student organizations SOAR and the 9:30 Club spoke to the seniors about health matters. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

CAUSES welcomes three new members

Mr. Gregory Cooper joined CAUSES as a program coordinator with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), in the Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health, where he teaches and coordinates nutrition workshops in financially challenged areas throughout Washington, D.C. Prior to joining CAUSES, he worked with WIC, Early Head Start Program, INOVA, the Tigerlily Foundation, clinical nutrition and a number of organizations in Liberia, West Africa. He enjoys working with nutrition programs and is focused on alleviating poverty. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Global Community Health and Nutrition from George Mason University. He began working in CAUSES in July.

Dr. Tia Jeffery has also joined CNDH as a project specialist and community educator, with the Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health, where she will plan, implement and evaluate community nutrition education programs that address urban health disparities, positive youth development via nutrition education and fitness, and senior wellness in the District. Prior to joining CAUSES, she provided nutrition management for kidney dialysis at Fresenius Medical Care in California, medical nutrition therapy at Holy Cross Hospital in Maryland, and administered weight management and diabetes programs for Healing Our Village, Inc. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and Dietetic Internship Certificate from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, a Master of Science in Human Nutrition (with a cognate concentration in Exercise Science) from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in Public Health (with a specialization in Community Health Promotion and Education) from Walden University. Dr. Jeffery is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and Certified Health Education Specialist and an Adjunct Professor at Towson University. She began working in CAUSES in October.

Dr. Matthew Richardson joins CAUSES as Assistant Director for Urban Agriculture Research, in the Center for Urban Agriculture and Gardening Education. A native of Pennsylvania, he earned degrees in Biology and Entomology at the University of Delaware before completing his Master’s in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Prior to joining CAUSES, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Crop Sciences at UIUC, a Research Entomologist with the USDA-ARS, and a Research Scientist with the Center for Conservation and Sustainability at the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Richardson’s main research interests lie in understanding plant-insect relationships in human-managed, disturbed, and restored habitats. His writings on science education and outreach appear in six peer-reviewed publications and he is frequently invited to speak in schools, universities, and conferences. His commitment to outreach was recognized with a President’s Volunteer Service Award and a USDA Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Service Award. He will join CAUSES in January 2016.

Happy Holidays from CAUSES!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Health Matters: Healthy Aging

On this edition of  "Health Matters," Claudia John, project director, UDC CAUSES Institute of Gerontology, joins Associate Provost Dr. Connie Webster to discuss healthy aging. Currently people over 65 years of age number 483 million in the world. By the year 2025 approximately 18% of the world population will be seniors. In 2005 there were an estimated 67,473 people aged 100 or older living in the United States. People are living longer and it’s important that good health is a part of their lives.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

CAUSES wins Sustainability Award!

Reprinted with permission from DOEE
DOEE Honors Five Environmental Stewards at 2015 Sustainability Awards

Awardees’ Commitment Moves District Closer to Achieving Sustainable DC Goals
(WASHINGTON, DC) December 15, 2015 – In a ceremony last night at the residence of Danish Ambassador Lars Gert Lose, Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Director, Tommy Wells presented the 2015 District Sustainability Awards to recognize outstanding achievements and leadership in sustainability. The honorees support the goals of the District’s sustainability plan, Sustainable DC, in areas such as energy and water conservation, pollution prevention or reduction, stormwater management practices, green building construction and operation, innovative technology, and sustainable waste management.
“With the historic climate agreement signed in Paris over the weekend, it’s clear that bold action is needed to lower our greenhouse gas emissions nationally. It’s also clear that leadership from local governments and the private sector will be critical to our success,” said DOEE Director Tommy Wells. “This year’s District of Columbia Sustainability Award winners are perfect examples of how private sector partners are working with local government to test innovative new concepts and integrate sustainability into everyday operations. They are true leaders in making the District a healthier, greener, more livable city.”
The 2015 honorees are:
College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Science (CAUSES), UDC
District Sustainability Award
The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Science (CAUSES)—part of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC)—conducts research and undertakes projects such as the 20,000 ft2 green roof on UDC’s campus that promotes urban food production, energy efficiency, and stormwater runoff reduction. With funding from Sustainable DC, CAUSES is developing business incubator kitchens to serve as food and nutrition teaching facilities and entrepreneurship training centers. Through a partnership with the District of Columbia Housing Authority, CAUSES is building and operating the East Capitol Urban Farm and aquaponics facility in Ward 7, which will be the District’s largest urban farm.

East Capitol Urban Farm progress update

By Dwane Jones,  Director, Center for Sustainable Development
Dr. Jones on DCBIA's Community Build Day

Dear Friends,

I hope you are enjoying the transformed space at 5900 East Capitol Street SE, Washington, DC! We have made great progress in both physically enhancing the site and engaging the community and partners. Here is a breakdown of progress since our September 26, 2015, Build Day with the DC Building Industry Association (DCBIA):

  • 27 garden plot applications have been reviewed and accepted. 
  • 39 garden plot inquiries have been received (additional garden plots are allocated to the schools separately). 
  • 22 new volunteers have committed to participate in an ongoing basis in the project. 
  • Students from River Terrace (in partnership with Groundwork Anacostia) have engaged on site three times per week. 
  • Employed two UDC students to help operate the farm. 
  • Begun preparing the site for the Art Sculpture. 
A community/site improvement day was conducted on December 4, 2015. Whenever we have had visitors to stop by the site, they have all had one resounding theme. They have each shared how impactful they believe the project is and will be on the community. Our next steps will be to continue the successes cited above, in addition to the following: 
  • Install the aquaponics system (funded by Sustainable DC + District Department of the Environment, DOEE). 
  • Assign, map, and label community gardening spaces. 
  • Erect additional signage on site. 
  • Schedule an onsite Community Engagement Day in May. 
  • Develop a quarterly schedule of training events on and near the site. 
  • Begin planting and training opportunities in the late winter. 
  • Implement the proposed site management strategy. 
  • Work with community partners to “tell the story” of the community and the project. 

We are also incredibly excited to announce that UDC’s Food Truck (for education and training) will be in our possession by year end. The food truck will play an integral role in supporting East Capitol Urban Farm!

I am very encouraged by the overwhelming support from partners and the community. UDC and its partners look forward to continuing to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity of people and communities in the District of Columbia, the nation, and the world. “Healthy Cities-Healthy People.”

On Behalf of UDC CAUSES, the Center for Sustainable Development+ Partners,

Dwane Jones, Ph.D.
Director of the Center for Sustainable Development (UDC)

Jaime Brown (4-H) and Teresa Turner (CNDH)
Harris Trobman (Sustainable Development) and Tom Kakovitch (former CAUSES professor) 
Kamran Zendehdel (Sustainable Development)