Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Game night!

Are board games gender neutral?  We divied up a pack of trivia cards from a popular board game, and based on first impression of the question and answer, divided them into piles:  feminine, masculine, neither, need closer look.  We discussed the final category, and added these cards to the rest of the piles.  The masculine pile was the largest at the end of the evening.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Support for working Families

Imagine what you could do if you had 9 more weeks a year to do what you wanted/needed to do.   Take Back Your Time Day is  "a nationwide initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment."   The date is nine weeks before the end of the year, representing the 360 hours more each year that workers in the U.S. put in on average than Western Europeans do.  Nine weeks! This is part of campus Take Back your Time Day Teach-in.  Visit to hear about the National effort. For more information,  read

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Balancing work and family

Ironically, family issues kept a number of interested parties away last night, so I have summarized our discussion. and have provided a preview of the October program (Thurs. Oct. 23, 5-7 pm, Nifkin Lounge, family friendly potluck supper!)
So, what does it take to balance work and family?  Participants reported:  organization, flexible scheduling, a sense of humor, family planning, reliable child care, a supportive partner, and good friends or family with whom you can share some adult conversation while the kids play (which we witnessed first hand, as our three youngest participants alternately colored quietly and ran laps around the Lounge!).  We also noted the trend of parents waiting longer to start families, both here and abroad, and touched on the continuing trend of teen parents, and speculated on the class and educational differences between the two groups.
The discussion focused most heavily on social support of child-rearing, which is much advanced in Scandinavian countries, just starting in Korea where birth rates have been declining, and actually somewhat ahead of the US.  The Korean system permits a small stipend for parental leave during the first year (currently about 20% of the average salary); only 78 dads took advantage of the program last year while thousands of moms used their maternity leave.  The next version of this policy looks toward making the leave a percentage of income rather than a flat rate.  In the US, the leave permitted by the Family Leave Act is unpaid, and thus is only really available to those of higher income.  European models are far more family-friendly and either support parental (maternal or paternal, often the family's decision) care for children during their first year or longer or adequately funded daycare facilities until children reach school-age. 
We'd like to thank Heejae Kim, who took the time to look up the statistics of the new Korean programs and the Sadler Memorial Garden Committee for letting us scavenge for produce for the potluck.  As a result of your generosity and JoAnne Ellis's creativity, we enjoyed ratatouille and a platter of delicious sweet peppers and beans.  Cooperation in action--how fitting for a balancing themed semester!

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

The Dynamics of Cities as Ecosystems and Places: The Challenge of Integrating Ecological Knowledge into Urban River Corridor Design, Planning, and Policy

Shana Ederer

On February 25, 2003, Dr. Laura Musacchio discussed her research in urban planning and riparian-corridor restoration in the America’s Southwest with a crowd of SUNY-ESF students, faculty members, and community members.  She focused specifically on recent projects, including (1) an analysis of the Salt-Gila riparian corridor in Phoenix, Arizona, and (2) an ecological study and pilot restoration project of the Rio Alamar Riparian corridor in the Tijuana-San Diego metropolitan area.  The Phoenix metropolitan area, she explained, has undergone rapid expansion (at a rate of 0.5 to 1.0 miles per year!) since the 1970s. Her long-term study in Phoenix involves monitoring variables such as habitat and water quality, flood risk, and differences between channelized and unchannelized areas along an urban-rural gradient, as well as developing GIS-based models.  Phoenix city planners hope Dr. Musacchio’s work will help them cope with challenges such as limited ground water, high rates of evaporation, and the continued threat of extended drought, as well as plan for future efforts in development and conservation.
            In the rapidly-developing Tijuana River watershed similar planning efforts are being made.  However, this area differs from Phoenix in its relative lack of infrastructure and lack of a greenway system; also, management is complicated by the presence of temporary human settlements within the floodplain and by industrial effluents.  Some residents favor channelization of the river, which offers enhanced opportunities for development; others favor an approach that does not involve structural changes.  Given that the United States and Mexico have jurisdiction over different parts of the watershed, Dr. Musacchio noted, “Binational planning is a big challenge,” and stressed the need for a collaborative approach.  Her research in this area involves ecological analysis of the watershed, as well as a pilot project that will better define effective modes of ecological restoration along the river.  Dr. Musacchio suggested that such multidisciplinary research could enable scientists and planners to do “ecological forecasting,” noting that such research-based “. . . alternative scenarios . . . are actually [development] trajectories that communities can envision for themselves.”