Neighborhood redefined: A photo tour of the EcoVillage at Ithaca

The EcoVillage at Ithaca is a showcase of sustainable living that demonstrates how humans can live more lightly on the land, clustering buildings together at the heart of a mass of native plantings, vegetable gardens and wildlife-friendly woods and pastures. Our photo tour captures the flavor of this grand experiment in low-carbon living, though we only scratched the surface of this green community marvel in upstate New York.

Kermit goes green

It’s not easy being green if you’re Kermit, Texas, a small town so far off the beaten track you can’t even see it from Midland. But that hasn’t stopped the tiny municipality from jumping to become the Permian Basin’s leader in banning plastic bags.

Portland residents reject fluoridation, thwarting City Council that had mandated it

Portland voters soundly rejected fluoridation of the city’s water, reversing a 2012 mandate by the city council. Anti-fluoride forces are calling the vote a victory for modern science, which has identified excessive fluoride exposures as contributing to thyroid disease, bone damage and lower IQs among children.

Is your college promoting sustainability? Sierra names the top greenest universities for 2012

U of Conn students collect sneakers to donate to Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program, which turns them into track and playground surfaces.

Sierra magazine’s top 10 “Coolest Schools” are working hard to solve global warming, and their students are literally taking on the world by developing more sustainable food, buildings, energy sources and transportation.

New York secures land in Adirondacks for jobs and recreation

A few hours due north of NYC or northwest of Boston – depending on how you’re oriented – are some of the most pristine and beautiful woodlands imaginable.

Snowmobiling in the Aidirondacks (Photo: NY State Snowmobile Assoc. and the Pleasant Riders SNC).

The Adirondacks region – famous as a getaway for fall foliage sightseers, hikers, skiers, hunters and fisherman – encompasses hundreds of lakes, mountains and miles of rich woodland habitat. It’s territory that cradles wildlife, from trout to moose, and gives birth to the Hudson River.

At its center, the 6 million acres Adirondack Park, is the largest publicly protected park in the nation, bigger than the Yellowstone, Everglades and Grand Canyon national parks. captures Earth’s woes and hopes from space

Climate action group wants us to see, really see, what’s happening as the result of climate change here on Earth.
So it’s taken to space to get a better view. Satellites began snapping photos of giant art installations, many involving humans forming pictures, last Friday and will continue through this week. The photos include one of a giant eagle in Los Angeles, created to represent the “Earth to Sky” solutions to climate change; a mural in New York City that shows how the area would look after the seas rise; a picture of a girl on a delta in Spain and a flash flood in New Mexico created by humans with blue posters.

Thinking, visioning and spending locally

Remember that old real estate adage, location, location, location? There’s a parallel theme among green advocates: Local, local, local. They want more local food, local attention to water and wildlife, businesses that keep jobs in communities, mass transit that reaches neighborhoods, farms connected to cities, and so on.

This is nothing new. We like our cities and somehow, they’ve gotten away from us, whether they’ve become a sprawling, sterile suburb or a congested, irritable metropolis. We yearn for something friendlier and more cohesive. We seek out “local flavor” when we vacation, surely a sign we want more when we’re at home.

10-10-10 Work Party shows that thousands worldwide want climate action

Climate change has been a matter of debate in government circles and a talking point on news channels for many years now. But increasingly, the climate change discussion — the need to slow global warming pollution, deforestation and the loss of wildlife — is becoming a citizens’ round table.
This past weekend’s 10-10-10 work parties, rallied people of all ages, economic strata and religious beliefs who turned out in groups of 5, 10, or 100 to build gardens, promote carbon neutral transportation, plant trees and protest fossil fuels.

Trim college costs: Buy a car share membership

No one sends a kid to college without escaping a raft of sacred duties. There’s the requisite group reading of course offerings, the ceremonial first check writing, the buying of the coordinated bedding and the securing of a vehicle in which the newly minted young adult is launched full throttle into his or her post-secondary education experience.

But this last carbon intensive practice has never been economical, especially for young men whose insurance rates can jackhammer through mom and dad’s bank account faster than tuition fees.

More and more, people are questioning whether wheels are even necessary on campus. Many colleges can’t accommodate all those parking needs, and even on gigantic state school campuses students don’t need to drive from class to class. Often a young adult mainly needs a car to return home on weekends or holidays, a transportation need easily solved by Greyhound or Amtrak. For those occasional excursions when a car is called for, the new answer is car sharing

Growing new energy: How Iowa raced ahead in wind power

When the boys and girls of Spirit Lake, Iowa, load their backpacks for classes this fall, each child in grades 5 to 12 will be packing a lap top computer provided by the school district.
This bit of good fortune was funded by a special initiative. But it is not the first time Spirit Lake has stepped up to embrace new technology. In 1993 – when “renewable energy” was not widely discussed — it became the first school district in the nation to install a wind turbine, a move that has saved the district some $200,000 in energy costs.
When that pokey Wind World 250 KW turbine, financed by the state and a federal grant, was paid off, Spirit Lake put up another turbine, this one a hefty 750 KW NEGMicon, in 2001.

Mother Nature can teach the children well

Kayaking with the LEAF program (Photo: The Nature Conservancy)

The kids are heading back to the classroom – if they aren’t already there sitting in rows in front of a blackboard – and parents are plotting how to give their children an academic advantage. Some are buying DVDs, books or computer programs. Some are paying for tutors or study skill seminars. All well and good. But if you want you kids to be smarter, some experts say, push them out the backdoor to play in the dirt, hunt for bugs and pollywogs, and explore the nearby park.

Put Solar On It campaign challenges heads of state

Climate activists have launched a campaign calling on world leaders to take tangible clean energy action by putting up solar panels on the presidential digs.

The advocates are enlisting the public’s help in the Put Solar On It movement by providing a way to send an online note to U.S. President Barack Obama, India’s President Pratibha Patil, China’s President Hu Jintao, Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and Australia’s Julia’s Gillard.

Hands Across the Sands: The story in photos

In a symbolic but moving gesture, the Hands Across the Sands oil drilling protest on Saturday brought out people from Miami to Melbourne to stand in solidarity for clean beaches, and against more offshore oil drilling.

There were events around the world, but the turnout was especially heavy in the U.S., spanning the nation from High Line Park in New York City and Nags Head in North Carolina in the East, to Puget Sound and Los Angeles and several beaches in between on the West Coast. People lined up in Anchorage and Maui.

EPA proposes tighter rules for pesticides that could make mosquito control safer

In a move that could limit overspraying for mosquitoes in U.S. towns and cities and reduce human and wildlife exposure to harmful pesticides, the EPA has proposed new rules that would require companies and municipalities to get special permits before dumping pesticides into waterways. The agency hopes that these rules will reduce pesticide contamination of U.S. surface waters and improve the health of all living beings, including people.

Bike commuting is green, healthy & cheap, so why don’t more people do it?

Bicyclist (Photo: Savo Ilic/dreamstime)

Bicyclist (Photo: Savo Ilic/dreamstime)

It’s May, which means it’s Bicycle Month. Cities and cycling clubs around the country are promoting bicycle riding by sponsoring group rides and bike commuter events , culminating around Bike to Work Day on May 21. But the presence on the American calendar of a designated month to encourage bicycle transportation underscores the fact that most people in this nation get around by driving cars, not by riding bikes.

U.S. Green Building Council adds certification for neighborhoods

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced a new “LEED for Neighborhood Development” rating system today that aims to reward communities that try to reduce urban sprawl, increase walkability and transportation options, and decrease automobile dependence.

The new certification, developed with the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council, hopes to encourage development within or near existing communities and public infrastructure to reduce the impact of sprawl. It is the seventh rating system for the USGBC, which certifies residential, commercial and other properties based on their environmental footprint.

Buy local, organic food — sign up with a farm and join a CSA

By Michele Chan Santos
Green Right Now

If you’ve ever considered joining a CSA, a community-supported agriculture group, now is the time to do it. A CSA is an arrangement where people subscribe to get a weekly or bi-weekly basket or box of produce from a local farmer. January, February and March is the time when many farms encourage people to sign up to receive produce through the spring, summer and fall.

A box of locally-grown vegetables and fruit might seem like a simple thing, but CSA members say becoming a “member” or “sharer” in these farms has transformed what they and their families eat, making them more aware of their food, more connected to the process of growing and cooking, and improving their overall health. You can find the CSA nearest you at Local Harvest; enter your zip code to locate a nearby farm.

Audubon and Toyota team up to help restore habitats in NYC and Philadelphia

By Clint Williams
Green Right Now

Horseshoe crabs – believe it or not – scuttle about in Jamaica Bay, a 20,000-acre maze of marshland, islands and water that forms the southern boundary of Brooklyn. There would be more if they could find a place to breed.

Decades of debris have piled up on the bay’s beaches, blocking the path to egg-laying sites for the prehistoric-looking crabs. But things will soon get better for horseshoe crabs in New York City – and blue-winged warblers in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, and marbled godwits along the Mendocino Coast of northern California – because of TogetherGreen, an initiative of the National Audubon Society paid for by Toyota.

The program awarded TogetherGreen Conservation Innovation Grants totaling $1.4 million this fall. The grants, ranging from $5,000 to $68,000, will fund 41 projects in 24 states. As you might expect from Audubon, many of the funded projects benefit birds.

Chalk Mountain, between a rock and a nesting place

By Barbara Kessler

Every spring, as sure as the sun warms the cedars and the birds flock back from Mexico, Lee Clauser leads a stealth group of intense adults dressed in khakis and boots to the edge of a wild thicket near his house in north central Texas.

They creep into the brush, quietly unloading their weapons of mass observation.

Putting binoculars to eyes, they look, and listen, for the brilliant Golden-cheeked warbler, and for the reclusive Black-capped vireo. Both songbirds are listed as endangered in the United States, their nesting grounds having been narrowed to a strip of Texas Hill Country that supplies just the right shrubbery and old-growth cedars. The birders, who come from Fort Worth, Dallas, New England, the Pacific Northwest and beyond, know that catching a glimpse of one of these delicate creatures is a rare treat.

“People have come from Europe to see those birds, both species. For birders all over the world, it’s a huge deal,” says Clauser, a retired banker and life-long bird rescue and rehabilitation expert.

Houston Aims To Improve Its Recycling Rates

By Julie Bonnin

When Houston made headlines for abysmal recycling rates last month, it dealt a blow to the work Mayor Bill White has been doing to improve the city’s environmental reputation. White, who was Deputy Director of the U. S. Energy Department under President Bill Clinton, has pushed to clean up the city’s environmental record, with victories such as special recognition for the city’s commitment to development of a solar infrastructure (from DOE this past spring), and its designation as the nation’s top municipal purchaser of green power (from the Environmental Protection Agency).

But there may yet be hope for turning Houston a deeper shade of green. Weeks after being called the worst recycler of the country’s 30 major metropolitan areas, city officials have announced their intention to launch an ambitious pilot program that involves the latest in “single stream” recycling.

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