Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer in the City

If Salem decides not to slash local food production in Minto-Brown Park on August 10, then we should all celebrate by supporting the downtown festival that celebrates summer with local agricultural delights like local wines, local beers, and local produce: SUMMER IN THE CITY, coming up this month, August 15 and 16 (noon - 10 p.m. Saturday, noon - 6 p.m. Sunday).

On the other hand, if the City Council votes to throw away 200 acres of beautiful rich farmland right in the heart of Salem, then you're excused if you find it easier to enjoy summer's bounty elsewhere that weekend.
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British nature group urges urban folks to get busy as . . . well, bees (keepers)

Bombus terrestrisPerhaps the least appreciated vital service in nature, the basis of all lifeforms more complicated than molds and fungi. Image by Marcia_Salviato via Flickr

All good reasons equally applicable here in US. Without healthy populations of pollinators, humans have a short life expectancy on earth.

People living in urban areas are being encouraged to consider keeping bees in gardens, on roofs or on balconies to help reverse population decline. Conservation watchdog Natural England wants more homeowners to install hives and grow insect-friendly plants.

Nearly all the UK's 250 species of bee are in decline. Honeybee numbers have fallen by 10-15% in the last two years. Experts say sustaining bee populations is essential to ensuring the survival of Britain's plants and crops.

Natural England wants to see more UK bee colonies, which would make the insects more resistant to their biggest killers - disease and pests, such as the varroa mite.

The organization's chief scientist, Tom Tew, said urban areas could play a crucial part in encouraging bees and a new easy-to-use beehive, called a beehaus, could help more people become apiarists. . .

The first of the newly-designed urban beehives is due to be installed on the roof of Natural England's central London offices, but Dr Tew said the bees would not be coming into contact with pedestrians on pavements because they flew about five meters off the ground.
UPDATE: A LOVESalem foreign correspondent sends: "NC offers a state tax credit for amateur beekeeping." Great idea -- we need bees a lot more than, say, a horde of new slightly better autos bought under a "cash for clunkers" deal that is so lax that people are trading one SUV for another.

UPDATE 2: WSU researchers homing in on causes of colony collapse disorder. Surprise, pesticides among them!Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Keep Minto-Brown Island Park under local control!

Minto BrownImage by voodooangel via Flickr

Did you know...?

Next Monday, August 10th, Salem City Council will vote whether to sell control of almost 200 acres of Minto Brown Island Park to a federal agency (USDA) for over $800,000 in federal stimulus funds. Here are four questions we should hear the answers to before the City Council votes.

1) Why didn't the City tell us this was happening?

No notice has been posted in the Park to tell users that the City is about to make a decision to permanently change the use of 200 acres of City owned land.

The City Council approved applying for the stimulus funds on April 6, 2009, but has not posted a public notice in the Park. Four months is plenty of time for public notice, but Salem officials chose not to post any notices for park users. Before the City Council decides to sell off local control of parkland, they should post public notices at park entrances. Why hasn't the City told park users they might change the use of 200 acres?

There are 19 Neighborhood Associations in Salem. More than a dozen were not given the chance to hear about this proposal before the August 10 vote. Why didn't city officials tell the other Neighborhood Associations about this proposal?

2) Why don't they tell us what the $800K will be used for?

The proposal before the City Council does not specify how the money will be spent. The City budget for this year has been approved and the use of this funding would be unrestricted. City staff have said that the "staff recommendation" is to use the funds to benefit parks, but have not provided details and this is not part of the proposal on Monday.

3) Why don't we know what will happen to that acreage?

Federal agencies will decide the management plan for the almost 200 acres and the City will be required to follow it. One requirement of the easement is that paved bike paths and trails will never be allowed in the easement areas. The City will not know what is in the management plan before the vote and the federal agencies can change the plan at any time in the future.

There is lots of talk about unfunded federal mandates. The City now controls the property. If the City sells the easement, then it no longer has local control. Once the stimulus funding is gone, then there will be federal control and no funding.

4) How will Salem afford to maintain the easement area forever?

The USDA will only pay to maintain the easement areas for 3 years. For the next 3, 33, and 333 years, Salem will have to pay for upkeep. Today, the land is open space maintained at no cost to the City. How can Salem afford to maintain this land in the future? Salem's own council-appointed Parks and Recreation Advisory Board reviewed the idea and voted unanimously against approving the easement. The Parks Board found the deal was not in Salem's long-term interest.

Concerned? You have options before the City Council votes. Call or write the Mayor, City Council and City Manager ( or 503-588-6159). And you can speak out at the City Council meeting on Monday, August 10. The meeting begins at 6:30 and your last opportunity for public comment will be near the beginning of the agenda. Thank you!

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Capitol Chess Club begins @ Ike Box on 8/17

Chess ClubImage by ramseyarnaoot via Flickr

The new Capitol Chess Club will have its inaugural meeting at the Ike Box (corner of Cottage and Chemeketa in downtown Salem) on Monday, August 17.

All chess players are welcome to drop by and welcome this great new Salem chess venue, which will offer a weekday evening opportunity to play as a complement to the Salem Chess Club that meets in West Salem Library (Saturdays 1-5).

The plan is to meet weekly, every Monday night, from 6 until close for casual games or speed chess. Please bring your sets and boards and clocks if you want to use one, and please plan to support the Ike Box coffee/snack bar with your patronage in return for their gracious welcome.

For the first few meetings, Ike Box summer hours may still be in effect, so the club might close early (8 p.m. rather than 10). As soon as summer hours are over, closing time will be 10 p.m.

Learn more about the Ike Box here.

Buy chess sets, pieces, boards, and other chess supplies via this link to Wholesale Chess to help support the Capitol Chess Club. Expect guaranteed low prices and excellent customer service.
[Capitol Chess Club] will earn one point for every dollar, rounded to the nearest whole dollar in US dollars, spent on merchandise by a visitor to our site who enters the site from your affiliate link. You will not earn points on shipping costs or taxes. That visitor must make the purchase during his session. You will not get credit for purchases made by customers who return but who do not enter through your link, or for future purchases made by customers you referred (unless they always enter through your affiliate link!). You will not get credit when you make a purchase going through your own affiliate link. You will receive credit on purchases regardless of the buyer's payment method. You will be debited points for orders that are cancelled or do not go through.

Awesome essay: Sarah Palin and seeing the problem in ourselves, not just in "them"

Three Way Mirror album cover"What -- I thought you were going to show me the folks destroying teh Earth! But that's me!" Image via Wikipedia

Ladies and gentlemen: Sharon Astyk.

Klein gets the problem right. She gets that we can’t continue to live this way. But she still is attached to old enlightenment political categories that simply do not function well in the face of our crisis. She imagines a rapine right, selling the Business As Usual model, and a at least partially critical left. There is some truth in this analysis (and there is often some truth in the criticisms of the left from the right) - but not enough to take us where we need to go. Because the left has been complicit in creating other myths, just as false. It is the left who created the idea that we could buy our way out of this, simply because we want to retain our identity as consumers. It is the affluent left that has told us that if we just buy better products, if we just recycle more, it will be enough.

It is leftist environmentalists who have understated the scope of the problem, and who have told us over and over again that our economy will grow again, this time with plenty of green jobs for everyone, that sacrifice is not necessary. But when you look closely at the studies that support this idea, they all involve radically lower emissions cuts than those that are necessary, radically longer time frames, the viability of technologies that do not presently fully exist and the assumption that we have all the energy in the ground and all the money in the world to do it. All of those assumptions are fundamentally false - they are still working with old numbers, often with 450 ppm rather than 350 ppm, and without acknowledging that many of the things we thought we had a lot of time for - the melting or arctic ice, the leaking of methane out of the permafrost - are happening now, decades or centuries before even the IPCC reports expected them.

Left and right, working together, have conspired to create a culture of denial, have declined, for the most part, to offer clear terms to the general public. The right has claimed that we can drill our way out, the left that we can build solar panels in the desert and capture our coal emissions. Neither one has a remote handle on climate change, much less climate change intersecting with peak oil and economic crisis.

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NYT article on backyard hens

Chicken coop for three hens !Just one of many creative and attractive coops that backyard hen keepers like to make. Image by lord marmalade via Flickr

The article makes the argument that eggs are cheaper in the store than keeping hens. So what?

A local LOVESalem correspondent went on the Portland Tour de Coops this year. She not only had a wonderful time introducing her five-year-old chaperone to chickens (he was smitten), she also saw how important the hens were to making the tour locations more sustainable -- and better prepared for emergencies.

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Calling Salem Chessplayers (all ages; humans only though)

Martha KasparovVery poor loser. Image by eNil via Flickr

A new chess club is forming to offer players an opportunity to play in the evenings in the downtown area and to complement the existing Salem Chess Club, which meets on Saturday afternoons in the West Salem Library (1-5 p.m.).

We haven't got the final commitment from the venue yet, but it looks very good for a Monday night club at a very close-in downtown spot.

To find out when the first meeting will occur and to stay current on all the going-ons with the new "Capitol Chess Club," join the club's googlegroup (click that link). The googlegroup provides some webspace and an "announce only" email list, so you won't get any spam -- just info on chess in Salem on the east side of the river.

Anyone good at photoshop or similar? We need a logo of the Capitol building, with the Golden Pioneer replaced with a Golden King . . . Thanks!
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