Over Grow The System

Prioritizing Environmental Sustainability

What is Over Grow The System?

Over Grow The System has been dedicated to raising awareness around our food system, sustainability, and how to live a life that is more in tune with nature. We recognize that many aspects of our current systems in place around the globe are causing much of the environmental destruction and social issues that we currently face. There is no simple answer, but through OGTS, we seek to shed light on those out there who are talking up the call to create alternatives through urban and rural farming, permaculture, sustainability projects, green tech and much more. What we face is in no way a easy fight, but for the future of not just humans, but much of the life on the planet, it is quite possibly one of the most important.

We’re social! Connect with us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

One Odd Change to Help YOU Support Environmental Stability

At Over Grow the System, we’re all about prioritizing environmental sustainability. One of the most common ways individuals can help is by donating to companies that work on sustaining the environment (like the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Environmental Working Group). A common complaint (read: excuse) we get is that people want to help, but they don’t have the money to. We recommend cutting out expenses that are unnecessary and donating those funds to charities, like the above mentioned ones. We’ll be exploring one of the easiest ways to find a few extra dollars a month to donate: by using a service like Credit Karma to check your credit score for free and not paying the big players tens per month just to see your credit score.

Credit Karma. It’s a service tens of millions of Americans love (don’t believe us? Check the last link for their stellar reviews).

A few years ago, nobody knew it existed. Today, it is one of the largest credit score checking services, and the main selling point is that it’s free. Yes, free, not free*, or free trial. Free.

In this post, we’ll be exploring how Credit Karma rose to the top of the ranks of companies providing free credit scores (because let’s be real here: who hasn’t see hundreds of ads for free credit score services like FreeCreditReport(.)com and the like?) and differentiated itself from its competition while being profitable at the same time.

First, some background: Credit Karma is a personal finance company that is newer than most of its competitors. It was founded by its current CEO Kenenth Lin in 2007 and has since grown to a company providing its free credit score checking service to more than 60 million Americans while generating hundreds of millions in revenue and being profitable, despite its aggressive marketing campaigns to scale user acquisition.

So, the elephant in the room and the main focus of this article is how Credit Karma manages to provide a free service (that they advertise as 100% free forever) and generate hundreds of millions in revenue every year. No, they don’t provide a free trial, and there are no hidden charges (as their commercials love to point out). Instead, they use your credit score and information about you to help you, while helping themselves. They refer users to things such as the best credit cards that fit their lifestyle and credit score, and since most credit card companies keep users for a long time (see that “Member Since” phrase embossed on your card?), they are able to pay a high cost to acquire a new user. Credit card companies pay Credit Karma to refer new customers to them.

Growing the Next Generation of Farmers

What is a Young Agrarian?

A new entrant into agriculture. Someone from the country to the city who values food, farming, nature and community.

Who are the Young Agrarians?

Young Agrarians is a grassroots initiative made up of agriculturalists and media conspirators intent on growing food sustainably. Inspired by The Greenhorns to build a network Canada-side to celebrate, connect and recruit young farmers – the Young Agrarians are the movers and shakers of a new agrarian movement: young agriculturalists, farmers, urban farmers, market and community gardeners, community groups and academics, organizations and the public who want to ecologically rebuild, promote and inspire the agriculture of our country. We are using the power of media and the internet, and bringing people together in real time- to build community and grow ‘good, clean, and fair’ food.

Why do we need Young Agrarians?

  • Canada’s farming population is shrinking, reaching a historic low in 2006, according to Statistics Canada figures. While one in three (33%) Canadians used to live on a farm in 1931, that number plummeted to one in 46 (less than 2%).
  • Population of Canada 33,739,900, # of farmers in Canada 684,260 or 327,055 farm operators (less than 2% of total population)
  • Stats Canada average age of Farmers in 2011 = 55
  • $20,000 average yearly net loss for farmers in Canada
  • 1 in every 2 farmers under 55 report that off farm employment is their main source of income
  • Land-use changes and fossil fuel burning are the two major sources of the increased CO2 in the atmosphere that is changing the global climate. Overall, land use and land-use changes account for some 31 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Livestock now account for 50 percent of emissions from agriculture and land-use change
  • In British Columbia, according to the Fraser Basin Council’s 2010 Sustainability Snapshot, more than 50% of farmers are aged 59 and up with less than 5% 34 and younger.

What Guides Us:

Agriculture, Agro-Ecology, Agrarianism, Capacity Building, Celebration, Collaboration, Community, Crowdsourcing, Diversity, Ecology, Education, Food, Food Sovereignty, Inclusion, Farmer + Migrant Workers + Indigenous Rights, Inspiration, Land-Access, Mapping, Mentorship, Networks, Participatory Frameworks, Partnerships, Start-up Financing, Sustainability, Transparency

What does Young Agrarians (YA) do?

YA is both an on-line and off-line network and community building project.

YA is building an online network to engage young farmers, would be farmers and the public in the reshaping of our food system.  It includes:  a young farmers blog and farmer resource map centralizing information about sustainable agriculture resources to support the next generation of food producers! Our social media channels are buzzing! Join the conversation @youngagrarians and hashtag us at #youngagrarians.

Off-line we are developing a suite of programs. Throughout the year we offer EVENTS, farm tours & potlucks, 1-2 day mixers, educational workshops and more. Winter 2014/15 we are offering a Business Mentorship Network program, as well as landlinking events. Check out TOOLS for more information.

Help us build the network!  YA is looking for collaborators!  Are you doing great stuff in your community already around local food and farming?  Get in touch!

FarmFolk CityFolk

Young Agrarians is happy to partner with FarmFolk CityFolk! FarmFolk CityFolk (FFCF) is a not for profit society that works to cultivate a local, sustainable food system.  Since October 1993, FFCF has been supporting community-based food systems by engaging in public education with farm and city folks; actively organizing and advocating around local, timely issues; building alliances with other organizations; and harnessing the energy of volunteers.  FFCF’s current projects include: the BC Biomass Trader, Community Farms, Get Local, Grain Chain, Microloan Program, Shared Harvest BC and Young Agrarians.

To download our outreach document to share with your networks, click here: About Young Agrarians.

10 Ways Big Polluters Have Contaminated Our Politics

This post first appeared at Public Campaign.

On Sunday, September 21, 2014, organizers estimated that 310,000 people descended on New York City for the People’s Climate March. For the occasion, we found the top 10ways big polluters have contaminated our politics, and here they are in no particular order:

  1. The energy sector spent more on federal elections in the 2012 election cycle than ever before. In 2014, energy money is on track to surpass the 2010 midterm elections with energy industry PACs, CEOs and executives giving $68 million overall (OpenSecrets.org).
  2. Energy interests have given, on average, $104,146 to House Republicans this cycle, nearly four times more than the average given to House Democrats (OpenSecrets.org).
  3. So far this year, energy companies have spent at least $174 million on lobbying, employing 1,836 lobbyists. In addition, 56.3 percent of those lobbyists are “revolvers,” who switch from the public to private sectors (OpenSecrets.org).
  4. A new report shows the Koch brothers have give more than $50 million to 254 higher education institutions in order to continue their campaign of undermining climate science and move their anti-worker agenda forward (Greenpeace).
  5. The very top donors within the energy sector tend to be coal interests, and have been led in the 2014 cycle by Alliance Resource Partners, a coal producer with more coal mines in Kentucky than any other state. The other big donor this cycle is the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which uses old, heavily polluting coal plants (Alliance Resource Partners and Forbes).
  6. Climate deniers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee have taken some of the highest donations from energy companies. Members who deny climate science took an average of over $72,000 from energy interests, while members who accept climate change is real only received $19,000 on average (Public Campaign).
  7. Senator Mitch McConnell has received over $314,000 from the chemical industry, and has blocked the Safe Chemical Act, which would protect everyday Americans from pollutants. Even Kentucky public health professionals were urging him to back the bill (Kentucky Environmental Foundation).
  8. Coal and gas companies and the Koch brothers are fighting to ensure solar technology is kept off the grid, protecting their profits by imposing a surtax on home-installed solar technology (The New York Times).
  9. Shaun McCutcheon, who was the plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision, is a climate denier who made his fortune in the coal industry. Thanks to the Supreme Court, he’s able to now donate up to approximately $3.6 million, instead of the previous $123,200 limit (Sierra Club).
  10. Because of the vast amounts given to climate deniers, in the 113th Congress alone, there have been 44 votes to block action on the climate crisis, 88 votes attacking public lands and wilderness, 44 attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act and 68 attacks on the Clean Water Act (Sierra Club).

What’s a solution to decrease the influence of these big polluters? The Government By The People Act is one solution that would empower everyday Americans and reform financing of elections. Find out more at OfBy.Us.