31 August 2005

Earth Week Slogans

Ok, here's a line up of potential flyers and bumper stickers for Earth Week Charlottesville 2006:

Variety--no theme

1. When did "If I Had a Hammer" become "If I Had a Hummer"?
2. Earth Week. It's not just for trees anymore.
3. Free the cows! (Drink soy)
4. Start a career in Resource Management. Become an Environmentalist.
5. [small print] America consumes 1/3 of the world's resources, so [large print] Conspicuously Consume [opt: Local] Organic Produce
6. [picture of T-shirt & pants] Hemp: It's not just for smoking anymore
7. [mutant chicken in a Tyson's truck] Genetically modified food, already at a grocer near you
8. Support fossil fuel consumption, buy polyester.
9. [Wal-mart, Exxon & Dow logos]Petroleum. It's everywhere you don't want to be.[pic of Iraq]

Lorax Series
1. Who took my barbalute suit?
2. I didn't elect the Onceler
3. The Lorax for President
4. Swami Swans Unite!
5. Keep your axes off my truffula trees

Lick that Bong!

YES! You have to love the ingenuity of necessity. Finally, a plastic has been made from something other than dinosaur platelets.

Hemp Plastics

I see the future, and it's got edible bongs....

Shameless Promo #1

Earth Week Charlottesville now has an official web site: http://www.earthweek.org

It ain't much yet, but it will become something over the next few months.

And if you haven't bought it yet, pick up "Green Living," the handbook for living lightly on the earth put out by E, the Environmental Magazine. The best "short course" in how to take personal steps to improve your environment I've ever seen. Available at emagazine.com, Amazon.com, and B&N.

14 August 2005

The Green Life

A week ago last Thursday, I was at the Conference on Homelessness, where I had a great 20 minute chat before the keynote speech with one of our Councilors, and he mentioned that he'd like to speak with me about some ideas he had. He said he thought it was time for a task force or council to be formed that dealt with umbrella environmental concerns in our area. Friday we met at the monthly Dem happy hour at Rapture, and the canvassing began.

Out of the 34-40 Dems who showed up and were talked with, all were in favor (to varying degrees) of the concept, with the stipulation that the council would advise both City Council and the Albemarle County BoS. General consensus was that Charlottesville wouldn't get very far on it's initiatives without Albemarle. The top concerns seemed to be property rights & values and watershed issues, with pollution and traffic tying for third.

So the question becomes (1) how to form environmental legislation that appeals to both Dems (predominantly Charlottesville) and Reps (predominantly Albemarle), and (2) how to tie those environmental initiatives to the issues that concern people most, which are much more personal (e.g., taxes) and directly effect their daily lives.

Well, over the weekend it occurred to me that there were a number of things the residents of C-A could do to improve the environment if they could be encouraged to act. And the easiest way to encourage anyone to act is to effect their pocketbook.

Property values in C'ville, as those of you who have heard me rant know, are overinflated. That means tax assessments are very serious business around here. So I came up with a way to tie green living with a property tax break. I've cheekily called it the Natural Lawn & Garden Act of 2005.

Gardening seems to be the #1 hobby in these parts. Anyone with a scrap of lawn has planted something in it, and our Historic Garden Week would even impress the British. However, modern gardening, with its emphasis on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and weed killers, dumps tons of Round-Up and similar toxins into the soil and water of our environment, and our water quality is showing the effects. Add to that a Weed Ordinance that has gas-powered lawn mowers dumping emissions into the air nearly daily. Did you know that older lawn mowers emit as much noxious fumes in 1 hour as the average car does in driving 18.7 miles? And a Trash Ordinance that forbids organic composting by outlawing any visible refuse on your property--it specifically mentions organic matter as refuse too.

So, why not create a variance designed to encourage organic gardening practices by giving residents who apply for a "natural lawn and garden certificate" a property tax break?

It helps the watershed quality and conservation (a percentage of native plants, which are required in the proposal I wrote, require less special treatments and less watering), it propagates native flora and fauna, improves soil quality, and lessens trash removal (which is now being shipped out of C-A at a hefty cost to local government). It also provides a monetary kickback for those who want to use their property to improve our environment and reduce the City's costs.

The idea isn't new. In fact, it has also been tried several times. Lonnie proposed a version in 2002, I proposed another version in 2003 and neither of us was First. I haven't figured out why we can't get it passed. Perhaps we're just that unremarkable. Nowadays, it takes a gimmick to hold anyone's attention for more than 30 seconds.

So... Where did my barbalute suit get to and can it be dry cleaned in time for the next Council session?

03 August 2005

My Times

On rare occasions an event happens in your personal life which forces you through a "wondernous of earth," a personal earthquake which rattles your structural bones and leaves you with your foundations bare and your rubble to be cleared away.

My father's massive heart attack in 1998 was such a time. With a dozen balls in the air, I abandoned my job and my house to sit in his hospital room for the better part of two months, waiting for some sign that he would recover his life, watching his bodily systems shut down one at a time. In the process, I lost quite a bit of mine. I threw myself fully into his life, making his decisions, trying to think as he would if he could, trying always to act on his behalf, fully conscious that, in the end, it would probably make no difference to the outcome. When I returned to pick up the pieces of my life in Virginia, I found there were virtually none that were intact, because the Tatyanna who returned to that life was entirely different from the Tatyanna who had left it.

He made a miraculous recovery by heart attack standards, though he never did regain full function and, when he finally did die in 2002, he was ready to go. I said goodbye to him in 1998, in those early summer weeks when, daily, we had to remake the decision to keep on life support. I knew I'd never see him alive again, and I was right in a way. I did not make it back to Michigan throughout the remainder of his life. I don't know that I regret that. I know that I feel I should regret it. But I also know that I had no remaining resources after 1998 with which to support a closer relationship in the following years.

And now it has come again, another wondernous of earth, this time occasioned by Mary's situation. And again, I pulled back from everything else to focus on her needs and help her through this time. And again, I find that, upon being returned rather rudely to the land of Uncrisis, my character has changed and I no longer recognize large chunks of the landscape that I had so recently inhabited with ease.

How will my priorities sort themselves out? When will I gain a sense for the new balance? What resources do I have to reweave the threads of my life and what pattern will that tapestry now take? These are the questions that spin through my brain. These are my times.