Articles by Maywa Montenegro
Maywa Montenegro is an editor and writer at Seed magazine, focusing mainly on ecology, bidiversity, agriculture, and sustainable development.
What Grist readers might have predicted over a year ago, when David interviewed Van Jones, is quickly becoming reality. In October, Thomas Friedman, in a gushing editorial, called Jones a "rare bird" who "exudes enough energy to light a few buildings on his own." Now he's appeared on the Colbert Report where, despite the always-awkward position of Stephen's interviewees, he managed to land "green jobs" in the mental dictionary of millions of young viewers.
I had the privilege of speaking to Jones last month as he cabbed it from Capitol Hill back to the airport. The profile appears in this month's issue of GOOD magazine, and is now online here. Despite seeming a bit exhausted, he was patient, articulate, and just plain kind. Something I wasn't able to include in the piece, but which he took great joy in telling, was how his grandfather, a bishop in the Methodist Church, was a huge inspiration to him, as were the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr. When asked if celebrity, and schmoozing with the big dogs in Washington, might divert his attention from grassroots activity, he responded, "On any given day, I might be in a public high school or in a prison, in D.C. or at a funeral. My life has a lot of sunshine and a lot of shit." On the other hand, he added, "That's what it takes to make a strong plant -- a lot of sunshine and a lot of fertilizer."
Some are calling it a project that will transform global agriculture as we know it. Others are calling it a utopian dream. One thing is for sure, however: When the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAAST) releases the final draft of its report on April 15, sparks will still be flying.
Instigated in 2005 by the United Nations and the World Bank, among others, the IAAST was supposed to be an IPCC for agriculture. (Indeed, the project's leader, Robert Watson, was former chair of the IPCC.) Its goals were impressive:
How can we reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods, and facilitate equitable, environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development through the generation, access to, and use of agricultural knowledge, science, and technology?
With such lofty aims, the participants necessarily included not only farmers and policy makers, but also academics, industry scientists, social justice NGOs, environmental advocacy groups (Greenpeace, to name one), and agribusiness representatives. As you might imagine, this motley crew had plenty to fight about, and in October, Syngenta and Monsanto walked out of the talks.
Admittedly, this is more of a link dump than a true blog post, but sometimes the green goodness is too good to pass up ... As Sarah and David have mentioned, the May edition of Vanity Fair is their third annual green issue. Featuring, ironically, the material girl on the cover, it's crammed with features that will enlighten, illuminate, and ... disturb.
There wasn't much to be happy about on today's media spectrum. So I thought I'd share one heartwarming story about one Kansas town's efforts to pick up the pieces after a devastating tornado:
Townhomes are beginning to rise from the ragged tree trunks, weeds and ruins off Main Street. They mark a radical departure from traditional low-income housing, according to Duncan Trahl, who is from Pennsylvania and on contract with the National Renewable Energy Labs.
The townhomes are "LEED gold certified," Trahl said. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The rating is based on a system which rewards energy savings. Trahl said gold certification means these places will be almost twice as efficient as they used to be.
Building to this standard for working-class families is unusual, Trahl said.
"A lot of what's happening in Greensburg is some of the first in the country," Trahl said.
Leveraging environmentalism to rebuild a community. It's an idea that's helping revive New Orleans and now a small town in the Midwest. To be sure, the disaster that struck Pakistan yesterday morning is one of a very different nature, but I wish them speed and strength in recovery. I also look forward to the day when "stability" in the Middle East is the norm so that things like "sustainability" can be the new goal. At moments like this, that time seems painfully far away.