State of the Air 2009

Air PollutionAir Pollution

Ever wondered about the air quality here in Washtenaw County? Well, the American Lung Association has recently released their air quality assessments for 2009 on their State of the Air website. You can click on the US map on the main page to access a county-by-county list of air quality--statistics have been divided so that you can view county information about particle pollution and high-ozone days. Click on the "Groups at Risk tab" once you've chosen a state to access the number of asthma cases, emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses by county. For tips on how to improve the air quality of your work or living space, try How to grow fresh air: 50 houseplants that purify your home or office. For a bit of the recent historical perspective, take a look Pollution in the air: Problems, policies and priorities.

Earth Day in Ann Arbor

earth dayearth day

Wednesday, April 22, is Earth Day in Tree Town. Catch the Recycled Materials Art Show at the ReUse Center or drink a toast to Project Grow at Arbor Brewing Company.

The Leslie Science and Nature Center will celebrate Earth Day on Sunday, April 26, with educational displays, hands-on activities, live animal presentations, storytelling and sing-alongs. Join the All Species Parade dressed as your favorite endangered plant or animal. Call 997-1553 or visit the Leslie Science Center's website for more information.

Earth Hour

Earth HourEarth Hour

What are you doing Saturday between 8:30 and 9:30 pm? You could be participating in Earth Hour March 28 2009.
This international event is organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund and was started in Australia. It is asked that non-essential lights, appliances and electronics be turned off from 8:30pm-9:30pm.
Last year over 400 cities and 35 countries patricipated. Find out how different countries celebrate Earth Hour!
Earth Hour was started to raise awareness of climate change.
If you are interested in ways you can save energy or be more sustainable, check out these books from the catalog: How to Reduce Your Carbon Footpritnt, Easy green living: the ultimate guide to simple, eco-friendly choices for you and your home, Green by design : creating a home for sustainable living

Weigh in on shopping bags

Plastic Shopping Bags

The city of Ann Arbor is considering taking steps to reduce the number of disposable bags used by local businesses. Some cities already have a ban on plastic shopping bags or impose fees for all disposable bags. City officials are trying to determine what steps, if any, it can take to increase reuse of bags in Ann Arbor, and they are asking for your help. By participating in a brief survey you can voice your opinions as this policy gets crafted. There are separate surveys for consumers and business owners to take.

Preserving the land

At their annual banquet, the Washtenaw Land Trust officially changed their name to the Legacy Land Conservacy to reflect the group's reach beyond the county. The trust was organized to help landowners who wanted to preserve all or parts of their land by creating conservation easements. In addition to the name change, the Conservancy has formed a "Forever Fund" which will be used, if necessary, to protect the land if ownership is legally challenged. To learn more about the Conservancy and the work they do, call 734-302-5263 or visit them at the The New Center, "Non-Profit Enterprise at Work" at 1100 N. Main St.

The Library has several good books on land trusts including Conservancy: The Land Trust Movement in America by Richard Brewer.

Keeping an eye on the ‘nesting boxes’ at the Pittsfield

bird housebird house

My son, Bill, led the construction and installation of a dozen “nesting boxes” for birds and bats on the east side of the Pittsfield branch last summer as one of the requirements to become an Eagle Scout. Library director Josie Parker supported the project as a reflection of the AADL’s commitment to capitalize on environmental principles...to operate more in harmony with the ecosystem. I'm keeping an eye on the project now that Bill’s off at college, and with spring coming, I hope other library patrons would post a comment if they see birds (or bats) actually occupying the boxes.

Transition Towns

PowerOf CommunityPowerOf Community

Last year Boulder, Colorodo was named the first Transition Town in the United States. The movement asks an entire community to address the concern, “how can our community respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil and Climate Change?” in the deepest way possible. At the end of this month Ann Arbor will host the first Transition Town Training session in the Midwest, which will be lead by Michael Brownlee and Lynette Marie Hanthorn of Transition Boulder County. For information on the training, registration and fees, see here. To understand the ins and outs of Transitioning, check out The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local self-reliance by Rob Hopkins. (Crazy Wisdom Bookstore is offering a 10% discount on this title for the month of January.) To see how a large community is handling things, check out the wonderful film The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil. (Film’s website here.)

Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count

Washtenaw Audubon SocietyWashtenaw Audubon Society

Looking for a break from the holiday hustle and bustle? Try a more relaxing weekend this Saturday, December 20th by joining up with the Washtenaw Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count. Each year for over a century the Audubon Society has organized local groups of birdwatchers to compile a list of all the birds spotted across the continent. The results help researchers track bird populations and identify habitats at risk. You can be a part of this international effort (and hone your bird identification skills) by signing up with the local chapter of the National Audubon Society.

The Power of Community

When the world reaches peak oil, it will be an entirely new experience for us all with the exception of one small country. Cuba has already had a “peak oil” experience imposed on them, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early '80s. All their supplies of oil were cut off and they were thrust into a national emergency of food and energy shortages.

How they survived that period in their history and actually created new systems of efficient, sustainable energy and food production is the subject of The Power of Community. Forced to rediscover the bicycle for transportation; oxen and horses for farming; smaller-scale, organic farms and urban micro-farms for raising food; and neighborly cooperation for solving their crisis locally they have paved the way for thriving in the new era of oil scarcity and $4 dollar gallons of gas. A very inspiring and beautifully told story.

For a kick-start along the path of a less oil-dependent model for agriculture read about Community Supported Agriculture and urban gardening.

Dec. 6, 1947 - Everglades National Park, Florida dedicated by President Harry S Truman

"Here are no lofty peaks seeking the sky, no mighty glaciers or rushing streams wearing away the uplifted land. Here is land, tranquil in its quiet beauty, serving not as the source of water, but as the receiver of it. To its natural abundance we owe the spectacular plant and animal life that distinguishes this place from all others in our country." With these words, Truman formally dedicated Everglades National Park. This event culminated years of effort by a dedicated group of conservationists to make a national park in the Florida Everglades a reality. For a fascinating and comprehensive history of this amazing wetland, check out Michael Grunwald's The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise. Thinking of visiting the park? Check out Hidden Florida Keys and Everglades or Adventure guide to the Florida Keys & Everglades National Park.

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