My CLIMAS fellowship project was geared towards building a web platform called “Regenerate Hub” that provides data visualization and collaborative tools to enable diverse stakeholders to take action on interconnected social, environmental, and infrastructural problems. I am a doctoral candidate in anthropology and I met my community partners for this project, Recycle Lebanon, through my preliminary dissertation research. This research was investigating how people were intervening in Lebanon’s greatest challenges through altering and repairing infrastructural systems such as waste management. Recycle Lebanon is a small Lebanese nonprofit organization that emerged in response to the garbage crisis in Lebanon that peaked in 2015. They began by designing campaigns to clean garbage from coastlines, waterways, and forests, a movement which grew to include establishing the first zero waste shop in the Middle East (the EcoSouk) and innovating ways to reuse waste such as cigarettes through creating the first cigarette recycling initiative in the country. (read more)
For the last twelve months, I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions; but, as my friends tell me, I am pretty much always on that rollercoaster of emotions, pandemic or not. So, as we near the one-year marker of social distancing in the U.S., I am reflecting on my turbulent feelings and experiences. I spent the majority of the pandemic 3,000 miles away from my family, oscillating between missing them, being scared for them living so close to New York City, and grateful I wasn’t cooped up alongside everyone in our small New Jersey apartment. In Tucson, I was able to keep working, keep getting paid, keep spending time outside, and keep my basic needs met. This came with a lot of guilt as I heard from friends and acquaintances all the struggles they faced with unemployment, food insecurity, immigration, being an essential worker, getting sick with COVID-19, and more.
I think I am still sitting in that guilt, but I also know I have a responsibility to fighting the systems that cause and exacerbate the hardships we are facing. Capitalism, white supremacy, and colonialism undercut almost every choice we make, and we have to be vigilantly anti-racist, anti-capitalist, decolonial, etc. if we ever hope to see a brighter future. This year I learned and engaged with organizing and direct action in a significant way for the first time since undergrad. I was a part of powerful gatherings for Black lives, rallied against police brutality, saw local progressive candidates for office I helped campaign for win their elections, redistributed some of my wealth via mutual aid, and tried to give myself emotional space to process instead of running away from my thoughts. I know it was not enough and that I could always do more, but I think it is important to recognize the small triumphs in the fight for liberation.
In this spirit, food has grounded me. Even though my grand and luscious raised garden bed dreams never came to fruition (not for lack of trying…), I took solace and rejuvenation in the form of cooking, sharing photos of meals in WhatsApp chats, calling distant family members for recipes, and using the kitchen as a space to slow down and intentionally reflect on the world. With all of this in mind, I present a summary of my work with the CLIMAS fellowship program. (read more)
Nestled in the valleys between Iisaxpúatahchee Isawaxaawúua/The Bighorn Mountains and the rolling plains of the Powder River Basin, Apsáalooke people make their home within the Iisaxpúatahcheeaashe/Big Horn River, Iisaxpúatuahcheeaashiakaate/Little Bighorn River (Figure 1), and Alúutaashe/Arrow Creek watersheds. I do not have a first memory of the Little Bighorn River because it is all I have ever known. I was raised along this river that has taken care of my people for many generations. It flows north from the heart of the Big Horn Mountains which begins in Wyoming – traditional Apsáalooke territory – into the crevices of the Cheétiish/Wolf Mountains eventually joining the Big Horn River at the northern end of our reservation. My people have always relied on our water resources and remained connected to the water as an element and buluksée/water creatures. We have been instructed on how to care for the river and use the river for ceremonial practices such as Tobacco Society, Sundance, sweat lodges, and bundle ceremonies. We are told to feed the river when the cotton first falls in the spring, and to ask for protection for our children as we interact more with the river due to the warmer months. The Little Bighorn River has always provided for my people and, for that, we are forever grateful. (read more)
Rates of illness from Vibrio parahaemolyticus have steadily been increasing as other foodborne illnesses have been decreasing. In California, rates of vibriosis has increased by almost 40% between 2009 and 2012.1 Often, the primary culprit for V. parahaemolyticus exposure is from the consumption of raw oysters. As climate change drives changes in water temperature, salinity, and phytoplankton composition in estuarine environments, there is a growing concern for an increased prevalence of V. parahaemolyticus. Taken together, it is increasingly imperative to understand the prevalence and human health risks of V. parahaemolyticus from both a local and global perspective. My dissertation research, in collaboration with Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP), aimed to do just that. (read more)
Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are still above average across the equatorial Pacific (Fig. 1), but they have fallen since last month (Fig. 2). Atmospheric conditions still have not coupled with oceanic conditions, and the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is being discussed as one source of this delayed interaction. Forecasters continue to expect an El Niño to form, provided atmospheric conditions catch up with oceanic conditions and that SSTs remain above normal, but the window for relevance of such an event to the Southwest (i.e. the effect on cool-season precipitation) is closing. (read more)
December Precipitation and Temperature: December precipitation was variable across the Southwest, although temperatures were more consistently average to above average. Precipitation in Arizona was mostly below average to average with small areas of above average in the southeastern and northeastern corners of the state (Fig. 1). In New Mexico, precipitation was average to above average across most of the state (Fig. 1). Temperatures ranged from normal to above normal across Arizona and New Mexico. (read more)
In June and July of 2018, I conducted field work in the Bawku East and Nabdam Districts located in the Upper East region of northern Ghana. This is a semi-arid region that has been historically one of the least developed areas in the country. This regional inequality is in part related to the country’s colonial past, a growing population, low soil fertility, increasing environmental degradation, period droughts, and erratic rainfall.
My research focuses on understanding the socio-economic and ecological drivers of land degradation in this region of Ghana as well as understanding the barriers that prevent farmers from adopting sustainable land management practices (SLM) to combat land degradation. SLM practices are one of the best ways to combat and reverse land degradation and enable farmers to maximize the economic and social benefits from the land while maintaining and enhancing the ecological functions of the land. These practices include soil fertility and crop management, soil erosion control measures, water harvesting, forest management etc. (read more)
The conflict over the City of Los Angeles’ extraction and export of water from California’s Owens Valley has long captivated the public and policymakers alike. However, narratives about the Owens Valley water conflict, chronicled in Mark Reisner’s Cadillac Desert and sensationalized in the movie Chinatown, have often fixated on the demise of the agricultural economy at the hands of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) in the early 20th century. Though often described as an act of theft and lawlessness, Los Angeles’ acquisition of 95% of the valley’s land and water was in fact authorized under the law and facilitated by the federal government in the name of “the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.” But, over the 105 years since the Los Angeles Aqueduct was completed, notions of what constitutes the greatest good – and the long run, for that matter – have shifted, opening plenty of space for contention and debate in what once seemed a simple calculus. (read more)
With the aid of my headlamp, I carefully check the contents of my backpack in the pre-dawn darkness. Food, water, vials, coin envelopes...check. I strap a shovel to the outside of my pack and swing it across my shoulders with a huff, shrugging to adjust the weight. Two and a half gallons of water is not light, but I’ll drink most of it over the course of the next 12 hours. And I always carry a little extra when traipsing around the Sonoran desert in summer. I enjoy the June morning, about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, knowing the temperature will rise at least 30 degrees by midafternoon. A warm breeze blowing across the Pinta Sands, a remote area on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, hints at the heat to come. I sling the strap of my binoculars over my shoulder and start walking at a brisk pace so I can cover the three plus miles to the first wildlife water before sunrise. If I’m lucky, I’ll see a pronghorn at the edge of the playa—a dried lakebed—like I did last year. (read more)
The fan made it difficult to hear, but the room was hot. Attendees were seated in tightly spaced rows, shoulder-to-shoulder. It was the Southeast Arizona Citizen’s Forum—a public meeting of the International Boundary and Water Commission that brings together stakeholders interested in water resources in the U.S.-Mexico border region. From my seat near the back, the rows of attendees looked like a motley assortment that together resembled a patchwork quilt—their clothing of various colors and styles—some wore suit jackets, others plaid shirts. There were cowboy boots, slacks, jeans, dress shirts, cardigans and work boots. As each person stood up to introduce themselves the diversity of stakeholders became even more apparent—representatives from U.S. Senator’s offices, state agency scientists, water utility professionals, local farmers, citizen activists, NGO employees, and concerned residents. Each raised their voice to be heard above the din of the air conditioner. They gathered to discuss water—each bringing a unique perspective. (read more)