Permaculture Workshop Starts September 14

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent is teaming up with Green Paradigm Partners, Elsa Johnson and Tom Gibson, to offer a home permaculture workshop for those interested in learning about or building on their knowledge of sustainable gardening and landscaping. 

The workshop will meet from 9 – 11 AM, September 14, 21, 28, and October 5 in Fessenden Hall [downstairs] at the UU Church of Kent. 

The fee is $170 per household (Yes, bring your partner!) Space is limited, so register soon!

To view or print the flyer, click here!   

To register, click here!

Book Review — What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming:Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action by Per Espen Stoknes (2015)

By Renee Ruchotzke

The past several months have been full of news about climate change markers (e.g., permafrost and glaciers melting, record-setting heat waves, flooding, crop disruption) that were predicted by climate scientists but were not expected to occur until decades from now. Yet, these events are not eliciting alarm beyond those of us who have already been paying attention. What is it about Western society that is preventing us from taking action?

Epsen Stoknes, a clinical and organizational psychologist from Norway, offers insight into human psychology that outlines barriers to taking action as well as strategies to overcome those barriers.

His first insight is that once people have a basic understanding of the facts about climate change, more facts do nothing to convince most people to change their behavior. Stoknes believes that five (at least) psychological barriers interrupt possible action and that all of these barriers have been purposely triggered by the anti-climate-change movement:

  1. The impact of climate change is at a distance for most Americans. Until there is a direct impact on us or our close family members and friends, we can set climate change outside of our circle of concern.
  2. We are averse to messages of doom and loss. Without an accompanying message of hope and possibility, we feel helpless and shut down our creative abilities.
  3. Much of our lifestyle is complicit in contributing to the problem of climate change, yet we don’t want to feel bad about ourselves or our choices. This creates dissonance, which causes us to downplay our impact.
  4. When we feel fear, guilt or shame, it’s human nature to downplay the cause of those feelings by avoiding, ignoring or engaging in other kinds of denial.
  5. Our social location and identity help to reinforce our beliefs, mores and values. If we take in and adopt information that threatens this sense of who we are and to whom we belong, we risk losing our social position and our identity.

Stoknes then shares strategies to address and dismantle these barriers, including strengthening social ties and community connections, nudging and supporting better behaviors, keeping the messages understandable and pragmatic, using the power of stories, and finding ways to create feedback loops to reinforce preferred climate-friendly behaviors. A few sections of the book are his outlines for new story frames (which did not resonate for me personally), but the book as a whole provides a practical road map for activists who want to have an impact on people’s day-to-day behaviors.


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. This year’s theme, “Complexity of Environmental Legacies”, reflects the challenges of developing sustainable systems in landscapes transformed by decades of modification and contamination. Speakers from a wide range of disciplines (fashion, geology, geography, architecture, and ecology) will address topics related to urban, sustainability, restoration, and the integration of design with biological systems.

Co-sponsored by the Kent Environmental Council.

More details at:


J Henry Fair Photo Gallery Opening – Exhibition runs from March 19 – April 5
Reception March 19, 5-7pm
Title: The Hidden Cost
J Henry Fair, Environmentalist & Fine Art Photographer
Location: Armstrong Gallery on the first floor of the Center for Architecture and Environmental Design on the Kent Campus


All Events in KIVA and Student Center, as indicated below
Kent Student Center (On Campus), Kent, OH 44242


6-7 p.m.Keynote Address*
Title: Legacy Nutrient Pollution Impacts on Current and Future Environmental Challenges 
Beth Boyer, Associate Professor of Water Resources, Penn State; Director, Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center; Assistant Director, Institutes of Energy & the Environment
Location: KIVA
Reception Immediately following the addressReception sponsored by the Cleveland Water Alliance, in the Westfield Insurance Room (204 Kent Student Center) located above the KIVA.


9-9:15 a.m.Opening Remarks
9:15-9:45 a.m.Title: Real gems of the Emerald Necklace: Reflections on a century of land use and nature’s resiliency
Jennifer Grieser, Senior Natural Resources Area Manager — Urban Watersheds, Cleveland Metroparks
Location: KIVA
9:45-10:15 a.m.Title: Lake Erie Algal Blooms: An Update and Lessons Learned While Seeking Solutions
Chris Winslow, Ohio State (Stone Laboratory); Director, Ohio Sea Grant College Program
Location: KIVA
10:15-10:45 a.m.Title: Legacy impacts of coal mining on water resources
Elizabeth Herndon, Assistant Professor of Geology, Kent State
Location: KIVA
10:45-11:15 a.m.Coffee Break in Kent Student Center Ballroom
11:15-11:45 a.m.Title: Waste to Value: Beneficial Uses of Dredged Material for Resilient and Sustainable Built Environment
Rui Liu, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Environmental Design, Kent State University.
Location: KIVA
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.Title: Closed Loop Fashion
Noël Palomo-Lovinski, Associate Professor of Fashion Design & Merchandising, Kent State University
Location: KIVA
12:15-12:45 p.m.Title: An interactive platform for community energy empowerment 
Bess Krietenmeyer, Assistant Professor in Architecture and founder of the Interactive Design and Visualization Lab (IDVL) at Syracuse University
Location: KIVA
12:45-2:15 p.m.Lunch (on your own)
2:15-3:15 p.m.Keynote Address*
Title: Art, Propaganda, and the Discrediting of Science
J Henry Fair, Environmentalist & Fine Art Photographer
Location: KIVA
3:15-4:15 p.m.Panel Discussion with Keynote and Symposium Speakers, moderated by
Joseph D. Ortiz, Professor of Geology, Kent State University

Location: KIVA
4:15-6:30 p.m.Poster Session, Book Signing with J Henry Fair,** Exhibits, Recruiting; with light refreshments
Location: Kent State Student Center

Permaculture Resources from Fall Forum: The Promise of Permaculture

We had a great turnout at the October 22 Fall Forum: Hope for the Planet: The Promise of Permaculture with Renee Ruchotzke.

Here are some resources from the Forum:


Hope for the Planet: The Promise of Permaculture (2018 Fall Forum)

Renee and Randy Ruchotzke in their backyard (Photo Copyright Record Courier)

The threat of climate change calls for a revolution in our way of life, toward a sustainable future. Permaculture offers this revolution in the brilliant disguise of a gardening fad that is really developing a deep understanding of the complex workings of natural systems.

Forum presenter Renee Ruchotzke will share the basic principles of Permaculture and how she is implementing them in her back yard garden. She will offer practical tips you can try at home and ways we can have a positive impact on the climate starting in our community… restoring the earth one back yard at a time.

Renee Ruchotzke has completed a Permaculture Consultant Design course, using what she has learned both in her city lot garden (with husband Randy) and in her work nationally consulting with and training leaders of liberal faith communities.

Monday, October 22, 2018, 7:00pm

Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent
228 Gougler Ave, Kent, OH 44240

Free and open to the public!

KEC Participates at Festivals

KEC’s booth at both River Day and Kent Heritage festivals this year focused on the use of rain barrels to help with water conservation and watershed protection.  Sixty percent of municipal water goes to watering lawns, so using collected rain to water during dry times means there is less water flowing into storm drains, sewer systems and ultimately local waterways.  This protects local watersheds by decreasing runoff from the 70 million pounds of fertilizers and pesticides used on laws each year.  And in doing so, the water plants receive is naturally soft, free of chlorine, fluoride and others chemicals in tap water.  KEC also had displays about the Cuyahoga River’s 20th year as an American Heritage River and information about Lake Erie coastal management.

River Day, the third Saturday in May, was sunny and dry and an overall spectacular day this year.  The Coast Guard oversaw the Ready,Set, Wear It! Lifejacket activity, with young and old trying them on and having fun.  Next year, we are adding dog lifejackets, so stay tuned.

The Kent Parks and Recreation booth was shared by Portage Soil and Water and the City of Kent. They gave away about 500 native trees, including pawpaws, hundreds of packs of a milkweed seed mix, stormwater awareness and safe summer information as well as answering countless questions and sharing fun aquatic animals to look at and touch—always enjoyed by young and old.

The e-fishing at Tannery Park with Davey Resource Group was successful on Friday with Student Day and on Saturday, families shared what they had seen, as the water was not conducive to e-fishing on Saturday.  See pictures from that Sunday’s Record Courier at


Saturday, Crooked River Adventures was sending out kayaks for the on the river for “River Day” Adventures.  And Brad Bolton was there to take pictures and provided music on Saturday as well.


We are all looking forward to next year. It will mark  the 29th Annual River Day Festival here in Kent in May, as well as the 50th anniversary in June of the last Cuyahoga River fire.  There are many groups working to plan great events for next May and June.  Well let you know as things progress.

Sustainability in High Places

On a recent trip to Chicago, I went on a river tour of their downtown Architecture.  I learned  lot about the various styles of buildings from historically inspired and art deco to mid century modern, post modern and contemporary and how they visually tried to integrate any new buildings by using details from nearby buildings to make it seem to fit.

The environmental fact that interested me is that as these styles changed, so did their energy efficiency.  I was surprised me to know that some of these very tall skyscrapers are LEED (Leadership in Energy  and Environmental Design) certified, thus saving money and increasing energy efficiency.

One example they gave of this is 111 South Wacker.  The previous building at that site was then the tallest building in Chicago to be demolished.  The current 51-story, blue glass structure is a striking example of creative problem solving and was completed in 2005.  It achieved Chicago’s first LEED (Gold) certification.  Among other features, the building has a green roof. But designers were concerned about plants surviving 65 floors up, so their green roof houses alpine species.  For more information about this and other Chicago architecture, as well as information about architectural boat tours, click here:

 –Lorraine McCarty

Where Ohio Meets the Lake: Managing the North Coast

Scudder Mackey, chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Office of  Coastal

Scudder Mackey

Management, spoke at the 4th Annual Edith Chase Symposium on June 1. The coastal management office is responsible for managing and protecting both the 312-mile-long Lake Erie shoreline that runs from Conneaut to Toledo and the Lake Erie Islands–all while balancing economic, cultural and environmental interests.

Mackey talked about meeting Edith Chase within a couple of months after he began to deal with coastal management in 1992 and believes that she would approve of the current direction the office is taking. In addition to Mackey, three technical engineers provide aScudder Mackey, the Chief of the Office of Coastal Management, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, spoke at the 4th Annual Edith Chase Symposium on June 1, 2018. This Office is responsible for managing and protecting the 312 mile-long Lake Erie shoreline that runs from Conneaut to Toledo as well as the Lake Erie Islands, while balancing economic, cultural and environmental interests. Mr. Mackey talked about meeting Edith within a couple of months after he began to deal with coastal management in 1992 and feels that she would approve of the current directions they are taking. Beside himself, there are 3 technical engineers who provide assistance and guidance—both in the office and going out into the field.

True color photo images of Lake Erie harmful algal blooms on August 14, 2017
(Photo Credit: Aerial Associates Photography, Inc. by Zachary Haslick)

The Coastal Management staff are trying to develop more responsive programs. For the first 25 years he’s been there, they did mostly regulatory programs and some technical stuff. Now they want to shift to on the ground advice and implementation. They are looking for innovative ideas to do things differently, not just follow the past. They have received enhanced funding that allows for the enhanced interagency cooperation. They are gathering new people to look at science-based decision making, which was very important to Edith Chase as well.

But before we get into that, he did discuss their many responsibilities, which include:

  •  Decrease algal blooms (50% funded by NOAA pass thru funds)
  • Improve water quality (no mandate do this but they do work with the OEPA)
  • Control Estuary (CELCP) and Sea Grant money
  • Manage the Old Woman Creek National Estuary Research Reserve
  • Manage Public Lands Trust

Permits issued by the office include:

  • Shore Structure Permits
  • Coastal Erosion Area Permits
  • Salvage Permit
  • Submerged Land Lease Consistency reviews (state and national state can stop feds if doesn’t meet federal law. State has primacy.)
  • NEW: Temporary Structure Permit when there is catastrophic damage (The application is only 2 pages instead of 16 pages and they respond within 24-36 hours instead of 6-8 months that it takes to get the regular permit approved—This allows people to modify their structure in the best way possible for more positive/softer designs to increase habitat benefits and not just as it was before.)

He talked about the significant storm damage and flooding over the last year caused by storms with 2.5-3ft. waves, shorelines over the seasonal rise of lake levels over that of previous years and 1 ft. over last year. He showed pictures of their office parking lot in Sandusky, with trash dumpsters floating because the lake is now 24” above the long term mean and only 2” below the all time high water mark. This illustrates one of the challenges of current realities.

But this also leads to opportunities. Extra funding is allowing Ohio’s Office of Costal Management to do something no other costal projects in the U. S. are doing: They are using innovative ideas identified by various groups to develop a portfolio of projects that meet the goals and objectives of Ohio Coastal Management and the Costal Zone Management Act, as well as local groups that also have broader goals. They are applying Leverage Conservation Design concepts and getting training in systems thinking and spatial design to facilitate linkage to these groups. They have developed a portfolio of 39 potential projects from now to next 10 years—in sequenced increments. Partners need time to get non-federal and state funded matches—so they need to be able to anticipate projects and align resources.

Right now, we treat all Ohio shoreline the same, but there are several different types of shore structures so we shouldn’t. Can you increase nearshore water quality and increase sand resource for recreation and protection at the same time? 75% of Lake Erie’s coastline is armored to stop erosion— but when the water hits the hardened area it stops the movement of sand and increases erosion in adjacent properties. This changes nearshore habitats, and has increased zebra mussels attaching on rocks instead of in the sand.

Other goals such as coastal biodiversity, maintaining sustainable fishing and managing invasive species also present questions we need to be able to answer based on science. But we often don’t have data we need to make accurate decisions. For example, we had no data on nearshore fish populations, because until recently we had only studied and managed fish in deep water. For the past 4 years, nearshore populations have been studied through grants and surveys, giving the information we need to ask the right questions of people and to answer the question of how to manage the nearshore.

A big question on everyone’s mind is the goal of a 20% decrease in phosphorus loading by 2026. The Office of Coastal Management is working with the OEPA on this issue.

One large science-based project is focused on nitrogen-based algal bloom in Sandusky’s Inner Bay, where the blooms start before they get to Lake Erie’s Western basin. The team looked at the 6 ft deep inner bay as a system and is using a series of natural filtering wetlands so the water gets to Lake Erie cleaner. The goal is 40% cleaner by 2025. Commercial shipping is in the Outer Bay, so this does not interfere The project is funded by grant from the USEPA’s Great Lakes Research Initiative, which is passed thru to Sandusky. They are considering doing this in the Maumee Bay but there is no real opportunity to do this at other river mouths in Ohio because most are too altered/hardened, but the Sandusky project can be a pilot to show other states how to do this.

Another professor is studying internal loading so we have information for total phosphorus loading in the Western Basin. And Ohio State is researching what shifts the algae to become a toxin.

They are also working hard to clean Cuyahoga River industrial area by building a sediment processing site — where materials are pumped, the impurities settle and the water is cleared before it is drained to the lake. The sand left is mined and sold for road construction, which offsets the costs. This is working successfully.

A bed-load interceptor is another process which extracts sediments before they hit lake. They want to pump the sediments onto agricultural sites. Already loaded with phosphorus, they can be useful to the crops. This project is planting crops themselves to prove to agricultural people that it works.

In his introduction of the speaker, Bob Heath talked about Edith’s approach to environmental

Edith Chase


  1. Get the facts straight
  2. Seek science-based solutions of environmental issues
  3. Look beyond local issues
  4. Do something to make it better.

I think Edith would applaud the Office of Coastal Management’s direction and actions.

For information about other projects and resources from the Office of Coastal
Management, click here.

–Lorraine McCarty (with editorial review by Bob Heath)

Sustainability Commission Makes Progress

Kent Sustainability Commission’s Ad Hoc Committee Makes Progress in Support of Paris Agreement on Climate Change

A recent commentary in the print media said that said all of the doom and gloom articles about climate change have left people feeling helpless and that the media need to focus more on what was being done by people, companies, and communities to combat climate change. The example given was about an Alaskan village that was disappearing because climate change has forced the village to move 9 1/2 miles over the past decade to find solid ground. While Kent isn’t facing something this dramatic, the city is being proactive and taking steps to do its part to fight climate change.

Kent City Council asked an ad hoc committee of the Sustainability Commission to develop a climate action plan for the city. The committee–two members of the Sustainability Commission members, three representatives of the Kent Environmental Council, two representatives of Kent State University, one representative of Davey Tree and support staff from the city– has been meeting regularly.

The city has joined ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability, which was founded in 1990 as the International Council for Local Enviro

nmental Initiatives). ICLEI is the leading global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future. By joining, the city gained access to the ClearPath software, which is used worldwide to track greenhouse gas emissions.

The committee is representing Kent as one of 10 cities chosen to participate in a web-based, 10-week work session on how to complete a greenhouse gas inventory. Afterward, the committee will put what it has learned into action here in Kent, with the greenhouse gas inventory process expected to take 12 to 18 months. After baseline greenhouse gas inventory data have been collected, the committee will report its findings to the community and seek community input and then use that information help guide its development of a climate action plan.

–Lorraine McCarty