Thursday, January 22, 2009
We want teens to grow up organically
The Ottawa Citizen
We want teens to grow up organically
I am the parent of two children in the Ottawa-Carleton District SchoolBoard and a representative of the Ottawa chapter of the Growing UpOrganic project of Canadian Organic Growers. Our goal is to introducelocally grown organic foods into schools and day cares.
The school board is considering a request for proposal for food-service providers to secondary schools. The current contract expiresat the end of this school year and the process for a new one isstarting now.
We want to help the board find an affordable and practical way toinclude locally produced organic foods on the menu at secondary-schoolcafeterias. We can share data on successful school programs servingorganic produce to students. These programs can serve as models forthe board and its food-service provider. We can facilitateintroductions between the food-service provider and local organicfarmers.
Growing concerns for the health of Canadian children are reflected inthe recent adoption of the healthy food for healthy schools amendmentto Ontario's Education Act, the release of "Are Schools Making theGrade?" by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, andcountless other studies. Adolescence is a time of dramatic physicaland social growth. The nutrition of our teens will affect current andfuture health.
Serving foods grown by established organic agricultural practicesguarantees no hormones or antibiotics are passed on and no pesticideresidues on our fresh produce. Purchasing certified organic food has adirect, positive impact on our local and global environment, and theeconomic viability of our rural communities.
There has not been, to date, any efforts by the school board board tosolicit community input, but we have have been in contact with theboard. I urge parents who share our concerns to voice them to theboard and sign our online petition at www.petitionspot.com/petitions/organicsatocdsb.
Schools can be effective venues to encourage healthy eating, setlifelong habits and enhance better concentration at school. The boardhas an opportunity to promote a healthier environment for secondaryschools by requiring food-service providers to buy and serve a minimumamount of organic food.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Judith Haney wants to introduce locally grown organic foods inOttawa's secondary schools as a healthy alternative.Photograph by: Bruno Schlumberger, The Ottawa Citizen, The OttawaCitizen
Thursday, January 22, 2009
The Vancouver Province
Pesticides and Our Children with Dr. Warren Bell
Learn why the Canadian Cancer Society is concerned about the non-essential use of environmental carciogens our children are exposed to.- Richmond Cultural Centre, 7700 Minoru Gate - Jan. 24, 10:30 a.m.-12p.m. - 604-247-8300
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Chemical-free cityA chat with organizers from Pesticide-Free Sacramento
By Sena Christiansenac@newsreview.com
Paul Schramski and Amy Barden are working with the city of Sacramentoto stop the spraying of pesticides in our public parks.
PHOTO BY ANNE STOKESRelated Web site:www.pesticidewatch.org
A group of activists concerned about local pesticide spraying formedPesticide-Free Sacramento in June of 2007. The coalition has beenworking with the city Department of Parks and Recreation on apesticide-free pilot program for small- to medium-sized parks. InFebruary, the city will start to transition one local park away frompesticide use.
SN&R recently sat down with coalition founder Paul Schramski andcoordinator Amy Barden.
What’s the latest with Pesticide-Free Sacramento?
Schramski: We’re at an exciting point. We’re working on four components—parks, schools, neighborhoods and workplaces. Our focus for the nextseveral months is on parks and schools. We’re going to transition atleast one park this year and use that park as a model for the rest ofthe city.
We want it to be a teaching experience for people. We want signage, wewant materials so people walking the dog around the park can pick up abrochure and see, ‘Oh, this is pesticide-free? So, wait, that meansall the other parks are full of pesticides.’ So how do I then go backto my neighborhood and change it there?
Barden: We’re working in conjunction with the city parks department topursue a pesticide-free pilot parks program. The advisory boarddecided that a good way to explore the best candidates would be to doa field trip. We tried to evaluate criteria, including features thatcould complicate a transition; we looked at features like ballparks,picnic areas, amount of use, user groups, neighboring land uses,visibility, condition of the landscape, ease of transition and, ofcourse, size was a huge thing. We’re focusing on small to mediumparks. The large ones are more complicated and would be a big bite totake right now, and we want this to be successful.
One thing we’ve learned from working with organic-landscape folks isthat the grass will be more vibrant, the trees will be healthier, thefoliage will be healthier and the soil will be healthier. It’ll be amuch more beautiful park, as well as a healthy space for children anddogs and adults.
What area of Sacramento are you focusing on?
Schramski: Mostly, the southwest end of the city. Because we work alot with Council member Rob Fong’s office, our priority has been towork there because we have support.
Barden: Because of the city’s financial situation, they are notcomfortable doing too many parks at once. We’d love to do all of themat once, but that’s not too realistic for a first try.
Schramski: This is the only park in the Central Valley that I know ofthat would officially be the first pesticide-free park, and one ofvery few in California. It sets a precedent for the whole state. Whiletotally pesticide-free is our goal, the other thing we’re thinkingabout is we’re in times of a water crisis and the debate about theDelta, and that’s a subpoint of what we’re talking about. Pesticide-free also means using less water, which solves some of our otherenvironmental problems. But we’re also rethinking [public greenspace], adding more community gardens, building upon this greaterdemand for having local access to food.
Barden: Native landscapes, inherently acclimated to our wet weathersand hot, dry summers don’t require the kinds of chemicals that a lotof imported plants would. We hope to integrate that more.
So how did Pesticide-Free Sacramento come about?
Schramski: A group of community activists and leaders said they wereconcerned about the way pesticides were being used in Sacramento, partof that being aerial spraying for West Nile virus, and lawn-carepesticide use in general they were seeing in their neighborhoods. Sothey said let’s re-envision how we think about pesticide use inSacramento, let’s think about it as a comprehensive effort and let’swork collectively to build a board coalition of different backgroundsand neighborhoods—not just traditional environmental groups, but let’sreach out to mothers’ groups and religious groups and a diversecoalition to build a campaign.
Amy, how did you get involved in this campaign?
Barden: I went to a protest at Garcia Bend Park in the middle of the[West Nile virus] pesticide spraying of the Pocket. Afterward, we didsome canvassing. People in my cul-de-sac had no idea it was happening,and that was shocking. When I went door to door, it was reallyhorrifying. People with little children out playing and some withsevere asthma, one had a heart condition, and they were out because itwas the middle of summer.
[My husband and I] have two dogs with cancer and another with kidneydisease, which have been linked to pesticide exposure. I had been veryangry and frustrated about the spraying at my local parks for years.
Right next to the Pocket Canal there are ducks and birds. Today it wasbeautiful; it was the biggest flock of egrets I’d ever seen. So then,OK, all their baby chicks are being impacted by unnecessarypesticides. Anyway, I just felt powerless and it made me grumpy.
Why are you targeting parks and schools first?
Schramski: It has to do with the receptivity of the city, and thesimplicity of regulations. The parks department is one entity, andthen the city council above them. Schools, it’s the school boardultimately. Workplaces, it’s the gamut. One of our focal pointsstarting this year will be health-care facilities. If you’re beingtreated for something inside a hospital, you shouldn’t at the sametime be exposed to toxic pesticides inside and outside the building.
Individuals right now are the only ones who can makes decisions aboutwhat pesticides are being used on their homes and lawns. Only thestate currently has the authority to regulate that. One of thestatewide bills we’re pursuing this year is about repealing pesticidepre-emption, something passed 25 years ago that says local governmentsdon’t have the ability to regulate pesticides except for on their ownland. So a city or county can’t regulate pesticide use. We’re workingto remove that.
Is the city’s financial situation the biggest obstacle to the pilotparks program?
Schramski: The budget is one, then the skills. The city doesn’t havethe training to maintain organically right now.
Barden: It’s also a shift back to more manual labor, which is costly.It’s also political will. [The city] has relationships with chemicaldistributors, and we’re eliminating that with the unknown. How do wedo organic stuff and where do we get the material and how do we knowthis works? Until they are able to disentangle from the traditionalmethods, it’ll be difficult.
There’s also a concept in our society about what a beautiful park is,a school ground, a lawn. It’s a very Western European, groomed,traditional English garden concept, where the bushes are very squareand the lawn is very short, and golf course-looking. It’s not thatwe’re advocating 3-foot-tall crazy weeds; it’s that a more naturallandscape with native plants can be more beautiful, but it’s adifferent concept of beauty.
Schramski: It’s the disconnect between what our parks currently looklike and what gets them to that point. Our mission is to bridge thatgap. Do you prioritize the health and safety or do you prioritize thecosmetics of the park? I think most people would say the health;they’ve just never been presented with that scenario.
January 21st, 2009
Accounting for nature's goods and services
By David Suzuki with Faisal Moola
Blueberries have become B.C.'s biggest fruit crop, bringing in closeto $100 million in annual sales. That's a lot of money for farmers,pickers, packagers, distributors, and grocery stores. But theessential service provided by one of the hardest workers in theblueberry industry rarely makes it into the account ledgers.
If it weren't for the wild bees that pollinate the blueberry fields inthe Fraser Valley near Vancouver and elsewhere, berry yields wouldcollapse. In fact, declines in honey bees and other agriculturalpollinators as a result of habitat loss, pesticide use, and otherhuman activities mean that farmers are now paying to replace thiscritical natural service. In many areas of Canada, farmers aretrucking beehives onto their farms to ensure that the once-freepollination services their crops depend on continue.
This is just one illustration of the value of the services provided bynature, and of the costs of poor ecological management. Other examplesof the benefits nature provides are numerous. Our forests, forexample, ensure that steep slopes remain stable, that flood risks arelower, and that drinking water in places like Vancouver comes out ofour taps filtered and clean.
As Ottawa prepares to spend billions to stimulate the economy in itsupcoming budget, we'd do well to take a closer look at the real valueof the benefits nature provides. Protecting nature can actually resultin cost savings for the government since it can act as an importantbuffer against the full impacts of the current economic downturn.That's partly because the costs to replace natural services that havebeen degraded or lost due to mismanagement are prohibitively high.
Recognition of the irreplaceable value of ecosystem services and theimpact of human development on them is emerging nationally andglobally. For instance, the United Nations Millennium EcosystemAssessment concluded that about 60 per cent of the world's ecosystemservices are being used at an unsustainable rate.
Here in Canada, the establishment of "greenbelts" of protectedfarmland, forests, watersheds, wetlands, and other green spaces arounda number of cities has helped to protect essential ecosystem services.The benefits provided by southern Ontario's greenbelt alone have beenconservatively estimated at $2.6 billion annually.
But conventional economic thinking ignores the value of nature'sservices. Thus, the ecological cost of an apple shipped from NewZealand to Canada is not properly included in the pricing when we buythat apple for a loonie. In the same way, when we throw away acellphone or laptop, the cost of that waste is not accounted for. Weneed a new accounting system that includes the value of nature'sservices and the costs of our waste and pollution.
As for the current economic crisis, shovelling more money at failingeconomic institutions will, at best, only buy us time until the realmeltdown hits. A new global economy is emerging from this crisis, andit's a green economy.
Investing in programs to maintain, enhance, and restore ecosystemservices that natural areas provide is an effective cost-savingsmeasure and an important element of any green economy. For a fractionof the cost of the massive economic bail-outs, we could protect thenatural areas that provide these services, and see greater economicbenefits – not to mention improved health and community wellbeing. Forexample, New York City chose to invest in a program of watershedprotection through land purchase, pollution control, and conservationeasements, and in doing so saved billions of dollars that would havebeen otherwise needed for new infrastructure to ensure clean drinkingwater.
A few small efforts by our federal government could go a long way toensuring that we continue to receive these benefits from nature andthat we don't incur the enormous costs of replacing them if nature isdegraded – if they can even be replaced. In its budget, the governmentshould fund stewardship and other incentive programs that rewardfarmers for conservation efforts. It should also put more money intoCanada's network of National Wildlife Areas and Migratory BirdSanctuaries, and it should amend the Income Tax Act to ensure that taxincentives provided under the Ecological Gifts Program apply todonations of all ecologically significant lands.
If we were to include natural services and the environmental costs ofour waste and pollution in our economic accounting, we'd have a morerealistic economic system. And we'd see that the environment andeconomy are intertwined. Caring for one is the solution to problemsfacing the other.
Take David Suzuki's Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.
Thursday January 22nd, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Environmentalist to speak on arsenic in Blackville
Mayor hopes Inka Milewski will help village understand the chemical asseveral people await test results
BY KRIS MCDAVIDTimes & Transcript Staff
BLACKVILLE - As questions about what caused the high arsenic levelsfound in seven Blackville residences continue to hover over thevillage like a dark cloud, a veteran environmental activist is hopingto answer concerns in a public meeting tonight.
Inka Milewski will meet with concerned residents in the smallMiramichi River community at St. Raphaels' Catholic Church hall at 7p.m.
Mayor Glen Hollowood said he expects Milewski will help shed somelight on the issue, and clarify some of the scientific terminologysurrounding the contaminant in its various forms.
"Hopefully, she'll give the people some insight about what thedifferent kinds of arsenic are, what's going on here, and what she cando to help us because right now we're kind of at a standstill," saidHollowood.
"She's been involved with different cases involving arsenic before andhopefully she can put some people at ease about this -- but at thispoint, I don't even know if that's possible because everybody iswaiting on the health department to get their blood work back."
Several village residents submitted blood and urine samples as farback as nine weeks ago and are still awaiting their results.
Hollowood said everybody in the village is growing more restless eachday. "The time-frame has been so long now, everybody has been tested,and everybody is just wondering what's going on -- they'd like to knowif they have arsenic, which I can understand," he said.
"When it gets to eight or nine weeks for test results, you just thinknobody's doing anything and nothing's getting done."
Department of Health officials have said that, to date, most of thecases point to organic arsenic, a less harmful form that appearsnaturally in seafood, which the body is able to excrete beforesignificant damage can be done.
According to an arsenic fact sheet issued by Health Canada, the metalcan only affect humans if it's directly consumed, and that low levelsof the element occur naturally in the environment.
The document also states that arsenic can make its way into theenvironment through unnatural means, such as in pesticides, industrialprocesses, and cigarette smoke.
Arsenic in this form is labeled as inorganic, which can include side-effects like nausea, diarrhea, and numbness over the short-term, whilelong-term exposure can ultimately lead to various forms of cancer. Ina recent conference call with the media, Dr. Denis Allard, theregion's chief medical officer of health, said only one of the sevenresidents diagnosed with high arsenic is showing symptoms of arsenictoxicity so far.
He said the department is focusing its investigation on a common foodsource, such as a certain type of seafood that might link the variouscases together.
So far, the investigation has focused on an area surrounding DigbyStreet and Shaffer Lane in the centre of Blackville, however, a sourceclose to the situation said some of the newer diagnoses came fromoutside village limits.
The first of the diagnoses came in December, 2007, with another threefollowing shortly thereafter.
Four more cases were confirmed about two weeks ago, when a new roundof urine tests came back with higher-than-normal traces.
EPA Report Identifies DDT, Other Toxics Threaten Columbia River
(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2009) The first comprehensive look attoxic contamination throughout the Columbia River Basin has beenreleased by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Issued today,the Columbia River Basin State of the River Report for Toxics compilescurrently available data about four widespread contaminants in theBasin and identifies the risks they pose to people, fish, andwildlife.
The four contaminants are:
* Mercury* Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and its breakdown products* Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)* Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.
According to Elin Miller, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle, ateam of more than 20 federal and state agencies, Tribes, localgovernments and organizations teamed-up to draw this latest portraitof the toxic threats faced by the Columbia River Basin, which drainsnearly 260,000 square miles across seven U.S. states and a Canadianprovince.
“This is troubling news,” said EPA’s Miller. “Today’s Report showsthat toxics are found throughout the Basin at levels that could harmpeople, fish, and wildlife. Federal, tribal, state, and local effortshave reduced levels of some toxics such as PCBs and DDTs, but in manyareas, they continue to pose an unacceptable risk. Tackling thisproblem will require a coordinated effort by all levels of government,Tribes, interest groups and the public.”
While several populations of important Basin species like bald eaglesand ospreys have rebounded over the past two decades, some toxics suchas mercury and PBDEs are increasing in wildlife and fish. For example,PBDEs showed an almost four-fold increase in some fish species in theSpokane River between 1996 and 2005. In addition, mercury increased inboth osprey eggs in the Lower Columbia and in the northern pikeminnowin the Willamette River over the last decade. Elsewhere in the world,DDT and its metabolites have been found at high levels in meltingglaciers and waters around Los Angeles, threatening wildlife likepenguins and fish.
Another problem highlighted in the Report is a general lack ofmonitoring for toxics in many locations, making it difficult to knowif toxics are increasing or decreasing over time.
“These information gaps need to be filled by more monitoring andstronger agency coordination so we can better understand the toxiceffects on the river ecosystem and agree on priority projects toreduce those toxics,” said Miller.
There are many other contaminants in the Basin, including arsenic,dioxins, radionuclides, pesticides, industrial chemicals, and“emerging contaminants” such as pharmaceuticals. This Report does notcharacterize those contaminants, but EPA plans to address them infuture work. USGS data has found such chemicals in surface wateraround the country.
The Report highlights many important federal, state, tribal and localefforts to reduce toxics already underway in the Basin, including:
* Cleanup of the Portland Harbor, Hanford, and Lake Rooseveltcontamination sites* Erosion control in the Yakima Basin to reduce legacy pesticiderunoff* Pesticide Stewardship Partnerships work in collaboration to reducepesticide contamination in the Hood River and Walla Walla Basins* PCB cleanup at Bonneville Dam and Bradford Island* Legacy pesticide collections and pharmaceutical take-back programs.
The report concludes with six broad Toxics Reduction Initiativesintended to improve our understanding about the health of the Basinand strengthen coordination for ongoing and new efforts to reducetoxics. The Initiatives include: expanding existing toxics reductionactivities throughout the Basin; identifying and characterizing thesources of toxics to the Basin; and developing a regional, multi-agency long-term monitoring and research program.
Since 2005, EPA has worked collaboratively with the Columbia RiverToxics Reduction Working Group, a partnership of more than 20 federal,state, tribal, local, and nonprofit organizations. EPA developed theReport with the support of the Working Group.
According to N. Kathryn Brigham, Chair of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, whose staff contributed to EPA’s Report,“Protecting, restoring and enhancing our first foods have been, andcontinue to be, one of the tribes’ highest priorities. Toxics in ourwater and fish are unacceptable.”
“The tribes have always worked together to care for the Columbia Riverand we’ll need to work together with the Region to resolve this issuenow and for our future generations,” said Brigham. “EPA’s report is animportant warning about toxics in our water and highlights concernsabout their potential impacts.”
This year, EPA and the Working Group will develop a detailed inter-agency toxics reduction plan for the Basin. Citizens, watershedcouncils, community groups, other entities and governments around theBasin will have an opportunity to learn about and provide input on thedevelopment of the plan later this year.
January 21, 2009
Letter to Local Government
By Aaron Newton in Green Living
The following is a letter I’m about to send to the new SustainabilityManager of Cabarrus County, North Carolina where I live. I thoughtI’d ask readers for feedback before I send it off. Thanks for yourthoughts. -Aaron
Dear Mr. Grant,
I’m pleased to know that local government has solidified itscommitment to the future of this county and its citizens by hiring youas the first Sustainability Manger of Cabarrus County.Congratulations. Over the past few months I’ve deliberated on a fewideas I think will strengthen any attempt to establish this county asa leader in the effort to become a more sustainable place to live. Itis becoming obvious to many more people that we must consider not onlythe future of our children and grandchildren who will inherit thedecisions we make regarding our care and stewardship of our county butalso the health of the local ecological systems on which we all dependfor clean water, air and all other aspects of life. I want to sharethese ideas with you with high hopes they might prove useful to yourefforts.
A short side note before I begin. Plenty of people fail to associatethe current economic crisis garnering attention across the nation withthe crises of energy and environmental issues facing this country.These three are actually more closely linked than might appear atfirst glance. Our diminished supply of natural resources, most notablyour dwindling domestic supply of petroleum, has forced us to switchfrom a nation that grows stuff, builds things and actually producesobjects of real value to a nation with an economic system based onfinancial speculation using credit to prop up the notion that we’rereal not citizens but simply consumers whose most important role insociety is to go shopping. Petroleum production peaked in the US 1970at just less than 10 million barrels a day. Today we stand at lessthan half that rate of extraction and no amount of offshore drillingor oil shale production will change that. Oil, the lifeblood of oureconomy, has dropped in price over the past few months largely becauseof the deleveraging of hedge funds and other financial institutions tocover the recent losses in the stock market. Demand destruction hasplayed its part but the drop in oil use in the US and abroad doesn’tbegin to match the dramatic drop in the price per barrel of oil. Thisdrop in price is not indicative of the long term trend in the price ofpetroleum based on resource availability.
Global oil production has been leveling off for the past several yearsfor mostly geologic reasons and likely peaked worldwide in productionin mid 2008. However the recent drop in the price has caused many oiland natural gas companies to suspend new projects necessary to offsetthe coming global oil production decline. As an example I offerMexico’s largest oil field Cantarell, the third largest oil field inthe world, which saw an annual output decline of about 30% in 2008.Mexico, currently the third largest supplier of crude oil to theUnited States is declining in production at such an alarming rate thatour southern neighbor is scheduled to become a net oil importer within5 years. A coming resurgence in the price of oil is likely tooverwhelm our car dependant county in a way that will dwarf theeffects of the high gasoline prices of the summer of 2008.
Similarly, other resource depletion issues, perhaps most notably wateravailability, are likely to shape the future of this county in waysthat seem unimaginable to many of the citizens living here today. Theattached report shows the enormous amount of money the natural forestsystems of our county previously provided for free, especially interms of storm water absorption. It would be in our best interests torecognize that what many people think of as purely environmentalissues or energy issues are also issues of great financial interest tothe citizens of Cabarrus County. As we enter into a period ofsuspended or even negative economic growth, it is imperative that werecognize the importance of preserving the natural systems thatpreserve us. We can’t afford, either ecologically or economically, notto.
Ok I’ll jump down off my soapbox now and suggest three projects readyfor implementation by you the new Sustainability Manager of CabarrusCounty.
1. Create a Sustainability Task Force. Call it whatever you’d like,but put together a group of private citizens and formally commissionthem to envision a more sustainable Cabarrus County both out ofimperative and to increase the local quality of life. There areseveral reasons for creating such a group by selecting citizenvolunteers.
The first is that of economic benefit. There are many Cabarrus Countycitizens willing to volunteer their time, knowledge, experience andeffort to create a more sustainable place to live for their familiesand the families of their children. It makes more sense to utilize thecitizens themselves rather than to use their tax dollars to pay otherpeople to do this work.
The second reason is because no major change in the operatingprocedures of county government or suggested change in the way averagecitizens live their lives will be accepted without significant publicbuy-in. If the basis for change comes from a group of averagecitizens, the general public will be more likely to receive thechanges with favorable opinion. If you receive a call from an angrybusiness leader who doesn’t understand why a change in policy has beenmade you’ll be able to direct him to a member of the task force who isherself a businesswoman and can help explain the reasoning behind thedecision.
Which leads to the third reason for a private citizen SustainabilityTask Force, political cover. No doubt any sensible outcome from thistask force will contain controversial suggestions. The status quo willnot cut it moving forward. Politicians and even county employees willnot want to take the brunt of the backlash related to particularlycontroversial suggestions. But if they are able to point to the taskforce and explain that these changes are part of an overall planenvisioned by citizens themselves, the politicians in particular maybe more willing to support the overall plan politically and give itthe necessary support such a plan will need to move forward and proveits worth. It’s important to note that because such a task force isn’tdirectly beholden to the citizens of Cabarrus County for votes orreliant on their tax dollars for a paycheck the Sustainability TaskForce will be free to make decision and suggestions based purely onprudence, common sense and necessity.
The fourth reason for using such a private task force is probably themost germane. I believe average citizens are in fact capable of greataccomplishments if given the space and the knowledge necessary to facethe challenges of our county and our country at this point in history.Any plan for change should take advantage of the wealth of knowledge,experience, and willingness we have here locally! The key to successis to include a diverse group of citizens. I recommend a group ofbetween 15 and 20 individuals. Represented among them at a minimum ofdiversity must be Black, White and Hispanic men and women rangingwidely in age. I highly suggest at least one college student and onehigh school student. One middle school representative would beexcellent. Young people are less encumbered with the so calledrealities of life. The decisions made by this task force will alsodisproportionately effect young people more so than those who areolder. Having said that, the wisdom and understanding of our oldercitizens should be definitely be included. I know of several oldercitizens very interested in these issues. You should include businesspeople, public employees and average workers in the private sector aswell as those working in the not-for-profit sector. A wide spectrum ofhousehold incomes should be represented as well. If you hope to makesubstantial change this group will only be effective in doing so if itrepresents more than a small minority of the citizens whose futuresuch decisions will affect.
I recommend the Transition Handbook as a guide to making changes withsustainability in mind. It could help to give structure to the processof envisioning change and organizing those visions into a successfulplan of action for the community. Let me know if you’d like to borrowa copy.
2. Create a Complete Streets program. When my wife and I first movedhome to Concord, NC we noticed cars parked on both ends of UnionStreet every morning and every evening. These cars were parked atplaces where there was seemingly no reason for large numbers of crs topark- no shops or stores, only houses. The reason for these impromptuparking lots soon became clear. These people were driving into Concordfrom neighborhoods with poor facilities for walking or riding bikes,to take advantage of the beautiful and relatively safe pedestrianenvironment that exists on the 2.5 miles stretch of Union Streetthrough downtown Concord. Why not take advantage of this and othersuch locations throughout the county by increasing the level of safetyand comfort by removing cars completely from these streets on certaindays?
Such a program could be modeled after the Cyclovias of Central andSouth America or the similar “Summer Streets” program which debuted inNew York City in 2008. I’m talking here about the idea of peopletaking ownership over their streets. If you are unfamiliar with theconcept of the Cyclovia I have provided references at the end of thisletter. In short the idea is to temporarily close certain streets ofportions of certain streets to automotive traffic on scheduled days.The country of Columbia, a pioneer of the Cyclovia movement, nowregularly closes over 70 miles of its streets to cars in the capitalcity of Bogotá on a regular basis. The result is hundreds of thousandsof citizens walking, running, biking with friends and family. Allsorts of classes and presentations are giving all along the car-lessroadways. It’s a low cost form of recreation and entertainment formany families and a way to get great exercise and socialize withothers in the community. It would also cost relatively little tosupport in the way of government funds. The infrastructure to supportthis sort of activity, namely paved roadways, is already in place. Tobe sure it would require organization- the closing of streets and thesupport staff needed to help with promotion and respond to injuriesand other safety issues. But the net result would surely be a positiveone both in terms of health and human wellness benefits but also ineconomic terms. Surely the existing businesses and temporary vendorsalong these car-free routes would benefit from such concentrated, slow-moving traffic that doesn’t need to search for a parking spot. Howmuch of the necessary coordination could be done with volunteers andmight the nearby businesses be willing to sponsor such an event?
This would provide not only wonderful recreational opportunities on aperiodic basis but would also help encourage public support for morecomplete roadways designed to foster not only automotive traffic butalso cyclists and pedestrians. As someone who has cycled throughoutthe county and commuted to work on a bicycle in this area I can tellyou first hand that most of Cabarrus County’s roadways are notfriendly to any form of transportation except automobiles. If morepeople could experience safe streets it would foster the desire formore such opportunities to walk or ride a bike on a daily basis.Cyclovias are an opportunity to start that dialog and to give CabarrusCounty residents an opportunity to enjoy more time outside.
3. Transition away from the landscape maintenance programs thatinclude synthetic fertilizer and pesticides. Certainly this is a waterquality issue as a large percentage (more than half) of the syntheticNitrogen used to fertilize playing fields and the chemical pesticidesused on municipal recreational landscapes, ends up in local creeks andstreams. This is also a human health and wellness issue in that adisproportionate number of the people using these facilities aredeveloping children and what parent wants their kids running, jumpingand sliding in chemical agents known to be harmful to humans. But it’salso an economic dead-end. The use of synthetic fertilizers andpesticides locks the county into a never-ending cycle of nourishingthe dead soil of these recreational areas and killing the weeds thattake advantage of the weak plants and turf associated with a syntheticchemical-based landscape maintenance program. The cost of thesefertilizers and pesticides continues to increase meaning an ever-increasing percentage of the budget needed to pay for suchmaintenance. The result by the way is a lackluster landscape thatstruggles to survive.
The alternative is to promote healthy, living soils at countyfacilities that not only look beautiful but out perform conventionalsynthetic-based maintenance programs. The healthy soils created bysuch a program will also be much more drought tolerant, a bonus in ourarea. Such a program would focus on returning carbon to the soil andreestablishing the naturally existing microorganisms that make healthytopsoil the most densely populated ecosystem on the planet. The mostwonderful aspect of such a system is that over time, less and less ofthe organic inputs necessary to start the process will be needed. Eachyear the county would use less of such products and therefore spendless money each year on landscape maintenance. I suggest this changein county policy because it would reap rewards in terms of a betterlooking and better performing landscapes, it would provide safer andhealthier surfaces for our children to play on and it would greatlyreduce the amount of pollution cause by current landscape managementpractices all while saving the county increasing amount of money inthe coming years. That sort of synergy seems to make such a changeunquestionable.
It is these synergies- these overlapping benefits that I think shoulddrive the choices made as Cabarrus County tries to become a moresustainable place to live. It is the reason for these specificsuggestions as examples of changes that could help not just in one ortwo aspects of life in our county but could help in many differentways.
I hope these three suggestions help in your efforts to make CabarrusCounty a more sustainable place to live and a model, playing our partto help other areas of the country make similar changes. I speak forthose of us who grew up in Cabarrus County when I say we would like towatch our children and our grandchildren share in the same sorts ofwonderful experiences we enjoyed. That will only be possible if webeing to take seriously the challenges we face and change the way wethink about our relationship to each other and the natural environmentthat supports us all. Best wishes and good luck to you.
Cabarrus County Resident
Peak Oil http://tinyurl.com/cdzkz
Resource Depletion http://tinyurl.com/8wth4u
Transition Handbook http://tinyurl.com/7j8dh8
Summer Streets http://tinyurl.com/67nvk3
=======================Warning Industry Propaganda Below=======================
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Lawn and Landscape Magazine
Bayer Provides $1-Million Endowment for University SustainabilityChair
Bayer CropScience LP and North Carolina State University (NCSU)formalized a far-reaching collaboration today. Pascal Housset,president and head of the Environmental Science business operationsunit at Bayer CropScience, presented Johnny Wynne, Ph.D., NCSU’s deanof the College Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), with a $1 millionendowment to establish a Chair of Sustainable Development.
When Housset addresses NCSU’s sustainability symposium, entitledStewards of the Future: Research for Global Sustainability Tomorrow,NCSU’s burgeoning new sustainability programs figure to be hot topicsof discussion.
“We are honored to have Bayer as a collaborator in our researchefforts to find solutions to the complex problems that issues likeglobal climate change, population growth, and food and water shortagespresent,” said Wynne. “Under Pascal Housset’s leadership,Environmental Science has discovered new and innovative ways to marrybusiness and the environment, to the benefit of both.”
Vital to the sustainability culture that Housset has worked hard tocultivate at Environmental Science is the notion that partnering – inthis case with academia –is critical to success.
“We cannot achieve our goals alone. That is why the research expertiseof North Carolina State makes the university an ideal choice,” Houssetsaid. “It is within our power to achieve great success for our companywhile effecting critical change that will benefit society as a whole.It is simply essential to protect the world in which we live and work.Together with the university, we will take great strides in thatdirection.”
Engaging in collaborations with results that go far beyond its campusborders is nothing new for NCSU.
“It [partnering] is an important part of who we are,” Wynne said.“Here at NCSU we have a long history of such collaborations in thepublic and private sector.”
Those collaborations have produced more than 70 start-up companies anda NCSU portfolio consisting of more than 600 patents. NCSU partnershipactivities also include 61 corporations and government agencies thatemploy more than 1,500 employees who work alongside NCSU researchers.
The sustainability culture that Environmental Science shares with NCSUis reflected throughout the company internally and externally throughvarious business practices that include the development of newproducts dedicated to reducing carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere bypromoting plant health.
“As the world becomes more conscious of the climate change crisis,demand for products that meet the dual needs of business and theenvironment increases,” Housset said. “Events such as the NCSUsymposium provide a wonderful opportunity to enlist the help of theacademic and research communities to support those dual objectives.All of us at Environmental Science are excited about this new chapterin our collaboration with NCSU.”
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields ofhealth care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience AG,a subsidiary of Bayer AG with annual sales of about EUR 5.8 billion(2007), is one of the world’s leading innovative crop sciencecompanies in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pestcontrol, seeds and plant biotechnology. The company offers anoutstanding range of products and extensive service backup for modern,sustainable agriculture and for non-agricultural applications. BayerCropScience has a global workforce of about 17,800 and is representedin more than 120 countries.
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St. John's Daily Spray Advisory
My Past Articles
More enforcement needed for pesticide spray regulations
The Western Star (Corner Brook) - Final - 10-01-2002 - 413 words
Karen Griffin - Judie Squires says someone needs to patrol the companies that spray residential areas for pesticides because she's observed nine violations of the Environmental Protection Act in her Paradise neighborhood alone…
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Stokes Sullivan, Deana - Despite increased awareness about adverse health effects from pesticides, Judie Squires, a member of the Pesticide Working Group of
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Province lagging behind in pesticide control
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Squires, Judie - it to do is to prohibit the cosmetic use of synthetic pesticides altogether in order to protect our citizens and the environment. Judie Squires writes from Portugal Cove-St. Philip's…
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Judie Squires - health of your families. When
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DEANA STOKES SULLIVAN - of trees. The live spores can be inhaled by humans and animals exposed to BT. Judie Squires, secretary of the Northeast Avalon Group of the Sierra Club, says despite claims that…
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The Telegram (
DEANA STOKES SULLIVAN - at the end of this year. These products will only be sold to certified dealers. Judie Squires, secretary of the newly formed Northeast Avalon Group of the Sierra Club, isn't…
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Time for provincial lawn pesticide regulation
The Telegram (
pesticides. Please join me in lobbying our province for a pesticide ban Judie Squires Portugal Cove...