Living Sustainably: On-going study looks at improving Lake Mac health

By Dan Callam ’09, ODC Network
How can you tell if a lake is healthy? It’s not as simple as what’s in its water and on its shores.
Lake Macatawa’s watershed – the area that drains into it – comprises most of the greater Holland/Zeeland area and is made up of neighborhoods, shopping and business districts, and farmland.
Over the past five years, local partners have worked to improve conditions in Lake Macatawa and its watershed by reducing sources of phosphorus through the Project Clarity initiative.
There are several important indicators we use to tell not just how healthy Lake Mac is, but the health of its watershed as well. Phosphorus is a nutrient that can lead to algae blooms and is attached or accompanied by sediment that makes the lake appear murky. These conditions are detrimental to aquatic life and limit the number and abundance of species that can be found in the lake.
Researchers from the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University continue to monitor conditions around Lake Macatawa. They take readings at five locations around the lake several times a year, with additional support from Hope College and a number of volunteers.
Along with phosphorus, the team measures algae concentrations and the clarity of the water. The average annual concentration of phosphorus in the lake was 72 parts per billion in 2018, the lowest annual reading since state and federal monitoring began in the 1970’s. While these levels are still not low enough for the lake to be considered healthy, the trend is encouraging.

We need to bear in mind that there are going to be ongoing stressors that impact the health of the watershed. Some of these are beyond our community’s immediate control, such as ongoing changes to our climate.
However, there are other factors that we can more easily address, like developing our community wisely and finding ways to encourage water to infiltrate into the ground, rather than pave land and pipe water to the nearest stream.
Macatawa Watershed ProjectProject Clarity and our partners have been able to implement more than a hundred projects since the effort began in 2014. While there are good examples of these types of green infrastructure projects, we need these to become the default way – rather than the exceptions – of building, farming, and doing business.
Findings about the lake are shown in the Lake Macatawa Dashboard Report, which is available at or at The full 2018 monitoring report will be
available later this spring.
 Dan Callam is the Greenway manager at the ODC Network. He helps oversee Project Clarity as well as the Macatawa and Kalamazoo River greenway efforts.  Dan graduated from Hope College in 2009.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.



Hemlock woolly adelgid, the invasive and destructive insect, which sucks the sap from North American hemlock trees and dooms many of them, has taken hold in the Hope College Nature Preserve and a team of faculty and students are studying the impacts.

The research team includes Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray and Dr. Greg Murray. The veteran husband-wife educators have teamed up with Dr. Vanessa Muilenburg, an entomologist, to assess the extent of the adelgid infestation and determine the importance of hemlock trees in West Michigan forests. They spent summer 2018 doing field work with three Hope students: Katelyn DeWitt ’21 and biology majors Analise Sala ’19 and Micaela Wells ’19.

The researchers spent many hours amid the hemlocks in Hope’s nature preserve about five miles southwest of the campus, near the Lake Michigan shoreline, and at three other sites in Allegan and Ottawa counties. Winnett-Murray says that because of Lake Michigan’s unique influence in creating moisture-rich and canyon-like dune troughs, West Michigan is one of the few places in the Great Lakes region where hemlocks thrive amid forests of beech and maple trees.

Read the full piece by following this link:


Jim McFarlin ’74, an award-winning writer, critic and blogger, is a 2019 recipient of Hope College’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Additional information can be found at:

FOR ALL OF GOD’S GOOD EARTH (Hope College Spera Magazine)


“A term like ‘earthkeeping’ is more biblical and simply refuses to accept the view that the natural world is a commodity to be used by humans who only manage its resources for our own ends,” he explains. “Being a keeper, in the biblical sense, means being someone who serves and protects. So the term ‘earthkeeping’ creates an image that much more clearly captures the idea that we are creatures called by God to take care of creation.”

Read the full piece by following this link:


Eva Dean Folkert ’83 writes extensively about Hope people, research, sports and news.

Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution – Thursday, February 21

Please join the Macatawa Creation Care Group on Thursday, February 21 in Graves Hall for a film screening of “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution.”

Doors open at 5:45, and the film starts at 6:00. The film will be followed by a panel of representatives from the City Of Holland, Holland Board of Public Works, and West Michigan Community Sustainability Partnership.

View the trailer here:

““I know it’s going to change because when I talk to young people, they are not even questioning that it’s happening, they just understand it.  I feel like it’s just happening.”  Lisa Jackson Vice President Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, Apple Inc.”

SYNOPSIS:  Filmmaker James Redford embarks on a colorful personal journey into the dawn of the clean energy era as it creates jobs, turns profits, and makes communities stronger and healthier across the US. Unlikely entrepreneurs in communities from Georgetown, TX to Buffalo, NY reveal pioneering clean energy solutions while James’ discovery of how clean energy works, and what it means at a personal level, becomes the audiences’ discovery too. Reaching well beyond a great story of technology and innovation, “Happening” explores issues of human resilience, social justice, embracing the future, and finding hope for our survival.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science – February 11

Related imageThe United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed Monday, February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. According to a UN study from 14 countries, the probability for female students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science is 18 percent, while the male equivalent is 37 percent. This day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.


Read about some of our fantastic champions from Hope College!

International Day of Women and Girls in Science


Living Sustainably: Film examines troubling issue of poverty

By Cameron Geddes, Hope College Markets & Morality
Image result for hope college markets and moralityThe great specter of the modern age is shapeless, manifesting in a menagerie of forms: Fathers unable to keep a roof over the heads of their sons. Mothers having only empty pantries to offer their daughters. Neighbors squabbling over property that rises just above worthless.
Poverty is the English word for the ageless struggle that has left great minds troubled. Institutions such as Hope College have deployed organizations seeking to understand and explain the nature of it.

And on Feb. 4, Hope College student group Markets & Morality will be featuring a masterpiece film asking the question of how to eliminate poverty. The film is aptly titled “The Pursuit.”
Arthur Brooks was once a professional man of music. He chose to chase after a question that societies so often answer incorrectly, as his film puts it: “How can we lift up the world, starting with those at the margins of society?” This set him on the path to joining the prestigious non-partisan think tank the American Enterprise Institute. Since 1943 the organization has solicited politicians and academics alike “dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world.”
Brooks holds several degrees, including a Ph.D and a M. Phil. in policy analysis, which he received from the Pardee RAND Graduate school. His work as a professor, consultant, doctoral fellow, and New York Times opinion writer have all tied into his position as president at American Enterprise Institute, where he is set to be succeeded by Robert Doar in July.
“The Pursuit” follows Brooks as he travels the world, looking to examine and demonstrate just how those most in need of economic assistance can be helped. This takes him from Mumbai to Kentucky, from Barcelona to New York City, and even to a Himalayan Buddhist monastery.
“Markets & Morality as a whole has been working very hard to bring light to the issues of poverty around the world and how we as a society can effectively bring relief,” said Camryn Zeller, a sophomore member of the group.
“(Brook’s film) highlights this same goal and intention for the majority of poverty alleviation efforts, and (it) challenges his viewers and himself to find what actually works. He identifies poverty as more than a lack of material possessions, but the lack of opportunity to have and pursue dreams.”
The showing is set for Monday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m., with free admission at the Knickerbocker Theatre.
Hope economics Professor Stephen Smith will give an introduction to the fil m, with a reflection at the end by Hope Chaplain of discipleship the Rev. Jennifer Ryden.

“The Pursuit” – a film and discussion about eliminating poverty
When: 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 4
Where: The Knickerbocker Theater, 86 East 8th St., Holland,
Cost: Free

 Cameron Geddes is a Hope College sophomore majoring in economics and international studies as well as a second-year member of Markets & Morality and a staff writer for student-newspaper The Anchor.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community & Neighborhood: The places we live and the individuals we interact with support the development of our personalities and perspectives on life. Encouraging vital and effective communities is essential.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.

Living Sustainably: “Sustainable literacy” is a good goal for 2019

By Michelle Gibbs, Office of Sustainability

Sustainability comes from the intersection of a balanced approach to a healthy environment, vibrant economy and equitable society.

With the recent turning of the new year and a new school semester starting this week, it is a great time to set a personal goal of “sustainable literacy.”
But what does this mean?  The United Nations shares that “sustainability literacy is the knowledge, skills and mindsets that allow individuals to become deeply committed to building a sustainable future and assisting in making informed and effective decisions to this end.”
Sustainability has been described in a number of ways, but the most common definition comes from the United Nations Brundtland Report (1987): “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Another common description comes from an ancient philosophy, The Great Law of the Iroquois, which calls for thinking about the “seventh generation” – a timeframe of approximately 140 years.

With both of these descriptions, thinking about how our choices today will impact the environment and future generations, especially far into the future, is a critical piece of creating a sustainable world.
So how do we do this?  We can implement the “triple bottom line” approach and think not only about the traditional bottom line (or the dollars) impact, but also bring to light the environmental and social impacts.  The triple bottom line encompasses economics, social equity, and the environment, now and into the future.

Starting at an early age, children can learn about the natural world as well as about their community and how they are a part of both of these systems – and start gaining sustainable literacy.

Sustainability is an important concept for everyone to apply and is really “K to gray learning.”
Starting at an early age, children can learn about the natural world as well as their community and how they are a part of both of these systems.  As we get older, we can learn about ways our daily choices have an impact on others and the planet, and we can make more thoughtful choices.


“When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect,” said the great naturalist Aldo Leopold.

Kids and adults can plug into sustainable literacy in Holland in many ways, including:
 Get outside and take classes at one of our amazing local parks or nature centers.
 Kiddos can participate in summer camps offered by Hope College’s ExploreHope Program.
 Participate in local, state, and national government decisions.
 Head to Herrick District Library or one of our great local bookstores to find reading materials.
 Learn more about Holland’s Sustainability Framework at and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at

 Attend the monthly “Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore” events. Save the date for the following spring events:

o Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick District Library — Environment (stormwater,
climate change, and resilient communities)
o March 5, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick — Quality of Life (affordable housing in Ottawa
o April 23, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick — Economics (sustainable businesses in the
greater Holland area)
o May 14, 6 p.m. at Holland Energy Park — Transportation (green commuting in
Holland including a mini green vehicle car show and bike ride)

The bottom line of sustainable literacy is, then: Get to know the natural world and your personal impacts on it, get involved in your community, and together we will create a better world.

 Michelle Gibbs is the director for the Office of Sustainability at Hope College and the director for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a partnership between Hope, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.

Hope College Student Research Presentations at MACC’s Annual Meeting

Hope College Student Research Presentations

Holland Sentinel “Living Sustainably Column” Article.

“Four groups of Hope College Advanced Environmental Seminar students presented the results of their semester long research projects on December 6 at the Macatawa Watershed Annual Meeting. All student groups focused on some aspect of heavy metals. Copies of their presentations are available here.

The team of Andrew Klein, Analise Sala and Cleveland Tarp looked at heavy metals concentrations in catfish and perch in Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa River. They caught fish from five locations in Lake Macatawa and one location in the Macatawa River. They measured concentrations of copper, lead, cadmium, and iron in each fish. They compared their results to recommended exposure levels and looked for relationships between concentrations and species, and concentrations and location. For all metals except iron, they did find elevated levels in fish tissue. No correlations were found between concentration and species or location. The MACC will continue to work with local partners to determine if further study of this issue and subsequent action is necessary.

The team of Sandra Brookhouse, Kaitlyn Caltrider and Samuel Click evaluated the effectiveness of different materials at removing heavy metals from stormwater runoff. In a laboratory setting, they poured different known concentrations of heavy metals through tubes filled with soil and other materials, specifically vermiculite and hugelkultur, and measured the concentrations of heavy metals in the liquid after it filtered through the tubes. They found that both vermiculite and hugelkultur removed heavy metals from the solution to levels well below recommended drinking water exposure. They are optimistic that these materials could be used to help remediate heavy metals in stormwater runoff.

The team of Alex Donaldson, Ian Gorgenson and Jared Jaent looked at concentrations of heavy metals in drinking water and the soil around Hope College’s Campus. The first part of their project involved testing drinking water from 10 locations for the presence of lead and copper. When they did not find any heavy metals present in any of their samples, they turned their focus to heavy metals in soils. Pipe corrosion had been an issue at the Western Theological seminar and they were curious how this may have an impact on the surrounding soils and potentially groundwater. They focused on copper lead and iron and did not find any concentrations in the soil above the recommended limit for exposure.

The team of Liam Kleinheksel, Elizabeth Morehead and Jacob Stid investigated the uptake of heavy metals by a few common garden vegetables. This could be a concern in urban areas contaminated with heavy metals where urban farming is becoming more popular. The looked at uptake of copper, lead and cadmium by radishes, spinach and arugula. In a laboratory setting, they simulated rainfall events with water that contained various concentrations of the 3 metals. At high concentrations of cadmium and copper, they did see uptake of heavy metals above the recommended exposure rate in arugula and radish (copper only). Their study also seemed to indicate that vegetables do not grow as vigorously when subject to high levels of heavy metals, specifically copper.”



A research presentation by two Hope College students won a first-place award during the recent annual national meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Photo taken by faculty member Dr. Suzanne DeVries-Zimmerman

Juniors Chelsea Moore of Muskegon and Amy Olgers of Holland were honored for their poster presentation of their research project “Reconnaissance of Microplastic Distribution in a Small Michigan Watershed,” which they conducted collaboratively this past summer with faculty member Dr. Brian Bodenbender.  They were chosen for the recognition in the Environmental and Engineering Geology Division out of a field of 24 entries that included graduate students as well as undergraduates.

To read the full article, please click here.