Local alternatives series

Guest Post by Michal Osterweil

Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas are filled with organizations, groups and businesses that are experimenting with and practicing alternative ways of living on a daily basis. Whether as a collective bookstore, a cooperative living community, bio-fuel collectives, or experiments in public television, we are all working to make the world a better place, not only through protest and opposition, but through different ways of going about our daily lives and work. We are in effect enacting social, economic and ecological alternatives both within and against the current status quo.

Too often, however, we do so without recognizing how many others are out there doing similarly amazing things. We miss out on the potential learning and growth we could all gain from one another if we told our stories and thought together about the possibilities, problems and goals of our projects—both individually and collectively as part of a larger movement and community.

Will Efland's day come?

This Monday (May 23) the Orange County Commission will be holding a public hearing on a proposal to downzone most or all of the land in its planning jurisdiction. The purpose of this initiative is to stop suburban sprawl from overtaking the rural areas of the County. And I think we should all be in support of that goal. Preserving the remaining farm land in our community is not merely an aesthetic issue, it is also a national and regional security issue. (What will happen to the availability of food as the price of shipping our food across the globe increases?)

However, the County is missing the boat on one important issue. While we do need to find more sustainable ways to grow, we also need to ensure that we will have areas where we can grow sustainably. Rather than eliminating the possibility of new residences in the unincorporated areas of the County, we could be transferring the presently allowed density into a few, well-chosen sites. That is, we should keep the dwellings, but have them be in appropriate locations (where there is potential sewer-access, low-impact on streams, potential access to public transportation etc.)

Nelson Guardedly Optimistic on Environment

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday April 30, 2005

Wasted Away in Horace Williams-ville

Last night, UNC's department of environment, health and safety held a public meeting on the latest plans for the hazardous waste clean-up at the Horace Williams property. I was unable to attend and am hopeful that a report will be made publicly available.

Some of Director Peter Reinhardt's comments, as reported in the Herald, were disturbing.

Reinhardt said he doesn't expect the work to create much disruption to the surrounding neighborhoods.

"It's so far away from any house that I can't imagine anyone will be able to hear it," Reinhardt said.

The buried waste will be excavated and removed from the site by hazardous material trucks.
Fencing will be erected around the site for safety reasons and to mark the area's perimeter, Reinhardt said.

My concern, having listened to the din when Horace Wms was the staging site for the power plant upgrade, is not the noise. Rather, it is what might enter the air and affect lungs, skin, or eyes.

Earth Action Fest this Sunday

Guest Post by Mary Rabinowitz

Here's an information-packed, Earth Day festivities announcement originating from Karen McCollough, parent at the Children's Cooperative Playschool. Thanks, Karen!

Everyone, check out the "Earth Action Fest" this Sunday in Chapel Hill: http://www.earthactionfest.org

Activities will include:

Tree planting
Arts and crafts
Coloring and jewelry-making for kids
Face painting
Bicycle safety inspections by REI
Caricatures by Richard Cloudt
Clown character, Mickey Le Pew, with his environmental magic program (and his family of stuffed skunks!)
And here are some other sites with kid-friendly Earth Day activity ideas -- I just did a quick web search:



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