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.
It's been nearly two years since a neighborhood-backed plan was approved to rebuild the Sellwood Bridge with only two auto lanes, along with bike and pedestrian paths and street car tracks. But in recent months the final decisions on bridge design and funding have hit stumbling blocks. While the bridge is operated by the County, it connects on the west side with state-owned Highway 43 and on the eastside with city-owned SE Tacoma Street. These different jurisdictions are now caught up in a turf battle, holding the future of the Sellwood Bridge between their horns. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Sellwood neighborhood activist Eric Miller about some of the sticking points between the city, county and state, and why the same issues of sustainability and livability that motivated the neighborhood to organize two years are still of major concern.
Eric Miller is a Sellwood resident and a current At-Large SMILE Board member. A public health physical therapist, Eric is currently a stay-at-home Dad and a community activist. He co-founded the Sellwood Playgroup Association to bring families with young children together and to build community. Through the Playgroup Association he organized a broad network of neighbors who helped prevent the Sellwood Bridge from being replaced by a huge, four-lane behemoth.
This past summer half a billion salmonella-tainted eggs were recalled. It turns out that these eggs were raised at huge factory farms in Iowa, where up to 300,000 hens are crammed into cages in filthy, rodent-infested sheds. The salmonella scare has made many people think twice about eating eggs, but according to Michael Greger, director of public health and animal agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States, it's not eggs that people should fear but the disease-ridden conditions in factory farms where these eggs are produced. This week on Locus Focus we talk with Dr. Greger about how industrial-scale factory farms impact the health and well-being of people as well as the animals confined in these operations.
Greger has been an invited lecturer at universities, medical schools and conferences worldwide. He is the author of "Heart Failure: Diary of a Third-Year Medical Student" (2000), "Carbophobia: The Scary Truth About America's Low-Carb Craze" (2005), and "Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching" (2006).
The summer of 2010 brought us some very dramatic weather extremes, from the monsoon flooding in Pakistan, and devastating mud slides in China, to the most intense heat wave and worst rash of forest fires that Russia has ever seen. Are these catastrophic events a sign that the impacts of climate change are already upon us? On this episode of Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein talks with Oregon's State Climatologist, Phil Mote, about the significance of the historic floods and fires of the past summer, and what they portend for the future.
Since 2009 Philip Mote had been Oregon's State Climatologist and is the first director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University, where he is a professor in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. Mote is a leading scientist on the impacts of climate change. His research into the effects of climate change on precipitation, temperature, snow pack and water resources led to his work on the 2007 fourth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He shared lead authorship of the snow and ice section of the report as well as the Nobel Prize it garnered. Prior to coming to Oregon, Mote was the Washington State climatologist, at the University of Washington in Seattle.
As students return to school this fall in Portland, many of them will also be returning to harvest vegetables from gardens they planted last spring. School gardens are becoming a feature of a growing number of schools in the Portland area. . . and around the country. In these gardens students learn the connections between the food they eat and the health of the world around them.
One of the first school gardens in Portland was the Garden of Wonders, started by chef and parent Linda Colwell at Edwards School in SE Portland in 1999. When Edwards School closed and its students moved to nearby Abernethy School, they took their garden with them. Today the Garden of Wonders is a model for teaching children how to appreciate real food by learning how to grow it themselves. And the veggies they grow are incorporated into the school lunch program.
On this episode we talk with Garden of Wonders founder Linda Colwell about how this program helps to educate students about the interconnected relationships of food, environment, ecology, communities, and cultural histories.
Linda Colwell, was trained at La Varenne in Paris, France and worked as a corporate chef for Merrill Lynch, Boston, MA. When she returned to Portland, Oregon, she worked as a butcher and sausage maker before opening a USDA school lunch program for Portland Public Schools. During her children’s early years, Linda volunteered for Front Line, supported the area developing farmers markets and as Co-Chair of the Portland Chapter of the Chefs Collaborative, became a leader in connecting farmers and chefs in the Willamette Valley. In 1999 and 2000, Linda managed the Chefs Collaborative “Adopt-a-School” program, a Chefs Volunteer initiative in fourteen elementary schools in Portland, Oregon. In 2000, she created the Garden of Wonders, making her a leader in Farm to School and School Garden Education. The Garden of Wonders was the first school garden education program in Oregon that integrated edible gardening with core curriculum in elementary schools. Linda created a one week “Chefs in Residence” project that designed USDA school lunch menus with local chefs using local ingredients as part of a “know your farmer, know your chef” experience for K-5 students. “Chefs in Residence” became the foundation for her next initiative, the Abernethy Scratch Kitchen, the first on-site scratch kitchen to serve children in Portland Public Schools (PPS) in 28 years. The pilot program was the first K-5 Wellness site in Portland that integrated school garden, garden-based education, cooking from scratch, farm tours and physical activity. Since 2006, Linda has developed Eat Think Grow, a community of partnered organizations that support Portland Public Schools in meeting it’s Wellness Policy through Farm to School and School Garden Education.
The Garden of Wonders Food and Garden Education Program involves students in the stewardship of the school’s organic garden and landscape in a way that is wholly integrated with the school’s curriculum. It strives to encourage enthusiasm and wonder in learning by integrating classroom education with hands-on experience in the natural world. Students participate in food and garden-based activities that are interwoven with grade-appropriate math, science, social studies, and arts curricula.
Now that oil has more or less stopped hemorrhaging from the Deepwater Horizon blowout, the mainstream media is reporting on a government study that claims that 75% of the oil that gushed into the Gulf of Mexico is gone. Only, that's not what the report actually said, and furthermore many scientists are disputing its methodology. On this segment of Locus Focus we'll find out what's really going on with all the oil from this disaster: along the beaches that line the Gulf Coast, on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as deep underwater where the oil is least easily detected. Dr. Ronald Kendall, Director of the Institute of Environmental and Human Health and Professor and Chairman of the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech University joins Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein to clarify what's actually contained in the government report on the BP oil disaster, as well as what's missing. We discuss the longterm consequences of so much oil and toxic material spilling into the Gulf of Mexico and why this is a problem that won't disappear as soon as many parties would like to see.
Dr. Ronald Kendall is the founder and director of the Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University, where he also chairs the Department of Environmental Toxicology.
Protecting endangered salmon runs in Oregon has been an ongoing challenge. It turns out that one of the simplest ways of enhancing salmon habitat in the city is to remove culverts that carry streams under roads, but block fish from swimming upstream to reach spawning and rearing habitat. One of the best potential salmon streams in the city is Crystal Springs Creek, with headwaters on the Reed College campus and the Eastmoreland Golf Course. This area was once marshy wetlands. Before development, the wetlands retained excess water from flood events and provided important rearing and refuge habitat for salmon, and foraging and nesting sites for beavers, birds, turtles, frogs, and other wildlife. Crystal Springs is still home to coho and Chinook salmon, and steelhead trout, all listed under the Endangered Species Act. But a series of culverts impede fish passage along much of the stream's course. Removing these culverts is part of the focus of the city's Grey to Green Initiative, which is now seeking funding to remove 8 culverts along Crystal Springs, making nearly three miles of prime habitat accessible once again to salmon and steelhead.
Our guest this week on Locus Focus is Kaitlin Lovell, Senior Program Manager for the Bureau of Environmental Services' Science, Fish and Wildlife Program. We talk about why it is important for communities to steward the watersheds they live upon and how this project will not only improve salmon habitat in the city but also improve the quality of life of the salmon's human neighbors.
Kaitlin Lovell has been the manager for the Science, Fish and Wildlife Program for the City of Portland, Bureau of Environmental Services since 2006. Her job is to ensure the City's compliance with the Endangered Species Act, and work with BES and other City bureaus to make sure projects are planned, designed, permitted, constructed and implemented with the best fish and wildlife science, and improve the urban/watershed interface to benefit fish and wildlife where possible. Prior to joining the City, she was an Endangered Species Act attorney for Trout Unlimited.
Not too long ago North America's natural gas reserves were peaking out and the cost of natural gas began to skyrocket along with petroleum. Then all of a sudden, it seemed, we are being told that we have an almost endless supply of natural gas lying under much of the continent and that natural gas is the answer to our energy future. What we're not being told is that the unconventional process being used to extract this gas—called hydrofracturing—may potentially contaminate a wide swath of watersheds and drinking water systems across the country. One of the watersheds being threatened is the Delaware River, which provides drinking water to many municipalities in the northeast, including New York City.
This week on Locus Focus our guest is Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, an advocacy group that works to protect the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi from a growing barrage of assaults from development projects that contribute to sprawl, the aggressive extraction of resources, floodplain, habitat and wetlands destruction, new and increased pollution discharges, damming, dredging, dumping and spills.
For more information about the impact of fracking on human lives, water quality and natural resources, you can check out Josh Fox's new documentary Gasland.
Restarting America's nuclear power industry is frequently suggested as a means of curbing greenhouse gas emissions. But advocates of this back to the future scenario should study Robert Alvarez's recent report showing that the amount of plutonium buried at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State is nearly three times what the federal government previously reported. This means that a cleanup to protect future generations will be far more challenging than planners had assumed. And that's before any more nuclear waste is added to the toxic legacy of Hanford's forty years of Plutonium production.
This week on Locus Focus our guests are Robert Alvarez, Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. He discusses the ramifications of his study's findings. He's joined by Gerry Pollett, co-founder and executive director of Heart of America Northwest, a regional non-profit public interest organization that has spent over twenty years advocating for the timely cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
ROBERT ALVAREZ is a Senior Scholar at IPS, where he is currently focused on nuclear disarmament, environmental, and energy policies. Between 1993 and 1999, Mr. Alvarez served as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment. While at DOE, he coordinated the effort to enact nuclear worker compensation legislation. In 1994 and 1995, Bob led teams in North Korea to establish control of nuclear weapons materials. He coordinated nuclear material strategic planning for the department and established the department’s first asset management program. Bob was awarded two Secretarial Gold Medals, the highest awards given by the department.
Prior to joining the DOE, Mr. Alvarez served for five years as a Senior Investigator for the U. S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, chaired by Senator John Glenn, and as one of the Senate’s primary staff experts on the U.S. nuclear weapons program. While serving for Senator Glenn, Bob worked to help establish the environmental cleanup program in the Department of Energy, strengthened the Clean Air Act, uncovered several serious nuclear safety and health problems, improved medical radiation regulations, and created a transition program for communities and workers affected by the closure of nuclear weapons facilities. In 1975 Bob helped found and direct the Environmental Policy Institute (EPI), a respected national public interest organization. He helped enact several federal environmental laws, wrote several influential studies and organized successful political coalitions. He helped organize a successful lawsuit on behalf of the family of Karen Silkwood, a nuclear worker and active union member who was killed under mysterious circumstances in 1974.
GERALD POLLETT is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Heart of America Northwest. He brings 25 years of organizing experience on Hanford, environmental and peace issues, and political campaigns in Washington, as well as tremendous institutional memory and technical expertise to the organization. Gerry is frequently called on by regional and national media, and for guest lectures at universities and Continuing Legal Education seminars. Gerry has lobbied, written major legislation at federal and state level, and testified to Congress.
Gerry chairs the Hanford Advisory Board’s committee overseeing USDOE’s Hanford budgets, management and contracts. He has testified by invitation to U.S. Senate and U.S. House Committees, is frequently quoted in national and regional media. He also serves as general counsel for Legal Advocates for Washington, which provides legal advice on non-profit, electoral and hazardous waste law.
Gerry also has been serving on the board of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, and the Washington Coalition for Open Government. His work on Hanford and prior work on economics of electric utility forecasting has led to frequent requests that he lecture about the lessons of Hanford and the role of nuclear power in fighting global warming.
Last week on Locus Focus we talked about transforming school lunch programs into vehicles that encourage kids to eat healthy foods, while teaching them about the connections between food, health, and the environment. This week we look at a program in Portland that not only shows young people how to make healthy food choices, but actually helps them learn how to grow their own food. GROWING GARDENS gets at the root of hunger in Portland, by organizing hundreds of volunteers to build organic, raised-bed vegetable gardens in backyards, front yards, side yards and even on balconies, in low income neighborhoods on Portland's east side. On this episode of Locus Focus, we talk with Caitlin Blethen, who manages theYouth Grow youth gardening program at Growing Gardens
, which is cultivating the next generation of veggie eaters and growers. We're also joined by Gage Reeves, who teaches at Vernon Middle School, where a mighty school garden thrives, and Tyler White, a fifth grade gardener at Faubion School in NE Portland.
Caitlin Blethen manages “Youth Grow” the youth gardening program at the Portland based non-profit Growing Gardens. She has over ten years of experience working with school and youth gardening programs in Washington and Oregon and has a BA degree from the Evergreen State College. Her favorite part of her work is watching children explore, discover and learn about growing edible plants. Caitlin lives in SE Portland where she and her partner Bryan cultivate a mini-farm.
Gage Reeves teaches 5 - 8th grades at Vernon Middle School. He started the school's garden and is working now to build a school garden ed program that encompasses "core" curricular connections to health/nutrition, ecological responsibility, life/physical/earth sciences, in addition to teaching the students how to start, plant, and harvest food, grown at the school, and eaten in the school cafeteria. His wife Sarah Canterberry is an instrumental part of the garden program at Vernon as well and teaches the after school program garden club.
Tyler White will be starting fifth grade at Faubion School in NE Portland this fall. He comes from a family of chefs and gardeners and is carrying on his family traditions in the garden at his grade school.
In April a report was released showing that more than 9 million young adults, or 27 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24, are too overweight to join the military and that national security in the year 2030 is "absolutely dependent" on reversing child obesity rates. According to the authors of the report we need to eliminate junk food and high-calorie beverages from schools, put more money into creating school lunch programs that serve real food to children. http://tinyurl.com/y7akr8m
On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Lisa Bennett, Communications Director for the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, CA, about a burgeoning movement to transform those wretched school lunches we all remember into tasty and healthy meals, made from ingredients supplied by local farmers and perhaps even the school's own edible garden. For nearly 20 years, the Center for Ecoliteracy has advocated for improving school lunches; using gardens as a way to encourage kids to eat healthy foods; and teaching young people about the connections between food, health, and the environment.
We'll learn about the new, healthier choices available in schools across the country and how they compare to traditional cafeteria fare. We'll also discuss the growing popularity of farm to school programs that are providing healthy, organic food for children, while supporting local farmers, and the proliferation of school gardens.
ABOUT LISA BENNETT:
Lisa Bennett is communications director of the Center for Ecoliteracy and co-author of SMART BY NATURE: Schooling for Sustainability (Watershed Media/U.C. Press, 2009). A former fellow at Harvard University's Center on Press, Politics, and Public Policy in the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Lisa has written for many publications, including the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Huffington Post, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Lisa has spoken at the National Press Club and appeared on the BBC, C-SPAN, Hardball, and many other programs.