Local food resilience. Incentives rather than penalties for green energy initiatives. The changing market for recyclables. These were a few of the many topics that were brought up by more than 50 local citizens, politicians, activists and others representing local organizations at a networking event held as part of the Kent Environmental Council’s (KEC) annual meeting on February 17. The Social Justice committee of the Kent United Church of Christ (and KEC member organization) offered their fellowship hall for the event.
The evening started with the annual all-member KEC meeting. Renee Ruchotzke was elected president and Bob Heath was elected vice-president. Bob Wilson and Brad Brotje continued in their roles of treasurer and secretary. There was also a declaration of appreciation for Lis Regula, who had served for many years as president before relocating to Columbus for a new job. This was followed by a potluck dinner as other members of the community joined the gathering.
Facilitator Renee Ruchotzke used Art of Hosting principles, a facilitation style that makes space for all of the voices and experiences in the room. Everyone sat at round tables marked with a topic that interested them. They interacted “council style” using a process called “rounds,” where each person around the table sharded and was listened to in turn.
Everyone in each circle shared why they were passionate about the topic, then what they were doing, or would like to do. The rest of the time was an opportunity to suggest ideas about connections. Attendees then had an opportunity to participate in a discussion around another topic.
At the end of the evening the participants were asked if they wanted future networking events and they enthusiastically endorsed the idea.
The topics and themes from the evening included:
Food: Local / Natural / Sustainable
It seems to connect to all of the other issues
We need to prepare for resiliency as climate changes
It can be an opportunity to build community
We should do more to connect to and support the local food system, especially by eating locally
Conservation: Land / Water/ Wetlands
Help people to understand that the wetlands have an important function for water quality and carbon capturing
Create opportunities for children to learn more about and feel connected to nature
Recycling: Plastics / Waste Stream
There seems to be a huge knowlege gap around the impact of waste, especially plastics (bags, micro-plastics)
There are mixed signals about what is and isn’t recyclable
Trash from other states coming to Ohio
Need more opportunities for re-use (e.g. refillable glass milk bottles)
Thank you for your support of the Kent Environmental Council and our important work!
This year is our 50th anniversary!
A lot has changed since our inception and we are re-imagining KEC so we will continue to be a good partner and leader in local environmental issues for the next 50 years!
The KEC board hosted a visioning retreat last month and invited leaders from a few community partners. The gathered group came up with some new possible initiatives and we want to learn what you think would best serve the community.
We need more communication and connection and KEC is well-positioned to fill that role. We would like to create The Crooked River Environmental Network with KEC as the hub.
Look for ways to create awareness and action about our local food supply (local farms, farm-to-table programs, food hub, foraging, planting edibles, etc.) We brainstormed a “Black Walnut Festival” with a focus on local food, but there are many more possibilities.
We want the children in our community to feel at home with and connected to nature.
These join our ongoing focus areas of active living, green energy, local food, clean water, our support of the bog and other green spaces, as well as communication, publicity and education.
We want to widen the conversation, so we are doing something innovative for this year’s annual meeting! Instead of a program, we are hosting a networking event to help local individuals/groups with an environmental focus to build relationships, find synergies and launch the Crooked River Environmental Network. (Please share this invitation with people in the community that care about the environment.)
Here are the details:
Monday, February 17, 2020
Kent UCC Church, 1400 E Main St, Kent, OH 44240
5:30pm KEC Member Annual Business Meeting (election of officers [details below], short update)
6:00pm Community Potluck (Please bring a dish to pass and your own table service)
6:30pm Networking conversations (based on interests from participants’ registrations)
7:45pm Harvesting Insights and Connections
8:15pm Clean up / Safe Travels
President: Renee Ruchotzke
Vice President: Bob Heath
(Secretary Brad Brotje and Treasurer Robert Wilson will be serving the second of their 2-year terms.)
Please let us know you are coming and what matters to you by registering:
The SB 33 bill dramatically increases the penalties for non-violent protest at fracking sites, oil and gas pipelines, petrochemical plants and other ‘critical infrastructure” sites. It makes non-profits and organizations and congregations liable for punishment if they support protesters charged under this bill. This is a direct threat to basic rights of freedom of speech and assembly.
This bill directly attacks our first amendment rights to engage in non-violent protest and speak truth to power
It looks like the State House will hold a hearing on Jan. 28 or 29, 2020.
Jan. 29 is the most likely date, at 10 am, if the Utilities Committee follows its usual pattern.
Under SB33, penalties for trespass are dramatically heightened if they occur on so-called “critical infrastructure”:
While general criminal trespass “on the land or premises of another” is a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine, the bill would make the same offense punishable by half a year in jail and $1,000 if it takes place on a critical infrastructure facility.
The definition of “critical infrastructure facility” is sweeping, and includes a vast array of oil, gas, electric, water, telecommunications, railroad facilities, and other locations.
It includes oil and gas sites, fracking wells, petrochemical plants, pipelines and other places that destroy the environment and put our children’s health at risk.
Under the bill, an individual peacefully protesting in the wrong place could be sanctioned with half a year in jail.
The bill also substantially expands the definition of felony “criminal mischief” in ways likely to chill and put a stop to peaceful protest activity.
The bill’s vague definition of the new offense, a third degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, includes “knowingly [and] improperly tamper[ing] with” a critical infrastructure facility.
Lawmakers have attempted to define “improperly tampering,” but their definition (“changing the physical location or physical condition”) does not provide sufficient precision or clarity for individuals facing potential felony charges and a decade in prison.
In the absence of a clearly-defined offense, individuals cannot be expected to know what conduct is or is not criminalized. Rather than face the risk of draconian penalties, they will likely censor themselves, and avoid exercising their First Amendment rights.
It was designed by the American Legislative Exchange Council – ALEC – to establish special protections especially for the oil and gas industry. And put an end to any public protest or opposition to the activities of these industries.
It is also designed to punish non-profits, environmental groups and even congregations who dare to support the people protesting at these sites with fines up to $100,000. The Senate version contains criminal and civil liabilities for non-profits and organizations. The House version tried to amend the criminal liability, but made it even more murky in its definition of organizational improper action.
What you can do.
Share this with your networks
Write a Letter to the Editor
Show up and pack the Hearing Room when the House Utilities Committee meets on Jan. 28 or 29, probably in the morning.
Attend the House session that might follow to be present during the floor vote.
Provide Written Opposition Testimony.
Offer Spoken Opposition Testimony from those of you willing to speak for 3 minutes.
Biodesign – Designing with Life for Environmental Sustainability
The Environmental Science and Design Symposium, formerly the Land and Water Symposium, is a multidisciplinary forum that promotes the exchange of ideas related to the resiliency of natural and built systems. Now in its seventh year, the symposium (formerly known as the Water and Land symposium) is organized by Kent State’s Division of Research and Sponsored Programs, and the university’s Environmental Science and Design Research Initiative (ESDRI), which supports multidisciplinary research related to the impact of human influence on natural and constructed environments. We are assembling a diverse group of speakers around the symposium’s theme, ‘Biodesign – Designing with Life for Environmental Sustainability’ representing topics ranging from natural resources management to art, architecture, and design thinking.
Registration is free and open to the public. We hope you will support the symposium, attend, submit abstracts for poster presentations, and encourage other students and colleagues to attend!
In her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, community activist Jane Jacobs described the elements that made cities vibrant and safe. She predicted how segregating work, home and play would destroy the fabric of communities. She also described how mixed use neighborhoods (shops and homes, rich and poor, arts and entrepreneurs) created the best quality of life.
In this year’s Fall Forum: Making Kent More Sustainable, Just, and Successful , Jennifer Mapes, Assistant Professor Geography Department, Kent State University, will share her admiration for Jacobs, and look at how we can use her ideas to think about Kent today.
• Jacobs was particularly concerned about the increasing dominance of the automobile and loss of sense of community in neighborhoods. • She stressed the importance of walkability and community driven planning cities designed by people and for people. • This approach has slowly made its way into the mainstream and into Kent’s urban fabric there’s much to celebrate about the evolution of Kent’s downtown and neighborhoods, but much more work to do.
So how can the city, and we, as residents, learn from Jacobs as well as the successes and failures of cities in the past 100 years and move forward to a more sustainable, just, and successful community?
We hope you will join us to find out.
Tuesday, October 29, 2019 7pm Kent Free Library 312 West Main Street Kent, OH 44240
The climate is changing all over the United States but not at the same rate in all places. Ohio is among the regions where
the climate is changing most rapidly. It is predicted that this region will be an average of 4 to 5 degrees warmer by 2050. Such rapid climate change puts at risk the economic and environmental sustainability of ecosystems, a situation that will require people to adapt to the changes or move elsewhere.
Ohio is getting warmer and wetter. Both the average daily low temperature and the average daily high temperature are increasing; the low temperatures are increasing faster than the high temperatures. Likewise, the winters are warming faster than the summers. The consequences of the accelerated warming are fewer frozen fields and frozen lakes, both of which threaten traditional agricultural practices that take advantage of the ability to drive heavy equipment over frozen fields. Lakes without ice cover will experience increased evaporation and increased light penetration into the bottom waters, altering temperature-dependent lake processes.
The threat is increased flooding–not lakes drying up. Lakes will be replenished by increased rainfall. Since 1900, precipitation in Ohio has increased by 15%. Five of the 10 wettest years in Ohio have occurred since 2003. Snowfall will decrease, rainfall will increase, and episodes of rainfall will be more intense than in the past. The seasonality of precipitation also is changing. Farmers have depended on the usual scenario of a dry spring (so they can plant early), followed by even rainfall amounts throughout the summer, followed by a dry autumn (so they can harvest their crops). That scenario, however, is changing to a wetter spring, followed by a droughty summer, followed by a rainy autumn. It is a worst-case scenario for agriculture, as farmers will have to alter long-standing best practices in the face of a potentially shorter growing season and the need to plant drought-tolerant crops.
For a full day, the topic of discussion among academics, federal and state government officials, ecosystem managers, non- governmental organizations, the public, and even a few retired professors attending the Understanding Harmful Algal Blooms: State of the Science conference hosted by the University of Toledo on September 12, was the damaging effects of recurrent algal blooms on the Lake Erie ecosystem and current efforts to abate them. The conference was produced by The Ohio State University and Ohio Sea Grant, an organization that promotes research in the Lake Erie and the Great Lakes with funding from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The premise of the conference was that the Lake Erie ecosystem begins at the crests of the watershed on both sides of the border. Remediation of the recurrent cyanobacterial (i.e. blue-green algae) blooms that damage water quality, harm wildlife and threaten human health requires understanding the causes of these blooms and removing those causes from the watershed with the goal of a healthier ecosystem for the physical, social and economic benefit of all stakeholders. Below is a synopsis and synthesis of the 14 papers presented at the conference.
Better Prediction of HABs (Hazardous Algal Blooms) in Lake Erie
The ability to predict the timing and extent of cyanobacterial blooms in the western basin of Lake Erie is a measure of how well scientists understand the causes of these blooms, sometimes referred to as hazardous algal blooms (HABs). The better that scientists understand the causes of HABs, the better they can predict them. Past predictions were so-so. In some years, the predictions were accurate but, in other years, they missed the mark. Something was missing in the equations used to predict these algal-bloom events, but what was it?
Dr. Rick Stumpf, an oceanographer at NOAA, presented improvements in the ability of scientists to predict when HABs occur and how intense they will be. The size of the annual HAB in the western basin of Lake Erie is determined by the amount of bioavailable phosphorus (BAP) that is loaded into the basin, largely through the Maumee River. Only BAP loaded into the lake from early March through mid-June leads to the bloom. Recent studies have shown that the extent of the bloom also is determined by the temperature of the water in June through mid-July, even though the bloom reaches its largest size in mid-August through early September.
Using only the spring BAP loading to the lake, the HAB in 2019 would have been predicted to be among the largest on record. On a scale of 1 to 10, it would have been predicted to be about a 9.0 or 9.5. However–and this is the important point–because June was wetter and cooler than normal, the bloom was predicted to be modest, at 7.5. Observations to date indicate that the bloom appears to be about 7.5, exactly as predicted. This indicates that scientists are understanding the causes of these events better because the predictions are borne out by the observed extent of the HAB.
Progress to Abate P (Phosphorus) Loading to Lake Erie
In addition to the ability to predict HABs, scientists want to be able to prevent the blooms–or at least to diminish them. Many years of study into the land-use effects on Lake Erie’s water quality have shown that the majority of phosphorus loaded into the lake is from agricultural activities, primarily from the Maumee River watershed. BAP runs off fields in one of two ways: from the surface of the field as erosion or from drainage through tiles placed below ground that empty into streams and eventually into Lake Erie. Abatement is achieved best by having tile drainage pass through a phosphorus filter, a device that traps phosphate on industrial slag before it runs into streams. The filter is an efficient device but also an extremely expensive one, precluding its use on all farm fields.
Not all farm fields, however, bleed phosphorus equally. Some fields are much more potent sources of phosphorus. Scientists are looking for ways to identify these phosphorus hot spots and remediate them with phosphorus filters or other techniques. These other techniques include riparian buffer strips between fields and streams, the use of cover crops to retain phosphorus, and constructed wetlands. None of these techniques alone is sufficiently effective. The best approaches seem to be a combination of these techniques used in sub-watershed hot spots.
Identification of the source of the phosphorus has been relatively easy, and technological advances have readily identified procedures and practices that are likely to be effective. Implementation of these procedures and practices, however, will require substantial public funding and cooperation by a majority of individual farmers. Implementation also will require a well-informed public to provide the necessary political will and societal patience to achieve the eventual outcome of a healthier Lake Erie. Likely, it will take at least a generation to achieve the intended results.
Can that happen, or is this a hopeless pipe dream? The success of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Management Plan shows that it is possible to achieve the necessary cooperation between many layers of government and society. The Chesapeake Bay experience may well serve as a template scenario of management development and implementation.
Young people all over the world see the looming climate crisis and are demanding that the adults take it seriously. 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg started protesting in front of the Swedish Parliament over a year ago. Her example caught the imagination of other young people and the media, and the movement has grown into an international effort.
These young people are organizing climate strikes all over the world starting on September 20. So far, there are 6 strike locations planned for Northeast Ohio on September 20th. Let us show our support and solidarity by showing up!
Kent State [noon] Risman Plaza. 1075 Risman Drive Kent OH US 44240 Sponsor: Students for a Democratic Society RSVP
Akron [noon] Akron City Hall (across the street). 166 S High Street Akron OH 44308 RSVP
Youngstown [noon] Wick park, the side facing Stambaugh auditorium. 1000 5th ave Youngstown OH US 44505 RSVP
Cleveland [noon] Public Square. 50 Public Square Suite 1700 Cleveland OH US 44113 RSVP
Wooster [11am] College of Wooster Campus – Kauke Arch. E. Henrietta Street Wooster OH US 44691 RSVP
Oberlin [10am] Tappan Square. 87 N Main Street Oberlin OH US 44074 RSVP