WBEZ | sustainability http://www.wbez.org/tags/sustainability Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Global Activism: ishi vest makes clothes based on fair trade, sustainability and equity http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-ishi-vest-makes-clothes-based-fair-trade-sustainability-and <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ishi.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-6afee34c-e3f5-6d6e-9163-44784ffc9032">While on a trip to India, people kept asking <a href="https://www.facebook.com/harishivestwalla">Harish Patel</a> about the vest he was wearing. It made him &quot;think hard&quot; about </span>how his clothes came to be - from pollution - to the worker exploitation it takes to make them. So Harish co-founded &ldquo;<a href="http://www.ishivest.com/">ishi vest</a>&rdquo;, a clothing line that would guarantee what he wore would help provide a livable wage to the artisans that create them and also protect the environment. For <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism"><em>Global Activism</em></a>, we talk with Patel about his business model that strives for fair trade, sustainability and equity.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/132232940&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe>Patel calls ishi &quot;Vests with Benefits&quot;:</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">&quot;There&#39;s this joke in my family about how the young man who left India for Chicago at age fourteen to study hard and become the next Doctor Patel ended up... well,<a href="http://ishivest.com"> selling vests</a>.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">My story of transition, like the stories of most social entrepreneurs, is not accurately shared in a &ldquo;portrait-frame&rdquo; -- with me as an individual making all the right choices to get to where I am. Instead it is best shared in &ldquo;landscape format,&rdquo; with a whole lot of support and inspiration from friends, family, co-founders, mentors, and community members along the way.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">On that note, ishi is a story of both individual and community transformation. It is a story of &nbsp;a new kind of sustainable fashion start-up that is connecting communities in India and communities in the US, which share a desire to re-think consumption. To start caring about people and planet before profit.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">There have been a number of turning points for me on this adventure. One came after I returned from a powerful trip to India with a handful of traditional Indian vests. Total strangers kept coming up to ask where they could get a vest like mine. Conversations about fashion quickly turned to the disturbing process by which our clothes get made -- polluting rivers and harming workers across the globe. A simple clothing choice became an invitation to connect -- and inspire.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">After that initial spark, I quickly turned to my friends and co-conspirators, Rhea and Jackie, and together we began dreaming up how to create a hip, conscious clothing line that reminds us how our smallest choices can have a huge impact.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">We&#39;re still in &quot;<a href="http://www.ishivest.com/pages/about-us">startup mode</a>,&quot; but we&#39;re thrilled to see so much love for the product and the vision in just a few short months of launching. Our community campaign on Kickstarter brought in more than double our hopes in seed funding and encouraged us to grow and scale what we&#39;re doing to inspire even more people.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">This march, we will be adding Women&rsquo;s vest, new scarves collection and new Men&rsquo;s vest styles to our already existing Men&rsquo;s vest and Scarves collection.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 30 Jan 2014 10:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-ishi-vest-makes-clothes-based-fair-trade-sustainability-and Global Activism: Foods Resource Bank helping small farmers abroad http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-foods-resource-bank-helping-small-farmers-abroad-109559 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/wv GA-Foods Resource Bank.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Marv Baldwin left his for-profit sales career to lead his church&#39;s effort to help small farmers around the world live sustainable and dignified lives. Baldwin has traveled to Kenya, Ethiopia, Nicaragua and several other countries. <span id="docs-internal-guid-2c9b1612-bbdd-553f-47b8-cb8824f78d31">For </span><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism">Global Activism</a></em>, Baldwin talks about the course of his life and work as executive director of <a href="http://www.foodsresourcebank.org">Foods Resource Bank</a> (FRB), based in suburban Western Springs.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">FRB&#39;s stated mission: &quot;As a Christian response to world hunger, FRB links the grassroots energy and commitment of the U.S. agricultural community with the capability and desire of small farmers in developing countries to grow lasting solutions to hunger.&quot;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/131025307&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 09:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-foods-resource-bank-helping-small-farmers-abroad-109559 Herd of goats, llamas, sheep and burros are grazing around the O’Hare grounds http://www.wbez.org/news/herd-goats-llamas-sheep-and-burros-are-grazing-around-o%E2%80%99hare-grounds-108408 <p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-07707cd9-7e20-3f9e-2c35-610b395b0a92">A herd of goats, burros, sheep and llamas are chewing their way through the grounds of O&rsquo;Hare International Airport in Chicago. The Chicago Department of Aviation showed off their latest &ldquo;employees&rdquo; this week, though the animals have been at work, clearing the vegetation around the airport for almost a month.</p><p dir="ltr">The group of 14 goats, five sheep, three burros and two llamas will graze inside fenced areas around the airport at least until the end of 2014. Officials say the animals were brought to the airport as a sustainable way to clean up the dense scrub vegetation that covers much of the grounds.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It gets pretty rocky under here,&rdquo; said Rosemarie Andolino, CDA commissioner. pointing to a five-acre field of grass and brush behind her. &ldquo;And there (are) areas where it kinda goes up and down and lawnmowers in many cases don&rsquo;t provide or aren&rsquo;t adequate to get to some of these areas.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/goats13.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Three of O’Hare airport’s latest hires explore their new workspace. The burros are part of a herd of 25 animals that will eat vegetation around the airport to help maintain the grounds. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Andolino said the contract for the goats won&rsquo;t exceed $19,500, and it expires by the end of 2014. The commissioner didn&rsquo;t have estimates as to how much it cost to maintain the grounds before the animals, yet a spokeswoman maintained there may be some cost savings down the road.</p><p dir="ltr">The herd won&rsquo;t be eating at the same spot everyday &mdash; Andolino says they&rsquo;ll move around to different places on the airport&rsquo;s grounds, depending on need. As for concerns about the animals during brutal Chicago winters, officials say the herd will only be out as long as weather permits.</p><p dir="ltr">Most of the animals in the O&rsquo;Hare herd come from Settler&rsquo;s Pond &mdash; a shelter for abandoned animals in Beecher, Ill. &mdash; but four of them were originally owned by Joseph Arnold, head of Central Commissary Holdings, LLC. The airport contract isn&rsquo;t technically their first job: Arnold&rsquo;s four goats used to provide milk for the goat cheese served at Chicago restaurant <a href="http://butcherandtheburger.com/">Butcher and the Burger</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/goats17.JPG" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="A day-old lamb stays close by her mother at their new home, the O’Hare International Airport. They’re part of a herd of animals eating its way around the fields at O’Hare. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" />Though they might seem an unlikely sight among the security fences and planes flying overhead, the burros, goats, sheep and llamas Tuesday seemed to make themselves quite at home. One of the sheep even gave birth to a lamb Tuesday, and all the animals gathered around to greet him.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a little boy and his name is O&rsquo;Hare,&rdquo; said Pinky Jenota, one of the caretakers from <a href="http://www.settlerspondshelter.net/about.html">Settler&rsquo;s Pond</a>. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s doing great, he was up suckling on mom, planes flying overhead. He didn&rsquo;t flinch, Mom didn&rsquo;t move - everybody&rsquo;s content.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">For now, the herd will continue munching around a five acre space on the airport grounds. Officials say they should finish that section in the next few weeks, and then it&rsquo;s on to the next spot.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a> .</em></p></p> Wed, 14 Aug 2013 13:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/herd-goats-llamas-sheep-and-burros-are-grazing-around-o%E2%80%99hare-grounds-108408 EcoMyths: Helping kids experience (their) true nature http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-helping-kids-experience-their-true-nature-107410 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F94531605&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Lanier2-slide_695x316.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Students participating in an environmental project. " />Hard to believe, but true:&nbsp; the average American kid spends an average of seven and a half hours per day using entertainment media on a computer, cell phone, TV, or other electronic device, according to a&nbsp;<a href="http://kff.org/other/event/generation-m2-media-in-the-lives-of/" target="_blank">recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.</a>&nbsp; This is 53 hours per week &ndash; more than a full-time job!&nbsp; Much of the rest of the time, they are in school. So when do they have time to experience nature?</p><p>On today&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/" target="_blank">EcoMyths</a> segment on Worldview, host Jerome McDonnell and I explore this topic with two experts.&nbsp; Emilian Geczi, the Youth and Community Engagement Coordinator for <a href="http://www.chicagowilderness.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Wilderness</a>, addresses the reasons that youth these days are disconnected from nature and shows us that not only electronics are the cause.&nbsp; In addition, we talk with Elizabeth Soper, Associate Director of <a href="http://www.nwf.org/eco-schools-usa.aspx" target="_blank">Eco-Schools USA</a>,&nbsp; who helps lead school programs for the National Wildlife Federation.&nbsp; Elizabeth and Emilian explain why it is important to connect children to nature and offer simple suggestions on how to encourage them to do it.</p><p>Emilian Geczi&rsquo;s main recommendation is for kids to use every moment outdoors as an opportunity to be attentive to nature: listening for bird songs, touching tree bark or climbing the trees, watching ants crawl into their tiny anthills to store tiny specs of food and crawling back out again to look for more.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.chicagowilderness.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Wilderness</a>, a consortium of over 300 environmental organizations of all sized in the greater Chicago region, has an initiative called &ldquo;No Child Left Inside&rdquo;, which is being celebrated for the entire month of June 2013, starting next week.&nbsp; They have created a <a href="http://www.chicagowilderness.org/what-we-do/leave-no-child-inside/childrens-outdoor-bill-of-rights/" target="_blank">Children&rsquo;s Outdoor Bill of Rights</a>, which asserts that every child has the right to plant a flower, follow a trail, camp under the stars, and more.&nbsp; During &quot;<a href="http://www.chicagowilderness.org/what-we-do/leave-no-child-inside/june-is-leave-no-child-inside-month/" target="_blank">Leave No Child Inside&nbsp;Month</a>,&quot; there will be numerous outdoor activities for children and their families throughout the region, all of which are listed on the <a href="http://www.chicagowilderness.org/what-we-do/leave-no-child-inside/june-is-leave-no-child-inside-month/" target="_blank">Chicago Wilderness website</a>.</p><p>My favorite on this list is the right to play in the mud.&nbsp; There&rsquo;s nothing quite as satisfying as running around barefoot in a light, warm rain and squishing your feet into the soft, slimy mud. Everyone should experience it&mdash;preferably while watching the worms squiggle around on the grass while a stocky, shiny frog hops past.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/A1-Green-Flag-SCDS-2_LauraHickey_219x165_0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Students receiving the Green Flag, one of Eco Schools USA's three awards for participation in eco-friendly projects." />Kids in the Eco-Schools USA program have it made, too, because their teachers are encouraged to hold their classes outdoors!&nbsp; We were always trying to persuade our teachers to do that when I was in school, with little success.&nbsp; But in Eco-Schools, holding class in the dappled sunlight under the trees is not only likely, but it is also encouraged.&nbsp; Elizabeth Soper tells us about Eco-Schools guidelines and materials, most of which are available for free on the <a href="http://www.nwf.org/Eco-Schools-USA" target="_blank">National Wildlife Federation Eco-Schools USA website</a>.&nbsp; Getting kids outside actually helps them to be more confident and calm and even improves their academic performance, Soper said.&nbsp; They get in touch with themselves while getting in touch with nature. Eco-Schools USA shows teachers and administrators how to make their school buildings and grounds more eco-friendly, with the help of students.&nbsp; Their programs get students outside, showing them how to create rooftop gardens and wildlife habitat.&nbsp; Eco-Schools also encourages students to get involved in understanding issues in their local community, such as identifying sources of local water pollution and learning what they can do about it.</p><div><p>Our experts show that regardless of how busy children are, they can have more fun, get better grades and learn more about their world just by stopping to smell the flowers a little bit each day. Or by playing in the mud.&nbsp;</p><p>Amen to that.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 29 May 2013 09:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-helping-kids-experience-their-true-nature-107410 EcoMyths: Is organic food overrated? http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-organic-food-overrated-104933 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/organic%20food.jpg" title="Cabbages, salad greens, radishes and broccoli are among the selection of organic produce on sale at a Whole Foods Market. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)" /></div><p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F75061988"></iframe>As the mid-winter chill sets in, a tangy tasting ripe tomato with sweet fresh basil leaves can easily bring summer to mind. But often, grocery-store tomatoes don&rsquo;t taste good at all times of year and fresh basil is expensive.&nbsp; So how do we find and choose good produce year-round?&nbsp; In this latest <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/ecomyths"><em>EcoMyths</em></a> segment, <em>Worldview&#39;s</em> Jerome McDonnell and I talked with sustainability expert, Environmental Studies Professor <a href="http://csh.depaul.edu/departments/environmental-science-studies/faculty-and-staff/Pages/willard.aspx">Barbara Willard</a>, of DePaul University.&nbsp; Barb knows the process of buying healthy, sustainable produce year-round can be confusing - there are so many factors we&#39;ve been told to consider.&nbsp; She helped us explore the conventional wisdom and tease apart the variables, including: local vs. imported, organically versus conventionally grown, and purchasing versus growing your own.&nbsp; She simplified the process of sourcing fresh produce year-round to some key factors in your buying decision.</p><p>So why is it important to buy locally-grown foods? &ldquo;Food miles&rdquo; is the term used to describe the carbon generated in transporting produce to market.&nbsp; But Willard reminds us that it is not just transportation miles we should consider when calculating the carbon footprint of a pepper - it is also production: was a lot of heavy equipment used to plant and harvest it? Was chemical fertilizer used? Was the product transported by truck?&nbsp; Even if the produce was grown at a local farm, all these components can create a large carbon footprint.&nbsp; If food miles are important to you, it is good to know the farming practices of the grower from which you buy your fruits and vegetables.&nbsp; The lowest carbon footprint tends to occur with farms that do not use chemical fertilizer, minimize use of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, and travel the shortest distance to market.</p><p>Buying organic is widely understood to have environmental benefits too, but why? &ldquo;Organic&rdquo; simply means crops grown with natural fertilizers and pest-control methods rather than with synthetic chemicals.&nbsp; The benefit of eating organic produce is that it reduces or eliminates chemicals in both the food and the environment from the source.&nbsp; Only foods with the USDA seal are certified as having been raised using truly organic methods.&nbsp; Also, Willard reminds us that many people think organic food tastes better, due to the lower chemical content.&nbsp; The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a list of conventionally-grown foods to avoid due to chemical content - they believe these foods should be purchased in the organic section of the store instead.&nbsp; <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/2012/11/why-go-organic/">Produce myths are explored</a> and the EWG tips can be found on the <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/"><em>EcoMyth Alliance&#39;s</em></a> website or on the <a href="http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/">EWG Shoppers Guide</a> on their website.&nbsp; EWG also has an iPhone app (available <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dirty-dozen/id312336368?mt=8">here</a>) that tells you what foods are best to buy organic: &ldquo;The Dirty Dozen&rdquo; and also those that are safe to buy conventionally grown, &ldquo;The Clean 15&rdquo;.</p><p>As with organic, many people feel that eating foods when they are in season is the tastier choice. Willard encourages us to grow our own vegetables, both for the fun of it and for better tasting food.&nbsp; She even gives us tips on what to grow in the winter months (kale, spinach, herbs) and how to do it (outdoors under a hoop house).</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="260" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/organics%20hoop%20house.jpg" title="Growing spinach as a winter crop in a hoop house. (Photo by Barb Willard)" width="463" /></div><p>With these rules of thumb in mind: local, organic, and seasonal, I now feel inspired to go shopping!&nbsp;</p><p>For more information on these topics, see EcoMyths&rsquo; latest myth article: <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/2013/01/sustainable-produce/">&ldquo;Is Sustainable Food Out of Reach?</a>&rdquo; on the EcoMyths Alliance website.&nbsp; Other helpful resources are shown below:</p><p>-Michal Pollan Video, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GyIhXNilcg">Serious Sustainability</a>&rdquo;</p><p>-GoTo2040 Video: &ldquo;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbTxNkVdM38">Planning for a Sustainable Local Food System</a>&rdquo;<br /><br />-Earth 911 Slideshow of Winter Produce, by region - <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2011/01/10/your-local-guide-to-winter-produce/">http://earth911.com/news/2011/01/10/your-local-guide-to-winter-produce/</a></p><p>-Pick Your Own: List of crop calendars by state - <a href="http://www.pickyourown.org/US_crop_harvest_calendars.php">http://www.pickyourown.org/US_crop_harvest_calendars.php</a></p></p> Tue, 15 Jan 2013 12:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-organic-food-overrated-104933 In praise of alleys, Chicago's unsung heroes in the city's broadband push http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/praise-alleys-chicagos-unsung-heroes-citys-broadband-push-102656 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicagoalley.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/baywatch brimful)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F61121353&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>On The Morning Shift today, while discussing Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s ambitious plan to massively expand high speed internet connectivity throughout the city, Chicago&rsquo;s Chief Technology Officer John Tolva called alleys &ldquo;the unsung hero in Chicago.&rdquo; He was making reference to the city&rsquo;s ability to string fiber optic cables aerially, rather than underground, but it got me thinking about the part that alleyways play in Chicago&rsquo;s unique personality. How has the city been shaped by the small, nameless veins that connect its major arteries?</p><p>That imagery may seem a little florid, but it&rsquo;s important to understand that Chicago is, at its heart, a city of alleys. They predate almost every identifiable landmark, stretching out over 1,900 miles, helping to ease congestion throughout the city. While the lakeshore and the el are embedded in the city&rsquo;s consciousness, alleys touch something deeper. They&rsquo;re so ubiquitous, and so easily overlooked, that they begin to occupy the darker corners of our urban subconscious.&nbsp; As such, alleys have been derided and dismissed, used as metaphors for the backstreet deals and corruption that have become cliché in Chicago politics. Over the past century, the image of the alley has been one of illicit dealings, overseen by the rats criss-crossing from dumpster to overflowing dumpster. But, that image is changing, and Tolva isn&rsquo;t the only one beginning to see Chicago&rsquo;s oldest, darkest feature under new light.<br /><br />For the past two years, the city has been spearheading an initiative to green Chicago&rsquo;s alleyways, using new porous asphalt to filter rainwater, keeping it from polluting the city&rsquo;s rivers and streams. It&rsquo;s ambitious and practical, and, since its inception, has been used as a model for cities looking for creative ways to encourage sustainable urban development. A beautiful use for something so often seen as useless.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s hard to know if alleys will ever garner the respect Tolva and others think they deserve, but their ever-evolving function within the city will, at the very least, help push them from our collective subconscious to somewhere a little brighter. Tolva&rsquo;s humming the melody, time will tell if the rest of the city decides to hum along.</p></p> Tue, 25 Sep 2012 15:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/praise-alleys-chicagos-unsung-heroes-citys-broadband-push-102656 EcoMyths: Catching and using rain where it falls http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/ecomyths-catching-and-using-rain-where-it-falls-101232 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/city%20hall%20green%20roof.jpg" title="A rooftop garden atop Chicago's City Hall. Chicago has plants cooling 3 million square feet of rooftops throughout the city. (AP Photo/Chicago Department of Environment, Mark Farina)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F82944949" width="100%"></iframe>About a decade ago, I started to notice that rain storms felt more violent, as if mandated by some mythical storm troll who controlled the skies. Weather had changed, yes, but not because of imaginary attackers, in spite of my paranoid delusions. In fact, extreme precipitation is a predicted consequence of the cumulative effects of climate change; these events are often accompanied by flooding. According to a <a href="http://www.rockymountainclimate.org/reports_3.htm" target="_blank">recent report</a> by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, since the start of the new millennium, the Midwest region has endured seven of the top nine years of the most extreme storms.&nbsp; Many of these extreme storms (like in summer 2011) washed-out roads and flooded basements, and caused days-long power outages.</p><div><strong>The misconception</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We tend to think that it&#39;s the responsibility of local governments to deal with stormwater when it rains; individual efforts can&rsquo;t make an impact.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>The facts</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The first line of defense is the property owner: Rainwater first falls onto someone&rsquo;s property, then the municipality, then our public waterways. Individuals can reduce storm water flooding and make a big difference &mdash; by storing, slowing, or filtering rainwater. The cumulative efforts of whole communities has significant impact on the quantity and quality of stormwater that ends up in our lakes and rivers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Who ya gonna call?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So who is responsible for collecting this water and preventing flooding? Many municipal governments and water agencies have great infrastructure to channelize and collect water. In the Chicago area, storm rainwater runs down streets and into storm sewers. This fresh water is then channeled into pipes collecting sewage from the region, but these sewage pipes often lack enough capacity to store the additional water. So the combined rainwater/sewage overflow goes into Lake Michigan, our source of drinking water. In the suburbs, stormwater systems aren&#39;t &quot;officially&quot; connected to municipal sewage treatment, but many storm drains are nevertheless connected mistakenly (or illegally) to the sewer systems. The result is combined sewage overflow into the lake, just as in Chicago.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That&rsquo;s right &mdash; untreated sewage flows into our drinking water when stormwater overflow pours into Lake Michigan.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Green infrastructure is the flip side of the coin</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>What&rsquo;s a person to do? Can one person make an impact? You bet! The City of Chicago encourages residents to get in on the act and implement &ldquo;green infrastructure&rdquo; to supplement the &ldquo;built&rdquo; infrastructure provided by the city.&nbsp; Creating green infrastructure means devising natural solutions. Then, plants and soil can absorb rainwater to prevent runoff, &quot;capturing the rain where it falls.&quot;</div><p>Solving the flooding problem requires everyone to do their part. You can do this in many ways: disconnect your downspouts from city sewers; install permeable pavers on sidewalks and driveways; build a rain garden with deep-rooted plants; and, install rain barrels. A city pamphlet is available for <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/dam/city/depts/water/supp_info/ManagingStormwaterAtHomeBrochure.pdf" target="_blank">Managing Stormwater at Home,</a> along with a longer brochure with detailed how-to instructions called <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/dam/city/depts/doe/general/NaturalResourcesAndWaterConservation_PDFs/Water/guideToStormwaterBMP.pdf" target="_blank">Guide to Stormwater Best Management Practices</a>. This includes installing green roofs, drainage swales, and natural landscaping.</p><p>As you can see in the photo above, Chicago walks the walk &mdash;&nbsp;one of the most acclaimed green roofs in the nation was installed on top of City Hall in 2001. It&#39;s still a source of inspiration today. According to the Department of Tourism, as of 2010, over 350 designed and built green roofs make Chicago the American city with the most square feet of green roofs.</p><p><strong>Asking the experts</strong></p><p>For our regular <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">EcoMyths</a> segment, Jerome McDonnell (rain gardener extraordinaire) helped me hash out these issues with two landscape experts:</p><p>Julie Siegel is owner of the Evanston-based <a href="http://jsiegeldesigns.com/" target="_blank">J. Siegel Designs</a>. She also does sustainability work in Guatemala. Siegel believes we must make a collective commitment to changing behavior and valuing our great resource &mdash; Lake Michigan. This paradigm shift is part of&nbsp; the big picture in improving water management.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cliff%20rain%20garden%20good.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right; " title="Rain garden at the home of landscape architect Cliff Miller. (Courtesy of Clifford Miller)" /></div><p>We also spoke with Cliff Miller, owner of <a href="http://landscapeartistry.net/" target="_blank">P. Clifford Miller Landscape Artistry</a>. He finds that people think rain barrels are more complicated than they are, or not worth the small amount of work required to install them. He also discovered that people worry about things like mosquitoes or algae bulid-up. Miller stresses that rainwater is better for plants than chemically treated tap water.</p><p><strong>Sweet dreams</strong></p><p>It&#39;s a good feeling to know that my neighbors and I can reduce flooding from these more extreme storms. You have so much more ability to make a difference to our environment than you may realize. Our efforts will cause ripples. Capturing rain where it falls is a great place to start. Learn more about water conservation at the <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> website.</p></p> Mon, 30 Jul 2012 10:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/ecomyths-catching-and-using-rain-where-it-falls-101232 Rio+20 summit closes with no restraints on corporate power http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/rio20-summit-closes-no-restraints-corporate-power-100431 <p><p style="text-align: left; "><img 2012.="" a="" alt="" andre="" ap="" class="image-original_image" conference="" day="" de="" dirty="" during="" final="" fossil="" from="" fuel="" in="" june="" made="" nations="" of="" on="" or="" photo="" protest="" rio="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rio%206-27.jpg" sustainable="" the="" title="Environmental activists during a protest on the final day of Rio+20. (AP/Andre Penner)" united="" /></p><p style="text-align: left; ">The outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) was predictable. Almost all national leaders perfected the art of hiding their heads in the sand (or corporate contributions). Ironically, the cool conversation of Rio comes as the Earth&rsquo;s average land surface temperature for May 2012 measured as the all-time warmest May on record (1.21&deg;C (2.18&deg;F) above average).</p><p>While Rio+20 failed the planet, it was a big success for powerful nations and corporations. We saw no definitive action on the health of the oceans. Attention to rich consumption footprints was ignored. Financial commitments were minimum. We took no steps to establish timetables and indicators of environmental progress. In fact, Rio+20 even managed to eliminate the traditional support for access to reproductive health services. The U.S. helped to preclude language that would urge big business to respect human rights and led efforts to exclude ideas such as &ldquo;sustainable consumption and production patterns.&rdquo; The U.S. also worked to decouple economic growth from the voracious consumption of natural resources. The U.S. State Department, and Secretary Hillary Clinton, promoted the go slow approach of &ldquo;pragmatism&rdquo; to meet impending catastrophe. Business as usual was the mantra.&nbsp;</p><p>The big winners at Rio were multinational corporations in general, and petroleum, coal and energy companies in particular. They bought the U.N. as they&rsquo;ve already bought the U.S. government. A recent report, <em><a href="http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/image_uploads/Report_AntiEnv_06.18.12.pdf">The Anti-Environment Record of the U.S. House of Representatives 112th Congress</a></em>, reveals that the House voted 247 times in the last 18 months to reduce environmental protections.&nbsp; This makes it the most anti-environment House of Representatives in U.S. history. It enriched the oil and gas industry 109 times!</p><p>Corporate capitalism has almost completely co-opted the environmental movement by insuring a message of more growth, not less. The greater the accumulation of capital (in the fewer hands the better), the &ldquo;greener&rdquo; the economy. The inhuman and unnatural consequences of this policy are deemed &ldquo;externalities,&rdquo; or secondary side effects &ndash; valuing symbolic individual action, and the consumption of &ldquo;green products.&rdquo; This focus on individual action is a key component in thwarting our ability to grasp the necessity for collective action. It&rsquo;s hard to identify any global social movement that&rsquo;s become more coopted than the environmental movement.</p><p>There has also been a global campaign against science. Fifty years after maligning Rachael Carson and her iconic book <em>Silent Spring</em>, corporate power maintains its global effort to discredit science, i.e. climate change. In the U.S., such efforts are sustained by the extraordinary religiosity of the country.&nbsp;</p><p>The alternative to the U.N. Conference was the &ldquo;People&rsquo;s Summit&rdquo; and massive protest demonstrations of 80,000 people. However, like most such &ldquo;Peoples&rdquo; events, there was scant discussion of any serious alternative to existing systems of production, distribution and consumption.&nbsp; The most important outcome may be the effort of Friends of the Earth International (the world&rsquo;s largest environmental organization) and partners, who led the opposition to the U.N. sellout, issuing the report<a href="http://www.foei.org/en/get-involved/take-action/pdfs/statement-un-corpcap-en/at_download/file">, <em>Ending Corporate Capture of the United Nations</em></a>.</p><p>Evidently, the political reality of national governments is often outstripped by the vision and practical action on the environment by cities. The existing political order of the world, reflected at Rio+20, is not capable of meeting the environmental catastrophe generated by global markets.</p><p>Finally, what might be a successful road to Rio+40, for an equitable and ecologically viable alternative global system?: Waiting twenty years is too dangerous &ndash; Rio+30 is necessary.We need a new global grassroots movement that unites residents, workers and consumers, in rich and poor countries. This is essential for a world free from the violent control of corporate capital. Corporate hegemony over countries and cities must be made transparent and reversed. Existing export manufacturing patterns and current patterns of energy production and consumption, fishing, forestry and agriculture, require profound changes in conception and development. The U.N. itself must transform to minimize influence of corporations and increase the role of cities.&nbsp; It must support and enforce a genuine regulatory regime with authentic punishment capacity toward offending corporations. An increased role for cities means they begin to abandon their ambitions as Global Cities and build regional self-reliance with new forms of democratic governance. An expansion of the Right to the City must be accompanied by genuine Rights of the City within national and international forums, including fiscal control of local wealth. Development, including poverty and inequality reduction on many fronts (such as flows of food, water, energy, medicines, housing, essential consumer goods), must be consistent with insuring human needs, human rights and civil rights for all, including indigenous people and migrants without citizenship.</p><p>To find a road to Rio+30 we must start looking now, for surely there is no existing roadmap.&nbsp;</p><p><em>An extended version of this article is <a href="mailto:barryweisberg@att.net">available</a>&nbsp;here. Barry Weisberg, JD, PhD </em><em>(ABD) is Global Cities Contributor for WBEZ and adjunct professor at Hong Kong University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Jun 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/rio20-summit-closes-no-restraints-corporate-power-100431 'Net-zero' energy design changing how we build, consume and live http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/net-zero-energy-design-changing-how-we-build-consume-and-live-99814 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/000000.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="The Los Angeles office of the design firm Gensler was built to use LEED -- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design -- strategies that approach net-zero. (Courtesy of Gensler)" /></div><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s Note: The U.S. Army has a goal of &quot;net-zero&quot; energy consumption by 2030. Hewlett-Packard just unveiled designs for a data center that requires no net energy from traditional power grids. Here, </em>Worldview<em> contributor Robert Price shares his predictions of what net-zero design may mean for how we build, consume and live.</em></p><p>The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (<a href="http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/otheranalysis/aeo_2008analysispapers/eisa.html">EISA 2007</a>) has a goal of &quot;net-zero&quot; energy use in all commercial buildings by 2030. The goal currently is voluntary, but if enacted, the look and utility of our future buildings will change forever. Master planners, architects and interior designers will look at their field in ways they haven&#39;t in generations.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/00.jpg" style="float: left; height: 375px; width: 300px;" title="The Tower at PNC Plaza, designed by Gensler, is a planned 33-story, 800,000 gross square feet structure built to approach ‘net-zero’ standards." />Net-zero is a popular term that means that an installation or building produces as much energy as it consumes and has zero carbon emissions annually. The zero-energy design principle is more practical to adopt than ever, due to increased costs of traditional fossil fuels and their negative impact on the planet&#39;s climate and ecological balance.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A net-zero building can be independent from the energy supply. Energy is harvested on-site using a combination of solar and wind technology, while reducing the overall use of energy with extremely efficient heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting technologies. Energy can also be supplemented by long-term contracts with a green energy source.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Master-planners will think about building sites, how surrounding buildings affect new construction and how to maximize solar technologies. Existing buildings will need an upgrade for fear of losing the best tenants. European Union directives will set a rating system for all buildings. They may impact how they are insured and taxed. In China, inefficient buildings and those with high energy consumption will receive an extra carbon tax.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The skyline of U.S. cities will look different. Buildings in the Northern Hemisphere will be oriented south to take advantage of sunlight. Southern Hemisphere buildings will be oriented north. This is how it&rsquo;s done in China and South America.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="The interior of Gensler’s L.A. offices. (Courtesy of Gensler)" />The tops of buildings will look different. High-rises will take maximum advantage of roof space, solar devices and greenscape. Northern or southern exposures will integrate visible or invisible solar technologies. Glassy structures will be less sexy.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Real estate developers must think long-term about costs. Building owners must now understand the efficiency performance of their buildings as part of their criteria when trying to rent or sell to tenants. Designers will utilize a whole new and varied set of tools to access building design. They, along with contractors, will be held accountable for how buildings perform two, five and maybe ten years after completion. Lifecycle costs will be more real.</div><p>This all means my fellow architects will have to leave their egos at the door&hellip;It&rsquo;s a new day.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Robert L. Price is an architect and interior designer based in Shanghai, China. He is Worldview&#39;s arts and architecture contributor and the show&#39;s global cities co-contributor. Price also serves as Senior Associate and Technical Director for Asia at <a href="http://www.gensler.com/">Gensler</a>, a global design firm.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Jun 2012 09:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/net-zero-energy-design-changing-how-we-build-consume-and-live-99814 Unpacking the barriers to going green http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-04/unpacking-barriers-going-green-98425 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/recycling.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 466px;" title="(Flickr/Damon Taylor)"></div><p>In theory, it’s easy to get behind a green lifestyle.&nbsp; Not many of us actively want to waste resources or damage the Earth.&nbsp; But in reality, going green isn’t always that simple. &nbsp;Green products can be expensive, and trying to figure out which techniques and tools will get the most bang for your buck can be confusing.</p><p>So what are the barriers to going green, and how can you go green cheaply? Friday on the <em>Afternoon Shift, </em>we’ll get insight on those questions from two women who put sustainability front and center in both their personal and professional lives.</p><p>Tune in just after 2:00pm to get tips from Samantha Mattone and Helen Cameron on how to make your lifestyle more sustainable. Mattone is project manager for the <a href="http://chicagoconservationcorps.org/blog/">Chicago Conservation Corps</a>, the city’s environmental volunteer service program. Cameron is co-owner of the restaurant <a href="http://www.uncommonground.com/">Uncommon Ground</a>, which has won awards for its eco-friendly approach.</p><p>Call 312-923-9239 to share your story on what’s keeping you from going green, or to share your favorite green tip.</p></p> Fri, 20 Apr 2012 08:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-04/unpacking-barriers-going-green-98425