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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Random thought for reviving Post Office revenues

Boulder post office boxesImage by Jeremy Burgin via FlickrYou know how, whenever you order something, you get reminded that the Post Office won't let UPS and other private package services deliver items sent to PO Boxes?

Now that the revenue plunge at the Post Office is so bad that they're thinking of killing Saturday deliveries, maybe there's an opportunity there . . .

Why doesn't the Post Office simply accept all deliveries from UPS et al. slated for PO Boxes for a 10% surcharge on the shipping? It would end up being fed back to the PO Box customers, who would then find their PO Box address even more valuable (and create a revenue boost for the Post Office).

Wouldn't be huge -- but wouldn't every little bit help?
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Celebrate Community Gardens!

Community gardens celebration set Aug. 22-28

Marion-Polk Food Share will kick off World Kitchen Garden Day and Community Garden Tour Week with a community barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 590 Elma Ave. SE, Salem.

The event is held in keeping with the tradition of Kitchen Garden Day, where people gather in their gardens with friends, family, and members of their local community to celebrate the pleasures and benefits of home-grown, hand-made foods. In addition to food and fellowship, there will be a walking tour of Julie’s Garden, a 10,000 square-foot learning garden partnership between Trinity United Methodist, Four Corners Elementary School and Marion-Polk Food Share.

The days following the free kick-off celebration will feature two sets of lunch-hour and evening tours of model community gardens in Salem and Keizer. Each Wednesday and Friday tour covers four gardens. The noon to 1 p.m. tour starts at the Marion-Polk Food Share Edible Landscape Project, 1660 Salem Industrial Drive NE. The 6 to 8 p.m. tour starts at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church Garden, 3295 Ladd Ave. Participants will caravan to the remaining sites. The public is encouraged to attend.

“Our desire is to raise awareness about our Sustainable Community Gardens program and to show folks what great things are possible when people build relationships, help one another and work side by side growing food for themselves and to share with others,” said gardens program manager Jordan Blake. The complete tour schedule is attached.

# # #
Community Garden Tours – Aug. 25 and Aug. 27

LUNCH-HOUR TOURS
Wednesday, Aug.25 and Friday, Aug. 27, noon – 1 p.m.
· Marion Polk Food Share, 1660 Salem Industrial Drive, NE Salem
· Oregon School for the Deaf, 999 Locust St., NE Salem
· Highland Neighborhood Garden, corner of Hazel and Columbia streets, NE Salem
· Salvation Army Garden and Food Box Site

This tour begins at noon with the Marion-Polk Food Share’s Edible Landscape Project that is in its preliminary phase. The next three gardens on the tour route are located within 1.5 miles of Marion-Polk Food Share. They are the 1-acre Food Share Garden located on Oregon School for the Deaf grounds; a garden located on a vacant lot in the Highland Neighborhood; and the Salvation Army Garden coordinated by Sunnyside Organics, a partner of Marion-Polk Food Share. This lunch-hour garden tour will also include a short tour of the Salvation Army Food Bank.

EVENING TOURS
Wednesday, Aug. 25 and Friday, Aug. 27, 6 - 8 p.m.
· St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church Garden, 3295 Ladd Ave., NE Salem
· Northgate Peace and Forgiveness Garden, 455 Biller Ave., NE Salem
· Redeemer Lutheran Community Garden, 4663 Lancaster Drive, NE Salem
· Whittam Community Garden, 5402 Ridge Drive N., Keizer

This tour is designed to highlight four gardens that have started within the last two years: the St. Timothy’s community garden in partnership with Hoover Elementary; the Northgate Peace and Forgiveness Garden, started last fall at Northgate Park in memory of Montez Bailey; and the Redeemer Lutheran Community Garden and Whittam Community Garden, both begun in 2010.

For information, contact Jordan Blake at 503-581-3855, ext. 329.

Beaverton shames Salem City Council's Ponderous Plan for Urban Hens

An A-frame chicken coop in a Portland, Oregon ...Terrifying, eh?? Image via WikipediaYou know it's bad when a place that is the most literal "Geography of Nowhere" hell of a noplace -- a town that's little more than a stark warning to other towns about why auto sprawl is so awful -- gracefully passes a code improvement to allow urban hens that's about 100 times better than the absurdly complex, overpriced, overly bureaucratic, passive-aggressive and sullen proposal that the Salem City Council is straining mightily to pass:
The Beaverton City Council on Monday gave its final approval for a new "urban chicken" ordinance that allows residents to keep up to four hens at most single-family houses in the city. The quickly tallied 5-0 vote came near the end of a 96-minute meeting, prompting a round of applause from Sathler and three other chicken champions -- once they finally realized the new city code had been approved.

"It's exciting," Sathler said later, crediting city leaders for responding to residents' requests for chickens. "For me, this is very much about food security. ... I want people to get local food; I want it to be as close as possible."

The ordinance becomes effective in mid-September. Although it allows residents to raise hens, it prohibits roosters. Other poultry, such as ducks and geese, are not allowed as pets within the city.

A couple of other basics about the new ordinance: Chickens and their respective coops aren't allowed in front yards, and the coops can't be closer than 20 feet to a neighbor's house. Supervised chickens can have the run of a fenced backyard during daytime hours, but at night they're to roost.

The city first began considering urban chickens in April 2009 and the Planning Commission held a well-attended public hearing in November. But the topic stalled politically until after the May primary election, when it was pushed back into the spotlight by community members who gathered signatures endorsing the concept.

Even so, citizen response leading to Monday's vote had been mixed. Some questioned whether allowing chickens in an urban area could be a public health concern, while others pointed to the benefits of local food sources (eggs, not the chickens themselves -- slaughtering is prohibited).
Meanwhile, here in Salem -- new motto "Somehow Managing to Make Beaverton Look Good" -- the City Council is still limping along, trying to pass a passive-aggressive ordinance that's been engineered to be so hostile to would-be henkeepers that it seems more intended to discourage the practice than permit it.
The Public Hearing is Set! – Thanks to all the people who came to Monday night's city council meeting and raised their hands. This big show of support for the proposed chicken ordinance resulted in the councilors voting 7 to 1 to hold a public hearing. I was not permitted to argue for revisions to the ordinance as I had planned, but they assured me I would be able to do so at the public hearing that is set for Monday, SEPTEMBER 20 (SEE UPDATE BELOW) at 6:30 pm. This will be the single most important meeting of the entire process, so please mark your calendars and plan on coming.
UPDATE: The public hearing for the chicken ordinance has been moved to September 20. The time and place remain the same, but the city has decided to hold a “special meeting” on this date (instead of holding the public hearing during the next normally scheduled city council meeting).

I will let you know if anything changes and I will most definitely be sending a reminder as the date gets closer.
Look for an article about the public hearing in the next issue of Salem Weekly (www.willamettelive.com)
UPDATE 2: Meanwhile, those store-bought eggs produced by battery hens in reeking concentrated feeding operations that give new meaning to the word "hellish" sure are yummy ... Mmmmmm, sweet, sweet salmonella.
Wright County Egg, which distributes nationwide under 16 brand names, has sold the American public 380 million eggs with a high risk of salmonella contamination.

But, because food recalls are entirely voluntary, people have been getting sick from these eggs since May. This recall is in response to an FDA investigation, but the FDA can't actually order Wright County to recall the eggs, regardless of the threat to public health. . . .
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