Pauline Dubkin Yearwood, 1942-2015

I was very saddened to learn a few weeks ago of the passing of Pauline Dubkin Yearwood, whom I befriended several years ago while doing research on the life and work of her father and Chicago nature writer, Leonard Dubkin. Pauline graciously allowed me to interview her twice in 2007 and lent me a trove of her father’s papers and letters to assist my research, which she encouraged and supported with enthusiasm and generosity. She will be dearly missed by her family, colleagues, and many friends.

This is a reprint of the obituary, “Pauline Dubkin Yearwood, Journalist with Chicago Jewish News, Dies at 73” (Graydon Megan, Chicago Tribune, 6 Jan 2016).

Pauline Dubkin YearwoodPauline Dubkin Yearwood, the longtime managing editor of the Skokie-based Chicago Jewish News, was a prolific and award-winning journalist who covered topics from arts to health care to personal profiles.

“She was an excellent reporter and beyond that a very graceful writer,” said Joseph Aaron, editor and publisher of Chicago Jewish News. “She could handle any subject. For us she wrote a 2,500-word cover story almost every week — something like 900 cover stories.”

Aaron said Yearwood always took an unbiased approach to her work. “Everybody felt she’d given them a fair shake, covered the story fairly,” he said.

Yearwood 73, died of complications of pancreatic cancer on Dec. 22, 2015, according to her daughter Lagusta. She moved to her daughter’s home in New Paltz, N.Y., about a year ago after being diagnosed with the disease.

Pauline Dubkin Yearwood 2After high school at Francis W. Parker School in Chicago, she got a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania before returning to the Chicago area to get a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism of Northwestern University.

By the mid-1970s, she was married and living in Phoenix. She later divorced but remained in Phoenix, where she raised her children and began writing for newspapers including the Phoenix New Times and the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.

“She reviewed plays and was a theater critic,” her daughter said.

Yearwood moved back to the Chicago area in the late 1990s and was soon writing for the Chicago Jewish News, work she continued until early December.

“Her writing and reporting were both very impressive,” Aaron said. “I would give her an assignment, and she would know exactly who to call, how to pursue it and how to do the research.”

Yearwood won a Chicago Headline Club Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism in the category of Best in-depth Reporting in a Community Newspaper for her October 2008 story, “Obama and the Jews,” examining the relationship between the then soon-to-be president and the Jewish community.

She also won a 2014 American Jewish Press Association award for a 2013 profile of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

“I found her to be kind, probing and thought-provoking,” Lewis said in an email about the profile, which focused on Lewis’ conversion to the Jewish faith. “It is the essence of Jewish life she was interested in.”

Pauline Dubkin Yearwood 3“She was devoted to her children and her writing,” said former Tribune writer Harriet Choice, who met Yearwood when both were in high school.

Yearwood “also had a passion for animals, very into animal rights,” Choice said. That interest grew out of childhood adventures with her father, who took her to what he called his “secret places” to see natural places around the city.

“She did a lot of work for animal causes” and was a vegan for 22 years, her daughter said.

Judy Voigt, another longtime friend, called Yearwood a brilliant and prolific writer whose work didn’t stop at journalism. “She was an incredible writer — she wrote a couple of plays,” Voigt said.

Yearwood’s play, “The Natural History of Mozart Street,” was based on her father’s efforts to become an expert on nature in the city and was presented in 2010 as a staged reading by Chicago’s Genesis Theatrical Productions.

Aaron said he regularly heard compliments from people covered in Yearwood’s stories. “She really was able to grasp a topic and convey it in a both accurate and colorful way.”

She is also survived by her son, Leonard.

A tribute will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 24, in the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, 610 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

Graydon Megan is a freelance reporter. A version of this article appeared in print on January 07, 2016, in the Business section of the Chicago Tribune with the headline “Reporter, editor with Chicago Jewish News.”

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Looking Back at 2015

RU's Sustainability Plan, adopted 2015

RU’s Sustainability Plan, adopted 2015

This weekend I finished one of my favorite annual writing projects: a comprehensive review of last year’s student and faculty activities and accomplishments in Roosevelt’s Sustainability Studies Program, published on the SUST Blog this morning.

2015 was a notable time of change, transition, and planning: we graduated 11 majors, moved to the College of Arts & Sciences from our longtime home in the College of Professional Studies, hired a new full-time faculty member, welcomed a part-time administrator, helped create the university’s first Strategic Sustainability Plan, held two student symposia and hosted other campus events, engaged in field trips and service learning in our classes, expanded our student internship resources, completed two rounds of departmental strategic planning, launched the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab, and collaborated with the Department of Physical Resources on completing the research for RU’s first STARS assessment report.

I want to sincerely thank all my Roosevelt colleagues and students for all their hard work and enthusiasm on these projects and others. It was an eventful and rewarding year, and I’m hopeful that 2016 will be better yet!

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RU Scores Bronze STARS Rating from AASHE: Some Personal Reflections

Last Friday night (Dec. 18th) at 9:30pm, my fellow STARS Reporting Team members and I submitted Roosevelt’s first-ever sustainability assessment report to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, resulting in our university’s earning a Bronze rating. As noted here on the SUST at RU Blog, this was a big milestone in our ongoing sustainability work as well as the culmination of research that began last January in my first SUST 390 Sustainable Campus special topics class, when 19 undergraduate SUST majors broke into teams to dig up and organize the massive amounts of data required across every aspect of the university functions — from academics to outreach to operations to administration and planning.

RU SustPlan Cover

The Plan!

But while 2015 at Roosevelt was marked by this year-long effort to complete our first STARS self-assessment, the foundation work that made such a project conceivable, let alone feasible, started much earlier. Notably, in 2014 we undertook a major effort to develop a Strategic Sustainability Plan for Roosevelt, which was completed in November 2014, approved by the RU faculty and administration in February 2015, and released in June 2015.

The Plan is road map for the next five years’ worth of sustainability efforts, and we have now fulfilled one of its high-priority short-term goals in completing our first STARS report. This means we have even more data about where we stand as a university and how we need to move forward to improve our efforts in every facet of our operations, from what courses we offer to how we run student orientation to what food we serve in the dining center. The fact that all STARS data from the several hundred colleges and universities who have submitted reports, including our own, is publicly accessible also means that we can learn from what other institutions are doing in order to improve ourselves.

Starting Small, Thinking Big

Radeck MaryBethOne reflection I’ve had in the wake of finishing our STARS report is about how seemingly small efforts can have big impacts. When I trace the origins of our work on this project, one key starting point is the independent study project SUST major Mary Beth Radeck (pictured at left) did in her SUST 395 internship with RU’s Physical Resources Dept in the spring of 2014. Mary Beth researched campus sustainability planning at US colleges and universities, and her final report was an analysis of those plans as well as a fully fleshed-out process and timeline (pdf) for RU to engage in its own sustainability planning process. This proposal was so compelling and well-researched that we simply had to move forward and do it! While I wouldn’t call Mary Beth’s effort “small” by any stretch of the imagination, the fact that such a major initiative of the university began as one undergrad’s research project is testament to the power of a good idea and the value of thinking big.

Room 1

Student presentations in SUST 390 The Sustainable Campus, Earth Day 2015

Similarly, the SUST 390 class (pdf of syllabus) that worked on researching the baseline data we needed to do the STARS report was itself an experiment from the ground up, one for which we had no blueprint — only faith in the power and potential of student researchers to tackle a complex and extremely time-consuming project in a finite amount of time. While we were exploring unknown territory in the course (which frankly added to its inherent excitement, for me), the value here was obvious: students came through with a tremendous effort and they learned an incredible amount about their university and the STARS system in the process.

STARS Bronze logoWhy I’m Happy We Got Bronze

With sustainability rating systems like LEED or STARS, it’s admittedly easy to get caught up in the chase for achieving the highest rating possible. That’s part of the point of such rating systems: to incentivize institutions to earn high ratings that reflect well upon their efforts and burnish their green reputations. Let’s face it: all of us like accolades, right?

But merely focusing on the particular level of an institution’s STARS rating — gold, silver, bronze, etc. — misses the real significance of undergoing this process of self-reflection and institutional assessment. So here are a few reasons why I’m happy with our Bronze rating here in 2015:

  • Just getting to Bronze itself is a big deal. The STARS assessment system is thorough and exacting, and amassing data and evidence to warrant a Bronze-level certification is difficult, not only in terms of what you have to do to get there, but also in the process of documenting those efforts.
  • Notably, many of the STARS-reporting institutions that are at Silver or Gold achieved those designations in their 2nd or 3rd reporting cycles. So the fact that RU did this in our first go-around is a fine thing indeed.
  • Pursuing sustainability at a college or university campus — let alone a town or a city — is a highly complex and always ongoing task. Our Bronze designation is a literal statement that (a) we’ve accomplished a lot so far, and (b) we’ve still got a long way to go. This in itself is great incentive to keep moving forward, not the least because (like the pursuit of scientific knowledge itself) we will never be done.
  • The teamwork and dedication that made our STARS report possible in the first place is inspiring. This might be the biggest payoff of all: the joy and rewards of working together on a worthy project on behalf of our institution.

Giving Thanks

On that last note, I want to thank the fellow members of our STARS Reporting Team (Rebecca Quesnell, Maria Cancilla, Graham Pickren, Brennan Morrow, and Shannon Conway) who undertook this in the fall of 2015 as a collaboration between the Department of Physical Resources and the SUST Program’s new Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab; Paul Matthews, Assistant VP for Planning & Operations, for this unflagging leadership of all things sustainable at Roosevelt; and the students in my SUST 390 Sustainable Campus class last spring (Cassidy Avent, Yessenia Balcazar, Maria Cancilla, Shannon Conway**, Colleen Dennis *, Jordan Ewbank*, Courtney Hackler, Kyle Huff, Reece Krishnan, Tom Lewallen**, Melissa Maslowski, Ana Molledo*, Kelsey Norris*, Jennifer Paddack, Rebecca Quesnell*, Emily Rhea, Deidra Sharp, Sera Sousley** and Jesse Williams*.

(*graduated May 2015; ** graduated Dec 2015).

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Congratulations to our Fall 2015 SUST Graduates!

Karen Craig, BASS '15; see Karen's essay, I Know It When I See It, part of the Writing Urban Nature Project at RU.

Karen Craig, BA ’15; see Karen’s creative nonfiction essay, I Know It When I See It, part of the Writing Urban Nature Project at RU.

A warm congratulations to all Roosevelt University graduates, young and old, who graced the storied stage of RU’s beautiful Auditorium Theatre yesterday during our December commencement ceromony. In particular, I salute the accomplishments of our six Sustainability Studies graduates this fall, soon to be proud alumni: Shannon Conway, Karen Craig (pictured at right), Tom Lewallen, Sera Sousley, Sarah Tag, and Michelle Trispel.

Congrats to all on your achievements, hard work, and perseverance in earning your degree and, in the process, making many positive contributions to our campus community — from performing service learning projects in the Chicago community to researching matters of environmental justice to contributing to the 2015 Strategic Sustainability Plan to writing insightful representations of urban nature to sharing your internship experiences at our biannual Symposia. Best wishes for the future! I’m proud of all of you and hope you stay connected to our program and university.

Shannon Conway, BA 2015. Read about Shannon's experiences studying climate change and glaciers in Iceland this past summer.

Shannon Conway, BA 2015. Read about Shannon’s experiences studying climate change and glaciers in Iceland this past summer.

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Internships and Volunteering as Pathways To Success

SUST alumnus Mike Miller (BPS 2013) interned in the summer of 2013 at Uncommon Ground's rooftop farm in Chicago

SUST alumnus Mike Miller (BPS 2013) interned in the summer of 2013 at Uncommon Ground’s rooftop farm in Chicago

A powerful way to gain experience and increase one’s knowledge base about sustainability during college is to pursue an internship or volunteer at an organization. The Chicago region abounds with sustainability-related internship and volunteer opportunities offered by non-profit organizations, museums, scientific and educational institutions, companies, community and professional organizations, and more.

The past several years, students in RU’s Sustainability Studies program have completed internships or volunteered their time in a variety of fields, including biodiversity research, environmental conservation, public policy, environmental education and outreach, and campus education — to name but a few.

These experiences provide rich beyond-the-classroom learning environments for students, enable networking opportunities with sustainability professionals in a variety of fields, and enhance students’ resumés for graduate school and job searches.

Presenters

SUST students Beeka Quesnell (BA ’15), Melanie Blume (BA ’15), Mary Rasic, and Emily Rhea presented their internship work at the Spring 2015 Symposium (M. Bryson)

For more information on finding internship and identifying volunteering opportunities in fields as diverse as urban farming, conservation biology, urban sustainability, community development, see this resource page here on my blog. And to learn about in more detail what past SUST students have done for their internship experiences, check out this info on the biannual SUST Student Symposium.

 

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SUST 390 Preview: The Sustainable Campus (Spring 2016)

Following up on Roosevelt’s campus-wide strategic sustainability planning effort in 2015, the SUST Program will offer a SUST 390 honors seminar entitled The Sustainable Campus this coming Spring 2016 semester. Taught by SUST Program Director and Professor Mike Bryson, the class will meet at the Chicago Campus on Wednesdays from 2:00 to 4:30pm, and begins January 20th, 2016. Pre-requisites: ENG 102 and Honors standing.

The Sustainable Campus: More than Just a Cool Building

RU's distinctively blue Wabash Building (constructed 2012), a LEED-gold structure that complements the National Historic Landmark Auditorium Building (foreground) at the downtown Chicago Campus.

RU’s distinctively blue Wabash Building (constructed 2012), a LEED-gold structure that complements the National Historic Landmark Auditorium Building (foreground) at the downtown Chicago Campus.

What are colleges and universities doing to make themselves more sustainable institutions? How can their efforts serve as laboratories for innovation and models for larger communities, from small college towns to sprawling suburbs to bustling big cities? What have Roosevelt University and other area institutions accomplished the last few years in creating more sustainable campuses, and where are they headed in terms of sustainability planning, operations, academics, and community relations?

This seminar focuses on the microcosm of the university as a lens through view to explore how communities are striving to save energy, conserve water, reduce waste, encourage active transportation, restore biodiversity, foster environmental literacy, develop innovative curricula, and connect with local communities. Seen in this context, the Sustainable Campus is always a work in progress, yet has the capacity to model sustainable development strategies that may be applied to communities large and small (such as the suburb of Schaumburg IL, the focus of the RU student online project, Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future).

SUST students planting trees at Eden Place Nature Center, Chicago's South Side, 2 Dec 2014  (M. Bryson)

SUST students planting trees at Eden Place Nature Center, Chicago’s South Side, 2 Dec 2014 (M. Bryson)

Making the Plan Real

While we will analyze case-studies of other US colleges and universities that are well on the path toward sustainability, this section of SUST 390 will concentrate on Roosevelt’s efforts since 2010 to green its operations and curriculum, which last year included a series of university-wide sustainability planning workshops during the Fall 2014 semester. As a follow-up to the approval of RU’s Strategic Sustainability Plan in Spring 2015 and the submission of RU’s first STARS self-assessment in Fall 2015, our class will undertake several student-led projects to advance the plan’s priority initiatives in its four thematic areas:

    RU honors students in SUST 240 Waste conduct a waste audit of RU's AUD and WB buildings, fall 2014 (M. Bryson)

    RU honors students in SUST 240 Waste conduct a waste audit of RU’s AUD and WB buildings, fall 2014 (M. Bryson)

  • Energy and Climate
  • Waste and Natural Resources
  • Education and Outreach
  • Economics and Governance

Students in SUST 390 The Sustainable Campus thus will get an in-depth and hands-on perspective on the university’s sustainability efforts and, through their project planning and implementation, make an important and lasting impact in helping the university realize its vision of becoming a more sustainable institution, both inside its walls and throughout its connection with Chicagoland communities.

For more information on this upcoming course, please contact Dr. Mike Bryson via email (mbryson@roosevelt.edu) or phone (312-281-3148).

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Fall 2015: Welcome Back to RU

I would like to extend a warm welcome to my students, advisees, and colleagues to the 2015-16 academic year at Roosevelt. Here’s to an excellent Fall 2015 semester! With the recent migration of the SUST program from RU’s College of Professional Studies to the College of Arts & Sciences, my office has moved a few blocks south on Michigan Avenue, from the Gage Building to the Auditorium Building (AUD 829). As noted on my Contact page, phone and email are the same as ever. Please drop by and say hello when you get a chance. And check out this post from the SUST Blog for what’s ahead this year in our program.

On a lakefront hike with students in ACP 101 Our Sustainable Future, 26 Aug 2015 (photo: E. Choporis)

On a lakefront hike with students in ACP 101 Our Sustainable Future, 26 Aug 2015 (photo: E. Choporis)

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RU Releases Its First-Ever Strategic Sustainability Plan: a Roadmap for the Future

The Plan!

The Plan, at long last!

I’m very pleased to report that the last step of our 2014-15 strategic planning process for the sustainable future of Roosevelt is now complete: the university has officially released its Strategic Sustainability Plan this week. This is not only great news, but also a tribute to the hard work and collective efforts of the students, faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni who drafted the plan in Fall 2014 and shepherded its endorsement and approval by the university’s faculty senate and administrative leadership in Spring 2015.

I want to especially commend SUST major MaryBeth Radeck, who did vital background research on sustainability planning in Spring 2014 for her SUST 395 internship, then managed the planning workshops as well as wrote/edited the plan document in Fall 2014; Paul Matthews and Tom Shelton of Physical Resources, who were co-leaders on the planning process and have supported RU’s sustainability work since 2010; Beeka Quesnell and Mary Rasic, SUST majors and Environmental Sustainability Associates in Physical Resources during 2014-15, who provided tremendous logistical support for the planning workshops; and my students in SUST 390 Sustainable Campus, who took on the initial task of researching baseline data in the Spring 2015 semester for RU’s first STARS assessment, one of the key steps that will help us drive the Plan forward in 2015 and beyond.

Check the full plan out here on the RU Green Campus website, and join the effort to work on its many goals and priority projects. There’s lots to do, so the more folks we have on board, the better!

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Congratulations to Roosevelt’s May 2015 Graduates!

A warm congratulations to all Roosevelt University graduates, young and old, today as you grace the stage of RU’s beautiful Auditorium Theatre. In particular, I salute the accomplishments of our seven Sustainability Studies graduates this spring, soon to be proud alumni: Melanie Blume, Colleen Dennis, Jordan Ewbank, Ana Molledo, Kelsey Norris, Beeka Quesnell, and Jesse Williams.

Congrats to all on your achievements, hard work, and perseverance in earning your degree and, in the process, making countless positive contributions to our campus community. Best wishes for the future! I’m proud of all of you.

RU Graduation 2015

 

For more photos, check out #Roosevelt2015 on Twitter. . .

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Bikes, Tweets, and Symposia on Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Here at Roosevelt, we’ve got some great events to mark the day, which I will start with a humble but well-intentioned two-mile bike ride to my train station in Joliet for my morning commute to Chicago, in honor of #RUEarthWeek2015 (pdf). Then, after dutifully putting in a few morning hours in my office, I shall repair to the Wabash Building (425 S. Wabash Ave, downtown Chicago) for these activities:

1-2pm (WB 1317) — Join me on Twitter (@MikeBryson22) for an #RUjusticechat on the relations between campus sustainability efforts and social/environmental justice. You can chat from wherever you are in the world . . . but if you’re in my neck of the woods, stop by WB 1317 for some F2F interaction and home-made cookies!

3-5:30pm (WB 616) — Attend the 2015 SUST Student Symposium, the signature Sustainability Studies event of the semester. Learn about the research and internship projects undertaken by four of our Sustainability Studies majors this year, and enjoy great conversation as well as free refreshments aplenty, courtesy of RU’s Physical Resources Dept. Hosted by the students of my SUST 390 Sustainable Campus class, who are undertaking RU’s first-ever STARS sustainability assessment this spring.

Bike2CampusWeek 2015 Flyer_Version2

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