27 April 2010

Earth Day 2010

Its been almost a year since I posted. That is sad and if you don't read this blog anymore that's ok.

I've mentioned that Tara and I are early adopters of the green lifestyle. We've both been doing various things for the better part of a decade. Simple things like recycling and composting, buying recycled products, more natural products, etc.. Earth Day is one of the things we've both done for awhile as well. I usually went for the people watching and the music. Tara went for the green-ness, the sun and the food.

Among the problem now are that we are always tired, we have a little girl to consider, and we know/do a lot of the things featured at Nashville's Earth Day Celebration. My knowledge of all things green has deepened with the advent of the internet (Inhabitat, Eco Child's Play, ecorazzi.com, EcoTech Daily) but so has the accessibility and acceptability of green ideas and products. I feel I have little to learn from the booths of Earthday. I still want to see what is happening locally but for the past few years I have walked around saying "I already know that" or "I've been doing that for years." The other part that I get from the celebration is that a lot of it is preaching to the choir. I wish the organizers would attempt something that will engage the minority and poorer segments of Nashville's citizenry.

So this year we opted not to go. But how did we spend Earthday (and I mean the saturday when the citywide celebration happens, not specifically on the 4/20)? I planted trees. A month or so ago I picked up some free bare root trees and it took me awhile to get them in the ground. I planted a tulip poplar, a sawtooth oak and a bald cypress. I don't know how fast or slow these will grow but I have now replaced all the trees that were on this property when I was a kid. I can't wait till they get bigger. Julia is gonna have a shady yard to play in!

Earthday Celebration is no longer a priority for me. I know we will go as often as we can but there are other things we can do to celebrate and I know as Julia gets more engaged we will find all sorts of stuff to do.

31 May 2009

Habitat Gardening

My native plant gardening has morphed slightly into habitat building.

My initial attraction to native plant gardening was the lack of continued work needed. In theory you plant something according to its needs and you're done. Almost all native plants are perennials so they only get stronger. After that I liked the idea of using local products, local retailers for those products and I liked having plants that were different than what you buy at your regular garden store. A lesser point of interest was that by planting the right mix of items you will build a naturalistic, native habitat in your yard. But what does that mean? It means animals! You add sun-loving wildflowers to get bees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. You add shrubby plants to provide shelter for small birds, mammals & reptiles. You add water elements (rain garden) with appropriate plants because everything needs water. You add fruit bearing shrubs and trees so the animals have something to harvest in the colder seasons.

Granted, gardening brings its own beauty with the flowers and foliage and shaded areas and benefits but to think that you are giving sustenance and shelter to creatures who used to have an abundance, right where you live, is an amazing concept and a wonderful benefit of good natural landscaping. Its also a teaching tool; as a new parent I can see that having this type garden I can show Julia the cycle of life and death, the efficiency of nature, and the harmony within nature. Shoot, I can even teach her colors, shapes, numbers and Latin...pretty much the only Latin I know is related to the plants I've been buying.

I have been intrigued and excited about this habitat stuff recently b/c I have seen some cardinals in abundance (or maybe I am seeing the same two over and over) in my yard. There is something between my house and backyard that they seem to love, I see them perched or flying through the same spot every day. I don't remember seeing them this often in years past. Of course, there are rabbits and snakes and squirrels (who have been planting black walnuts all over my yard) too, who are all showing up with minimal help from me.

Almost Orange My goal is to bring more animals by way of proper habitat building gardening. My front yard gets sun all day which means its great for bee attracting plants and flowers. I started with a little square where I planted rose verbenas, penstemon digitalis and butterfly weed (2 each) last summer. This year they have all exploded. The verbenas have spread more than I imagined, the penstemons are taller than I imagined and the butterfly weeds are bolder in Penstemon 3 color than I remembered. My goal is to have those flowers repeating throughout my wildflower garden with the addition of some herbs, other wildflowers, shrubs and grasses mixed in. I don't know how I am actually going to put it all together but the ideas are coming. I also anticipate adding some more trees and a rain garden. I don't want it to be too overgrown with plants but I want to replace as a lot of the sod.

The west side is almost all shade and would be a great starting point for the rain garden. There is a strip near the garage that someone suggested as an edible garden (blueberries, serviceberries, etc). The back yard is for Johnders and will remain the same (grass, natural groundcover like wild ginger and common strawberry) but I also will let trees that sprout grow as 2 or 3 already have. Lastly, there is the fence line, a space about 15' wide that runs then entire north/south length of the yard. The grassy portion has underground cables so I have to be careful what I plant. This is not my property even though I, like my Dad before me, keep it mowed. If I can plant the right things I can block the view of my neighbors unhappy yard and house as well as eliminate the need to mow.

As all gardens it is a work in progress but I am excited about the potential.

17 April 2009

New hybrid bus at Earth Day Festival

The Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) will join Nashvillians celebrating the environment at Nashville Earth Day Festival activities on Saturday, April 18, in Centennial Park.

MTA will display one of its new 60-foot hybrid buses on-site to promote the use of public transit to help improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion. The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) also will have a booth with staff members available to talk about the Music City Star, car pools and van pools.

The free, city-wide event runs from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. and features different sections of the park representing different areas of the environment, such as air, water, recycling and sustainable living/land conservation. The local festival includes family-friendly games, activities, food and live performances.

The 2009 theme is "Together growing a greener Nashville" and will feature the live music of Susan Tedeschi, The Dynamites, AutoVaughn, Jeremy Lister and Caitlin Rose.

16 April 2009

Earth Day is here again

So we move from one enviro-centric Sat to the next.

Earth Day is always a blast. I see it as a "welcome to spring day". This year will be very different.

We are going to Centennial Park with Julia & Johnders. There will be all sorts of vendors and activities. We might even stay late enough to see the absolutely adorable and wonderfully soulful (talented goes without saying) Susan Tedeschi. We'll be on baby feeding time so who knows when we will get there let alone how long we will stay.

If you are in Nashville, its fun and informative and FREE!

13 March 2009

I knew it!

You can't write a book like "The Green Collar Economy" and not be considered for a high level position in this adminstration. When Obama started talking about green jobs, back on the campaign trail, I knew if he were elected he would tap Van Jones for something.

20 January 2009

Support what is good and right

Tara and I work hard to be considerate citizens, friends and now, parents. There is a lot to that. There is the compassion for the individual, attention to the relationship and the dedication to bring it to the world. 

We try to support local, beneficial retailers and manufacturers as much as possible. Through various name changes I have have looked to Green America for all sorts of information. Here again they give me guides which I would like to share...

Digital TV Transition

My carbon footprint is HUGE when it comes to electronics. I'm an audiophile geek. I love my soundsystem. It meant a lot more before I met Tara b/c she's not so interested and if she's home the system is usually playing at a volume too low to mean anything. :-(

I'll live but if I were only a bachelor again...

All that said I recently found out my footprint was bigger than I imagined. I have a big screen plasma, the biggest energy hog TV available. When I bought it I didn't know, plasmas looked much better than LCDs and that's what mattered.

If you follow the Green America's advice you can avoid my mistake.

See article here.

23 December 2008

Thrift-Store Shopping

I am a middle class person. I grew up middle class and I maintain a great deal of the middle class ethic. I admit its classist but I work hard to overcome it. I try not to assume things about people based on where they live or how they speak. I try maintain a level of cognisance about where I come from and what I expect. One of these things is Goodwill/Thrift-store shopping.

I grew up with the idea that you shopped Goodwill b/c you couldn't afford other. You bought on sale but you bought from a top level retailer. When I got in high school you shopped Goodwill b/c you couldn't afford other or you needed something retro or something you could write on.

As a 40-year old I believe you shop Goodwill b/c people like me get rid of stuff, b/c there is already so much stuff manufactured that you don't need more resources used and b/c you can save money.

There is a supervisor at the library who is always bragging about his Goodwill finds, so I finally started to go. My first trip I found a j.crew linen shirt (lavender) which retails for almost $70. It was my size and it cost $4.00! At that point I was hooked. When I got out of college and started to make some money I lived the j.crew catalog. (Really? How middle class is that? My closet is still filled with j.crew.) Now, shopping at these places can be real hit-or-miss. I still don't go regularly but I go far more often than I used to.

Tara, on the other hand has been an avid thrift-store shopper. Once she found out she was pregnant it became even more regular. She figured if she had to buy clothes that she would wear less than a year (maternity clothes) or baby stuff which will be outgrown almost as quickly as they are worn there was no reason to spend tones of money, fuel the inefficient clothing manufacturing machine. She has made out like a bandit and she has inspired friends and coworkers. Tara is also making out like a bandit at consignment sales.

I really need to check that out myself, I have a suit and other random clothing items I can't wear that might make money.

Anyway, check out your local 2nd hand-gently used-consignment stores before you head to the mall.