Bob Waldrop Elected Mayor Of OKC

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Bob Waldrop, Energy, Local Government, Local News, Oklahoma City, Peak Oil, Peak Oil Hausfrau, Politics, Transition Town | Posted on 16-02-2009

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by Peak Oil Hausfrau

Featured here is the first post of the Envision 2020 blog,
which imagines the events in Oklahoma City as we transition from the
present, a time of abundant and cheap energy, to the future, a time
of declining and expensive energy…

(OKLAHOMA CITY) Mar. 7, 2014 — Bob Waldrop, local social justice
activist and founder of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, was elected
mayor of Oklahoma City in a landslide election yesterday evening.

"I
am proud my fellow citizens have embraced my platform of 'Local Food,
Energy and Economy,'" Mayor-elect Waldrop told Peak Oil Hausfrau today.
"It shows that our city is ready to tackle the enormous challenges
facing us and take responsibility for our future. When we are willing
to work together, we can create great things as a community."

Opponents
tried to paint Waldrop as a radical, calling him a "sad old Hobbit
hippie," "permaculturist" and "local foodie fanatic." These attacks did
not resonate with a population weary of years of recession and the
lingering effects of the financial crash of 2009. Local groups banded
together in a swell of grassroots support to knock on over 54,000 doors
in a massive volunteer campaign.

First on Waldrop's agenda: Restoring
granaries within city limits. Mayor-elect Waldrop explained, "This step
will provide local food security in the face of another oil shock like
the one of 2011. We will have grain and beans on hand to provide a
two-week basic minimum diet for our most vulnerable citizens. But I
encourage everyone to have three months of their own food storage if at
all possible."

The oil crisis of 2011 laid the foundations for
Mr. Waldrop's campaign of "Local Food, Energy and Economy." While not
entirely unprepared due to the efforts of local group Transition Town OKC,
Oklahoma City nonetheless endured great stress from the effects of the
oil supply crisis. Without constant deliveries of food, grocery shelves
were emptied within three days of the Ras Tanura refinery bombing in
Saudi Arabia on June 14, 2011. Highways and roads became deserted, and
basic city services stopped. Luckily, the crisis lasted only two weeks
before the federal government began rationing gasoline and released oil
from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ensure coal and food
deliveries. Still, the economy was at a standstill, and without regular
paychecks, many people could not even afford to buy the food that was
available.

Leading
citizens, business and spiritual leaders from all walks and parties
endorsed Waldrop, including many that had opposed him in the past.

"After
the Crisis of '11, the Federation of Churches realized that we needed a
city that would prepare for the future of oil depletion, not be stuck
in the past of oil dependence. We decided to mobilize and make sure
that the city had a plan. Our church was very excited to support Bob's
campaign, which had a great, innovative focus on preparedness,
resilience, and localization," said John Franks, minister, Faith and
Hope Community Church.

Mayor-elect Waldrop will celebrate his election with a
"Local Food Extravaganza," and invites all citizens to an open-air
potluck festival downtown to be held directly after his inauguration.
"We look forward to bringing all our citizens back into the democratic
process," he remarked. "My administration will be one of inclusiveness
and responsibility and will offer a new vision for the future–one of
energy efficiency, local food and economy, shared transport and
renewable energy. Our hope is that everyone will participate."

Soil Are Us; Us Are Soil

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Bob Waldrop, Compost, Home and Garden, Organic Gardening, Tips | Posted on 13-02-2009

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by Robert Waldrop

Soil is fundamental to agriculture and gardening and thus is fundamental to human life. Fertile topsoil is a precious resource, and there is less and less of it all the time. Half of Oklahoma’s top soil is now somewhere at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t know if it is helping or hurting things there, but the loss of topsoil here at home is critical. If we want to step forward into a more sustainable future, we need to take care of our soil. That way the soil can take care of us.  

The first rule is do no harm. No noxious chemicals on your soil or plants–no herbicides, pesticides, or  chemical fertilizers. Yes, its true. Even Miracle Gro will damage your soil over the long term. It is not nice to poison Mother Nature. We shall indeed reap what we have sown, and if we continually sow poison, that is what we will harvest. Do No Harm!

Next, cultivate an attitude of loving stewardship towards whatever land you are responsible for, whether that be a 1/7 of an acre city lot or a thousand acre farm. The ground you walk on is a vital resource. To let it just wash down the river is like flushing money down the toilet. (We do that too, but that’s another column for a later day.)

If you have any bare soil, mulch it. Bare soil is eroding soil. Cover it with a nice layer of grass clippings, shredded leaves, chipped tree limbs, whatever you happen to have handy–several inches at least. Mulch decomposes, so its like a compost pile. The floor of a forest is always covered in mulch. That’s one way that nutrients are cycled, but please don’t buy bags of “cypress mulch” as that is made by chopping down mature cypress trees and shredding them. 

Nutrient accumulator plants gather up nutrients from soil and make them available to other plants. Areas with perennial food producing plants like fruit trees and berry bushes will benefit from the presence of nutrient accumulator plants like comfrey, dandelion, fennel, lambs quarters, thistles, vetch, plantain, alfalfa, burdock, caraway, dock, lemon balm, sorrel, or pigweed. Yes, many people consider some of these weeds, but one person’s weed is another person’s valuable nutrient accumulator! One time someone showed up and wanted to help with my garden. The first thing they did was reach down to pluck up a dandelion.  I am afraid I actually screeched, “Don’t pick the dandelions!” They were very confused until I explained the importance and many uses of "weeds."

Nitrogen fixing plants take nitrogen from the air and with the assistance of beneficial bacteria in the soil, make it available to other plants. These include all the legumes (peas, beans), all the clovers and vetches, alfalfa, and some trees (black locust, autumn olive, Kentucky coffee tree, mimosa, mesquite, wisteria). 

Do not till. Once you start to plow or till, you open the soil to erosion. I have never tilled my annual garden space. I keep it constantly covered with mulch, so there is a steady compost process going on all the time, just like the floor of a forest. I never walk on the garden beds, that way the soil doesn’t get compacted. When I set out plants, I simply make a little hole in the mulch, scoop enough dirt out to accommodate the plant, and put it back in place. Planting seeds, I follow the same procedure–make a little hole in the soil and plant the seed. The only seeds that I have to actually remove the mulch for are carrots, which I typically mix with sand and broadcast. After they sprout, and I thin them a bit, mulch goes back on the soil. Nature doesn’t till the soil, but even so plants manage to take root and grow. Tilling not only exposes the soil to erosion, it hurts earthworms and other micro flora and micro fauna in the soil, mixes up soil layers, buries organic matter in the soil, and is a lot of hard work. So let’s invest our hard work in other areas where it is needed and skip the tilling this year in favor of deep mulch. Let the earthworms do the work! 

Happy soil grows happy plants, and that leads to happy gardeners. So let’s all take better care of our soil this year, so that the soil can continue to care for us and our children and our children’s children for generations to come.

Braving the Blue Norther

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Bob Waldrop, Community, Food and Drink, Social Justice, Volunteering | Posted on 22-12-2008

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by Bob Waldrop

On Saturday afternoon, I was finishing up the day’s work of coordinating the delivery of food to 300+ low income households. As I moved empty boxes and bags from the U-haul to my pick-up, I was cold. I had on three layers of clothes, two coats, hat and gloves, but even so I was chilled to the bones. I had been in the cold most of that day, and as we all know, the Blue Norther came in early. A stray thought crept into my brain.  “Exactly why is it that you are doing this Mr. Waldrop?” 

I have had that thought before. I remember thinking it one hot August day, in the midst of the monthly Delivery Day of the Oklahoma Food Coop, at our non-air-conditioned facility.

Yesterday, as I thought about the day’s work, I remembered an elderly woman who died a few years ago. We delivered food to her every month for years. On the last Christmas that she was alive, she gave me a card, and it had 2 quarters taped inside. When I opened it and saw the coins, I burst into tears. Here was truly a Widow’s Mite. I have that card and those quarters to this day, and every so often I just take it out and look at it. 

Some would have us believe that there is nothing more to life than greed and selfishness. To those who hold these views, what happens on the Delivery Day of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, or at a Catholic Worker delivery day, would seem almost incomprehensible. Both events  are ecumenical affairs – religiously, politically, socially, and culturally. Many of these volunteers would not ordinarily be in the same room or even necessarily on speaking terms. Yet, we find in these works of social justice and environmental sustainability, common cause,  common ground, and a common hope. 

We do not lack for issues that divide us these days. Indeed, the polarization that grips our politics and economics is deadly for community, but countering that polarization is the growing realization among a diverse group of people that we are all in this together. There’s a name for that feeling, and it’s called solidarity. That’s why fifty people gave up time this past weekend to engage in a little distributive justice. That’s why people come back, month after month, and work hard at the delivery day of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. That’s why, in the midst of all the crises and dooms that confront us, I remain hopeful. The way I figure it, if we can get people to work all day in an un-air-conditioned warehouse to distribute local foods and get people out in the midst of a cold blue norther to deliver groceries to low income people they don’t even know, then there is nothing that cannot be done.

In the midst of the darkness of the growing shadow of Mordor over Middle Earth, the enormity of his task confronts Frodo, and he says plaintively to Gandalf that he wished that these events were not occurring in his time. Gandalf replied, "So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

So as the troubles come so fast we can barely keep up with the flow of events, never forget that every moment we can create a future that we will want our children to live in. If you seek a solution to economic and ecological crises, random and deliberate acts of beauty, kindness, wisdom, justice, and sustainability are all good places to start.

Next Up? The Food Crisis

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Bob Waldrop, Current Affairs, Food and Drink, Home and Garden, Locavore, Organic Gardening, Tips | Posted on 07-11-2008

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by Bob Waldrop  

First came the oil crisis, followed by the financial crisis.  Will a food crisis be next? The conventional food industry is at risk of the various credit woes plaguing the industrial economy.  Pilgrim’s Pride, the nation’s largest poultry producer, is on the verge of bankruptcy, but they can’t find debtor in possession financing for Chapter 11 (reorganization). They may thus be forced into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy where production stops and assets are liquidated. Large wholesale inventories could then be tied up in bankruptcy court.  The financial press  reports problems in arranging financing and payment for large international food trade shipments. I’m hearing news of shut-downs of poultry CAFOs along the east coast.  If something does happen with the food system, just like the energy and financial crises, it will happen quickly and for most people, without warning.

Now is  therefore a good time to review the seven elements of home and community food security:

(1) prepare meals from basic ingredients; (2) buy local foods; (3) grow some of your own food; (4) food storage; (5) home preservation of food; (6) eat with the season; (7) frugal supermarket shopping.

(1) Prepare meals from basic ingredients.  Many, if not most, of us are short on time.  Take-out or frozen supermarket entrees often seem like a good idea. But such “convenience” comes with a high cost – money, nutrition, and taste. My Better Times Almanac internet edition has lots of info about preparing meals from basic ingredients..

(2) Buy local foods.  If we want a more sustainable, just, and humane agricultural system, there must be a market for the products of a sustainable, just, and humane agricultural system. Purchasing local foods does several good things: you get nutritious and healthy food that tastes very good, you help grow a local food system, and you support rural families and communities.

(3) Grow some of your own food.  Gardening is less work than most people think, and is best compared to growing money in your back yard. Fall is the time to get ready for your spring garden.

(4) Food storage.  Store what you eat and eat what you store. Keep some of your household savings in food – at least 3 months, and more is better. Besides food security, “investing” in food storage makes good economic sense. Grocery prices are fluctuating rapidly—food storage can insulate you from price-mood swings at the supermarket. 

(5) Home preservation of food. Buy and grow extra vegetables, and preserve them for good eats during the winter.  Contact your county extension office for scientific information about home food preservation.

(6) Eat with the season.  Eating the same foods 365 days a year is actually a boring diet. As the seasons change, so should our menus. Summer greens are great for summer, but out-of-season greens are hauled long distances and produced with hazardous chemicals and poisons. During winter, look for innovative salads made from root crops and cool season veggies.

(7) Frugal supermarket shopping.  The local food market at present is not big enough to supply all food here, so some supermarket shopping is necessary.  Supermarkets, like casinos, are designed to separate you from your money. The more times you go to the store, the more money you will spend, so minimize shopping excursions. Always shop from a list, and beware of impulse buys.  Eat before you shop. Carry a calculator with you and do the math (price per ounce, pound, quart, gallon, etc.) to ensure you get the best package size. Often, generic and store brands are as good, and sometimes better, than brand names.  “Made in Oklahoma” brands support the local economy. The Best Choice, Always Save, and Clearly Organic label foods come from a cooperative of independent grocery stores, and that helps support a diverse local retail and wholesale food system.  In Oklahoma these labels are typically available at the locally owned stores. See my article, “Winning at the Supermarket Casino,” for more ideas.

Family and community food security doesn’t just happen. If this is new to you, develop a plan and start making incremental changes on a set schedule to increase your family’s food security.  If you have been working on a program like this for some time, keep up the good work! Remember what my grandmother Opal Cassidy used to say, “Y’all get the right eats, you hear?”

Sustained Finances

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Bob Waldrop, Community, Current Affairs, Food and Drink, Home and Garden, Jennifer Gooden, Organic Gardening, Tips | Posted on 17-10-2008

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by Jennifer Gooden

I, like everyone else it seems, have spent more time than usual thinking about the economy over the past few weeks. As I write (Monday 10/13), the stock market is rallying after a week of freefall, and photos of i-bankers looking relieved abound on internet news sites. 

I wish I could share their optimism. Instead, I think further tough times are on the horizon, so I have turned to two sources for advice: Bob Waldrop, an admired local advocate and fellow Fresh Greens blogger, and the Survival Podcast, a resource to “help you live the life you want, if times get tough, or even if they don’t.” Since financial stability is essential to sustainability and self-sufficiency, I thought I would pass along the advice I have gleaned from these sources.

Background

Bob Waldrop, known to many interested in sustainability in Oklahoma, has become a trusted source for many in our region. We’re lucky to have him. Bob’s publications are charming in their old-fashioned wisdom, and his messages of frugality and compassion are more important than ever in our current environment. 

I found the Survival Podcast a few weeks ago and have become a fan. While I disagree with the author on some key issues (particularly climate change and politics), I have found the podcast to be a good source of information about practical planning and preparedness. Over the past two weeks, listening to the podcast has become part of my regular routine.

The Recipe

I find it reassuring that multiple sources, based on different perspectives, point to the same solutions for prosperity in times good and bad. In a nutshell, here’s the recipe for financial sustainability:

1.    Curb spending. Keep track of all expenditures for a month or two, and evaluate what can be cut without forfeiting your quality of life. 

2.    Eliminate debt.  Pay off all debt, and enjoy the freedom that comes from being in the black. The Survival Podcast lauds Dave Ramsey’s “debt snowball” strategy. I concur.   

3.    Keep three months of food in the house. On Bob’s advice, I have been purchasing extra flour and grain from the Oklahoma Food Coop every month, which I use to make bread.  Following Jack’s advice, I have added a variety of grains, legumes, pastas, and canned and frozen vegetables to my stored food. I eat a lot of these foods anyway, so I just buy extra when I go to the store. I find that having an abundance of food in my household makes it more fun to cook and pushes me to try new recipes. 

4.    Grow a garden. I began with the principles of Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening and went my own way from there. Anticipating even greater demand for the food coop’s limited fresh veggies next year, I recently added four new garden beds; one is planted with fall greens while three are lasagna gardens, which trick worms into doing the hard work for me. 

5.    Build community. Both of my sources emphasize that it is difficult to build trust during times of crisis. The time to get to know your neighbors is now.

I would be interested to hear what strategies others are following to prepare for uncertainties in the future. If you have more “ingredients” to add to the recipe above, post a comment to let us know what is working for you.

Soon Comes the Winter…

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Bob Waldrop, Energy, Home and Garden, Tips | Posted on 22-09-2008

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by Robert Waldrop

We are at the Autumnal Equinox, halfway between the summer and the winter solstices. The heat has broken; the winter chill has yet to arrive. Rains refresh the gardens. School has started, and the rhythm of life changes. Here’s your “Get Ready For Winter To-Do List.”

Find the drafts! Take a lighted incense stick and slowly move it around doors, windows, plumbing runs, electric light switches and outlets. When you find a breeze, use caulk, insulating foam, wood, rags, whatever you have handy to plug that leak. Heat your house, not your yard! A good instruction book is “Insulate and Weatherize” from Taunton Press.

Insulate! You want R-50 insulation in the attic. If you have some insulation, but not enough, add more. Fill your existing walls with cellulose insulation. Now may also be the time for you to go the extra mile and build new interior walls 5 or 6 inches inside of your existing exterior walls and fill them with insulation. With 9 inches of insulation in your walls, you have R-33, and that’s good.

Cover your windows! The best double pane, argon filled windows are only about R-3 to R-5.  Make insulated interior window shutters, or insulated curtains to cover them. Your bank account will thank you.

Solarize! Take advantage of the sun’s free heat in the winter. Wash your south facing windows – and keep them clean all winter long. Trim low branches of trees that interfere with the free solar BTU train. Conservation hyper-milers will add extra windows to south-facing walls and/or build a low-cost “sun grabber.” See http://www.builditsolar.com/ for many do-it-yourself solar heating plans.

Review your emergency preparations! You know winter is coming. You know we are at risk of severe ice storms that may cut your power for days or even weeks. Don’t wait until a storm threatens to stockpile food, buy batteries, find extra blankets, and get flashlights and candles, or you may end up shivering in the dark. Procrastination is the thief of time.

Save money – be happy! Think of your energy conservation expenditures as an investment. I earn about 8% per year, tax free, on the “principal” that I invested in my own “extreme green renovation.” http://www.energyconservationinfo.org/2006egm.htm  Is this a better and more secure investment than a money market fund or bank account? You bet it is. This annual dividend represents money I no longer have to spend on energy. And every time energy goes up, so does my dividend. You can’t say that about the stock and bond markets (especially lately).

Sing! Altogether now, to the tune “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. . .

OH! We better not wait, it’s time to make plans,
Compost, mulch, put away the fans,
Winter time is coming to town!

Squash and turnips and carrot plants,
Season extension for the cabbage transplants,
Winter time is coming to town!

Let’s insulate the attic!
Insulate the floors!
Insulate the walls so deep,
and don’t forget the doors!

So!  Make your list, and check it twice,
Solarize, weatherize, don’t roll the dice,
Winter time is coming to town!