Category Archives: events

The Mountaintop 50 Years Later

MLK50_NYOn this day in 1968, Martin Luther King delivered his final speech in Memphis in support of the sanitation workers who had been on strike since that February. Tonight in Washington Square Park, the audio of the speech will be played in its entirety beginning at 7:30pm. On the other side of the country, Stanford holds a screening of the documentary “I am MLK Jr.,” performances, and comments by Professor Clayborne Carson beginning at 6pm PT. (April 4 update: In Chicago, 99-year-old civil rights activist and historian Timuel Black discusses Dr. King’s life and legacy at Rockefeller Chapel at 12:30pm CT.)

Memphis has been holding events since the start of the week relating to the speech and Dr. King’s assassination; Rev. Dr. Bernice King is participating in several events, and( the Commercial Appeal provides information on events on Wednesday’s sad anniversary.

A few resources on the speech and its significance:

Complete audio and transcript of the speech.

A 2008 NPR interview with the Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, who was present at the speech.

Memphis journalist Wendi C. Thomas’s account of how Mayor Loeb’s policies and his family’s business practices exacerbated racial inequality a half century ago…and since.

Michael K. Honey’s history of the strike Going Down Jericho Road, which contextualizes King’s involvement in the long struggle for recognition by the workers.

 

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Green Week at Pratt

Pratt_Willoughby_Main_GateIf it’s late March, that means it is time for Pratt Institute’s annual Green Week series of events. This year’s schedule kicks off with the Sustainability Crash Course this Saturday from 9-4:30pm. Admission is free, but registration is required. The schedule:

PRESENTATION SCHEDULE

9:00 – 9:15 am

Registration. Please sign in on the 1st Floor of the Engineering Building on Pratt’s Brooklyn Campus

9:15 – 10:00 am : Session 1

Session 1A: Sustainable Fashion is Personal: The Industry’s Impact on Workers, Communities and YOU

Alexandra P. McNair – Founder, Fashion FWD

Session 1B: Up Sh*t’s Creek: Creative Approaches to Organizing in Flushing, Queens

Cody Ann Herrmann – Artist and Grassroots Organizer

Session 1C: Green Roofs & Machu Picchu

Brent Porter – Adjunct Professor of the School of Architecture

10:00 – 10:10 am : Break

10:10 – 10:55 am : Session 2

Session 2A: Digital Storytelling: How To Create Authentic Content and Grow Your Business Online

Sam Dagirmanjian – Co-Founder of Storey Inc.

Session 2B: MAKING CONTACT… Music of the Plant

Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower – RN, Clinical Herbalist

Session 2C: Reimagining Waste

Josh Draper – Lecturer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Principal, PrePost

10:55 – 11:05 am : Break

11:05 – 11:50 am : Session 3

Session 3A: What you wear tells who you are. Speak well.

Althea Simons – Founder/designer/CEO of Grammar NYC

Session 3B: Climate Futures, Building Futures, City Futures – Getting New York City Ready for Tomorrow

Richard W. Leigh – PhD, PE, LEED AP, Visiting Professor of Physics at Pratt Institute

Session 3C: Biomimicry: Interior Design Strategies and Examples

Tetsu Ohara – Pratt Institute, Interior Design Department

11:50 am – 1:00 pm : Lunch Break

1:00 – 2:20 pm: Session 4

Session 4A: Weaving Culture and Sustainable Fashion

Melissa Eidson – Director & Producer

Manfred Lopez Grem – Cinematographer (Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca)

Dana Schlieman – Editor

Session 4B: What’s in my Water?

Kayla Fennelly – Project Coordinator NYPIRG

Session 4C: Citizen Enforcement Can Eliminate Vehicle Idiling

George Pakenham – Filmaker

2:20 – 2:30 pm : Break

2:30 – 3:15 pm : Session 5

Session 5A: Field notes: The Global Organic Textile Standard and Sustainability

Ely Battalen – Sustainability Consultant and Educator

Session 5B: Take Back the Tap

Jennifer E. Telesca – Assistant Professor of Environmental Justice in the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute

Rebecca Welz – Adjunct Professor – CCE, Adjunct Professor – CCEFoundation Art, Industrial Design

Ira Stern – Chief of the Natural Resources Division for the NYCDEP Bureau of Water Supply

3:15 – 3:25 pm : Break

3:25 – 4:45 pm: Keynote Panel: THE TRUMP EFFECT: Women, Weapons & Weather

Brenna Cohen – NYC District Environmental Coordinator for Patagonia

Debera Johnson – Executive Director, Brooklyn Fashion +Design Accelerator

Susan Lerner – Executive Director for Common Cause NY

Mireia lopez – Creative Director and Founder of Milo Tricot

Nantasha Williams – Women’s March

The opening reception for Green Week will take place Tuesday at 12:30pm in Higgins Hall. We’ll have music, food, and beverages, and details about the several events taking place during the week.

I will speak as part of two Green Week events. On Thursday at 12:30 in ARC E-02, several faculty will present Pecha Kucha style presentations showcasing Environmental Awareness/Sustainability integration in their classes, and I will discuss field events in one or two SSCS-housed Sustainability seminars.

At the end of the week (March 30-31), Pratt’s Global South Center holds the Archipelagos and Aquapelagos conference in the Alumni Reading Room from 11am to 5pm. About two dozen scholars from all over the world will discuss the prominence of water in the shaping of contemporary cities. Several members of Pratt’s Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies will present; my own presentation will investigate several ways waste informs the past, present, and future of Newtown Creek.

Those are just a few of the events taking place this week; consult the full schedule at the Pratt Sustainability Coalition website.

Discussing Environmental History in Philadelphia and St. Louis

The end of winter has dynamic meetings and discussions of environmental history, and 2018 is no exception – though the format departs from my usual routine of ASEH meetings. I had the pleasure to visit a couple of exciting programs the past couple of weeks. At the end of February, I was a guest in Scott Knowles and Chuck Haas’s City of Systems course as part of Drexel University’s new Urban Strategy M.S. program.

Drexel_talkThe program is a cross-disciplinary approach to urban problems and solutions, and the course is team-taught by a historian (Scott) and environmental engineer (Chuck). As part of their module on waste, they assigned Clean and White, so I agreed to join them for a public talk and conversation with the seminar about the social and cultural dimensions to municipal waste management. The program is the kind of exciting mix of social sciences, engineering, and public policy that Carnegie Mellon in general (and Joel Tarr in particular) exposed me to during my graduate training, and I suspect the Philadelphia region will benefit greatly from its students in the years to come.

WUSTL_posterOne week later, Washington University in St. Louis hosted me as part of its Mellon Sawyer “Wastelands” Seminar. Like Drexel’s program, this seminar focuses on a set of issues investigated by scholars working in and across several disciplines. After an exciting set of rescheduled flights due to Northeastern weather, I made it to St. Louis in time for my public lecture on establishing the long history of environmental racism based on the chronology of Clean and White. That was my second event of the day; immediately after stepping off the plane, I was able to make it to campus in time for an engaging conversation with Heather O’Leary’s Environmental Anthropology class.

The following morning, I got to workshop my current research project on Newtown Creek, getting terrific feedback from the participants. Particular thanks to Nancy Reynolds and Heather O’Leary for inviting me and contextualizing my work in the seminar’s activities, Waseem-Ahmed Bin-Kasim for our conversations about urban sanitation, and Vasiliki Touhouliotis for both cogent comments on the Newtown Creek piece and handling logistics for my visit.

I particularly value these discussions because this year is a departure from my annual routine: I am missing the ASEH meeting in Riverside this year. While I am heading to California, I will be in the Bay Area for the Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law’s symposium and related events honoring Franklin Zimring’s career in criminology. Paraphrasing the Haggadah, “next year, in Columbus!” I look forward to resuming the routine in 2019.

Aluminum Upcycled at the Society for the History of Technology meeting in Philadelphia, October 26-29.

zimringpostedThe Society for the History of Technology is holding its annual meeting in Philadelphia this year, and I will discuss my book Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective (available now) as part of the “Envirotechnical Responses to Pollution Concerns” panel with Hugh Gorman, Ellen Spears, and Scott Knowles on October 28. The panel begins at 2pm.

Johns Hopkins University Press will have copies of the book for sale at the conference. The Press describes my history of sustainable design strategies this way:

Beginning in 1886 with the discovery of how to mass produce aluminum, the book examines the essential part the metal played in early aviation and the world wars, as well as the troubling expansion of aluminum as a material of mass disposal. Recognizing that scrap aluminum was as good as virgin material and much more affordable than newly engineered metal, designers in the postwar era used aluminum to manufacture highly prized artifacts. Zimring takes us on a tour of post-1940s design, examining the use of aluminum in cars, trucks, airplanes, furniture, and musical instruments from 1945 to 2015. 

By viewing upcycling through the lens of one material, Zimring deepens our understanding of the history of recycling in industrial society. He also provides a historical perspective on contemporary sustainable design practices. Along the way, he challenges common assumptions about upcycling’s merits and adds a new dimension to recycling as a form of environmental absolution for the waste-related sins of the modern world. Raising fascinating questions of consumption, environment, and desire,  Upcycling Aluminum is for anyone interested in industrial and environmental history, discard studies, engineering, product design, music history, or antiques.

Environmental Justice and Human Rights Conference in St. Louis, October 11-12.

StLouisArchMeet me in St. Louis. The theme for Webster University’s annual human rights conference is “Environmental Justice and Human Rights,” and I am joining an array of journalists, activists, and environmental studies and humanities scholars on the program. (See the link above for the full schedule, location, and other details.)

The title of my talk is “The Dirty Work of White Supremacy in the United States after the Civil War: Considering the Historical Context of Modern Environmental Inequalities,” and it is based on my book Clean and White. I may have new paperback copies of the book for sale (cash only).

Since Carolyn Finney and I are two of the speakers, the recent H-Environment roundtable discussion of our recent books could be a good preview of discussions that may emerge. If you are in the St. Louis metro area, come be part of the conversation.

 

Making and Unmaking the Environment in Oslo, September 8.

UofOsloI will discuss Aluminum Upcycled at the Design History Society Annual Conference entitled “Making and Unmaking the Environment” in Oslo, Norway on September 8. Details:

Time: 9-10:30am
Panel: Upgrading Waste

Papers:
“Upcycling in Historical Perspective” Carl Zimring, Pratt Institute.

“The Re-Used Shipping Container: Environmental Design and the Cargotecture Phenomenon” Rachel Harkness, The University of Aberdeen.

“Designing Maintenance: Martin Pawley’s Garbage Housing in the 1970’s”
Curt Gambetta, Princeton University.

For information on Making and Unmaking the Environment, please visit the conference website.

Illinois Recycling Association Symposium in Chicago Thursday July 19 at 6pm

CharlesRayEamesAluminumChairThis Thursday, Steven Corey and I will discuss the past, present, and future of waste management, recycling, downcycling, and upcycling in a symposium for the Illinois Recycling Association.

Join the IRA for an entertaining evening of conversation about the history of waste reclamation, and how that history may inform a more sustainable future. Subjects will include many of the cool things we’ve made out of recycled material, from sports cars to guitars, as featured in Carl A. Zimring’s new book Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective.

Dr. Zimring, professor at Pratt Institute, will be joined by Steven Corey, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Humanities, History and Social Sciences at Columbia College/Chicago. Dr. Corey served as curator for the noted exhibition “Garbage! The History and Politics of Trash in NYC” while completing his doctorate.

Join the Conversation:
Thursday, July 20 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Auditorium Building, 435 South Michigan Avenue, AUD #420

$35 general admission
$20 Student fee
Questions: info@illinoisrecycles.org

I’ll discuss some of the ways aluminum has been upcycled, including in guitars, cars, and furniture like the designs Charles and Ray Eames made for Herman Miller (see the above image). For more information and to register, click here.