Sustainability Spotlights

Basheer Mohamed

When Basheer Mohamed was in his sophomore year in high school at the Fred N. Thomas Career Education Center Middle College of Denver, he started participating in Computers to Youth, a CU Environmental Center program that provides middle and high school students from low-income communities around Colorado with upgraded computers and basic computing programs. Mentors with the program teach participants how to use the computers and software.


"As a participant in the Computers to Youth program, I learned a lot about how computers work-not only about software and how computers work but how the hardware works too," Mohamed said. "It was a huge spark in the interest of technology for me."


Mohamed is now a first-year open option engineering student at CU-Boulder. He plans to major in chemical and biological engineering or mechanical engineering. Mohamed said the Computers to Youth program was one of the factors that led to his decision to pursue an engineering degree.


"I came out really eager to learn more about computers," Mohamed said. "It was really beneficial to me and my family because it taught me how to build a computer and I wouldn't have been able to do that. It definitely sparked my interest in engineering."


Youth who participate in the program each build an upgraded computer that they use to supplement their education at home. On-site instruction and follow-up mentoring is provided by CU students from the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement and the state-wide MESA program (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement).  


These CU student mentors provide ongoing assistance and encouragement throughout the year. An important goal is to enhance the middle and high schools students' academic skills to enable their enrollment at Universities like CU.


Mohamed now works as one of these mentors, teaching middle school and high school students how to use and build computers. He began mentoring in Fall 2013 and plans to continue.


In 2005, Dell funded CU's first computer round-up where over 50 working systems were collected from the community within the three day event. Then, in 2006, EPA funding allowed CU to expand its efforts statewide. Last year, CU teamed up internally to provide a new level of student-lead service.  


With this experience, CU can more fully develop the educational experience of connecting CU students with disadvantaged middle and high school students.

The program will be expanding in 2014 with support from a number of campus departments and private sources.  


Two pressing issues will be addressed through the program: the growing amount of waste from computers and the "digital divide" (the relative inaccessibility to computing and communication technology).


This project is unique in that it connects CU's commitment to diversity with its experience protecting the environment. It is designed to help the public understand that these two efforts can complement one another.  


The CU Environmental Center's newly-expanded mission strengthens this link between environmental preservation and social equity. Important contributors to date include CU's Property Service, CU Parents Association, and the Microsoft Corporation. It is hoped this project will create additional collaboration with community groups and corporate sponsors in Colorado.

Beverly Grant and Mo' Betta Green Marketplace

Beverly Grant is an entrepreneur, permaculturist and mother of three.


She is the founder and manager of "R&B's Mo' Betta Green MarketPlace," an urban farmers market in Denver's historic Five Points Neighborhood. Grant launched the farmers market in 2011 on the principles of environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and food literacy. The market strives to broaden food access, providing food and nutrition literacy, and supporting local business and the neighborhood economy.


Grant will also be presenting at the 2013 Front Range Bioneers ConferenceGrant joins Neambe Leadon Vita, Mikey Ward, and Ietef Hotep Viita for "Hip Hop for Food Justice: Artists Discussion." They will discuss a powerful line-up of urban food justice activists and practitioners steeped in hip hop as an art form that liberates and lifts. All of them work with youth and inspire them to eat healthy, read labels, grow their own foods, tune into their local ecologies, and adopt and transmute permaculture principles for the betterment of their communities and, in turn, the larger hip hop community. In the tradition of great Artivists, they leverage "any medium necessary" to make their world healthier.  Moderated by budding permaculturist and mother of three, Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish of the Woodbine Ecology Center. 


Grant founded the marketplace in order to make fresh food available in the food desert of Five Points. The twice-monthly market includes cooking demos, free tastings, live music and a DJ.  The market includes a variety of local vendors offering community resources, produce and goods, including clothes and handcrafted trinkets. Urban growers, backyard gardeners, food educators and demonstrators, health, wellness, nutrition and holistic experts, local musicians, artisans, and other cultural curators by provide fun and outdoor family activities through the summer and autumn.


Located at Welton St.  and 25thAve. in Denver, Mo' Betta partners with GrowHaus to provide a community resource for education and fresh food. Earlier in 2013, the marketplace added a second location on alternating weeks at 20th Ave. and Ogden St.


Showcasing neighborhood arts, history, and culture, the market also works to benefit the community by shaping food policy and defining new food infrastructure and new agribusiness opportunities. The market directly impacts the top four community health disparities through interactive demonstrations and education. The market also co-creates edible and medicinal yard farms in Denver's food deserts. 


Al Bartlett


Professor Emeritus Al Bartlett received a BA degree from Colgate University and MA and PhD degrees in Nuclear Physics from Harvard University. He has been a faculty member at the University of Colorado since 1950.

Bartlett is famous for his talk "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy: Sustainability 101." Professor Bartlett has given his celebrated one-hour lecture over 1,600 times to audiences with an average attendance of 80 in the United States and worldwide. He first gave the talk in September 1969, and subsequently has presented it an average of once every 8.5 days for 36 years.

"In the late 1960's I began to realize that people didn't understand the large numbers that result from steady growth rates," Bartlett says. "So, forty years ago I developed the talk; I've given it an average of once every 8.7 days for 40 years."

Bartlett begins his one-hour talk with the statement, "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."

He then gives a basic introduction to the arithmetic of steady growth, including an explanation of the concept of doubling time. He explains the impact of unending steady growth on the population of Boulder, of Colorado, and of the world. He then examines the consequences of steady growth in a finite environment and observes this growth as applied to fossil fuel consumption, the lifetimes of which are much shorter than the optimistic figures most often quoted.

"Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?" Bartlett asks.

He proceeds to examine oddly reassuring statements from "experts", the media and political leaders - statements that are dramatically inconsistent with the facts. He discusses the widespread worship of economic growth and population growth in western society. Professor Bartlett explains "sustainability" in the context of the First Law of Sustainability:

"You cannot sustain population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources."

The talk brings the listener to understand and appreciate the implications of unending growth on a finite planet, and closes noting the crucial need for education topic.

Bartlett was President of the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1978. In 1981 he received the Association's Robert A. Millikan Award for his outstanding scholarly contributions to physics education.

In 2008, Bartlett was one of the winners of the The Population Institute 2008 Global Media Award. Watch Prof. Bartlett's short acceptance speech.

In 1969 and 1970 he served two terms as the elected Chair of the Faculty Council of all four campuses of the University of Colorado. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 2000, Bartlett testified before the US Congress on energy policy. He was awarded one of the first annual M. King Hubbert Awards at the ASPO USA Denver World Oil Conference in the Fall of 2005.

In the late 1950s Professor Bartlett was an initiator of a citizens' effort to preserve open space in Boulder, Colorado, which ultimately led to the formation of The City of Boulder's Open Space Program. By 1999, the Program has purchased over 26,000 acres of land for preservation as public open space. Professor Bartlett is a founding member of PLAN-Boulder County, a City and County environmental group.