Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Friends of the White Geese, online approaches to raise awareness

Bob La Trémouille and Marilyn Wellons joined forces in 2001 to create Friends of the White Geese, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the Charles River geese and their habitat from future government destruction.

Their first attempt to raise awareness consisted of newsletters and flyers around the city of Cambridge that voiced out the government’s plans for a futuristic city that didn’t include the geese.

Today, the organization is trying to embrace modern approaches to raise awareness. Online tools have replaced the newsletters that once educated people on the issue. Through their website, Friends of the White Geese, and a Facebook group, Charles River White Geese, these co-workers are still going strong.

Friends of the White Geese has a website containing updated pictures, useful links to outside sources, historical facts about the geese and a blog, which is updated regularly by La Trémouille and Wellons.

“We have posted a lot of reports showing the damage,” La Trémouille said.

La Trémouille said the blog, containing more than 400 posts, replaced their former newsletter, which reached about 1,300 members.

In addition to the website, they have a newly created Facebook group called Charles River White Geese.

Its creator, Nick Cheung, a Maine native, created the group after becoming interested in the Friends of the White Geese cause.

He contacted La Trémouille, who agreed to the creation of the group in attempts to spread their mission.

“I haven’t visited the geese personally, but check in on their blog,” Cheung said. He handed administrative rights to La Trémouille, who became a group administrator.

The group has 72 members and has a wide variety of pictures people can enjoy. Additionally, there are numerous links with information on the geese, as well as updated wall posts, mostly written by La Trémouille himself.

“The Facebook page has complemented the blog to a certain extent. It’s possible to put up a lot more photos,” La Trémouille said.

John Tyson, a Cambridgeport resident and Facebook group member, has been active in Friends of the White Geese since La Trémouille and Wellons started to raise awareness.

Tyson, who says the Facebook group has been active for one or two years, has been following the group’s progress through the regularly, updated information.

“They’re certainly getting the message out,” said Tyson, who educates himself on petitions and new information through the Facebook page and the blog.

“I make some contributions; I’ve signed some petitions sometimes and I try to vote for candidates who are supporting the geese’s cause,” Tyson said. “I think it’s an important, immediate neighborhood thing we can do.”

But, the neighborhood is under construction these days. On the Boston University Bridge, which overlooks Magazine Beach and connects Boston with Cambridge, massive construction is taking place where peaceful, beautiful scenery was once enjoyed by the Charles River geese that have lived in the area for over 25 years, grazing at Magazine Beach and nesting in a nearby meadow.

A cardboard sign at the goose meadow. Click here for more pictures!

Officials introduced the geese in the 1980s to guard the area between the beach’s playing fields and the bridge. The geese have survived for generations, but for many years now, their habitat has been repeatedly destroyed by local agencies working on behalf of “environmentalism” and “animal-friendly” approaches.

State projects around Magazine Beach have ultimately confined the geese to one area: what was once their nesting area during the spring. They can no longer graze on the beach and the Department of Conservation and Recreation, DCR, and the Cambridge City Council have destroyed their habitat year after year.

“Everybody I spoke to was unanimous in the agreement that they wouldn’t be so irresponsible,” said La Trémouille, Friends of the White Geese co-chair .

The DCR denied any intent to hurt the geese, but their actions proved to be inaccurate.  They destroyed vegetation needed by migrating waterfowl and starved the geese in 2004 by introducing a vegetation blocking at the foot of the beach, avoiding geese from coming ashore to feed on the grass.

Moreover, their nesting area was fenced until 1999, when the DCR opened it for human access. La Trémouille said, “they created concrete stairs opening up to human beings what had previously been for nature.”

Nowadays, those rusty, old concrete stairs lead to the goose meadow, a small place where the geese are currently confined and where Wellons, co-chair of the organization, feeds them corn and apples.

“The geese are still being harassed and their lives are being made very difficult, but the fact that they are still on the river and people still enjoy them and visit them is an incredible achievement given the odds when we started,” Wellons concluded.

Kathryn Podgers, who works alongside Friends of the White Geese, would like more people to become involved in protecting the wildlife habitat.

She has also sought the help of online tools to raise awareness. Her blog, Captain’s Island, is not updated very regularly, but has information on environmental issues around the city.

“I started a blog for the purpose of highlighting and informing folks of what the challenge is of preserving and protecting wildlife habitat in the city is,” Podgers said.

Other environmental organizations in the area are also trying to take advantage of online tools because information reaches more people in a faster and more effective way.

Alexandra Smith, operations manager at “e”-inc, a Boston- based science learning & action center whose pairing of science education with community action leads to environmental change in urban communities, said their organization is attempting to raise awareness through online tools, such as their website, Facebook and Twitter.

“We just actually got a Twitter page a few months ago. I’ve been trying to update all our constituents of everything that’s going on with the organization and it seems to be helping,” said Smith, who admits the organization has not taken full advantage of the effectiveness of social media

Smith also said that other environmental organizations have been following them on Twitter, something that can certainly be helpful. Their Facebook group has photo albums, links to outside sources and events. Smith said they mostly use it to promote upcoming activities.

For now, Friends of the White Geese continues to expand through social media tools. Every day, more people join the Facebook group in hopes of creating conscience about environmental issues that seem to be unnoticed.

The organization that once raised awareness by handing out flyers is spicing it up. Hopefully, an online spin will help them make more noise than ever before.


My new source of international news, GlobalPost

No one would ever think that GlobalPost, a leading online-only international news website, would be operating from Boston’s North End neighborhood. Last Wednesday, in a brick building that mostly looks like another housing complex, our Reinventing the News class gathered around a conference room to meet Charles M. Sennott, executive editor and vice president of GlobalPost. Before rushing out to have a beer with a few of the website’s foreign correspondents, he gave a brief explanation of where they’re standing and how GlobalPost is moving forward.

Most newspapers focus on the local scene, thus putting aside foreign reporting. This “collapse” of international news, as Sennott said, is what sparked the idea of GlobalPost. Competing with websites like ProPublica and Politico, its website was launched in January 2009 and as of today, has had 22 million visits. Sennott said they’ve published 7,000 stories and have had an outstanding record of accuracy. GlobalPost has won many awards including one for its reporting on global economic crisis. Currently, GlobalPost has 70 foreign correspondents in 50 countries, in addition to 15 full-time staff members operating from the North End headquarters.

Sennott’s mission: “Less stories, but better stories.” “We want to cover stories in a way we can compete with CNN, not in resources, but in writing,” Sennott said. And this is exactly what the site has been doing. His idea is that GlobalPost can combine the old, traditional journalism with the endless possibilities of multimedia and social platforms like Twitter and Facebook. He wants stories that engage readers and affect change. For example, he said any story could go global in two days with the feedback of many foreign correspondents, the team they have assembled.

“Life, death and the Taliban” has a historical timeline, videos, pictures, and stories, all of which helped create a ground-breaking story. Many correspondents worked together to bring together an exceptional investigative work. In the introduction, Sennott, who is the reporter, explains how they tried to tell the stories “from the ground” in order to convey their message.  The story is a good example of how stories work well when accompanied by multimedia. Videos and pictures are the highlight of “Life, death and the Taliban.” Videos work fairly well because they are short, something viewers appreciate, and they explain in detail what the story is about. I think it’s also important to address how “user-friendly” the package is. You can easily click on videos, stories or slideshows. There is a lot of content on this so people interested in reading through it, have to become familiarized with all GlobalPost has to offer.

GlobalPost’s Study Abroad feature is an attempt to involve the community in their website. This feature allows college students who are studying abroad to report on their experiences. Students stationed all over the world –Russia, Namibia, Uganda– produce content for this feature. They can include videos and pictures that enhance the story. I haven’t studied abroad yet, but I’m interested in doing so. I’d like to go to Spain, mainly because I speak Spanish and wouldn’t have any issues with communication, or Costa Rica. I love to work with children so I think I would like to write stories that relate to them, to their education and out-of-school activities. This can definitely work by using pictures and videos, but working with children is always difficult because you need the parents’ consent, so that would definitely be a challenge. I think I’d mostly focus on cultural stories, something that makes the country different. What does this country have to offer that others would be interested in?

Overall, GlobalPost is positively moving ahead. The amount of content they have is unbelievable, so I think anybody can find something to read, from opinion pieces to specific feature stories from various countries. The pop-up that comes up every few minutes asking readers to register is a bit dreadful, but nothing serious. Sennott made it clear that he wants readers to comment on stories and give feedback about the site. This will assist them in becoming everyone’s go-to international news website.

Hemp Homes adding to a greener vision

I have a few friends who support the idea of legalizing marijuana and ending prohibition, thus they are attempting to educate others on the benefits of marihuana and building houses out of hemp, which comes from the same plant of marijuana. It’s a durable fibre that has been used for industrial purposes, textiles, food, etc.

Europe  has been more welcoming to the idea of hemp building, but slowly some cities in the U.S. are following this concept. USA Today recently posted an article on how hemp homes are cutting edge of green building. In Asheville, N.C. a hemp house was constructed over the summer and two more are on the works. It’s important to point out that the industrial hemp used to build these houses is imported because it is illegal to produce it in the United States.

Numerous studies have shown that hemp, not only is less toxic than regular building materials, but is energy-efficient and beneficial for the health. David Madera is the co-founder of Hemp Technologies, a company that supplies hemp. He said:

“This is like a living, breathing wall,” Madera says.

Click here for the complete USA Today article. I also believe this is the NECN video of the North Carolina hemp house.

It’s interesting because I even found a Facebook group called Hemp Building, which teaches builders, designers and architects how hemp building has great properties and is affordable. From what I researched, they hold workshops around different places, including New Zealand, Sydney, and Canada. People subscribe to them in order to learn how to grow their own crop of hemp and eventually, how to build a hemp house.

On their website, there is everything you need to know. It even has pictures of their projects.

Hopefully the U.S. can embrace this technique soon and stop thinking about it as a taboo subject. It’s been proven to be beneficial for peoples’ health, beneficial for the environment, so what else do we need to know? There’s just this one-way, one-minded idea to link hemp to “high-people” who do nothing with their lives. Notice how at the end of the video, the NECN reporter jokes about the house “catching fire and everyone wanting brownies.” It’s because of people like her, that citizens are not getting the facts straight.

A hemp house in California. Posted on one of the Facebook groups.