My name is Nora Hill, I'm a senior in high school at the Vermont Commons School. My social studies class has allowed us to spend 20% of our time focused on a current day global issue that interests us, and I have chosen the effect climate change will have on infectious diseases. This blog will be my process of learning about the issue and what I can do to address it.
Climate change is arguably the biggest issue facing my generation, but many people don't realize how far reaching these effects will be. Climate change will change global health, particularly with climate sensitive diseases that are food borne, air borne, insect borne, and water borne. Some of the most climate sensitive disease are: malaria, cholera, Lyme Disease, and West Nile virus. For general information on the impact of climate change on infectious disease check out this information from WHO .

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Final reflection 2-april-15

So this will be my final post for my class on this blog, but as I find new information or try to blitz my video, which I have posted HERE, I will still use this page!

1. On a scale of 0 to 100 (from zero effort to the most effort you possibly could have given) what would you rate your effort level on your 20% Time Project? 
93 - I put in a lot of research at the start of the project, and continued this throughout. I feel like I went in cycles of putting in far more than 20% of time and lots of energy and then times when I would put out less than 20% of time and energy. In general, I would quite diligently on this project but not always as consistently as I could have.

2. In what areas (research, planning, blogging, executing, presenting) have you given more effort or less effort?  Why?
I put a lot of effort into researching, presenting and executing. I put in the least amount of effort into planning, mostly because a bunch of the opportunities that came my way happened very quickly. I also only worked around my own schedule for the most part except for brief periods of time where I teamed up with other groups such as,350.org  or RETN. Not having to conform to other peoples’ deadlines made me more relaxed about my own, which as a senior in high school, was both good and bad. 

3. What are you really proud of from your 20% Time Project?
I am the most proud of my TESTIMONY in front of the senate committee  that is considering divestment at the Vermont State House. That was a great opportunity that empowered and really energized me around my project. 

4. What motivated you to give the effort level that you did give?
I was extremely interested in the topic of climate change and its impact on human health. After the Republicans took charge of Congress in January I was feeling very deflated about unsure about how to continue  to move my project forward. After attending the350.org opportunity and attending the Climate Change Youth Action I felt more invigorated again. I think that this mind set of feeling “I can’t make a difference” held me back for a while and I wish I could have just embraced the project and the immensity of the issue and gone with it more instead of being overwhelmed. 

5. If you could go back and do the project over, are there things you would try to improve?  Are there things you wish you'd done, that you didn't do?  Ways you could have pushed yourself to raise the bar even higher?
As I stated above I would have gotten over the what can I actually do phrase much quicker and started taking real action and creating my campaign faster so that I could have gotten more eyes on my video and generated more interest in my efforts. 

6. What was the most challenging part of this project for you?
Planning and figuring out what my actual product would be.  Since I took on such a big issue it was hard to narrow down what small piece could I work on?  How could my project make a difference?  There were times I wish I was more technically oriented so I could have designed a computer application or created a “thing”. But eventually I was able to find a way to steer the project in a way I could use my strengths.

7. What have you learned about the project-planning process?
As a person, I need to set harder deadlines for myself with more consequences for not reaching those deadlines. At times the open ended nature of the project allowed me to lose focus. In general though I accomplished what I set out to do. I just need to be stricter with myself. 

8. What in this project has made the biggest impact on your learning? Why?
My video project, made me more confident in my ability to use technology with the help of experts. I don’t consider myself a “techie” at all but I do consider myself a strong public speaker.  Now I feel like I can use video more as a medium going forward although I don’t totally understand all the editing components quite yet.

9. When you consider the rest of your life, what percentage of what you learned during this project do you think will be useful to you?  Explain.
Quite a bit of what I learned from this project will be useful going forward. I think making a timeline with deadlines is a life skill that I will use in college and professionally. Research skills are always important, especially when you are making your own deadlines, but it is important to able to move out of the research phase to the action phase of projects. 

10. If you could turn back time and do this project again, what would you do differently?
I would move from the research phase to the action phase sooner.  I would also select a goal that was less reliant on our government to move forward. I might also select a slightly narrower topic.  (Maybe just doing a Lyme Disease  education campaign as opposed to trying to get my bill to the Senate floor).

11. What advice would you give students who will participate in this project next year? 

I would say to pick a topic that you feel strongly about, because passion is the best fuel but keep it narrow.

12. What is something I could do in the future to make this project better?

Honestly, I would in the future give this project to the junior class, that way students would write about this on college applications and perhaps turn this into a senior project. At times, I felt this project conflicted with senior project planning and selection.  I felt torn in two directions. I think that by exploring and developing an interest and product we will all have stronger senior projects so it was good practice and preparation for our senior project but the timing was challenging. 

13. What grade would you give yourself for the quarter?  On what main factors do you base that grade?

94, because I have been an active participant in all forms, both in the class and outside of class. I have engaged in the 20% time project and homework, in class discussion, as well as, debates. Overall, I have really enjoyed this class and learning about more modern history that is shaping out current political and social world, and thus I have found it easy to engage in the material provided. (Although this past week my homework suffered a little but) but I am working on turning this around.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reflection 22/feb/14

Hey guys, 

So on February 12th  I attend the Youth Climate Action Summit at the State House in Montpelier. During the day, I testified to the Vermont SenateGovernment Operations Committee about divesting the state employee's pension fund from all fossil fuels. It was such a wonderful opportunity. Of course I was extremely nervous, but I think I did pretty well. Here is the Link to me speaking.   Another student spoke, as well as some investment folks from Boston and Vermont.  The President of Goddard College also spoke.  This was part of a coordinated effort by Climate Change Activists internationally to pressure schools, universities and other non-profit organizations to divest to save the planet.

I attended the workshop/action day in hopes of networking with other  climate change activist students but that didn't really happen as much as I had hoped but I did some a few fantastic connections which I hope will help me move my project forward. I have been in touch with a few climate change gurus about ways to move my project forward.  Unfortunately the Republican majority in Washington will make it very difficult.  BUT I think if I can just get people interested and aware of the bill, that might be a goal.
Looking forward toward next steps I am hoping to create a video that I can spread, through the wonderful networking oppurtunities 350.org has provided me with. I am planning of having it be a short video that just has me speaking about the Bill and why it is important. That is another thing I have taken away from my time at the State House, how vital it is that we pass this kind of legislation, on a state level, yes, but even more so on a federal level. We simply don't have the time to avoid this issue any more. I personally feel invigorated by being able to make my own contribution, but there is still so much more work to be done. The divestment movement is a great one -- very similar, my mom says to that of the apartheid one that many students took part in in the 80s.  I feel really lucky I got to participate in this -- even in a small way.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

7/feb/15 reflection

Today I did a big email blast and sent emails (again) to some of the Senators on the HELP Committee (which is where this Bill is living right now).

I emailed Bernie, Sheldon Whitehouse from RI (who gave an impassioned speech two weeks ago on the Senate floor about the climate change deniers), Barbara Boxer from California, and the Ed Markey from MA.  I also emailed Patrick leahy (hey, he is from Vermont and pretty powerful guy).

Here is more information on Sheldon Whitehouse’s speech.

I also emailed some of the Climate Change Health Gurus in Vermont: David Grass, UVM Professor, Dr, Christine Vatovec and Sarah McKearnan, a Senior Policy Advisor on Climate Change.

I also emailed some of the folks from 350.org.  They are hosting a Youth Action Day and I am hoping I might be able to attend.

Meanwhile, Climate Change and its impact on human health continues to be a very newsworthy topic. Bill Nye, the Science Guy, listed 2015’s biggest health concern as Climate Change. Here is another article if you’re  interested.

He makes some pretty funny comments about the issue on this video.


Article: http://www.weather.com/health/news/bill-nye-says-climate-change-big

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Reflection 29/jan/15

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, I have been extremely busy and away from the internet.
So I have sent out emails to the relevant Senators. My next steps include inquiring about more information on Bill 2864 from Senator Markey (this will be my second email to him). I am also hoping to create a facebook page with the focus on spreading awareness of the impact of climate change on infectious diseases.
I'm excited to hit the ground running and really focus on this project again. I'm somewhat concerned that I might be falling behind my timeline but I believe that by working overtime this weekend and next week I will easily be able to catch up to the timeline I set soon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Email to Bernie!

So I'm writing to my state senator, Bernie Sanders, about Bill 2864. Here is what I am writing to him, please leave your comments and thoughts and feel free to use my letter as a template to your own senators. 

Email to Bernie,

Dear Senator Sanders:
My name is Nora Hill and I am a Vermont High School student who is passionate about health and climate change. I have an invested interest in both of these topics and I am writing to you as my Senator (I will turn 18 in January) and in your role as a member of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. I am very interested in Senate Bill S. 2864 which was sponsored by Senator Markey of Massachusetts. I am wondering if you could let me know if this bill is being considered by the committee? Where does the bill stand and has there been much committee activity in regards to the bill?I am very interested in the impacts of climate change on public health.  Here in Vermont we are seeing an increased number of cases of Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus and as you know we can expect only more infectious disease pressure, as well as a myriad of other public health challenges related to climate change.  

I believe our government needs to come together to establish protocols, research and coordinated resources and efforts to document, prepare and problem solve the impending public health crisis looming as a result of climate change.As part of my senior year classes, I am working on an initiative to increase awareness around the issue of climate change as it relates to climate health

 I am planning to generate awareness around this particular bill, as it seems attainable, necessary and is not as politically controversial as some of the other climate change initiatives that are pending.  This bill makes sense and I would like to find out how I can help move it forward. Bi-partisan efforts to address Climate Change is the only hope for our planet and for my generation.  Bills like S. 2864 make sense and should be passed in a timely, bi-partisan fashion.

I look forward to hearing from you. I will take action but I would love you input on these questions: What will it take to get this bill to the floor for a vote? Has the Committee debated the bill yet and if so have any amendment been made?I know you are extremely busy but any insights, ideas or help you can share with me would be greatly appreciated.  I plan to reach out to other committee members as well.  I realize things will change dramatically in January but I am committed to working for change. In Vermont we have made great strides to increasing awareness about the health risks associated with Climate Change and I believe we should work to bring some of these same initiatives and protocols to the country as a whole.Most Sincerely,Nora Hill91 Old Pump RoadJericho, VT 05465802-488-4611nhill@vermontcommons.org

also send to Senator MarkeyTom Harkin (iowa)Elizabeth Warren (MA)Barbara Boxer (sponsor not on committee)Sheldon Whitehouse

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reflection 14/Dec/14

I am feeling pretty stressed and concerned about my 20% project. I am really unsure about my goal/product which is to have an online/social media campaign to draw attention to the Senate Bill on Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion and move this bill out of committee. Although I feel a more reasonable goal is get my senator, Bernie Sanders interested in the Bill.

I guess if I  just raise attention to this small area of concern around climate change that will be a small victory but I find myself wishing I was more technologically inclined and could produce some amazing predictive computer model of infectious disease spread (although I do realize that is completely unrealistic since I have no access to data nor any clue to design complex computer modelling systems).

I am going to make an effort to reach out to some of the Vermont experts to see if I can get a better sense if my project is even meaningful or helpful. I also will email Senator Sanders this week as he is on the HELP Committee. I am trying to manage my stress and anxiety with this project and all my other school work is proving difficult….not to mention I just heard back from my top choice college!! I officially know what I'm doing next year. To be honest my happiness at getting accepted has completely eclipsed my weekend.

Honestly I do think my project is worthwhile and will be an empowering experience, each of us can do small things that together will have a greater collective effort.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekly Reflection

I have done some research and I have found out that my State representivity, Bernie Sanders, is on the committee along with 11 democrats and 10 republicans. It was good to finally see who was on the committee, and I plan on composing a letter to all the members in the next two weeks urging the to take Bill 2864 to a vote and urging them to pass it. I will reach out to Bernie Sanders in particular as he is my state representative. I also plan on contacting some local resources. vermont has been a testing ground for a lot of the proposed actions in the Bill and it would be great to talk to some experts and see what changes have been made how they have been working out.