Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sustainability News Linkspam for the week ending May 28, 2011

In yesterday's post, More for May from Model D Media: Optimism but not business as usual, I wrote:
That's it for what local people are writing about Detroit. Next up, Buzz, which links to what the out-of-towners have to say.
You all will have to take a rain check on that until Sunday. First of all, Saturday is when I post my sustainability linkspams of press releases from Michigan's research universities. Second, there is a really juicy article from the New York Times that Model D Media has linked to that deserves its own post. It also happens to be exactly the kind of red meat article that Kunstler's readers seem to love.

Without any further ado, this week's sustainability news from Michigan's research universities comes after the jump.

General Sustainability

Michigan State University: MSU sees significant energy reduction from Earth Month program
May 27, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University’s participation in the annual “Dim Down” program resulted in the university saving a total of 5,747 kilowatt hours of energy.
“The program has led to sustained behavior change,” said Jennifer Battle, assistant director of MSU’s Office of Campus Sustainability. “This is one of several efforts helping the university reach its greenhouse gas emission reduction goal of 15 percent by 2015.

“To date, the university has achieved a 9 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the year 2000 baseline.”

Wayne State University: Wayne State's Wednesday Farmers Market Opens June 8; Market Accepts Bridge Card, Project Fresh and Senior Project Fresh Coupons
May 26, 2011

For the fourth consecutive year, Wayne State University will kick off and celebrate the summer season with its weekly Wednesday farmers market.

Members of the university, Midtown, and broader Detroit community are invited to visit the Wayne State market and shop for fresh, locally grown vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, honey, and other farm and food products.

The market opens June 8, and will run every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., through October 26. It is located on Cass Avenue, in front of Prentis Hall (WSU Business School), just north of Warren Ave, and across the street from the Detroit Public Library.

This year's market will feature growers from Detroit and the surrounding metropolitan region, including Brother Nature Produce, Grown in Detroit, D-Town Farm, and the honey guy Rich Wieske of Greentoe Gardens. Farmers from outside Detroit include the Vang and Van Houtte Family Farms from Macomb County, Holtz Family Farm from Monroe County, and Gibbs Berry Farm from Ingham County. In June, farmers will offer the season's early gifts, including lettuce, spinach, and other greens, rhubarb, peas, strawberries, apples, spring flowers, and lots of transplants.

Environment, including science and technology

Michigan State University: Spurring sweet success
May 26, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Thanks to Michigan State University, a sweet partnership has helped resurrect Michigan’s $444 million sugar beet industry.

In 1996 the industry was in peril. Yields hit an all-time low due to pest, disease and production issues that greatly reduced crop health. Farmers were looking to get out of sugar beet farming and switch to more profitable crops. Industry representatives reached out to MSU to help solve the problem.

Working with the Michigan Sugar Co., MSU spearheaded the creation of the Michigan Sugar Beet Advancement program, an interdisciplinary team of scientists, industry representatives and farmers. Together, they have resurrected the state’s sugar beet industry, boosting production more than 80 percent in 15 years, establishing Michigan as the nation’s fourth-leading sugar beet producer and giving the state an indirect economic boost of $1 billion, said Steve Poindexter, MSU Extension educator.

Society, including culture and politics

University of Michigan: Obama's election reduced perceptions of racism, but boosted opposition to race-related policies
May 26, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Many Americans changed their perceptions of discrimination and racism after Barack Obama became the nation's first black president.

This belief that racial biases had softened, however, did not translate to positive feelings about policies that address racial disparities, according to a new University of Michigan study. In fact, opposition to affirmative action and immigration may have increased since 2008.

"When racial progress is made, and perceived, by many Americans from a variety of racial backgrounds, it may seem counterintuitive that opposition to affirmative action would increase," said Nicholas Valentino, an associate professor of communication studies and political science.
"The answer may be simple: If the playing field is perceived to be more balanced than before, then the need for policies to address inequality is lessened," Valentino said.
Welcome to a major subtext for elections since 2008.

Michigan State University: Exposure to arts drives innovation, spurs economy, study finds
May 24, 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan is hurting its chances at economic recovery by slashing funding for the arts, according to a study by Michigan State University researchers.

The study found that arts and crafts activities – such as painting, dancing and filmmaking – are closely related to success of the scientists, engineers and other innovators who create new companies and inventions that stimulate the economy.

Yet during the past decade Michigan has cut funding for the arts by some 90 percent – from about $25 million in 2002 to $2.3 million this year. In Detroit, officials attempting to balance the budget have proposed large cuts to the city’s arts and cultural institutions.

“Politicians often strip funding for arts and cultural assets, assuming they are expendable ‘extras,’ but this may be a serious policy error based on false assumptions,” said Rex LaMore, lead researcher on the project and director of MSU’s Center of Community and Economic Development.


Wayne State University: Southeast Michigan Purchasing Managers Index reveals an economic climate that could lead to stagflation
May 27, 2011

The Southeast Michigan Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) stayed relatively the same from April to May, dropping only slightly from 67.9 to 67.7. This indicates that the economy in Southeast Michigan, while still growing, expanded at a slightly slower pace over the past month. The local PMI has grown at a healthy rate for 16 straight months, showing continued strength in metro Detroit's economy.

Most notable in this month's report is what appears to be inflation in the raw materials markets. The commodity price index slipped slightly from 86.7 to 83 during the past month, but the 82.7 three-month average points to an inflationary environment that may also reflect the steep increase in fuel costs over the past six months.

"With the sharp increases in fuel prices, purchasing managers have hinted that transportation surcharges are under consideration," said Nitin Paranjpe, an economist and supply chain faculty member at Wayne State's business school who analyzed the survey data provided by the Southeast Michigan chapter of the Institute for Supply Management.

"These raw material price increases may start to trickle down to the finished goods market, and we may start to see price increases at the retail level," he said.

University of Michigan: Big bucks for MLB megastars mean big team profits, but fewer wins
May 25, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Spending top dollar for megastar players like Miguel Cabrera and Alex Rodriguez helps Major League Baseball teams attract fans and earn higher profits, but clubs that spend the bulk of their player payroll on a couple of superstars ultimately win fewer games, a University of Michigan study shows.

"Superstars who are paid more could bring more to the team in terms of profits," said Jason Winfree, an associate professor of sport management at the U-M School of Kinesiology. "The flip side of that is that a more equitable pay scale among all players results in more wins for the team, but not necessarily higher profits."

The study, which is forthcoming in Sport Management Review, also found that the relationship between salary inequities and low performance became much more pronounced after the baseball strike of 1994.

Wayne State University: Wayne State appoints vice president of economic development
May 25, 2011

Ned Staebler, formerly of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, is joining Wayne State University as vice president for economic development.

Staebler, who begins work on June 6, 2011, will coordinate the University's activities related to TechTown, Wayne State's research park and business incubator; commercialization of University-based research discoveries; and participation in Midtown and other area economic development.

"The role of universities has changed in recent years," said Wayne State University President Allan Gilmour. "More and more we are being seen as essential to economic growth and revitalization in our communities. Ned is a strong leader who can help move us forward."

Staebler comes to the university with more than 15 years of business development and financial management experience in both the private and non-profit sectors.

Michigan economy: Business incubation and new ventures
May 23, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Michigan Business Incubator Association will feature keynote speakers from the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. at its May 25 conference, "Michigan's Changing Economy: The Role of Business Incubation and New Venture Creation," at the East Lansing Marriott at University Place.

"The conference will bring together existing small-business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to explore the business-incubation process and what it can offer, to connect with other business owners and service providers, and to learn about business incubation in relation to federal and state initiatives that foster innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation," said Lawrence Molnar, president of the Michigan Business Incubator Association and associate director of the University of Michigan's Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy.

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