Lexicon of Sustainability

What is Project Localize?

The Lexicon of Sustainability is a national project that engages people with understanding the language and terms associated with a particular concept or industry to encourage people about how and why sustainability is important and is practiced all around us.

An arm of the Lexicon project is Project Localize, where the focus was on the local food system here in the Charlotte-metro region.  Gaston Day students in Mrs. Rebecca Hurd’s Honors Environmental class studied terms and concepts before going on field trips to see the processes and making  information artworks through a combination of environmental science, technology applications and interviews with the local farmers and ranchers.  The students will present their artworks to various stakeholder groups throughout the semester and the artworks will be on display in the Gaston County Public Library in late March.

Student Observations

Shelley Eagan owns and runs Proffitt Family Cattle Company located in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. She raises certified organic grassed beef and grows certified organic hay for supplemental feeding of the cows. She is motivated to providing a high quality product because she is passionate about having access to good food. Her farm exemplifies sustainable practices and upholds organic standards.

  1. a) what it was like to go to the locations where they made the images

It was really interesting to learn about all different types of sustainable farm practices right in our backyard. I was amazed to see all the different factors farmers must take into consideration when growing a crop or raising livestock.

  1. b) the process of making the image (hard, didnt think they could do it, too a lot of perseverance

Creating the artwork was difficult at first because the photoshop program was unfamiliar to me, but once I learned the basic functions that were needed, I really got the hang of it and felt comfortable working with the computers. It was a learning experience because our computers were not compatible with the handwriting process typically used in the curriculum, but our team problem solved and discovered a new way to write on the images with our iPads.

  1. c) what it was like to see it done

Seeing the artwork finished really made me proud to see my hard work pay off into a beautiful final project. At the beginning of the project, I was doubtful that I could create such a complex looking artwork, but after the project was complete, I could tell my poster looked fantastic!

  1. d) what did you learn while working on this project?

Through this project, I learned the importance of knowing where your food comes from. Buying local foods is important because it supports farmers in your area who typically raise their products using sustainable practices. Eating local also reduces greenhouse emissions!

Olivia Reiber, Grade 12

Next fall I will be attending North Carolina State University to study Fashion and Textile Management with a focus in brand management and marketing. I play soccer and volleyball for Gaston Day as well as work as an editor on the yearbook staff. Some things I enjoy are long walks on the beach, eating good food, and spending time with friends and family.

  1. I enjoyed visiting the different locations because it allowed for a more involved and hands on learning environment that was easy to understand and fun to be a part of.
  2. Making the image was harder than I anticipated. I took time and patience and was at sometimes frustrating. However, it was worthwhile and taught me different ways that technology and environmental science are connected. We had some problems along the way but we were able to overcome these barriers and eventually reach our end goal.
  3. While making the project it seemed at times that they would never be done, however when they finally were and we saw them we felt proud of all our hard work and of what we had created.
  4. I learned a lot about where my food comes from during this project. I never thought about all the effects GMOs and preservatives could have on people and how much better organic food it for you. This project showed me how much we take for granted that we can just go to the store and can just pick out our food. We rarely think about where it comes from and how many people have to work around the clock to get it to us.

Grace Vercauteren, 10th Grade

I enjoy going to different games with my friends to support our Gaston Day teams. I like to eat, binge watch Disney movies and play volleyball. I am an active member of Gaston Day’s theatre program and have a knack for falling down.

I had fun visiting the different farms were we explored different types of farming and their ways to create a more sustainable environment. It helped me learn a lot about what we eat and where it comes from.

  1. b) Making the image was troublesome. Having to piece together over about 20 to 30 images into 1 large picture was a very hard task especially because of technical problems that we encountered with the computers we used. In the end we overcame all problems and all made beautiful pieces of art.
  1. c) In the end it was very exciting to finalize the picture and see it all pieced together. After working on this single project for more than half of a semester there was a very reluctant feeling when we all finished are pictures

I learned a lot about how a farmer can be sustainable through sustainable practices like using organic rated compost and using less plastics and pesticides on crops. Overall this project helped me relive what goes in or food and how it’s made.

Sterling West, 10th grade

I am a student at Gaston Day School. I participate in baseball and cross country. I also am a Boy Scout with the rank of Life Scout. I enjoy fishing, going boating, and going camping.

Fred Ilse began learning about bison and holistic management through books and seminars and gained his membership of the National Bison Association after he decided to raise bison instead of cows. He is primarily a pasture farmer and lets his bison live with as little human intervention as possible, allowing them to roam and act as if they were in the wild. He plans to open his fully operational ecotourism ranch in less than a year and, because of demand, meat will be a byproduct.

a) what it was like to go to the locations where they made the images

Visiting each location was a very eye opening experience and, along with what we learned in class, my eyes were opened to how important sustainability should be to the world. Arriving at each location, all of us were able to see the dedication each farmer put into their work and each time we left a location, all of us were able to confidently say that we learned something new and important. Because of these trips, I have begun to change things in my life that reduce my carbon footprint and allow me to be more sustainable.

b) the process of making the image (hard, didnt think they could do it, too a lot of perseverance.

Creating the images was a difficult task at first, but it was a very rewarding one. For me personally, technically difficulties forced me to start over a few times, but I am extremely happy with how my image turned out. As a class, we helped each other with the nuances of the applications we used and supported each other when things worked out and even when things didn’t work out. Now I can confidently say I am better at using technology, especially photoshop, than I was before.

  1. c) what it was like to see it done

Looking at the finished product for the first time was amazing! It was so exciting to see the images blown up and mounted, especially since we put so much time and effort into the project.

  1. d) what did you learn while working on this project?

This project taught me about the importance of sustainability and gave me a reason to become healthier and help the environment at the same time. Without this project, my knowledge about preserving the world around us would only be from books, but now I have first hand experience with people who live their lives as sustainably as possible.

Sophie Hastings – Grade 11

When I have time away from schoolwork, my favorite things to do are learning languages, listening to music, and watching shows on Netflix. I am a member of Blutopia, our school’s Literary & Arts Magazine, and I enjoy writing and reading. Among my aforementioned hobbies, my favorite one of all is eating. 

What was it like to go to the locations where they made the images?

Going to the locations definitely gave me a better idea of all the hard work and complicated processes that go into local, sustainable farming. We had learned about some of the equipment and techniques in class, but actually going to the farm allowed me to experience it for myself, gain a better understanding of sustainable farming practices, and connect with a local farmer.

The process of making the image:

Originally, I had a difficult time manipulating Photoshop. I’m definitely not technologically savvy, so I had to rely on some of the members of my class to help me figure out what I was supposed to do. By the time I was finishing my project, it became fairly easy to do the things I once thought were impossible.

What was it like to see it done?

It was an incredible moment to see that all the hard work we put into this project gave us such a great result. I was really proud that the trust my farmer placed in me was worth it, and that I could convey her story in an exciting, artistic way.

Through this project, I gained a better understanding of the necessity of local, sustainable farmers to both our health and our environment, the work and expense that goes into maintaining a sustainable farming system, and our responsibility as consumers to protect our environment by eating local.

MacKenzie Harris, Grade 12

Next fall I will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study business administration with a concentration in international business, with the intention of attending law school following my business degree. I am currently involved in the school play and serve as the lead editor of the school’s literary and arts magazine. I enjoy kayaking, climbing, writing poetry, and candlelit dinners.