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.
It's time to plant your garden. This week on Locus Focus we look at how our relationship to food can help or hinder our efforts to create a sustainable community and lessen the impacts of climate change. With guest Weston Miller, the community and urban horticulturist with the OSU Extension Service for the Clackamas County and Metro Area, we talk about why learning to feed ourselves is an important part of creating sustainable and resilient communities. We also get some practical advice about what a sustainable garden looks like and learn how to plant a garden that uses minimal water, enhances wildlife habitat and can also produce good things to eat.
Weston Miller serves as Community and Urban Horticulture Faculty for Oregon State University Extension Service. His job is to educate about and promote stable and resilient food systems and ecological landscapes in the tri-county Portland metro area. Weston has been a small-scale farmer, landscaper, and high school teacher before starting taking his position with OSU Extension Service in 2007. He lives in SW Portland with his wife and 2 young sons where he likes to garden and hike.
To learn more about sustainable gardening, classes and workshops:
Cellphone towers have become ubiquitous and although the jury is out on their safety, few people bother anymore to fight new ones going up in their neighborhoods. The common wisdom is that you can't win. Even local jurisdictions, like city and county governments, have little power to stop the siting of a new tower.
But brass instrument maker Dave Monette is a rare fellow who not only took on the cellphone establishment but actually won. Dave loves to make trumpets and mouthpieces for brass instruments and his clients include many notable musicians including Thara Memory and Wynton Marsalis. He would much prefer to spend all his time doing what he loves, but recently he has spent a lot of time learning about cell tower placement law, because a cell tower was slated to go up next to his property on Mt. Hood. On this Locus Focus episode, Dave recounts his tale of battling the cellphone industry and how he emerged victorious. In the course of our discussion we talk about how little is known about the safety of these weapons of mass convenience that we sidle up to on a regular basis.
What Dave Monette has to say about himself:
I am the owner of a small trumpet factory. I choose to work in Portland and live in the forest near Mt. Hood. I have been an amateur radio operator since 1970, and I am somewhat familiar with radio theory and RF engineering. I believe that eventually we will learn, as we have with tobacco, asbestos, pesticides, leaded paint, etc., that the health risks in using cell phones far exceed what is commonly understood. In my opinion, it is simply common sense that holding a microwave transmitter up against the side of your head is detrimental to one's health and well-being.
In my opinion, the convenience and the profits cell phones generate make this current world-wide wave of cell growth unstoppable - at least for now. In the last three or four months I have learned more about the law regarding cell tower placement than I could have ever imagined. I believe we should at the very least require cell transmitting equipment to be as far away from residential areas as possible. I also believe that government and private industry should actively work towards developing the next generation of communication technology that hopefully isn't also used to cook hamburgers!
The Importance of Eating Locally
The choice to eat locally grown food is turning into a movement, as more and more people recognize the importance of eating locally. But if you really want to eat locally grown food, the best way is to grow it yourself. Even if you live in the city. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with an urban farmer in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland and the owner of an urban farm store. Nikki Hill runs Riverhouse Farm, a community-supported agriculture operation on the banks of Crystal Springs in Sellwood. Started in 2007, the RiverHouse Farm CSA is an 8,000 sq. ft organic farm that believes a sustainable farm functions as a healthy ecosystem. For the 2010 season they have added more growing space at GeerCrest Farm in Silverton and HeartField Farm in Milwaukie, to better serve their growing number of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members. We talk about why it's important to develop urban-rural farm networks like these in order to feed us all.
Our other guest is Naomi Montacre, one of the owners of a new farm store, Naomi's Organic Farm Supply, a few blocks north of Riverhouse Farm in the Sellwood neighborhood. Naomi's sells supplies for the urban homesteader, ranging from baby chicks to berry bushes. We talk with Naomi about why a neighborhood farm store has become a requisite feature in today's urban environment.
Coming events of interest to urban farmers:
Food and Climate Change: Step up the plate: http://www.portlandonline.com/bps/index.cfm?a=294789&c=44851
A City Hall Garden celebration / info fair and climate discussion with author Anna Lappé
Sunday, April 18 at 1 PM
According to author Anna Lappé, "If we are serious about addressing climate change we have to talk about food." Lappé will lead that conversation in Portland on Sunday, April 18 at 2 p.m. in the Portland Building when she participates in a panel discussion, Food and the Climate Challenge: Step Up to the Plate. This free event will also include other area experts discussing how food affects our personal and environmental health and the simple steps we all can take to make a difference.
The panel will follow a celebration of Portland City Hall's Better Together Garden's second year and a food gardening information fair. OSU Master Gardeners, Oregon Tilth, Growing Gardens, The Portland Tree Project and the City of Portland Community Garden program will be present to answer questions in the garden at 1221 S.W. Fourth Avenue, Portland.
Lappé's recently released book, Diet for a Hot Planet, The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It, states that our food system is likely responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, Johns Hopkins University reports that of four thousand articles on climate change published in sixteen leading U.S. newspapers, only 1 percent had a "substantial focus" on food and agriculture.
Just as Diet for a Small Planet, written by Anna's mother, Francis Moore Lappé, revolutionized our food consciousness in 1972, Diet for a Hot Planet will change the way we look at today's most pressing issue. Anna Lappé provides a clear account of our current condition and a road map of seven principles for a climate-friendly diet that can heal the planet.
Sometimes the best way to expose the truth is to lie. . .
At least, that's the approach that the Yes Men take as they try to fix the world, exposing corporate greed and lies and the painful inconsistencies between what corporate elites say in public and what they actually practice. The Yes Men are Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, and in recent years they have spoken truth to power by impersonating corporate and government figures at conferences and even before an audience of 300 million on BBC television. This week on Locus Focus we will be joined by Yes Man Andy Birchlbaum, who will be sharing the stories behind the making of their recent movie, The Yes Men Fix the World. We'll hear how they got the world to believe for one hour that Dow Chemical would finally become a responsible corporate citizen and make long overdue payments to the victims of the devastating 1984 gas explosion in Bhopal, India . . . and other fantastic exploits.
Much of our urban landscape is paved over or covered with buildings, creating an environment that is the antithesis of nature. Rooftops and asphalt flush rain water into storm sewers, overburdening and polluting our rivers. Portland is fast becoming a leader in promoting vegetated rooftops to capture stormwater. Is it possible to go even further and actually create functional wildlife habitat on buildings that will help birds, bats, bugs and other animals as they traverse our urban landscape?
On this episode of Locus Focus our guests are Dusty Gedge, an international authority on ecoroofs, and the ecoroof expert for Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Tom Liptan. We talk about how we can transform the rooftops of downtown skyscrapers, industrial warehouses and even our own residences into wildlife habitat. Could thousands of acres of grey industrial warehouse rooftops in the Columbia Corridor be converted to meadows for rapidly disappearing meadowlarks and streaked horned larks? Could the tops of our downtown skyscrapers provide migrating songbirds with a source for insects and a place to rest? What can we do on top of our own houses to support local wildlife?
International authority on ecoroofs, Dusty Gedge has been campaigning to get green roofs installed for biodiversity in London for over 15 years. He currently Director of Livingroofs.org the UK's independent greenroof organization and the current President of the European Federation of Green Roof Associations. He is recognized as a leading authority on green roofs and biodiversity and has written a number of papers and articles on the subject over the years. He also wrote a seminal paper that lead to the introduction of the green roof policy in the Greater London area. In 2005 he won the Andrew Lees Memorial Award at the British Environment and Media Awards.
As aftershocks from the massive earthquake last month in Chile continue to shake the earth, this week on Locus Focus, we look at why the earthquake that wreaked so much devastation in Chile is relevant to the rest of us living along the Pacific Rim. What does the Pacific NW have in common seismically with Chile and what can we learn from the Chileans about earthquake preparedness?
We talk about the science of earthquakes and the importance of earthquake preparedness with Portland State University Geology professor, Scott Burns. Scott will help us understand what all the shaking going on, is all about.
Scott Burns is a professor of Geology at Portland State University, who specializes in soils, floods, landslides, earthquakes and helping the rest of us learn how to prepare for the inevitable cataclysms that periodically shake up the Pacific Northwest.
Climate scientists tell us that even if greenhouse gas emissions were halted tomorrow, the world's climate would not stabilize for decades. So even as we continue to reduce our carbon footprint, we need to start adapting to the inevitable. This morning we look at strategies that communities must begin to adopt to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change while preparing to adapt to its consequences. Guest is Brian Barr, with the National Center for Conservation Science & Policy in Ashland, talks about a project he is working on, in collaboration with the Climate Leadership Initiative from the University of Oregon, to start developing climate change preparation plans for river basins around the state of Oregon.
Brian Barr is an aquatic ecologist with over 16 years of experience on trout and salmon restoration in the Pacific and intermountain west. Over the past nine years, Brian has focused his attention on improving fish passage conditions in the Rogue and Klamath Rivers of southern Oregon and northern California. Recently, he has turned his attention to the emerging impacts of climate change, how those impacts are likely to affect communities and natural resources, and what we can do to prepare ourselves and the resources we depend upon to withstand these effects. In his off time, Brian fishes, watches his daughter ride horses, and bites his fingernails during Virginia Tech football games.
Discussions about climate change usually focus on rising sea levels and reducing carbon emissions. What we don't hear about much is how climate change disproportionately impacts the lives of women in the developing world. On this special International Women's Day segment of Locus Focus, we look at why climate change is a women's issue, and learn about initiatives that can help women in the developing world to reduce the carbon footprints of their communities while at the same time empowering their lives.
Guest Laurie Mazur is the editor of a new book called A Pivotal Moment: Population, Justice and the Environmental Challenge, which looks at the urgent need to examine inequalities–both gender and economic–that underlie rapid population growth, which is a contributing cause of climate change. On this program we hear why in order to slow population growth and build a sustainable future, women and men need access to voluntary family planning and other reproductive health services, as well as education and employment opportunities.
Laurie Mazur is the director of the Population Justice Project. She is the editor of Beyond the Numbers: A Reader on Population, Consumption and the Environment (1994) and co-author of Marketing Madness: A Survival Guide for a Consumer Society (1995).
Last year a group of Sellwood residents created a neighborhood movement that helped shape the design and impact of the soon-to-be rebuilt Sellwood Bridge. At the height of this organizing drive, a neighborhood march drew hundreds of people from all corners of the neighborhood, united in a desire for a bridge that enhances the neighborhood's pedestrian and bicycle-oriented qualities. Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein took part in the march and it was there that she met some of the guests on this week's Locus Focus, who join her for a discussion about creating sustainable projects in our neighborhoods that not only help mitigate climate change but also build a sense of community.
Philip Krain is a former board member of SMILE, the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood association where he has been spearheading neighborhood environmental initiatives, including new bicycle boulevard improvements on SE Spokane Street. He is now heads SMILE's sustainability committee and is working on building a "Sustainable Sellwood" website, listserv and neighborhood activity program.
Pedro Ferbel-Azcarate has lived in Sellwood since 1998 and was involved in the development of Share It Square at the intersection of SE Sherritt and 9th in Sellwood. He and his wife Adriana began pioneering permaculture features, including water catchment systems, gardening and compost systems, creative urban living rehabs, and the first cob structure built in the city of portland, which was also the founding project of what is now known as the Village Building Convergence, now in its 10th year. Share It Square has continued to grow since its inception, bringing together neighbors to design and build amenities in the public right of way and have organized numerous large events in the square, including weddings. Share It Square models the simple idea that when neighbors have a commons, they communicate and create opportunities that impact the whole neighborhood.
Oregon is about to institute a new incentive for households to power themselves using alternative energy sources like solar and wind. This method is called Feed-in Tarriff and is already in place in much of Germany as well as Vermont. Mark Pengilly and Judy Barnes, with Oregonians for Renewable Energy, join Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein for a discussion about how feed-in tarrif can help democratize the energy grid. They'll talk about what feed-in tariffs are all about and where they fit into an overall renewable energy policy that moves us toward a sustainable solution to climate change and helps accomplish the switch from a fossil-fuel-based economy.
Judy Barnes and Mark Pengilly are with Oregonians for Renewable Energy Policy, a project of the Alliance for Democracy. They are helping design and support adoption of Feed-In Tariff policies for Oregon that produce good social, economic and environmental outcomes at reasonable costs.