Monday, March 31, 2008

Eating Organic is (literally) for the Birds

The NY Times has an an opinion article on how our growing reliance on fresh vegetables from Latin America is killing our songbirds. The culprit is heavy use of pesticides, often ones that are banned here, that are poisoning birds as they winter in Mexico or Central America.

And of course this produce has higher residual pesticides than North American produce, and cannot be very good for us, either...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Carbon Footprint

The New Yorker had a recent article on carbon footprints - how our consumer choices affect the amount of carbon we put into the environment. It is an interesting and often counterintuitive article. Would you expect that a bottle of wine from Bordeaux cost less in carbon than one from California? (Shipping by ship is very efficient; shipping overland is not) Or that it is way more carbon-efficient, in England, to buy roses from Kenya rather than Holland? (Don't have to heat the greenhouses in Kenya) Or that apples from New Zealand may have a smaller carbon footprint than apples from New York?

A couple of things are very clear. Drinking bottled water, rather than regular water, is ridiculous, carbon-footprint-wise. Insulating our houses, better windows, and efficient furnaces probably matter more than where our food comes from. And the most important thing we can do as a planet is to stop cutting down our rainforests.


In January Dave Norris became Mayor and I took over the Citizen's Committee on Environmental Sustainability (CCoES). I think I got the better end of the deal.

In its first year the Committee - made up of smart, knowledgeable people from the City, County and University - made some solid recommendations. Increase City recycling rate to 50% (ambitious goal!). Establish an anti-idling policy for City vehicles. Give a tax break for energy efficiency improvements. Begin a public education campaign.

But we need to take these ideas - being green and being efficient - from things the City can do to what we all can do. Residents and businesses, rich and poor, young and old, we all need to embrace sustainability.

One idea I would like to pursue is a speakers bureau: creating presentations on recycling, saving energy, stormwater, etc., that could be given to neighborhood associations, church groups, boy and girl scouts, or whoever.

Have skills in powerpoint, and conveying information to various groups? Let me know and we'll put you to work...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Better World Betty

A cool new website had its coming out party at South Street last night. Better World Betty ("green living made easier") is a local guide to living lightly: reduce, reuse and recycle. Kudos to Teri Kent for this useful and charming website.

Also debuting last night was the City's Green City webpage, full of useful information and resources about sustainability.

Not quite as cool as Betty, though.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Charlottesville Marathon

The Marathon Guide 2008 in the January Runner's World features the Charlottesville Marathon (April 19) as one of 10 best "up and coming marathons". Our marathon gets kudos for beauty and a warning about the hills. Congrats to Francesca Conte and Russell Gill for this recognition.

I completed the Marine Corps marathon in 1991. One was enough. And that one is flat.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Dennis Kucinich

This has been a remarkable year as far as presidential politics go. First Clinton, then Obama, and now Kucinich have had Charlottesville events. At the moment I cannot recall that any candidates for President, pre or post nomination, have visited here before. Clinton came here after he was elected, and Edwards and Gore were here for campaign events for Kaine and LF, respectively.

In any event I chose not to attend the Clinton event (sorry but I am not a Hillary fan), was wowed by Obama at the Pavillion, and got to meet Kucinich on Friday. Kucinich was inspiring, articulate and I agreed with him on almost everything he said. Lots of friends in the audience. A great event.

My first choice remains Edwards, though.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kin Flicks

The 20th Annual Virginia Film Festival starts Thursday with a focus on family. John Sayles, one of my favorite filmmakers, kicks things off with a screening of his new film Honeydripper. Jean and I saw him (and Maggie Renzi) at the 1989 Festival at the now-defunct University Theater in 1989 and are looking forward to seeing him again. We also plan to see Charles Burnett's My Brothers Wedding, although I hate to miss the Brent Green Animations at Gravity Lounge. John Turturro will be here with a couple of films, there are some documentaries that I'd love to see, and of course there's the Adrenaline Film Project. And The Savages, with director Tamara Jenkins, looks like a film not to be missed.

Too many movies, not enough time.

Monday, October 08, 2007


As my fellow councilor Dave Norris has previously blogged, City buses are free this month.

This is a great opportunity to give the buses a try. Charlottesville Transit Service has made a lot of improvements in the last couple of years. The buses are much more reliable (ie, on time!). Two important routes, the trolley and the 7, run on Sundays, and a new route runs to the County office building on 5th Street. Faculty, students and staff at UVa always ride free (thanks to UVa) and City residents can use their fare-free system as well. And our buses are wheel-chair accessible, and have a rack for your bike.

In the future, both CTS and UTS will will use have a GPS system that will tell riders how long until the next bus arrives. There is discussion of making the system always fare-free (but I wonder why a 75-cent fare would make a difference, but I'm told it does), and the City and County are looking at creating a Regional Transit Authority, with the goal of a significantly expanded system.

So give the bus a try this month, and let us know what you think.