What better way to begin a blog than with an introduction, right? My name is Kylie Coutinho, and I am a senior majoring in Women’s & Gender Studies. Although I began my college career as a biology major, I quickly realized that being in the laboratory was not for me. It was then that I made the decision to explore courses outside of my discipline. Fortunately, it was the right choice. I remember sitting in my introduction to women’s and gender studies and knowing that I had found where my passion was.
During that same semester I took a course called women’s health and environment. Two topics that have always intrigued me, merged with activism and social justice. Not only was I able to learn about the way that our experiences and place in society shapes our health and ability to live an adequate life, but I was able to gain knowledge about women’s reproductive health and environmental justice leading to my interest in ecofeminism.
In addition to my courses in women’s and gender studies, I have taken sustainability and sociology courses related to the environment and relationships that individuals create in connection to the land around them. Dana Bolger, a senior editor at Feministing, a blog run by young feminists devoted to covering a range of social justice issues, writes about the stereotypes coinciding with women farmworkers. Given my previous studies and interest around this topic, the title stood out to me immediately as women workers are often undervalued especially when assuming roles that are not considered “powerful” in modern society.
As a model for my own blog work, the enticing title starting with “Quote of the Day” and the beginning sentence, short but to the point, kept me reading on and wanting to hear about Bolger’s opinion. Another aspect of this blog’s content that was effective for me was the inclusion of an exact quote from the women speaking as evidence to back up the author’s justification as well as the direct link to the video of the live talk that was being referenced. Although informative about a particular event which illuminates a greater social justice issue, one way that it does not represent a model for my own blog is the lack of explanation and informative statistics about why the misrepresentation of women farmworkers is in fact, a gendered issue.
The treatment of individuals working the environment is not the only issue facing humanity, but also the treatment of the land itself. A major environmental issue facing the community that I live in is water pollution. According to the Office of Board of Health, there is an excess of nitrogen in the waters of Westport, MA which are in turn leading to potential unsafe levels of bacterial contamination in the drinking water supply. Not only is this affecting recreational enjoyment but posing a threat to human health as the town relies on drinking water wells.
Work from the Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) reports that the amount of nitrogen in the Westport River is 18% over the “healthy” level and is due to faulty septic disposal and wastewater. The WRWA is an association that seeks to inform the public about the health of the water environment while raising awareness about concerns and how to take action through membership, donations, and volunteer opportunities. Fun fact: UMass Dartmouth students have volunteered with the WRWA to clean up Gooseberry Island!
Be sure to also check out this TED-Ed talk for some insight into the importance of the global water problem and how we should go forth in unveiling the bigger issues surrounding it.