Living Sustainably: Macatawa Water Festival goes virtual with creative approach

By Ashley Van Zee, ODC Network
We all live in a watershed, and this year, we can all celebrate it safely.
If you live in the Holland/Zeeland area, you live in the Macatawa watershed. A watershed is an area of land that drains into a certain stream, river, or lake. It’s like a bathtub where all the water flows towards the drain because it’s the lowest spot.
We usually celebrate our watershed in person at the Macatawa Water Festival, but this year’s event has been moved to a week-long, virtual-style celebration.
We are excited to still celebrate the Macatawa Watershed and encourage you to continue to visit, explore, and care for it. The virtual celebration is a great way to continue to lift our community and bring everyone together.
From July 11 through 17, 14 local businesses are joining in the fun by providing activities, suitable for all ages, that will be shared on social media and on the Macatawa Water Festival webpage.

Activities will range from a DIY Rain Barrel Workshop to assorted on-line video and PDF activity sheets to a scavenger hunted shared on social meeting, plus a variety of in-person but dispersed activities including kayaking, a Knee-High Naturalist program for kids and a river clean-up.

Please go to https://bit.ly/MacWaterFest2020 for more information on the virtual Macatawa Water Festival week!

Here are three reasons everyone should tune in and participate in the activities for the 2020 Macatawa Water Festival:

  1. Fourteen partners used their creativity to build an activity to promote our beloved watershed.
  2. You won’t be disappointed with the unique activities that help you recreate in, learn about, and increase awareness for the Macatawa Watershed
  3. It’s a great and free way for the whole family to unplug and get outdoors! Thank you to our sponsors: Macatawa Area Coordinating Council, Huntington Bank, Back to Health Chiropractic, Meijer, Boar’s Head Provisions, Holland Litho, Velo City Cycles, Niswander Environmental, and GoodInk.
     Ashley Van Zee is development manager at the ODC Network, a non-profit education and conservation organization with the purpose of connecting people with nature through outdoor education for the benefit of wildlife and the conservation of the natural world.

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.

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.

The new virtual Macatawa Water Festival will offer a variety of online activities for kids that can be completed and shared through social media.
This year’s new Macatawa Water Festival format will include a DIY rain barrel project.
Previous years’ on-site Macatawa Water Festival featured activities like crafts with an environmental theme. This year’s festival will feature an assortment of dispersed events and activities to be shared on social media, spread over a week in mid-July.

Living Sustainably: Kids on bikes get creative this summer

By Jenny White, Velo City Cycles
Normally, this is the time of year that hundreds of West Michigan kids, ages 2 to 16, and their coaches meet up at local parks for bi-weekly Velo Kids bike rides. At these rides, Velo Kids learn and practice bike skills, bike safety, and bike trail stewardship.
Now, due to the pandemic, these group rides are not happening, but that has not stopped the kids from riding! These bike-loving kiddos are out riding and participating in the Velo Kids Summer Bike Adventure.
The Summer Bike Adventure is an eight-week challenge that encourages kids and their families to ride at different local trails, practice bike skills, and hunt for hidden bananas along the way.
Each week’s challenge sends participants to a different local trail or park and suggests specific skills to practice that are tailored to the location. It also includes clues to a secret spot where they can find hidden (plastic) bananas along the trail. Finding the hidden bananas has been a highlight for many of the kids and families.

“Many of the Velo Kids coaches have been creating challenges for each other this spring, so we combined that spirit with the weekly skill lessons that we normally cover in person to create something fun and low-stress for our Velo Kids families this summer,” said coach Martin Harris.
The Bike Adventure started on June 8 and will end on Aug. 2. It’s not too late to join. Parks and trails included are Riley Trails, Windmill Island, Pigeon Creek, Bass River, and any local-to-you areas where you can ride to get ice cream (or your family’s favorite treat). All rides are intended to be completed with family members, not in large groups.
Bike Adventure Scoresheets are available for kids to fill out as they complete the weekly rides.
Weekly write-ups are sent out with skills to practice and how-to videos, such as how to pump up a tire, how to do a track stand, practicing the rules of the road, hand signals, and more. Kids who complete four out of the eight weeks will earn their own Velo Kids water bottle!
“We love Velo Kids! Our family looks forward to the rides, and we’re excited that despite the different format, it’s still going to be a part of our summer routine,” said Anne Stolz, mom of two young Velo Kid riders.
“They have done an awesome job motivating kids and making it fun to get outside to explore the outdoors of Holland by bike. I love the emphasis on being safe and encouraging others while riding. We can’t wait to find the bananas each week.”
The Velo Kids Summer Bike Adventure is free and open to everyone. And it’s not too late to join. Visit www.velo-citycycles.com/about/velo-kids for more information.

Let’s get out and ride bikes!

 Jenny White and her husband, Brad, have been the owners of Velo City Cycles since 2013. Jenny is a Holland native. She, along with other kid-loving, bicycle-riding friends started Velo Kids in 2017. Jenny and Brad have three kids, who also now love riding their bikes.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that links us to our regional, national and global networks.

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.

The Velo Kids project uses a scoresheet to keep track of riding, bike skills practice and secret spot discoveries.
Fun rides and learning the rules of the trail are all part of the Velo Kids team goals.
Each week’s Velo Kids adventure includes clues to a secret spot to find the plastic bananas.

Living Sustainably: Holland’s Long Recycling History Evolves Again

By Aaron Thelenwood, City of Holland

The City of Holland has a history of established best practices in recycling as evidenced by a long-standing city ordinance requiring recycling service for all residential users as well a designated single hauler to service the city’s residents – two factors which promote active recycling participation and success.

City residents are also committed to recycling, with a recycling participation rate of 53 percent, a rate that is rare across the state of Michigan, generally, and puts Holland as a leading community when compared to statistics across the U.S. Despite all of this support, from time-to-time it becomes important for the city to review its practices and ensure we’re staying on the leading edge.

Over the years, the city’s method for collecting recycling has taken several forms. Prior to 1992, the city had an open system, where residents were able to contract directly with individual haulers and opt-in or out of recycling services as they saw fit.

In May, 1992, Holland adopted a single hauler model, requiring the collection of recyclables in an 18-gallon bin, the common method at that time. In 2010, the city chose to pursue an innovative approach to recycling which aimed to streamline and simplify the city’s approach. By adopting the yellow bag system, recyclables and trash could be collected with the same truck, which, in turn, simplified collection for residents.

In 2016, however, the rumblings of major changes across recycling markets began to arise, and the city started laying the groundwork for assessing its current recycling efforts and gathering the necessary data to make informed decisions.

In 2018, through a partnership of the city, Republic Services, and the Sustainable Research Group, Holland completed its first-ever Waste Characterization Audit and shortly after formed its Materials Management Taskforce. This Taskforce built upon the data from this audit and began completing further assessments both of the program and other community approaches to recycling.

As a backdrop to all of this work, China, the world’s former largest importer of recycling materials, closed off its markets. Communities internationally as well in Michigan felt the impact immediately. The fallout from this change was plain: Materials needed to be cleaner, accepted materials in programs needed to be more targeted, and communities needed to be ready to innovate.

With the effort Holland put forth preparing for this change, the city was in a position to respond quickly. Despite the high participation rate of city residents, materials were being lost due to the deficiency in the performance of the yellow bags (75 percent ruptured or empty). This, compounded by the low levels of allowable contamination accepted by material processors (from 10 percent to less than 0.5 percent) led the Taskforce to determine the city needed to explore a new approach.

Since then, the city has decided to transition to dedicated carts for recycled materials, although an implementation date has not yet been set.
As the city is reviewing its current recycling efforts, we are also seeing major investments from the state of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy as well as from nonprofit groups focused on expanding access to recycling and decreasing contamination.

As Holland continues to evolve its long-standing commitment to community-wide recycling, we face a market with unique challenges but also an environment in Michigan where we have access to an unprecedented level of resources and support.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community & Neighborhood: The places we live and the individuals we interact with support the development of our personalities and perspectives on life. Encouraging vital and effective communities is essential.

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.

To improve the quality of its recycled materials, Holland will shift to a dedicated cart for recyclables. A date for the transition has not yet been set.
Changes in world recyclables markets requires cleaner and better sorted materials, leading Holland to review and upgrade its long-standing and high-level community efforts.

Living Sustainably: Improving our community one rain garden at a time

By Kelly Goward, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council
The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council is working with the City of Holland and homeowners to plan and install rain gardens. Rain gardens are depressed areas that collect rain water and allow it to soak into the ground.
Rain gardens not only reduce the volume of water in storm drains but also help recharge groundwater. Rain gardens typically include deep-rooted plants, like trees, shrubs, wildflowers, or grasses, that help water move into the soil while adding beauty and providing habitat.
Another benefit of rain gardens is that they get most of the water they need from the rain, so you can conserve water by reducing irrigation. Rain gardens also trap pollutants that come from lawns and streets, like fertilizers, oil and brake dust, keeping them out of Lake Macatawa.
The City of Holland is installing rain gardens in certain city parkways. You may be aware of recent utility work undertaken by Holland Board of Public Works. Some of this work required complete removal of roadways, curbs and sidewalks. The need for new curbs and parkway landscaping provides a perfect opportunity to install rain gardens.
The city leaves openings in the curb to allow water to enter the garden from the street. If the garden fills up, then water continues down the street into the nearest catch basin and off to Lake Macatawa. The best location for parkway or curb-cut rain gardens is near the low point of the road where rain washing off the street will end up.
The MACC has funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to help the city and homeowners install parkway rain gardens over the next couple of years. Holland installed four on 19 th Street in 2019 and is planning for another five or six on 20th and 21st streets in 2020.
The MACC has been reaching out directly to eligible homeowners and working with them to design and install their rain gardens. The city provides engineering and construction of the gardens, and homeowners are responsible for plants, mulch and maintenance.
The MACC is also working with partners this summer to develop a volunteer rainscaping program.
Volunteers will learn how to assess a property and recommend ways to better manage rain water on site.
Rainscaping includes rain gardens and other practices like rain barrels, planting trees, and using native plants. Once we train volunteers, homeowners can sign up to have someone visit their property and recommend rainscaping practices.
If you are interested in rainscaping practices now, MACC staff are available to provide assistance.
Email Kelly Goward at kgoward@the-macc.org or visit our website at the-macc.org for more information about rainscaping.
 Kelly Goward is the environmental program manager at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council. She works with the local communities to improve, restore and protect Lake Macatawa and the surrounding landscape.

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.

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.

Rain gardens, like this one being installed along West 19 th Street by Carolyn Ulstad and Bruce Schultz, provide multiple environmental benefits.
The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council and City of Holland are working together to encourage installation of rain gardens, like this one along West 19 th Street, to capture storm runoff, reduce irrigation needs, and recharge groundwater levels.

Hope Again Receives Stars Silver Rating for Sustainability Achievements

Hope College has again earned a STARS Silver rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.  Hope has held a silver rating since 2017, after previously holding a Bronze rating beginning in 2012.

Read the full press release announcement by following this link.

The ratings are at four different levels:  Bronze at 25 points, Silver at 45 points, Gold at 65 points and Platinum at 85 points.  Hope’s overall score is 57.65 points, an increase from the college’s 2017 score of 48.64.  The college’s report is publicly available on the STARS website at stars.aashe.org.
Learn more about campus sustainability at: hope.edu/sustainability

Living Sustainably: Combat groundwater challenges by watering wisely

By Rich C. Lakeberg, Ottawa County
Water – it’s one of the building blocks of life, and Michiganders are surrounded by it. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, one may assume Michigan could never face a water shortage.
But Ottawa County is facing such a challenge. To understand why, we need to look underground.
In Ottawa County, and in much of Michigan, municipal water drawn from the Great Lakes is only available to those near a city. In rural areas, drinking water is sourced from aquifers — pockets of saturated soil 50 to 350 feet below ground that are not connected to Lake Michigan.
Locally, there are two types of aquifers: glacial and bedrock. Glacial aquifers are the preferred well source; but when glacial sources aren’t available, bedrock aquifers are tapped. Normally, aquifers are replenished with rainwater. However, in many areas of Ottawa County, clay deposits block rainwater from reaching the bedrock aquifer.
“Based on seven years of scientific study, we’ve learned drinking water in the bedrock aquifer isn’t being replenished as quickly as it’s being removed,” said Paul Sachs, director of the Ottawa County Planning and Performance Improvement Department. In some instances, wells have run dry; in others,briny sediment has been pulled from the bottom, damaging plumbing and affecting water quality. To protect our groundwater from further decline, we need the community’s help to reduce outdoor water use.
As the weather warms, our attention turns to our yards. EPA data shows, on average, 30 percent of Americans’ daily water consumption is outdoors. By changing our landscaping habits, we can save H20.

Consider these tips to protect local water resources:
Smart irrigation – You may have a sprinkler system on a timer that runs rain or shine. By installing smart devices like rain sensors or a weather-based irrigation controller, thousands of gallons can be saved per year.
Rain barrels – Catch rain runoff to water your landscaping. The barrel can be connected directly to an irrigation system, or soaker hoses can be attached.
Consider replacing your grass lawn – Slow-growing groundcovers such as buffalo grass or clover can provide a green space that needs less water and mowing.
Shrink your lawn – Traditionally, turf grass covers the majority of a yard. Consider planting turf only where it’s needed. Low-traffic areas can be converted to gardens or buffers.
Plant native gardens – Consider replacing exotic plants ill-suited to our climate with natives that need little water, enrich the soil, and provide habitat.

By taking a few steps to reduce water use in our yards today, we can join in on the effort to ensure Ottawa County residents and stakeholders have permanent, sustainable access to clean water. For more information on Ottawa County’s groundwater challenges and what’s being done to address them, visit miottawa.org/groundwater.

 Rich C. Lakeberg is a communications specialist for the Ottawa County Planning and Performance Improvement Department, which uses tax dollars to deliver county programs and services for residents, visitors, and businesses through thorough planning and thoughtful evaluation.

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.

Groundcovers such as buffalo grass do not need the heavy irrigation of traditional lawns, thus saving groundwater resources.
This landscape design incorporates native wildflowers and grasses that need less water, and features turfgrass only where it’s necessary. Photo courtesy USA.gov.
Buffalo grass is a native warm-season grass that is drought-tolerant and only grows to 4-5 inches in height. Photo courtesy USA.gov

Living Sustainably: Holland Farmers Market opens with new safety regulations

By Lisa Uganski, Ottawa County Department of Public Health
It’s that time of year when many people look forward to shopping outdoors at farm markets. The Holland Farmers Market is now open to provide the community with fresh, local and healthy food in a safe outdoor environment.
Due COVID-19 concerns, the market has implemented a number of safety regulations for vendors and customers. If planning to shop at the market, customers should be aware that:
The market will be open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday. However, the hour from 8 to 9 a.m. will be strictly reserved for those who are immunocompromised, aged 60-plus, and pregnant women.

 The perimeter of the Eighth Street Market Place will be fenced and there will be three entrances and exits for customers. Vendors will be located outside only and access to the Holland Civic Center will be limited to the restrooms only. Market staff will count the number of shoppers coming in and out so they can ensure that everyone can maintain adequate social distancing. Please expect to wait in line and maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and others while doing so.
 Please avoid shopping at the market if you, someone you live with, or someone you’re caring for has been ill within the last 14 days. (Excluding health care workers.)
 Customers are highly advised to wear masks while they shop.
 Please be mindful to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and other customers at all times to keep yourself and your fellow customers safe and healthy.
 Please shop as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s recommended that you to shop alone, without children and with as few family members as possible.
 Shoppers are encouraged to wash or sanitize their hands before entering the Eighth Street Market Place and again when leaving.
 Customers are advised to wash all produce and wipe down all food packages prior to eating and storing products at home.
 Food is not allowed to be consumed onsite at the market.
 Dogs are still prohibited at the Holland Farmers Market.
 Bridge Cards (SNAP or EBT), Pandemic EBT, Double Up Food Bucks, WIC Project Fresh, Senior Project Fresh and Market Bucks are all accepted as payment, in addition to cash. There is currently no limit on how much you may “double up” if using your Bridge Card or Pandemic EBT card. Some vendors also accept credit cards.
 A number of vendors allow customers to pre-order products in advance via phone, website or email with product pick-up at the market. Customers are highly encouraged to explore this option with individual vendors. For more information, visit www.hollandfarmersmarket.com or call (616)355-1138.

 Lisa Uganski is a registered dietitian and has been working at the Ottawa County epartment of Public Health for 19 years. Lisa has a passion for making healthy food available and accessible to everyone. She is the coordinator of Ottawa Food, a collaboration of local agencies and individuals that exists to ensure that all Ottawa County residents have access to healthy, local, and affordable food choices.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community & Neighborhood: The places we live and the individuals we interact with support the development of our personalities and perspectives on life. Encouraging vital and effective communities is essential.

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.

Safe practices at the Holland Farmers Market include limiting access points to control the size of the crowd. Photo courtesy City of Holland.
The Holland Famers Market is open with safe practices in place, including limiting the numbers of shoppers and encouraging wearing of masks. Photo courtesy City of Holland.
Healthy eating, like fresh in-season asparagus, is matched up with healthy social distancing practices at the Holland Farm Market. Photo courtesy Holland Farmers Market.

Living Sustainably: Economic restart must meet child care needs

By Donna Lowry, Ready for School
A healthy and economically vibrant community depends on meeting the real-time needs of families.
Early learning and child care professionals know this well. They partner with working parents and caregivers to provide children the early learning experiences they need for a strong start in kindergarten and life.

Prior to COVID-19, access to quality child care was limited because the demand exceeded capacity.
Locally, there are only nine child care centers that offer infant care. On average, families encounter an 18-month waitlist for quality infant and toddler care.
When COVID-19 hit, the business of child care took a hit, more severe than in the 2008 recession.
Unlike a decade ago, our community has the early childhood network in place to support the people who are in the business of child care. But there is more to be done.
Helping early learning organizations sustain their businesses is an essential part of beginning to safely reopen the economy. With over 65 percent of Ottawa County families having both parents in the workforce, quality child care is an investment in community infrastructure to support family-centered progress.
To help address this, our community’s public-private early childhood network is paying attention to the business needs in child care – for business owners, working parents, and children.
“High-quality child care settings do more than care for children; they educate, teach social-emotional skills, and foster brain development during the most critical time of child development,” said Tami Mannes, director of early childhood services at the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.
Both State of Michigan and federal financial relief have been made available. On March 18, the State of Michigan expanded capacity for disaster relief child care services.  The intention of this order was to expand child care capacity for the essential workforce. The Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, in cooperation with state and local partners, is working to support the Executive Order (2020-16)
through Help Me Grow-Ottawa, to support essential workers’ efforts to find child care during this time.
Last week, The Child Care Relief Fund was announced. The program goal is to help child care business owners stay in business and make quality child care more affordable for Michigan families. The application is simple and only takes 10 minutes. Child care providers can apply at www.michigan.gov/childcare.
Leading – especially in times of crisis – means seeing beyond the immediate future to anticipate the next three, four, or five obstacles. To this end, the community is collaborating to understand emerging needs, strengthen the child-care sector, and improve families’ access to high-quality early learning programs.
Communities grow and strengthen with shared care and resilience. Now more than ever it is important for small children to dream BIG. This is essential for the health and economic vibrancy of our community.
 Donna Lowry, MD, is president/CEO of Ready for School. She joined the organization after being a volunteer physician member of the medical task force. Her leadership role involves collaborative team building to ensure that there is a trusted community conduit for system access for all families with young children.

Questions about the Child Care Relief Fund in Michigan?
Contact: The Great Start to Quality Western Regional Resource Center at (877)614-7328 or Child Development and Care Department at (866)990-3227. If you have something to share, contact Ready for School, info@readyforschool.org

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.

Now more than ever it is essential for the health and economic vibrancy of our community for small children to dream big.
With over 65 percent of Ottawa County families having both parents in the workforce, quality child care is an investment in community infrastructure to support family-centered progress.
High-quality child care settings educate, teach social-emotional skills, and foster brain development during the most critical time of child development.

Living Sustainably: Parents can teach street safety to kids

By Kerry Irons, Pedal Holland
As the weather gets nicer, it’s easier to get children outside for biking and walking while following facemask and social distance guidelines. But other safety measures should be taken too – even after the COVID-19 crisis passes.
Parents and caregivers can help children learn safe skills and behaviors by providing repeated instruction and modeling.
Children who are 4 to 6 years old are entering a time when their physical and mental abilities allow basic walking and sidewalk bicycling safety skills to be introduced, discussed, and practiced.
Children 7 to 9 years old can continue expanding their pedestrian and bicycling abilities and knowledge through more education and practice with adult supervision.
But remember, 7 to 9 year olds are developing and gaining skills at varying rates. There are skills that some 7 year olds can master that present a challenge to some 9 year olds. Adults need to recognize this range of abilities and tailor the teaching and experiences appropriately.
Children age 10 and older continue to develop their physical, cognitive and psychosocial abilities.
With proper training and experience, ages 10 to 12 is when children can begin to safely ride bicycles in the street.
Parents can teach and reinforce judgment skills by walking and bicycling with their children and modeling safe behavior. Young children need to walk with an adult to practice safe street crossing behavior. Parents should wear bike helmets, because if children see it is OK for mom and dad to not wear one, they won’t wear one either when they are out of their parent’s sight.
Attention-switching and concentration are cognitive skills that children are developing throughout childhood, so they often need extra help focusing on the important information in a crossing situation.
Children need help from adults to repeat many times the process of “stop, wait, listen and look” while crossing the street before they can complete it safely by themselves. Also, asking “Can you see a car?” is more effective than “Look both ways.” The latter can become a ritual behavior rather than an action to spot traffic.
Parents can “narrate” their good behaviors, telling their children how they are looking for cars, preparing to stop, watching the driver’s face, estimating vehicle speed, etc. Parents can do this while driving as well, imparting traffic awareness and the logic process used to safely navigate traffic.
The ultimate goal of a parent’s time spent discussing and modeling safe walking and cycling with children – and giving them opportunities to practice – is to help children become safe, confident and independent pedestrians and bicyclists.
Those children will be able to recognize and pick the best places to walk, ride, cross, and behave as safely as possible near traffic. They will also grow up to become better drivers because they understand how to share the road with people on foot and bicycle.

  Kerry Irons is a retired chemical engineer who has lived in Holland for five years.  Irons is a lifelong cyclist who is a member of Pedal Holland, which advocates for bicycle safety in Holland.

Children and traffic: A dangerous mix Understand children’s limitations in dealing with traffic. Remember that children:
 Have about a one-third narrower field of vision than adults.
 Cannot easily judge a car’s speed and distance.
 Assume that if they can see a car, its driver must be able to see them.
 Cannot readily tell the direction a sound is coming from.
 May be impatient and impulsive.
 Concentrate on only one thing at a time; this is likely not to be traffic.
 Have a limited sense of danger.
 Often mix fantasy with reality.
 Imitate the (often bad) behavior of others, especially older children and adults.
Given children’s limitations, drivers should:
 Be especially cautious where children walk, ride or play.
 Reduce speeds around children.
 Stop completely at stop bars and crosswalks.
 Be prepared to stop suddenly.

The Safe Routes to School (SR2S) program has a great guide on children’s bike and pedestrian safety at http://guide.saferoutesinfo.org/pdf/SRTS-Guide_Education.pdf

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that links us to our regional, national and global networks.

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.

Parents can teach and reinforce judgment skills by walking and bicycling with their children and modeling safe behavior.
The ultimate goal of a parent’s time spent discussing and modeling safe cycling with children – and giving them opportunities to practice – is to help children become safe, confident and independent bicyclists. Parents need to remember young children have significant limitations in dealing with traffic situations.

Living Sustainably: A Sustainable Look at Lawn Care

By Chris Grant, Citizens Climate Lobby
One day while I was raking leaves, it occurred to me to investigate the decibel level of the leaf blowers in use all around me, with the thought that I might need ear protection while using my rake. A Google search turned up information regarding noise, and also some surprising facts about leaf lower emissions.
Many gas-powered blowers have two-stroke (also called two-cycle) engines that burn a mix of gas and oil. Because combustion is incomplete, the engines add to air pollution by emitting hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. In fact, a comprehensive study by Edmunds Automotive comparing emissions of cars, pickup trucks and leaf blowers found that two-cycle blowers emitted 299 times the hydrocarbons and 23 times the carbon monoxide as the pickup truck!
One possible explanation for this astonishing result is that, unlike two-cycle engines, diesel and gasoline vehicle engines are highly regulated and much cleaner than decades ago. In other words, two-cycle technology is obsolete, though it’s also used in most string trimmers and chainsaws.
As for noise, typical gas-powered leaf blowers produce 80 to 85 decibels, which can be harmful to hearing, and some less-expensive models may produce up to 112 decibels, with hearing loss possible in less than five minutes. Decibels are calculated in such a way that the relationship between levels is not linear; 120 decibels is 32 times as loud as 70.
And noise diminishes slowly with distance. At least seven jurisdictions in Michigan are attempting to regulate gas-powered leaf blowers by restricting decibel level and/or hours and days of operation.
Alternatives to two-cycle engines include four-cycle models with lower emissions and corded or cordless (battery-powered) electric versions. The use of electric equipment shifts production of greenhouse gases to power plants outfitted with scrubbers that remove pollutants. In Holland, Hope College is currently transitioning away from gasoline engines for some of its landscaping equipment.
Also in Holland, the community organization 3sixty has developed a comprehensive tool-sharing system called the Tool Library. (Although the Tool Library is temporarily closed due to coronavirus concerns, it will reopen at an appropriate time with safety measures in place. Updates will be posted on the neighborhood’s website at www.3-sixty.org.)
Featuring power and non-power tools, most of the library’s blowers, trimmers and mowers are electric. Electric equipment initially can be more expensive than gas-powered choices, a drawback addressed by the borrowing program.
The neighborhood’s website, www.3-sixty.org, includes a short video about the library along with contact, appointment and membership information. It’s also possible to borrow tools for a fee without becoming a member. Use of the Tool Library is open to anyone over 18 years old in the city’s core neighborhoods – Eighth to 24th streets between Ottawa and Fairbanks/Lincoln Avenues.
This cooperative program is a fine example of how to promote sustainability on a local level, an example other neighborhoods and communities might want to explore.
 Chris Grant is a City of Holland resident and is interested in helping our community better understand our choices for reducing our carbon footprint. Chris is a member of the Citizens Climate Lobby.

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.

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.

The 3sixty Neighborhood Tool Library is an example of a cost-effective, sustainable way for a neighborhood to provide quality, low-polluting electric lawn tools for residents.
Electric leaf blowers avoid the ear-splitting noise and the extremely high levels of pollution produced by two-cycle engine-powered blowers.