Mandela High School hosts a career academy focused on law, public service and environmental justice. The school strives to empower students to recognize, confront and solve challenges on campus and in the community through direct service projects and advocacy for policies to improve systems. As part of a campus beautification campaign, the students installed a garden on the mostly paved campus- according to one teacher, "Our garden is flourishing, and our hopes are growing too!"
The 16 students in Ms. Zimmerman's SLWRP class audited a sample of trash from the school's classrooms on Dec. 13th, 2010. The students have managed a succesful garden with Planting Justice, and are interested in composting. Their waste audit data not only provided support for a composting program, but also may be an indicator that their classroom paper recycling program has been a success! Students identified the mandatory cafeteria issued bottled water as an area of concern, and hope to address the problem with further class outreach. There may be opportunities for the students to change cafeteria policies about water bottles as well.
The 12 students in Pamela Zimmerman's 6th period Art class at Mandela High have hit the ground running this year. As the official SLWRP student group on campus, their charge is to educate their school community about the environment and waste-reduction through art, and they have been keeping extraordinarily busy!
Since September, they have been in charge of their school's classroom paper recycling, as well as building Mandela's first edible garden with guidance from Planting Justice. They have also participated in various campus events, using their art to educate families during the fall's Back to School Night, to educate their peers on environmental justice in a UN Human Rights assembly in December, as well as through hallway bulletin displays.
Check out their photos of this display, based on Jared Diamond's OP-Ed "What's Your Consumption Factor?".
Ms. Zimmerman had made an announcement about this particular display following the school's Alliance for Climate Education assembly earlier in the fall. She noted, "The students would stand there and just look - be amazed by our consumption levels. Especially after the ACE assembly, when they were able to better make the connection between their consumption and climate change. The students really listened when I spoke, and checked the display out. I know my students are making changes here, little by little."
Ms. Zimmerman and her SLWRP students are fired up to continue this progress this spring. They've already made $150 selling fresh lettuce, cilantro, chard, and mustard greens to the school community, and they plan to double the size of their garden, add a compost, and plant fruit trees. They're also going to continue their recycling efforts and bulletin board outreach, having already noticed a greater awareness on campus from the number of water bottles they've found in the recycling, instead of in the garbage.
Keep up the fantastic work, Mandela!
~ Republished from EarthTeam ~
Salvador Mateo, a senior at Mandela High School, a Freemont Federation High School and part of the Oakland Public Schools is the man to come to for all things environmental. He and fellow senior Julio Madrigal received a grant from the Youth Venture Program to begin a business to help reduce food deserts in Oakland.
Sal and Julio are also in the process of writing, filming, and producing a film about Environmental Racism.
Sal's interest in the environment goes beyond hands on recycling and gardening to the political. He is a member of the Youth and Government Team and has authored a bill to be presented in the Youth and Government Congress. All the staff and students look up to Sal and know he will not end his commitment to the environment and working to make a change when he graduates in June.
Sal wants to go to Sacramento State University and hopes to become a computer engineer to help computers be eco-friendly.
Two seniors from Mandela High School's graduating class of 2011 are working to overcome the obstacles of environmental racism in their community. Salvador Mateo and Julio Madrigal have helped build the school's garden with many reuse materials, have won a grant to start their own business, and are currently working on a video clip that will be entered in The 4th annual Bay Area Social Issues Documentary Film Contest in an effort to win support and funding to help them on their path to college.
These students don't seem to give up. They are dedicated to their work, at school and in the community. In addition to maintaining a better than a 3.5 GPA in school, both are part of Youth and Government group sponsored by the YMCA. Through Youth and Government, they are trying to pass a Green Bill in the California Youth and Government Senate that Salvador wrote to help California reduce its fossil fuel emissions.
Last summer Salvador and Julio both interned at the Rose Foundation with Jill Ratner to learn more about the sources and effects of environmental racism.
Since they came back to school they have done everything they can to help their community and school. The garden built at the school was a success thanks to the school's SLWRP team and Planting Justice, and organization dedicated to expanding urban access to healthy food. Salvador and Julio are now selling the vegetables that are grown in the Mandela garden at a convenient price to try and help students and community members enjoy a healthy organic meal, without having to go to the liquor store and buying canned goods.
With funding from the Youth Venture program grant, Salvador and Julio plan to fully launch their social enterprise business in March. They will build raised garden beds for low income families that cannot afford to eat healthy. The beds won't be free, but they will be at a price that the families can afford, so they will avoid having to buy their vegetables from convenience stores or liquor stores. Salvador and Julio are trying to make a change in their community and are willing to help families help themselves.
Thanks to Salvador Mateo, Julio Madrigal and Pamela Zimmerman for thier contributions to this article.
Mandela High School won an Altamont Education Advisory Board grant to engage art classes in the effort to reduce waste on campus.
The grant will provide supplies that will allow art classes to, physician "advertise and educate through visual images." Art classes will help document waste reduction initiatives, ailment create environmentally themed campus murals, and establish campus bulletin boards to promote 4Rs behaviors.
Additionally, the grant will provide tools such as digital cameras to engage the Grapic Design classes in service-learning projects creating both digital and traditional media that will, "challenge, inform and engage students in changing the size of their carbon footprints."