Living Sustainably: You Can Help Fight the Invasives Invasion

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  You Can Help Fight the Invasives Invasion

By Laura Grant, Herrick District Library

Spring is here, and nature is coming back to life all around the area. The returning plants and animals remind us of rebirth and renewal. It’s a perfect time to think not only about greening our own yards and also improving the parks and public open spaces entrusted to us.  Essential in that is knowing that not all the growing things belong here.

West Michigan is blessed with amazing natural landscapes, from the Lake Michigan shoreline and dunes to forests, rivers and everything in between.  The state, counties and townships maintain fantastic pieces of nature for us to all to enjoy.

But invasive plant species, like garlic mustard, phragmites, and Japanese knotweed threaten the vitality of these spaces. Invasive plants out-compete native counterparts, depriving them of sun, water and other nutrients.

Each of us can help fight back against the invaders.  We can add native greenery to our plantings. These plants provide habitat for creatures, require less water, and are generally hardier than their non-natural counterparts. To boost the native habitat in your yard, check out the upcoming Ottawa Conservation District annual native plant sale. Order forms are available now (at www.ottawacd.org/), and plant pick up is May 10.

Also, watch for opportunities to get involved in group work days to remove invasive species. Ottawa County parks sponsors a number of opportunities (see miottawa.org/Parks/volunteer).

More immediately, we can all find out more about the invasive invasion and what we can do about it at the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore meeting on Tuesday, April 18, at Herrick District Library. At the event:

 Drew Rayner, the West Michigan intergovernmental invasive species coordinator, will provide information about the area’s High Priority List of Invasive Plants, educate about tools for identification, and inspire those attending to take action both in their backyards and in cooperation with the greater West Michigan community.

 Jane Kramer, a fine arts photographer, will discuss her Foreshadowing series of art that transfers the shadows of endangered plant species onto paper she makes from invasive plant species. Kramer will discuss her process that includes collecting invasive plants, processing plants to make pulp, making paper, photographing the shadows of plants, and using alcohol gel transfers to print the images onto the invasive-based paper.  She plans to do a photo transfer demonstration at the end of the program for anyone who would like to watch.

 

 

Other Resources

 Ottawa Conservation District (http://www.ottawacd.org/) or (616) 842-5852 Ext. 5.

 Ottawa County Parks and Recreation at (616) 786-4847

 West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Network, (616)402-9608 or e-mail westmi-cisma@macd.org

 janekramer.com/foreshadowing.html

Laura Grant is a library assistant at Herrick District Library and a member of the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore committee.

PHOTOS:

COMPASS PLANT.JPG — An image of a threatened species, compass plant, is printed on paper made from the invasive phragmites plant. Courtesy photo.

GARLIC MUSTARD VOLUNTEERS.JPG – Volunteers such as this group work in area parks and public lands to pull out invasive species such as garlic mustard. Courtesy photo.

If You Go:

What: “What’s Invading My Habitat?”

Who:  Anyone, community members interested in ways to get involved with protecting and enhancing their local environment

When: Tuesday, April 18, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave., Holland

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme: Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

 

ABOUT THIS SERIES  

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Six things to know about the coziest garden in Holland

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Six things to know about the coziest garden in Holland

By Savannah Weaver, Community Garden Director

Hollanders know that Windmill Island Gardens is home to extensive spring tulip displays and America’s only working antique Dutch windmill. However, fewer may be aware that since 2016, we’ve been putting our own unique spin on the community garden – a chance for anyone in the community to learn about and grow their own fresh vegetables.

Growing our own vegetables is a significantly sustainable practice. It gets our hands in the soil and connects us with Earth. Community gardens make efficient use of space, provide access to a low-cost, sustainably-produced source of healthy food, and decrease reliance on commercially-grown produce that might have a large carbon footprint and could be sending money out of the community.

Here are six things to know about Holland’s own community garden:

1. We’re beginner-friendly. Although experienced gardeners are welcome, our program is designed to teach newcomers all they need to know to grow their own vegetables. Anyone with a plot in the garden also gets access to biweekly garden skills classes. Classes cover basics like fertilizing and controlling pests, as well as garden-adjacent topics such as preserving and cooking with vegetables. The first class is April 29.

2. We put the “community” in “community garden.” The name of the garden, de Gezellige Tuin, is Dutch for “the cozy garden” – a name that represents the warm and welcoming community we aim to establish. Participants are encouraged to share everything from tips and ideas to extra seeds and produce with the garden neighbors they’ll get to know quite well after a summer of classes and other events. Additionally, Windmill Island staff is frequently on hand to give advice and answer gardening questions.

3. We’re affordable. The cost of supplies can often seem daunting to would-be gardeners. De Gezellige Tuin removes this barrier by providing community tools and equipment. We also offer our participants free starter plants and seeds of some of the most popular vegetables to grow in our region. The fee for participation is only $30, with financial assistance available to those in need.

4. Location, location, location. Windmill Island’s famous tulip fields look stunning in the spring but used to lay fallow after the tulips finished blooming. Now our community garden makes use of that otherwise unused space. The result? An efficient use of land, and a vegetable garden with fertile, well-maintained soil flanked by beautiful landscapes and the iconic de Zwaan Windmill.

5. We’re all in this together. De Gezellige Tuin is supported by local businesses such as Van Wieren Hardware and Wolverine Tools, which have donated equipment, and De Bruyn Seed Co., which supplies starter seeds. We give back to the community as well, by donating the harvest from a staff-tended demonstration plot to the Community Action House’s food pantry and partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holland to give high school Club members an opportunity to learn gardening skills.

6. Space is limited; sign up now. Just 36 garden plots are available, and the first class is April 29, so sign up soon. To learn more about de Gezellige Tuin or apply for a plot for the 2017 season, email Savannah Weaver at greenhouse@cityofholland.com, or call (616) 355-1032.

 Savannah Weaver is director of the de Gezellige Tuin community garden program.

IMAGES: Courtesy of Savannah Weaver.
This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme

Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

 

ABOUT THIS SERIES

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

March 2017 Sustainability News

In the News:

March 31, 2017 – Kids send global warming postcards to Trump

March 31, 2017 – What the cluck? Author discusses the basics to raising backyard chickens

March 31, 2017 – Backyard chickens: Program allows residents to produce local food

March 31, 2017 – Consumers Energy to provide LED lightbulbs through food banks  www.consumersenergy.com/lighting

March 30, 2017 – Franciscan friar sees climate as a moral issue

March 30, 2017 – House Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) budget passes over Democratic objections

March 30, 2017 – Saugatuck conservationists speak out over dunes development

March 30, 2017 – Saugatuck commits to becoming part of national water trail

March 30, 2017 – See a bald eagle

March 30, 2017 – Visitor center plans taking shape at Holland Energy Park

March 30, 2017 – How to Lower Your Energy Bill

March 29, 2017 – Letter: Make climate solutions a priority

March 29, 2017 – Ottawa County ranked first in health outcomes

March 29, 2017 – Muralist paints images on melting icebergs

March 28, 2017 – Bike share planning in Holland put on hold to look for funding

March 28, 2017 – Trump signs order at the EPA to dismantle environmental protections

March 28, 2017 – Trump tosses Obama’s ‘clean’ energy plan, embraces coal

March 28, 2017 – Natural ways to keep roses radiant this season

March 27, 2017 – Living Sustainably: 5 good reasons to borrow a home energy monitoring kit

March 27, 2017 – Doctor: To fight asthma, fight global warming

March 24, 2014 – Trump EPA cuts could hobble Michigan pollution monitoring, cleanup

March 24, 2017 – Trump administration approves Keystone XL pipeline

March 23, 2017 – Smart Water, Wastewater Management Drives Down Costs, Reduces Loss

March 23, 2017 – Will Consumers Pay More for Recycled Ocean Plastic?

March 22, 2017 – My Take: Climate change is real, impacts worsening, bipartisan solutions exist

March 22, 2017 – Tips for choosing an energy-efficient, eco-friendly HVAC system

March 22, 2017 – Ford Water-Saving Technologies Reduced Usage by 13 Million Gallons

March 22, 2017 – Often ‘overlooked’ melting influence of dark snow:  New monthly video explores critical role of soot and algal blooms in accelerating Greenland ice sheet melting rates.

March 22, 2017 – Company turns piped water into electricity:  Turbines installed inside water pipes generate electricity.

March 21, 2017 – 3 upgrades to help boost your home’s energy efficiency

March 21, 2017 – NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY GRANT SUPPORTS RESEARCH IN EUROPE

March 17, 2017 – EPA Awards $100 Million to Michigan for Flint Water Infrastructure Upgrades

March 15, 2017 – Letter: Scientific consensus is stronger than ever

March 12, 2017 – Michael E. Kraft: World needs America’s climate leadership

March 10, 2017 – Huizenga testifies before Congress on Great Lakes economy

March 10, 2017 – Van Raalte Farm to host Maple Sugar Time in Holland

March 10, 2017 – Coho salmon activity picks up on Lake Michigan

March 9, 2017 – Letter: Huizenga runs into environmental conflicts

March 9, 2017 – Spring cleaning: Area parks being readied for peak season

March 9, 2017 – Smart food swaps mean more nutrition and less ‘giving up’

March 8, 2017 – 14-year-old scientist aims to solve the energy crisis

March 7, 2017 – Recycling Rates Are Rising for Plastic Bags and Wrap

March 7, 2017 – Biodegradable Breakthrough: How a Small Business Is Improving Plastics

March 7, 2017 – Companies Save $14 for Every $1 Invested in Reducing Food Waste

March 6, 2017 – Living Sustainably: 10 ways to live a more nature-rich life

March 4, 2017 – My Take: Ignoring evidence of climate change

March 2, 2017 – Summits to address West Michigan housing industry issues

March 1, 2017 – MACC approves healthy watershed partnership

Living Sustainably: Five Good Reasons to Borrow a Home Energy Monitoring Kit

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Five Good Reasons to Borrow a Home Energy Monitoring Kit

By Ashley Kimble, Holland Board of Public Works

Do you know how much the electricity is costing you for that second refrigerator in the basement that you use once a year for the Thanksgiving turkey? Or the hidden cost of the incandescent lightbulb you can’t seem to part with just because it hasn’t died yet?

Incandescent light bulbs, extra refrigerators, old appliances, extra humidity – all of these things can contribute to excess energy use in your home. Making simple yet effective changes can make a difference in your monthly energy bill.

But how do you find out what changes to make in order to save? Here’s the answer: Check out a Holland Board of Public Works Home Energy Monitoring Kit from the Herrick District Library.

 

Here are five reasons to check out a Home Energy Kit today.

1. Learn how much electricity your appliances and electronics are costing you.  The Home Energy Kit includes a watt meter. Simply plug the watt meter into an outlet and plug your appliance or other electronic device into the watt meter. The display will show an instant read of how much it costs to use this device. The meter is even programmed to Holland Board of Public Work’s rates.

2. Find out where heat is escaping from your home. The Home Energy Kit also comes with an infrared thermometer. Point and shoot the thermometer laser to measure the temperatures around doors, windows, vents, light switches and other openings. If you find an area with significant temperature difference compared to the rest of the room, odds are that area could benefit from air sealing or more insulation.

3. Measure the humidity in your home. Did you know humidity affects home energy usage? It requires the heating and cooling system to work longer to overcome the negative impact that too high or too low humidity has on the interior of your home. Keeping the humidity at 40 to 50 percent is the ideal condition for your comfort and the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems.

4. Learn about energy conservation with your family. Use the Home Energy Kit together as a family and seize it as a learning opportunity with your children. The kit includes information about ways to save and other resources provided by the Holland Board of Public Works.

5. It’s Free. That’s right, free. With your Herrick District Library card, you can check one of these kits out at no cost, just like a book. Simply ask at the information desk where the kits are located, grab one and it’s yours to use until the return date.

What are you waiting for? Head to Herrick District Library and start saving!

 Ashley Kimble is the customer communications specialist at the Holland Board of Public Works.

IMAGES: ENERGY KIT.jpg CUTLINE: The Home Energy Monitoring Kit, available for free loan at Holland District Library, will help homeowners cut energy use and save money. Photo: Ashley Kimble

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme:

Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency measures to manage our resources to provide access to reliable and cost-effective energy.

 

ABOUT THIS SERIES

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Earth Hour-Little Things CAN Change the World

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:   Earth Hour-Little Things CAN Change the World

By Carolyn Ulstad, Holland Sustainability Committee

When I first heard about Earth Hour happening in cities like Paris, Singapore, Dubai and New York, I couldn’t help but start dreaming up what it could be like to bring it here to Holland.

For some background, Earth Hour started in 2007 as a lights-out event in Sydney, Australia. It has since grown to more than 170 countries and territories worldwide and has become one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment. Every year households, businesses and iconic buildings in major cities turn off their lights for one hour to promote energy conservation, celebrate our night sky and raise awareness about how we impact our environment.

After a few conversations at our meetings and excited by the idea, the City of Holland’s Sustainability Committee decided to move forward in promoting Earth Hour to our community. This year, Earth Hour in Holland is taking place from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25.

Our hope is to inspire you and your families to take the pledge to change your energy use for at least one hour.

A great way to get started is to think about what’s important to you.

I love Earth Hour because it’s completely customizable. If your concerns are about bees and pollinators, make it about that. If you care about light pollution or wildlife habitat, make those the focus. I myself will be participating for the first time and felt I should ask an Earth Hour veteran why he participates.

I spoke to Steven Bouma-Prediger, professor of religion at Hope College. Bouma-Prediger has been celebrating Earth Hour for the past four years and told me that he initially got involved “since it seemed like a creative and fun way to bring attention to energy use (and abuse) and highlight the issue of climate change, in a coordinated way with people from all over our home planet.”

That same potential for global collective power is what drew me to Earth Hour.

If you need some help getting started, visit the Earth Hour website for ideas. Consider actions like these: If you’re eating a late dinner, maybe sit by candle light. If you have little ones at home, get them involved by reading a bedtime story by flashlight. If you represent a business, school or church, encourage your members to take the pledge as well.

Go to https://goo.gl/QhJbY9 to sign up for the Earth Hour pledge.

If you are looking for something to do that afternoon, come join us at 3 p.m. Saturday in Graves Hall, 263 College Ave., on the Hope College campus for a free showing of the documentary “The City Dark,” which highlights the effects of light pollution.

A closing word from Bouma-Prediger is this African proverb: “Many little people in many little places doing many little things can change the world.”

 Carolyn Ulstad is a resident of Holland and sits on the Holland Community Sustainability Committee.

PHOTOS:

HOLLAND_NIGHTPHOTO: Earth Hour on Saturday, March 25, encourages Holland residents to turn off lights for an hour to raise awareness and celebrate the night sky. Courtesy photo – Go Dark Initiative

EARTHHOUR SPARKLE – Earth Hour is an international event bringing awareness to saving energy and celebrating the night sky, coming to Holland on Saturday, March 25. Courtesy photo – World Wildlife Fund

 

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme

Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency measures to manage our resources to provide access to reliable and cost-effective energy.

 

ABOUT THIS SERIES

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Hope Student Finding Sustainability in an Iceland Eco-village

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Finding Sustainability in an Iceland Eco-village

By Alex Webb, Hope College student

During the fall semester of 2016, I traveled to Iceland through a study abroad program that revolved teaching “Sustainability Through Community,” a concept I was not aware of before this three-month excursion. This idea was one in which I found the most practical solutions to sustainable living in the modern-day world.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2387.

While I studied in Iceland, I lived in an eco-village with four other students, our professor and 100 Icelandic residents and workers. The other students and I spent most of our days learning about concrete ways to reduce our carbon footprints and transform our lives to become completely sustainable. We also worked in the greenhouses, kitchens and workshops with the residents to help make products for the village to sell.

It was not long before I realized that this study abroad experience was less about touring a remote and exotic country, but more about learning how the concept of sustainability does not survive without a cohesive and synergistic community. I learned how a group of people lives sustainably with their environment and each other.

Iceland is praised for being one of the greenest countries in the world. What does this mean?

Renewable energy resources, like hydroelectric power and geothermal reserves, provide 100 percent of their electricity and heating. This makes it more convenient for them to be a sustainable population.

Icelanders use this advantage to play an active role in sustainable development and commitment to the environment. Their environmental awareness is largely shaped by close community ties, a strong sense of tradition and a unique bond with nature.

Through learning about another culture’s environmentally conscious traditions, I was able to gain a new perspective on the applicability of sustainability in our day-to- day lives back home. By the end of the program, Viking Stouts and homemade candles were not the only gifts I was bringing back to the states. I also brought home three valuable lessons from my time in Iceland that I would like to share with you.

1) This concept of becoming more sustainable can be overwhelming. However, it starts with each person becoming more self-sustainable in his or her daily activities. For example, try walking with a friend instead of driving to your destination. Experiment with growing your own food. You may even be able to compost your food waste and use it as fertilizer! Try your hand at making your own shampoo or soap. You’d be surprised how much money you can save.

2) Reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce your consumption of unnecessary clothing or food. Reuse what you can and don’t be afraid to get creative. Recycle what you can. This simple effort minimizes waste products in landfills.

3) Your life can make a big difference in the world. Whether your concerns are local or global, don’t be afraid to speak up for what you think is right. I realize that not everyone is going to become an environmental activist and go out to buy a Prius after they read this article. The most important point I want you to take away is to keep an open mind when listening to someone with a different perspective.

Regardless of your race, religion or socioeconomic status, respect your neighbor because when we work together, our words and ideas can change the world. Community is a cornerstone on which sustainability is built.

 Alex Webb is a senior studying sociology and environmental studies at Hope College. After graduation, she’s interested in pursuing a career in business and sustainability.

PHOTOS:

Alex in Iceland jpg: Hope student Alex Webb experienced sustainable community in the unique country of Iceland.

Ecovillage greenhouse tomatoes.jpg : Sustainability in the ecovillage includes growing tomatoes in a greenhouse.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme:  Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

 

ABOUT THIS SERIES

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information

Living Sustainably: 10 Ways to Live a More Nature-Rich Life

Living Sustainably:  10 Ways to Live a More Nature-Rich Life

By Jane Naber and Hamilton STREAM school students

 

Being nature rich is more than going green; it’s about going outside regularly and finding value in doing any activity in nature.  It means letting a connection to nature enrich you, your family, and your community. Consider these ways to live a more nature-rich life, with references to learn more.

 

  1.  Take a walk outside.

Why?  Walking outside can help you lose weight, keep you healthy, and reduce stress (Better Policies for a Healthier America, September, 2016).

 

  1.  Encourage the creation of green spaces for learning and exploration.

Why?  Cathy James states, “Anything you can teach in an indoor classroom can be taught outdoors, often in ways that are more enjoyable to children” (James, Cathy, The Garden Classroom, 2015).  Recent studies show that children thrive when given the opportunity to learn outside (The Pathfinder School.org)    

 

  1.  Get your employees outside!

WHY? Lisa Evans of Entrepreneur in “Why You Should Take Your Work Outside” states, “Trapping ourselves indoors has created what health experts call a ‘nature deficit disorder’. Depression or anxiety result from too little time spent outside.”

 

  1. Know your resources

Why? The Outdoor Discovery Center provides many classes for learning outside such as “Up Close and Wild,” “Wondrous World of Water,” and “Live Birds of Prey.” outdoordiscovery.org

 

  1.  Take your family to the park

WHY?  New research suggests that families who regularly get outside together tend to function better. (Rick Nauert in “Outdoor Functions Can Improve Family Bonding,” 2016).

https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/06/21/outdoor-functions-can-improve-family-bonding/105089.html

 

  1. Be energy efficient –use renewable resources

WHY?  The use of fossil fuel is unsustainable.  At the current rate, oil will run out in 53 years, natural gas in 54, and coal in 110. (Siddharth Singh, “How Long Will Fossil Fuels Last?” 2015)

http://www.business-standard.com/article/punditry/how-long-will-fossil-fuels-last-115092201397_1.html

 

  1.  Plant a tree

Why?  Trees improve the community by keeping it cool (it can be 31 degrees cooler in the shade) and absorbing pollutants. This can aid in lowering air conditioning costs. (ProjectEvergreen.org)

 

  1.  Explore the woods safely

Why?  There are some things out there that can hurt you or ruin your day…but if you are properly prepared you will be ready for any adverse weather, critters, or other challenges that you may encounter.”  (rogerfulton.com)

 

  1.  Plant a Garden

Why?  You will save about two pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere for each pound of produce you grow for your family.  (Green and Healthy Homes.org)

  1. Value Nature

Why?  “To sit in solitude, to think in solitude with only the music of the stream and the cedar, to break the flow of silence, there lies the value of wilderness.” – John Muir

 

 

STREAM School is a cross-curricular program at Hamilton Community Schools where students also learn everyday skills while connecting their learning to the outdoors.  Recently, 120 middle schoolers presented “Art and Animals” at the Outdoor Discovery Center where 20 ideas were shared through art to encourage Holland residents to be nature-rich.

PHOTOS:

CUTLINE for Nature rich1.jpg, Naturerich2.jpg:   Some 120 middle schoolers recently presented “Art and Animals” at the Outdoor Discovery Center where 20 ideas were shared through art to encourage Holland residents to be nature-rich.   

ABOUT THIS SERIES  

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

 

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme

Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

February 2017 Sustainability News

February 27, 2017 – HOPE COLLEGE STUDENT’S RESEARCH ADDS FUEL TO FAST-FOOD DEBATE: Margaret Dickinson, spent two years at Hope testing hundreds of fast-food wrappers from several states in order to detect per- and polyfluoro alkyl substances (PFAS) in the packaging. Human-made with long environmental lifetimes, PFAS is toxic to humans and animals, and its bioaccumulation is troubling to scientists.

February 26, 2017 – HOPE COLLEGE MERGING MAJORS: This summer, senior Elizabeth Ensink, participated in one of the United States’ most competitive undergraduate creative writing fellowships, “Nature in Words.” The 10-week fellowship, based at Hastings, Michigan’s Pierce Cedar Creek Institute for environmental education, provided a unique opportunity for Ensink to merge the diverse academic interests that she’s been able to pursue at a high level at Hope, where she is majoring in both biology and English with a writing emphasis.

February 22, 2017 – My Take: The US values innovation — that’s why we need the EPA

February 21, 2017 – Holland: Becoming a more age-friendly community: forum discusses possibilities

February 21, 2017 – These 8 retailers are closing in Michigan in 2017 (so far) – plus 4 that are opening

February 20, 2017 – Living Sustainably:  Pop Quiz: Do you know your home place?

February 20, 2017 – GOING COAST TO COAST  Brian Kieft Hope College ’01 returned to the shores of Michigan from Monterey Bay Aquatic Research Institute to study water quality in the Great Lakes using an autonomous underwater submersible called Tethys.

February 20, 2017 – Nonprofit produces Women & the Environment Symposium

February 20, 2017 – Local First updates ‘impact’ assessment tool

February 18, 2017 – Herman Miller committed to environmental safety with honey bee program

February 18, 2017 – Ottawa County Patriots to host forum on climate issues

February 17, 2017 – New ‘dashboard’ will display West Michigan’s flaws and bright spots

February 17, 2017 – Global Pressures to Fix Climate Change Push Demand for Air Quality Control Systems

February 17, 2017 – Pruitt OK’d as EPA chief over environmentalists’ objections

February 17, 2017 – Teens May Go Hungry as Poorest Families Struggle to Feed Kids (Parents skip meals so children can eat, but youngest siblings get priority if there’s not enough food).     En Español

February 17, 2017 – LEED-Certified Venues Increase Savings, Decrease Operating Costs, Study Says

February 17, 2017 – Campus Carbon Emissions Drop, But May Be Under-Reported by 30%

February 17, 2017 – It takes a village

February 16, 2017 – Sustainability is Alive and Well – and Moving Forward

February 16, 2017 – Endangered Species Act Runs Headfirst into Mining Companies

February 16, 2017 – How Michigan is meeting the increasing demand for locally grown food

February 16, 2017 – My Take: Who needs the EPA? We do

February 16, 2017 – Holland Civic Center project costs $256K under budget so far

February 16, 2017 – How Digitalization Is Revolutionizing the Waste & Recycling Industry

February 16, 2017 – Here are Holland city council’s goals for the next fiscal year

February 16, 2017 – Trump Expected to Sign Executive Orders Curbing EPA’s Climate Cause

February 14, 2017 – West Michigan receiving $19.9M for nature projects

February 13, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Know your landscape for environmental engagement

February 13, 2017 – Walmart’s ‘Very Strong Business Case’ for Cutting Emissions

February 11, 2017 – Environmentalism is too widely misunderstood

February 10, 2017 – Become a master naturalist through MSU series

February 10, 2017 – House Committee Will Hear Ways to ‘Improve’ the Clean Air Act

February 9, 2017 – Project Clarity completes 6 Holland-area watershed projects

February 9, 2017 – State: Innovation needed to stop Asian carp

February 9, 2017 – Levi’s Is Radically Redefining Sustainability

February 7, 2017 – Letter: Holland Energy Park a terrific addition

February 8, 2017 – ‘Living street’ project in Zeeland moving forward

February 7, 2017 – Zeeland school benefits from early literacy donation

February 6, 2017 – HOPE COLLEGE’S JACK H. MILLER CENTER FOR MUSICAL ARTS EARNS LEED SILVER CERTIFICATION

February 6, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Working on Lake Mac’s reputation

February 6, 2017 – Shareholders to Amazon, McDonald’s, Target, Walmart: Phase Out Polystyrene Foam

February 5, 2017 – Powering Holland: Construction of new power plant nears completion

February 4, 2017 – New online tool gives current E. coli data

February 3, 2017 – ‘Greenwashing’ Costing Walmart $1 Million

February 3, 2017 – Local company delivering fresh groceries to your door

February 2, 2017 – ‘Orange bikes’: Group brainstorms how to bring bike sharing program to Holland

February 1, 2017 – Social Justice Awards and “I Have a Dream” Essay Winners

Living Sustainably: How Are We Creating a Sustainable Community?

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  How Are We Creating a Sustainable Community?

By Brett Little and Michelle Gibbs

Great things are happening in Holland, and we want you to join in!

Many people are working hard to help Holland become a vibrant, world-class community, but for that to happen, it takes all of us working together and addressing all aspects of our community.  This includes the economic, social, and environmental impacts we all have.

On March 7 at City Hall we will explore how Holland is building a more resilient community. The evening will include refreshments, a program, awards and door prizes.

The event will present the programs and tools that are helping us see where we are and how we can best adapt to change with our Community Energy Plan.

Among the evening’s activities: The winners of the Holland Energy Prize Biggest Loser Challenge will talk about what they did to save energy.  In Holland, 118 households took part in the contest, and over half of them received Department of Energy Home Energy Scores.  (Learn more at www.homeenergyscore.gov)

Here are a few of the easy, do-it- yourself measures that winners implemented:

 Sealing air ducts,

 Insulating and air sealing basement ceiling/rim joists,

 Replacing old, inefficient bulbs with LED bulbs,

 Sealing holes in homes and caulking around windows,

 Using rigid foam boards or cellulose insulation in unfinished areas.

Learn more tips at the open house about how to make your home more efficient.

In addition, the open house will let you meet the pros who can help with low-financing options like Holland’s new Home Energy Retrofit and On-Billing Financing programs with the potential for thousands of dollars in rebates.  (Learn more at ww.hollandenergyfund.com/) 

Did you know that a majority of your wasted home energy is going through your floors, walls and ceilings? Most homes in Holland can see significant savings – as well as increased comfort and home health – by air sealing and insulation. People attending the Open House can sign up for a limited offer of a free Department of Energy Home Energy Score assessment of their house.

Finally, an RSVP is not required for the Open House, but those who do will be entered into additional drawings for more than $200 worth of door prizes. Go to www.Greenhomeinstitute.org/events to RSVP.

All of this work is helping the City of Holland reach the goals in the city’s 40 year Community Energy Plan, which aims to make our community a world-class leader in energy security, affordability, sustainability and efficiency.

 Brett Little is director of the Green Home Institute and organizer of the Holland Biggest Loser competition. Michelle Gibbs is director of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute.

If You Go
What: Creating a Sustainable Community Open House
Who: Anyone interested in saving energy and learning about how to create a more sustainable community.
When: Tuesday, March 7. 6 p.m. reception with refreshments, and 6:30 p.m. program, awards, and door prizes.
Where: Holland City Hall, 270 S. River Ave.
Why: Join the effort to make Holland a vibrant, world-class community for all.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme: Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

 

Photos:

BULB IN HAND.JPG LED bulbs are one way that winners of Holland’s Biggest Losers cut energy use.

HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENT.JPG Free Home Energy Score assessments will be available to people who attend the Sustainable Community Open House on March 7.

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Pop Quiz: Do You Know Your Home Place? – AND FULL ANSWERS

LIVING SUSTAINABLY

Pop Quiz: Do You Know Your Home Place?

By Steve Bouma-Prediger

How well do you know your place – your geophysical place, your neighborhood, your home?

If we don’t know our home place well, then we won’t know how to responsibly care for it. Or, lacking the love born of knowledge, we might not even want to care for it.

Here is a short quiz I give my students to illustrate how well we know our place.

The first time that I took a quiz like this years ago, I was embarrassed by how poorly I did. But I vowed that I would learn more about whatever place I lived in, to know how to properly care for it. May we all come to better know and love this beautiful piece of our home planet – Holland, Michigan – so that we might join together joyfully and gratefully in our care for it.

So try the quiz for ideas of things to know about your place.

Answers are below – but no peeking now!

Questions

1. How many days until the moon is full?

2. What are three agricultural plants grown in Ottawa and Allegan counties? What are three edible wild plants in this part of our home planet?

3. How long is the growing season here in the Holland area?

4. What are five trees that grow near your house? Where is the closest Michigan state tree?

5. What are five birds that make their home near your home?

6. What primary geological event or process has shaped Michigan?

7. What spring flower is consistently the first to bloom where you live?

8. If the stars were out last night, what was one constellation you could have seen?

9. What are five non-human creatures who share your place?

10. How has the land here been used by humans in the last 200 years?

Bonus Questions

a. Where does the water you drink from your tap come from?

b. Where does your garbage go?

Answers

1. The moon was full on Saturday, Feb. 11, and will be full again on Sunday, March 12.. The lunar cycle is 28 days, with our moon going from full to waning gibbous to waning crescent to new (invisible) to waxing crescent to waxing gibbous to full again. A blue moon, as in the phrase, “Once in a blue moon,” is a second full moon in the same month.

2. The most common agricultural plants in our area are corn and soybeans, though we locals also are very proud of our blueberries and apples. The list of edible wild plants is quite long and will vary by individual preference, but some of the more common ones are wild onion, cranberries, blueberries, hazelnuts, fiddlehead ferns, and morel mushrooms.

3. The growing season (from last frost to first frost) is about 185 days long, though it varies some each year. Some years you can harvest asparagus in May and kale in November. The growing season is longer in Holland than in other regions of the state because of the warming effect of Lake Michigan. The growing season is now 20 days longer than in 1970.

4. There are many trees that make the Holland area their home, but some of the most common are maple, beech, oak, pine, hemlock, and spruce. The northern ash trees, alas, are falling to the emerald ash borer and trees that need a colder climate, e.g. some species of birch, are migrating north. The Michigan state tree is the white pine (pinus strobus), a lovely tree with long (3- to 5-inch) needles in bundles usually of five.

5. As with the previous question about trees, there are many right answers to this question. The robin is the Michigan state bird, though a class of 4 th graders at a Michigan school some years ago proposed to the governor that it be changed to the chickadee, since the chickadee stays in state year around while the robins leave us in the winter when we need them most. Birds commonly spotted in and around water include Canada geese, mallards, herring gulls (the common seagull), great blue herons, redwing blackbirds. Backyard birds include finches, robins, bluejays, swallows, bluebirds, sparrows, downy woodpeckers. Various hawks live (and hunt) in city parks, such as red-tailed hawks, coopers hawks.

6. The most recent geological event was the receding of the glaciers, which carved out much of Michigan’s landscape. The Great Lakes are a result of the movement and melting of glaciers over millions of years, the most recent ice age ending about 12,000 years ago. The famous mitten shape of our state is a result of glaciers, so the next time you use your hand to show someone where you live, remember you have the glaciers to thank.

7. Many in Holland may be tempted to say that the first spring flower to bloom is the tulip, but that would be incorrect. While the tulip is Holland’s most famous flower, prior to the tulip comes the blooming of the daffodil, and even before that, often pushing up the snow, is the aconite, the bloodroot, the crocus, and the trillium.

8. The night sky looks different in the winter than in the summer, and only the most committed folks stargaze in February. But some familiar constellations are still there: the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper (which has Polaris the North Star on the end of its handle), Draco the Dragon, Cassiopeia the Queen, Cephus the King. And especially clear in the winter, if you look south about halfway above the horizon, is Orion the Hunter, which contains two of the brightest stars in the sky—Rigel and Betelgeuse. In the summer many people recognize directly above them the Summer Triangle of stars Altair, Deneb, and Vega, which are part of the constellations Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively.

9. Many right answers are possible with this question. You could share your home with mice, spiders, bats, dogs, cats, fish, horses, chinchillas, crickets—the list of non-human creatures is nearly endless. Adolescent children, however, do not count.

10. The land in the greater Holland area has been used by humans in many ways for many purposes. Perhaps the most obvious uses are for agriculture and housing, but the land – and water – have also been used for fishing and transportation, education and recreation, hunting and foraging. The list goes on. How will we use it in the next 200 years? Will we use it wisely and respectfully, with the needs of our children and grandchildren in mind? With the needs of our non-human neighbors in mind?

Bonus Answers

a. If you live in the City of Holland or in one of the townships that gets their water from the Board of Public Works, then your water comes from Lake Michigan, pumped from the Big Lake into the filtration and treatment plant just acress the street from Tunnel Park. If your water does not come from the BPW, then most likely it comes from a well. We tend to take water for granted here in Michigan, but in many parts of the world water scarcity and water impurity are big problems.

b. If you live in the City of Holland, your garbage and recycled material is collected once a week by Chef Container and goes to their sorting plant on Graafschap Road south of town. Garbage goes into a landfill while the recyclable material is sorted and sold. Waste Management handles the trash and recycling material for many others in the Holland area. Their sorting plant and landfill is east of town on 16 th /Adams Street.

Photo

Cutline: American Robin jpg – Your neighbors in your home place might include the robin, Michigan’s state bird.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme

Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

 

ABOUT THIS SERIES  

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information