Category Archives: social

Global Warming Unfolding

This brochure about global warming awareness was created by designer Changzhi Lee. It starts like an iceberg and as you unfold it, the iceberg “melts” informing you about global warming and slowly destroying the polar bears habitat.

You can see the rest of the iceberg melt and the brochure unfold on BOOOOOOOM! It’s a really unique idea, so you should definitely check it out.


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Overheard: The Little Mermaid and Feminism

I hear a lot of interesting things walking around campus. Today I heard something particularly interesting. A girl who was talking to a another girl said, “I think The Little Mermaid is the most anti-feminist movie of them all.” One, The Little Mermaid is my favorite Disney movie (alongside Beauty and the Beast) and I don’t think it’s the most anti-feminist of them all. Sure, it’s no Mulan or anything, but seriously, think about it…

Ariel isn’t a Disney princess who needs kissed by Prince Charming to save her, she even sings,

“Bet’cha on land they understand
That they don’t reprimand their daughters
Proper women sick of swimmin’
Ready to stand.”

She is adventurous and wants to be outside of a world (the sea) she is trapped in. She is constantly standing up against and fighting her father, a man who wants to keep her away from standing, which is what she really wants to do. Ariel is a presented as a girl who wants to learn about another world, apart from her own. Now, don’t get me wrong, she is definitely not a model for feminism, but The Little Mermaid is hardly “the most anti-feminist movie of them all.” After all, Ariel does save Prince Eric from drowning, he doesn’t save her. In a way, he is the damsel in distress and she is the heroine.

Also, another main part of the story with some important social commentary is the loss of Ariel’s voice. Women now more than ever certainly have a voice and opinion in things, but as we see in Ariel’s case it is something that can be easily lost. Her voice was her most valuable asset and when she lost it, she almost lost her Prince. When Ariel got her legs, she lost her voice. This could be a stretch, but that could symbolize women’s desire to have it all: the perfect home, husband, job, and family. Once you have one part of your dream, you lost the other part. Unless of course, you live in a perfect world, like in Disney.

The tale ends like any other Disney movie, Prince Eric and Ariel fall deeply in love and live happily ever after, which is may not exactly be representative of feminism, but it is definitely nice to think about.

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Missing Parents

The earthquake in Haiti seems so distant from those of us living in the Northeast United States, where the only weather-related issue we have is the cold temperature. It’s hard for us to imagine everything going on there and exactly how the earthquake is truly effecting those living in Haiti.

This morning I read an article about injured children crying out for their missing parents. Now let’s be honest, it’s been over a week, they aren’t going to find comfort from their parents. This means now there are going to be hundreds more orphaned children living in Haiti. Not only that, but parents are seeing their injured children (many amputated) and walking out on them, which means the children essentially abandoned and will likely die. The death toll as a result of the earthquake isn’t even determined yet, because it hasn’t finished taking lives.

Now, the next time you’re wearing a warm coat, hat, gloves, and scarf, but still complaining about the cold, think about what’s happening around the world. Although you can’t exactly do anything about it, it’s good to acknowledge it, so you can appreciate exactly what you have.

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Here is the NYT article and slideshow about the devastation happening in Haiti following the 7.0 earthquake that hit the country yesterday. Thousands are suspected to be dead as a result of this horrible incident, so keep everyone in your thoughts.

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The Urban Farmer: Planter Of Seeds, Grower Of Neighborhoods

Mary Seton Corboy looks like an intellectual and a farmer collided, wearing soiled covered clothing, thick-rimmed glasses, and blessed with the gift of a permanent tan. She keeps her agenda and checks her email with a Blackberry, hands out business cards, and makes sure the farm is up to date with social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. The 51 year-old is charming with a twist of ironic wit and unsuspected strength for a petite, soft-spoken woman. She is a revolutionary, community activist, and an inventor. Mary Seton Corboy is an urban farmer.

Corboy is one of eight children and spent her childhood and adolescence partially in Ethiopia, but mostly in Washington D.C. Her father was an original member of the Peace Corp. and later worked for the United States State Department.

Moving from Ethiopia to Washington D.C was not the only change in Corboy’s life. She has gone through many transitions and was described by Philadelphia Magazine as a “political scientist turned chef turned gardener.” The confusing life changes can be easily summed up. In 7 years she attended 5 different colleges. Corboy describes herself as not being “academically inclined” and graduated at the bottom of her Catholic high school class. She was young and unsure what to do with the rest of her life. It was not until one of her English literature professors described poetry as a metaphor, as more than what a person or poet says, that poetry actually means a world greater than reality. She heard that, something clicked, and life made sense to Corboy. She graduated from Wilson College on the Dean’s List with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and English Literature. Her academic achievements at Wilson awarded her a scholarship to graduate school.

She attended graduate school at Villanova University just outside Philadelphia and has not left the area since. Following the political lead of her father, Corboy continued her education and graduated with a Master’s degree in Political Science. During the early 1980s, while in graduate school Corboy discovered her passion for cooking. She says she became “enthralled with cooking” and soon realized she was not interested in political science anymore. It became a dull, mundane task and, to her, simply meant just reading the newspaper everyday. Cooking was different, because it allowed Corboy to be creative. It was the then the political scientist turned into a chef.

Since Corboy grew up in Washington D.C., she rarely stepped foot into the outdoors, let alone a farm. It was not until after graduate school that Corboy learned she liked the outdoors. Her enlightenment came when she was asked to take care of artist, Andrew Wyeth’s estate. It was not an easy transition from city girl into country bumpkin. Corboy’s first experience on the estate was driving a rider mower right into a river bordering the estate. After that mishap and a few other adventures Corboy fell in love with the outdoors. She was learning and expanding her mind everyday with knowledge she never learned in college.

In 1998, Corboy opened Greensgrow Farm with then partner Tom Sereduk. The farm opened originally to grow and sell hydroponic lettuce to restaurants throughout the city. The idea was to cut down on the travel time of the food to ensure freshness and premium healthiness. The farm takes up an entire city block in the Kensington neighborhood. According to Corboy, her and Sereduk did not choose Kensington, Kensington chose them. The farm sits on top of vacant land on which an old steel plant once stood, in the middle of a once benign neighborhood. When Corboy and Sereduk first opened Greensgrow and told their friends the idea of a hydroponic lettuce farm in Kensington, everybody thought they were crazy. At the time the neighborhood seemed like a barren wasteland, not to mention it was notorious for being unsafe. Nothing stopped the two aspiring urban farmers, because they believed cultivating in a city lot was an efficient way to reuse wasted urban space. The chef turned into a gardener.

With Corboy’s determination she was able to take the vacant city block and make it a breath of fresh air in the mostly industrial community. The idea of an urban farm seems an oddity in itself. Food cannot be grown in city soil, and concrete and asphalt cannot be broken down to plant seeds. With this in mind, Corboy mixed her creativity with some brainpower and the farm is now lined with rows of raised beds, which are filled with organic soils used to grow a plentiful supply of not just lettuce, but a variety of vegetables.

Corboy is a cancer survivor, a cancer surviving urban farmer. Her passion did not let her sickness get in the way of farming and shaping Greensgrow into a core of community development for Kensington. For those who know her, Corboy is inspirational, a fighter, a woman who shows those around her that you can’t take things for granted.

When describing Corboy, Greensgrow employee Stefanie Emery says she is, “a strong person, a lot of people don’t have that kind of will.” Corboy talks openly about her sickness to the workers on the farm and Emery said she has even referenced working on the farm lugging an oxygen tank along her side.

People often refer to cancer as a battle, an unfortunate battle in which many are defeated. In an online video profile by Logo, an MTV affiliate, Corboy said, “without humor I would have given up a long time ago.” When Corboy was fighting her battle she was armed and prepared to defeat it using humor, strong will, and her philosophy of life.

Corboy has learned to see the lighter side of life. Working somewhere as uncanny as an urban farm can be very unpredictable at times. On an almost daily basis she is called out of her row home office to solve a problem on the farm and she never knows what is going to happen, she just knows she needs to laugh it off. Corboy believes humor gives a better perspective for the dark sides of life. Emery says Corboy, “takes things seriously, but has a good way of looking at them.” Corboy describes humor as a level of pathos, just like hurt and sorrow. Rather than hurt or sorrow she says, “humor is what you get when you throw me emotions.” Instead of giving up when a hardship strikes, she sees the irony in life and that helps her get through everything day-to-day.

Corboy is a great presence in the neighborhood and has created Greensgrow to be a powerful tool in Kensington. In its twelve years of operation the urban farm has done wonders in transforming and developing the community. Corboy and the farm have not asked the citizens of Kensington to change instead have helped make the community a more attractive place to live. Greensgrow itself has transformed from a business located in Kensington, simply making money, into what Corboy calls “a community-based business all about the neighborhood.”

There is a banner that hangs on the fence surrounding the farm that says, “Greensgrow Farm: Growers of food, flowers, and neighborhoods.” Corboy has developed the farm to be not only as a resource for fresh local, food to those in the neighborhood, but also as a tool to be used in the community and to educate those living in the community. Greensgrow seeks to educate not only about urban farming, but also about the importance of eating locally grown food, its health benefits, and emphasizes sustainability.

Since the urban farm is a fairly new idea, something no one has quite figured out yet, Corboy is always finding new ways to be creative, and everything is an experiment. The farm is always growing, evolving, and changing. Recently, Corboy and the Greensgrow crew renovated the kitchen of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church located a few blocks away from the farm. This kitchen is open for the workers at Greensgrow to make the prepared food they sell. It is a community project kitchen and is open for the neighborhood to use.  Emery says, “Mary likes to give back to the community” and believes she has hopes of one day turning it into a soup kitchen.

Through the tribulations Corboy has learned a lot about herself, the world, and life. There have been many times when she could have given up, cried, and settled into a normal, boring job. When talking about life Corboy says, “you just have to go where the road takes you.” She has found that she always lands on her feet with all the decisions she makes and ideas she has, no matter how crazy they may seem. Corboy could be busy doing something mundane, like reading the newspaper, but instead she is constantly reinventing something on an urban farm in an industrial Philadelphia neighborhood. In all of her efforts, Mary Seton Corboy hopes for one thing, to make reality better.

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Filed under economic, environment, social, sustainability

Breaking Up

There’s plenty of fish in the sea, or at least that’s what friends say after a terrible break up. No matter how many times we hear it, breaking up still consumes our entire being, and causes never ending self-loathing. No one could ever replace who you lost. Break ups are heart wrenching and you feel alone, like no one else has ever gone through what you’re going through and no one could ever understand what it’s like to have your heart stomped on. Regardless of what your irrational self thinks everyone knows exactly what you’re going through after a devastating break up.

During my break up with, we’ll call him “Life Ruiner” or maybe “Steve” is more appropriate, I hated the fact that we broke up, so I repeated things over and over in my head, processing the thousands of things I did wrong. One of the most comforting facets of a tragic break up is the song you choose to accompany you in all your misery. My song was Belle & Sebastian’s “I’m A Cuckoo.” I could relate to every single line in the song with a burning passion and felt like every word was penned solely for me and my agony. It seemed to tell the story of my relationship and break up with Steve all too well. Stuart Murdoch passionately sang the words,

“Breaking off is misery

I see a wilderness for you and me

Punctuated by philosophy

I’m wondering how things could’ve been”

I sang along just as passionately until I couldn’t sing anymore, feeling sad in my defeat, and wasting countless hours wondering ‘what if.” In my mind, Steve and I were meant to be together and were lost in the wilderness of our love, searching for a way back to each other.

All the self-loathing, dramatics, and the sinking hole in your chest make you do and say things your ordinarily sane self would never think of doing or saying. Again, I was no exception to this break up faux pas. Some channel this negativity by drunk-dialing their ex, pleading to get back together while others become adrenaline junkies, having lost their purpose in life. Fortunately, my theatrics only led me to locking myself in my room and reading the entire Twilight series in two weeks. Not something a sane person would do. My pain was entirely gone for that period of time, wrapped up in the love between a human and vampire. Trapped inside a fictional world, far from my reality, turning pages in a place where impossible love seemed to rule.

There are many phases after a break up. You miss the person to the point of sickening sadness, eventually get over it and start to hate the person in the worst kind of way. At this point wishful thinking ensues. I would imagine myself gallivanting around Philadelphia with some serious eye candy, bumping into Steve, and seeing a distraught look take over his stupid face. After seeing my new beau, Steve would ferociously stalk my Facebook, seeing pictures of my new, healthy relationship, and cry. He would send me text messages, apologizing, pleading to rekindle our love at whatever cost. I wouldn’t respond. Unfortunately, wishful thinking is just that, and it never comes true. I hated Steve and I wanted him to feel my pain, but knew he never would.

Soon you realize you could never hate someone you once cared so much about and find every and any excuse to talk to them. It’s not over yet, at least in your mind. You’re sitting online, the other person logs on; you haven’t talked in months, and can’t stand it anymore. The first mistake too many make is setting their away status to an ambiguous “emo” lyric. An example goes like this, “You’re barely missing me, I’m missing you and everything you do,” a line from The Get Up Kids song My Apology. There’s a lot of logic behind this move. Obviously, the person will see the status, know you still love them, and instant message you immediately. Believe it or not, this isn’t very tactful and it makes you look like a huge, desperate loser.

Everyone learns the ambiguous emo lyric is far from ambiguous, so you remove it. However, you continue to stare at your computer, hoping maybe they’ll talk to you. Nothing happens. In this case, I searched my mind for anything I possibly could to talk to Steve about. Finally, when I was at the point of choking on my virtual words, I messaged him. I spilled my guts about whatever pointless thing I possibly could, hoping for a positive response. This, like everything else post break up, leaves you completely unsatisfied.

Someday, if you’re lucky, you wake up from the post break up nightmare that has become your life and move on. Once you can’t stand listening to the same song on repeat anymore and you’ve completed the stages of the break-up, the sun starts shining, your cold heart begins to melt, and you are flooded with an emotion you forgot existed. You are happy. With the weight on your chest lifted, the world is your oyster and you understand what everyone has been saying and you’re ready to go fishing.

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Filed under complaint department, crazy, social, writing

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

When I was a kid my mom always said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” That’s a fabulous arrangement of words, but I sweat the small stuff. A lot. Everything is always a bigger deal to me than it actually is or should be. For instance, if I miss my bus or trolley or my bike gets a flat tire (happens way too often) I think it’s some cosmic sign that I shouldn’t be there at that time. Like, for some reason my bad timing is perfect timing and there’s a reason behind me missing my bus or getting that flat tire.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about something to a point that it’s probably unhealthy. It’s something I can do nothing about and can never change, but that doesn’t stop me from daydreaming, wandering “what if…” I’m sweating the small stuff and it’s consuming my life, my friends’ lives, and probably even my cat’s. My life is completely overcome by fantasy and I spend so much time thinking about it, spilling my guts. For instance, I’m writing this post about it, on my futon with a towel wrapped around my head, because I just got out of the shower and should be getting ready for a meeting at 11 and an interview at 1:30. I’m wasting life sweating the small stuff, while the good things are probably passing right by me.

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