Posts tagged sustainable

Rescuing a planet under stress

 

(Left to right) Erin Ely, Nancy Geiger, Bob Loyd and Frank Cicela. Photo from Clipper Windpower

(Left to right) Erin Ely, Nancy Geiger, Bob Loyd and Frank Cicela. Photo from Clipper Windpower

   Through a flood relief effort,  employees of Clipper Windpower have donated more than 750 “green” books to the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City public libraries.

   Clipper employees worldwide, including Clipper Turbine Works in Cedar Rapids, purchased T-shirts with taglines such as “Think Outside The Barrel” and “The Power Of Now” which contributed to the $8,000 in books donated.

    This is from Mary Gates, director of Global Communications at Clipper Windpower, Inc.:

     The book donation, which will jumpstart the library’s recovery, is a ‘green’ collection focused on various aspects of sustainable living. It replaces the collection lost during the disaster. Topics include gardening, permaculture, renewable energy, green building, ecology, culture, politics, community building, conservation, simple living, sustainable business, and a host of other subjects. The collection will include DVDs and audio CDs, as well as titles for young adults and children. 

    In making this donation possible, Clipper partnered with the Sustainable Living Coalition, a Iowa based non-profit organization dedicated to implementing innovative solutions for sustainable initiatives. In turn, the Sustainable Living Coalition secured discounted pricing from two book publishers – Chelsea Green and New Society Publishers – on more than 450 titles for the collection. 

    Among the more well-known titles is a book by Lester R. Brown called Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress & a Civilization in Trouble.  In his book, Brown outlines a stabilization plan for the climate without hampering economic progress. A few of the others are the Chelsea Green Guide to Composting, Going Solar, Forest Drinking Water and Lost Language of Plants

    The donation is among Clipper’s continuing Cedar Rapids flood relief efforts.  Just last year, Clipper matched funds raised by employees, and received donations from friends and suppliers totaling $175,000 in support of the company’s impacted employees and their families.

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Database of waste

This just in from the University of Iowa:

Students help Cedar Rapids economic development group with database of waste

Business students at the University of Iowa are helping to chronicle the biodegradable waste and by-products produced by some of Cedar Rapids’ manufacturers in the hope of finding other businesses that can re-use the material.

The program could help companies save money, encourage sustainability by diverting waste from landfills, create new products, and attract new businesses to the region.

The program is overseen and funded by Priority One, the economic development division of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Instead of throwing this material away, we can use it to attract other companies that will convert it into something useful, and in the process, build a new plant and employ people,” said Frank Rydzewski, a lecturer in marketing in the Henry B. Tippie College of Business who coordinated the students’ efforts in a marketing field studies class. He is also former CEO of American Profol, a Cedar Rapids manufacturer of polypropylene films.

The raw-material-from-waste model of sustainability is already being used in a partnership between the city’s Quaker Oats plant and the University of Iowa. The university burns Quaker’s oat hulls in its power plant to create energy, keeping the hulls out of the waste stream, and providing cost effective alternate fuel for the university.

For the class, Rydzewski had 14 students accountable for recording the materials they found in the waste streams of 23 participating companies. They also researched potential applications for the material.

In some cases, the students determined the composition of the material by reviewing paperwork supplied by the company and visiting the facilities. In others, the students gathered samples and brought them to the University of Iowa’s Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing on the Oakdale campus, which used chemical analysis to break down and identify the compounds in the waste.

The list — which includes such potentially recyclable material as carbon dioxide gas, ethanol, oat hulls and diatomaceous earth — is now being compiled. It will be used to show other firms the kinds of raw materials readily available in Cedar Rapids, said Mark Seckman, president of Priority One.

“The students did a great job and laid a foundation for the next step of this effort,” Seckman said. “This would not have gotten done without their work, and the process they set up will allow us to identify companies that could use the material.”

One possible industry sector the students identified was pet food, which could use some of the waste produced by the area’s food processing plants to make dog and cat food. They developed a marketing plan for Priority One including potential candidates to pursue.

Students participating in the class said they liked helping with economic development and increasing manufacturing efficiency in a way that also promotes environmental sustainability.

“It’s a great way to turn a waste material into a raw material in a way that makes things better for everyone,” said Jenny Matkovich, a senior in the class.

They said it also unwittingly improved their understanding of science, as they viewed the processes used by the UI’s Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing and visited manufacturing facilities in the region.

“One of the big challenges for me was understanding the terms and concepts because I don’t have a biology or chemistry background, so that was helpful,” said Hilary Cochrane, also a senior.

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Hoophouse hoopla

Hoophouse construction

Hoophouse construction at Abbe Hills Farm

Farmers, students and other advocates of sustainable living gathered at Laura Krouse’s Abbe Hills Farm near Mount Vernon today to learn how to build a hoophouse. Adam Montri, outreach coordinator for Michigan State University’s student organic farm, is leading the workshop, which continues Thursday (April 9, 2009.) Some of the participants hope to extend their growing season with a hoophouse – a sort of low-tech greenhouse that doesn’t require supplemental light or heat. One farmer I spoke to, Russ Brandes, of Hancock – in western Iowa – is considering constructing a

Russ Brandes

Russ Brandes

hoophouse to store his excess hay. A hoophouse would be more economical than building a barn, he said.

Sally Worley, communications director for Practical Farmers of Iowa, which is hosting the free event, said about 50 people from Iowa and Illinois were attending throughout the two-day workshop.

Alex Kachan

Alex Kachan

Among attendees were 9 students from Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, who are in a new Community Supported Agriculture block. Their instructor, Alex Kachan, a faculty member in the university’s sustainable living department, said the CSA track was just started this spring, as part of the school’s ongoing effort to raise consciousness about sustainable living practices.

Laura Krause and her summer workers produce vegetables for about 200 families through her farm’s CSA. A great place to spend a sunny (albeit windy) spring day. You can check out the hoophouse if your travels take you on Mount Vernon Road, east of Cedar Rapids. The farm is just north of Mount Vernon Road on Abbe Hills Road – soon to be recognizable by a 35-by-96-foot double poly hoophouse.

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Iowa City Environmental Film Festival

    Fred Meyer, director of Backyard Abundance, sent information on the following event. Fred noted that the group’s activities are presented in the context of understanding how our well-being is directly affected by the health of the land and wildlife – that caring for our local environment is equivalent to caring for our family and community.

 

Here is more about this weekend’s event:

 

    As part of the Iowa City Environmental Film Festival,  “Farming with Nature: A Case Study of Temperate Permaculture,” will be shown at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 15, 2009, in Room A of the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St.  Host is Backyard Abundance, with speaker Fred Meyer.

 

    The Iowa City Environmental Film Festival,  modeled on the successful Cedar Rapids Film Festival, coordinates screenings of feature length and short movies on environmental topics for the public.

 

    Film overview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw7mQZHfFVE

 

   This film shows how Sepp Holzer uses permaculture techniques to grow everything from apricots to eucalyptus, figs to kiwi fruit, peaches to wheat at an altitude of over 3,300 feet, in average annual temperature of only 40 degrees.  A pioneer in permaculture techniques, Holzer turned a fir tree dessert into a farm producing a healthy surplus of food for the community, water and energy for the farm and an environment that sustains animals, plants and soils.

After the film, ways these techniques can be used in our climate will be discussed. The event runs to 5 p.m.

 

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Call for women landowners – new dates!

Due to the weather this week, the following program was postponed until February. This update has the new dates. 

 

UPDATE – Introductory meetings will take place:

Tuesday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m., Marion Library, 1095 6th Ave.

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 1:30 p.m., Anamosa Library, 600 E. 1st St.

Thursday, Feb. 19, 1:30 p.m., Johnson County Extension Office, 4265 Oak Crest Hill Rd SE, Iowa City

 Laura Krouse of Mount Vernon passed along the following about an upcoming program for women landowners.

Laura notes that women own about half of the farmland in Iowa, and about 60 percent of the rentable farmland.  Research has shown that women have very strong conservation and natural resource values, but  don’t always feel comfortable accessing the technical and financial resources that would help them and their tenants get the conservation they want on their land. 

Women who own or manage farmland in three Eastern Iowa counties – Johnson, Jones and Linn – are invited to participate in a free conservation education program. The program is designed to make women more knowledgeable and more comfortable with their conservation decisions. 

Women landowners are invited to come to the meeting closest to their home; if they are unable to attend that meeting, they are welcome to come to another one, or contact facilitator Laura Krouse of Mt. Vernon about attending the subsequent field days and closing meeting.
Women landowners who participate in the “Women Caring for the Land” project will:
•    Meet your district conservationist and learn about programs and people available to help you with your conservation concerns
•    See sustainable soil conservation and water quality practices in the field
•    Hear from a good tenant about what kinds of conservation concerns he shares with you
•    Practice ways to discuss your conservation concerns with your tenant
•    Share ideas with other women landowners about solutions to conservation and sustainability
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

“Women Caring for the Land” is sponsored by Women, Food and Agriculture Network, and funded by a grant from the McKnight Foundation.
For information or to register, call Laura Krouse at 319.895.6924 or email her at laura@abbehills.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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Local foods Monday

Preston Maring to discuss benefits of locally grown food Nov. 10

California obstetrician Dr. Preston Maring, will visit the University of Iowa on Monday, Nov. 10, to discuss the economic, health, community and environmental benefits of locally grown, sustainably produced food.

Maring will present “Sustaining Iowa: Making the Connection Between Food, Health and the Land” at noon in Room 140 of Schaeffer Hall on the UI campus.

Maring’s talk is one of three scheduled presentations in Iowa. He will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, at the Commons Ball Room at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, in Room 2050 of Agronomy Hall at Iowa State University in Ames.

All the events are free and open to the public.

Maring is associate physician-in-chief at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, Calif., where he is responsible for tertiary-care services planning and development for Oakland’s 200,000 health plan members as well as members from around the northern California region.

In 2003, Maring helped start a weekly farmers’ market for hospital staff, visitors and the community, resulting in different market models, community outreach and a programwide focus on healthy eating. Today, the concept has spread to 40 other Kaiser Permanente health care facilities.

More recently, he has worked with Kaiser Permanente and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers to create a system that sources food for inpatient meals from small family farmers.

An enthusiastic cook as well as a physician, Maring’s blog, “Dr. Maring’s Farmers’ Market and Recipe Update,” gets about 50,000 page views each month. The blog is at http://recipe.kaiser-permanente.org/kp/maring/about/.

Following each of Maring’s presentations, speakers will share Iowa stories about the benefits of local food. These include Iowa City chef Kurt Michael Friese, author of the 2008 book “A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland” and editor for Edible Iowa River Valley magazine; and Story County Planning and Zoning director Leanne Harter, who will discuss the county’s new Local Foods Systems Initiative report. In Cedar Falls, Maring will be the featured speaker for the annual local food dinner.

Maring’s visit is sponsored by the UI Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination, the UI Sustainability Steering Group, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU and the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at UNI.

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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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