Thursday, October 30, 2014

#BeCauseY: The Green Observer Magazine

The Green Observer Magazine
By Olivia Harris
Editor-In-Chief of the Green Observer Magazine 

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus is teeming with environmental student groups and student- and faculty-lead sustainability projects. Anyone who wants to be connected to environmentalism on this campus should have their pick of the litter of ways to be involved. And yet, when I came in as a freshman, I struggled to find my options for engaging with environmental activism. 

I went to Quad Day, but in the cacophony of hundreds of booths all manned by students calling out to business majors, singers, tightrope enthusiasts, October-lovers, and ethnic musicians, it's not surprising I managed to miss the environmental folks. As I got wrapped up in my studies, I let my hopes of being an activist slide and didn't search any further.

The hopes resurfaced again the fall of my sophomore year during a conversation with one of my environmental professors. He knew I was a writer and that I was interested in environmental issues, so he recommended that I check out the Green Observer Magazine. I found the group on the Illinois student groups page and went to the next meeting at the University YMCA. 

The rest, you might say, is history. 
The Green Observer's mission is simple: deliver green-living tips and campus environmental news to students so that they do not get "lost" like I did trying to find ways to get involved. You cannot join a group until you know it exists, and not all of us have relationships with professors who can point us in right direction. Many groups are doing great work to make our campus and world more sustainable, and the Green Observer provides a front row seat on their progress.
Once a group newsletter of Y Student Program, Students for Environmental Concerns, today the Green Observer Magazine is the only environmental publication at the University of Illinois, and as such it serves a unique (yet popular!) niche of student interest. We are the one-stop-shop for information on green happenings on campus. We report a mix of "hard" news stories about campus events and issues and "soft" news stories advocating ways readers can lead more sustainable lives.

The Green Observer making recycled jewelry
to raise funds for printing the magazine
The Green Observer is an entirely student-run publication: meaning every aspect of the magazine - from story ideas to photography to layout - is completed by students. The magazine publishes four, 12-page issues each academic year (twice each semester).

Since its establishment, the Green Observer has doubled in both staff and readership, and we are not slowing down! Our dedicated student leaders are constantly working to increase our readership, diversify our content and add new value for our readers.

You can become part of the Green Observer's mission. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or sign up for our E-Magazine to receive the Green Observer in your email inbox.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

[Press Release] Redefining Realness: Author and Gender Rights Activist Janet Mock visits the University YMCA

Author and Gender Rights Activist Janet Mock visits the University YMCA

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On Friday, October 31 at 12 Noon, the University YMCA will host a conversation with New York Times Best Selling Author and Gender Rights Activist Janet Mock. All are invited for a book signing and breakfast with Janet that morning at 9am at the Author’s Corner in the Illini Union Bookstore (second floor). 

Who: As a writer and activist, Janet Mock describes her lived experiences as a trans woman of color and contextualises those experiences to draw connections between her life, her work and her overall mission to broaden society’s portrait of womanhood. She speaks about the power of storytelling, the history of trans women-led movements, and the personal-political dynamics of visibility. 

A native of Honolulu, Janet attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, earned her MA in journalism from New York University, worked as a Staff Editor for (People magazine’s website) for five years and currently is a contributing editor for Marie Claire magazine. 

Janet Mock is the New York Times bestselling author of Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood and Identity, Love & So Much More. Janet Mock was also named Woman of the Year in 2013 by the feminist site Vitamin W, the Center for American Progress’s 13 Women of Color to Watch, the Huffington Post’s 23 Inspiring Women Blazing Trails for the LGBT Community and The Grio’s 100 most influential African-Americans. Her work has been nominated for a Women’s Media Center Award and a GLAAD Media Award For more information about Janet Mock,

When: Friday, October 31 at 12Noon

Where: University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign

This visit by Janet Mock coincides with the Fall 2014 Friday Forum lecture series that examined polarized value systems and how to encourage conversation and dialogue. Friday Forum is a program of the University YMCA. All Friday Forums are free and open to the public.

Additional Information: The views expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect the views of the University YMCA, co-sponsors, or the Friday Forum committee. A sign language interpreter is available with a 72 hours notice (contact Carol Nunn at 217-337-1500). All forums are radio broadcasted at 6:00 p.m. on WEFT 90.1 the Monday following the lecture, unless otherwise noted. For this Friday Forum on October 31, no audio or video recordings will take place per the request of Janet Mock.

The Fall 2014 Friday Forum lecture series Polarization to Conversation: What to do when values collide is sponsored by: LGBT Resource Center, Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program, Campus Honors Program, Office of The Provost, Department of African American Studies, Chapel of St. John the Divine, La Casa Cultural Latina, Channing-Murray Foundation, Wesley Foundation, Wesley United Methodist Church, McKinley Presbyterian Church and Foundation, Asian American Cultural Center, Urbana-Champaign Friends Meeting Peace Meeting Committee, Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, First Mennonite Church, School of Art and Design, Office of Public Engagement, Counseling Center, Educational Psychology. Paid for by SORF and The Student Cultural Programming Fee.

For media inquiries, contact: Megan Flowers, University Y Communications Director []

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Press Release: University YMCA partners with Sierra Leone YMCA to address Ebola Outbreak

University YMCA Partners with Sierra Leone YMCA To Address Ebola Outbreak
Campaign to support humanitarian relief and
partnership with Scientific Animations Without Borders

The current Ebola outbreak is one of the largest outbreaks in history, impacting 3,707 individuals as of August 31 in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak could eventually infect more than 20,000 people, according to a new estimate from the World Health Organization. Also according to WHO, Sierra Leone has recorded a total of 1,216 confirmed cases, ranking the second highest number of cases out of all affected countries. In addition to providing food, medical supplies, and protective clothing, one of the biggest challenges facing individuals in Sierra Leone is the dispelling of misconceptions about the virus itself, what the symptoms look like and how to prevent spreading the disease further.

In response, the University YMCA launched a local Ebola Relief Campaign today, aimed at raising $10,000 to support the humanitarian relief work being undertaken by the Sierra Leone YMCA and an additional $10,000 to fund the development of an education and prevention tool using cell phone technology.

The University Y is raising half the funds needed to create an education and prevention tool in partnership with Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO), which is producing the animation and providing the other half of the funds. SAWBO is a program of the University of Illinois that originally combined animation with cell phone technology to educate farmers in remote parts of the world about post crop production techniques using voice over narration in local dialects. SAWBO is fast tracking the development of an Ebola animation that can be deployed by the Sierra Leone YMCA using their network of 23 branches throughout the country. Volunteers with the Sierra Leone Y are currently recording the voice over narration developed by SAWBO.

To support the Y’s efforts, President Robert Easter of the University of Illinois has offered to make the first donation to the Y and encouraged support of the campaign.

“The University Y has a long history of working with our students in addressing real issues facing our world” explained President Easter. “I am proud to be the first donor to this collaboration and I want to encourage others on campus and in our community to help make this effort a success.”

The Ebola Relief Campaign is collaboration between the University YMCA, the Sierra Leone YMCA, and Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO), a program at the University of Illinois. For people interested in joining the collaborative effort, the University YMCA will be convening a meeting of theSierra Leone Working Group on Tuesday, September 23 at 4pm at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, Illinois. To help raise local awareness, the University Y will be co-sponsoring a teach-in with SAWBO and the U of I Center for Global Studies on Thursday, September 18 in Room 1092 in Lincoln Hall from 4pm to 5:30pm.

Before news of the Ebola outbreak broke, the University Y and the Sierra Leone Y had been exploring possible collaborations as part of the University’s Global Health Initiative, “When news of the Ebola outbreak spread, suddenly everything we had talked about seemed irrelevant. We shifted gears and develop a plan of action based on the priorities identified by the Sierra Leone YMCA,” explained Y Program Coordinator Enrique Rebolledo. “With branches in 23 communities, the Sierra Leone Y is on the front lines in combating the impact of this disease. Unfortunately it has also placed their volunteers in greater risk. At least two of their volunteers have already died from the disease.”

Because of the urgent need for humanitarian relief, the University Y will be forwarding money for the donation even before the funds are raised. “The need is so urgent that we didn’t want to wait until we had the money in hand several weeks from now,” explained Y Executive Director Mike Doyle “It is a risky proposition, but we believe that they community will step forward and help us reach this goal.”


Media: 1. About SAWBO [VIDEO]

2. Teach-In Flyer (png)

3. Image (Sierra Leone YMCA visit.jpg)
Christian Kamara, Chief Executive Officer of the Sierra Leone YMCA visits the University YMCA on June 27 and 28, 2014. Pictured in bottom row, left to right: Walt McMahon, Mabinty Tarawallie (and daughter), and Christian Kamara. Pictured in top row, left to right: Kasey Umland, Mike Doyle, Enrique Rebolledo, and Vaneitta Goines.

For media inquires, contact
Megan Flowers, University Y Communications Director