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Earthworms

Host Jean Ponzi presents information, education and conversation with activists and experts on environmental issues and all things "green." Produced in the studios of KDHX Community Media in St. Louis, MO.
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Conversations in Green: host Jean Ponzi presents information, education and conversation with activists and experts on environmental issues and all things green.

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Jul 6, 2016

Jeff Suchland once raised cattle on his rolling land near Missouri's Cuivre River. Cows were good, but he wanted to work "more gently with the ground." Enter the Alpaca (Vicugna pacos), a small herding relative of camels, native to South America's Andes mountains. Exit the cows. Jeff's enterprise is now Alpacas of Troy.

Unlike their load-bearing larger cousins, llamas, alpacas are bred to produce fiber. The "blankets" of alpaca hair Jeff shears each spring yield exquisitely fine, warm, soft fiber prized by spinners and knitters. If you have to shun wool's scratchy feeling, prepare your skin for pleasure when you feel Alpaca.

Raising alpacas is an artisan kind of farming, that Jeff Suchland believes is a growth niche. He enthusiastically teaches that his can be a viable livelihood for others too, especially when raising the animals gets combined with milling, those first processes of working with alpaca fiber.

Jeff is a passionate advocate for fiber farming with alpacas. He offers farm tours (by reservation), gives workshops in shearing, dying and more - and sells his farm's fiber goods at Farmers Markets, area-wide. Earthworms met Alpacas of Troy a the Maplewood Farmers Market, hosted each Wednesday at the Schlafly Bottleworks.

The title of one of Jeff's workshops sums up his views: Raising Alpacas for Happiness: Harmonizing Management and Preparing to Profit.

Music: Big Piney Blues performed live at KDHX by Brian Curran, December 2015 
Related Earthworms Conversations:  Farmer Girl Meats with Leslie Moore - June 2015

Jun 28, 2016

So today's average child can identify over 300 corporate logos - but only 10 plants ad animals native to where that kid lives. Yikes! Will humans a generation from now not care about the environment?

Not if Jacob Rodenburg and Drew Monkman can help it! They are co-authors of the brand new Big Book of Nature Activities (June, 2016 - New Society Publishers). It's 384 pages are packed with games, crafts, stories and science-strong activities guaranteed to get the most resistant kid away from the screen and outdoors, discovering. Oriented to help parents, teachers and enviro-educators open nature's wonder-gifts just enough to excite a child's curiosity, this book combines it's creators' experience in all these adult roles.

Organized to convey key ecological concepts like phenology - natural changes through the seasons - nature learning-play using this guide will build sound science knowledge (painlessly) by engaging our human senses and fueling curiosity, kids' engine of learning. Happily, in the natural world, there is no end to what we can discover, about our Earth and - in relationship to nature - about ourselves. At any age, but especially in childhood. And we need this connection, this "Vitamin N," for kids of all ages today.

Check it out as a fun companion on your summer adventures. Earthworms bets you'll keep this BIG Book around, year-round. Enjoy!

Music: Sweet Georgia Brown - whistled live at KDHX by Randy Erwin, June 2010.

Related Earthworms Conversations: In 'Toon, Greenly, with Poet and Enviro-Cartoonist Joe Mohr (November 2015)

Ed Maggart and Experiential Education (March 2015)

                                    

 

Jun 22, 2016

Mayors of large and small towns along the Mississippi's 2500 flowing miles are championing this region's economic, security and ecological interests on the world stage.

Mayor members of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative presented this month at the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit. They participated in the COP-21 Paris Climate Talks last December, advocating for ecologically sound river basin management. MRCTI Mayors have been instrumental in hammering out and recruiting signatories to an "International River Basin Agreement to Mitigate Climate Risk by Achieving Food and Water Security."

These are Mayors of towns like St. Paul, Minnesota, Dubuque, Iowa, Gretna, Louisiana. An MRCTI founder is St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. Many of these individuals have "regular jobs" in addition to serving as Mayors. They are working together - and with leaders from towns and nations around the world - to safeguard water quality, advocate for sustainable development, and promote river economy in concert with environmental protection. Quite the gig!

Colin Wellenkamp, MRCTI Executive Director, reports to Earthworms about this extraordinary, influential work: how it's evolving, and a bit about what it's like for individuals who have "run for Mayor" and are working, influentially, in a global way. 

Music: Balkan Twirl - performed live at KDHX by Sandy Weltman and the Carolbeth Trio, June 2009

Related Earthworms Conversations: Mighty Mississippi Gets a Report Card - October 2015

Jun 15, 2016

From deep family roots, across several stretches of grassland acreage, "Regenerative Farming" practices are yielding right livelihood (including a reasonable $$ living) for the human, animal and ecological partners in the enterprise Farmer Girl Meats.

Earthworms guest Leslie Moore is a third-generation farmer girl who, like many of her time and place, left a life on the the land for the city. Surprise! She's back, and putting to super-smart use her urban experience and degrees in biology, business and marketing. On the rising local food tide, Leslie joined her family's forces with a select group of farming friends and neighbors and launched a unique business to "get more good meat on more plates."

The business model of Farmer Girl Meats keeps both process and economic quality high, by delivering pasture-raised meats (beef, pork, lamb, and poultry) directly to customers. And Leslie's passion for the synergies of grass, soil, animals, health and the power of cooperating people sings through her explanation of wholistic land management, for the health of all involved and - most importantly - the land. 

The only thing you won't find in this conversation is the taste of Farmer Girl's craft meat products. We'll leave that element up to you!

Music: Audrey's Bounce, performed live at KDHX by the Western Satellites (2014)

Related Earthworms Conversations:

Serena Cochran on Humane Farming (April 2014)

2% for the Planet: Courtney White's Super Stories of Green Innovations (Nov 2015)

Jun 7, 2016

Want to start an urban garden? Or grow your garden-sized enterprise into a feeding others, providing livelihood for yourself urban FARM? There's a brand new "toolkit" in town for you. Melissa Vatterott, Food & Farms Coordinator for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment returns to Earthworms to present the topics covered in this guide.

Urban Ag issues include ordinances (the City Chicken Limit), water access (can you tap into a neighboring property's hose bib, or do you need to install a costly water line?), and zoning for types of structures (tool sheds, high tunnels) and location-specific land usage.

Opportunities, on the other hand, are great - and growing - in the St. Louis region! We have lots of vacant land, the climate for three-season food production, good soil, and abundant water, even in times of drought. We have partnerships like these toolkit supporters in the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition: Gateway Greening and Lincoln University Cooperative Extension. And we have leaders like Melissa Vatterott, cultivating data along with berries, greens and carrots, to ensure the viability and fund-ability of our growing Urban Farming culture.

Dig into the new Guide to Urban Agriculture and Urban Farming in St. Louis - and help yourself, your neighborhood and your local farmers grow capacity to feed our region!

Music: Magic 9, performed live by the Infamous Stringdusters, at KDHX in June, 2011.

Related Earthworms Conversations:

Melissa Vatterott on the St. Louis Regional Foodshed Study - December 29, 2015.

LaVista Farmer Crystal Stevens (Earthworms' farmer!) - July 29, 2015

Farming on a Downtown Roof: Urban Harvest STL - June 30, 2015

Pawpaw, America's Forgotten Fruit - September 30, 2015

Project Garlic: Crop-Sourcing the Super-Bulb - October 13, 2015

Jun 1, 2016

Kids in Waldorf school prepare their own snacks, often from food they have grown in their school garden! They cultivate learning for Head, Hands and Heart. They learn by telling stories, from Fairy Tales in first grade to Viking Tales in fourth. Athletics include the classic Greek events of the pentathlon. Media-based learning is extremely limited. Waldorf graduates are 50% more likely to go into sciences and math compared to the national average. Art and Music weave through every school experience, and Nature is a major teacher.

Kelly Childs, St. Louis Waldorf School parent and board member, shares her experience and knowledge about this internationally recognized educational "alternative" with Earthworms' Jean Ponzi. Among the many practical to deeply philosophical elements of Waldorf education in this conversation, Kelly's favorite is that students - her two children and their friends - are going through school LOVING learning. 

Plus, these young humans are growing up loving (and loving to learn about) nature.
What a concept!


The Waldorf School of St. Louis invites adults to a workshop on Saturday June 11, 9 a.m. to noon, on "Awakening Empathy in the Heart of Community." featuring Dr. John Cunningham, proponent of nonviolent communications and compassionate communication. 

Music: Who Gives by Brian Curran, performed at KDHX December 2015.

May 25, 2016

Fleeing military conscription and a "landless" future in his native Denmark, Jens Jensen fell in love with the vast though fast-disappearing prairies around Chicago, his adopted home. He saw democracy embodied in these open spaces. His life-work became growing "American Gardens" with these American (today we call them NATIVE) plants, bringing nature into the burgeoning city, as a source of public good.

Earthworms welcomes filmmaker Carey Lundin to talk about her story of legendary landscape designer and public parks advocate, Jens Jensen The Living Green. Jensen (1860-1951) incorporated native plants into sought-after landscape design in an era when gardens here had merely mimicked the formalities and plant types of Europe. He appreciated and popularlized the natural beauties of prairie even as Chicago's growth gobbled up its prairie outskirts.

A free St. Louis screening of this film will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Missouri Prairie Foundation. Carol Davit, Executive Director of MPF, also talks with Earthworms, about this organization that conserves, studies and helps restore the biodiverse native grasslands that once covered central North America. Sponsored by Roeslein Alternative Energy, a company researching sustainable-energy use of prairie biomass, The Living Green will fill the outdoor Public Media Commons of the NineNetwork for Public Media on Saturday, June 18 at 7 p.m.

Music: Big Piney Blues, performed by Brian Curran live at KDHX, December 2015.

Related Earthworms Conversations: Prairie Power, March 30, 2016.

Wes Jackson: Growing Our Food Crops as Prairies, September 2, 2015.

May 10, 2016

Their swooping loopy high-flying aerobatics are a spirit lifter when you see them, especially if you're watching a mature male Martin, feathered out in his iridescent "purple dress."  Their unique housing preference, cavities in structures put up on poles that can look, literally, like a miniature rooming-house, has established the Purple Martin as a species interdependent with humans. Their migrational return each spring makes a soaring connection for us, through these iconic birds, with nature.

John Miller, Earthworms' guest today, has been watching and learning about (and from) Purple Martins since he was a teenager. He has become St. Louis' Purple Martin Guy, volunteering here for the Purple Martin Conservation Association as a speaker, bird walk leader and general human ally for these birds. John oversees Purple Martin colonies in Forest Park, at the Missouri Botanical Garden, in Queeny Park in St. Louis County and other locations.

When you've heard about Purple Martins here, go see them - with the Purple Martin Guy! The First Saturday Bird Walks in Forest Park will spotlight Martins on Saturday morning, June 4. Meet at 8:15 at the Forest Park Forever Visitor Center. John will be the kind of quiet, quick-moving guy whose fancy for America's Most Wanted Bird just might take wing for you too.

Music: Frankie and Johnny, performed live at KDHX by Brian Curran (Nov., 2015)

May 3, 2016

Inducted into the Garden Writers of America Hall of Fame in2005, JeffLowenfels plants his messages eloquentlyinto the minds and hearts of plant-lovers everywhere. Hisbook 
"Teamingwith Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil FoodWeb" is a ground-breaking (ha-ha, Jeff) tour of MotherNature's network of plant-boosting relationships. 

Meet these underground powerhouse communities: from mycorrhizalnetworks to nitrogen-fixing bacteria to the nematodes andprotozoans that convert atmospheric Carbon into usable plant food.Jeff Lowenfels knows and loves them all - and explains theyimportance to gardeners and farmers at every growing scale.

Intrigued by this Earthworms introduction to the Soil Food Web?Don't miss Jeff Lowenfels' FREE St. Louis talk on Weds May 11. In theWild Ideas Worth Sharing speaker series, this talk is presented bythe Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, BiodiverseCity St. Louis and theAcademy of Science St. Louis. The event is FREE at MICDs,5-11-16 6:30-9:30 p.m. but registration isrequired. Also speaking: James Sotillo, one of the nation'sleading Soil Life Consultants, currently working on rebuilding soilhealth for the renovated Gateway Arch grounds in St. Louis.

Once you hear Jeff's perspectives on soil life, you'll neverdish the dirt again!

Music: Extreme Stomp - Performed by PokeyLaFarge and Ryan Spearman at KDHX-St. Louis.

Apr 27, 2016

Brian Ettling wears many hats: the Smokey Bear Stratton of a National Park Ranger, some cool driving/cycling caps, and the Green fedora of a citizen spokesperson for the (international) Climate Reality Project. Brian talks to Earthworms today by phone, en route to his summer seasonal ranger gig at Crater Lake National Park - where one of his interpretive duties is to talk to visitors from around the globe about the issue of Climate Change.

What are some conversational keys to engage one's fellow humans with this topic, especially when the guy you're talking to is convinced it's all a hyped-up myth? And how can HOPE always figure in to a topic that's so huge it freezes up people's capacity to care and respond? Brian Ettling has worked this out - as you, dear Earthworms listener, will hear, and can see in some of his personal postings

This conversation also says HAPPY CENTENNIAL to our U.S. National Park Service, in the first of this year's Earthworms spotlights on this jewel of nature and culture.

Music: Cadillac Desert - performed live at KDHX-St. Louis by William Tyler.

Related Earthworms Interviews: David Henry, Climate Walker (12-15-15)

Plants, Indigenous People and Climate with Ethnobotanist Dr. Jan Salick (12-22-15)

Dr. Peter Raven, Science Advisor to Papal Climate Encyclical (6-22-15)

Apr 20, 2016

Around our world, artisans in all media are able to thrive because of stores like Zee Bee Market, a proud local member of the Fair Trade Federation. St. Louis retailer Julio Zegarra-Ballon, a native of Peru, melliflously articulates the principles of fair trade in this Earthworms conversation.

Goods Julio has brought to the KDHX studio embody collaborative relationships between seller and maker, to develop product lines both novel and useful. These exchanges go beyond protection, to enhance the social, economic and environmental well-being of global cultures, sources of Zee Bee's wares.

Located at 3211 South Grand Boulevard - in one of St. Louis most vibrant business districts - and online, Zee Bee Market is a delightful and ethical shopping destination.

Thanks to Stacey Bernard, host of Backroads, Saturday mornings on KDHX, for introducing Earthworms to Zee Bee Market and its owner, Julio Zegarra-Ballon.

Music: Infernal Piano Plot, performed live at KDHX by the Claudettes.

Apr 13, 2016

Head south in St. Louis to Cherokee Street for a new celebration of Earth Day at The Blue Pearl. Owner Julie Sommers and friends are gathering music - speakers - poetry - great food and drink, and Green activities for kids to celebrate our Blue Planet! Festivities start at 3 p.m. on Friday April 22 - EARTH DAY! 


One special speaker is Earthworms guest Tabitha Tripp, a life-long tree lover, dirt worshipper and resident of Southern Illinois. Tabitha reports on issues - and the beauty of her part of her state - from the Heartwood Forest Council and SAFE, Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment. She shares some original, personal poetry from her activist experience. In her spare time, Tabitha is a mom, a poet and painter and one hellacious cook. 

Other Blue Pearl Earth Day speakers will address Pop-Up Prairies, Cool Roofs, Energy and Nuclear Waste issues - and much more. Music will jam up all spaces!

Cherokee is one of the liveliest, oldest, most diverse street scenes in town. This year Earth lovers will flock there - and rock there! Hope to see you there too!

Music: Butter II recorded at KDHX by Ian Ethan Case

Apr 13, 2016

Earthworms' KDHX listening area is rich in water, surrounded by rivers, blessed with (thankfully) abundant rainfall - yet do we SEE these priceless resources around us? Artists Libby Reuter and Sun Smith-Foret are about to open our eyes.

Libby and Joshua Rowan continue to join their sculptural and photographic forces in the eloquent project Watershed Cairns, water marked with art.  Libby's glass sculptures are created to be photographed by Josh in sensitive or damaged or simply glorious watershed locales. This multi-year creative flow has built a stunning body of work, seen in St. Louis and other cities. 


Sun Smith-Foret's new Riverwork Project incorporates river images by 60 regional artists in a regional, multi-racial collaboration that has produced a 300-foot long pieced, layered, painted and embroidered textile. Riverwork is also designed to pack up and travel - upstream, downriver and into the minds and hearts of viewers.


See Water will be exhibited at the St. Louis Artist Guild - 12 North Jackson in Clayton, Missouri - opening reception 5-8 pm on Friday April 22 - EARTH DAY! - and on view through May 12. Join a Walkabout with the artists on Wednesday May 4, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

How will you See Water after seeing this work - and hearing this Earthworms conversation?


Music: Butter II recorded live at KDHX by Ian Ethan Case

Apr 6, 2016


Artist Sarah Loynd creates around sustainable themes - and wears her messages, boldly. Her media ranges from an invasive plant to villages in Greece abandoned as bauxite mining takes over, to humane concerns for both cows and children. She doesn't flinch from tough topics as she fashions (literally) head-turning pieces

About to earn a BFA from Maryville University, Loynd's work in the Studio Art 2016 Senior Show will be on view April 11 - May 12 in May Foundation Gallery on the Maryville campus in Chesterfield, with an opening reception on April 14, 5-7 p.m. "Creative Eradication," her bush honeysuckle gown, was recently on view at the Missouri Botanical Garden. 

Music: Abdiel - performed live at KDHX by Dave Black.

Related Earthworms Conversations: Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habitat (March 2, 2016)

 

Mar 30, 2016

The Missouri Prairie Foundation is celebrating 50 years of studying, growing, restoring and promoting one of the most productive  - and dwindling - ecosystems on Earth. MPF Director, Carol Davit talks with Earthworms' Jean Ponzi about these "seas of grass" and their importance to both repairing and supporting human interaction with nature. Jon Wingo also joins this conversation, adding his considerable experience as Board past-President of MPF and President of DJM Ecological Services, a landscaping firm that specializes in work with native plants (enjoy Jon's and DJM's work on any St. Louis roam around the wilder areas of Forest Park).


MPF now manages Grow Native! one of the nation's most outstanding and prolifically engaging native plant promotional programs. The twofold purpose of Grow Native! is to increase supply and increase demand, working with native plants. Look for the purple tags or display areas in almost any locally-owned garden center and you'll see living evidence of Grow Native! achievements  - plus you'll be strongly tempted to try some natives on your own grounds.

MPF events this spring will include plant sales, Bioblitz on an original remnant prairie near Mt. Vernon MO, a regional celebration of National Prairie Day (June 4), Grow Native! workshops - and more. Membership in MPF brings you the quarterly Missouri Prairie Journal, a delightful hybrid of public information and scholarly research.  

Music:  Limehouse Blues - recorded live at KDHX by Del McCoury Band

Related Earthworms Conversations: 

Wes Jackson, Founder of The Land Institute: Growing Our Food in Prairies (9-2-15)

 

Mar 22, 2016

It's April 22 on the calendar - it's much more around Earthworms' town, thanks to the year-round Earth-tacular efforts of our local non-profit St. Louis Earth Day

Today's guests are SLED Executive Director Jen Meyerscough and Bob Henkel (Champion of Compost), who heads up event Greening spring through fall by Recycling On The Go, and helps coordinate special SLED events.

Details on the Recycling Extravaganza - this year on Sunday April 3, 10 am to 2 p.m. - include just some of the 20+ businesses and service organizations who'll be on hand to accept and properly deal with all kinds of hard-to-recycle (or reuse) items, from prescription drugs to carpeting to Mardi Gras beads. Check out the lineup online and pack your bike, car or buggy to dole out your items as you work your way around the St. Louis Community College - Forest Park campus parking lot. You - and your basement - will be glad you recycled at REX! 

And Earthworms looks ahead to the best Earth Day Festival in the USA, put on by folks who know their stuff and packed with good learning, Green eating, groovy music, unparalleled people-watching - and FUN. On Sunday April 24, 10 am to 6 p.m., join your fellow Earthlings on The Muny grounds in Forest Park for a planet party that produces almost Zero waste.

Earthworms will see you there - starting at twilight on Saturday April 23, for SLED's big-fun fundraiser Earth Day Eve.

Thanks to engineer Haley Hudson.

Music: Mayor Harrison's Fedora, performed live at KDHX by Kevin Buckley and Ian Walsh. 

Mar 15, 2016

Permaculture is a design discipline that strives to work with nature, pointing us to the solution that's found in the problem. Permaculture practitioner, teacher and advocate Tao Orion has drawn on her work in Oregon's Willamette Valley to research and write "Beyond the WAR on Invasive Species" (2015, Chelsea Green). She presents long-view ecological perspectives on the kinds of eco-problems exemplified by invasive species - and how we humans can change our thinking, our processes, our questions into accord with Earth's systems. From edible landscapes to herbicide use, this conversation challenges easy-answer thinking.

This show follows up on resources shared (March 1) by St. Louis leaders of the Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habit, an effort to tackle one our region's most problematic invasive species 

Earthworms values good questions - with thanks to you for listening and considering!

Music: Magic 9 performed live at KDHX studios by Infamous Stringdusters.

Related Earthworms interviews: Growing our food crops as prairies? - with Wes Jackson of The Land Institute (9- 2- 2015)

Missouri's Pioneer Forest exemplifies ecological stewardship - from A Tribute to Leo Drey (6-2-2015)

 

Mar 9, 2016

Move over, motors. In 2015, St. Louis ranked 5th among the 50 largest US cities where bike commuting is growing fast. Ranks of two-wheeled regular travelers here have swelled 270% since 2000. Cycling is a real commuter option, plus being anytime FUN.

Taylor March takes this Earthworms podcast on a try-cycling tour. He rides to work as Education and Encouragement Manager for Trailnet, STL's long-serving active living non-profit org. You'll be encouraged to get around Greener by Taylor's perspectives on cycling safety, confident commuting, and how this region is truly transforming travel routes to support low-carbon, high-health alternative transportation.

Find Trailnet on Facebook for special events, from get-togethers like Bikes & Brews to regional amenities on Bike To Work Day (May 20, 2016), which generates miles of data to make the case for civic investing in cycling infrastructure. Memberships support Trailnet's advocacy, work that's cranking' vitality for St. Louis bicycling culture. 

See you in the bike lanes!

Music: Hunter's Permit by Mr. Sun, recorded live at KDHX-St. Louis.

Related Earthworms Conversations: Elizabeth Simons of Great Rivers Greenway previewed STL potentials for BikeShare, a program working in cities like Portland OR and Washington DC (May 14, 2014). We're not quite there yet, but the upticks in cycling Trailnet supports are laying foundations for this urban amenity. 

Mar 2, 2016

Ah, that first refreshing flush of Green! Enlivening our yards and roadways. Aaahhh, so lovely . . . . NOT! The earliest leaf-er in our area is one of our most Invasive Species: Lonicera maackii, Bush Honeysuckle. The Kudzu of Missouri. AAARRRRGGGHHHH!

What's a person with a honeysuckle "privacy hedge" to do? 

Theodore Smith of Forest Park Forever explains why this plant is such a problem - and how to remove it, safely and effectively. Artisan and woodworker Dale Dufer invites you to consider this too-abundant plant matter as a creative resource. His project Think About Tables is inspiring adults and youth to make something useful and beautiful from a plant that really grows quite elegantly (except too much, here). And Meg Hoester of the Missouri Botanical Garden invites you to participate in this region's first-ever Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habitat, coming up March 5-13. Environmental groups all around St. Louis are teaming up - before tick and chigger season - to lead volunteers in bush honeysuckle removal, learn why this plant is such a problem, and get introduced to Native Plants as healthy habitat replacements, when you get rid of your bush honeysuckle. 

Lace up your sturdy boots, grab a clipper and give Bush Honeysuckle a pull! 

Music: Balkan Twirl - Sandy Weltman and the Carolbeth Trio, recorded at KDHX.

Related Earthworms Conversations:

Rebecca Girresch on Maryville University's Goat Project, a cloven-hooved experiment in bush honeysuckle remediation. (April 15, 2014)

Dr. Kyra Krakos on Maryville University's Bauhaus Botany bush honeysuckle art exhibition (October 14, 2014)

Horticulturist Bill Davit (one of Missouri's Living Treasures!) on growing prairies, ecosystems where Native Plants are splendid. (September 11, 2014)

Remembering Edgar Dennison, the illustrious early advocate of gardening with Native Plants and author of the classic "Missouri Wildflowers." With Missouri Botanical Garden's Dr. George Yatskievych and Scott Woodbury. (April, 2014)

 

Feb 24, 2016

You know the feeling: stuck in traffic, creeping along, ticking off the minutes and getting just ticked. And maybe you've felt that choke in the air, when vehicle pollutants heat up in the summer, and air quality veers off into a ditch.

RideFinders is driving a change to these scenes. Using federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds applied toward achieving Clean Air Act goals, this local agency is charged with getting some vehicles off the road, by grouping commuters into Carpools and Vanpools. SJ Morrison, RideFinders' Director of Marketing and Planning, tells Earthworms how these services can save you money, cut your stress and clean up the air our region breathes. 

Cost to you, the commuter? Free. Including the service "Guaranteed Ride Home" that covers a cab ride (up to 4x a year) if an emergency arises on your Carpool day. RideFinders maintains a database of over 12,000 St. Louis area commuters, to help anyone in a 12-county region match up with a convenient ride. Even a couple of days a week, carpooling contributes to cleaner air.

RideFinders tracks all results of these investments - and works with employers to get the word out as efficiently and broadly as possible. Could RideFinders work for you?

RideFinders is operated by Madison County Transit, serving the St. Louis region since 1994.

Music: Lime House Blues, recorded at KDHX studios by Del McCoury - and picked just for you SJ, with thanks for being a KDHX fan!

Feb 10, 2016

The St. Louis region is crisscrossed, surrounded and blessed with rivers and streams. Thanks to this week's guest group, Great Rivers Greenway, these natural features are increasingly connected by a network of trails and greenways, a vibrant invitation to folks of all ages to explore our area, and enjoy more of our lives outside!

Elizabeth Simons, GRG's Community Programs Manager, and Conservation Programs Manager Angie Weber talk about their organization's history, purpose, projects and plans, including the call this month for the public to advise the next five years of GRG's work. Efforts of the past 15 years to purchase and lease land, build trails and connect natural features are now being enhanced by ecological restoration, native planting, and water-conserving greenway elements. This is 21st century, habitat-hip get-around-Green great stuff!

Open House events on February 17 at the Bridgeton Trails Branch Library and on February 23 at the Missouri History Museum will showcase GRG achievements and solicit community input. 

A significant fact about GRG is that residents of St. Louis City and County and St. Charles County have twice voted to support these resources with our tax dollars (2000, 2013). Tax support on the Illinois side of the KDHX listening area sustains more inter-connective open spaces. GRG circulates an eNewsletter, including volunteer opportunities, fun events and progress reports.

Multiple reasons to learn more - and add your perspective to the public comment mix, by electronic survey if you can't make it to an Open House. Check out these active-living, nature-loving resources!

Music: Extremist Stomp, recorded live at KDHX by Pokey LaFarge and Ryan Spearman.

Feb 3, 2016

Today's Earthworms guest is one of the planet's most respected honeybee behaviorists, certainly a researcher and author whose bee-buzz is FUN (and useful!) to read. Dr. Thomas Dyer Seeley is Cornell University's Horace White Professor in Biology, in this biology powerhouse institution's Department of Neurology and Behavior. In more common terms, Tom Seeley is a scientist who loves honeybees and has learned deeply from bee colonies, domestic and wild. 

What is honeybee society? Is it "Democracy," really? What enables a Queen Bee to support the entire colony that she alone mothers? And what-all goes on with bees that, in turn, keep the colony going around the year, when nectar is flowing and when plants, water and earth are frozen . . . 

What's different about wild and domestic bee colonies? And what can today's avid amateur beekeepers (hundreds in St. Louis alone!) learn from wild honeybee populations, and potentially adapt to help domestic bee survival?


BeeSpeakSTL, our regional beekeeping speaker series, will host Tom Seeley here on Saturday February 27, 11 am - 3 pm at the Missouri Botanical Garden. May this Earthworms conversation pique your interest in hearing this Super Bee Guy's talks. Maybe you'll even step out and try the Apis melifera - Homo sapiens dance.

Our species share "Democracy" - yes, at least more or less - and Dancing, and for sure a taste for Sweetness. 


Thanks to Isabee's and BeeSpeakSTL.com for coordinating this interview.
Thanks to Haley and Andy for engineering.

Music: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 by J.S. Bach (a notable "B") performed by Kevin MacLeod.

Jan 27, 2016

The pope says Climate Change is real - so it must be true! Seriously: he calls humankind, in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, to change our ways and protect "our common home."

In Earthworms' home St. Louis, the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help are hosting learning sessions to dig into this message and its personal meaning for everyday life. Sr. Rosalie Wisniewski and Sr. Cheryl Kemner join Jean Ponzi in this podcast's mini-exploration of the landmark papal call to environmental awareness and action. 

The Sisters' winter discussion series is part of their ministry since 2007, Franciscans For Earth. Activity includes their organic farm in DeSoto, MO, monthly screenings and discussions of local, national and international films on a wide range of enviro-topics - and luscious heirloom tomatoes grown with love and shared each summer at local farmers' markets.

Related Earthworms conversations:

Dr. Peter Raven, senior advisor to the Papal Academy of Science, talked about the climate encyclical - and his experience as it was crafted - just after its release (6-22-15).

The Franciscans' January film was "From the Pipeline" by St. Louis filmmaker Caitlin Zera whose documentary covers tar sands pipeline issues (1-6-16).

 Music: Hunter's Permit performed live at KDHX by Mr. Sun (3-13-14)

 

Jan 20, 2016

How much time do you spend in buildings? At work, at home, in places where we learn, play and pray:  experts figure we Americans are typically in buildings over 90% of our lives, not counting being inside vehicles!

The U.S. Green Building Council works toward a "built environment" that maintains our personal health, while also safeguarding water and air, minimizing waste of all kinds and using energy as efficiently as possible.  In St. Louis, USGBC's Missouri Gateway Chapter has been actively advancing these goals for 15 years. Earthworms congratulates USGBC MO Gateway, talking with Executive Director Emily Andrews and chapter leader Nick Bristow, a senior associate engineer with Forum Studios.

What effects has this green building work had in our area - economically, environmentally and for professionals involved in the green building movement? Hear all about it in this Earthworms podcast - and check out one (or more) of our USGBC chapter's regular programs in their anniversary year. Topics will range from "benchmarking" for energy efficiency (February), to wellness in buildings (March) to a "Sweet Sustainability" program in July spotlighting the green headquarters of the Mars Candy Company.

Music: The Exotic Future of Money by The Kinetics, recorded live at KDHX-St. Louis.

Jan 13, 2016

 

Humans and honeybees work together - as both hobby and livelihood!

As the Eastern Missouri Beekeeping Association (EMBA) prepares to host their 9th Annual Beekeeping Workshop on February 9th, Earthworms welcomes Bee advocates to the KDHX studios to talk about this hugely popular activity that also happens to sustain a lot of the food crops we enjoy. Guests are Scott Jackson, a St. Louis beekeeper and EMBA board member, and Mark Dykes, chief of the Apiary Inspection Service for the State of Texas and guest instructor for the upcoming EMBA workshop. 

The honeybee, Apis melifera, is not a U.S. native (Europeans brought their bees and hives to North America as early as the 1400s), but these fascinating insects and their complex society have established a super-productive niche here: pollinating one-third of our crops (dramatized in a Whole Foods produce section) and annually contributing to over $14 billion in crop production. But bee health issues -  including virroa mite infestations, Colony Collapse Disorder, pesticide use and habitat loss - are threatening this productivity.

Hobby beekeepers are truly helping to sustain honeybee vitality, while contributing to research aimed at sustainably protecting honeybees and their habitat. Could this BEE the year you join forces with these beneficial bugs? Hundreds of St. Louis area beekeepers will welcome you and help you build skills!

Music: "Remington Ride" performed by Western Satellites live at KDHX 1/15/11

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