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Locus Focus

Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein talks with local, regional and national experts, activists and policy makers about climate change, food policy, land use, salmon restoration, forest management and all the other things that matter in our environment.

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Episode Archive

Locus Focus on 01/11/10

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 01/11/2010 - 10:00am - 11:00am
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What's up with Portland's water?

DOES PORTLAND NEED TO COVER ITS RESERVOIRS?

What's going on with Portland's water? In light of the Thanksgiving weekend e coli outbreak in one of the Washington Park Reservoirs, we look at arguments for and against covering Portland's famously open-air reservoirs. We'll also talk about the filtration system and underground water storage facility that are under construction and why these steps are being taken now.

Our guests are David Shaff with the Portland Water Bureau and Friends of the Reservoirs representatives Floy Jones and Scott Fernandez.

Locus Focus on 01/04/10

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 01/04/2010 - 10:15am - 11:00am

REPORT BACK FROM THE CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE IN COPENHAGEN

Climate talks drew to a close just before Christmas, with little concrete action to celebrate. We'll hear what happened and what we can hope for from guest Robert Engelman, Vice President for Programs at Worldwatch Institute.

Locus Focus on 12/28/09

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 12/28/2009 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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Creating a neighborhood sense of place at TaborSpace in SE Portland

CREATING A NEIGHBORHOOD SENSE OF PLACE - TABORSPACE

Locus Focus on 12/21/09

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 12/21/2009 - 10:00am - 11:00am

HOUSEHOLDER'S HOLIDAY GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE


Harriet Fasenfest, writer, cook, gardener, food preserver and backyard economist, returns to Locus Focus. We'll talk about the art, economics and politics of householding and food preservation just in time for the holidays. And take some listener phone calls.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Harriet Fasenfest has lived in the Northwest since 1978. Now retired from Main Street, she is attempting to raise the bones of home economics from the trash bin of modernity. She teaches classes on food preservation at Preserve and lives happily with her husband and children in Portland, Oregon.

Locus Focus on 12/14/09

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 12/14/2009 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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Why is climate change a women's issue?

WOMEN & CLIMATE CHANGE

Why do women  hold the key to solving climate change. Guest Sarah Craven, chief of the United Nations Population Fund's Washington office, talks about how climate change is more than an issue of energy efficiency or industrial carbon emissions; it is also an issue of population dynamics, poverty and gender equity. 

On this show we'll look at how climate change impacts women and whether population growth is a major cause of climate change. What's the best way to protect humanity from extreme weather and rising seas? Could better access to reproductive health care and improved relations between women and men make a critical difference in addressing this long-term global problem?

Locus Focus on 12/07/09

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 12/07/2009 - 10:15am - 11:00am

Nuclear Power - Carbon-free Energy for the Future or Still Just a Bad Idea?

A couple months ago, Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein leaped at the opportunity to interview Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog creator and innovative futurist. But Stewart has changed his views on some key things since the heady days of the late 1960s and early 70s, when his ideas and projects inspired a huge counter-cultural movement. His primary concern now is curbing climate change and he believes that to achieve the goal of drastically reducing our carbon emissions we must embrace technologies that he (and most of the environmental movement) once eschewed - like nuclear power.

Locus Focus on 11/30/09

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 11/30/2009 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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How Tar Sands extraction is Northern Alberta is changing the face of a continent

Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent

Locus Focus on 11/23/09

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 11/23/2009 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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What is cap-and-trade really about?

Cap-and-trade systems are being touted across the country as the most likely way to reduce carbon emissions and they have been in practice in Europe for several years. But cap-and-trade is controversial in the eyes of some envrironmentalists—who see carbon trading as a form of 21st century indulgences—as well as industrial polluters who believe cap-and-trade creates unwanted government regulation. Eric de Place with the Sightline Institute believes that if we create the right kind of cap-and-trade system, we can not only get off the fossil-fuels roller coaster, but speed the transition to a clean energy economy that puts the interest of people before interests of polluters.

Locus Focus on 11/16/09

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 11/16/2009 - 10:15am - 11:00am

What is Plan B 4.0?

Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, has come out with a new book PLAN B 4.0: MOBILIZING TO SAVE CIVILIZATION. This plan for how we can (and must) cut global emissions by 80% by the year 2020, suggests existing technologies and know-how that will accomplish what political and industrial leaders around the world seem to find so daunting.

Locus Focus on 11/09/09

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 11/09/2009 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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Sustainable agriculture that's beyond organic and very local

FARMING BEYOND THE BARCODE

Portland area farmers Clare Carver (Big Table Farm in Gaston) and Jill Kuehler (Zenger Farm in SE Portland) return to Locus Focus for a chat with Joel Salatin, farmer, food choice advocate and dream-doer, who runs Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. We'll discuss the sustainable agricultural methods they practice, based on polyculture and the interweaving roles of farm animals and crops.

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LATEST POLITICAL BRINKSMANSHIP AROUND KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 01/16/2012

Last November the Obama administration responded to intense public opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline—which would carry crude oil from Alberta's tar sands, to refineries on the Gulf Coast—by calling for additional environmental impact studies that could take more than a year to complete. This decision made many pipeline opponents hopeful, if not celebratory. But then six weeks later, as part of a deal to extend the payroll tax cut, congressional Republicans required that the administration make a decision on the project within 60 days.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Oil Change International founder Steve Kretzmann about the political maelstrom that is being stirred up by pipeline proponents. We discuss why many environmentalists are optimistic that by requiring a speedy decision, the Republicans' ultimatum actually forces the president to reject the pipeline project, despite this being an election year.

Steve Kretzmann has worked on energy issues and the global oil industry for more than twenty years. He has worked with communities and organizations around the world concerned with the environmental, social, and economic impacts of the oil industry. He has campaigned to keep Florida’s coast free from oil & gas drilling, keep bike lanes open in New York City, engage reluctant corporations in dialogue about human and environmental rights, expose the oil industry’s involvement in drafting Iraq’s new oil law and, end destructive public finance by institutions such as the World Bank. He has also represented various organizations in Washington DC and at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Montreal Protocol. Steve has authored numerous articles and reports and is a regular commentator on issues of corporate accountability, climate change, the global oil industry, and environmental and human rights. He founded Oil Change International in 2005 in order to educate about the true impacts of fossil fuels and to conduct research, education, and organizing to hasten the transition to clean energy.

FRACKING CRACKS THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 01/09/2012

2011 was the year that fracking became a household word. A little over a year ago opposition to fracking was limited to a select group of environmental activists and people unfortunate to have their water supplies contaminated by neighboring fracking operations. But by the end of the year major media was reporting on independent scientific investigations that linked fracking with water pollution. And federal and state agencies were responding to the growing apprehension about water contamination with more studies and more regulation. What has changed in the last 12 months to ratchet up opposition to this use of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from the deep recesses of shale deposits? On this episode of Locus Focus we are joined by former ProPublica reporting fellow Nicholas Kusnetz, whose articles about controversies surrounding fracking have helped reframe public understanding about the true environmental and health impacts of this practice.

Nicholas Kusnetz is a Middlebury fellow in environmental journalism and a freelance journalist. Until recently he was a reporting fellow at the online investigative journalism website ProPublica.

WEIGHING IN: Obesity, Food Justice & The Limits of Capitalism - An Interview with Julie Guthman

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 01/02/2012

There is little doubt that Americans are getting fatter. As an example, a new Coast Guard regulation requires that the Washington State Ferries reduce their maximum capacity by 250 passengers because the average body weight of individual passengers has increased by 25 pounds. Common wisdom attributes the rise in obesity to the high caloric/low nutrient levels of the junk food that many people eat and to the auto-centric, pedestrian-hostile physical environments in which they live. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Julie Guthman, author of a new book called Weighing in: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism, which challenges many assumptions at the core of the food movement. Rather than blaming the eater for eating too much of the wrong food, Guthman looks for other causes of obesity—like environmental toxins in our food. She critiques the alternative food movement as a phenomenon that is primarily white, elitist, privileged and prejudiced against fat people, and calls for solutions that take on our entire economic system, not just lifestyle choices.

Julie Guthman is Associate Professor in the Community Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California (UC Press)

ANOTHER WAY THE RIVER HAS: An Interview with Author Robin Cody

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 12/26/2011

Rivers define Oregon. They shape the landscapes and wildlife habitats as well as human settlements and politics of this very watery place. There are few people who know and can describe Oregon's rivers like Oregon author Robin Cody. On this episode of Locus Focus, Robin joins us to describe his river adventures and reflections, whether he is canoeing the entire length of the Columbia River or floating the Willamette and lower Columbia in his handmade motorized boat, the Turtle. For Robin, the river is a metaphor for our lives, just as our lives are metaphors for the river. Along the way, we'll touch base with his latest collection of essays: Another Way the River Has.

Robin Cody, an Oregon native, is the author of Ricochet River and Voyage of a summer sun, both which appeared on the Oregon State Library's "150 Oregon Books for the Oregon Sesquicentennial. Cody has worked as an English teacher, a dean of college admissions, a baseball umpire and a school bus driver, and lives in Portland. Cody is a native speaker who probes the streams and woods and salmon that run to the heart of what it means to live and love, to work and play, in Oregon.

HIGH VOLTAGE: The Fast Track to Plug in the Auto Industry

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 11/28/2011

Transportation accounts for about a third of all carbon dioxide emissions in America. Cars and trucks are the biggest source of our smog pollution, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Gas prices are rising, the dependence on foreign oil is an ongoing concern, and local air pollution is not improving. This makes a powerful case for cleaner cars. Are electric cars the answer?

On this episode of Locus Focus, we talk with Jim Motavalli, author of a new book, HIGH VOLTAGE: The Fast Track to Plug in the Auto Industry, which describes the history of the electric car, the race to produce a new generation of all-electric vehicles and now, the tipping point, where half of all new cars heading into showrooms around the world will be at least partly electric. We'll talk about the challenges still facing all-electric cars: extending their driving range, making them affordable and assuring that their batteries don't catch on fire.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jim Motavalli first started reporting on the dream of electric cars in the late 1980’s during the SUV boom in Detroit and when cheap gas seemed infinite. He is the author of Forward Drive and several other books. He regularly writes about clean cars for The New York Times' Automobiles section, CBS, NPR’s Car Talk and MNN.com. Jim also has a weekly syndicated Wheels column. He lives in Connecticut.

Re-creating a Local Food System - The Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 11/21/2011

There is a lot more to eating locally than buying produce at your neighborhood farmers' market. What about all the staple foods we rely on, like grains and beans, that provide most of the calories in our diet? While Oregon's Willamette Valley has the agricultural potential to feed the valley residents twice over, nearly ninety-five percent of what we eat in the Willamette Valley is imported and what's grown here is exported. With the price of all fossil fuels on the rise, a lot of people are beginning to think that this makes no economic or agricultural sense.

On this episode of Locus Focus we are joined by Willow Coberly, co-owner of the largest grass seed farm in Linn County (touted as the grass seed capitol of the world). Her husband Harry Stalford has been a grass seed farmer all his life, but Willow is convinced that they should be growing more food on their land and using organic practices as well. Willow has been working with organic pioneer Harry MacCormack (founder of Oregon Tilth) to transistion several hundred acres of her 6,000 acre farm to growing organic wheat, grains and beans. Several years ago she helped Harry MacCormack form the the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project, a small group of farmers and local food system advocates focused on rebuilding the local food system and promoting food security in Oregon's Willamette Valley. We talk about how they are working to stimulate the cultivation and local marketing of organically grown beans and grains to provide a nutritionally dense foundation of year-round food staples in the valley.

Willow Coberly is co-owner of Stalford Seed Farms, a 6000-acre agricultural operation. She and Harry MacCormack started the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project five years ago, because most grass seed producers scoffed at the idea of growing dry-land beans or hard red wheat in the western Oregon climate. She had begun in 2003 by beginning to transition 130 acres of her farm to organic bean and grain production. Without this opportunity, the Project could not have gotten off the ground. And in the ensuing five years, Ms. Coberly has steadily transitioned more and more of her farm's acreage to organic, expanded her food crop production, added bean cleaning and grain milling capacity to her farm, and spoken regularly in public about the Bean and Grain Project and her belief that food production and a working local food system are the future of Willamette Valley agriculture.

The Coal Hard Truth

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 11/14/2011

In the past year the Northwest made major strides towards being coal-free, as deadlines were set to shut down the regions' last coal-fired power plants. But while the Northwest is moving away from relying on coal to generate its own electricity, there is a movement afoot to transform Northwest ports into a major infrastructure for shipping coal to Asia. Trainloads of coal from Wyoming would make their way across the Pacific Northwest, spewing toxic coal dust and diesel pollution, putting safety at risk, clogging the railroads, and contributing to climate change the whole way.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Laura Stevens and Bonnie McKinlay, with the Sierra Club about their campaign to stop the Northwest from becoming a large-scale coal export center. We talk about how to put the brakes on Big Coal's dirty and dangerous plans for the Northwest.

WILD IN THE CITY

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 11/07/2011

One of Portland's best known attributes is the easy access to all kinds of spectacular nature. Mountains, rivers, the Columbia River Gorge and the Oregon Coast are all within an easy drive from the city. One of Portland's best kept secrets is the abundance of natural areas in the metro area itself, including forests, wetlands and meadows close to downtown. Urban naturalist Mike Houck has been on a mission for years to protect and promote the city's hidden natural treasures. Over a decade ago he collaborated with M.J. Cody on a collection of natural history essays and nature rambles by foot, bike and boat, that introduced places where you can experience peak moments of nature right inside or close to the city. A completely new edition of Wild In The City: Exploring the Intertwine has just been released. More than 100 writers and artists donated their time and expertise to this effort ranging from local naturalists to nationally renowned authors such as Richard Louv, Ursula Le Guin and Robert Michael Pyle. On this episode of Locus Focus we're joined by Mike Houck and M.J. Cody, editors of Wild in the City, along with M.J.'s brother Robin Cody, a local author who wrote one of the essays in the collection. We'll talk about how the book embodies the spirit of our regional conservation movement, and reflects the growing recognition that our natural areas, trails, ecoroofs, tree canopy, etc. are all part of an integrated system that supports the health, biodiversity and livability of our region--that nature is truly intertwined with our built landscape.

THE MOVEMENT TO STOP THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 10/31/2011

Alberta's Tar Sands operations have been stirring up controversy north of the border for some time now, Last month awareness of Alberta's tar sands mining began to spread as thousands of activists gathered in Washington, D.C. to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, that is being proposed to carry the bitumen mined in Alberta all the way to Gulf Coast ports in Texas for refinement. Now it's no longer just environmentalists who are opposing the pipeline. Latest critics include the governor of Nebraska, who is concerned that spills of highly corrusive bitumen along the way might contaminate the aquifers that provide water to the Great Plains states.

On November 6 another Tar Sands Action is being called in D.C., this time to encircle the White House and remind President Obama, one year out from next year's election day, of the power of the movement that he rode to the White House in 2008. One of the groups calling for this action is Oil Change International. On this episode of Locus Focus we are joined by Steve Kretzmann, who founded Oil Change International. Steve was one of over a thousand people arrested in Washington, D.C. this fall in the first round of protests against the Keystone XL.

Steve Kretzmann has worked on energy issues and the global oil industry for more than twenty years. He has worked with communities and organizations around the world concerned with the environmental, social, and economic impacts of the oil industry. He has campaigned to keep Florida’s coast free from oil & gas drilling, keep bike lanes open in New York City, engage reluctant corporations in dialogue about human and environmental rights, expose the oil industry’s involvement in drafting Iraq’s new oil law and, end destructive public finance by institutions such as the World Bank. He has also represented various organizations in Washington DC and at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Montreal Protocol. Steve has authored numerous articles and reports and is a regular commentator on issues of corporate accountability, climate change, the global oil industry, and environmental and human rights. He founded Oil Change International in 2005 in order to educate about the true impacts of fossil fuels and to conduct research, education, and organizing to hasten the transition to clean energy.

 

FELLING THE CONDIT DAM

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 10/24/2011

For a century dams have blocked salmon runs throughout the Pacific Northwest. These dams have wiped out or greatly reduced many of the salmon runs in the Columbia River Watershed, which was once the greatest salmon river in the west. But in the past few years, some of these dams have been removed. On October 25th, the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Klickitat County, WA, will be the next large dam to fall. After years of controversy and many missed deadlines, the dam will be blown up to make way for salmon to return to the upper reaches of the White Salmon River.

On this episode of Locus Focus we are joined by self-proclaimed river rat Steven Hawley to talk about what the restoration of the White Salmon River means for salmon and the rest of us.

Steven Hawley is the author of Recovering a Lost River: Rewilding Salmon, Revitalizing Communities, Removing Dams. He lives in Hood River, across the Columbia from the mouth of the White Salmon River.

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