Archive for the ‘Why We Work’ Category

By Van Du, Program Associate

Ouack, Pack, and Quack show their supports for Second Nature Carrot For A Cause, so should you!

Okay, so it’s not “Make Way for Ducklings and Carrots” in Mr. Robert McCloskey’s story, but Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack, are up to something lately!

Now that they have mastered swimming and diving lessons, Quack, the youngest duckling, informs me that they currently have an even bigger mission to accomplish: HELPING SECOND NATURE WIN A WEBSITE MAKEOVER OPPORTUNITY!  Why, you might ask? Because once upon a time, the ducklings woud like to learn more about Second Nature’s Affiliate Membership program, but could not locate the information and got rather discouraged with the current SN website layout, which was designed sometime in the 20th century.  Hrm.  Something’s gotta change…And so, since July 23rd, they have marched to the Boston Public Library everyday and casted their votes for Second Naturein the Carrots For A Cause  contest—a website redesign competition for Massachusetts non-profit organizations, hosted by Boston-based website design firm, Jackrabbit Design.

With only 15 more days to go, the ducklings are committed to voting daily for Second Nature through August 12th .  They believe that everyday is a new day and every vote counts.  That’s right.

Eight votes from the duckings give us a great start everyday, but we need all your help as well! So, please vote daily, vote often, and spread the word to anyone you think would like to support Second Nature’s mission!  A new website for Second Nature would go a long way in helping us support and accelerate all of our efforts in creating a sustainable society.

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by Steve Muzzy, Senior Associate, Second Nature
(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

[The following post documents my personal journey with higher education. The experiences and views expressed are solely my own.]

When I graduated from high school my classmates dispersed in one of three directions; entered the work force, joined the military, or enrolled in college. I was indifferent about my future after high school. Most of my decisions at this point were based on what I didn’t want to do, or on what others told me to do.

My thought process went something like this:

Should I enter the work force? I grew up in rural Massachusetts and had been chopping and stacking wood since I was 5 years old. My dad was a self-employed, heavy equipment operator so I was well skilled with a shovel and in jumping in ditches. I’d been washing dishes and doing other odd jobs since I received my drivers license at 16. I knew what the work force looked like for me and it was not what I wanted.

What about the military? I had uncles and neighbors that served or were serving and the prospect of combat did not resonate with me. This option was quickly ruled out.

Enroll in college? The only person in my family to graduate from college was a cousin who I had little contact with. To my knowledge neither my family’s friends, nor neighbors, had any experience with college. My perspective of college was informed by what I heard on the radio, or saw on television – I believed higher education was ‘progressive’ and provided space to explore vast ideas and unlimited experiences. I also believed that college prepared you for ‘professional’ employment.

The shiny, color brochures arrived daily, as well as hand written notes from basketball and baseball coaches at small schools who wanted me to play for them.

I was a master of indifference, so I applied to the school that showed the most interest, not taking anytime to find out if it was a place I wanted to be.


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by Anne Sjolander, Intern – Advancing Green Building Initiative
(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

I act on behalf of A Pale Blue Dot. (Remember this for later)

When I was younger I was always terrible at answering the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The first time I recall responding to that question was in the 4th grade. At age 9 my school thought it a good time to publish all of our prospective career paths in the year book. I wrote runway model and was greeted by the shrill laughter of my supposed friend sitting next to me. So, not wanting to look like a fool, I panicked and changed my reply to Wheeltor. What, you may be wondering, is a Wheeltor? Well it is a profession derived from a sad attempt to spell Realtor. Needless to say, they did not publish my response.

In high school I decided my future career path would be the anti-career path known as being a nomadic free spirit. Not wanting to disappoint my parents, I decided to complete my college degree before growing dreadlocks and wandering off into a field of sunflowers. So I checked off the undecided major and continued on my path to Boston University.

Once there I attended an array of classes such as archaeology, art history, drawing, world music and yoga classes, but nothing struck me as a topic to dedicate my life to. THEN, I took Astronomy. I didn’t fall in love with the subject, but it provided me with a great sense of perspective. The first week of class I was introduced to the words of Carl Sagan…

In 1990 the Voyager 1 reached the outer limits of our solar system, turned around and took a picture of our planet.

Yup. It’s a small world after all.


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by Adrien Tofighi, Second Nature Intern
(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

There is no specific reason for me to help you understand why I am part of this kind of work. Although I could single out a few events, I would be discrediting every little experience that I’ve had throughout my life, each of which has indicated to me that this choice of lifestyle is the only logical one for me.

I could mention my love for always being in nature since I was a child as I grew up on an old farm, harvesting honey from our beehives (which are no longer there), in the middle of Southern France far from urban life and television. Or maybe it was a bit of influence from my father who spent his early doctoral years researching solar energy at the world’s largest solar furnace. What about my mother? She has spent her entire lifetime encouraging positive thoughts, positive comments, positive actions, or as my Zoroastrian ancestors would say “good thoughts, good words, good deeds”.

Yet, this blog has more to do with climate change, so maybe it was the time that I realized deforestation was real, so real that I couldn’t get to work one morning in Haiti as I woke up to a landslide that had devastated many of my neighbors’ homes after one night of heavy rain, and taken the life of several. A landslide of rocks and mud that was more than three miles long and at least 15 feet high, you could even stand on top of it and follow its path up the mountain to the right where the deforestation was clear, and down the mountain to the left, to realize the insignificance of homes and cars when facing the laws of nature. It was, by the way, the fourth one of the year in that neighborhood.

Although as I said, I cannot single out these experiences as reasons for me to be trying to protect our global home, or joining Second Nature as an intern for that matter. No, because I would be forgetting the amazing discussions I’ve had with religiously conservative Imams in Iran who could care less about me and my pollution concerns, or with the politically conservative Americans who’ve tried convincing me that global warming is a hoax and that they’ll gladly keep their automated water sprinklers on that water more than the actual size of their patch of lawn. I would be forgetting the regions of the world where I saw more trash on the street than concrete, black smoke coming from a cough, and 400 meter wide river beds with less than 10 meters left of shallow water in which people washed their motorcycles, their clothes, their selves, and drank from as the shortage came too quickly for anyone to find an alternative. I would be forgetting the numbers of documentaries including FLOW: For Love of Water, Wasteland, GasLand and Earthlings, which have also taken me around the world and back, making me realize how many problems we actually share in common. And I would be forgetting the hundreds of conversations with those with whom I’ve agreed and disagreed with, which have all adjusted my path in their own way.

So, when I am asked, “why do you do this?” I can’t help but ask myself “why wouldn’t I?” My work with Second Nature allows me to pursue my interests and most of all my passions. The organization’s experience and expertise have so far made it a wonderful learning experience that I hope to carry with me wherever my passion wanders off to in the future. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”, and so following Gandhi’s wise words, I am presently more than happy here. In the kitchen, the office, the street and the forest, I try to do what makes sense for myself and for this planet, and to me this is exactly what this lifestyle makes.

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by Andrea Putman, Director of Corporate Partnerships
(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

In the 4th grade, I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. A garbage woman and an author! Although I lived in a small, pristine town on the north shore of Long Island with very little mess, I abhorred the thought of litter. I envisioned a fruitful and happy vocation writing stories about my adventures while picking up stray cans and pieces of newspaper in the ‘hood.

One Thanksgiving, there was no cranberry sauce. The bogs were polluted in far-away Massachusetts. Although I wasn’t crazy about cranberry sauce, I was deeply bothered. It didn’t seem like how the world should operate and I learned that the distress in other places impacted what was on my plate. As the baby of the family with 3 hungry big brothers, 2 stepbrothers, and a sister, I was definitely concerned with the quantity of food on my plate.

We spent our joyous summers at Lattingtown Beach with our friends and neighbors swimming, laughing, playing backgammon and bocce ball, and throwing jellyfish at eachother. My innocence was shattered when the ominous and destructive red tide* hit the Long Island beaches in the 1970s. Beaches were shut down! No swimming! At this point, I knew in the depths of my soul that pollution was serious and impacted whether I could cool off and splash around or alternatively roast in the sun.


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by Van Du, Intern – Advancing Green Building Initiative
(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

Three years ago, on the bus ride to Maine, after picking my mother up from Boston Logan Airport as she had come to attend my graduation at Bowdoin College, we started having the usual parent-child conversation of what I was going to do with my life after school. Past conversations about school revolved around what classes I was taking and whether or not I was doing well, but it was never specifically about how my college education would prepare me for my future. During our conversation, I realized I was struggling to explain to her the meaning of the word “sustainability” and how I wanted to have a career in sustainability-related work.

There is no translation for “sustainability” in Vietnamese. But certainly, my mother understands the importance of ideas such as preserving diversity, protecting the environment, being a part of a community, caring and sharing, and of course, world peace. My mother also believes that if one considers herself a member of society, it is her responsibility to ensure that the future generations deserve a piece of all the wonderful things we have enjoyed in the past and present. However, for her, recognizing and carrying out these ideas is simply common sense. And there it was, my first revelation in life: Did I just go to college to learn about what should have been common sense?

So while I tried to explain to my mother about my dream career, she reminded me of the Vietnamese cultural values and traditions I was raised on. It was for me another great lesson of my roots, as well as a reinstatement of my passion to live and work for the concepts of sustainability.


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By Ashka Naik, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Second Nature
(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

One late evening, around dusk, my mother and I were walking into our house, making a beeline through my grandma’s garden. While we were passing by some neatly laid flowerbeds, I saw a pink Baramaasi (a perennial flower, which literally means “perennial” in Hindi, Bara=twelve and Maasi=months) on the side of the brick path leading to the patio. My mother was holding my hand to balance my little figure as I paused and started to bend my knees to pluck that beauty from its stem. My mother, not a very vociferous person, watching me do what I was about to do, very lovingly said, “Ashkee, do you know her mother puts her to bed every night, just the way your maa does? Imagine how she must feel when she doesn’t find her baby in the bed tomorrow morning.”

I often saw my grandma worship random shrubs in her garden. One specific day of the Hindu calendar she would worship one plant, and on a different day she would worship another. I always wondered why one needed to venerate rather unattractive shrubs to understand the mysteries of the universe or to please the Gods above. However, I did understand why we worshiped Ganesha (the Elephant God) and Naagraaj (the Snake God), as I was informed that these creatures were embellished with bizarre powers to wade off evil forces and misfortune. Looking back at the time when I truly believed that a species other than of Homo sapiens could ever have such power over others, I find myself succumbing to the naïve imagination of a child’s mind.

Anyways, as Hindus, we were also to follow vegetarianism. We were to give bird food to birds even though they smeared our verandah with their mucky droppings, because it was drilled through our brains that one of those could be our brother or a sister from a past life. We were to take a few morsels out of our dinner to offer to the wandering cow or a street dog (same logic about past lives, brothers, sisters, etc.).


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