We all know that using less energy pays (don't we?) by cutting utility bills, reducing demand for fossil fuels and belching less carbon into Earth's climate. But the issue of how to pay for energy efficiency upgrades to your home or commercial property can be a hurdle too high to leap.
Enter PACE, Property Assessed Clean Energy, a financing process that ties the value of improvements - and lending to support them - to the value of your property, not to your personal credit capacity. Across Missouri, including the KDHX service area, the HERO program is connecting municipalities (they levy property taxes) to lenders to energy-smart contractors to property owners to build PACE into our energy usage.
John Maslowski, VP of Marketing and Development for HERO in Missouri, tells Earthworms host Jean Ponzi the what-why-how of PACE. The program's website includes a spiffy animation that explains it too. John and Jean go into what kinds of efficiency measures HERO can finance, connecting with contractors, and what's in this benefit package for local communities and property owners.
In the KDHX listening area, HERO is available in 7 St. Charles County and 14 St. Louis County communities, the City of Arnold in Jefferson County, and all of Franklin and Greene Counties; also in the Kansas City and Columbia areas. Check with your mayor or City Manager if your municipality is not on the HERO list; other PACE programs are at work here too, or PACE can come to your community.
PACE is a great deal. We hope this podcast energizes you!
Music: Lime House Blues, performed live at KDHX by the great Del McCoury, August 2013.
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer.
Related Earthworms Conversations: Energy Efficiency: Policy, Financing and Relationships that Power It All with Josh Campbell, Missouri Energy Initiative - September 2016.
Think about how we get around town, if stuff we want and need to get to is close enough to where we live, work, learn and play that we don't have to use a car to get there (or at least not all the time). If our neighborhoods feel lively, safe, healthy and productive.
This is all part of the national movement called Smart Growth, practiced by community builders like Earthworms guests Dana Gray and Eric Friedman, who are both local champions of equity, sustainability, creativity and prosperity - for everyone in the St. Louis community where they live and work.
Smart Growth is a trend prompting economic, social and environmental benefits in many U.S. cities. In St. Louis, the concept has grown some good roots and sprouted in places like South Grand Boulevard, Washington Avenue downtown, the Delmar Loop and Old North St. Louis. Efforts of community-builders in many places are moving out town in smarter directions, at a pace we will define in positive terms as gathering steam.
Evidence of this movement here is that the Local Government Commission is bringing their annual New Partners for Smart Growth national conference to The Lou from February 1-4. A special FREE day of Smart Growth skill-building and networking events has just been announced, DIY Great Cities on Wednesday February 1 - a scoop on this Earthworms podcast!
YOU could become a Smart Growth advocate in your neighborhood, with benefits cycling directly, sustainably back to your family, friends, and neighbors. Check it out!
Dana Gray is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Tower Grove Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation. Eric Friedman is real estate and development professional, principal of The Friedman Group commercial real estate company, and founder of Housing and Community Solutions. Both have been instrumental in bringing National Partners for Smart Growth 2017 Conference to St. Louis.
Music: Cookie Mouth, performed live at KDHX by The Provels, January 2015.
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer - and to Jon Valley.
Related Earthworms Conversations:
Trailnet's New Vision for Getting Around Green - November 2016
St. Louis Food Policy Coalition - December 2015
As Earthworms rides out the tail tip of 2016, we find ourselves needing an Attitude Adjustment to prepare for a New Year. Jeannie Breeze, our longtime friend and positive-focus mentor, brings to KDHX some of her prodigious, witty skills to generate and maintain Peace through thoughts, words and actions.
This conversation invites our whole community to join the 31st annual St. Louis World Peace Day Celebration, on Saturday December 31 at 6 a.m. (yes, we know it's early - you'll hear why in the podcast) at Central Reform Congregation, corner of Kingshighway and Waterman. As in every year past, this event includes fine music, words of wisdom (some from Earthworms host Jean Ponzi), and an exceptional meditation guided by Jeannie herself. Check out the details. Potluck breakfast too!
Hocus-Pocus, You Can Focus - on being a Beacon of (green) Peace!
Music: Big Piney Blues, performed live at KDHX by Brian Curran, March 2015
THANKS to Jon Valley, Earthworms engineer, and to Andy Coco.
Some of Earth's wonders are easy to see: gaze skyward or wake up into a "world" of freshly fallen snow. Others are more hidden, tucked into mathematical equations or the brilliant adaptations of elephants' senses - or your dog's nose!
A gem of a new book celebrates, in gorgeous images and cool facts, our Earth, our home, and its wondrously diverse phenomena. Acclaimed science journalist Nadia Drake has focused her prodigious skills to craft this lovely volume, Little Book of Wonders. It's a natural as a holiday gift.
This Earthworms conversation is our winter-holiday gift to you: an exchange about the planet we love, with a woman whose work inspires readers of National Geographic, Nature, Science News and WIRED. Check out her Nat'l Geo blog No Place Like Home.
Thanks for listening. Cheers!
Music: Jingle Bells, performed by the Civiltones live at KDHX, December 2011.
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer.
Four years ago, Brian Ettling began volunteering to educate people about Climate Change, through the Climate Reality Project. He is now Missouri State Coordinator of the Citizens' Climate Lobby. He takes this tough topic to public groups, far and wide. This fall, Brian took his climate protection policy message to the offices of six U.S. Representatives - and to the Canadian House of Parliament!
With the ambitious goal of getting a Carbon Fee & Dividend bill through Congress in 2017, this national organization of Citizen Climate Lobbyists is meeting legislators with "Admiration, Respect and Gratitude," and digging into substantial answers to questions they meet along the way.
Brian maintains a positive, can-do focus as he advocates for climate protection. He details his group's policy proposal, including expert reviews and support, and shares his vivid experience with Earthworms' Jean Ponzi. Also check out Brian's report from his summer job as a ranger at Crater Lake National Park, where he educates Park visitors about Climate Change.
Music: Washboard Suzie, performed live at KDHX by Zydeco Crawdaddies, June 2009
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer, and for assistance from Jon Valley.
Related Earthworms Conversations: Climate Change Tales from a National Park Ranger, April 2016
In this town of so many great places, what if we could get around to them easily, confidently - low-carbon and on two wheels? St. Louis' longtime active living non-profit, Trailnet, says Sure! Let's do it!
This is a vision of interconnected destinations, in many great neighborhoods, along "calmer" travel routes, planted and built with eco-sense. Trailnet announced it in mid-November. The plan is to serve cyclists and pedestrians, of all ages and abilities. Now their team is taking this vision to the community, to find out what WE would like to experience, in this greener - saner! - travel vision.
Earthworms guests from Trailnet are Taylor March, Education and Encouragement Coordinator, and Director of Policy and Strategy Marielle Brown. They'll come to your community group, seeking planning input broadly. Word up: this vision is catching!
Music: Cadillac Desert, performed at KDHX by William Tyler, July 2013.
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer, with help from Jon Valley.
Related Earthworms Conversations: Get Around Greener - On Two Wheels, March 2016.
When a techno-breakthrough by one (anonymous) Human Genius makes it possible for animals to speak, they take over global TV. Earth's animals get 100 hours to message the ONE critter that NEEDS to hear from ALL: us.
Legendary environmental advocate and political activist Ralph Nader works the realm of fiction with his new book Animal Envy - A Fable (Seven Stories Press, 2016). He broadcasts a world of voices. His imagined Great TALKOUT, led by a TRIAD of spokes-species, starts with a tone of flattering humans to get our attention, and quickly turns in biodiverse-ly urgent, poignant, intense directions.
What do animals want us to understand? One fabled guy who speaks up hugely and often to power invites Elephant, Owl, Emerald Ash Borer, Dolphin - and yes, even Earthworm - to speak their truth to People. Nader gives the animals their best shot at waking up his own species. We have much to gain by listening.
Music: Butter II - performed live at KDHX by Ian Ethan Case, April 2016.
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer, with help from Jon Valley.
The world's Indigenous Peoples and communities are more important players in the battle to curb climate change than anyone ever knew. So states a new report from World Resources Institute and partners at Rights Resources Initiative and Woods Hole Research Center.
WRI's Katie Reytar, co-author of this report, tells Earthworms about the enormous amount of forested land holdings and carbon management in the hands of indigenous communities around the world. While governments and companies continue to disregard the land rights of indigenous peoples, their rights and management practices demonstrate powerful measures of carbon sequestration. Forests take on a huge level of importance, as do their traditional human dwellers.
Reytar also talks about Landmark: The Global Platform of Indigenous and Community Lands, which is a year-old collaboration among 13 NGOs to map - and thereby help affirm holding rights of - indigenous and community lands, worldwide. Motivation for this monumental mapping effort? When the public can see these tenures, we will have greater capacity to stand up for them to exploiters.
Music: Mr. Sun by Hunters Permit, performed live at KDHX March, 2014.
Related Earthworms Conversations: A report from the COP21 Climate Summit Indigenous Peoples Conference, by St. Louis ethnobotanist Dr. Jan Salick, December, 2015.
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer.
Filmmakers Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel have merged into "SEED - The Untold Story" the David/Golilath battle to ensure the diversity of global seed stock with a poetic tribute to an emerging, worldwide culture of seed-saving plant and planet respect.
Thousands of human generations always saved seeds to plant their next cycle's food supply. Some revered seeds like children: those who recognized the life in tiny, mysterious, silent kernels, who honored Seed's gift to all living beings.
Today, most of everyone's food comes from seed that's owned by agricultural corporations - seed types that can produce only a perilous fraction of the variety of plants on Earth. This film's focus on Seed issues embody food security, just distribution, profit vs. livelihood, cultural survival, and much more.
View SEED - The Untold Story on Saturday, November 12 at 12:15 pm at the Tivoli Theater, presented by the Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival.
Music: Hunters Permit performed by Mr. Sun at KDHX studios, March 2013.
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer and to Marla Stoker, Cinema St. Louis.
Related Earthworms Conversations: Project Garlic - Slow Food STL Crop-Sources the Super Bulb, September 2015.
Herbalist, artist, vegetable farmer, wife and mother - and author - Crystal Stevens has embodied her Earth-loving knowledge and perspective in a bounteous new book: GROW CREATE INSPIRE, Crafting a Joyful Life of Beauty and Abundance (New Society Press, 2016).
Crystal empowers the reader to dance the path to sustainable, resilient, healthy living! She provides practical advice on gardening, foraging, DIY natural household and beauty recipes, simple seed to table meals, preserving the harvest - and more. Her personal stories color this book with a rainbow of gracious values.
With her husband Eric Stevens, Crystal has nourishing Earthworms host Jean Ponzi for the past three growing seasons, as farmers of the LaVista CSA in Godfrey, IL. Her work has been feeding this show's perspective!
Music: For Michael, performed by Brian Curran at KDHX, December 2015.
Book Release Party! Sunday December 4, Old Bakery Beer in Alton IL (3-6 pm)
Where can you go to have some fun, close to home or just hours away, with the whole family or your pals, maybe catch some history, for sure get outdoors and enjoy NATURE . . . for free? In any of Missouri's 88 (and counting) state parks and historic sites.
Missouri is a national leader in providing nature-based public benefits, in no small part because a modest tax has supported our state park system for over 30 years. The Parks, Soils and Clean Water sales tax levies 1/10 of 1% of sales and uses these funds to manage our parks - and support farmers and landowners statewide through Soil & Water Conservation District services. Amendment 1 brings this tax up for another renewal cycle on November 8. Why consider supporting it?
Hear the vivid, diverse and compelling story of Missouri State Parks from the system's director, Bill Bryan, with the Dept. of Natural Resources, and from Heather Navarro, Executive Director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.
Music: Lime House Blues, performed live at KDHX by the great Del McCoury, August, 2013.
Thanks to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer (and budding State Park explorer)
Pictured: Locations of Missouri State Parks, Elephant Rocks State Park
Historian and author Jill Jonnes digs in to science, social benefits, culture, data and leafy lore in her new book Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Cityscape (Penguin, 2016).
Jonnes tells us tree stories: from the inspiring Survivor Tree of New York's Ground Zero - which is actually an invasive species - to the arborists who branched out and developed data that prove the practical and dollar values of trees in times of city budget cuts. Jonnes' meticulous research and narrative flair make the strong case for community investment in trees, especially in an era when cities everywhere are taking an axe to budgets. Trees yield high ROI, in bio- and other DIVERSE ways.
Music: Big Piney Blues - performed live by Brian Curran at KDHX, March 2015.
THANKS to Earthworms engineer, Josh Nothum.
Related Earthworms Conversations: Backyard Woodland - August 2016
The ABCs of R! R! R! will help every resident recycle - easily.
In the City of St. Louis, it's Brightside, our long-serving beautification agency, now educating residents and bringing resources to community events. Brightside's recycling specialists Elysia Musumeci and Jessica Freiberger and volunteer recycling ambassador Richard Bax recently went door-to-door in two city neighborhoods, to answer residents' questions and distribute home bins in a pilot effort to boost recycling participation.
What do people want to know to make this most fundamental Green practice work? What kinds of issues do city recycling advocates face? A terrific new website, STLCityRecycles.com, and this Earthworms conversation explain it all for you! Check out their lively social media posts and the Brightside website too!
Music: Magic in Threes, performed live at KDHX by Trinity Way, December 2011
THANKS to Josh Nothum and Andy Coco, Earthworms ace engineers.
Few things in the "Green Space" get as wonky as energy policy - or get as popular when utility bills can start shrinking.
Players in the Energy Sector are utility companies (and their shareholders), government regulators, enviro-advocates, municipalities, businesses of all kinds - and us Average Joes who use and pay for energy. Josh Campbell, Executive Director of the Missouri Energy Initiative, works this sector behind the scenes, negotiating for benefits that range from energy efficiency financing options to getting more solar and wind power into the system.
This Earthworms conversation covers state energy policy dynamics, PACE financing, responses in Missouri and Illinois to the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, energy efficiency efforts in the Midwest region - and the kinds of relationships helping our region move from reliance on "Legacy Fuels" toward resilient, diverse, clean energy systems - in ways that all can afford. Energizing!
October 4-5 in St. Louis: Midwest Energy Policy Conference
Music: Deep Gap performed by Marisa Anderson at KDHX-St. Louis, May 2014
THANKS Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer.
Related Earthworms Conversations: All-Electric America? - August 2016
From the Pipeline with Filmaker Caitlin Zera - January 2016
These forested acres in far west St. Louis County have long beckoned visitors from around this region: as the famed Gilberg Perennial Farms from the 1980s until early 2000s, and now as a new creative hub, Wildwood Green Arts.
Proprietor - or should we say Potter and Host? - Doug Gilberg has rekindled his lifelong love of working with clay as a deeply satisfying way to connect with nature and one's fellow humans. He opens his family place to learners and guess, in a new iteration of his earlier work growing and popularizing perennial and native garden plants. Both the calm and joy of this enterprise is clear as Doug talks about it with Earthworms host Jean Ponzi.
Wildwood Green Arts is open for creative use, with spacious new studio facilities including wheels, kilns, hand-building spaces and abundant surrounding natural beauty. From regular Coached Open Studio days to special classes to Date Nights, let this tactile medium lure you to newly experience or more deeply delve into the focused sensuality called Ceramics - in the bonus environment of a very intentional Creative Community.
Music: For Michael by Brian Curran, performed live at KDHX, December 2015
Thanks to Earthworms' engineer, Josh Nothum
Everybody eats. So local food production could become an economic engine, with a modest carbon footprint and potentially huge community benefits. And gardens rooted in communities of faith can nourish the kind of massive root system - of leadership, partnership, entrepreneurship, stewardship - needed to give this ship's engine good Green steam.
Earthworms guest Sylvester Brown Jr. is putting these synergies to work in The Sweet Potato Project, a St. Louis enterprise since 2012 that empowers urban, disadvantaged youth to grow strong futures for themselves and their 'hoods by cultivating - YAMS! Brown will keynote a free public event on Tuesday Sept 20 that spotlights opportunity for faith congregations to GARDEN as a means to community service. Earthworms guest Gail Wechsler is a coordinator of this event - Greening Your Community, Saving the Planet One Garden at a Time - and a spokesperson from the Jewish Community Relations Council for the Green organizing power of communities of all faiths.
This event is third in a series of collaborations between the Jewish Environmental Initiative, US Green Building Council-Missouri Gateway Chapter and Missouri Interfaith Power & Light. Register here.
Earthworms Engineers are Josh Nothum and Andy Coco - thanks!
Music: Butter II performed live at KDHX by Ian Ethan Case, March 2016
Related Earthworms Conversation: St. Louis Food Policy Coalition - December 2015
Her t-shirt says MODERN FARMER. Architect turned Agri-Innovator Mary Ostafi is one, in spades. Her vision, hard work and business savvy continues to grow St. Louis first urban farm on top of a downtown building: Urban Harvest STL.
When Earthworms last talked with Mary, in June 2015, she was just digging in for her Food Roof's first, short growing season. She had blown through the roof of a Kickstarter campaign and secured a big stormwater management grant and was planting the seeds of her enterprising dream firmly atop the second story of a warehouse building in the city's core.
This year, she and her largely volunteer team are fixin' to post achievement gains well over that first season's impressive growth of 1,033 pounds of food produced from 62 varieties of plants, with 60% of it donated to further Urban Harvest's mission to "Grow Food Where You Live!" Mary Ostafi's timing was perfect for planting her non-profit idea firmly into the living soil of both the sustainable food and food justice movements that are sweeping St. Louis and the country overall. Urban Harvest works in partnership with social service leaders like the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, St. Patrick Center, St. Louis Metro Market and more, and has tapped into the farmer training program of EarthDance Farms to create one job in the farm's first year, and significantly boost the profile of all this collaborative energy. Plus eating WELL - and hosting parties!
Check out the Food Roof as a volunteer, any Saturday morning - and get your tix while they last for RAISE THE ROOF, the first Urban Harvest fund-raiser on Thursday Sept 22 - which happily also happens to be the Autumnal Equinox.
Earthworms salutes you, Mary Ostafi - YOU GROW GREEN GIRL!
Thanks to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer.
Music: Redwing by Currycorn - performed live at KDHX March, 2011
Related Earthworms Conversations:
Fruit or Vegetable? To clear up the question in this interview: a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant, whereas vegetables are all other plant parts, such as roots, leaves and stems. BUT there's overlap, thank you tomatoes - and always something else to learn.
Given the persistence of fossil fuels, it's tough to imagine how Ready KiloWatt and his gang can power an optimistic, realistic new era. And with ever-more gizmos guzzling juice, does energy efficiency have a prayer?
YES! say former utility CEO and energy policy authority S. David Freeman and today's Earthworms guest, energy journalist Leah Y. Parks. They are co-authors of a great new book, All-Electric America - A Climate Solution and the Hopeful Future (2016, Solar Flare Press). This book is a terrific summary of clean energy options, clearly explaining solar to storage, economics to electric cars - backed by current examples from U.S. cities, businesses, utilities and points of techno-evolution.
Dave Freeman remains optimistic after 7+ decades of energy work, as an architect of the US EPA during the Nixon era, as L.A.'s Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment, and as CEO of utilities in Texas, California and New York. Leah Parks represents their research and writing partnership with clear enthusiasm for the many ways clean electrical technology is HERE, and how even utility evolution inertia is being overcome, in examples like Vermont's Green Mountain Power and Oregon's Pacific Power.
Could America's clean energy future be plugged in and powering up right now? This Earthworms conversation says, energetically, YES!
Music: Dark Matter, recorded live at KDHX by Mad Titans, March 2010
Thanks to Andy Coco, Earthworms live-wire engineer.
More than half of U.S. forested acres belong to private citizens, in plots vast and small. Over 10 million Americans collectively own 420 million acres of our nation's woods. You may be one of them - or could be!
Catskills region forester Josh Vanbrakle has compiled a wealth of know-how for individual forest stewards in his new book, Backyard Woodland - How to Maintain and Sustain Your Trees, Water and Wildlife (The Countryman Press, 2016). Josh's love of the woods rings through this Earthworms conversation, as he shares his expertise in evaluating woodland health, getting families involved in ownership, recruiting neighboring eyes and ears to help you oversee your land's well-being and making some of your living by "doing well by your land."
From growing your enjoyment of nature to farming your forest - in city, suburbs or countryside - these ideas can work for you, and for woodlands you could come to know.
Music: "Frankie & Johnny" performed by Brian Curran, live at KDHX-St. Louis.
Related Earthworms Conversations: A Tribute to Leo Drey (June 2, 2015) - honoring Missouri's largest private landowner whose untutored diligence is transforming forest management conventions in universities and government agencies across the U.S.
Scientists have used hidden cameras to study and explore as long as we've had them. Today's camera trap equipment lets professionals and Citizen Scientists in on the hidden habits of critters that are often so shy - especially mammal predators - that they're impossible to simply see. SNAP! These gizmos provide an "Animal Selfie" view of nature!
Earthworms' guest Roland Kays has compiled pix from the files of camera trappers world-wide into the first book ever showing their best views of rare, endangered and also healthy species. Candid Creatures - How Camera Traps Reveal the Mysteries of Nature (2016, Johns Hopkins University Press) presents selections from millions of possible photos. We get to see individual species AND an exciting, important report of camera-trapping conservation research.
You can participate in this vivid, accessible biodiversity work! Kays is collaborating with the Smithsonian as leader of the eMammal project, a volunteer effort to study the effects of hunting and hiking on wildlife. Citizen Science recruitment is on, for adults, families, teachers and students. Camera-trapping equipment is so common now, Wal-Mart sells it.
Let Earthworms know if you get involved!
Roland Kays heads the Biodiversity and Earth Observation Laboratory at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and is a research associate professor at North Carolina State University. He is also the author of Mammals of North America, a field guide that has become a smart phone app.
Music: Dirty Slide by Brian Curran - performed live at KDHX-St. Louis, December 2015.
Back in 1990, the first national Sun Race attracted teams of solar car designers/builders/drivers in vehicles lugging 300+ pounds of lead acid batteries.
Cross-country solar racing today is lighter, smarter, and still attractive to college teams from across the U.S.
Gail Lueck was a student on a solar car team in 2001. She now coordinates the American Solar Challenge Formula Sun Grand Prix - and talks with Earthworms about this luminous and influential event. Two teams in the KDHX listening area join this conversation too. Jackson Walker represents the Ra 9 solar car team from Principia College in Elsah Illinois. John Schoeberle represents the Solar Miner car team from Missouri S & T University in Rolla Missouri. Today's Earthworms guests talk with us from qualifying events at Pittsburg International Raceway. This conversation illuminates experiences that are bringing solar cars into the mainstream. What a trip for all participants!
YOU can see the cars and meet the racers on Monday August 1 in St. Louis! This Checkpoint Rally is hosted by the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site and Grant's Farm - part of an historic partnership this year with the National Park Service. During the 1,975 mile American Solar Challenge run, from July 30-August 6, racing teams will stop at 9 National Park Service sites in 7 states, celebrating the NPS Centennial.
Good luck to our KDHX area Solar Racing teams!
Special THANKS to Lauren Koske, Earthworms summer intern engineer.
Music: Cadillac Desert, by William Tyler performed at KDHX July 2013.
This is Mosquito Season. Those pesky bugs buzz out in force after every rain - especially in super-hot weather. The City of St. Louis Health Department wants you to know how we ALL can control mosquitos:
Fight the Bite with the Four D's
Earthworms guests are the Mosquito Team from the City of St. Louis Health Dept. Jeanine Arrighi, Health Services Manager, and professional interns Sydney Gosik and Bindi Patel are making the rounds of community events and public gatherings to educate all ages about mosquito breeding habits, and they ways we all can take control of the bug-breeding that can lead to serious diseases like Zika and West Nile Virus.
Our local government health officials are working with state and federal agencies to update information about mosquito-transmitted diseases, as well as tracking mosquito species of concern. Yes, they can run fogging trucks too, but this expensive control option - which only kills adult mosquitos the spray contacts, along with butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects - is now seen as a backup to "Four-D" type controls of biting and breeding situations.
Music: Dark Matter - performed live at KDHX by Mad Titans, March 2010
Earthworms engineer is Lauren Koske, KDHX digital media intern.
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
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)
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