Michelle's Earth Foundation Newsletter Winter 2009

Michelle's Earth Foundation,  P.O. Box 5140 Preston King Station, Arlington, Virginia 22205
Donations are possible through Facebook or by mail.

Dear Friend,

On this coming Wednesday, January 28th, let us all light a candle in remembrance of Michelle on what would have been her 24th birthday. Let our collective light shine on Michelle's compassionate spirit, as we all take steps to tread more lightly on our Earth. 
UVM's President Fogel at vigil for Michelle

UVM's President Fogel at an evening vigil for Michelle
Burlington, VT
Becky's Snow Candle

Rebecca Counselor honors Michelle's birthday with an ice candle
2,108 Trees

Since 2007, Jim Egenrieder and his wife Diane Allemang have planted 2,108 trees in honor of Michelle.
A big thank you... Chris Kadlec for creating the memorial website!

Sunflowers planted for Michelle at Taylor Elementary School
MEF Volunteers Working on MESUNOLA Project Featured in Documentary "Beyond the French Quarter": New Orleans, LA

Beyond the French Quarter, is a short documentary produced by Danny Y. Huang and 7 other Williams College students during their visit to New Orleans over their spring break last year. This student production captures the unconventional accounts of youth volunteers in New Orleans.

Ian being interviewed for "Beyond the French Quarter" March 2, 2008

MEF Board member and program director of MESUNOLA, Ian Willson, is featured in the film leading volunteers in MEF's sunflower phytoremediation project that began over a year and a half ago. Filmmaker Huang was looking to document areas of hope in areas of New Orleans that were still devastated and neglected a full three years after Katrina destroyed New Orleans.  In Ian and MEF's MESUNOLA project Huang found such hope where MEF has worked tirelessly on a completely all volunteer basis with some of the most under served and vulnerable populations of New Orleans. 

In short, MEF's sunflower phytoremediation project provides a clean energy efficient and sustainable means whereby sunflowers remove seriously harmful toxins such as lead from the soil for little to no cost.  The project is ongoing and is open to all all volunteers that would like to join our efforts.
Red Osier Dogwood bushes planted for Michelle at the Intervale, Burlington, VT
Liu Yaqing's "Letters to Michelle"

Michelle's Earth Foundation recently received a touching and beautifully hand bound journal from a university student in China. Liu Yaqing had been deeply touched by reading Michelle's This I Believe essay and visiting Michelle's websites. The journal is comprised of letters reflecting how Liu was affected by Michelle's words and thoughts. Liu was so moved that she changed her major from finance to environmental science, policy and management. In the summer she attended an Environmental Leadership program and a China Sustainable Development Conference, where she presented her paper, Power Inequality, Eco-Efficiency and Environmental Performance. Although her university does not have an environmental major, Liu seems to be creating one there.

Here's a quote from Liu's postscript: ". . .but Michelle's innocence woke me up and unlocked the trapdoor of my deep memory. I returned to the riverbank and found a seed sleeping deep down in a cavity of stones. I held it with both hands, feeling like I had recouped a lost diamond. But later I found that what I redug up was actually myself."

We thank you Liu for sharing this important time of transition and awakening in your life. Michelle's spirit is acting in transformational ways in your life, as well as in the lives of many others.
Devin and Libby's grove of redbuds at Ohio Wesleyan planted for Michelle.
Doug's Flowers for Michelle

Doug Varney
is a relative of a member of Michelle's church in Arlington.  He lives outside Burlington and periodically places flowers on campus in Michelle's honor.

View Doug's entire album of flowers for Michelle here.
Keri Johnson, Teacher

On Michelle's birthday Keri Johnson gave thanks that Michelle had the opportunity to inspire so many individuals all over the world, including herself. Keri began teaching an eight week Yogic Environmental Philosophy class in the GreenHouse in honor of the fact that it is where Michelle lived during her short time in Vermont. She began her course on Michelle's birthday, January 28th. During Michelle's fall semester at UVM, Keri and Erin McKeon were instructors in Michelle's favorite class. They performed an interpretive dance to passages of Michelle's journal at the UVM Memorial Service.

Keri ends her thoughtful message: May you be well, filled with compassionate hearts and minds.

Julia Martin, Hannah Sylvester and Keri Johnson

Friends go on a retreat

On the anniversary of Michelle's murder this year Julia Martin, Hannah Sylvester and Adam Briere spent the weekend together at a lodge on Mt. Mansfield where they had been with Michelle on Transfer Trek, a UVM wilderness experience, two years earlier.
Special Thanks.... Burlington's Bridget Burns for putting together a benefit program of women musicians at the Monkey House and to Matt Perry of the OP Restaurant in Burlington, VT, for sponsoring a snowflake benefit fundraiser. Proceeds of both events went to Michelle's Earth Foundation.
MEF Volunteers on MLK Day of Service - Arlington, VA

Yasmine Rassam

On Sunday January 18, 2009, MEF volunteers Yasmine Rassam and others joined with volunteers from groups such as Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment and Arlington soccer players at Wakefield High School stadium field to pick up trash from along the fences and under the bleachers in honor of Martin Luther King Day of Service. The event was sponsored by
Earthfest UVM
Earthfest-University of Vermont Supports Environmental Charitable Event in  Support of MEF, Burlington, VT
MEF Volunteer, Ian Willson, shares homegrown watermelon with friends as part of going local initiative.  Richmond, VA
Heather Spence Speaks to H-B High School Students About Her MEF Sponsored Project Conserving the Mesoamerican Reef System in Mexico

Recently home from her project in Quintana Roo, Mexico, H-B graduate Heather Spence spent an afternoon sharing her stories of coral reef conservation and educational outreach with students in H-B's Environmental and A.P. Biology classes. Sponsored by MEF, Heather worked on a project focusing on various activities related to the conservation of the Mesoamerican Reef System located in Mexico. She worked with the Mexican National Parks service on a new project to attract and provide habitat for juvenile lobsters in a protected area of the coast of Isla Mujeres.

Heather also wrote a book, Marine Life of the Mexican Caribbean, to familiarize students and tourists with the local coastal flora and fauna. This book is a bilingual activity book with facts, pictures to color, and questions to answer, as well as games. A presentation accompanies the book and both were presented to children at summer camps and to guests of two hotels.

Heather also directed a workshop where local school children wrote songs to celebrate their environment. She wants to have these songs played on the local radio station.

In the near future Heather hopes to develop a connection for students in Arlington to interact with students in Cancun through her website. Arlington students could then learn directly about the Mesoamerican reef system by interacting with Mexican school children.
We at Michelle's Earth Foundation want to thank you for your assistance, volunteerism, guidance, hard work and donations. Let's all pause to realize that MEF was founded to carry on Michelle's life work. This task now rests in the hands of all those who loved her or grew to love her after her death. The many random acts of loving kindness presented in this newsletter are by no means complete. Please let us know if there are any that were missed.
Michelle's Earth Foundation