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Water Conservation Done Creatively

The following article was just posted by Utne – an online and paper magazine.  Sustainable Rogue Valley is presently in the midst of creating a large demonstration Rain Garden and Bioswale at Rogue Community College Campus in Grants Pass, OR., and created and care for a small version at the Josephine County Fairgrounds in 2016.

Communities across the country are devising creative ways to make water conservation work.

By Cynthia Barnett, from Orion

Rain-Tank jpg
Trudge the sidewalks northwest to Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, hang a left on Vine Street toward the sound, and a ten-foot-tall, bright blue rain tank pops from the dullness, tipped whimsically toward a red brick office building.
Photo By Buster Simpson

On a winter’s day in Seattle, a leaden monotony hangs over the Central Business District, dispiriting to this part of downtown. Contrary to reputation, the urban pallor is not born of rain, which falls almost imperceptibly from silvery clouds that match the nearby waters of Puget Sound. Rather, the gloom rises from the cement hardscape. The busy streets are paved dark gray, the wide sidewalks beside them light gray. The skyscrapers rise in shades of gray. The hulking freeways, ramps, and overpasses: gray. The monorail track and its elephantine pillars: gray.

Trudge the sidewalks northwest to Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, hang a left on Vine Street toward the sound, and a 10-foot-tall, bright blue rain tank pops from the dullness, tipped whimsically toward a red brick office building. Atop the tank, green pipes in the shape of fingers and a thumb reach out, the stretched index finger connected to a downspout from the rooftop. Rainwater flows from roof to finger to palm to thumb, from which it pours to a series of descending basins built between the sidewalk and the street. They, in turn, cascade to landscaped wedges growing thick with woodland plants. For two blocks, as Vine slopes toward the sound, water trickles down a runnel and through street-side planters, shining stones, and stepped terraces, enlivening the roadway with greenery, public sculpture, and the sounds of falling water.

The project, called Growing Vine Street, began as a small, water conservation effort among residents and property owners to turn their stretch of a former industrial neighborhood into an urban watershed. Twenty years later, it is a big part of the answer to the largest single source of pollution fouling Puget Sound and most of the major bays and freshwater ecosystems of the United States—stormwater.

The gray shellac of a city repels more than the imagination. When rain flows along streets, parking lots, and rooftops rather than percolating into the ground, it soaks up toxic metals, oil and grease, pesticides and herbicides, feces, and every other scourge that can make its way to a gutter. This runoff impairs virtually every urban creek, stream, and river in Washington. It makes Pacific killer whales some of the most PCB-contaminated mammals on the planet. It’s driving two species of salmon extinct, and kills a high percentage of healthy coho within hours of swimming into Seattle’s creeks, before they’ve had a chance to spawn.

Returning some of nature’s hydrology to the cityscape can make an enormous difference—or could—as more individuals, businesses, and neighborhoods remake their bit of the terra firma. Washington State University scientists have found that streets with rain gardens clean up 90 percent or more of the pollutants flowing through on their way to the sound. Green roofs reduce runoff between 50 and 85 percent and can drop a building’s energy costs by nearly a third. Cisterns like the one on Vine Street solve two problems, reducing runoff and capturing water for outdoor irrigation—which in summer can account for half a city’s freshwater demand.

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Sustainable Rogue Valley at the Siskiyou Film Festival

We are joining with the Unitarian Universalists at a table at this years Siskiyou Film Festival. We hope you will support KS Wild by going to the FilmFest on Sunday afternoon from 3 pm – 8 pm for several hours of wonderful entertainment, education and good locally sourced food by Chef Kirsten.

Learn more about the recently funded RCC RainGarden and Bioswale Project we will be doing in collaboration with the RCC folks in 2017-18. We are beginning the planning for it at the February 26th meeting.If you are interested in helping or learning more come to the February meeting.

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A part of the site of the upcoming RCC RainGarden and Bioswale Project

Then, at the March meeting, we are fortunate enough to have Travis Owen, a local wild bee expert (or “amateur anthecologist”!) speaking to us about our local bees and ways we can protect and support them as well as learn to recognize them! This will be on March 26th at the UU Fellowship at 12:30 pm. We hope you will join us!   Find lots of interesting material on bees, wasps and moths on his website: http://www.amateuranthecologist.com/

beesofsouthwestoregon
One of Travis Owen’s wonderful native bee photos!

If you would like to read up ahead of time go to this article on Travis’s site: http://www.amateuranthecologist.com/2016/11/bees-of-2016.html

A Few Restoration Activities to get involved in…

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Gilbert Creek, Grants Pass, OR
Hello fish heads,
I hope that everyone is getting off to a good new year.  I wanted to let you know about upcoming opportunities for restoration plantings on a few small streams in our area.

Gilbert Creek Park (Grants Pass):

Jan 27   9:00 – 2:00 pm:  Prep, willow cutting

Feb 3   8:30/9:00 – 2:00 pm:  Planting (some high school kids will hopefully be joining us).

 

Blue Heron Park (Phoenix) :

Feb 6   Noon-3:00 pm:  With Phoenix High School.  We would gladly take 2-4 volunteers here in the morning to help with willow cuttings for the kids.

 

Whetstone Planting (Denman Wildlife Area, ODFW Office-Central Point):

Feb 9 – 9:00 am – early afternoon Willows cutting and planting, some brushwhacking, re-fencing trees to protect against the beaver, prep for irrigation

Feb 23 – 9:00 am – early afternoon –  Trees and irrigation laying

 

Thompson Creek (Selma) with Oregon Stewardship:

Feb 16 – If a few volunteers would like to join here, that would be great. Please let me know beforehand. Otherwise, Jim Hutchins will have most of this taken care of, but I’ll be joining him.

Ryan Battleson
Assistant District Fish Biologist
Salmon Trout Enhancement Program (STEP)
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Rogue District Watershed
1495 East Gregory Rd.
Central Point, OR 97502
541-826-8774 ext 226 (Office)
541-826-8776 (Fax)

A Simpler Way: Crisis As Opportunity (Full Documentary)

Below we have posted the full documentary of “A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity”, an inspiring new documentary produced by Jordan Osmond (http://happenfilms.com/) and Samuel Alexander (http://simplicityinstitute.org/). We encourage people to organise their own, non-profit screenings of this important new film in the hope of sparking a broader cultural conversation about the importance of voluntary simplicity, permaculture, and economic relocalisation in an age of limits.

Please share this film with friends and family and help spread the word through your online networks.

The film can also be purchased for download at Happen Films.

The overlapping economic, environmental, and cultural crises of our times can seem overwhelming, can seem like challenges so great and urgent that they have no solutions. But rather than sticking our heads in the sand or falling into despair, we should respond with defiant positivity and try to turn the crises we face into opportunities for civilisational renewal.

During the year of 2015 a small community formed on an emerging ecovillage in Gippsland, Australia, and challenged themselves to explore a radically ‘simpler way’ of life based on material sufficiency, frugality, permaculture, alternative technology and local economy. This documentary by Jordan Osmond and Samuel Alexander tells the story of this community’s living experiment, in the hope of sparking a broader conversation about the challenges and opportunities of living in an age of limits.

The documentary also presents new and exclusive interviews with leading activists and educators in the world’s most promising social movements, including David Holmgren (permaculture), Helena Norberg-Hodge (localisation), Ted Trainer (the simpler way), Nicole Foss (energy and finance), Bill Metcalf (intentional communities) and Graham Turner (limits to growth).

TO SUPPORT THE GREAT WORK OF SAMUEL AND JORDAN

Please visit their website’s or support them on patreon.com

Samuel Alexander: https://www.patreon.com/user?ty=h&u=3404767 (establishing a ‘simpler way’ permaculture project and education centre)

Jordan Osmond: https://www.patreon.com/happenfilms?ty=h (funding a trip around NZ filming people exploring permaculture, tiny houses, natural building, etc.).

RCC Rain Gardens and Bioswales

Proposed Bioswale area at RCC
Proposed Bioswale area at RCC

Sustainable Rogue Valley, in conjunction with other funders, is planning to construct Raingardens and Bioswales on the Rogue Community College property in Grants Pass, Oregon. Raingardens are made to collect rainwater in ponds and maintain a healthy plant community while encouraging water to slow down and filter into the ground. They produce a pleasing environment while providing a vital function in the watershed. Plant communities can be focused on butterfly migration, bees and insects, as well as firewise resistant plants.

Bioswales are made to collect rainwater runoff and filter through wetlands where unique wetland plants are growing. These plants will help break down pollutants such as oil from parking lots and roadways as they filter into the ground during runoff. Bioswales contain organic matter that acts as a sponge along with plants that hold and break down contaminants from impervious landscapes such as parking lots and roads.

The wetlands on RCC campus will collect runoff, filter and clean contaminants, and send the water downstream or into the ground to enter the natural drainage systems. There are several wetland sites planned in this project that will receive runoff in a series of bioswales designed around the existing culverts and drainage patterns. Signs posted onsite will explain the project and its goals, showing the pattern of runoff, types of wetland plants growing, and how this could help clean water and improve watershed health. We hope this demonstration site will inspire others to build Raingardens and Bioswales to improve water quality and beautify the landscape.

Sustainable Rogue Valley is an affinity group to the Grants Pass Universal Universalists, and is associated with Rogue Community College Faculty and Facilities Department. SRV has received funding from The Ashland Food Coop and is also applying for restoration grants from Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board through the Rogue Valley Small Grant Team. Support is sought from Rogue River Watershed Council as well as Rogue Basin Partnership, and the Rogue Community College Green Team. This will be a collaborative effort to bring communities together to show how sustainable practices can benefit everyone.

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Future bioswale at RCC

Bees of 2016 of Southwestern Oregon

The following is by Rogue River resident Travis Owen:
This is an article I wrote about the (mostly native) bees I photographed this year in the Rogue Valley, at least 21 species in 4 families are represented in photos along with some personal observations and life histories. One particularly interesting discovery, bees are basically fuzzy vegan wasps that developed branched hairs adapted to carrying pollen to feed their young (true wasps have simple hairs and are, for all intensive purposes, carnivores).
Travis Owen  — The Amateur Anthecologist

beesofsouthwestoregon

When most people hear the word bee, images of honeybees (Apis mellifera, Apidae) and the associated tales of declines come to mind. However, bees are much more diverse and interesting than the honeybee leads one to believe. There are at least thirty-five hundred species of native bees in America north of Mexico alone, and over twenty-thousand described species worldwide (probably many more). They live diverse lifestyles, but unlike the honeybee most live solitary lives. A similar variance can be seen in wasps, particularly predatory wasps which bees evolved from….

Moving to Local Sustainable Food Production

raptorcreekfarmprogram

Our next Sustainable Rogue Valley meeting on Sunday Dec. 4 features guest speaker Gif Gates, Manager of Raptor Creek Farm.
Gif will share about the farm and the Josephine County Food Bank’s vision and strategy for long term food security. Come hear about the history of Raptor Creek Farm, their clients and the statistics of food insecurity in Jo Co, the youth and senior programs at the farm, current development and future projects, community involvement at the food bank farm, how folks can get involved, and more!
Due to the holidays, our next Sustainable Rogue Valley meeting will be on Sunday December 4 (not our usual 4th Sunday schedule)
We now meet at the new UU church, 129 NW E street, GP, 12:30 to 2pm. 
It’s easy to find, across the street from Mamosa’s!

Gilbert Creek Park Restoration Project

Volunteers Needed on Friday, October 14, 2016 – 10:00 am

Volunteers are needed to help remove invasive berry bushes at the Gilbert Creek Park at 1750 NW Hawthorne Ave, Grants Pass, OR

Meet at the Creek at 10 am and
   — bring loppers or clippers,
   —  wear study shoes
   —  and thick gloves,
   —  bring water and snacks to keep going.

gilbertcreekparkrestorationDeb Berg is the organizing force and generous heart behind this worthy project.

Please contact her if you can help on next Friday Oct. 14th, or if you want to be on the volunteer list for this inspirational creek restoration project. It will be going on for a while!
Deb Berg:  cell 541-660-2541
dberg@grantspass.k12.or.us

Share the good news about this project to restore our Creek Restoration Demonstration Park at Gilbert Creek that has fallen into disrepair.

Grant money has been obtained and we’re moving forward to polish this Gem.

Sustainable Rogue Valley’s “Cleaner Air Grants Pass” Event

Nicholas Caleb, the Staff Attorney for Portland based Neighbors for Clean Air will join us Friday, Sept. 9, 10am to 1pm at 1205 SE Harvey Drive, Grants Pass, home of Michelle and David Keip. Anyone interested is welcome. For RSVP or more info contact Michelle Keip 541-244-1885.

stethoscope_airNick will provide an explanation of how Oregon’s current air regulatory program works, an update on the Cleaner Air Oregon process to date, what to expect in the future, what air quality advocates are seeking through the reform process, and how you can become a strong advocate for clean air in our community. The intent is to help us prepare before the Sept. 13th Clearer Air Oregon public forum in Medford and to discuss the Industrial Emmissions Regulatory Reform process that is underway right now. Nick has been involved in environmental advocacy at the legal, policy, grassroots advocacy and academic levels.

Bertie and the Birdbath

Permaculture-birdbat
The Hypertufa birdbath created by Bertie Foltz.

 

Thanks to Bertie Foltz and her talent in making objects with hypertufa, a special lightweight concrete mix, we have a birdbath for the Permaculture Garden bed at the Fairgrounds. It is filled regularly with special dripper in the irrigation system. The advantage to having it on the ground is that frogs and toads and other small creatures will have access to it. The disadvantage – if you have a cat is that they will have access to those creatures as well as the birds.

Thanks for the birdbath, Bertie!

 

Insect Hotel installed at Fairgrounds

Mike&InsectHotelIn early June Mike Nelson completed and installed an Insect Hotel in the Bees and Pollinators bed at the Firewise Gardens project at the Fairgrounds! As you can see from the picture it’s truly a work of art! Each section is created as habitat for a different sort of pollinator insect.

These “Insect Hotels” are extremely popular in Europe where the natural habitats have been decimated by human populations, and so farmers, homeowners, parks and schools have taken to creating sometimes very large and elaborate “insect hotels” in order to compensate. They can be as small and simple as a coffee can filled with bamboo tubes to the type of thing Mike created and much much larger. Do a Google Image search for “Insect hotel” and you will see dozens of examples.

This bed also includes a “watering tray” since bees and other pollinators need water, too. It’s a small clay tray filled with sand and pebbles allowing safe and easy access to the water without drowning. Next to this tray is a bare sandy “bank” surrounded by grasses that can act as a nesting site for the many types of ground nesting bees native to Oregon.

The garden is also filled with a variety of plants that will bloom from late winter through the summer, offering ongoing food (nectar).

The signage for the beds will come soon – but in the meantime you won’t have any trouble finding Mike’s wonderful Insect Hotel. Go to the Josephine County Fairgrounds and check it out – second bed on the left!

The Japanese Town That Produces No Trash [VIDEO]

Trash is a big problem around the world. Our society creates a ton of waste, with the average person producing 4.3 of trash a day according to the Duke Center for Sustainability. Kamikatsu, Japan has a population of 1,700, but despite that they produced no waste last year. Their trash success is thanks to an extensive recycling system, which puts trash into 30 plus separate categories for repurposing. Take a look at this video for a rundown of how 1,700 were able to produce less trash last year than a single person here does in one day.

Source: The Japanese Town That Produces No Trash [VIDEO]