Lecture Series Connects Community to Sustainable Practice

Rutgers University–Camden will become the central hub for interactive, online and in-person discussions with leaders in the field of sustainable practice as it presents the free SustainableMondays lecture series through April 21.

SustainableMondaysThe lectures, which are free and open to the general public, will be held (unless otherwise noted) in the Black Box Theater, located in the Fine Arts Complex.

The series combines Rutgers–Camden’s celebrated SkypeonArt series with in-person discussions and workshops focusing on sustainability. During these interactive sessions, educators, environmentalists, and artists who are luminaries in their respective fields will lead in-person discussions or Skype in from around the world, share their images or video shorts with participants, and answer questions.

“Although it is wider in scope than the SkypeonArt series, SustainableMondays are modeled on these popular lunchtime talks,” says Elizabeth Demaray, an associate professor of fine arts at Rutgers–Camden, who leads the workshops. “This series will give Rutgers–Camden students and the South Jersey community unfettered access to the world’s preeminent educators and artists focusing on sustainable practices.”

Demaray, ElizabethAccording to Demaray, the presentations are being held in support of a new course, Art and Urban Sustainability, which is being offered jointly by Rutgers–Camden’s departments of Fine Arts and Urban Studies, and supported by a grant from the university’s Office of Civic Engagement. The class considers the strategies utilized by arts organizations and individuals who have successfully created sustainable practices in inner-city contexts throughout the United States.

In celebration of Earth Week, the lecture series will culminate in community tree plantings in South Camden, held in conjunction with the Camden Urban Airshed Reforestation Program and the Center for Environmental Transformation in Camden. The events, to be held on April 18 and April 24, are free and open to the general public. Further details will be posted on the organizations’ websites at a later date.

SustainableMondays will next feature Michael Zier, retreat director for the Center for Environmental Transformation, who will lead an in-person discussion at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24 at the center, located at 1729 Ferry Avenue in Camden. The center seeks to educate people in environmentally responsible ways of living while engaging in sustainable modes of food production, storm water management, and waste recycling for the benefit of the residents of Camden.

Artist Fritz Haeg will Skype in from 12:20 to 1:20 p.m. Monday, March 3. Haeg’s work has included edible gardens, public dances, educational environments, animal architecture, domestic gatherings, urban parades, temporary encampments, documentary videos, publications, exhibitions, websites, and buildings for people. His recent projects include Animal Estates, a housing initiative for native wildlife in cities around the world, which debuted at the 2008 Whitney Biennial.

Carmen A. Pendleton, community and artist programs manager for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts (RCCA), will lead an in-person discussion from 12:20 to 1:20 p.m. Monday, March 10. Pendleton will explain how the RCCA has conducted projects that integrate arts into Camden neighborhoods since 1995. Public artworks and gardens have been created through partnerships with neighborhood organizations under the guidance of RCCA’s professional teaching artists.

Craig Oren, a professor in the Rutgers School of Law–Camden, will host an in-person discussion from 12:20 to 1:20 p.m. Monday, March 24. Oren teaches courses in environmental law, administrative law, legislation, and property. He is an expert on the federal Clean Air Act and has written extensively about the act’s attempts to protect clean air, to induce people not to drive to work, and to set air-quality standards that will protect public health.

Jessica Franzini, program director for the Camden Urban Airshed Reforestation Program, will lead an in-person discussion from 12:20 to 1:20 p.m. Monday, March 31. The community-based street tree planting program began in Camden in 2002. Designed to improve air quality, manage storm water, and provide shade, the initiative has removed approximately 80,830 square feet of impervious surface in order to plant 5,052 trees along Camden streets. Prioritizing grassroots work, the program empowers residents to create positive changes in their own communities. Residents apply for and adopt trees, help to organize events, and assist with the planting of each tree.

Later that day, Dennis Gray, the laboratory manager for the Pinelands Field Station, will lead a workshop on soil testing at 3 p.m. Note: This workshop will be held on site in South Camden and in the biology lab at Rutgers–Camden. For more information, contact Demaray at elizabeth.demaray@rutgers.edu.

Natalie Jeremijenko, famed artist and director of the xDesign Environmental Health Clinic at New York University (NYU), will Skype in from 12:20 to 1:20 p.m. Monday, April 7. Bridging the technical and art worlds, Jeremijenko creates socially conscious experiences that make change, both directly and indirectly. In her role at NYU, she helps prescribe creative health solutions for the environment that are carried out by enthusiastic volunteers. Her individual work has been exhibited in the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. She is also a member of an artists’ collective called the Bureau of Inverse Technology.

Howard Gillette, a professor emeritus of history at Rutgers–Camden, will host an in-person workshop from 12:20 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. Monday, April 14. Gillette has specialized in modern U.S. history, with a special interest in urban and regional development. He is the author of the books Civitas by Design: Building Better Communities from the Garden City to the New Urbanism and Camden After the Fall: Decline and Renewal in a Post-Industrial City, which received best book awards from the Urban History Association and the New Jersey Historical Commission.

Jon Cohrs, a recording engineer and visual artist based in Brooklyn, N.Y., will Skype in from 12:20 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. Monday, April 21. Often employing humor and absurdity, Cohrs’ work uses public engagement and site-specific interventions to address global issues.

The on-site media contact for the series is Prof. Elizabeth Demaray, who can be reached at demaray@camden.rutgers.edu or on her cell phone at 917-612-5775.

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