News You Can Use

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Local News, Politics, Sustainability | Posted on 11-08-2009

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Here are a few events and happenings you may want to be aware of and participate in over the coming weeks.

MAPS3 Survey for Public Transportation

The Alliance for Public Transportation seeks responses to an important survey by Friday, August 21, 2009. This survey is brief and involves answering only ten questions through the link below.

These questions request information about your interest in transit, MAPS3 and your interest in the Alliance for Public Transportation (APT). Please select the answer that best fits you! Thank you!

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=yaDjumCT10Goi9JmYD53UA_3d_3d

 

Sierra Club Cimarron Group Movie Night
Friday, August 28
7 pm social 1/2 hour

Movie at 7:30 pm with discussion following at Backwoods, 12325 North May, Suite 103, OKC

Encounters at the End of the World directed by Werner Herzog

There is a hidden society at the end of the world. One thousand men and women live together under unbelievably close quarters in Antartica, risking their lives and sanity in search of cutting-edge science.

Now, for the first time, an outsider has been admitted. In his first documentary since GRIZZLY MAN, Herzog, accompanied only by his cameraman, traveled to Antarctica, with rare access to raw beauty and raw humanity of the ultimate down under.

Encounters at the End of the World, Herzzog's latest meditation on nature, explores this land of fire, ice and corrosive solitude.

 

 

Eaton to host Prawn Field Day Demonstration

Sept. 12 at 9:30 a.m.

Register by Sept. 4

Eaton will host a field day to demonstrate how he’s been raising freshwater shrimp, or prawns, for the past two years in the pond on his farm near Cashion, northwest of Oklahoma City.

During the two-hour field day, which starts at 9:30, Eaton will harvest his second crop of prawns in as many years. In the meantime, he’ll give visitors the lowdown on production methods, potential problems, and harvesting and marketing.

Eaton received a 2008 Oklahoma Producer Grant from the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture to demonstrate the feasibility of raising prawns in farm ponds as an additional income source for Oklahoma farmers.

Registration for the prawn field day is free, but required by September 4 to reserve a place. Space is limited. To register, email jcastillo@kerrcenter.com, or call 918.647.9123. 

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."

A Moment of Reflection

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Current Affairs, Jennifer Gooden, Politics, Social Justice, Volunteering | Posted on 26-01-2009

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by Jennifer Gooden

Occasionally, everything comes together in a way that triggers my reflection and gratitude. I had one of those days today and thought I would share this moment with our Fresh Greens readers.

It began this morning at work at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, where we had the first meeting of our green team. The food bank has already made admirable strides toward energy efficiency and environmental stewardship, including efforts as sophisticated as lighting and energy management systems to practices as hands-on as organic gardening and vermiculture. Still, there is more we can do, and our nascent team met this morning to plan for future improvements. I am so happy to be a part of an organization that has broad vision and an ethic of constant improvement.

Today, Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, was also the day that Michelle Obama called upon our country to engage in volunteerism, suggesting we give up our lunch money and lunch hours to donate to and volunteer at food banks. Our building was filled with people today, all helping sort food and assemble backpacks for our Food 4 Kids program. We regularly have volunteers at the food bank—15,000 a year, in fact—but it was a busy day for us and a great opportunity to come together as a community to feed those in need.

Connected to this day of service is a day of anticipation. Tomorrow is the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. I have never seen so many people in our country so full of hope, so aware of the significance of this moment in history, and so proud to be part of this collective celebration of our nation. 

So this day closes with gratitude and optimism. In the spirit of progress and the many ways in which we can come together to craft a brighter tomorrow, I savor this moment and look forward to the years to come.

Four Months of Fresh Greens

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Finances, John Cheek, Politics | Posted on 10-11-2008

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by John Cheek

In the four months since we started Fresh Greens we’ve seen bad news for the housing market turn into really bad news for banks into even worse news for us all. We’ve watched old divisions turn hot in places like the Congo and a new conflict erupt in Georgia. And now we’ve elected a new president as well as re-electing and ousting various members of state and federal legislatures.

Here in Oklahoma, voters held on to a Senator not particularly interested in sustainability, but I’m not really interested in writing that story now. Barack Obama and Jim Inhofe may well do great or terrible things for our communities and our planet. Both remain to be seen, just like the effects each of us may have on the stretches of earth where we walk and the much more distant places where our decisions echo through the years.

In his victory speech on election night, the President-Elect called for a “new spirit of sacrifice.” I can only echo that plea, and pray that we have not forgotten how to be a people of work, ingenuity, and prudence as all three will be taxed to great measure in the coming years. Last week Bob wrote about a food crisis that may very well be following the current economic disaster. Sadly, both crises are due to a vicious blend of greed and irresponsibility that have become the staples of American economy. The very fact that we can call our system of commerce ‘economy’ is insanity itself. A multitude of financial talking heads have gotten rich telling people what ought to be absurdly obvious: “Work hard” and “Spend less than you make.” Really? We need to read a book or go to a seminar to learn that?

When Phil Gramm suggested that we were a nation of whiners in reference to the financial crisis, the press savaged him and John McCain for insensitivity. That’s the way of presidential politics, but really, he wasn’t far off. I would say toddlers instead of whiners. Toddlers demand that they get what they want, when they want it. Toddlers will continue to eat poisonous fats and sweets until they vomit. Toddlers will scream and cry when not allowed to buy the newest toy. Credit cards. Processed food. New clothes, new cars, new houses. We’re babies, and it’s time to grow up.

Elections matter, and I hope the most recent ones will see our state, local, and federal governments move back in the right direction. What matters more, though, is every one of us, working, eating, teaching, living every day. We don’t need a saviour; we need to get to work.

Parsing Proposed Changes to the Endangered Species Act

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Current Affairs, Endangered Species, Politics, Public Works, Science, Tricia Dameron | Posted on 13-10-2008

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by Tricia Dameron

In August, the Department of the Interior proposed self-described “narrow” changes that would revise the consultation process (Section 7) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as clarify the lack of interplay between greenhouse gas emissions and the role of the Act.

As it currently stands, the Act requires federal agencies (referred to as ‘action agencies’) to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (referred to as ‘Services’) on planned projects—such as dams, highways, mining, logging—that may affect plants and animals (or their habitat) that are listed on the endangered or threatened species list. Informal consultations are required if there is no effect or if the effect is insignificant or impossible to measure; in any case, a consultation (formal or informal) is required. The rule change will require action agencies to consult with the Services only if the project will likely harm a listed species.

Mark Howery*, a wildlife diversity biologist in Oklahoma, summed it up by saying, “Right now, the USFWS has the final authority for determining what actions constitute a significant impact to endangered species and which ones don’t. Where there is a conflict in interpretation, the burden of proof, so to speak…falls on the other federal agencies. I believe that if the proposed rule change takes place, what it will do is shift that burden of proof on to the USFWS when there is an interagency dispute.”

What do these changes actually mean? Has the Department of the Interior tried to foresee the unintentional (or perhaps intentional) consequences? After reading the proposed changes, I am left with more questions than answers. Below is my attempt to parse some issues of importance to me.

What good will result from these changes?

Ken Collins is a biologist with the USFWS and does consultation work in Oklahoma. He says the changes could reduce the consultation and litigation workload. “The FWS is often sued on decisions we make or assist in. If the Federal action agency would make the determinations, as outlined under the new regulations, future lawsuits would likely be directed at the Federal action agency who made the determination and not the FWS.”

What incentives encourage the action agencies to conduct a fair assessment?

Litigation. ESA watchdog and interest groups that initiate litigation will have to navigate the bureaucracy of multiple agencies, rather than just two.

What about agencies that do not have in-house biologists?

“[M]ost agencies other than Forest Service, [Army] Corps [of Engineers], and [Bureau of Land Management] typically have very few biological staff in house. They would either need to hire additional staff or allow consultants to gather information and discuss the possible effects. The final determination would still be made by the federal action agency in those cases,” says Collins. The proposed rule assumes federal agencies have acquired adequate expertise from working with the Act for nearly 35 years, but it requires no qualifications on behalf of the staff conducting the self-consultations.

What about the provisions related to climate change?

The proposed rule summary states: “[T]here is no requirement to consult on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions’ contribution to global warming and its associated impacts on listed species….GHG emissions from building one highway are not an ‘essential cause’ of any impacts associated with global warming. Moreover, any such effects are later in time, but are not reasonably certain to occur.” The revised ESA will not acknowledge the complicated situation presented by climate change and will not attempt to mitigate losses of species or habitat due to climate change or the causes of climate change.

Rather than conduct a thorough overhaul of the ESA or leave it to its successor, the current administration is hastily pushing the mutated ESA through while many constituents are consumed by the economy and the elections. Neither is there hope for Congressional deliberation—the changes do not require [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rulemaking] Congressional review or approval.

Oklahoma has 19 of the 1,358 threatened and endangered plants and animals.

The public comment period for the proposed rule ends Wednesday.

 

*Editors Note: Mr. Howery agreed to speak with Fresh Greens as a private citizen. His comments should not be construed as representing the views of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife or any other state agency.