Category Archives: policy


Taking Action by HM

May 13, 2013, by

For our latest Project as Action in my Policy course, we were given the assignment to find a cause we felt strongly about and then complete 3 hours of service for an organization of sorts that supported the cause we were interested in.  I chose to volunteer on a Habitat For Humanity trip, an organization’s that’s mission is that everyone has safe and affordable housing, something I feel strongly about as well.  I’m proud of this project not as much because of the content but because of how much it opened up my eyes to the very real struggles that go on just outside of my door and how much I can help them not be as big of an issue.

The service I was lucky enough to do was a really interesting experience mainly because I had just never had one like it. The 3 years that I attended Evanston Township High School, I had friends that were very active in Community Service Club but, for no real reason at all, I never chose to get involved. Since then, I have gotten more into service and have done it much more however I have never gotten to do such “popular” service as Habitat for Humanity until now. When I first received the offer to join some members of the ETHS Community Service club on a Habitat for Humanity trip, I was so excited! However, I had no idea what to expect. Habitat for Humanity is an organization that’s mission is to ensure that all people have a safe and affordable home to live in. So, they build and repair houses all over the world to make their dream come true.

After having gone on the trip, I can say first and foremost it is an incredibly long day and I have a newfound respect for those who dedicate their lives to this organization, it is no easy task. However, the feeling that has stuck with me since last Saturday is a feeling of pure joy and sentiment for the new homeowner. Each homeowner is required to put in a great deal of service work on their own homes and I was lucky enough to be working a day the future homeowner also was, a very sweet older woman who would be living with her daughter.  Something I found particularly admirable about these two women was their big hearts.  We spent the first half day working on their future home, preparing the sidewalk and parking pad for the cement that would be coming just a couple days later.  After our lunch break, the group went to the warehouse to work on building walls for another house.  As I said earlier, each future homeowner is required to work a certain amount of hours on their own home but they aren’t required to do so on another persons.  These two women came along and spent hours of their own time working on a home for someone else, even though they weren’t required to.  They ended the day with giving all the volunteers homemade chocolate chip cookies as a token of their gratitude.  As I’m sure they have a million other things going on in their lives, I find it incredibly heartwarming they took the extra time to do something for others and show such selflessness.

Part of the requirements for this project were to interact and interview at least 3 people at wherever we did our service and I found that to be nearly impossible at Habitat.  It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I felt that there was a lot of disconnect between the volunteers but also with the Habitat staff.  Often, it felt like they talked to us when they had to tell us what to do or when we asked a question, but there was nothing beyond that.  It was sort of a disappointment to me that it was a group of less than 20 volunteers but beyond the people I already knew, there was practically no interaction.  However, I understand that the work we’re doing is hard and requires focus.  Before the trip, it never crossed my mind that the houses we build are actually going to be lived in and often my friends and I found ourselves messing up and having to tell some of the staff, which they always seemed to laugh a little bit at.  It made me realize how much work I’m sure they have to put in even after people like me come to make sure everything is perfect.

All in all, it is so unbelievably touching to me that these two women have proven themselves capable of taking on as large of a responsibility as owning a home and I can only imagine all the work, sweat, and tears that have gone into getting them to where they are today. I am blessed to have a house key and that I have always had one, but I am also blessed to have helped these women get theirs back.

Monopolize the news

May 2, 2013, by

Screen shot 2013-05-02 at 11.28.42 AM For our Policys’ course which is a GCE Humanities Course we were asked to look at monopolies and we learned they are usually a company or group having exclusive control over a commodity or service. Next we were asked to look into a monolopy and come up with a question explaining our thoughts on the subject. After looking into the monolopy we had to create an infographic example of what we were trying to explain. I decided to talk about the nightly news as a monolopy. My question was “Does CBS news coverage reflect/show parity in their story choices or their content?” I then watched the nightly CBS news for a weekend and took a tally of the types of news stories they showed and discussed. Overall it was an interesting experiment. In my opinion it proved how unreliable the news really is.

Below you can view my infographic.

Policy Action 2- ZF

May 1, 2013, by


Monopolies are not always run by private companies. They are not always monopolizing goods or services. Sometimes ideas are monopolized. Sometimes they are monopolized in places we trust. Because states in the U.S. are given the rights to decide most of their laws, some states choose to limit what can be taught in public schools. This is especially prevalent in how individual states choose to teach their students about sex. Some opt for an all encompassing or “comprehensive” sex education course. This requires schools to teach about four major areas of sexual health: Abstinence, Contraception, HIV/AIDS and other STDs, and Pregnancy. This makes sure information that students need is available to them, whatever they choose to do. Other states choose to teach through “Abstinence only” courses, where they are not allowed to teach students about any form of contraception or pregnancy/STD prevention. Those states are almost always found to have higher cases of STDs and pregnancy in teens aged 15-20. Abstinence only education puts a monopoly on the information a student can receive, using the excuse that if they don’t know about it, they won’t do it. Unfortunately, as the data shows us, that is simply just not the case. Illinois, which until recently had an abstinence only policy, had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country with 33 in every 1000 girls. Obviously, that system isn’t working. If it were, Illinois should have had one of the smallest rates in the country. States with that policy are working backward from the data, saying that if we follow their ideas, the data will change. Instead, we need to follow the data and change the ideas. Teens will have sex no matter what. It is the job of our schools to teach them about the dangers and risks involved, and how to keep themselves safe.

My infographic gives you the facts and an idea of what we need to change. I have also included a short list of some websites if you want to learn more about sex ed.


Learn about sex education!

Policy: Infograph on the U.S. Nuclear Program

May 1, 2013, by

This unit in Policy we looked at infographs, and how effective they can be when it comes to communicating information to a large demographic. What I’ve learned about infographs is that they are key to data comprehension– no matter what language you speak, where you are from, or how educated you are, infographs transcend the boundaries we have from one person to another and deliver information in one uniform, global way.

My infograph is about the U.S. Nuclear Program’s spending. My attraction to the topic of government spending began with an exercise my classmates and I did in another course, “Hurricane Season”. We were given the total amount of money that our government spends, and were asked to determine how it should be distributed. In the end, we compared the budget that we created to the actual U.S. government’s budget. I was riveted by the U.S.’s disparities in spending distribution, and it infuriated me that the difference between spending in defense and spending in something like education could be so vast. My goal in this infograph was to highlight the recklessly excessive U.S. defense budget — and what we could be spending that money on instead.

There were a few particularly shocking facts that I discovered in researching the defense budget: First, it costs 31 billion dollars just to dismantle the average nuclear weapon (No, not a typo. That’s 31 billion for a single weapon). That’s nearly twice the amount that Florida spent on K-12 education in 2011-2012. Secondly, the Obama Administration has recently released that the U.S. has 5,113 strategic nuclear warheads that the U.S. has at the moment (note that this does not include the 9,000+ retired warheads.) Lastly, the total land area occupied by U.S. nuclear weapons bases and facilities is 15,654 square miles. The total land area of the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey: 15,357 square miles. Despite all of these shocking facts I found, there was inconsistency in my research when I attempted to see how the amount we spend on nuclear development affected our economy; it was not hard to tell that the U.S.’s nuclear development has become a jobs program in many ways, and our economy depends heavily on it. To learn more shocking facts about U.S. Defense Spending, please view my infograph below!

Chicago’s monopoly.

May 1, 2013, by

For our second action project in, Policy, we had to find a monopoly that affected us, write a brief paper about it and create an infogram. For my monopoly I chose Chicago privatizing parking throughout the metropolitan area. I think one of the most challenging things that I dealt with was getting accustom to the website that created the infograms. Also I had some trouble finding out how I was going to present my information in an ascetically pleasing manner. One thing that I learned through this project is that Chicago privatizing parking actually benefits our city more than I expected. Before this project I believed that Chicago’s decision to privatize was a poor one at best. Soon after I really started to dive deep into my research I found that it’s actually going to bring in billions of dollars of revenue for the windy city. Below is my paper and infogram. I hope you enjoy!


My personal interest was sparked for this study due to the fact that I am receiving my drivers license this summer. Hearing criticism from my parents and friends who drive, I thought it was only right to understand and dissect what was really going on. With this research I believe that I am relatively adept to Chicago’s parking fiasco.

Recently in 2009, Chicago privatized all parking in the downtown, residential and business districts. They did this due to disorganization on public parking in the city of Chicago. Many of meter prices were inconsistent throughout. Some areas only charged a mere quarter per hour for parking, while other parking lots in nearby areas were as high as 10 or 15 dollars per hour for parking.

Chicago made a 75 year, 1.15 billion dollar deal to hopefully revamp revenue in Chicago. In the beginning many of the meters were either broken or malfunctioning. Resulting in a lot of unhappy citizens. With broken parking meters came undeserving tickets to Chicagoans. By December 2009 though, privatized parking had improved with more than 31,000 meters being replaced.

Through my research of the past 4 years of privatized parking in Chicago, I have found that the data trends show the prices of all parking in Chicago steadily increasing over the next 75 years. The loop by 75 cents per year, 50 cents per year for business districts and 25 cents per year for residential and neighborhood districts. With this increase of price though, I have surprisingly found that most Chicagoans are still satisfied with parking here. I have not found any inconsistencies in the data. Due to the steady increases dependent to which area the parking meters have been placed I think there approach to parking was a success.

At first skeptical of a monopoly over our parking, I have come to realize that the benefits greatly outweigh any cons. This was actually such a success that many other cities have looked to use our model for parking as well. These cities include Pittsburg, Los Angeles and Indianapolis.




Rape Culture Infograph

May 1, 2013, by

For the Humanities course Policy, the second action project was to represent data using an infograph. Since I am a feminist, I was interested in studying statistics relating to rape culture. Specifically, the judicial response to cases of rape seemed like powerful information to visualize, because it is startling to see how few rapists ever set foot in prison. This is alarming not only to think of the victims who cannot be protected as a result, but also because of all the additional rapes that will occur due to rapists walking free. Additionally, according to the Rape And Incest National Network (RAINN), even rapists who make it to jail are likely to be serial criminals and return to prison for other crimes shortly after their release. This failed system benefits no one but rapists. Minimizing consequences does not address the issues that must be resolved to reduce rape, and perpetuates the exaggerated belief that rape victims make up the allegations, which in turn causes fewer cases to be reported. This unproductive cycle needs to be resolved.

At the top of this page is the infograph I created using information about the judicial response to rape and the general public’s perception of rape cases. I also posted the infograph on two social media sites, facebook and tumblr– screenshots of my posts are below:

 Screen shot 2013-04-30 at 9.45.15 PMScreen shot 2013-04-30 at 9.49.09 PM


Sources Cited

“Reporting Rates.” Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. RAINN, 2009. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.

“About Offenders.” Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. RAINN, 2009. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.

Chemaly, Soraya. “50 Actual Facts About Rape.” The Huffington Post., 26 Oct. 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.

SM RoundUp Inforgraph

April 29, 2013, by

For my Policy class, I created an info graph around the Monsanto RoundUp monopoly. I did extensive research on multiple online sources, finding rattling information on why RoundUp is unsafe to buy and use around your home. In my research I specifically studied RoundUp’s effects on air, people, and plant life. From this experience, I’ve learned that if you have a monopoly over an industry, you have total power on what goes into your product, especially in the food market. After my work was complete, I sent out an email to Monsanto themselves, with a link to my work and why they should be held accountable. My work is below, check it out!

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 11.17.53 PM

Is RoundUp a “safe” product?

RoundUp is a weed killing product produced by farming powerhouse Monsanto, it started in 1974, and has had a monopoly on the weed killing industry ever since. RoundUp has a very dangerous effect on your everyday life. As shown in my infograph, RoundUp has a very negative effect on the people, plant life, and air around it. RoundUp is mainly made up of a systemic herbicide called glyphosate. Glyphosate is a deadly herbicide and it is what I am studying through the monopoly lense. RoundUp made over a billion dollars last year, mainly because it has a strangle on the weed killing industry. With facts and quotes to support me, I will show you why RoundUp is a dangerous product to have in your home.
According to Purdue professor Don Huber “Micronutrients such as manganese, copper, potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc are essential to human health. All of them can be reduced in availability by glyphosate; (The product used in RoundUp) mineral nutrients are less in glyphosate treated plants. We are seeing a reduction in nutrient quality” RoundUp can reduce the availability of iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Lack of iron and calcium can lead to deadly diseases such as anemia and scurvy (or more commonly known as vitamin C deficiency.) This study from Professor Huber proves that RoundUp is a dangerous product to put in common spaces such as yards or community gardens.
In January of 2013, two scientists, Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff did a study on the negative effects RoundUp has on the human brain and body. The results they found were astonishing. “Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease”
Post the study, law firms and outraged citizens can now link glyphosate to Autism, Cancer, Obesity and much more, thus opening the door on a federal offense. Only months after the study was released, a private law firm has taken action and sued Monsanto specifically for its link to Autism. With links to Autism, we now have proof that RoundUp is too dangerous to have around children, especially babies.
In August of 2011, the U.S Department of the Interior did a study on RoundUp’s effect on water and air. In studying, they noticed that in RoundUp’s most popular region, basins in southern Mississippi, glyphosate was found miles from the nearest farm on shrub and in streams. Through research they were able to deduct that particles of glyphosate moved throughout the air onto other shrub and streams.
I find this to be so interesting because of its affect on every person in the country. We can link every source of organic food in the country to farms, with more than 75% of those farms using RoundUp on their crops, who knows how much damage they have cost. Perhaps a cancer patient, or autistic child could be suffering at the hands of GMO product and company. I am fascinated that we don’t hold Monsanto and RoundUp more accountable.
One noticing I’ve taken note of is the drop off of sales in RoundUp. In 2010, The Rochester Laborers Pension Fund (A group of investors) sued Monsanto for its drop off in RoundUp sales. Knowing the recent facts proven about Monsanto, perhaps there has been a drop off in sales, but an increase in consumer awareness.
Breaking down RoundUp in everyday facets has proven to be an eye opening way to understand the scientific deficiencies. Given the drop off in sales and increase in lawsuits against Monsanto, I can deduct that RoundUp is being understood for the poisons in and around the entire product.

Sources: Huber, Don, Phd. “Dr. Huber’s Warning.”, West Lafayette, Indiana.
Tussing, Maria. “RoundUp Killing Precious Plants.” Http:// Jan. 2011
Sennef, Stephanie, and Anthony Samsel. “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome.” (2013): n. pag. Web. Jan. 2013. <>



Is McDonald`s on Top of the Food Chain?

April 29, 2013, by

For my second action project in my policy class, I had to make a info-graph. The info-graph had to be on a certain topic, that topic had to be in a local reign, and had to show a monopoly. The topic I chose was McDonald`s and how it is on top of the food chain. Below is my info-graph, my link to see the post on Facebook, my narrative, and my biography.

I chose to do research on McDonald and see if McDonald has a monopoly on the food chain. To begin my research, I looked and saw how much Subway, McDonald, Wendy’s, and Burger King spent on ads in 2011. I also researched how much money they made in 2011 and how many locations each food chain has. What I noticed and what was also a trend was that in the food chain McDonald and Subway are neck and neck. They are the top two in the business. Another trend is McDonald is consistent in two areas:ads and money. The next noticing I found was, McDonald spends much more money then any other food chain on ads;one reason why the are top of the food chain. And my last noticing(also a inconsistency in the data) is that even though McDonald is makes the most money, Subway has more locations than McDonald. My conclusion I made based on my research is, because McDonald made the most money in 2011 and spent the most money on ads in 2011 that is why they are on top of the food chain.

McDonald’s. “McDonalds Restaurants Statistics – Countries Compared.” NationMaster, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.

“Wendy’s, Not Burger King, Is No. 2 in Sales.” USATODAY.COM. The Associated Press, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

“This One Statistic Shows Just How Much McDonald’s Tries To Entrench Itself In Everybody’s Minds.” Business Insider. N.p., 14 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.

“Wendy’s Goes in Search of ‘Waaaay Better’ Advertising.” BurgerBusiness. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.


The War on Private Prisons

April 29, 2013, by

For my second milestone in Policy (English & History) we created an infographic about a monopoly that exists today in the US.  I did mine about the Private Prison system and how terrible of a system it is.  This was a extremely eye opening source and I learned why we hold  %25 of the world’s prisoners, yet only %5 of the world’s population.  If you would like to check out my narrative of my infographic about it, check it our below!


Right now in America one of the most lucrative businesses is making more people go to jail than ever before, and it’s legal.  What I’m talking about is the Private Prison market, which is a 70 billion dollar market.  It has grown by %350 in the past 15 years, and this isn’t a coincidence.  This industry is extremely corrupt, and is emptying the pockets of taxpayers, and imprisoning those for longer than is deserved.  Many Private Prison companies require that states keep the capacity of prisons at above %90 full for 20 years.

This puts pressure on the justice system to increase sentencing length, and increase the frequency at which people are incarcerated.  Over 2.27 million US citizens are in jail, that’s about 1 out of 100 people.  The US hold %25 of the world’s prisoners, while only having %5 of the world’s population.  Roughly 51.5% of prisoners are there for drug related offenses.  Roughly %81.9 of prisoners are in jail for possession of a controlled substance.  The US government spent over 15 billion dollars, equaling to $500 every second.

I’ve noticed from doing this report that Private Prisons are becoming much more lucrative and profitable over time.  While profitability has gone up, so has the amount of prisoners in the US.  There has been a %700 jump in US prison population, which is outpacing general population growth and crime rates (%44 population growth).

The amount of spending on prisons has been skyrocketing over the past thirty years, and private prisons have not been the only reason for them to jump so high.  State-ran prisons supply more than 800,000 jobs, so it is at the best interest of the government to keep prisons full as well.  I think that the private prison system is absolutely terrible, and terrifying.  I believe that prisons should be ran at who has the people’s best interest in mind.  Not a company who has themselves to worry about.

Works Cited
“American Civil Liberties Union.” American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“BRIEFING: For-Profit Prisons.” WhoWhatWhy RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“How Extensive Are Private Prisoners in Our Country? plus a Report on Private Prison Lobbying | Rortybomb.” Rortybomb. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“International Centre for Prison Studies.” International Centre for Prison Studies. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“Jailing Americans Becomes a Profitable Business – RT USA.” Jailing Americans Becomes a Profitable Business – RT USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“PolicyMic.” PolicyMic. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“Private Prisons Have Public Benefits: Newsroom: The Independent Institute.” The Independent Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
Staff, NPR.
“How Louisiana Became The World’s ‘Prison Capital'” NPR. NPR, 05 June 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.

Who’s Getting Left in the Dust? By HM

April 29, 2013, by

For our second project as action in Policy, we investigated an issue we feel strongly about and how it either is or can be seen as a monopoly.  Once we had chosen our issue, we had the large and quite honestly, daunting task of creating an infographic to effectively display the information we had found and “prove a point”.  Before creating this infographic, we did a lot of work on deciding what makes an infographic in comparison to a map and finally came to the understanding that most often infographics are made to prove a point.  Although this project was definitely challenging at times and was full of trial and error, I hope you see the point I am trying to make.

Beyond that, I chose to reach out to a local organization, Erika’s Lighthouse, that focuses on educating people about mental health disorders so that they are able to recognize the signs in themselves and others to help prevent it from being such a major issue.  Below is a copy of the email I sent:

“Erika’s Lighthouse,

I’m reaching out to you today because I have always been very interested in understanding, educating, and helping those with mental illness since I realized how large of an impact it can have on peoples lives. I am inspired by what you are doing to educate and hopefully prevent this major issue from being so major in the future.
For a school project, I made an infographic displaying the amount of adults in America that struggle with a mental health disorder and who of those don’t get the adequate care they need. Please feel free to check it out, I’ve attached a link below.
Thanks so much,

For my infographic, I chose to focus on a topic that has had a personal effect on my life and in the lives of many people who are close to me.  Until the last couple of years, I did not realize how large of an issue mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, etc.  Once it became something I was so aware of in my own life, I was immediately interested in understanding and learning as much as I could about it.  Some of these things being: how large of an issue it really is, why, if it is so large, is it so rarely talked about, and how could I help.  Quickly, I learned that out of the thousands that are struggling, most are not getting the help and adequate care that they need.  Since then, I have done several projects to educate my peers and donated money to organizations all over in trying to educate so not as many people struggle so horrifically and are able to get the care they need, no matter what.  Although this is not a man made or necessarily conscious monopoly, in a strange way it is it’s own natural one.  When you are diagnosed with any of these disorders and are not getting the help that is necessary to be able to function in your day-to-day life, there is no other option.  You are trapped in your disease and it is incredibly hard to find a way out.  No one should be trapped the way several people so unfortunately are.

“Major Depressive Disorder Among Adults.” NIMH RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.

“The White House Blog.” Increasing Access to Mental Health Services. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.