Posts tagged Oakhill Jackson

Deconstruction vs. demolition: a green way to handle flooded homes?

Michael Richards, president of the Oakhill/Jackson Neighborhood Association, has been working on a “Good Jobs/Green Garages” effort since the floods. Some of that is detailed in an article in the Sunday, March 8, 2009, issue of the Gazette:

 

http://tinyurl.com/bdn94m

 

Here is more from Michael about those efforts:

 

   “We have added a very important layer of innovation and action to Good Jobs/Green Garages:

   As Neighborhood Assn. President, I have been approached by flooded residents in their 70s and 80s that do not have the time, energy or financing to Rehab/Rebuild.   We are pairing these elderly residents with former Metro High students that are now in their mid twenties, energetic, employed and ready to engage limited money with “sweat equity” to gain first time home ownership by rehab and retrofit of these flooded homes they are purchasing from the above noted elderly flood victims.  We have one rehab/retrofit  Next Generation Home Ownership project already underway in Oakhill Jackson.   We have also paired an elderly resident/ and a young new homeowner in Time Check to work with  this model of community recovery.

   My goal is this:  Create the working model. Then, if the City Government wants to get on board, fine, if not, well, we’ll keep working away to rebuild this city one step at a time from the ground up.”

 

 

   From Cindy, again: Rod Scott, who is also featured in the Gazette article, realizes not every flooded home can be saved. But he questions why so many that could be rebuilt are being torn down. He asks if it’s because the city is encouraging demolition, especially of homes in modest-income neighborhoods. Rod, who is president of the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance, notes that many of the homes are structurally sound. “They’re just flooded buildings,” he said. “They can be cleaned up and rebuilt.”

 

 

   Cedar Rapids City Council member  Tom Podzimek added to the city’s discussion of sustainability when it comes to rebuilding from the floods in one area that hit home. For city gardeners, it might not be a popular idea, but a suggestion that has been proposed in the past would be to sell land that has city gardens – presumably the Squaw Creek gardens, as the Ellis area often floods – and allow developers to build private housing there. The tradeoff would be offering leased city gardens in the city’s new green zone, where flooded homes have been bought out and removed. “Why get in a car and drive five miles?” Podzimek asked, when the “greener” model would be having gardens located near the people who use them.

   Other ideas for the green zone have included soccer and baseball fields and dog parks. Podzimek said some residents want those entities in areas not prone to flooding, but he said it makes more sense to have homes and structures built away from flood zones and use the 250 acres or so of new green space for those “flood resilient” projects, such as ball fields.

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SEED conference: A wake-up call

                       SEED Conference II:    A Wake-Up Call

 

   A conference that addresses sustainable buildings, food systems and community is set for Saturday and Sunday,  Oct. 24-25, in Cedar Rapids.

   Michael Richards, organizer of the Sustainable Ecological Economic Development, or SEED, Conference II: A Wake-Up Call, notes that Iowa this year was hit with two of its most challenging crises: the most extreme flooding in the state’s history and most serious global financial crisis.

   The conference, at Metro High School, 1212 7th St SE, will explore the root causes of these crises.

    For information, call:  319-213-2051 or e mail the conference team at: Soyawax@aol.com

 

A $25 donation for attendance is appreciated.  

 

   Here is the schedule:

  

Friday, Oct. 24 –  6:30 PM     Conference Opening Invocation; Michael Richards, S.E.E.D. Founder

 7:00 PM     Closing Night/Cedar Rapids Second Annual Environmental Film Festival

The film fest is a month long film series presented in many art, cultural and educational venues in Cedar Rapids

 

An Enlightening Evening with the Film Directors; Nationally acclaimed, award winning Madison, Wisconsin based film makers Gretta Wing Miller and Aarick Beher will join us in the Metro High Media Center tonight to screen their most recent documentary film;   “Keeping the Lights On”.  Learn how film making is a vital tool for dynamic change and cultural growth.

 

Saturday, Oct. 25:  A Community Building Conference

 

Track  I; 9 AM   Sustainable Food and Wellness; Transforming the Iowa “Food Desert” into a Sustainable Oasis

Janet Coester, Mir Valley Farm

Peter Hoehnle, Iowa Valley Resource and Conservation

Steve Smith, Iowa Network for Community Agriculture

Track  II: 10:30 AM   Integrating Shelter and the Environment; establishing a “deeper shade of green” within  sustainable communities.   Rebuilding a Green Iowa after the devastating Disasters of 2008
Nadia Anderson/Iowa State University Architecture Studio; Green Rebuild/Design for a Post Flood Iowa
Ashley and Nate Mealhow; Building A Pedestrian Friendly-Sustainable Urban Village in Oakhill-Jackson/CR

Clark Rieke and Lisa Mc Millen Boese; Eco-Modular/A Smart Approach to Affordable Housing in Cedar Rapids

Michael Richards, Oakhill Jackson Neigborhood Pres. “The Greenest Homes are ones already here”. Rebuild/Retrofit

 

 

Track  III; 12;00 Noon Lunch Session; Community Based/Self Sufficient Energy Solutions; Local Options

Steve Fugate;   Founder, Green World Biofuels; Self-Sufficient Local Energy

Timlynn Babitsky, Author; WIND PROJECT; a Grassroots Community Organizing Handbook

 

Track IV; 1:30 PM   Building Ecological Communities; Intelligent/Sustainable Land and Resource Conservation; 

 The Back Story; The 100 year history of land and water practice in Iowa that led up to the Flood of 2008:

Wayne Peterson, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Christine Taliga;  Director, Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development

Clark Rieke; 1000 points of mitigation, a decentralized/distributed land/water flood management plan for Iowa

 

The Future Story;  presented by the Union of Concerned Scientists
Mark Madsen, University of Iowa,  Mike Carberry, Green State Solutions;

Climate Change/Climate Chaos as a contributing factor to natural disasters; we are in a new circumstance

 


Track V: 3:00 PM  Ecological Economic Development /
A Thriving Economy within an Ecological System

Michael Richards, Author, Sustainable Operating Systems/The Post Petrol Paradigm   (www.amazon.com)

Richards is a member of the State of Iowa Economic Development Task Force;  REBUILD Iowa Office, RIO

Jim Salmons, Co-Founder/Sohodojo; The Small is Good World of Ecological Entrepreneurship

Lynette Richards, Community Connected Life-Long Learning; Sustainable Education/Grassroots Political Connectivity.   Lynette is one of the 7 Member Task Force planning post flood affordable and sustainable housing.

 

Track VI: 4:30    Ethical/Spiritual Foundation for Land and Resource Stewardship

Prairiewoods  Eco-Spirituality Community will convene this group exploration of root ethical values.

 

6:00  PM  Gather in the kitchen and dining hall and all work together to prepare a Community Feast

 

8:00 to 10:00 PM      Harvest Moon Dance Party with local musicians.     This is whole family event.

 

Michael Richards adds the following:

 

S.E.E.D  provides  an effective, non-partisan, local citizen capacity to activate reality based, sustainable solutions. 

 

For thousands of years, the native ecology of Iowa was resilient, incredibly diverse with  immense capacity to absorb water and sustain life.  These natural systems have been dramatically disrupted through our uninformed policy and economic actions of the past 100 years.   SEED serves as a community catalyst to apply intelligent biomimicry for land, water and resource management to restore ecological resilience.

Iowa has the base economic resources of fertile land, bountiful water and hard working, honest people. Out of necessity, we are entering a time of real economy; We will conserve, scale down, simplify, save, and spend prudently for the things that we actually need.  We will now create a sustainable economy.    As “The Sustainable State”, Iowa can lead the way to restore sane national economic systems and intelligent political discourse.

The false economy is collapsing, but the real economy remains.  Did we forget how to make things that people need?  Can we no longer grow local food?  Did Iowa factories burn down?  Are our tools lost?  Did we run out of good people to work in farms, factories and offices? No!  The real economy remains as our sustainable foundation.  The  present financial crisis is simply the evaporation of the false and illusory world of derivatives, collateralized debt, index funds, credit default swaps, structured investment vehicles, and the hard-sell marketing of sub-prime mortgages and super-sized homes.  That house of cards has collapsed.  We will now build a sane and sustainable economy.

Six years ago as the Iraq war started, I launched Sustainable Ecological Economic Development (S.E.E.D.) to address root, causal factors of war; the deluded pursuit of the false and destructive economy of Empire rather than productive and sustainable Creative Enterprise.  Economies based on Empire exploit other nations, the natural environment and even our own citizens through usury, labor exploitation, and unfair wealth-transfer through corporate welfare and coercive bailouts. Excessive national debt is irresponsibly relegated to future generations.  Average U.S.Citizens have been reduced to powerless serfs, indentured by fear, complex webs of wealth-transfer taxation and oppressive debt to fuel the totally unsustainable military/industrial-Wall St. Machine. Our founding fathers would not recognize the State of our Nation.  The bright light of the American Dream is now shrouded with dark clouds of fear, greed and deception.  We need a wake-up call and restore our nation to ecological and economic health.   The S.E.E.D. Conference is a call to community action.

 

  

 

 

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Oakhill garden update

What seemed like a straight-forward proposal turns out not to be with the Cedar Rapids City Council and the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood’s plan for a community garden. Rick Smith’s Eye on the Island blog mentions the red tape the group has encountered. Following is the latest correspondence from Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association president Michael Richards:

From: Michael Richards, President/Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood ASSN.

To: Ms.Sina/Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation

 

Dear Ms.Sina;

 

The City Council made a decision to back the establishment of a community demonstration garden in the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood nearly one month ago at the City Council meeting on March 26th.

 

We are in Iowa where we have a limited growing season.    The extended delays with getting this timely project launched are a mark of extreme inefficiency in our local City government.   If a business operated with such extreme inefficiency, it would be out of business in short order.

 

You are now telling me that you have to “take this back to City Council” after a formal decision was already made on this same project by the City Council one month ago?

 

This is a very well organized community effort.  The Oakhill Jackson Community Garden Project is not a random group of people heading out to a city park with a hoe.

 

Below is the list of organizations that are providing funding and gardening expertise to this exemplary community project;

 

1. Linn County Master Gardeners of the Linn County Extension Service/Iowa State University

2. Iowa Network for Community Agriculture This Statewide organization of professional operators of

    CSA/farms all over the State of Iowa are providing funding and expertise.

3. Practical Farmers of Iowa  (statewide organization that supports sustainable agriculture)

4. Kalona Organics (a coalition or Amish family farms that are binging healthy food to Iowa

5. The Kalona/Organics-Metro High fresh produce project

6. Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development (six county soil and water conservation organization that includes Linn County.

7. Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University

8.I-Food Local Food Coalition (about 40 local organizations are participating including United Way, Prairiewoods, Grinnell College, ISU, and many local elected officials.

 

 

Back to Cindy: Rick Smith said it looks more likely that the garden will go somewhere other than what the neighborhood association had hoped for. More undoubtedly will follow.

 

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Veggies in the city

An awesome idea from the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood in Cedar Rapids is moving along. Michael Richards, president of the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association, said the group will present a formal request to the Cedar Rapids City Council at its meeting on Wednesday, March 26, about using one city-owned vacant lot in the neighborhood. The lot would be used on a seasonal basis as a vegetable garden demonstration project. 

The City Council meets in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of  City Hall,  at 6 p.m., with the presentation to be made during the public comment segment. The group is welcoming support for the project, regardless of where you live. Richards said the lot will be used as an “outdoor classroom” home vegetable garden demonstration project. 

 He had this to say about the project: “The objective is to encourage Oakhill Jackson families to plant their own backyard gardens.  Low income families have the very least access to real food, and consume the highest quantities of processed commodity based food.  Nationally, this dietary situation results in billions of dollars in disease care costs to deal with the rising levels of obesity as well as childhood and adult diabetes.  The Oakhill Jackson/Metro High School Community Garden Classroom is a way to mitigate this national health problem on a local level.” 

To keep the effort highly focused, the demonstration garden will be at one site in Oakhill Jackson, with families from Wellington Heights, Moundview and any other CR residents invited, as well.  Susan Jutz, former president and current board member of Practical Farmers of Iowa, is donating all seeds for this project.  She and Kate Hogg, an advocate of community-supported agriculture, will be working with Metro High students this year to “glean” surplus produce at their two farms to bring the fresh produce into the Oakhill Jackson/Metro High/Kalona Organics Store Front project. 

The storefront will provide organic milk, eggs, cheese, butter and produce to Oakhill Jackson at a wholesale/affordable price.  The community garden classroom will be part of this overall healthy/local food initiative. Richards said the group is recruiting a local Master Gardener to serve as instructor for this community open air classroom. 

As an added note, for those of you who missed the message from Carrie Marsh on a previous post, anyone who could not attend a community forum last night at the Jane Boyd Community Center can contact her. Those who want to contribute ideas on the “greening” of Oak Hill or other Oak Hil-related urban development topics, can email Carrie at:  carrie.a.marsh@gmail.com  

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