Category: Notables

Growing From the Heart

Growing From The Heart Logo
PhotoCreation: Kat Dvorak

Introduction
My name is Savannah Obert-Pfeiffer and I am finishing up my second year at Michigan Tech as a Sustainability Science and Society major. I was interested in working with the Growing From The Heart project because I have seen first hand wasted garden goods. It is always heartbreaking to have to throw away, compost or toss to the animals all the produce that you’ve spent time to help grow. I also wanted to know more about the community of people in Houghton, finding people who are excited for the growing months and be able to grow a garden of my own this summer. It will be my first time in Houghton all year round and I am very excited for the growth to start.

Mission Statement and Last Year’s Report
Growing from the Heart is a grassroots initiative increasing access to fresh, local, and nourishing food grown by and for our friends and neighbors throughout the Western UP region. As we grow and redistribute food, we work together toward food sovereignty throughout our region. In 2020, the program reported sharing over 90.3 lbs of fresh produce. This included 21 different submitted reports of food sharing, 10 unique individuals have reported food sharing (20 people have signed up to be food sharers) and 3 unique pantries and to families/individuals. So far this year we have had feedback from 14 people in a pre-season interest form and 16 participants at two planning meetings.

Research Questions
For this second season of the program, I asked the following questions: How could Growing From the Heart work better in the future? How to structure drop-offs to be inclusive for community members? In what ways can community members work together to collectively supply more people with fresh food?

Findings/Recommendations
Most things were well received however more of the uncommon goods like swiss chard or squash, collard greens. Produce that a lot of people do not have experience with will turn them away; however, if little cards for ideas of how to cook or recipes went along with the produce more people would likely use it.

The pantries overall enjoyed the donations and considered having boxes or bins to store all of the donated produce. Some thought about people saving their extra boxes and using these when they drop-off fresh produce donations so that people coming to receive the pantry food could take home produce in a box. This way it could recycle the boxes, but also the idea of bins would work just as well to designate the drop-off spots.

There have also been a few meetings this spring to discuss the plans for the growing season of 2021. At these meetings there have been around 16 people each time, ranging all over the general area. Ironwood, Calumet, Lake Linden, Copper Harbor, Baraga, are a few examples; these are people that are students at Tech, graduates, faculty, and many community members not associated with Tech and crossing generations. The meetings are a diverse group of people that have a dedicated interest in growing food, which is all one can ask for.

What’s Next
As of April 2021, we are planning on having in-person meetings (wearing masks and socially distanced) over the growing season, to interact and exchange information or goods. There is a plan for a meeting in May to give compost out, make garden signs, and possibly swap plant starts. The goal is to incorporate everyone’s interests at some point. The details for the first meet-up in May are listed below:

  • Saturday, May 15th from 1-3 pm at Chutes and Ladders Park. The group invites everyone to learn more about the program and to make “Growing from the Heart” garden signs. Supplies will be provided, though people are welcome to bring their own tools/scrap wood if they wish. A limited amount of compost will be available from the Sustainability Demonstration House for people to take home (please bring own containers).

Potential future meet-up ideas are listed below and dates will be scheduled soon:

  • June Meet-up: Host a free school (people show up and share / teach each other about a subject) in the community 1x or 2x a month to engage with the community, for example seed stories, transplants, and connecting to trade things other than produce, fish, meat, dairy, grains.
  • July Meet-up: Free workshops and getting together to preserve the food.
  • August Meet-up: Seed saving tips and tricks, this way people can donate back into the Portage Lake Seed Library.

Savannah Obert-Pfeiffer will start her 3rd year as a Sustainability Science and Society major in Fall 2021. She completed work with the Growing from the Heart program as part of a Spring 2021 SS Undergraduate Program for Exploration and Research in Social Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Angie Carter (MTU Social Sciences).


Seed Saving within Portage District Library

by Maya Klanderman

The Portage Lake Seed Library is a new addition within the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton, MI this growing season. Seed libraries are grassroot initiatives focused on enriching the gardening community by encouraging seed saving and swapping. Novice or expert gardeners are provided with a low-risk way to try something new by using seed libraries. Using native, non GMO seeds, seed libraries provide free seeds to the public for gardening purposes.

The seed library is situated near the new books section, towards the front of Portage Lake District Library. It is easily accessible and open to anyone who wants to check out seeds for the 2021 growing season.

The seed library hosts multiple varieties of seeds, including flowers. These seeds are from local growers and donations to the seed library. All of these seeds are suitable for growing in the Keweenaw.

There is a binder situated on top of the seed library which holds documents needed to check out seeds as well as additional information about seed saving. Patrons can then take the seeds, plant them, harvest, and collect a portion of the seeds to donate back to the seed library in the fall. You do not need to be a member of the library to donate or check out seeds.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us at our email address PortageSeedLibrary@gmail.com.There will be more information available as the fall and winter season nears as to how seed donations will be accepted back to the seed library. Additional information and resources can be found on the Portage Lake District Library website. Happy seed saving!

Maya Klanderman will start her 2nd year as a Sustainability Science and Society major in Fall 2021. She completed work with the Portage Lake Seed Library as part of a Spring 2021 SS Undergraduate Program for Exploration and Research in Social Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Angie Carter and Rachael Pressley (Portage Lake Seed Library).


Undergraduate Departmental Awards Announced

The undergraduate committee of the Department of Social Sciences is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s departmental awards. Thanks to all who nominated students and provided letters of support. Congratulations to this year’s winners:

Outstanding Senior: Tim Stone
The Department of Social Sciences Outstanding Senior Award recognizes outstanding undergraduate achievement in accomplishments in academics, research, leadership, and/or service.

Undergraduate Research: Alannah Woodring, Madelina Dilisi
The Undergraduate Thesis or Research Awards recognizes one Social Sciences graduating senior and one junior for their exemplary research, as evidenced in an undergraduate thesis, original research, or creative project under the guidance of department faculty members or other mentors. The awardees are recognized for research that is original and substantive given the standards of the discipline.

Community-Based Research: Kat Dvorak, Savannah Obert-Pfeiffer
The Community-Based Research Prize recognizes a Social Science student who is actively engaged in community-based research, a pillar of the department’s mission. The prize honor’s the student’s efforts to enhance community capacity, build relationships, and/or support community participation in research. 


Sharing Research about Women Who Fish Through a StoryMap

Savannah Obert-Pfeiffer is a soon-to-be third year student majoring in Sustainability Science and Society. The following blog was written as part of the Department of Social Sciences’ Undergraduate Program for Exploration and Research in Social Sciences (UPERSS) at Michigan Tech University.

What was your UPERSS project?

For my project I created a StoryMap website to represent a Social Sciences Department graduate student project titled, “Connections: Stories from Women Who Fish”. 

Why did you use StoryMap rather than creating a “regular” website? 

StoryMap is a platform that can be used in many different ways, including creating a web page designed around a specific map, it can be used like I did with more of a website but fun and interactive pieces, as well as making it a guided tour of the webpage. StoryMap is a good platform to use to portray information in a very personal way, rather than just scrolling through a one dimensional website StoryMap can take the reader with the creator on the journey of what the website has to offer. It is easy to work and play around to add fun experiences like moving text while the pictures stay until the next paragraph is ready. I would highly recommend StoryMaps because I have worked with many website platforms but nothing as creatively independent as StoryMap.

For the purpose of this particular project I used StoryMap to share background on the project, information about what Photovoice methodology is, and display women’s fishing stories and images (combined as “photostories”) in an interactive map showing some of these anglers fishing spots. I used the information that Erin Burkett (PhD, Environmental and Energy Policy, ‘19) had compiled for her graduate research and condensed it with the information she felt was most important to have on the website. Rather than focusing on women’s fishing participation rates or large-scale patterns among recreational anglers, I focused on sharing information produced by 15 women who participated in the photovoice project. The emphasis is on their unique experiences and perspectives. There were a lot of photos that anglers gave to Erin and I wanted to show off as many as possible while still keeping it interactive, which is why I made the map. For me this was the highlight of being creative with the website because it gave me the opportunity to see what I could create and I really enjoyed the process. 

Why did you want to work on this project? 

At a young age I would always go fishing with my mom and grandparents on their pontoon, as well as with my dad at our family friends’ pond. My life was highly influenced by these trips and as I got older I slowly stopped, which makes me sad. When I saw this project on the UPERSS project page I knew I wanted to do something, It had such a meaning to me that I honestly did not realize I missed it. This project was something that seemed like a really fun activity to do and I was right. 

Also, it is exciting to think about having a website that can bring joy to people that were involved. Other people that saw the process of Erin’s project, even some of my friends, wanted to look at it because they were so impressed by the fish these women caught. 

What was challenging?

I remember when I was starting out I was so scared of making something for someone that compiles a lot of what their graduate project contained. I was also very nervous to step out of my comfort zone with getting involved and meeting with her, but it was amazing in every way. I highly recommend any undergraduates that have the opportunity to start on a project that they feel passionate about, because if you are interested in the topic it makes discussing it that much easier. Also being proud of the end product helps to gain a strong support system, by growing better relationships with professors and others who can help out later in my career.  A challenge I had with the actual process of the website was at one point the map I created would not show up anymore, so I had to recreate it. It is not hard work but it was frustrating to know that the part I spent the most time on was gone. A personal struggle I have was tracking my time, I found it somewhat like a stress reliever to work on after or before I finished my other homework, so I would just start working on it and 20 actions and changes on the site later I would realize I had no idea when I started. So, for anyone that is looking to do this type of project and needs to track hours put a text in at the top of the site so that when you start working on it you will see that note and just look at the time, then delete it before publishing. 

What did you learn through the course of this project (knowledge, skills, etc..)? 

Some of the key points that I learned from this project are how to use story maps, I have never used this before so I had a lot of fun. I also learned about working with people and trying to collaborate, it was a very good learning curve.                                                                          

How will you apply what you have learned in the future? 

This process will definitely benefit me because of how I learned how maneuvering different platforms for creating content can be very beneficial, as well as knowing more people, and just getting my name on something that I can show people. I would highly recommend undergraduates to participate in UPERSS personally, I know I will be in the future so this was a fantastic starting point. 


On the Road

Shan Zhou (SS) presented her paper “The Interplay between Renewable Portfolio Standard and Voluntary Green Power Market in the United States” in the session “Determinants and Challenges of Environmental Policy” at the the 78th Annual Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Conference, which was held virtually April 14-18.

This paper evaluates the efficacy of utility-based voluntary green power programs implemented in conjunction with government-led (mandatory) renewable energy policies.


2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium

Congratulations to all four of the Social Science majors who presented their work in this year’s Undergraduate Research Symposium!

Brooke Batterson (History) “Analysis of the Labor Market & Landscape of 1900 Lake Linden French Canadians”

Tim Stone (Sustainability Science and Society): “The Daily Spaces and Environmental Hazards for Youth in the Industrial City”

Alannah Woodring (Sustainability Science and Society): “What Are the Best Practices to Integrate Therapy Gardens into Programs Servings At Risk Populations?”

Ava Miller (Sustainability Science and Society): “Community Response to Renewable Energy Project Siting: A Case Study in L’Anse, MI”

And special congratulations to Ava Miller whose project tied for the second place award as “best undergraduate presentation” among all undergraduate presentations!