20 March 2007

Homelessness w/ LaTrina Neal

VA Book! Event:

Faces of Homelessness & Hope with La Trina Neal (author of "He Gave Me Shelter"). The former Howard University student who experienced homelessness and wrote about her journey will be sharing her experiences alongside local advocates and service providers Dave Norris and Erik Speer, as they discuss their struggles, strengths and success stories in putting an end to homelessness.

The event is Sunday, March 25th, 1:30 pm at Gravity Lounge, and is being sponsored by PACEM and Compass.

Photog Exhibit @ Satellite, Thursday

David Plowden will be critiquing 4 local photographers at the Satellite Ballroom on the Corner from 2-6 pm this Thursday, March 22. I remember seeing a show of Plowden's work in Muskegon back in the day I was working for Stannards Music up in Grand Rapids, MI and it was pretty dramatic stuff. If I recall correctly from my years in the biz, he was regularly featured in Modern Photography and Shutterbug, and that was over a decade and a half ago. I'm sure he's an even bigger name now, so getting his attention can be a deal.

Bill Emory is one of the four photographers being reviewed by Plowden. The show is free and open to the public. If you've got the time, swing by Satellite to view it and support our local artists.

08 March 2007

NJ Sup. Ct. Supports Condemnation For Slowing Growth

In Mount Laurel Township v. MiPro Homes, L.L.C., 188 N.J. 531, 10 A.2d 617 (2006), the Supreme Court of New Jersey upheld a governing municipal body's desire to slow residential development by ruling that such is a permissible motive for condemning a developer's land. (Mount Laurel made headlines three decades ago for two landmark affordable housing decisions involving land-use planning, Southern Burlington County NAACP v. Township of Mount Laurel, 67 N.J. 151, 336 A.2d 713 (1975), and its companion case at 92 N.J. 158, 456 A.2d 390 (1983).)

In Virginia right now, we can't even condemn on the solid, scientific basis of lack of supporting natural resources, let alone on something as nebulous as a "master plan" or "public will." But wouldn't it be nice?

In light of the buzz re: growth issues which effect Albemarle and many other state jurisdictions [{cough} Loudoun {cough}]), I'm hoping this take-notice will motivate local anti-growth activists to take a look at New Jersey's growing body of case law, find from that the particular NJ Code §§ which allow for such scope of municipal power, extrapolate the changes needed to mirror those rights and powers, and petition the Virginia state legislature to make the suitable changes.

Obviously, this would be a campaign that would take more than ASAP, but could possibly be accomplished were ASAP to team up with other regional and statewide groups with similar ends.

07 March 2007

Stepping Down from Step-It-Up

Ok, I admire Bill McKibben. Like every other environmentalist on the planet, I have read his stuff for decades and support his e-zine, Grist. I own multiple copies of his The End of Nature to loan out to unsavvy friends and acquaintance. But, Dammit, Bill, WHY did you have to choose a day in April, of all months, to launch your national campaign on Global Warming?

Step-It-Up may become a much-needed, much-valued grass-roots campaign--or it may become a way for enviros to blow off steam before the 2008 elections and die an early death. Whatever else it may be, it's destined to become a thorn in my side.

Here's just a short summary of what's already going on locally from April 7 to May 6:
  • Opening of City Market (a weekly event)

  • Opening of the new Transit Center

  • The Dogwood Festival (a 2-week series of events w/ a nightly carnival and a golf tourney all of which ends with a parade & ball)

  • Historic Garden Week

  • Opening of Fridays After Five (a weekly event)

  • Opening of the Pavilion concert series

  • Earth Week (a week-long series of enviro events and fundraisers, including seminars, volunteer work days, an eco-fair, and a couple of benefit shows & concerts)

  • Arbor Day

  • Foxfield

  • Buy Fresh/Buy Local Campaign

  • Clean Commute Day

  • Bike Week

We. Do. Not. Need. Any more public events in April. The competition for air space and public attendance is already stiff. Who picks these freakin' dates?

That rant made, if anyone in the Cville area does want to pick up this ball and run with it, Earth Week will publish the event with its calendar. Just contact me with the deets.

06 March 2007

An Office with a View

Sometimes, working at my firm isn't so bad. The view is consistently nice. This is from last fall; I had to enhance the contrast in order to do justice to the brilliance of the oranges and reds in the distance. It made the grass too green, but I like it anyway.

I'm always just a little in love with the Virginia countryside. It makes up for Virginia politics.

05 March 2007

Al Gore's Own Truth

Inconvenient though it might be, Al Gore had to expect that someone would call him to task for not walking his talk. It seems that the Presidential poster boy for global warming is melting under home energy bills that almost reach $30,000/year. Yep, that's all just for his residence near Nashville. It doesn't factor in his transportation fuel and energy consumption while on tour/business.

I'm not sayin' he should put up or shut up, but, Mr. Gore, it's hard to respect your position when you are using 200 X more electricity than the average American household. It's not like we're good at conservation to begin with, as you've justly and ironically pointed out.

DIY Rain Barrels

We are coming up on Charlottesville's "monsoon season," which will be quickly followed by another drought (my guess -- no I haven't become a weather psychic, it's just been the predominant pattern for the past few years). So, here's a ancient green tip on using the one to survive the other: Get or make rain barrels.

Now, you can buy RCS's rain barrels at Eltzroth & Thompson in Cville, The Garden Barn in Advance Mills, and Pennington's Nursery in Rochelle (on 29 South). RCS's rain barrels are cheap compared to prices I've seen online, which can run up to a $300 bucks a piece. OR you can make them yourself.

The DIY Network has a nice step-by-step guide, with all the pertinent warnings and even some pictures.

Green Girl recommends Aquabarrel's free downloadable DIY Rain Barrel instruction manual, and I note that they'll even send it to you in CD form for $5.

Patrick Hamilton's DIY rain barrel project in the Twin Cities Green Guide is my favorite, thus far, for its cheapness and ease though. I particularly liked his entrepreneurial way of acquiring the barrel. Finding a food-grade barrel around here sounds like it should be a cinch. There are 2 dozen vineyards and breweries within easy driving distance, and castaway oak barrels might be the way to go. After all, you aren't trying to ferment fine wine with it, just capture rain.

So make one of your spring garden & home improvement projects a rain barrel system. It saves water, money, and frequently your lawn, and you will rarely have to worry about power outages and droughts again.

If you decide to go with a DIY kit or method, there is little that is more ironic than a conservationist going to a big-box store like Wal-Mart or Lowes to pick up supplies for a conservation project. Please support your locally-owned businesses by trying Martin's Hardware, Meadowbrook, or Southern States in Cville, Tru Value in Crozet, or Paulett's ACE in Scottsville first.