Farm to School: Bria Jerome Reports on Her Internship at Seven Generations Ahead

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

By Bria Jerome

Located in the suburb of Oak Park, Seven Generations Ahead works quietly and consistently to implement environmental goals throughout Cook County and the state of Illinois. SGA workers and interns divide their work into several different categories, one of which is Farm to School. Through the tireless work of the very small staff and the excitement of community members, SGA has made and will make huge strides toward increasing environmental awareness and education.

Farm to School

The Farm to School program run by SGA seeks to bring students closer to the food they eat everyday. Whether this be in a physical sense of promotion of local vendors to school cafeterias, a metaphorical sense of implementing organic produce education, or a spiritual sense of promoting community gardens on school grounds; Farm to School is a great way to show kids a taste of healthy and sustainable living.


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Congratulations to Our December 2018 Graduates!

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

Last Friday, 14 December 2018, Roosevelt University hosted its commencement ceremonies in the historic Auditorium Theatre at its downtown Chicago Campus. The Department of Sociology, Sustainability, and Community Development warmly congratulates all of our graduates who earned BAs in Sociology and Sustainability Studies as well as MAs in Sociology. Our department was brilliantly represented by Samantha (BA’ 18) and Katia Martinez (BA ’18), twin sisters and sociology majors who were selected to give the student commencement address — the first time in Roosevelt’s history that the event featured two student speakers. (You can listen to their speech in the video below.)

Samantha and Katia weren’t the only dynamic duo graduating, though. Also crossing the stage together were Michelle Giles (BA ’18 Sustainability Studies) and her husband Corey Giles (BA ’18 International Studies), who both graduated with honors in their respective programs — a rare and joyous example of spouses celebrating…

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Schaumburg Park District Job Fair on Dec. 28th

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

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Are you into fun? Looking for a part-time job where you can make a difference? Attend the Schaumburg Park District Job Fair from 1-8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 28th. Learn about immediate part-time job opportunities and summer 2019 positions. Reserve your spot here. All interviewees will be entered in a drawing for prizes.

Schaumburg Park District
235 E. Beech Drive
Schaumburg, Illinois 60193

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Solar Job Training Orientation Event

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

The Future Energy Jobs Act is a new piece of legislation in Illinois that requires utilities to source 25% of their energy from renewables by 2025. This has created a huge demand for new solar and wind power development, and the industry is hiring. A number of nonprofit organizations are organizing a series of Solar Job Training Orientation Events, and one of them is on December 11th (tomorrow).

Here are the details:


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Food Systems & Resilience: the Vermont Farm to Plate Initiative

by Michelle Giles for SUST 350

Food is an interesting topic. It is not at all unique, since we all eat. And yet, no two people assign food and particular dishes the same value. We may be the only species to consider food as something more than sustenance (many lacking the taste bud infrastructure to pick up on sweetness and saltiness) and routine (my cat, for instance, will bite me if she is not fed her breakfast by 7:01).

Humans culturized food. Often this was based on produce and livestock availability, as well as socioeconomic status. Now with global trade, we enjoy the luxury of habitualizing ourselves to products that North America could never grow (but first, coffee) and sensualize meals that were originally eaten out of necessity (lobster was considered fit only to be fed to Northeast prisoners, an insect of the sea).

As Scott Sawyer points out in the “Food System Lessons from Vermont” chapter of The Community Resilience Reader: Essential Resources for an Era of Upheaval, the food system operating at present does not reflect our gastronomical likes and dislikes. Nor is it culturally significant. Instead, it craves fossil fuels and splurges on cash crops. The idyllic patchwork quilt of grain and green imagined of our countryside is better personified by Edvard Munch’s The Scream. The land that cries year after year with every pesticide application and relentless monocropping. Production is toxic and waste is too affordable for large producers to consider it a problem worth avoiding.

Many millennials are aware that this isn’t working for anyone and are choosing alternative diets that emphasize organic and local. Purchasing power alone, though, is not going to heal our broken food system. These kind of consumer choices are being amplified in states like Vermont which put people to policy and policy to action.

Source: VT Sustainable Jobs Fund

The Vermont Farm to Plate initiative is a highly collaborative platform for connecting local people to local food by providing the network for supply-demand connections between farmers, non-profits, government agencies and retail suppliers. The possibilities are virtually endless since, as noted above, everybody eats! It also supports young farmers and provides funding for land to get people started. To round off the effort, a pillar of the initiative is to reduce waste by providing for foodbanks and supporting the Universal Recycling Law which includes composting organic material (Sawyer, 2017).

The real success of the program is in the people. While Farm to Plate is policy driven, it has an extremely grassroots feel to it. Food can break many boundaries and so those organic smoothie drinking millennials are participating right alongside hog butchers and corner store owners. There also is an effort to include job training in all related fields. The education element lends to a constructive rippling through communities. There is a sense of pride about Vermont providing for Vermont. The regulatory elements of mandatory composting and waste reduction next to the marketplace -friendly local farm economy makes it a plan that appeals to both sides of the aisle.

I think many of the elements of the program are suitable elsewhere. This kind of resilience-oriented, forward, creative, and collaborative food network should especially be prioritized in cities. There is built-in tension in our landscape that results from areas of high population density being only consumers of food. It places unfair burden on our rural land and peoples. That thinking simultaneously robs cities of the opportunities to build those communities and places that local food can generate.

Food is special. It is very much a personal and cultural experience. A fitly run, local food system creates a sense of place. But, as Sawyer points out, the work is relentless. The effort must be sustained which provides the sort of systems thinking and regulatory cooperation that only policy makers can dish out. The Vermont Farm to Plate Initiative is ripe for replication. It is about time the countryside quilt be rejuvenated with creative systems thinking patchwork.


Check out this article informing about Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law put out to the public by the Natural Resource Defense Council last year.

Sawyer, S. (2017). Food system lessons from Vermont. In D. Lerch (ed.), The Community Resilience Reader (ch. 13). Washington DC: Island Press.

Michelle Giles is a senior SUST major @RooseveltU and president of the RU Green student organization. During the Fall 2018 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 240 Waste and 350 Service & Sustainability classes at Roosevelt University are contributing blog posts on urban and suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.

Posted in Agriculture, Courses, Economics, Education, Food, Resilience, Students, Sustainability, Waste

Join the October EcoChallenge this Week!

This year, Roosevelt University is participating in the October EcoChallenge, a 21-day sustainability engagement program. The challenge takes place October 3 – October 24, 2018 and involves universities, businesses, schools, all competing internally and with each other. Participants track and share their progress online in a robust platform and earn points for taking action. The combination of collective action, camaraderie, and friendly competition makes change a little easier — and a lot more fun.


EcoChallenge provides tools and inspiration to turn intention into action, and gives participants a fun and social way to think about and act on proven solutions that make a difference for you, your community, and the planet. Over 100 actions within nine Challenge categories provide participants with diverse options to take action. You can also Create Your Own challenge.


The Environmental Sustainability Committee and RU Green invite YOU to join the EcoChallenge before October 3rd.  To join, you just need an email address to create an account. Follow these easy steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Choose Login in the top right of the page and register
  3. Go to the Teams page and search ‘Roosevelt University’
  4. Join the team
  5. Choose your EcoChallenge Actions!

At the end of the EcoChallenge, we can tally up our individual and collective scores and see what we’ve accomplished! This will be our first year participating in the EcoChallenge, so help us build some momentum by signing up now!

Posted in Education, People, Roosevelt, Sustainability

American Dream Reconsidered Conference @RooseveltU this Week

Please join the Roosevelt University community for the kickoff to the American Dream Reconsidered Conference today!

Ida B. Wells Lounge Dedication Reception | 430 S. Michigan Avenue, 2nd Floor East | 5 p.m. Monday 9/10

The reception will honor Ida B. Wells-Barnett and her many contributions to the struggle for civil rights and equality for African Americans. Featuring guest of honor, Michelle Duster, great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells-Barnett and professor at Columbia College Chicago.

The Historical Oddity of American Health Care | Ganz Hall | 6:30 p.m. Monday 9/10

The panel will explore the post-WWII history of American health care. Panelists will attempt to untangle the web of influences that have given rise to the complicated arena of health care in America. Featuring Dr. Lawrence D. Brown, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health professor; Guian McKee, University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs associate professor; and Dr. Stephanie Vomvouras, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois vice president of healthcare delivery and chief medical officer.

For American Dream Reconsidered Conference program information:

Join in the Conversation — Submit your questions for the American Dream Reconsidered panelists

The American Dream Reconsidered Conference begins today and now is your chance to join the conversation. Submit your questions today for the American Dream Reconsidered Conference’s keynote speaker events, led by the Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr. and musician and actor Common.

For “A Conversation with Common: Activism in an Age of Polarization,” questions can also be submitted for fellow panelists Dr. Mary Ellen Caron, PhD, chief executive officer of After School Matters, and Dr. Janice K. Jackson, PhD, chief executive officer for Chicago Public Schools. During these events, a selection of the submitted questions will appear onscreen for the attending audience.

Don’t wait to engage in the conversation. Submit your questions now for the Eric Holder and Common keynote panels!

RU President Ali harvests greens from the WB Rooftop Garden during the #AmDreamConf service day, 15 Sept 2016 (photo: RU)

Service Day, Sept. 14 – Volunteers are Needed

We need volunteers! Opportunities are still available at both Chicago and Schaumburg. Sign up at

Schaumburg: Meet between 8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. in Room 126 for Service Day T-shirt pickup and designated meeting area.

  • Painting and Community Garden Cleanup – 9 a.m.
  • Trash Pick and Window Cleaning – 12 p.m.

Chicago: Meet between 9 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. – Fainman Lounge, AUD Bldg. 2nd Floor Service Day T-shirt pick up. Check your confirmation for room number and time to meet.

  • Feeding Children Everywhere (campus)
  • United Nations Cause Advocacy (campus)
  • Rooftop Garden (campus)
  • Greater Chicago Food Depository (off-campus – bus provided)

SUST alumni & students on the WB Rooftop Garden during Service Day 2017. L to R: Moses Viveros, Diana Ramirez, Beeka Quesnell, & Maria Cancilla (photo: M. Bryson)

For more information:

  • Chicago, call Keturah Brown, 312-341-3543 or email at
  • Schaumburg, call Erica Poremba, 847-619-8650 or email at
Posted in Chicago, Communities, Conferences, Education, Events, Roosevelt, Schaumburg, Schaumburg Campus, Social Justice