Bolin Creek Park and Preserve: the clock is ticking!

Elections are over now, and the community expression of support for the creation of the Bolin Creek Park and Preserve was overwhelming.

Thanks in no small part to Carrboro Mayor, Mike Nelson, we're on our way to making this park and preserve a reality. The 27 acre Adam's Tract is now in preservation, and last month the Carrboro BOA voted to accept a Conservation Map of the Bolin Creek Watershed.

But where do we go from here?

The planned Claremont development just west of Bolin Creek on the north side of Homestead Rd. is rapidly moving forward. UNC is in the concept stage of Carolina Commons, a development of 140 affordably priced homes for UNC faculty and staff just north of Winmore and east of Lake Hogan Farm. Much of the land targeted for preservation is developable and remains elusive. Clearly, if we are serious about making this park and preserve a reality, we must press on quickly.

Energy choices on campus

The Question for Chapel Hill: More pollution and greenhouse gas emissions or More use of solar power and energy efficiency at UNC?

WHAT: Chapel Hill Town Council public hearing and probable vote on upgrading the UNC coal plant.

WHEN: Monday evening, November 21st. 7 PM

WHERE: Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd (formerly Airport Rd.)

WHY BE THERE: UNC is asking the Chapel Hill Town Council to permit the "upgrade of their power generation capabilities" at its coal plant. While UNC's co-generation plant is more efficient than most coal-burning power plants, the university admits that it expects to burn more coal at the plant than it does now. Burning more coal will produce more pollution and greenhouse gases. The university has not presented data on whether it could better meet its electricity demand by increasing the energy efficiency of UNC buildings and increasing its use of solar energy.


Race, ecology and campaigns

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday October 22, 2005

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there was a brief moment in which the long-neglected problem of environmental racism received some attention. Katrina exposed the racism in state and national efforts to aid victims, in who lives near Superfund sites, in who lives in the most vulnerable areas and in who has the means to evacuate.

It also laid bare the difficulty in disentangling questions of race and class particularly in a city like New Orleans. In the flooded Lower Ninth Ward, more than 98 percent of residents are black and more than a third live in poverty.

Katrina made manifest the nature of American poverty. Suddenly, we could see, as Duke professor Mark Anthony Neal put it, that the poor are "already dying a slow death, brought on by a concentration of financial limits, inferior housing, dilapidated educational structures, violence, environmental decay and systematic state neglect."

UNC Campus Sustainability Day

Please come! Hundreds of students, staff, faculty, and administrators are expected to gather at Rams Head Plaza from 11:00-2:00 on Oct. 26 to celebrate the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Campus Sustainability Day.

The following is a press release that I am posting here at the request of Cindy Shea, UNC Sustainability Coordinator. She wanted to get the word out and invite the community to UNC Sustainability day, to be held next Wednesday (I've suggested she post this info on the UNC community webpage, too).

The basics:
What: Campus Sustainability Day
When: Wednesday, Oct. 26th
Where: Rams Head Plaza
Why: exhibits, information booths, and free local and organic food; the chance to meet and talk with those involved w/ campus sustainability efforts.

For more info, you can visit sustainability.unc.edu or call their office at 843-7284.

Campus Sustainability Day to feature awards, exhibits, food, report

Organic living: the Gist challenge

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday October 15, 2005

One of the most compelling comments of election season so far came from Carrboro Alderman Jacquelyn Gist at the Sierra Club candidates forum. "Grass makes you stupid" Gist said in reference to Carrboro's many acres of lawn. "Grass is one of the biggest problems facing our community."

Knowing Gist, I did not take her words to be a New Urbanist rebuke of suburban living. They seemed more an indictment of the manner in which modern society relates to nature, and how an alien landscape -- in this case, the lawn -- interferes with our ability to understand the ecosystem that is our home.

I'd been thinking along similar lines this summer, each time I stepped out my front door and walked over to the nearby forest by Bolin Creek. Along the sidewalks and street it was awfully hot, the pavement throwing the sun's heat back at me. But as soon as I stepped under the canopy of trees, it felt 10 degrees cooler. Clearly, the way we live, the way we build, the way we develop -- none is well attuned to our natural environs.



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