Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Science Saturdays Back at River Bend

I think Science Saturdays are one of the best ideas River Bend has ever had. In September, Science Saturdays are back, led off by an exploration of the pond on September 4.

The program, "What's in the Pond," will be 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM this Saturday. Admission is $3.


One of the frustrations of living in Wichita Falls is finding food. Not to say there isn't food--there are plenty of grocery stores, and we probably have one of the highest number of restaurants per capita anywhere (I don't have the numbers to prove that assertion, but I think it's true.) My issue is a lack of variety, a lack of organics, a lack of locally grown food and a lack of specialty products.

We can use restaurants as an example. As much as I like mexican, BBQ, chicken fried steak and hamburgers, it sure would be nice to have some additional options. Unfortunately, the few restaurants that have started up with different foods haven't been extremely successful. Vegetarian entrees on a menu are few and far between. A good vegetarian restaurant would be a great addition (or just a restaurant that had a good selection of vegetarian foods.) A restaurant featuring locally grown, organic food would be fantastic. However, there are very few organic growers in this area (actually, I'm not aware of any within 100 miles) so that would be difficult to do.

I was reading the September issue of Entrepreneur magazine and noted a neat biz, Foodzie.com, supporting small artisan food producers. Unfortunately, I didn't find any local businesses featured on the website--the closest seem to be in the DFW area and that is only one business. But I like the concept.

I have driven by the International Grocery at Southwest Parkway and Fairway many times and several friends have recommended it for hard-to-find items. I need to go there to check it out as if there are not places to eat out, there is still the option to cook--it's just finding the ingredients.

We'll talk more about cooking later.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Trash Tirade

I'm on a trash tirade this morning. At the Park Board meeting this past week I was telling the other Park Board members that Lucy Park looked as bad as I have ever seen it just before Hotter 'n Hell weekend. There was trash everywhere.

I have been one of the proponents of increasing Lake Wichita shoreline access for fishing. But I was at Wild Bird Rescue Saturday and walked down to the shore on a break at the old boat launch where a father and son had just been fishing. The trash in that area (see photos above) makes me wonder about the wisdom of that work. I don't know that these two had anything to do with the mess on the shore, but the fishing line packages, fishing line and bait containers indicate some fisherman (or woman) left the mess there.

Littering is one of my "hot button" issues. It just really sets me off to see people leave a mess. Unfortunately, I don't often see people make a mess (which my husband says is a good thing as I have a tendency to say something about it), but obviously someone is leaving trash around. We should use a little peer pressure to encourage people to clean up after themselves. When we plan an event, trash pickup (and recycling) needs to be part of the planning process.

Littering is a crime. True, the fine isn't all that big, but money talks. When Park personnel have to be used to clean up trash, they can't mow or do other important maintenance work in our parks and along our trails. I would prefer to see the money that is now spent on trash pick up or graffitti clean up used to beautify more medians or spent on other needed improvements in our city, not cleaning up after people who have no respect for their neighbors.

So, what can we do?

  • Clean up after ourselves. If we bring it in, we need to take it out.
  • Clean up trash when we see it. I don't pick up all of the trash I see (I wouldn't get anywhere) but I try to pick up some trash and put it in the nearest trash container.
  • Apply peer pressure when we see others litter.
  • Participate in city cleanups.

Are you part of a group that would like to help keep Wichita Falls looking clean? The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists clean up Plum Lake once a quarter and Sikes Lake every September. Jack Murphy (Park and Recreation Director for City of Wichita Falls) said he would be willing to work with volunteer groups that would be responsible for certain areas on a regular basis.

The first time the Master Naturalists did Plum Lake, it was a major job, but we can usually clean up the shoreline in less than 2 hours now that we do it on a regular basis.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hotter 'n Hell Hundred (HHH)

Today is the HHH here in Wichita Falls. As seems to happen just before HHH every year, the temperatures broke. For the last several weeks we have been over 100 degrees everyday. For the past few days the weather has been relatively moderate. A good thing for the riders, but they must wonder about the name of the event.

A good thing about the HHH this year is that they are collecting recyclables at the rest stops for the city composting program. There was an article in the Times Record News this week, although I haven't been able to find a link to that article on the web site. This should remove a lot of compostable materials from the waste stream. Good for the HHH committee and the City of Wichita Falls for working together.

One thing that has rather surprised me is that Wichita Falls is not a more bike-friendly city. I do see many bikers on the city trails when I am out. The city buses have a way for bike riders to transport their bikes. However, most of the main roads don't have room for bikes to ride safely and their is no place to secure bikes at most businesses. The local Sierra Club was talking with some MSU students about making and setting up bike stands at some locations. I don't know what happened to that idea. Money was a sticking point.

It would be nice for the Hotter 'n Hell to be a catalyst for more biking opportunities in the Falls.

New Look

I decided to change the look of the blog to something a little more interesting--I hope you like it.

Don't forget to send your information about businesses, products and services you like to me at green.wichtafalls@gmail.com.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Care About Water?

Just a reminder that the League of Women Voters of Wichita Falls will have Curtis Campbell from the Red River Authority and the Region B Planning Group as our speaker on September 1. If you care about having enough drinkable water in the future, be sure to be there.

September 1
11:30 (buffet line opens); noon (program starts)

Buffet price is $8.75

The meeting is open to the public.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Solar Screens

Well, three people have now told me what a great difference solar screens from Builders Wholesale (hopefully the website will have more product information on it soon) have made on their electricity consumption. All have estimated about a year to pay back the investment they made--that doesn't seem too long to me.

Rick Belz is the owner of Builders Wholesale, and was one of the initial vendors (and sponsors) for the EcoFair the first year. Rick has a lot of products to reduce your carbon footprint. Go by and check out his place at 2905 Seymour Hwy. Tell him you saw the information here (not that you're likely to get any special benefits by mentioning this blog, but just a way to get the word out that people are paying attention and promoting businesses with sustainable products.)

Any other products or services you want to make sure others know about? Be sure to let me know at green.wichitafalls@gmail.com.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tired of Styrofoam Take Out Boxes?

As I mentioned in the last post, the local Sierra Club group usually meets at a local restaurant. One thing that is a source of conflict for me when eating out is the styrofoam to-go boxes. I hate to ask for one as the container is petroleum based and can't be recycled, but at the same time, I don't want to throw away perfectly good food. Unfortunately, that usually means I end up eating more than I really want.

Tonight one of the members brought their "To-Go Ware" from Gaiam. The product is also available from Amazon. Great idea! I have seen these before, but had forgotten. I need to order one or if anyone is aware of a local store that carries them or a similar product, all the better--post a comment here. It is much better to spend our money locally when possible.

This is just another small thing we can do to reduce waste and live more sustainably.

Sierra Club Meets Tonight

I am sorry about the late post, but this is a reminder that the Sierra Club meets tonight at 7 PM at El Paisa.

The Sierra Club meets the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 7PM. However, since the location changes each month, it isn't enough to just record the meeting on your calendar. If you are a member of the national Sierra Club, you are automatically a member of the local group. You should be receiving the local group newsletter, either in the mail or by email (since the local group gets none of the dues you pay, they really appreciate your willingness to get the newsletter by email.) If you are not getting a copy of the Red River Messenger, email Jan at janpierce@aol.com.

I have not seen an agenda for the meeting, but I am sure the primary business will be the upcoming EcoFair. If you can make it, please come.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

11th Hour

Several months ago, I bought Leonardo Dicaprio's documentary 11th Hour at Wal-Mart for $1. (Yes, I do occasionally shop at Wal-Mart.) I am sorry I waited so long to watch it. If you can find a copy, get it.

I'm a systems thinker. That was the focus on much of my early education in biology and that is the way I see and understand the world. This documentary does a pretty clear job of explaining how our actions in one area impact other areas. It clearly explains the concept of our dependence upon "ancient sunlight" (carbon fuel), especially it's impact on the ability for the earth to support the large population we have now (as well as its impact on climate, food supplies, and health.) It also focuses on the impact of chemicals on health, deforestation, soil depletion, and other environmental issues.

Next the film focuses on the forces that block change, such as our legal system, large corporations, our political system, and most importantly our consumptive culture. (One statement that caught my attention is that for every 1 truckload of valuable goods, we produce 32 truckloads of waste--isn't that insane?)

Anyway, the film is not just a catalog of problems, but discusses a way to go forward. As one of the experts says, "What a great time to be born. What a great time to be alive, because this generation gets a chance to essentially completely change the world." With my background in biology, the examples of using organisms our teachers in sustainable technologies was especially interesting. The film brings it home with a call to action for individuals.

In sum, find the DVD and watch it. Invite your friends.