Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein talks with local, regional and national experts, activists and policy makers about climate change, food policy, land use, salmon restoration, forest management and all the other things that matter in our environment.
While Barbara was in Eugene this week for the Food Justice Conference (check out last week's Locus Focus to learn more about this event), we repeated a Locus Focus episode from November 2009 that features, Joel Salatin, farmer, food choice advocate and dream-doer, who runs Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Joel, Barbara and Willamette Valley farmer Clare Carver (of Big Table Farm in Gaston) discuss the sustainable agricultural methods Joel and Clare practice, based on polyculture and the interweaving roles of farm animals and crops.
Polyface Farm is a family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, whosewner Joel Salatin was featured in Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma. Polyface Farm (farm of many faces) practices both traditional sustainable agricultural methods as well pioneering new practices that mimic nature and heal the earth. Watch Joel in action on Polyface Farm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIbXU5iR2P4
Clare Carver and her partner Brian Marcy farm in Gaston, Oregon, at Big Table Farm, named after their desire to provide a gracious and welcoming table for themselves and friends, with a cornucopia of hand-crafted food and wine. They are establishing a working farm, where they raise pasture poultry, pigs, cows and egg-laying chickens, along with a large garden. Inspired by Polyface Farm, they manage an intensive grazing system of farming, that builds soils and sequesters carbon.
On this episode of Locus focus we talk with Food Justice Conference organizer Allison Carruth, who is a Core Faculty Member in Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon, and plenary speaker Dr. Frederick L. Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. Dr. Kirschenmann will be speaking at the conference about Food security in a changing world: Expanding the vision of sustainable agriculture.
Allison Carruth is Assistant Professor of English and Resident Scholar at Wayne Morse Center for Law & Politics and Core Faculty Member in Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon.
Frederick Kirschenmann is the President of his family's 3,500-acre certified organic farm in south central North Dakota. He helped to found Farm Verified Organic, Inc., a private certification agency, and the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society and has served on the USDA's National Organic Standards Board, the North Central Region's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) administrative council and the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture board of directors. He is the Board President of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Dr. Kirschenmann won the National Resource Defense Council’s Growing Green Thought Leader award in 2010.
To learn more about the Food Justice Conference go to: http://waynemorsecenter.uoregon.edu/foodjustice/
. This once trashed out forgotten waterway flows 26 miles from its headwaters near the Sandy River to its confluence with the Willamette River, passing through four cities (Gresham, Portland, Milwaukie, and Happy Valley) and two counties (Clackamas and Multnomah) along the way. Over 100 years ago it supported salmon runs so plentiful that it's said you could catch fish with a pitchfork. But when pioneers moved to the area, they logged the banks of the creek and created slash dams so they could float logs downstream. Without tree cover the creek water warmed, harming the salmon and the dams killed fish by keeping them from their spawning grounds. Pollutants and chemical spills over the years also killed bugs the fish feed on. To make matters worse, in the 1930s, the city of Portland launched a massive project to dig a channel in Johnson Creek, lining the banks with rocks to lessen flooding and killing even more fish.
Over the past few decades the city of Portland, along with neighboring jurisdictions, is working to right past wrongs: replanting trees to restore a forest canopy that cools the creek and allowing the creek to flood again by restoring its natural floodplain. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Matt Clark, the director of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council about the death and rebirth of Johnson Creek: how it has been transformed from a derelict neighborhood garbage repository into a jewel of urban nature.
You can learn more about the history of Johnson Creek and the Johnson Creek Watershed Council from Urban Green, a radio documentary produced by Barbara Bernstein in 2006.
According to a 2009 study by statisticians at Oregon State University, each child an American has increases his or her lifetime carbon emission by 570 percent—because kids are likely to one day have kids of their own and so on. With climate change already causing havoc around the globe and the world population poised to hit 7 billion this fall, some people are wondering whether a sane response is to skip parenthood altogether.
On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Lisa Hymas, co-founder of the online environmental news organization Grist.org. Hymas coined the acronym GINK (green inclinations, no kids) to describe a small but growing group of people who are both environmentally conscious and childfree by choice. As she wrote in her GINK Manifesto, this choice has been personally fulfilling for her, but it's still not generally accepted in society, or even in environmental circles.
But since the childfree choice certainly isn't right for everyone, Hymas has also written about other steps people can take to help lessen population pressure -- including improving sex ed in schools, not pressuring other people to have kids, and even just talking openly and open-mindedly about family choices and population.
Lisa Hymas is senior editor and cofounder of Grist.org, an online environmental news organization. She writes about the green side of being childfree as well as other environmental issues. Lisa won a 2010 Population Institute Global Media Award for her writing on childfree living and population. She started her career as a writer and editor at Greenwire, a Washington, D.C.-based online environmental news service. She has also worked at Island Press, an environmental book publisher, and Tomorrow, a sustainable business magazine. She lives in Seattle.
Roughly half of the nation’s sugar supply comes from sugar beets, and much of this seed is produced in Oregon. In 2007 the USDA started allowing genetically modified sugar beet seed to flood the market. Now 95% of the sugar beet crop is grown using seeds that have been genetically engineered to resist heavy spraying of the Monsanto pesticide Roundup. The Center for Food Safety and other advocacy groups sued to ban the beets, pointing out that an environmental impact statement has not yet been completed, as the law requires. Last November, a U.S. District Judge ordered the immediate uprooting of 256 acres of genetically modified beets in Oregon and Arizona, citing the irreparable harm of cross-contamination of these plants with normal ones.
On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Frank Morton, of Shoulder to Shoulder Farm in Philomath, who is involved with the lawsuit against Monsanto and the USDA.
Frank Morton is a pioneer in preserving and innovating seed strains of rare edible plants. He and his wife Karen co-ordinate the seed production program within the overall farm system of Gathering Together Farm, just down the road from their farm Shoulder To Shoulder, outside of Philomath, Oregon. Breeding new varieties for organic farmers is part of the Morton's work on their own farm, and Wild Garden Seed from Gathering Together Farm brings their creative effort into the public domain seed marketplace.
Why is the city of Portland concerned about food policy issues? So, concerned in fact that the city's bureau of Planning and Sustainability devotes some of its resources to sustainable food programs like Urban Growth Bounty and the Better Together Garden at City Hall. On this episode of Locus Focus, we talk with Portland' "Food Czar" Steve Cohen, who manages the city's food policy and programs, about the need for these programs, why they are essential to creating sustainable communities. We'll also talk with Steve—who in the 1970s and 80s was a leader in numerous community projects and organizations with a strong counter-cultural bent—about how the values and community-building that shaped his younger years are finding an institutional niche in today's city infrastructure.
Steve Cohen manages food policy and programs for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. He focuses on all aspects of a sustainable food system including planning, food security, education, economic development, urban agriculture, purchasing, composting, and climate change. Steve also staffs the Portland-Multnomah County Food Policy Council. Over the past 30 years he has played key roles in establishing indoor and outdoor festival markets, performing arts venues and community spaces in Oregon.
Paul Ehrlich is arguably the most infamous environmentalist of the modern era. His 1968 book The Population Bomb, raised awareness on the connections between exponential human population growth and environmental degradation. It is still iconic to some while a discomfort to others. But what Paul Ehrlic's has to say in his latest book, Humanity on A Tightrope, should find common ground with everyone. Which is what the book is about: how strengthening both empathy and a shared sense of kinship – even with seeming strangers living far away from us – are crucial steps to keep humanity from falling into global calamity. Ehrlich now believes that expanding the domain of empathy and rethinking what “family” means to us could be powerful tools towards a better future.
On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Paul Ehrlich about how the effects of rapid population growth, sky-high consumption, loss of biodiversity, increasing toxicity of the environment and numerous other systemic problems, require all humans to mutually expand their commitment to empathy in order to stay balanced with ourselves and the planet.
Paul Ehrlich is Bing Professor of Population Studies and President of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. He is the author of The Population Bomb, one of the first books to bring environmental science to the general public. Of his some 40 books, Human Natures and The Dominant Animal have brought home the seriousness of the mismatch between human behavior and the chances of a global collapse of civilization.
The good news that abundant new natural gas deposits in the United States are driving down the once soaring cost of natural gas has a disturbing underbelly. Hydraulic fracturing, the unconventional method used to extract this gas is creating nightmares for people who live close to the drill sites. In extreme cases wells are being poisoned and water that comes out of the faucets in these homes can be set on fire. A groundswell of grassroots activity resulted in the New York legislature legislating a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, but New York's governor David Patterson vetoed the legislation and issued an Executive Order that calls for a temporary timeout on the most controversial drilling practices. But many environmentalist feel that his order does not go far enough.
On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Craig Michaels, Watershed Program Director for Riverkeeper in New York State, an organization in the forefront of halting natural gas fracking in the Northeast.
Craig Michaels manages all aspects of Riverkeeper’s Watershed Program, which uses public education, advocacy, and litigation in order to enforce environmental laws and protect the unfiltered drinking water supply for 9 million New Yorkers. Mr. Michaels returned to Riverkeeper in 2007 and as the NYC Investigator for Riverkeeper’s Hudson River program. Mr. Michaels previously worked at Riverkeeper for three years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator before entering law school. In 2007, he received his J.D. and Environmental Law Certificate from Pace Law School, where he interned for one year at the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, representing Riverkeeper and other environmental groups in administrative permit proceedings arising from a Clean Water Act citizen suit against the City of New York. Prior to interning for the Environmental Litigation Clinic, Mr. Michaels served as a Legal Aide in the Litigation Bureau at the Office of the New York State Attorney General. Mr. Michaels holds a B.S. in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan.
The Cancun Climate Talks still have not produced an international climate treaty. But there are many effective initiatives we can take to reduce global greenhouse emissions that don't require international treaties. On this episode of Locus Focus we hear an encore presentation of HEAVY WEATHER, a radio documentary by Barbara Bernstein, that explores the connections between increasing extreme weather and our changing climate and landscapes. It presents solutions that are community driven, based on decisions we make to change the ways we live and travel. Changes that actually can improve our quality of life.
For a hundred years people in the Pacific Northwest—and much of the world— have transformed the landscape to suit their needs. At the same time we’ve pumped enough greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere to transform the climate, forcing us now to rethink the shape and placement of our built environments. Now the burden of past decisions rests on our shoulders. Heavy Weather looks at what kinds of choices we can make to lighten that burden for future generations.
HEAVY WEATHER spends time in several communities around the Pacific Northwest, contrasting differing responses to the dramatic flooding that has occurred in the past 14 years and which will probably increase as the climate changes. It looks at the important role that remaining wetlands play in managing storm water in an ecological and healthful manner, as well as efforts to "re-nature" the city, like Portland's Environmental Services project, Tabor to the Willamette Project. HEAVY WEATHER explores how the transition from engineered solutions for managing water to natural processes, including protecting natural wetlands, helps clean our rivers, protect salmon and buffer us from flooding that will only get worse as the climate changes.
We hear the voices of climate scientist Philip Mote, ecologist Kathleen Sayce, environmental ethicist Kathleen Dean Moore, sustainable farmers in Oregon and Virginia, as well as elected officials in Lewis (WA) and Tillamook (OR) Counties, Metro councilor Rex Burkholder and Portland and Vancouver, WA mayors Sam Adams and Tim Leavitt. Portland's urban naturalist Mike Houck takes us on a tour of the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and wetland in the Sellwood district of Portland. Former Lewis County public works director Mark Cook shows us around the suburban sprawl spreading across the Chehalis River floodplain. And Portland State University faculty member Vivek Shandas guides us through the Brooklyn Basin, where Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services is trying to replicate with ecoroofs, curbside and parking lot swales and tree planting, the course and function of a historic creek that flows under the streets of SE Portland on its way to the Willamette River.
HEAVY WEATHER was produced with funding from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, Oregon Humanities (an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities) and the Ralph L. Smith Foundation.
HEAVY WEATHER is available on CD from Feather & Fin Productions, P.O. Box 82777, Portland, OR 97282. Check out the Heavy Weather Journal at http://mediaprojectonline.org/heavyweather/heavyweatherjournal.html
For the past several years Portland's Environmental Services has been involved in the largest and most expensive public works project in the city's history: the Big Pipe. Since 2006 Rosie, the enormous tunnel boring machine, has been drilling a tunnel deep underground along the east bank of the Willamette River. When this project is finished in 2011, the volume of combined sewage and stormwater that now overflows to the river when it rains will be reduced by more than 94%.
In November Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein was invited along with the rest of the Portland area press to take a trip down the tunnel and see where all that stormwater will start flowing once the project is completed. On this episode of Locus Focus she talks with Dean Marriott, director of Portland Environmental Services and Paul Gribbon, the Willamette River CSO Tunnel Program Chief Engineer, about why this big pipe was necessary to construct. We'll also learn why Portland needs to change the way it deals with stormwater so that the big pipe doesn't become prematurely obsolete.