C 104

This is the blog of CREST Sustainability, as composed by instructor Andrew Bernier. It is a means to get a look into what is happening in the world of sustainability, what is happening in the classroom and reflections on the challenges and successes of developing a program like this one. It is meant not to be a formal narrative, but rather an informal space to allow readers to see what we are really up to beyond the next day's lesson. The title, "C 104" is the physical space where the CREST Sustainability students meet everyday. Please note that all posts are the opinion of Andrew Bernier and don't necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of those in the Paradise Valley Unified School District. Thanks for visiting and happy reading.

Start of something special.

posted Aug 23, 2013, 7:49 AM by Unknown user

Its a podcast!!!!! HORRRAY!!!

New Global Citizens at Paradise Valley!

posted Apr 8, 2013, 10:08 AM by Unknown user

Recently we saw the relaunch of New Global Citizens at Paradise Valley High School, led by a trio of sophomores Ivette Jimenez, Nikita Kowal and John Caviness. The created a beautiful website to show off their work as the official New Global Citizens - Paradise Valley Chapter. I think it will be great to see this type of civic engagement as an organized club to be offered along side with our phenomenal FFA Chapter, which by the way has been cleaning up awards left and right, who also has students Kayla Pabon and Trey Bachtiger, who also attended the NGC event. Students will work together with other students from around the world to help combat large scale issues around the world, such as hunger, poverty, educational inequity, poor accesses to healthcare and, well, you get it, what sustainability is looking to address. We had about 16 students turn our for initial meeting, so I look forward to seeing this group grow and expand out on campus. Strike while the iron is hot team and good luck! Also the cookies that you brought were excellent!

Giving a chance to this whole "vlog" thing...

posted Mar 5, 2012, 7:15 AM by Unknown user

Vlog 2.23.12

 So here is the first attempt at "vlogging," or video based blogging. It reminds me a lot of the movie Avatar where the soldier there keeps track of his experiences via video recordings and is kept on record. That movie is based in the next century or so, which brings me to the conclusion that CREST Sustainability is far into the future, or at least not too far off. Or just really into the present.

Anyway, you may notice that the vlog is for February 23rd, and I am posting it on March 5th. Reason being is that I was a tad hesitant to do so. It is rough, there are a lot of umms, and was completely off the cuff. But, I thought about what good doing a bunch of rehearsals would do besides keep me later after school, and decided that what immediately came to mind while recording would be the most important, and once I start fumbling for ideas, I should just stop, as these things are not much fun to watch beyond two minutes or so. Much like the rules of improv, say the first thing that comes to mind. If you pop around to a couple of other students websites, you will notice that they are starting to vlog too, in addition to their regular blogging. 

Again, want to give thanks to The Lot 2012 for hosting and here is a video of the event that they made, and it seems that we are getting really into this video making thing, but hopefully we don't lose the craft of writing as well. Happy Viewing!

Water! And devising the science within.

posted Feb 24, 2012, 7:32 AM by Unknown user

Properties of Water

Judging by the lack of posts, I hope you came to the realization that last semester was a busy/hectic/intense and cram packed chunk of time. And we are now chugging along with the water couse (please excuse the pun)! To start you may have noticed that there is the very first collaborative assignment of the semester off to the right; it is the student's analysis of different properties of water. It was from this analysis that the students then devised their own method of testing the water, which you can find here
    The significance of this lab is big, because now the sophomores are creating their own labs and executing them, and to great avail, with little confusion and relatively clean execution. Besides just following directions of pre-made labs and not being able to have any input into the investigative process, the CREST Sustainability students now have the ability to craft their own investigative processes and have their say of how they want to execute that. A lot of people may disagree that this is not the means of how to do science, but when I think about if, if you walk up to a tree and want to figure out how it works, you can't just pull a worksheet off of one of the branches and fill in the blanks to "understand" how a tree works. Not to mention, the tree isn't going to tell you what materials you may need to collect your data or the procedure you should follow to examine its sugar and water flow through its xylem and phloem. 
    To much of science education has fallen into merely "doing" science, where most scientists only "do" science a small fraction of the time. Most of actual career science is preparing, defending, networking, literature researching and then the actual data collection. CREST Sustainability is what this is all about, not only "doing" science, but truly understanding what scientific investigation is all about, where science plays a role in the big picture of truly investigating the world around us to make our people and communities in which we live healthier and more prosperous. 

Cultural Natural Capital

posted Oct 4, 2011, 4:16 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Feb 28, 2014, 9:09 AM by Unknown user ]

PV Natural Capital

We just wrapped up the natural capital unit for the sustainability course. In it, we discussed the provisioning (goods) services, regulatory (managing) services, supporting (growth) services and cultural services that an ecosystem provides. As we were going through the unit, it is amazing to think of how we perceive the naturally occurring world around us, which is typically with very little regard to the value of what each component of an ecosystem is really worth. For instance, if you scroll through the student presentation to the right, you will come across a pinecone. Found right here on the Paradise Valley High School Campus, this typically will result in something to kick or throw for the species (or sub-species, depending on what year they are in) known as the high school student. But looking at what the true value is of the pine cone is something only a knowledgeable and observant eye can make.

Natural Capital is where we take the view of modern economics and apply it to naturally occurring systems. Capital is basically any good or service that is produced by a country, and the collective value of a country's goods and services is measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). So let's introduce the idea of the Green GDP (GGDP), a measuring system that includes the value of gain and loss of natural goods and services. So as opposed to looking at the value of what humans create, buy and sell, what about the goods and services that nature creates...for free. Or better yet, how costly would it be if we were to pollute, injure or remove these free services? As Thomas Fuller, M.D. once said in 1732, "We never know the worth of water until the well has run dry."

As opposed to diving any further into the actual lesson, I want to look at one particular aspect of natural capital that has an amazingly huge impact on my life; cultural natural capital. When humans use nature as inspiration for art, literature or enjoyment, such as camping, hiking, ecotourism, etc., that is called cultural natural capital. It is immeasurable to calculate how much revenue has been generated by works of art or tourism based on nature. Think about how much money of art, photography, literature, hiking/camping and even just visiting generate for the state of Arizona; and that is one piece of nature on this whole planet.

I started a landscape photography website with a buddy of mine. It is called A Better Camera Habit, and it  shows the pictures that we have taken when just letting ourselves go in the natural landscape. I know personally that I cannot be without getting out to adventure the natural world and also I need to know that it exists, so even when something of natural wonder in Australia is under pressure, it kinda stings a little to think that I'll never be able to get it. But from what my friend and I have captured with our point and click cameras, maybe we can bring the beauty of nature to those who have a harder time accessing it, like my students or those who can't afford to get out there. Anyway, feel free to poke around A Better Camera Habit and see some of my other work at capturing cultural natural capital. 

Double Dipping

posted Sep 7, 2011, 2:25 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Sep 7, 2011, 3:38 PM ]

Now that we are in the full swings of things here at CREST, we are all feeling the stress. High expectations, high level material and high amounts of work to be done are a definite change of pace than the summer relaxation that we became familiar with. But there is a commonality that I have noticed amongst us here in the CREST program; we all enjoy/revel in having a full plate. The students themselves are already head first in sports, cheerleading, activist groups, music, reading, helping at home and the tricky of balancing all of that, their other classes and their CREST work. I wonder if this is typical of high performing students?; that they think because they can do many things that they should  do them. I am by no means sperate from this group, as my plate is plenty full outside of CREST. The balance of developing the program and outside "life" is not so much different from the student's execution of the program and their outside "lives" The reason why I quote is because the lines of separation are blurring as each day passes.

So, the reason for the title is because in lieu of the uniqueness of the program, some have suggested I go back to school and pursue my PhD. Well, that is precisely what I've done; be a teacher and student simultaneously. I have enrolled in the Ph.D program of Sustainability Education at Prescott College. I am a full time student, though the program is "low residency," meaning that I only spend one full week on the campus at the start of each semester and the rest of the program is spent online via group modules, Skype and conference calls.
It is a challenge in regards to time needed to complete the work for the foundational courses, though it is an incredible asset to my teaching. I say this because it is right now the only place where I can get sustainability specific growth and development; enriching my understanding of this vast and complex subject. Though, with grading some 71 students work and preparing two classes I have not taught before , the time for true effectiveness in these subjects will be a challenge to preserve. Then again, like my students, we are still less then a month in, and the adaptation to all of these responsibilities is still talking place, and as the program goes, the skills that come with adaptation and being flexible will greatly serve and benefit not only myself but my students as well. The responsibilities, skills and knowledge that sustainable solutions demands require those to adapt, work hard and persevere where there are no clear answers. 

I hope that the program proves to challenge me in ways that I can then challenge my students. It will be a lot of work but those who subscribe themselves to study, research and implement sustainability principles automatically sign themselves up for a lot of work, as it is that work to shift, reform and rethink the ways we as humans function on this planet that is crafted by those at the high school level, the Ph.D level, the levels in between and the levels before and after.

Back In Session

posted Aug 11, 2011, 11:12 AM by Unknown user

It has been a while since the last post, a near three and a half months. In that time we have seen the conclusion of the first ever CREST Sustainability semester, a much needed summer vacation, many conversations about sustainability and now the first week of Sustainable Ecosystems Use has come to a conclusion. Sitting here at my desk in the teacher workroom long after the final bell on Friday has rung provides the perfect sentiment to this week; long and tiring. The metaphorical work mountain that sits infront of me proves to be formidable, much like that of the mountains of Olympic National Park in the Olympic peninsula of Washington state, where I spent a lot of my summer break. And even though hiking some 120 miles this summer (a majority of it with 50 pounds on my back) certainly felt like work, I would take that work any day then the work of sitting late typing away in front of a laptop.

As a young professional, there is a certain dynamic of not so much letting go of the fun that I embraced when I was younger (I still get plenty of joy from running through a creek), but learning how to work in time for the...well, work. As this program develops and I've made it as online based as I can through Google (which by the way I am very, very thankful for but growing slightly weary of their power of nearly everything at this point), I find that my outdoor excursions are no where near as numerous as they need to be, or at least what my body demands. Instead I find said body furiously typing away in front of a laptop. Even though the whole premise of a laptop is to provide mobility, it usually entails the mobility from one air conditioned space to another air conditioned space.  But then I actually look at what I am working on, and I think "how could it get better than this?" I get to teach the radest group of young adults while building one of the most important and fastest growing elements of our society; sustainability education. Truly grooming the next generation to be the next set of leaders, leaders with the ability to systematically think, consider the well being of all stakeholders, anticipate intended and unintended consequences, see the big and little picture and weigh the pros & cons of the choices they will have to make. With that in mind as I sit here in front of the laptop, I know that getting back to the work will be worth it. With the weight of importance of what we are covering, it has to be.

Is everyday Earth day?

posted Apr 25, 2011, 11:47 AM by Unknown user

This past Friday was Earth day, and a number of students were jumping around about what we should do as the sustainability class and how we should "help the Earth." I could not help but think about how the connotation of holding a separate day regards the Earth as a singular entity that should be recognized, placed in the same compartment at some of our presidents and single events. Yet, we stand on the Earth everyday, and consume from it... oh yeah, everyday again.

But then again, reading the flood of emails in regards to Earth day events, I was happy to see as many "celebrations" and doodads taking place, but I kept thinking , what role does sustainability play in Earth day? Thinking about that whole "Triple Bottom Line" concept, why don't we celebrate just has hard for social justice revolutions? Or economic achievements? Reflecting back on the CREST research project on the history of sustainability, it's roots are nestled in the environmental movement, which by all means would be appropriate for Earth day shenanigans. But sustainability is an evolution of thought off the environmental branch, so is solely celebrating Earth day a regression in that thought process, furthering the social stigma that sustainability = environmental sustainability? Or does the environmental component of sustainability in the end carry more weight than the other branches? I just read this paragraph over again, and I have come to the conclusion that I have written too many questions, and that I may be looking into this a bit too hard.

We need to get back to the point where we know and recognize that the Earth plays a central role in our everyday existence. Looking at that cartoon, it reinforces the idea that we know what we are doing on this planet is not good for its health. But we are still hesitant to instill the technology and practices that we already have to achieve what we want and work with natural systems, not against them. So then do we have to wait until April 2012 for the public to start thinking about the planet in which they reside? Or do we start voluntarily making the health of the planet in which we reside a central part of the conversation, along with the economy, healthcare, women's rights, etc.  Or will the Earth decide for us that it's health needs to be a part of the conversation? I hope that we get to choose when. Happy Earth day folks.

A theater where the most important character is the audience.

posted Apr 20, 2011, 4:11 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Feb 28, 2014, 9:06 AM by Unknown user ]

The Arizona State University Decision Theater...a facility that one could have expected to find in the second "Back the the Future" film, but was conveniently tucked away on a side street off Mill avenue in downtown Tempe. Having existing now for five years, the Decision Theater (DT) has been the location of several serious discussions and choices, such as the city planners and administrators of Tempe coming to gather and easily reach a consensus on the shape of the city skyline. About a week and a half ago, the CREST Sustainability branch visited the DT, looking into a potential tool to help stakeholders make sustainable decisions for the future. 

I am curious about the nature of field trips in regards to sustainability. Typically students coming from middle school and the little experience they have with field trips (due to dwindling school budgets) perceive these excursions as fun excuses to be out of class. Against that grain though, I hope that these trips end up doing at least one of the following three things: 1. Enlighten the students to professionals and foremost thinkers in this area (see older post about blogger Andrew Revkin), 2. Expose students to resources and opportunities outside of PVHS that can help them now and in the future and 3. Get them to research, action and work! 

The DT trip fell more under option 2, as I hope that the students have the chance to conduct research projects that can utilize a facility such as that DT. My main concern is mostly logistics, as in what type of computer programming would need to be created to accommodate the research the students want to conduct? The structures of the capillaries of the brain and Tempe's city infrastructure are complex models and could (emphasis on could, not definite) be a bit too much for our students to compose due to time and resource constrictions. But the numbers game that they showed us with the water availability is something that could be adopted; just might require some changing around of formulas and titles. Titles I could handle, formulas....not so much.

Regardless of how the CREST and DT relationship forms, I hope that the concept of DTs catches on and becomes a standard application of major decisions, as most stalemates in making progress is just a breakdown in communication, and a place like the DT can help eliminate that challenge. 

The tour was a mere half hour and as we were on our way out to the bus, but I saw the word sustainability again and wandered off into another office. To my chagrin, I happened to find The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), a new office that works to make the world of consumerism as sustainable as possible. We had the awesome chance of getting an impromptu presentation by PhD Candidate Marco Ugarte from the ASU School of Sustainability. For what it was, and from the complete kindness of TSC, we received a v
ery informative and thorough orientation to TSC. As the video was playing (Inside TSC from The Sustainability Consortium),  both Linda and myself could not help but think that our students in sustainability are going to be the future leaders in this field, that the mindset, skills and leadership that will be taught in the sustainability program are going to be the most desirable traits companies are going to be looking for, and not direct how to-single application skills. 

I think about when people want explanations of their child's career opportunities or what good sustainability is in the work place, and I am so happy to know that the DT and TSC exist to help shift that mind-set. We need to get away from the "what" people are going to work as and move to a "how" people are going to work as. The "what" will constantly change, so it is foolish to have a single occupation and career path set, but so long as we teach the "how" to work smartly, efficiently,

resourcefully, adaptively, collaboratively and effectively, in essence sustainably, it won't matter what job our students take on, because that job will be done well.

The Governor makes a visit

posted Apr 4, 2011, 3:07 PM by Unknown user   [ updated May 2, 2012, 12:16 PM ]

To come back to the idea at hand, Gov. Brewer visited CREST to announce $450,000 in scholarships & grants towards public school students. She made the announcement to a group of Jobs for Arizona Graduates (JAG) students, none of which were CREST students.  To get more specifics about the event, click here to read the news article

1-10 of 19