Category Archives: Green Urban Living

Celebrating Earth Day, Pawtuxet Market Opening Soon

From Steve Stycos:

The Friends of the Pawtuxet River and the West Bay Land Trust will be holding a trail and riverbank clean-up at the former DEM depot at 230 Warwick Ave, (on the Cranston side of the river across from Stop and Shop). The date is this Saturday 4/26 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon. Bring clippers, rakes, gloves or just yourself, for an hour or as long as you can spare. Help keep our riverbank and trail clear and trash-free.

We will also be planting 3 trees (2 sugar maples and a red maple) in the area now abandoned as vehicle storage by DEM. These trees will contribute to the re-naturalization of this portion of the trail and riverbank.

These are family-friendly activities open to folks of all ages and abilities. The trail is maintained by the Friends of the Pawtuxet River, an all-volunteer organization that has advocated for passive recreational use and restoration of the riparian habitat of the river for over 20 years. Maintaining and protecting this valuable natural area in our own backyard is the only way to preserve it for our own enjoyment and that of future generations.

The Pawtuxet Village Farmer’s Market opens our 12th season on Saturday May 10, the day before Mother’s Day. Come welcome back our farmers and vendors and get some good food and plants.

See you at the market, and the clean-up.

News from the Pawtuxet Village Farmers Market

From Steve Stycos:

There are 2 more weeks of the winter market! Thursdays from 4:30 to 7 PM at the Edgewood Congregational Church on Broad St.

 

Add some local flavor to your Lenten, Easter and Passover favorites: fish, bitter greens, potatoes, honey and, of course, eggs are all available from our vendors.

Plus bread, soup, scones, little pizzas, and more.

 

Blue Skys Farm is featuring “Small State Seeds”, chemical-free and locally grown seeds from Scratch Farm in Cranston. Tried and true veggie varieties for the Rhode Island climate.

Friends of the Pawtuxet River and the West Bay Land Trust will be holding an Earth Day clean up and tree planting on Saturday April 26 from 9 AM to noon at the former DEM depot on Warwick Ave.(just before the bridge, across from the Stop and Shop). Bring clippers, rakes, gloves or just yourself, for an hour or as long as you can spare. Help keep our riverbank and trail clear and trash-free.

 

Our regular market opens on May 10 (the Saturday before Mother’s Day) at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet. We welcome back our summer vendors, such as Beltane Farm and LeFavorite Bakery and Rocky Ledge (formerly Moosup River) Farm. Stay tuned for more.

 

See you at the market.

FRESH CHEVRE, WARMER TEMPS, THE USUAL LINE-UP PLUS ONE – kiersten.marek@gmail.com – Gmail

News from the Pawtuxet Village Farmers Market:

Finally, we should have a clear, non-arctic evening for our market.  Come back and taste the goodness from our faithful vendors:  The Local Catch, Blue Skys Farm, PV Farmstand, Foremost Baking Company, Little Falls Cafe,  and (we hope) Presto Strange O coffee truck.  Our market table will feature products from Virginia & Spanish Peanut Company, Rhody Fresh butter and cheese, Fruit Hill Apiaries Honey and Barden Orchard apples.

New this week: Winter Chevre from Beltane Farm. Market regulars will fondly recall the delightful goat cheeses from Paul Trubey’s Lebanon CT farm, sold at our regular season market.  This chevre is described as follows:

“While our goats are on winter break from milking, our cow Betsey Bigelow provides the milk for this creamy, soft cheese with a velvety texture.”

We met Betsey, her new calf Penelope, and lots of goats at the farm when we went to pick up the cheeses.  She is a sweet girl, and her cheese is delicious.  Samples will be available tomorrow.

And we will have a familiar face behind the table at the Blue Skys Farm booth:  Chang Xiong of Pak Express will be subbing for Christina for the early part of the market.  Say hello to Chang and get a spring preview.

See you at the market.

Not Counting Chickens in Cranston

Why, Mayor Fung, did you veto legalized chickens in the fair city of Cranston? Did the will of the people count for nothing? Admit it, Garden City got to you, didn’t they? All that lawn acreage with nothing but pigeons and crows to show for it. What a waste.

Stop the Presses! Chickens in Cranston!

Rhode Island Tweets ‏@RhodyTweets

#thatssocranston “@CranstonPatch: Welp, ordinance passes 5-4. You can legally raise backyard chickens in Cranston.”

They better watch out, hawks are back too.

Solar Saves When the Grid Goes Down

From today’s Scientific American, Solar Power Helped Keep the Lights on in India.

Every day, at least 400 million Indians lack access to electricity. Another nearly 700 million Indians joined their fellows in energy poverty over the course of the last few days, or roughly 10 percent of the world’s population.

Oddly enough, some of the formerly energy poor—rural villagers throughout the subcontinent—found themselves better off than their middle-class compatriots during the recent blackouts, thanks to village homes outfitted with photovoltaic panels. In fact, solar power helped keep some electric pumps supplying water for fields parched by an erratic monsoon this year.

Local and diverse, though David Biello, the author of the article, argues that we need to look at the grid in the USA, or else stock up on flashlight batteries. You can read the rest of his short and interesting blog post here.

And here’s from the financial magazine, Forbes…

While national renewable energy policies – or the lack there of – remain mired in Congressional election-year politics, the great green future has already arrived in California.

On Tuesday, state regulators announced that California’s three big investor-owned utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison – had reached a mandated target – called the renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, to obtain at least 20% of the electricity they sell from renewable sources.

In 2011, the three utilities collectively secured 20.6% of the electricity sold to retail customers from solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable power generation.

Perfect time for the USA to win the energy race and lead the world in more efficient and cheaper solar and renewable technology. We’ve done this kind of thing before, that’s why our flag waves on the moon. Now it’s time to get serious about planet earth.

It Could Never Happen Here, Right?

An inquiry by the Japanese parliament has concluded that the Fukushima nuclear disaster was largely man-made.

The parliamentary report, based on more than 900 hours of hearings and interviews with 1,167 people, suggests that reactor No. 1, in particular, may have suffered quake damage — including the possibility that pipes burst from the shaking, leading to a loss of cooling even before the tsunami hit the plant about 30 minutes after the initial quake. It emphasized that a full assessment would require better access to the inner workings of the reactors, which could take years.

“However, it is impossible to limit the direct cause of the accident to the tsunami without substantive evidence. The commission believes that this is an attempt to avoid responsibility by putting all the blame on the unexpected (the tsunami),” the report said, “and not on the more foreseeable quake.”

I can’t help noticing that ‘tsunami’ is a Japanese word.

As in the US, the Japanese people are paying for privatized profit and socialized risk. The unavoidable suffering of the earthquake disaster was multiplied by human folly– hubris, collusion, denial, complacency and greed. These are universals of human nature.

Before the world builds more nuclear power plants, consider the lessons of Japan.

Bill Nye the Science Guy Channels Darwin

Just kind of in the way that Darwin said stuff that was evidence-based and got on the wrong side of a lot of people. Bill Nye says that there are not two sides to the climate change debate…

Science educator Bill Nye on Monday told CNN that they weren’t doing the public any favors by giving climate change deniers equal airtime because “the two sides aren’t equal.”

“There are a couple of things that you can’t really dispute,” Nye explained to CNN’s Carol Costello. “Sixteen of the last 17 years have been the hottest years on record. That’s just how it is.”

“I appreciate that we want to show two sides of the stories — there’s a tradition in journalism that goes back quite a ways, I guess — but the two sides aren’t equal here. You have tens of thousands of scientists who are very concerned and you have a few people who are in business of equating or drawing attention to the idea that uncertainty is the same as doubt. When you have a plus or minus percentage, that’s not the same thing as not believing the whole thing at all.”

There’s a need for leadership here, and it’s not coming from the politicians. I guess it will have to come from the people, smart people welcome to join in.

Scary pix of receding glacial ice are here.

A Nun’s Vocation

In a match up between the Catholic hierarchy and the nuns, I’m betting on the nuns. With women like the late Sr. Rosalie Bertell living vocations, making a difference in the world– the bishops and cardinals are outmatched.
A candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, Sr.Bertell was greatly respected and will be missed.

Sister Rosalie Bertell was a frail child from birth and knew early on that she would become a nun. Her parents encouraged her studies and she shone in mathematics and music. Her mother, a Canadian, inspired her activism, while her American father, President of Standard Mirror Co. and inventor of the night mirror in cars, encouraged her scientific abilities. “My father never finished high school, but taught himself optics. He delighted in my success in math and everything I did.” When asked how they influenced her career path, she replied, “My mother never celebrated the end of WW2. She kept saying over and over: ‘they shouldn’t have done it.’ I don’t know how she understood about the bomb, since no one knew at that time. It was her Irish sixth sense! My father opposed war and would not invest in uranium, as so many did after the war.”

Bertell went on to a research job at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the world’s first cancer research facility. It was here that she first became interested in radiation and nuclear matters. Of this time, she says, “I was a senior cancer research scientist studying the harm done to a large population by unnecessary uses of diagnostic medical X-ray. I became outraged when I found that nuclear power plants were releasing radioactive materials (like X-rays) at this same level routinely, indiscriminately exposing the unsuspecting public. My first experience was a nuclear plant, which wanted to locate its facility next to the Gerber’s Baby Food Farm in Barker, NY. That plant was never built.” (The first time the nuclear industry was denied a location in the U.S.)

Sr. Bertell is survived by a body of research, several books, and the gratitude of the people she helped in her life well lived.

A Target for Terrorists

One of the theoretical disadvantages of building more nuclear power plants may have become more real…

(CNN) — Security has been heightened at Sweden’s nuclear power plants after explosives were discovered on a vehicle entering a protected nuclear site, authorities said Thursday.

The truck was stopped at the Ringhals nuclear power plant on Wednesday afternoon, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority said.

The suspicious material was discovered before the vehicle had entered the protected area, it said.

Police are now investigating suspected sabotage, said the plant’s owner, Vattenfall.

The “explosive paste” was uncovered by sniffer dogs during a routine security check, the company said in a statement.

This story is new, we’ll hear more in the next few days.

Since 9/11, security in the US has been upgraded. From the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission…

One of the most important components of security programs at nuclear power facilities is the security force. Over the past five years, the NRC has required power plants to add more training and higher qualification standards for security personnel, while substantially increasing the number of officers on the force. Plant security officers, for example, must now be trained under more realistic conditions and against moving targets. In order to minimize security personnel fatigue and ensure a vigilant and effective security force, the NRC has instituted additional fitness-for-duty requirements and work hours controls.

In accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the NRC has also strengthened requirements for fingerprinting and background checks for various types of licensees and certificate holders. On Jan. 4, 2006, the NRC entered into an agreement with the federal government’s Terrorist Screening Center to review records of individuals with unescorted access to nuclear power reactor facilities. This collaborative effort automated and streamlined the collection and dissemination of information used to determine the trustworthiness of individuals who have unescorted access to certain vital areas of nuclear power plants. It also enhances the process of identifying anyone with access to these areas who may pose a threat to national security.

If you read closely, government is depending on industry to do its part. Japan seemed to have a well-run and transparent nuclear industry before Fukushima, but it has emerged that political and industry corruption suppressed efforts to maintain a level of safety that might have spared the people of Japan from a man-made disaster in the wake of the Tsunami. We don’t usually think of Japan as being eroded by organized crime, but that’s a factor too…

After the arrest of a yakuza boss for his alleged role in supplying workers to TEPCO’s Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Plant, we are learning the details of how Japan’s nuclear industry relied on organized crime. Since July of last year, a few months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami resulted in a triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant, investigators have been probing possible yakuza links to TEPCO and the nuclear industry under the guidance of the National Police Agency.

When we look at the situation of workers generally, and the inadequacy of government oversight in other areas, and add corruption and crime, it’s clear that there’s an expectation that the nuclear industry will operate on a higher and more pure level than any other. Have they earned this faith?

Any proposed new nuclear plant must factor in the cost of providing security, basically forever. Long after the plant has stopped producing power, the toxic waste will have to be kept from terrorists and criminals who could use it for weapons. That’s in addition to human error and whatever changes may come in the future that would make us relax our vigilance. There are dirty sites all over the world from decades of Cold War politics, from industrial and medical use of radioactive materials.

The incident in Sweden might not turn out to be a real threat, but the real threat is always a possibility– a curse we are handing down to future generations.

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